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


Blogs

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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Working Together: Will a Single Plan Ameliorate Climate Disruption? Earth Etude for Elul 23

by Andy Oram~ Climate disruption is a universal scourge that requires a coordinated worldwide response. As such, it is a constant frustration to activists who wish that institutions everywhere could collaborate on implementing the Paris accords and to do even more. We often lament that governments and companies go their own ways, violating their own promises to hold back carbon production. Why can't humanity learn to work together in its own interest? Recourse to Jewish traditional texts can help us accept this situation. In particular, the story of the ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 18

Awareness of Holiness: Re-enchantment with the World and Restitution by Renee Shapiro~ A few years ago I did a short, pithy d’var Torah with my photos based on a couple of lines from a portion I was learning. The lines are Exodus/Shemot 3:4-5. 4.When YHWH saw that he had turned aside to see, God called out to him out of the midst of the bush, He said Moshe! Moshe! He said, here I am.  5. He said: Do not come near to here, put off your sandal from your foot—for the place on which you stand—it is holy ground (Everett Fox translation) It strikes me that the ...

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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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Three Shavuot Articles Related to Vegetarianism

~Please feel free to share these articles widely. Thanks. By Richard Schwartz.   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, ...

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Rainbow Day is on Shabbat Behar in 2018, May 11-12!

Celebrate Rainbow Day and the Rainbow Covenant with all Life! The first covenant in the Torah, when Noah leaves the ark, is a covenant with all creatures, and a covenant with the Earth itself, not just with humanity. There are so many ways you can teach about this covenant, the rainbow covenant, on the day it was established! What is Rainbow Day?  On the 27th day of the second month, Noah, his family, and all the animals that were with them left the ark (Genesis 8). Exactly one lunar year and ten days before—one complete solar year—the flood began on the ...

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No Other Gods: The Politics of the Ten Commandments

A Book Review of No Other Gods: The Politics of the Ten Commandments By Ana Levy-Lyons Published by  Center Street/Hachette 2018 Reviewed by Rabbi Natan Margalit, Organic Torah Originally published in Tikkun Magazine (link) It is evident from the first page that this book is swimming against the current in our contemporary political and spiritual landscape. Author Ana Levy-Lyons tells a story in her preface about how one of her teachers back in high school liked to entertain the kids by listing oxymorons: pretty ugly, jumbo shrimp, etc, and he sometimes ...

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Passover: The Beginning of an Answer to Short-Circuit Thinking

After hearing the speeches given by brave, heart-broken teenagers at the March for Our Lives rallies, my heart can’t help but be broken as well. The plague of gun violence in this country is out of control and, as they have said, “enough is enough!” Yet, invariably, close behind hearing these speeches on the radio or reading about them in the newspaper, I get the balanced reporting about arguments from the pro-gun advocates. These pro-gun arguments invariably center around the idea that if the good guys have more guns and are trained to use them, then we’d all ...

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The Magic of Emergence

“The whole is greater than the sum of the parts” is an old adage, but it could be one of the most important keys to a healthy, meaningful life. People yearn to be a part of something. When we are a part of something, we feel whole. When we see how things connect and relate to form a whole, they make sense and resonate: they come alive. In 1973 I arrived at Camp Swig, a Reform Jewish summer camp in Big Basin, California as a shy 15 year old kid from Hawai`i. My parents were New York Jewish intellectuals who moved to Hawai`i when I was a baby. They wanted nothing more ...

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The Force of Our Interconnectedness

I just saw the latest Star Wars movie with my family. It was very exciting and entertaining. But beyond that, I've always felt that the amazing popularity of the Star Wars series has been in part because it touches a spiritual nerve in moderns in a way that most of our places of worship only hope to achieve. The central premise of Star Wars is that there is an energy that connects us all, an energy that surrounds and infuses all life and creates the fabric of the universe. When we recognize that inter-connecting energy, when we tap into it, we can harness great power for ...

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My Response to a Negative Review of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

Below is my response to a review of my book, "Who Stole My Religion? Revitalising Judaism and Applying Jewish Values t Halp Heal Our Imperilled Planet" by Rabbi Natan Slifkin (“The Zoo Rabbi”), with my comments interspersed (in bold font). Material starts below. Several weeks ago, in a post entitled "How Frum Is Your Food?", I lamented how the Orthodox Jewish community (and particularly the ultra-Orthodox community) pays very little attention to animal welfare, especially in comparison to the enormous emphasis on stringency with kashrut. This is a major reason ...

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Two Examples, Two Paths

Take a good look at American society today and you see both dysfunctional, shortsighted, thinking, and, if you look, you can see a new kind of thinking that takes the whole picture into account. On the one hand we have the heartbreaking and sickening epidemic of mass shootings that is only getting worse in our country today. You would think that this would now, finally, bring about an awakening to the well documented conclusion that we need better laws to control the number of guns and who wields them. The evidence is clear: The U.S. has many more mass shootings than other ...

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A Potentially Game-Changing Rabbinic Statement on Vegetarianism

Jewish Veg Rabbinic Statement     “Judaism’s way of life, its dietary practices, are designed to ennoble the human spirit. It is therefore a contradiction in terms to claim that products that come through a process that involves inordinate cruelty and barbarity toward animal life can truly be considered kosher in our world. In our world today, it is precisely a plant-based diet that is truly consonant with the most sublime teachings of Judaism and of the highest aspirations of our heritage.” Rabbi ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 10 – I Can Do Something

by Joan Rachlin~ I recently retired and have since been immersed in climate change related activities. I once heard it said that most working folk are "denatured," so one of my post-retirement goals has been to “renature.” With this kavannah in heart and mind, I have been trying to more actively appreciate the boundless gifts nature offers us daily. Most specifically, I’ve begun to notice, appreciate, and more consistently support those who produce the food that sustains my family and me. Through the physical labor of farmers we are given the gift of nourishm...

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Hurricane Harvey Should Be a Wake-up Call to the Urgency of Working to Avert a Climate Catastrophe

The catastrophic effects of Hurricane and now Tropical Storm Harvey should be the latest and strongest of wakeup-calls to the fact that the world is heading toward a climate catastrophe. Of course there have always been severe storms, but we have now had three (Katrina, Sandy, and Harvey) in 13 years, whereas in the past they may have happened once in 100 years or more. There are three important climate change factors that are making storms more severe, and they are all increasing: 1. Warmer air holds more moisture; 2. the seas have ...

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The Making of a Jewish Activist: My Biography From My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

I am a ba’al t’shuvah – meaning “one who has returned” – a Jew who started practicing Judaism late in life. I did not grow up in a religious family, and I did not receive a yeshiva education as observant Jewish children generally do today. Most of my current Jewish learning comes not from formal education, but from extensive reading and conversations with Jews from many different backgrounds, plus Torah classes and lectures over the past few decades. Like most Jewish boys growing up in New York during the 1940s, I went to a Talmud Torah school a ...

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Summary and Conclusions Chapter of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

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. – Abraham Joshua Heschel (The Earth is the Lord’s), 107 ------------------------- What A Wonderful Path Judaism Is!  Judaism proclaims a God who is the Creator of all life, whose attributes of kindness, compassion, ...

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Returning to Natural Wisdom, Expanding Our Love (appeared in EJP, 3/3/17)

In the depth of winter, when the stark lines of bare tree branches are etched against a gray sky, it feels like each tree has pulled away from its neighbor, shrinking into itself, saving its energy to survive the cold season. We are also seeing that same reflex toward isolation in our society and country. To continue reading click here.    

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Earth Etude for Elul 3: G-d’s Might, Detroit, and Coming Back to Life

by Moshe Givental ~ Every year on Tisha b’Av we begin a 7-week journey of preparation for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Like most significant experiences in life, for the Jewish Holy Days to have the potential for transformation, they require preparation. So we started a few weeks ago by looking at the broken-ness of our physical, ethical, and spiritual worlds signified by Tisha b’Av, moved towards the hope of a world filled with love 6-days later at Tu b’Av, and are now in the midst of a month of working on Heshbon HaNefesh (our soul accounting), reflecting on ...

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Throw Out the Cookie Jar …. And Save the Planet

As a lifetime Weight Watcher, I have learned a few tricks. The most helpful to me was this one: Banish red light food from your home...and keep healthy food cut up and ready to eat at the front of your refrigerator in plastic see-through containers.  Now what does that have to do with saving the planet?  Well, a whole lot. Fracked gas is not healthy for people or the climate. Neither is nuclear-powered electricity. These are red-light energy products, the healthy alternatives being solar and wind energy. Even knowing this, companies profiting from red light dirty ...

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