Rabbi Daniel Swartz

Friday, February 15, 2018 evening sermon 7:30 P.M.

“Tropical Depression: How to find hope and faith even as the seas are rising.” Climate change is such a vast and urgent problem that it’s easy to get depressed about finding solutions.  People often feel so overwhelmed that they become paralyzed, too deep in despair to take action.  This sermon will look at resources, both from within the Jewish tradition and from the realm of science, that can give us hope in dark times.

Saturday, February 16, 2018  torah study 12:00 – 1:30 P.M.

“Do Not Waste: the evolution of a Torah principle”  The principle of Bal Taschit, do not destroy or waste, arise first in Deuteronomy in the context of rules of war.  Through generations of commentary, it becomes a key environmental principle.  And as it evolves from the particular framework of a siege to a general principle for behavior, it also comes to be recognized as having deep philosophical implications for our view of our self in relation to others and to God.  This class will look at the development of this principle through a series of texts, ranging from the original verse in Torah to modern writers. 

Sunday, February 17, 2018  Sunday/public/interfaith 2:00 – 4:00 P.M.

“Laudato Si and the Sages: Caring for our Common Home” — Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change, Laudato Si, marked a revolution in how faith communities address the issue of climate change. It also, however, reflected and drew up thousands of years of teaching about the role of the human on our planet.  This program will explore parallels between Laudato Si and a wide variety of Jewish texts, from the Bible to early Midrash to later commentaries.  It will highlight the social justice dimensions of climate change, demonstrating how we are called to take care of both the planet and the poor, protecting all vulnerable life. 

Rabbi Daniel Swartz currently serves as the executive director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN), a national organization devoted to protecting children from environmental health hazards through education, policy, and research initiatives. The Network, through active partnerships with groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, has played key roles in protecting children’s health and in the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Children’s Health Protection.

Swartz has published both peer-reviewed and popular science articles on issues ranging from plant ecology to global climate change. He has also published op-eds in national papers. Swarz also published studies of religious traditions and environmental values, including To Till and To Tend: A Guide for Jewish Environmental Study and Action; Jews, Jewish Texts, and Nature: A Brief History; and In This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment, edited by Roger Gottlieb. Swartz has also published a children’s book, Bim and Bom: A Shabbat Tale.

Before becoming the director of CEHN, Swartz served as the associate director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, coordinating policy among Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, and Jewish organizations. In addition to ordination and his MHL, Rabbi Swartz holds degrees from Brown University in geological sciences and in environmental policy. He has received numerous academic honors, including prizes, scholarships, and a scholastic excellence award from the Hebrew Union College, the Senior Prize in Environmental Studies from Brown, and election to both Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi.