Culture Change Subscribe

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


Blogs

Purim: The Anti Addiction Holiday

My kids have only seen me get drunk in one situation: at the Purim meal. Because that is basically the only time I do get really drunk. I’ll have a drink or two when friends come over for Shabbat or just for a get together, and I’ll sometimes take a beer out of the refrigerator to watch a ball game or occasionally have a glass of wine as I’m relaxing on a quiet evening. But pretty much I only get drunk on Purim. I do it because it is a mitzvah on Purim to drink “ad delo yada” —until you can’t tell the difference between “cursed is Haman and ...

Read More


People as Letters, Israel as Torah

In our up-coming Organic Torah webinar class “The Royal Road to Relational Spirituality” we’ll be looking at an amazing commentary by the Piazetzner Rebbe in which he talks about getting our spirituality into our whole beings. Though his commentary starts on the story of Noach, it includes a very interesting observation on this week’s Torah reading which tells of the Receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, on the verse “and the whole people saw the voices…” [Exodus 20 :14]. This “synesthesia” or mixing of the senses, is remarkable enough, and gives a ...

Read More


Eco-Zionism, Diaspora politics and Israel’s shadow government: how you can make a difference

Speaker: David Krantz Discover the shadow government that most Israelis don’t even know about. And learn how you can have an impact in Israel beyond donations and advocacy. Herzl’s vision for Israel may be different than you think. The Limmud Festival 2018 (December 22 - 27 in Birmingham, UK) is one of the biggest celebrations of Jewish learning and culture in the world. David Krantz leads Aytzim (Jewcology, Green Zionist Alliance, EcoJews, and Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth) and serves on the boards of the American Zionist Movement and Interfaith ...

Read More


Crisis or Opportunity

Part One: A World in Crisis In the winter time we yearn for more light, and in challenging times like this we also wish to see the light of justice, health and understanding increase. But we first need to look squarely at the darkness: Climate change may be the worst disaster humanity has ever faced; politically, democracy isn’t spreading anymore, but instead it is in retreat across the globe; we have an addiction crisis and record levels of related ailments such as depression, loneliness, and loss of as sense of meaning. Jewishly, we, like all other religions and ...

Read More


Fancy Words and Feelings of Connection on Thanksgiving

When you heat up a pot of water it will boil when it gets to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. But which of the H²O molecules will be the first to transform into gas form and start to bubble up? That we can’t know. In scientific lingo it’s called a stochastic process: it follows a statistically predictable pattern, but the individual events can’t be precisely predicted. In recent months my friend, Fordham law professor and political blogger Jed Shugerman, has been writing and tweeting about “stochastic terrorism” (#stochasticterrorism). He defines it as “the public ...

Read More


Chanukkah Chesed Challenge: Acts of Kindness

The evening of November 8 was the first of the month of Kislev, which means Chanukkah (there are many English spellings!) isn't far away - it begins on the 25th of Kislev and ends on the 2nd of the month of Tevet. During these days, from today until the end of Chanukkah, I invite you to be part of the Chanukkah Chesed Challenge. Chesed means "kindness," and the idea of the Chanukkah Chesed Challenge is to work consciously, every day, to do one act of chesed, or kindness, to someone you encounter throughout the day. This act should be something that does not ...

Read More


Where Does Our Security Come From?

We are all devastated and shocked by yesterday’s murders of eleven Jews in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Our hearts go out to the families and Jewish community of Pittsburgh as many of us gather today in vigils and services around the country. Many of us are also gripped by fear as we wonder whether we are safe in this country which we thought was a haven of freedom and security. Of course, every community will do what it needs to make sure that they feel safe and secure. Sadly, it is likely that many of us will become more wary of strangers, more likely ...

Read More


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, ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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, ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More