Animals Subscribe

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


Blogs

Freeing Ourselves at Passover From Diets That Harm Us and Our Planet

Some 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 from contact with liquid. These prohibitions are based on several Torah verses and are observed with great care by ...

Read More


A Jewish Vegetarian Response to Efforts to Ban Shechita

As president emeritus of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I would like to address the many recent efforts in several countries to ban shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter). First, although JVNA believes that every person should be a vegan and that there should be NO slaughter of animals at all, we also oppose efforts to single out shechita for special criticism. There are many factors in the shechita process designed to minimize pain. Animals are to be killed by a shochet (ritual slaughterer), a religious Jew who is especially trained and certified. He ideally ...

Read More


Frequently Asked Questions About Animal Sacrifices

1. If God wanted us to have vegetarian diets and not harm animals, why were the Biblical sacrificial services established? During the time of Moses, it was the general practice among all nations to worship by means of sacrifice. There were many associated idolatrous practices. The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides stated that God did not command the Israelites to give up and discontinue all these manners of service because "to obey such a commandment would have been contrary to the nature of man, who generally cleaves to that to which he is used to." For this reason, ...

Read More


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 acts of sharing and compassion, animal-based diets involve the feeding of over 70 percent of the grain in the United States ...

Read More


Why Jews Should Oppose Ag-Gag Laws


The current widespread mistreatment of animals in the food industry, especially on factory farms, is inconsistent with Judaism’s ethic of compassion for animals. Nevertheless, most Jews are eating foods that entail animal abuse in almost all major phases of animal agriculture. In addition to institutionalized abuses that are integral to the raising of animals for food, many undercover videos have revealed sadistic mistreatment of animals by workers. But instead of taking the necessary steps to put an end to such abuses, the animal food industries would rather cover ...

Read More


Book Review of “A Plate of Resistance: Vegetarianism as a Response to World Violence”

A Plate of Resistance: Vegetarianism as a Response to World Violence By Helene Defossez; translated from the French by Katie Chabriere: illustrated by Marc Defossez; New York: Lantern Books, 2014 Reviewed by Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. A Plate of Resistance is a very welcome addition to the rapidly growing number of books on vegetarianism and veganism. The book is relatively slim – only 141 pages, including a foreword, preface, bibliography, notes, and a list of background resources - and it does not aim to present a comprehensive coverage of all aspects of ...

Read More


Creating a Jewish Vegetarian Consciousness

Based on my over 30 years of promoting vegetarianism and veganism in the Jewish community and beyond, I believe that it is essential that there be a major shift to plant-based diets to help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path. Jews can and should play a major role in accomplishing this goal. As indicated in my article below, a major societal shift by Jews (and others) to veg diets is essential to efforts to avert a looming climate catastrophe, major food, water, and energy scarcities, and other potential environmental disasters. "Environmental Catastro...

Read More


Is Fur a Jewish Issue?

Jewish worshipers chant every Sabbath morning, "The soul of every living being shall praise God’s name" (Nishmat kol chai t’varech et shim’chah). Yet, some come to synagogue during winter months wearing coats that required the cruel treatment of some of those living beings whose souls, we declare, praise God. Should Jews wear fur? Several factors should be considered: 1. What does the Jewish tradition teach about the treatment of animals? 2. How much suffering do animals who are raised or trapped for their fur experience? 3. Does the wearing of fur coats have ...

Read More


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. If you do, please let me know how it turns out. Thanks. Jewish Vegetarian Activist: Shalom rabbi.. Rabbi: Shalom. Good to see you. JVA: Rabbi, I have been meaning to speak to you for some time about an issue, but I have hesitated because I know how busy you are, but I think ...

Read More


Hey American Rabbis: Wake Up and Smell the Cruelty

From their perch in America, many Diaspora Jews look at the Orthodox Rabbinate in Israel as a bunch of Neanderthals who use clubs to beat back any modern innovation or progressive idea. No offense to any Neanderthals. But The Beet-Eating Heeb, for one, might have to revise his assessment of Israel’s Rabbinical leadership. On one issue that is near and dear to BEH’s heart, and probably to yours as well, the newly elected Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel recently made a very enlightened statement. And BEH is all for giving credit where credit is ...

Read More


Will Scandal at Israeli Slaughterhouse Change Jews’ Diets?

"We will not tolerate giving kashrus supervision to a factory that ignores animal cruelty issues." This statement by the recently elected Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau, along with his promise to look into the kashrus status of facilities where abuses of animals occur, has the potential to greatly change the ways that animals are raised and slaughtered, as well as the eating habits of Jews. Chief Rabbi Lau expressed his outrage and concerns after seeing a video shown on Israeli television’s channel 10 Kolbotek program on October 29. The video had underc...

Read More


Chanukah and Vegetarianism

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 vegetarian 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 represent non-conf...

Read More


The Urban Adamah Fellowship Now Accepting 2014 Applications

Connect to Something Bigger: Earth, Community, Social Justice, Jewish Spirituality The Urban Adamah Fellowship, based in Berkeley, CA, is a three-month residential training program for young adults (ages 21–31) that combines urban organic farming, social justice training and progressive Jewish learning and living within the setting of an intentional community. Through the operation of Urban Adamah’s one-acre organic farm and internships with social justice organizations, fellows gain significant skills, training and experience in all aspects of ...

Read More


Vegetarian Week Analysis: How Our Food Choices Can Help Avert a Climate Catastrophe

There is good news and bad news. Unfortunately, the bad news is extremely bad, perhaps the most inconvenient truth one can imagine: the world is rapidly heading toward a climate catastrophe. This is the view of science academies worldwide and of over 97% of climate scientists. Global temperatures have been rising. The 12 warmest years since temperature records have been kept in 1880 have occurred since 1998. Every decade since the 1970s has been warmer than the previous decade. Glaciers and polar ice sheets are melting far faster than the projections of climate scienti...

Read More


G-d’s Forgotten Covenant

Jews around the world this week are reading the story of Noah in Genesis 9. (Was he the one who first said, “When it rains, it pours”?) Ironically, while most people associate this story with the saving of animals in the Ark, it is in this particular Torah portion that God first gives humans permission to kill animals for food. Yup, the animals had barely set foot on terra firma when God told Noah and his sons, “Every living thing that moves shall be food for you.” You can practically hear the cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys ...

Read More


Sukkot, Simchat Torah, and Vegetarianism

There are many connections that can be made between vegetarianism and the joyous Jewish festivals of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret (the Eighth Day of Solemn Assembly), and Simchat Torah: 1. Sukkot commemorates the 40 years when the ancient Israelites lived in the wilderness in frail huts and were sustained by manna. According to Isaac Arama (1420-1494), author of Akedat Yitzchak, and others, the manna was God's attempt to reestablish for the Israelites the vegetarian diet (Genesis 1:29) that prevailed before the flood, in the time ...

Read More


Yom Kippur and Vegetarianism

There are many connections that can be made between the 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 over a million Americans annually. 2. On Yom Kippur, Jews pray to a "compassionate ...

Read More


Why Perform a Rite That Kills Chickens as a Way to Seek God’s Compassion?

During the ten-day period starting on Rosh Hashanah and ending on Yom Kippur, Judaism's holiest day, Jews seek God's compassion and ask for forgiveness for transgressions during the previous year so that they will have a happy, healthy, peaceful year. Yet, many Jews perform the rite of kapparot (in Ashkenazic Hebrew kappores or in Yiddish, shluggen kappores) in the days before Yom Kippur, a ritual that involves the killing of chickens. Kapparot is a custom in which the sins of a person are symbolically transferred to a fowl. First, selections from Isaiah 11:9, Psalms ...

Read More


Rosh Hashanah and Vegetarianism

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 Hashanah and the realities of animal...

Read More


An Overlooked Mitzvah: Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chaim/A New Year for Animals Message

While tsa'ar ba'alei chaim (the mandate not to cause "sorrow to living creatures") is a Torah prohibition, 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 modern Orthodox congregation was incredulous. "What? Jews should be concerned about animals?" she exclaimed. • Some years ago, I was at a Sukkot gathering at which there ...

Read More