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A selection of initiatives, blogs, resources and communities on Jewcology which focus on animals.


Blogs

L’Shanah Tova and a thank you to our Earth Etudes for Elul Contributors

Elul is the month before Rosh Hashanah, a time when we review our lives and think about how we will live the coming year. Many of these earth etudes actually connect our earth with the spirit of Judaism–Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. We would like to thank Rabbi Katy Z. Allen for bringing together these awe-inspiring contributors, whose essays, poems and thoughts help us understand the meaning of our lives and how we can repair our world. And our Earth Etudes can be helpful throughout the year. So you can read them here: Earth Etude for Elul 1: Rabbi ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 27 — A Vegetarian Journey

by Susan Levine ~ When I think about Elul, I think about things I have done over my lifetime and the most important thing I’ve tried to do is to become a vegetarian. But let me start at the beginning: Both my parents grew up in kosher homes and when they got married, they had a kosher home. But it wasn’t kosher enough for my father’s mother who would visit my parents but wouldn’t touch the food. My mom didn’t see the point of being kosher if her mother-in-law still wouldn’t eat in her home. Instead she went full treif. As a child I pretty much ate ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 26: What do animals feel and think? Who are they?

by Rabbi David Seidenberg ~ That’s too broad a question by many degrees, but the difference between asking “who are they?” and “what are they?” is the gulf between civilizations, between epochs, between a world in which humans dominate and destroy, and a world in which humans collaborate with other species in the great project of the universe--Life. Since Descartes, the idea that the other animals (besides human beings) are not subjects has reigned in science. It became forbidden to say that animals have feelings, consciousness, thinking, despite the fact ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 25*– To the Silent Stones

by Sarah Chandler ~ Do you count your days in footsteps? In strollers? In sunlight? Cement and concrete Below my feet I take a peek at the patterns And the places Where tiny rocks gather Solid, safe, secure What was it was like To move your entire being From a quarry of friends To this square of sidewalk? City stones Bricks, brownstone, marble Are your family now You The eyes of Our neighborhood My commute My shabbat walk Sometimes the trees Insist that their roots Decorate your patterns And Your cracks keep my steps whole Each journey down the ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 22 — Lessons from Alaska

by Rabbi Suri Levow Krieger Alaska... Hut in Alaska surrounded by flowers. I expected to be awed by the Glaciers. I was not disappointed.  I anticipated being enLightened by 22 consecutive hours of sunlight. It was outstanding. What I did not expect, was day after day of 80 degree weather. And the following week… Anchorage registered 90 degrees as a massive ‘heat dome’ hovered over the city. This topped the previous record set at Anchorage International Airport of 85 degrees on June 14, 1969. It is good news for the Flora and Fauna! ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 14 –Inner and Outer Climate Change

by Rabbi Robin Damsky A local toad finds a home in the pot of a rooting African violet (yes, the leaf got displaced). ~It’s been a year of change. Not just a move, but a move to a new climate zone and a very new culture. I moved from outside Chicago to Durham, NC, the South. The trees here are glorious – pines everywhere, wisteria in April blooming in the wild, crepe myrtle in vivid fuchsia and pale pastels just now. It’s hot. Average days are in the 90s and one can almost swim in the humidity. A long growing season brought daffodils in February, while I just ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 5 — True Tikkun Olam

by Dr. Karen I. Shragg ~ Euphemisms have always hurt us. Jews have had their ears tuned in to anti-Semitic language for a long, long time and know when someone is trying to paint us in a negative picture while couching it in coded language. But there is a new way that euphemisms are hurting the whole planet and its future. Recently the forecast of species extinctions and climate change have alarmed us and sent us running to our recycle bins, organic food and if we have time, to our laptops to write letters to the editor about the evils of using pesticides. We hear ...

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My six articles related to Tu Bishvat

My 6 articles related to Tu Bishvat are below. You can scroll down to read each one. 1. Why Is This Night Different?: Thoughts on Tu Bishvat 2. Preserving the Sacred Environment: A Religious Imperative – A Tu Bishvat Message 3. Lessons From Trees: a Tu Bishvat Message 4. Celebrating Tu Bishvat as if Environmental Sustainability Matters 5. For Tu Bishvat: 36 Jewish Quotations About Trees 6. Tu Bishvat and Veganism (Suggestions very welcome) 1. Why Is This Night Different?: Thoughts on Tu Bishvat       One of the highlights of the Passover ...

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Dvar Torah for parashat Sh’mot: Compassion to Animals – a Test for Leadership

     Parshat Sh’mot begins the story of Moshe (Moses), the greatest Jewish leader, prophet, teacher, and inspiration. It is instructive and important to consider why he was deemed fit to lead the Jewish people. After all, when he was chosen, unlike other leaders, he was not a military hero or leader, a major legislator, or an eloquent speaker - actually he initially had difficulty speaking and he had to rely on his brother Aaron for help in communicating.      So why was he chosen? The following midrash, rabbinic commentary on the bible, provides some insight:...

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Climate Change: An Existential Threat to the U.S., Israel, and the World 

The greatest threat to humanity today is climate change. The world is on a path that could lead to an uninhabitable world by the end of the century unless major changes soon occur. And it might happen much sooner because of self-reinforcing positive feedback loops (vicious cycles) that could result in an irreversible tipping point when climate change spins out of control. An outrageous exaggeration, like those in the past that predicted an end to the world? Not according to science academies worldwide, 97% of climate scientists, and virtually all peer-reviewed papers on ...

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Should Jews be Vegetarians: A Debate

This debate initially appeared in the Jerusalem Post on October 25, 1999, but it is still very relevant today. ==================== SHOULD JEWS BE VEGETARIANS? A DEBATE (Richard H.Schwartz, PhD's debate with Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, which appeared years ago in the Jerusalem Report) ========== Introduction: In addition to its benefits for health, animals, and the environment, vegetarianism may be  called for by some of Judaism's most cherished tenets. Is it time to reconsider our dietary traditions? Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, Rabbinic Coordinator of the Kashrut ...

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Should Jews Be Vegetarians, or Even Vegans?

The consumption of meat and other animal products  and the ways in which they are produced today conflict seriously with Judaism in at least six important areas: While Judaism mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives, numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease, strokes, many forms of cancer, and other life-threatening diseases. 2. While Judaism forbids tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, inflicting unnecessary pain on animals, most farm animals -- including those raised for kosher ...

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Chanukah and Veganism

Jews can enhance their celebrations of the beautiful and spiritually meaningful holiday of Chanukah by making it a time to begin striving even harder to live up to Judaism's highest moral values and teachings by moving toward a vegan diet. Here are eight reasons, one for each night of Chanukah: 1. Chanukah represents the triumph of non-conformity. The Maccabees stuck to their inner beliefs, rather than conforming to external pressure. They were willing to say: This I believe, this I stand for, this I am willing to struggle for. Today, vegetarians, and even more so ...

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Vegan Connections to Chanukah

My article is co-authored with Daniel Brook, Ph.D. Chanukah commemorates the single small container of pure olive oil — expected to be enough for only one day — which, according to the Talmud (Shabbat 21b), miraculously lasted for eight days in the rededicated Temple.  A switch to vegetarianism, and even more so veganism, would be using our wisdom and compassion to help inspire another great miracle: the end of the tragedy of world hunger, therefore ensuring the survival of tens of millions of people annually. Currently, from one-third to one-half of the ...

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Yom Kippur and Vegetarianism

   by Richard Schwartz ~                          There are many connections that can be made between the sacred Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and vegetarianism: 1.  On Yom Kippur, Jews pray to the “Living God,” the “King Who delights in life,” that they should be remembered for life, and inscribed in the “Book of Life” for the New Year.  Yet, typical animal-based diets have been linked to heart disease, stroke, several types of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases, that shorten the lives of millions of people annually. 2. ...

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Rosh Hashanah and Vegetarianism*

by Richard Schwartz~ 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, and roast chicken, there are many inconsistencies between the values of Rosh  ...

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Rosh Hashanah Message: Saving Our World.

      by Richard 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. Hence, the upcoming weeks provide an excellent time to consider the state of the planet’s environment and what we might do to make sure that the world is on a sustainable path.      When God created the world, He was able to say, "It is tov meod (very good)." (Genesis 1:31) Everything was in ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 29 – World as Lover, World as Self

by Daniel Kieval~ there is a meditation practice watching everything arising, inside and outside responding with a gentle, "not me" this thought - "not me" this anger - "not me" this leg - "not me" "not me" it is a Big Truth all this stuff is unfolding in a giant performance art piece we call The Universe and we are just a witness to this flow They say the opposite of a small truth is a lie, but the opposite of a big truth is another big truth is it not equally true to say to everything - "me" ? this anger - "me" this song - "me" this wafting scent of ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 28 – Not One

by David Greenstein~ There is not one blade of grass on earth without its angel descending from above, prodding it urgently: “Grow, grow!”* And, in return, the grass keeps growing. There is not one lion on earth without its angel descending from above, prodding it urgently, “Roar, roar!” And, in return, the lion keeps roaring. There is not one stream on earth without its angel descending from above, prodding it urgently, “Flow, flow!” And, in return, the stream keeps flowing. There is not one bee on earth without its angel descending from above, ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 25 – The Hawk and the Kippah

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen~ For the past 13 years since my ordination, I have been wearing a rainbow kippah. The kippah and its pattern hold many meanings for me: connection to family, covenant with G!d, hope for the future, acceptance of all kinds of people (including myself), and more. Periodically, I have had to make a new kippah, when the previous one wore out. Recently, when I again needed to make a new kippah, as I thought about it, I realized that I wanted to make this new kippah slightly different from all my previous rainbow kippot. I crocheted the first few ...

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