Member since 2011

Richard Schwartz

Featured Causes: Judaism and Vegetarianism, climate change


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Restoring and Transforming the Ancient New Year for Animals

Another Jewish holiday? Don't we have enough already? Not according to Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), of which I am president emeritus. We are working with a coalition of Jewish groups and individuals 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 for sacrifices when the Jerusalem Temple stood) into a day devoted to increasing awareness of ...


How Should Jews React to the Polish Ban on Shechita?

Recently the Polish government banned the practice of shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter). How should Jews react? Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), of which I am President Emeritus, is against all slaughter, but we object when shechita is signaled out for criticism or is banned. Shechita was designed to minimize pain, but even if it is carried out with a minimum of pain, the many months during which animals are mistreated on factory farms ...


Restoring the New Year for Animals

Rosh Chodesh Elul, the beginning of the month before Rosh Hashanah, begins a month when the shofar is blown at weekday morning services (except on Shabbat), and Jews are to examine our deeds and consider how to align our lives more with Jewish values. When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, Rosh Chodesh Elul was a New Year for Animals, a day devoted to tithing for animal sacrifices. After the second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, there was no longer a ...


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 15-16, 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 the entire world that is ...


Tnuva Admission of Inherent Animal Abuses Should Get Dietary Issues Onto the Jewish Agenda

Pauline Dubkin Yearwood and Richard Schwartz "Slaughtering by its very nature causes the animals great suffering." Who said this? A vegan activist or someone from an animal rights group? That’s what you'd think, but prepare to be shocked: The statement was made by a major Israeli dairy and meat producer, Tnuva. The company is currently the defendant in two independent class action suits related to the ...


Do Torah Teachings Justify Animal Exploitation?

DO TORAH TEACHINGS JUSTIFY ANIMAL EXPLOITATION? Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. Many apologists for the exploitation of animals seek justification in scripture, but their presumption is largely due to the misunderstanding of two important Torah verses that, when properly conceived, actually endorse the struggle to improve conditions for animals. The first misunderstanding is that the Torah teaching that humans are granted ...


A Fictional Dialogue on Shavuot Night About Vegetarianism

Richard Schwartz 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 ...


Shavuot and Vegetarianism

Shavuot and Vegetarianism By Richard H. Schwartz 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 ...


A Shavuot Message: Applying Torah Values To Our Diets

A Shavuot Message: Applying Torah Values To Our Diets By Richard H. Schwartz 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, ...


Some Jewish Environmental Thoughts for Earth Day

Some Jewish Environmental Thoughts for Earth Day Richard H. Schwartz And the Lord God took the man [Adam] and put him into the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it.--Genesis 2:15 The earth was not created as a gift to you. You have been given to the earth, to treat it with respectful consideration, as God’s earth, and everything on it [must be seen] as God’s creation, and [animals recognized as] your fellow ...


Lag B’Omer and Vegetarianism

Lag B’Omer & Vegetarianism: Making Every Day Count Daniel Brook & Richard H. Schwartz Lag B’Omer, which begins after sundown on Saturday, April 27 in 2013, is considered a minor Jewish holiday, but even a minor holiday provides valuable lessons and is worth celebrating. A great way to celebrate Lag B’Omer is through vegetarianism, as Lag B’Omer has many vegetarian connections. Lag B’Omer represe...


Jewish Teachings on the Environment (Part 1)

Jewish Teachings on the Environment (Part 1) by Richard Schwartz With Earth Day approaching (April 22), it is a good time to consider some of Judaism’s powerful teachings on the environment. Some people argue that humankind has been given a license to exploit the earth and its creatures, because God gave us “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creeps upon the earth” (Genesis ...


Imagining a Vegan World

Imagining a Vegan World


Environmental Connections to Passover

Environmental Connections to Passover By Richard H. Schwartz In view of the many current environmental crises that face the world today, this is a good time to consider environmental messages related to Passover and the events and concepts related to the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt: 1. Today's environmental threats can be compared in many ways to the Biblical ten plagues: * When we consider the threats to our land, ...


Freeing Ourselves at Passover From Harmful Eating

Freeing Ourselves at Passover from Harmful Eating Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. Jews commendably go to extraordinary lengths before and during Passover to avoid certain foods, in keeping with Torah mitzvot. But at the same time, we continue eating other foods that, by Torah standards, are hardly ideal. On Passover, Jews are prohibited from eating, owning, or otherwise benefiting from chometz. Chometz are foods such as ...


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

Parshat Tzav: How Meat Consumption Today Differs from 
The Time of the Mishkan (Sanctuary) in the Wilderness Richard H. Schwartz, PhD 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 ...


Passover and Vegetarianism

Passover and Vegetarianism By Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. Passover and vegetarianism? Can the two be related? After all, what is a Seder without gefilte fish, chicken soup, chopped liver, chicken, and other meats? And what about the shank bone to commemorate the paschal sacrifice? And doesn't Jewish law mandate that Jews eat meat to rejoice on Passover and other Jewish festivals? An increasing number of Jews are turning to vegetaria...


Environmental connections to Passover

Environmental Connections to Passover By Richard H. Schwartz In view of the many current environmental crises that face the world today, this pre-Passover period is a good time to consider environmental messages related to the holiday and the events and concepts related to the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt: 1. Today's environmental threats can be compared in many ways to the Biblical ten plagues: * When we consider the ...


A Vision for Judaism in this Time of Multiple Crises

A Vision for Judaism in This Time of Multiple Crises Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. Here is my long-held vision for Judaism in this time of multiple crises: To be a Jew is to see the world through the eyes of God, to be unreconciled to the world as it is, to be discontented with the status quo and unafraid to challenge it. To be a Jew is to be a co-worker with God in the task of perfecting the world, to know that the world remains unredeemed ...