Magazine article Tikkun

Choose Life

Magazine article Tikkun

Choose Life

Article excerpt

[FILM] CHOOSE LIFE A SACRED DUTY (Jewish Vegetarians of North America, 2007)

Review by Adina Allen

THE ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS that we are now facing is unlike any problem humanity has previously faced. The peril to our life-supporting ecological systems is an issue that cuts across the divides of race, class, nationality, and religion. This is a crisis that calls upon us to cooperate on a global level, despite our differences. We need a fundamental shift in the way we approach the world, one that opens us to the sacredness of all life. To bring our actions in line with this view of life, the wisdom of our religious traditions may be one of our most useful resources.

The recently released film A Sacred Duty provides an in-depth look into the state of our environment and the teachings that Judaism offers to steer us on a sustainable path. Professor and leading Jewish activist Richard Schwarte, together with educators, environmentalists, and leaders from all parts of the Jewish world show how the unique insight of Torah can guide us as we join with others in confronting this challenge to help heal our planet and, in so doing, heal ourselves.

It is written in the Torah that God spoke to the Jewish people saying, "I place before you two choices: life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life that you may live, you and your offspring" (Deut 30:19). Choosinglife, the film argues, means recognizing the interconnectedness of all life on the planet and beginning to take seriously the knowledge that what we do in one part of the globe affects the whole world. By drawing on important Jewish texts and interpretations, the film shows the responsibility and power that religious communities have to help lead humanity towards a sustainable future.

Divided into two distinct sections, A Sacred Duty focuses on the environmental destruction of the Land of Israel, and the ethical ramifications and environmental impact of our diet. In terms of the daily choices that we make and our ability to create a more sustainable world, diet may be the most central issue. The film cites the results of a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, which shows that 18 percent of all greenhouse gases come from the raising of livestock agriculture. …

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