Member since 2011

Richard Schwartz

Featured Causes: Judaism and Vegetarianism, climate change


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Elul: A Time to Start Shifting Our Imperiled Planet Onto a Sustainable Path

by Richard Schwartz~ Elul is here. It represents an opportunity for heightened introspection, a chance to consider teshuva, changes in our lives, before the “Days of Awe,” the days of judgment, the “High holidays" of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The shofar is blown every morning (except on Shabbat) in synagogues during the month of Elul to awaken us from slumber, to remind us to consider where we are in our lives and to urge us to consider ...


Judaism, Vegetarianism, and Health

The material below is a slightly modified version of chapter 3 from the 3rd edition of my book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism," which was published in 2001 by Lantern Publications. "You may not rob yourself of your life nor cause your body the slightest injury....Only if the body is healthy is it an efficient instrument for the spirit’s activity....Therefore you should avoid everything which might possibly impair your health....And the law asks ...


Rosh Hashanah Message: Is God’s ‘Very Good’ World Approaching an Unprecedented Climate Catastrophe? Richard H. Schwartz Rosh Hashanah commemorates God’s creation of the world. The “Ten Days of Repentance” from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is a period to evaluate our deeds and to do teshuvah (repentance) for cases where we have missed the mark. Sukkot is a holiday in which we leave our fine houses and live in temporary shelters (sukkahs) ...


Inconsistencies Between Animal-Based Diets and Rosh Hashanah-Related Teachings

Rosh Hashanah is the time when Jews take stock of their lives and consider new beginnings. Perhaps the most significant and meaningful change that Jews should consider this year is a shift away from diets that have been having devastating effects on human health and the health of our increasingly imperiled planet. While many Jews seem to feel that the holiday's celebration can be enhanced by the consumption of chopped liver, gefilte fish, chicken soup, ...


Rosh Hashanah: A Time to Start Shifting Our Imperiled Planet Onto a Sustainable Path

Rosh Hashanah, the anniversary of the creation of the world, is a good time to assess how we are doing in fulfilling our mandated role of being co-workers with God in preserving the environment. When God created the world, He was able to say, "It is very good." (Genesis 1:31) Everything was in harmony as God had planned, the waters were clean, and the air was pure. But what must God think about the world today? What must God think when the rain God ...


An Acclaimed Documentary That Can Help Save the World”

Our planet is imperiled as perhaps never before by climate change and other environmental threats. It is urgent that steps be taken immediately to avoid the unprecedented catastrophe toward which the world is rapidly heading. Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), now named Jewish Veg, has produced a major documentary about how Jewish teachings can help address current environmental crises. While this one-hour documentary -- entitled "A SACRED ...


Hurricane Harvey Should Be a Wake-up Call to the Urgency of Working to Avert a Climate Catastrophe

The catastrophic effects of Hurricane and now Tropical Storm Harvey should be the latest and strongest of wakeup-calls to the fact that the world is heading toward a climate catastrophe. Of course there have always been severe storms, but we have now had three (Katrina, Sandy, and Harvey) in 13 years, whereas in the past they may have happened once in 100 years or more. There are three important climate change factors that are ...


An Israeli Orthodox Rabbi’s Challenge to the Jewish Establishment

The Problem and Future of True Halachah Part One of four parts, by Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo. Excerpts from Jewish Law as Rebellion: A Plea for Religious Authenticity and Halachic Courage. Rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo, Urim Publications, Jerusalem, New York, August 2017. {Soon to be published.] The Problem It is time to start thinking big about Halacha. Great opportunities are awaiting us and too much is at stake to let them pass by. For too long, ...


A Forgotten Mitzvah: Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chaim

While tsa’ar ba’alei chaim (the Torah mandate to avoid causing “sorrow to living creatures”) is a Torah prohibition, most Jews, including many religious Jews, seem to be unaware of it or to not consider it of any great importance. Some examples reinforce this assertion: Upon reading an article about my efforts to get Jewish teachings on animals onto the Jewish agenda, a member of my former modern Orthodox congregation was incredulous. ...


Update on the Major Effort to Restore and Transform the Ancient New Year for Animals

In an effort to restore the ancient New Year for Animals and to transform it into a day devoted to increasing awareness of Judaism's teachings on compassion to animals and how far current realities are from these teachings, the message below has been sent to many rabbis and other influential Jews. please help by sharing the message widely. Many thanks. ----------- Dear Rabbi, Please let us know if you are willing to sign the message below that ...


An Audacious Initiative to Restore the Ancient New Year for Animals

The conditions under which animals are raised for food today are completely contrary to Jewish teachings about compassion to animals: While Judaism teaches that “God’s compassion is over all His works” (Psalms 145:9), egg laying hens are kept in cages so small that they can’t raise even one wing and they are debeaked without anesthetic to prevent them from harming other birds due to pecking from frustration in their very unnatural ...


Ten Reasons for Restoring and Transforming the Ancient New Year for Animals

A coalition of Jewish groups (list in formation at the end of this article) have supported efforts to restore and transform the ancient and largely forgotten Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana L’Ma’aser BeHeima (New Year's Day for Tithing Animals) into a day devoted to considering how to improve our relationships with animals. The holiday occurs on the first day of the month of Elul and was initially devoted to counting domesticated animals intended for ...


What People Are Saying About “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal the World,” a Powerful One-Hour Documentary on Jewish Teachings on the Environment and Vegetarianism

What People Are Saying about A Sacred Duty "We at CLAL believe that if Judaism is going to be taken seriously by American Jews and for that matter by all Americans, Jewish wisdom needs to contribute to and to add value to the debates at the center of our culture and politics. This documentary - whether or not one agrees with every detail - is an important contribution to one of the critical public policy ...


Links to the video of the Jerusalem inter-religious forum on climate change, and related material

Below are Links to various aspects related to a July 26 inter-religious climate change forum/press conference at the Jerusalem Press Club on July 26, 2017. Video of the complete event https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbMJM6aTWts&feature=youtu.be 2. Statement on climate change and the list of 37 Israeli Orthodox rabbis who signed it http://www.jewishecoseminars.com/statement-by-israel-orthodox-rabbis-on-the-climate-crisis/ 3. Articles ...


A Tisha B’Av Message: Will We Again Fail To Heed the Warnings?

Tisha B'Av (the 9th day of the month of Av) which we commemorate this year (2017) on July 31 - August 1, reminds us that over 2,000 years ago Jews failed to heed the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah about the importance of changing their ways, 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 no prophets ...


Statement I Drafted on Climate Change Threats and the List of 37 Israeli Orthodox Rabbis Who Signed It

STATEMENT BY ISRAELI ORTHODOX RABBIS ON THE CLIMATE CRISIS “In the hour when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the first man, he took him and let him pass before all the trees in the Garden of Eden and said to him:  "See my works, how fine and excellent they are.  Now all that I created I created for your benefit.  Think upon this and do not corrupt or destroy my world.  For if you destroy it, there is no one to restore it after you.” ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...