Jewcology Blogs


Earth Etude for Elul 6 – Once Upon a Time I Had a Garden

by Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum~ Once upon a time I had a garden. I must have been inspired by reading The Good Earth to plunge a spade into the unyielding, aptly named, Rockland soil. But, after moving rocks, boulders and many less natural obstacles, I protected the small plot and planted tomatoes, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts and 5 slender corn seedlings. As the spring turned to summer and blossoms turned to the beginnings of identifiable vegetables, I realized that I was going to share the bounty with a pudgy and persistent woodchuck, some opportunistic rabbits, ravening ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 5 – In Regard to Feathers

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen~ For many years I collected feathers. Walking along the trails, near my home or far away, whenever I spotted a feather, I brought it home. Together with rocks, shells, bits of wood, and other nature memorabilia, they helped to create a sense of the outdoors inside. The feathers meant a lot to me. Then one day, while trying to identify a feather my granddaughter had found, I stumbled inadvertently across a government website with information about feathers. I learned that it is illegal in the United States to collect feathers. The reason ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 4 – Finding Quiet for Reflection

by Hazzan Shoshana Brown~ Although Psalm 130 can be recited all year long, it is especially appropriate for the season of introspection and repentance, speaking as it does of waiting and watching for the dawn. I have chosen photos that look up to the hills "out of the depths," as the psalmist says, and also out at the sea, or at the early moments of the rising sun, or at its setting. They are mostly lonely pictures, since it is in quiet and reflection that we search our souls, but since we are often most aware of God when we behold God's beauty in creation, I have ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 3 – Environmental Etude

by Rabbi Sam Yolen~ At this point in time, to write something about the environment has to be more of a “in commemoration of” than a “dedicated to” exercise. We’ve been standing at the juncture of run-away environmental change for longer than I can remember, and the patience of the Earth to absorb our species’ immaturity has indeed turned into vengeance. From fracking the Earth’s crust to clear cutting forests, we’ve done things that most ancient cultures would find unfathomable -- real crimes against the future of humanity. The biblical truth that ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 2 – Twilight

by Carol C. Reiman~ Sky still blue, Eyes still brown-- Colors Fading. ~ Leaf veins branch, Hand veins thin-- Skin Cascading. ~ What time we have; Have we time-- To laugh in sync, While eyes dim. ~ Leaves dry, Sweep away; Book of Life Unfurls pages. ~ Where the path? Circling, thin, Narrowing As the fog sets in. ~ The blue, The eyes, Change color, Go. ~ The sun Goes on Beyond Our line Of sight. ~ To other Realms In other Forms. ~ Our day, Our year, Teaching, Thought All Turn... Carol C. Reiman is out of library work into ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 1 – A Pilgrimage to Honor the Earth

by Rabbi Moshe Givental~ Over a decade ago now, I was sitting in a Parshah HaShavua (weekly Torah Portion) class and my teacher asked the following question: Why are human beings called ADAM in our holy Torah? ADAMAH, after all, is our Hebrew word for the Earth. So ADAM would mean something like Earth-ling. However, human beings are no more from the earth than any other life on our majestic planet. When we name something, we pick a name to highlight some unique quality of that being before us. Names are not chosen at random. Rabbi Yehoshua Karsh then paused for a  ...

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Summary of my key activities to promote veganism during the two years I have been living in Israel

Shalom, I would like to update you on some of the things I have been doing to promote veganism in the now two years that I have been living in Israel, with the hope that it might inspire others to take similar actions. With many of the areas of my involvement I have added a suggestion of how it could be applied more widely to break through the current widespread denial, apathy, misinformation, and resistance and help get veganism and related issues onto the Jewish agenda.I am sorry that this message is very long but I hope the examples and suggestions I include make it ...

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Four articles advocating restoring and transforming the ancient New Year for Animals

by Richard Schwartz Shalom,       The ancient New Year for Animals falls on Rosh Chodesh Elul, (on August 11 - 12 in 2018). Included below are my 4 articles on why the holiday should be restored into a day devoted to increasing awareness of Judaism’s compassionate teachings on animals and why these teachings should be applied to reduce current abuses of animals.     The titles of the four articles are: Why an Ancient Jewish Holiday Should Be Restored and transformed. An Auditious Initiative to Restore the Ancient New Year for Animals  An ...

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Introducing the Organic Torah Translation Series

This year, starting in September, I or another Organic Torah teacher will write a monthly translation, summary and commentary on a short section of spiritual Torah. Most often it will be from the book Derekh HaMelekh, by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira (The Piazetzner Rebbe) (1889 – 1943). This first one is for everyone but starting in September, these translations will be offered to Organic Torah members. We’ll also have periodic members’ webinars, an online discussion forum, members’ discounts on Organic Torah classes and workshops, and more. So, please join us ...

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Prevention: the Jewish Approach to Health

Since maintaining a healthy and sound body is among the ways of God . . . ,  one must avoid that which harms the body and accustom oneself to that which is helpful and assists the body become stronger. (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deot 4:1)      Contemporary western medicine has generally focused on the treatment of diseases, rather than on their prevention. Medical schools teach that prescription drugs are the most powerful tools doctors have for treating disease; diet and other lifestyle changes are seldom stressed as therapeutic tools. The generally ...

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 Ten Ways to Help Create a Vegan-Conscious World

Eating meat and other animal products is destroying the planet, ruining our health, mistreating billions of farmed animals,  and contributing to hunger and the wasteful use of water, energy, and other valuable natural resources. Despite the increasing need for a shift toward veganism 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 strategies to promote veganism more effectively. The ten ideas suggested ...

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Two Articles Relating Tisha B’Av to Current Environmental Issues and Threats

1. Relating Tisha B'Av to Today’s Environmental Crises                         Tisha B'Av (the 9th day of the month of Av) which we commemorate in 2018 on July 21 - 22, 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 is no Jeremiah or other prophet, but it is thousands of climate exerts warning us that now ...

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The Youth Climate Weekend – Thursday, July 19 – Saturday, July 21

WE LOBBY - JULY 19 Zero Hour is not mobilizing just for the sake of mobilizing. We, the youth, are demanding an end to business as usual on climate change, so we have created science-backed demands for both our leaders, and the general public to take action on. On July 19th youth are taking over Capitol Hill to deliver our demands to our politicians. We are giving them the exact asks that we are marching for—so they have no excuse not to take action. ART BUILDS & COMMUNITY BUILDING - JULY 20 We will prepare for our mobilization by having art builds around the DC ...

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My Response To An Article Claiming “The US Left Is the Greatest Existential Threat Facing Israel”

This article is a response to an article, “The US Left is the greatest existential threat facing Israel,” that appeared in the Arutz Sheva Israel National News publication on July 2, 2018. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/22395 A very strong majority of Democratic politicians strongly support Israel and believe that Israel has the right to exist and to defend itself against terrorism and military attacks. Just as opposing Trump’s policies does not make one anti-American, opposing some of Israel’s current positions, as many Israelis, ...

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Acclaimed documentary, “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet,” to be shown in Jerusalem

Please forward the message below to Israelis you know who might be interested. Thanks. If you have not yet seen the documentary mentioned or haven’t seen it in many years, I strongly suggest you see it and consider how you might use it to promote veganism in Jewish communities. A complimentary DVD will be sent to you if you would like to arrange a showing. You can freely see the one-hour video at www.ASacredDuty.com or by going to You Tube and searching for A Sacred Duty. Thanks. Kol tuv, Richard ======== Thursday July 5th Gathering and ...

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My challenge to Chabad, the Lubavitch chasidic movement

I recently completed a Chabad course, 'Faith and Food,' which discussed how to sanctify eating. I was very disappointed because the moral and halachic (Jewish law) issues related to the production and consumption of meat and other animal-sourced foods were not addressed. I felt that Chabad missed a great opportunity. So I posted the message below when asked to evaluate the course: Kol hakavod to Chabad, Rabbi Kaplan and everyone else involved in preparing and presenting this course. However, as president emeritus of Jewish Veg, formerly Jewish Vegetarians of North ...

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Spring, the Gift of Abundance, and New Membership Offerings!

This post originally appeared at: http://organictorah.org/spring-and-the-gift-of-abundance/ As we start this new time of beginnings, we’re very excited to announce the new offerings for Organic Torah membership for the coming year 2018 – 2019. For Individual Memberships we’re very proud to offer a monthly translation/commentary by Rabbi Margalit, in addition to regular webinars and discounts. Our Synagogue Membership has also expanded to include an Organic Torah private seminar series just for your synagogue. If your synagogue would like to bring Rabbi ...

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Why Israel Should Not Be Lauding President Trump

  Of course, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel; it always has been and always will be. But the vast majority of the world’s nations will not acknowledge this unless it is part of a negotiated agreement ending the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. So was it wise for President Trump to have the US embassy moved to Jerusalem now? And, given all of Trump’s negatives, the fact that a strong majority of US Jews have very negative opinions about him, and the widespread protests that are occurring following the moves, should Israel be lauding Trump? —————...

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This Mother’s Day Be Good to Mother Earth.

Here are ways you can be “greener” for Mother’s Day and going forward: Reduce. Try to buy less — especially those things that have a negative impact on the environment, such as plastic tableware if you have company coming for Mother’s Day dinner. Reduce your energy needs. Winter is finally over and it’s warmer inside and out. Open your windows and let the fresh air in. If it is really hot, set your thermostat no higher than 78°F (26°C) when you are home and higher when you are away (information from the U.S. Department of Energy). A programmable ...

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My Climate Change Statement and the Lists of the 43 Israeli Orthodox Rabbis and 34 Israeli Masorti Rabbis Who Signed So Far

I hope to seek signatures of IsraeliReform Rabbis in conjunction with a future climate change conference STATEMENT ON THE CLIMATE CRISIS (signed so far by 43 Israeli Orthodox rabbis and 34 Israeli Masorti rabbis). “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 ...

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