Wednesday 8 July 2015

Ecology and Salesian formation: A push from Rabbi Yonatan Neril

Rabbi Yonatan Neril dropped in to see me the other day (6 July 2015) here at the Pisana, to urge all Salesian formation programs to implement the concern for “our common home” expressed in Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’. He has also been in touch with Joshtrom Kureethadam (Faculty of Philosophy, UPS), who has recently published Creation in Crisis: Science, Ethics, Theology

Rabbi Neril is Founder Director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, Jerusalem. Two years ago, he addressed the faculty and students of Studium Theologicum Salesianum, Jerusalem. Last year, some of the faculty and students joined one of the interfaith ecology initiatives conducted by the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development.

Yonatan was much younger than I expected: just 34. His passion and courage is admirable. I asked him whether it was easy for him to go around Rome meeting Catholics of different kinds. He said it was not, but that people had been very kind. He has been to the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Congregation for the Clergy, and so on. Obviously he has also paid a visit to the Rome Synagogue, which he said is one of the most beautiful in the world. When I said I would love to visit, he said that security was very tight these days. 

The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD, works to catalyze a transition to a sustainable human society through the active leadership of faith communities. It promotes seminaries and theological schools educating on faith and ecology. By focusing on the formation of teaching values and methods for emerging clergy and faith leaders, ICSD seeks to create a multiplier effect. ICSD organizes workshops for seminary directors, faculty, and students, and issued the first-ever report on Faith and Ecology Courses in North American Seminaries.  

Rabbi Neril is a native of California, who received rabbinical ordination in Israel. He lives with his wife and two little kids in Jerusalem, not far from our Salesian Monastery Ratisbonne: he mentioned the neighbourhood, but it is not familiar to me - between us and the Mahane Yehuda, he said. And I have an invitation to a Shabbath meal!

Yonatan will contribute an article on ecology to Divyadaan. He said somewhat apologetically that he would write it from a Jewish perspective, and I said that would be not only wonderful, but the very thing to do. 

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