SCRANTON, Pa. — Rabbi Daniel Swartz of Temple Hesed in Scranton thought at first it might be a scam when he received a letter several months ago from the Vatican.
"The Jewish holidays that we just celebrated are sometimes called, 'the days of awe.' Which is the sort of approximate translation is 'norah' in Hebrew, which lies on the border of 'wow' and 'oy.' You know, part wonder, part terror. That's sort of exactly what I feel like," he said.
Rabbi Swartz and his wife leave for a vacation in Italy on Saturday.
After that, they'll go to the Vatican, where the Rabbi will take part in a discussion with Pope Francis on climate change.
The Vatican invited only 50 people from around the world.
Swartz is one of only a handful of Americans and one of only two Rabbis.
"This pope has been such an inspiration to me in terms of his care for the planet and the poor, and so to bring a little bit of Scranton there to Italy is great," Swartz added.
The team has been working hard on a global declaration about the importance of combating climate change.
Rabbi Swartz played a big role in writing the document that he will sign at the Vatican.
His name will join scientists and world leaders but, Rabbi Swartz believes faith leaders play just as important a role in fighting climate change.
"Hope is the belief that if you work hard enough, it can get better. And that's something faiths have carried since religion was invented—that possibility of hope. And so, we really want to preach hope to the world," he said.
How they'll do it is something they'll discuss with Pope Francis.