Member since 2011

Richard Schwartz

Featured Causes: Judaism and Vegetarianism, climate change


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Working With Israeli Orthodox Rabbis To Reduce Climate Threats

Working with Israeli Orthodox Rabbi Yonatan Neril. founder and director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, I have put together a statement on climate change (below) that urges Israel and Israelis to become more actively involved in reducing climate threats. The names and affiliations of the 23 rabbis who already signed the statement are also below, as is a press release for a major interfaith climate forum that is taking place at the ...


Tisha B’Av and Vegetarianism

There are many connections between vegetarianism and the Jewish holiday of Tisha B'Av: 1. Tisha B'Av (the 9th day of the month of Av) commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. Today the entire world is threatened by climate change, and modern intensive livestock agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. 2. In Megilat Eichah (Lamentations), which is read on Tisha B'Av, the prophet Jeremiah warned ...


Relating Tisha B’Av to Today’s Environmental Crises

Tisha B'Av (the 9th day of the month of Av) which we commemorate this year on July 31-August 1, reminds us that over 2,000 years ago Jews failed to heed the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah, with the result that the first Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the first of many negative things that occurred on that day, including the destruction of the second Temple as well. Today there are many “Jeremiahs” warning us that now it is not just Jerusalem ...


Responding Jewishly to Trump Withdrawal of the U.S. From the Paris Climate Pact

President Donald J. Trump has received well-deserved condemnation from leaders of many nations, many governors and mayors, environmentalists, corporate CEOs, Jewish and other religious organisations, and others, for withdrawing the United States from the 2015 Paris climate change pact that was agreed to by all the 195 nations that attended, including Israel and the United States. How should Jews respond to the U.S. withdrawal” First Jews should become ...


My VERY Comprehensive Talk on Why Jews Should Be Vegetarians

https://archive.org/details/talk_Synagogue This talk was presented at the Flatbush Jewish Center in 2008. It is still VERY relevant.  


Shavuot and Vegetarianism

There are many connections between vegetarianism and the important Jewish festival of Shavuot: 1. Shavuot is described as "z'man matan Toratenu" (the season of the giving of our law (the Torah). It is this Torah that has in its very first chapter God's original, strictly vegetarian, dietary regimen: "And God said: 'Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree ...


A Shavuot Message: Applying Torah Values To Our Diets

Since Shavuot is z'man matan Torateinu (the commemoration of the giving of the Torah to the Israelites on Mount Sinai), many dedicated religious Jews admirably stay up the entire first night of Shavuot to hear talks about and discuss Torah teachings. Among these Torah teachings are that Jews should preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and pursue peace. By becoming ...


A Dialogue on Shavuot Night About Vegetarianism and Veganism

For many years Danny Shapiro looked forward to staying up all night at his synagogue with his friends on the first night of Shavuot, hearing talks about and discussing Torah teachings. This year he especially anticipated this annual commemoration of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, because Rabbi Greenberg would be meeting with Danny and other college students for an hour at 3 AM to answer any questions on Judaism that they brought up. Danny had ...


Vegetarianism and the Jewish Dietary 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 ...


Shavuot and Vegetarianism

There are many connections between vegetarianism and the Jewish festival of Shavuot: 1. Shavuot is described as "z'man matan Toratenu" (the season of the giving of our law (the Torah)). It is this Torah that has in its very first chapter God's original, strictly vegetarian, actually vegan, dietary law: "And God said: 'Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree ...


Belgium’s Shechita Ban Ignores Key Considerations

On May 5, 2017 Belgium’s Walloon region, its largest territory, outlawed the slaughter of un-stunned animals, meaning, in effect, that they banned kosher meat there, since Jewish ritual law requires that animals not be stunned prior to slaughter. Their decision overlooks some important considerations. First, it ignores the many problems related to stunning, These are thoroughly discussed in the book, Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, ...


     Climate Change: An Existential Threat to Israel, the U.S., and the World

This article initially appeared in the May 3 Jerusalem Post. I generally find articles by Seth Frantzman to be well-reasoned, insightful, and informative. So I was disappointed and saddened to read his April 25 article, “Plan for, don’t gripe about, climate change,” in which he argues that we should accept and plan to deal with climate change by, for example, planning “for ocean levels rising several inches,” …, “”instead of trying to ...


Lag B’Omer and Vegetarianism: Making Every Day Count

This article was co-authored with Dan Brook. Lag B'Omer is considered a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar, but even a minor holiday is still a holiday and therefore worth celebrating. A great way to celebrate Lag B'Omer is through vegetarianism, as Lag B'Omer is deeply connected to the Earth and its fruits. Lag B'Omer represents the 33rd day of the counting of the omer, the fifty days between Passover and Shavuot, reminding us of the link ...


This article initially was published in the May 3 issue of the Jerusalem Post Environmentalists demonstrate near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, as the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) meets, December 12, 2015. (photo credit:REUTERS) ------------- I generally find articles by Jerusalem Post op-ed editor Seth Frantzman to be well-reasoned, insightful and informative. So I was disappointed and ...


Why Peace is So important for Israel – a Yom Ha’atzmaut Message

This article points out the importance of peace for Israel to be able to more effectively address climate change and other environmental threats.  It considers why a just, comprehensive, sustainable, mutually-agreed-upon resolution of Middle East conflicts is essential and will have many benefits for Israel, the U.S., and even the entire world. (It is from Chapter 7 of the 2nd edition of my book, "Who Stole My Religion? Revitalising Judaism and ...


Should the Holocaust Be a Spur to Activism?

"For me the Holocaust was not only a Jewish tragedy, but also a human tragedy. After the war, when I saw that the Jews were talking only about the tragedy of six million Jews, I sent letters to Jewish organizations asking them to also talk about the millions of others who were persecuted together with us – many of them only because they helped Jews" – Simon Wiesenthal (1) Every year around Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, my Orthodox ...


Parshat Tzav: How Meat Consumption Today Differs from The Time of the Mishkan (Sanctuary) in the Wilderness

And that which is left thereof [from the meal-offering] shall Aaron and his sons eat; it shall be eaten without leaven in a holy place; in the tent of meeting they shall eat it. . . . it is most holy as the sin-offering and the guilt-offering. Leviticus 6:9.10 When the Jewish people were in the wilderness before they entered the land of Israel, the consumption of meat was associated with holiness. Every piece of meat consumed came from an animal ...


The Making of a Jewish Activist: My Biography From My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

I am a ba’al t’shuvah – meaning “one who has returned” – a Jew who started practicing Judaism late in life. I did not grow up in a religious family, and I did not receive a yeshiva education as observant Jewish children generally do today. Most of my current Jewish learning comes not from formal education, but from extensive reading and conversations with Jews from many different backgrounds, plus Torah classes and lectures over the ...


Summary and Conclusions Chapter of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

In this hour we, the living [post-Holocaust Jews], are “the people of Israel.” The tasks begun by the patriarchs and prophets and continued by their descendants are now entrusted to us. We are either the last Jews or those who will hand over the entire past to generations to come. We will either forfeit or enrich the legacy of ages. – Abraham Joshua Heschel (The Earth is the Lord’s), 107 ------------------------- What A Wonderful ...


How Can We Revitalise Judaism: Chapter 15 of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

Little does contemporary religion ask of man. It is ready to offer comfort; it has no courage to challenge. It is ready to offer edification; it has no courage to break the idols, to shatter callousness. The trouble is that religion has become “religion” – institution, dogma, ritual. It is no longer an event. Its acceptance involves neither risk nor strain. – Abraham Joshua Heschel183 We must cultivate a sense of injustice, impatience ...