Member since 2011

Richard Schwartz

Featured Causes: Judaism and Vegetarianism, climate change


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How Can Prayer Inspire Activism? Chapter 14 of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

  Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, and falsehoods. The liturgical movement must become a revolutionary movement, seeking to overthrow the forces that continue to destroy the promise, the hope, the vision. – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel180 -------------- Based on Rabbi Heschel’s challenging statement above, prayers should help ...


Should Jews be Vegetarians, or Even Vegans, Chapter 13 of MY Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every fruit tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food...” – Genesis 1:29 The dietary laws are designed to teach us compassion and to lead us gently to vegetarianism. – Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat, Israel What was the necessity for the entire procedure of ritual slaughter? For the sake of self-discipline. It ...


Judaism and Animal Rights- Chapter 12 of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

JUDAISM AND ANIMAL RIGHTS There are probably no creatures that require more the protective Divine word against the presumption of man than the animals, which like man have sensations and instincts, but whose body and powers are nevertheless subservient to man. In relation to them man so easily forgets that injured animal muscle twitches just like human muscle, that the maltreated nerves of an animal sicken like human nerves, that the animal ...


Should Jews Be Environmental Activists?

This is chapter 11 of my book, "Who Stole My Religion? Revitalising Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperilled Planet" 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 ...


Is Judaism a Radical Religion?

There are no words in the world more knowing, more disclosing, and more indispensable. Words both stern and graceful, heart-rending and healing. A truth so universal – Elohim [God] is One. A thought so consoling – He is with us in distress. A responsibility so overwhelming – His Name can be desecrated. A map of time – from creation to redemption. Guideposts along the way: The Seventh Day; An offering – contrition of the heart. A utopia ...


The Political Shift of Orthodox Jews to the Right and Its Effects

This is chapter 2 of my book, "Who Stole My Relgion?" There is no precedent, whether in the European experience or Israel, for the nasty political and ideological writing that has become standard fare in U.S. fervently Orthodox publications, particularly the stream of vituperation directed against the Obama administration and the collateral adoption of far right positions....I believe that the embrace of right-wing attitudes is a factor in the ...


Who Stole My Religion?

Note: This is chapter one of my book, "Who Stole My Religion? I am a Jew because the faith of Israel [Judaism] demands no abdication of my mind. I am a Jew because the faith of Israel asks every possible sacrifice of my soul. I am a Jew because in all places where there are tears and suffering the Jew weeps. I am a Jew because in every age when the cry of despair is heard the Jew hopes. I am a Jew because the message of Israel is the most ...


Preface to “Who Stole My Religion?” by Richard H. Schwartz

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. – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel1 On some positions, Cowardice asks the question “Is it safe?” Expediency ...


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 of the five grains (wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and oats) that ferment ...


Applying Passover Messages Can Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet

There are many Passover-related messages that can be applied to help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path: 1. Today's environmental threats can be compared in many ways to the Biblical ten plagues: * When we consider the threats to our land, water, and air, we can easily enumerate ten modern "plagues". For example: (1) climate change; (2) depletion of the ozone layer; (3) destruction of tropical rain forests; (4) acid rain; (5) soil ...


Passover and Vegetarianism or Veganism

Passover and vegetarianism or veganism? Can they 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 vegetarianism and veganism and are finding ways to celebrate vegetarian or vegan ...


A Vegan Purimshpiel

Reb Henna taught: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Clearly, the chicken. How do we know this? We learn from Megillat Esther that when Mordecai asked Esther to go before King Ahashveros to plead for the Jewish people, she was ‘chicken,’ fearing for her life. Only when Mordecai ‘egged’ her on, telling her that perhaps she was enabled to be queen for just this EGGcelent purpose, did she muster the courage and ‘scrambled’ to appear ...


The Complete Text of My Latest Book, “Who Stole My Religion? Revitalising Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperilled Planet”/Please Share

I am posting the complete text of my book, because I want to start as many respectful dialogues on the key issues as I can, with the hope that this will help revitalise Judaism and also help shift our imperilled planet onto a sustainable path. ---------------------- WHO STOLE MY RELIGION? Revitalizing Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet By Richard H. Schwartz with Rabbi Yonassan Gershom and Rabbi Dr. ...


Purim and Vegetarianism

There are many connections between vegetarianism and the Jewish festival of Purim: 1. According to the Talmud, Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, was a vegetarian while she lived in the palace of King Achashverus. She was thus able to avoid violating the kosher dietary laws while keeping her Jewish identity secret. 2. During Purim it is a mitzvah to give "mat'not evyonim" (added charity to poor and hungry people). In contrast to these ...


A Dialogue Between a Jewish Vegetarian Activist and a Rabbi

  For a long time, I have been trying to start a respectful dialogue in the Jewish community. Because I have had very little success, I am presenting the fictional dialogue below. I hope that many readers will use it as the basis of similar dialogues with local rabbis, educators, and community leaders. Please share with others. Jewish Vegetarian Activist: Shalom rabbi. Rabbi: Shalom. Good to see you. JVA: Rabbi, I have been meaning to ...


 The Best Approach to Promoting Veganism?

  While climate change is an existential threat the United States, and, indeed, the entire world, there has not been sufficient attention to it by most people. It was not discussed at all during the recent presidential debates, and was not a major campaign issue. Unfortunately, “denial is not just a river in Egypt,” and most people today are, in effect, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as we head toward a giant iceberg. Here are ...


Questions That Can Be Considered at Tu Bishvat Seders (With Responses)

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. Please send me suggestions for additional questions and for improved answers. Thanks. The questions are below, followed by suggested answers: 1. What is the origin of Tu Bishvat? 2. Where is Tu Bishvat mentioned in the Tanach? 3. Why are we considering trees and ...


For Tu Bishvat: 36 Jewish Quotations About Trees

Since Tu Bishvat is considered the "birthday for trees," a time when trees are to be judged regarding their fate for the coming year, I hope the following Jewish quotations about trees and fruits will be helpful for celebrations of this increasingly popular holiday. 1. And God said: "Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit -- to you it shall be for food." ...


Tu B’Shvat and Vegetarianism

Tu B'Shvat is arguably the most vegetarian of Jewish holidays, because of its many connections to vegetarian themes and concepts: 1. The Tu B'Shvat Seder in which fruits and nuts are eaten, along with the singing of songs and the recitation of biblical verses related to trees and fruits, is the only sacred meal where only vegetarian, actually vegan, foods, are eaten. This is consistent with the diet in the Garden of Eden, as indicated by God's first, ...


Celebrating Tu Bishvat as if Environmental Sustainability Matters

Since Tu Bishvat, the “New Year for Trees,” has increasingly become a “Jewish Earth Day,” why not use Tu Bishvat Seders as, among other things, a time to consider how we can effectively respond to current environmental crises that threaten all life on the planet? The world is rapidly heading toward a climate catastrophe, severe food, water, and energy scarcities, and other environmental disasters. This is a strong consensus of almost all climate ...