Member since 2011

Richard Schwartz

Featured Causes: Judaism and Vegetarianism, climate change


Richard's Blog Subscribe

In Defense of Jewish Liberals

There have been many recent articles and letters in The Jerusalem Post critical of Jews who are liberals. Somehow the word “liberal” has become a negative one for many Jews. However, there is much in Jewish history and teachings that is consistent with Jews being liberals and even radicals, in the best sense of that word. From its beginning, Judaism has protested against greed, injustice and the misuse of power. Abraham, the first Hebrew, smashed ...


Three Updated Passover-Related Articles

1. Freeing Ourselves at Passover from diets that hurt us and the Planet. Jews commendably go to extraordinary lengths before and during Passover to avoid certain foods, in keeping with Torah mitzvot. But at the same time, many continue eating other foods that, by Torah standards, are hardly ideal. On Passover, Jews are prohibited from eating, owning, or otherwise benefiting from chometz, foods such as breads, cakes, and cereals, that are made from one ...


For many years I have believed that my religion, Judaism, has been stolen. Why? Because Judaism has powerful messages on peace, justice, compassion, sharing, and environmental sustainability that can help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path. Yet, most Orthodox Jews, while doing many  commendable things, are in denial about climate change and other environmental threats and are increasingly supporting politicians who promote ...


What People Are Saying About My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

The many endorsements below are included to show that it is not just the author, but many other people also - including Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Jews, as well as Christians, and Muslims - who think their religion has been "stolen" by right-wing politics, but who still believe that compassionate religious values have relevance to current crises. Provision of a blurb here does not imply that the person who provided ...


Respectfully Turning the Tables When Challenged by Jewish Non-Vegetarians

Vegetarians and vegans, especially those who have recently changed their diets, are generally on the defensive. They must deal with many questions from nn-vegetarians. Those who eat meat have the support of society, and thus they never consider the consequences of their diet. It is vegetarians who are asked to explain the reasons for their diet, rather than those who support the cruel treatment and unnecessary slaughter of animals that an animal...


Starting a Major Campaign to Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet

Shalom, It is time for a major effort for committed Jews, preferably joining with others, to apply Jewish values to help heal our imperiled planet. Here are some issues to be considered: The world is rapidly heading toward a climate catastrophe. Many climate experts think we are close to an irreversible tipping point when climate change will spin out of control, with disastrous consequences, unless very significant positive changes soon occur. My ...


Questions That Can be Discussed at Tu Bishvat Seders and Suggested Answers

by Richard Schwartz ~ It is hoped that the questions below will be helpful to people leading Tu Bishvat seders as a way to increase audience participation. Suggested responses are given following the questions. Suggestions for additional questions & answers are welcome. 1. What is the origin of Tu Bishvat? 2. Where is Tu Bishvat mentioned in the Tanach? 3. Why are we considering trees, fruits, and nature in the middle of the winter? 4. Why ...


Please Help in this Important Effort That Can Avert a Climate Catastrophe and Help Shift Our Imperiled Planet Onto a Sustainable Path

There is increasing evidence that the world is rapidly heading toward a climate catastrophe. An exaggeration? Please consider: 2017 was the third warmest year since temperature records were kept in 1880 and this follows three consecutive years of worldwide temperature records, In 2017 there were three category 3 or 4 hurricanes, three extreme wildfires in California, followed by a major mudslide there,and other severe climate events in many of the ...


My article in the January 12 Jerusalem Post on “Why Israel Should Not Be Extolling President Trump.”

Israel is going gaga over President Donald Trump, largely for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. More than 110 “God bless Trump” signs dot the city; there are plans to name a future rail station near the Western Wall after Trump; and the Jerusalem Friends of Zion Heritage Center put up a four-story display thanking him. But, there are many reasons to reconsider the abundant praise. A major reason is that Trump – along with a majority of ...


Proposal for an Interfaith Conference on Climate Change in Jerusalem

Proposal for Interfaith Conference on Climate Change in Jerusalem Need Statement For decades, conflict and turmoil in the Middle East have gripped the world and made the region an epicenter of international focus and concern. At this time, some wonder whether Jerusalem can be a source of anything but violence and hatred fueled by religious extremists. In this region’s persistent unrest, many attempts have been made to bring the two sides together. ...


The Case Against Eating Fish

There are standard questions that vegetarians are often asked. Perhaps the most frequent one is, "How do you get enough protein?" Another common question is, "Do you eat fish?" Many people, including some who call themselves vegetarians, think fish are less capable of suffering than mammals and birds. These would-be vegetarians may avoid eating mammals and birds while continuing to eat fish, sometimes arguing that the problems associated with the ...


Ten ideas For Creating a Vegetarian/Vegan World

Please note that whenever the word vegetarianism is used below it implies vegetarianism or veganism, and that veganism is the ideal. ------------------ In spite of the increasing need for a shift toward vegetarianism to counteract the present epidemic of diseases and the many environmental threats caused by the production and consumption of animal products, progress has been relatively slow. it is time for a consideration of new ...


Please Consider Organising a Tu B’Shvat Seder or Encouraging Others to Do So

by Richard Schwartz ~Tu B’Shvat, the 15th day in the Hebrew month of Shvat, the ‘New Year for Trees, January 30-31 in 2018, has been increasingly popular, with more and more Tu B’Shvat Seders held annually, especially in Israel. It is important that vegetarian and vegan Jews organize such Seders, encourage rabbis and other Jewish leaders to conduct them, and/or attend Seders that are scheduled by others. Here are several reasons why: Tu ...


Some Challenging Questions

I believe there is always a need to consider if we are doing all we can to apply our Jewish teachings toward creating a better world. This can help avoid  complacency and self-satisfaction. Therefore I would like to pose some respectful questions (aimed at least as much at me as at anyone else). * What would the prophets say about our society today? about Judaism in our time? about Synagogue activities? * Why so ...


Imagining a Vegan World

The late Senator Robert Kennedy often stated: "Some see things as they are and ask why, I dream of things that have never been and ask why not?" Yes, why not? Why not a vegetarian world? Or, even better, since we are dreaming, why not a vegan world? When one considers all the negatives related to the current widespread production and consumption of animal products, it is hard to believe that so few people have seen the importance of shifting to ...


Veganism’s Essential Role In Preventing an Unprecedented Global Catastrophe

This article was originally written in 2009 and has been updated in 2017, with conditions in 2017 far worse than in 2009. Synopsis: The world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe from global climate change and other environmental threats, and a major societal shift to plant-based (vegan) diets is an essential part of the necessary responses to avoid that catastrophe. Since methane emitted by farmed animals is in the atmosphere for less ...


Vegetarianism/Veganism and the Jewish Dietary (Kosher) Laws

Since Judaism is a religion that speaks to all aspects of life, it has much to say about one of life's most commonplace activities, eating. The Jewish dietary laws, also known as the laws of kashrut or kosher laws are extremely important in Judaism. They regulate virtually every aspect of eating for members of the Jewish community (the only dietary law given to non-Jews is to not eat a limb from a living animal). Kashrut includes: (1) which foods may ...


My Response to a Negative Review of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

Below is my response to a review of my book, "Who Stole My Religion? Revitalising Judaism and Applying Jewish Values t Halp Heal Our Imperilled Planet" by Rabbi Natan Slifkin (“The Zoo Rabbi”), with my comments interspersed (in bold font). Material starts below. Several weeks ago, in a post entitled "How Frum Is Your Food?", I lamented how the Orthodox Jewish community (and particularly the ultra-Orthodox community) pays very little attention to ...


Frequently Asked Questions on Jewish Teachings on Animal Sacrifices and the Messianic Period

1. If God wanted us to have vegetarian diets and not harm animals, why were the Biblical sacrificial services established? During the time of Moses, it was the general practice among all nations to worship by means of sacrifice. There were many associated idolatrous practices. The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides stated that God did not command the Israelites to give up and discontinue all these manners of service because "to obey such a command...


Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) Related to Judaism and Animal Treatment

There has recently been much interest in animal issues, especially related to diet, animal experimentation, and the wearing of fur. What should be the reaction of Jews to this subject? The following, in question and answer form, provides some background, and perhaps will help begin a respectful dialogue on this increasingly important topic. 1. What does Judaism teach about the proper treatment of animals? Judaism teaches that we are forbidden to ...