Jewcology Blogs


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, Halacha has been jailed in compartmentalized and awkward boxes. It is time to liberate it. Most religious Jews are not ...

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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. “What? Jews should be concerned about animals?” she exclaimed. 2. Some years ago, I was at a Sukkot gathering at which ...

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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 encourages the restoration of the ancient New Year for Animals and its transformation into a day devoted to increasing ...

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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 conditions. Male chicks fare even worse as they are killed almost immediately after birth, since they can’t lay eggs ...

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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 sacrificial offerings (Mishna, Seder Moed, Tractate Rosh Hashana 1:1). Below are ten reasons why renewing this holiday ...

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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 conversations facing this country and a serious example of taking Jewish wisdom public. Produced at a high quality, this ...

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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 about the climate change forum and press conference, with some discussion or mention of the statement signed by the ...

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Aytzim (Ecological Judaism) is Back—Let’s reconnect!

It’s a mystery--we lost our Aytzim facebook page and all our facebook friends. So we will be sending out new invites to like our page. In case you have forgotten, we are all about the environment—saving our world. And these days, it has become more important than ever. Aytzim is the umbrella organization of: Green Zionist Alliance, Jewcology.org, EcoJews, and Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth. Aytzim means “trees” and here’s a little about the other organizations in our product grove: Green Zionist Alliance—Since its founding in 2001, the ...

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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 like Jeremiah to issue warnings, but we are getting increasingly dire warnings from climate scientists that now it is not ...

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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.” (Midrash: Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28) Today, 97% of climate scientists and all the major science academies worldwide-- an ...

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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 Jerusalem Press Club on July 26, in conjunction with the release of the rabbinic statement and signatures. We hope to ...

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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 the Jewish people of the need to change their unjust ways in order to avoid the destruction of Jerusalem. Today, ...

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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 and its Temple but the entire world that is threatened by climate change and its effects, species extinction, soil ...

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EcoPeace Middle East new publication; new brief

EcoPeace Middle East, a unique environmental organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israelis, with the primary objective of promoting cooperative efforts to protect the region's shared environmental heritage, recently published a new report entitled "Decoupling National Water Needs for National Water Supplies:  Insights and Potential for Countries in the Jordan Basin". This report analyses and compares the water allocation and management experience of Jordan, Palestine and Israel using the lens of economic and resource decoupling to highlight ...

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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 very familiar with the issues involved. Ten important climate-related factors that Jews should be aware of are: 1. ...

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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.  

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Shavuot and the Connection to Vegetarianism

  A compilation of articles by Richard Schwartz A Dialogue on Shavuot Night 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 recently become a vegetarian ...

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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 yielding seed - to you it shall be for food'" (Genesis 1:29). 2. To honor the Torah, many Jews stay up the entire first ...

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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 vegetarians, and preferably vegans, Jews would be partaking in a diet that is most consistent with these basic teachings. ...

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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 recently become a vegetarian and had done a lot of background reading on Jewish connections to vegetarianism and he wanted ...

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