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


Blogs

Environmental and Vegetarian/Vegan Lessons from the Shabbat Morning Service

While there has been recent progress on Jewish consideration of environmental and vegetarian issues, much more needs to be done. One approach is to show how central these issues are in the Jewish tradition. This article discusses several statements in the Shabbat morning prayers that point to Judaism's great concern about animals and the environment. In the Baruch Sheh'amar prayer, it states that, "Blessed is the One (God) Who has compassion on the earth; blessed is the One Who has compassion on the creatures [animals and people]". Since Judaism teaches that ...

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Is Eating Meat a Mitzvah that Comes from an Aveirah (Sin)?

Judaism places much stress on performing mitzvot, carrying out God's commandments. However, a "mitzvah haba'ah b'aveirah" - a mitzvah based on an aveirah (sin or "illegitimate means") - is forbidden and is not considered a mitzvah. For example, if one uses a stolen lulav and esrog on Sukkot, it is not a proper mitzvah. Similarly, if money is stolen, it cannot be used to give tzedakah (charity). In fact, the sages indicate that it is better not to do the mitzvah at all than to do a mitzvah haba'ah b'aveirah. Eating meat is arguably a mitzvah haba'ah b'aveirah, ...

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Vegetarianism: Essential for Jewish Renewal

Spirituality has led to a growing awareness of the unity of all beings, of our fundamental interconnectedness. For some this reflection has stayed on the level of purely personal enlightenment without much manifestation in behavior, but for others this understanding has led to a greater sense of responsibility, first toward all other human beings, and second toward animals. One form that this awareness takes is a growing move toward vegetarianism and veganism. No surprise, then, that the Jewish renewal consciousness that increasingly manifests in all the various ...

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Rabbinic Teachings on Vegetarianism

Introduction: Many Jews think that vegetarianism and animal rights issues are not part of basic Judaism. To counter this belief the following quotations of important rabbis are presented. Hirsch, Rabbi Samson Raphael While not a vegetarian, Rabbi Hirsch, one of the most important Orthodox rabbis of the 19th century, expressed very eloquently and powerfully ideas based on Torah values that are consistent with vegetarianism and seem to be inconsistent with realities of modern intensive livestock agriculture and the consumption of ...

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Summary Chapter for My Book, “Judaism and Vegetarianism”

The dietary laws are intended to teach us compassion and lead us gently to vegetarianism. (Rabbi Shlomo Riskin)1 JUDAISM MANDATES COMPASSION, NOT JUST FOR JEWS, but for the stranger, and even for enemies; not just for people, but for all of God’s creatures. Compassion is one of the characteristics associated with being a descendant of Abraham, the first Jew. Jews are to consider the welfare of animals and to avoid tsa’ar ba’alei chayim, inflicting pain on any living creature. Judaism stresses the preservation of life and health. This is so important that if ...

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B’tay Avon (Hearty Appetite) – Tips for Vegetarian/Vegan Living

This is chapter 9 from the 2001 3rd edition of my book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism. Much has happened since it was published so use additional sources to get more recent suggestions. ------------------ And you shall eat and be satisfied and bless the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. (Deuteronomy 8:10) PREVIOUS CHAPTERS HAVE DOCUMENTED MANY REASONS why Jews (and others) should adopt sensible, well-balanced, nutritious vegetarian diets. This chapter will provide some suggestions on practical ways to practice this diet effectively. A. Vegetarianism—A ...

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Questions and Answers Re Judaism and Vegetarianism

This is chapter 7 of the 3rd edition of my book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism." The complete text can be found at www.JewishVeg.org/schwartz. ----------------- I keep six honest serving men, They taught me all I knew; Their names are what, and why, and when, And where, and how, and who. (Rudyard Kipling) DON’T JEWS HAVE TO EAT MEAT TO HONOR THE Sabbath and to rejoice on Jewish holidays? Rabbi Yehuda Ben Batheira, the Talmudic sage, states that the obligation to eat meat for rejoicing only applied at the time when the Holy Temple was in existence.1 He adds ...

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Judaism, Vegetarianism, and the Environment

This posting is from the 2001 3rd edition of my book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism." The complete text of the book can be freely read online, along with my over 250 related articles at www.JewishVeg.org/schwartz . ------------------- THERE ARE MANY FUNDAMENTAL TORAH PRINCIPLES that express and make concrete the biblical concept: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalms 24:1). 1. People are to be co-workers with God in helping to preserve and improve the world. The Talmudic sages assert that the role of humanity is to enhance ...

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Statements of Support for My book, “Judaism and Vegetarianism

These blurbs for my my 3rd edition of "judaism and Vegetarianism." The complete book and over 250 related articles can be freely read at www.JewishVeg.org/schwartz. I plan to add individual chapters from the book as blogs in the coming days, in the hope that it will be useful to readers. --------------------------- It is to be hoped that this major publication will not only adorn the bookshelf of many a Jewish home, but will also become a guide to an ever- increasing movement of Jews toward vegetarianism, born out of sincere religious conviction rooted in our ...

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This summary of the case for Jews to be vegetarians (and even more so vegans) is chapter 12 from the 2002 2nd edition of my book, "Judaism and Global Survival." And God said: "Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit -- to you it shall be for food."     Genesis 1:29 This chapter addresses a widely accepted aspect of modern life that contradicts many Jewish teachings and harms people, communities, and the planet -- the mass production and widespread consumption of meat. It ...

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Animal-based Diets are Madness and Sheer Insanity

While vegetarians and vegans have truth, morality, justice, and other positive values on our side, that our case is rooted in basic Jewish teachings because animal-based diets and agriculture sharply violate at least six basic Jewish values, the Jewish community continues to generally ignore the issues and refuses to engage in dialogs and debates on “Should Jews Be Vegetarians or vegans?” As is well known, it is unlawful to shout “FIRE” in a crowded theater. EXCEPT if there really is a fire. And there is increasing evidence that the world is burning today, ...

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Jewish Teachings on Energy

This posting is chapter 9 of the 2nd edition of my book, "Judaism and Global Survival." While written in 2011, 16 years ago, it is perhaps even more relevant today as it makes a strong case that the Jewish approach to energy is CARE, conservation and renewable energy, an approach that can help slow or reverse climate change and other environmental threats. --------------- "A generation goes and a generation comes but the earth endures forever. And the sun rises and the sun sets -- then to its place it rushes;  there it rises again. It goes toward the south and veers ...

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Jewish Teachings on International Issues and Relations

 This posting is chapter 8 from the 2nd edition of my 2002 book, "Judaism and Global Survival." ----------------- "I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Behold, the tears of the oppressed, they had no one to comfort them! On the side of the oppressors there was power."     Ecclesiastes 4:1 To survey conditions for most of the world's people today is to see the extent to which Jewish teachings about justice, compassion and sharing have been neglected. The tremendous injustice and inequality that prevail in the world today are well described ...

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Relating Parshat Noach to Climate Change Threats

There are many lessons from Parshat Noach (Noah) that can be applied in response to today's climate crisis. Noach built an ark for 120 years but people did not believe that a catastrophic flood was coming. After all, why would anyone believe a crazy idea from a seemingly obsessed, delusional person when there was no other warning or indication of an impending flood? Today, we do not have a Noach, or a Jeremiah, who also had no success in warning people to change there ways in order to avoid destruction, and, to the best of my knowledge, nobody has been building an ark. ...

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Jewish Teachings on Ecology

This post is chapter 4 of the 1982 second edition of my book,"Judaism and Global Survival." The complete text can be read freely at www.JewishVeg.org/schwartz, where I also have over 250 articles. Comments and suggestions always welcome. . ============ "In the hour when the Holy one, blessed be He, created the first human being (Adam), He took him and let him pass before all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him: 'See my works, how fine and excellent they are! All that I have created, for you have I created them. Think upon this and do not dispoil and ...

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Jewish teachings on Involvement and Protest

This material is chapter one from my book, "Judaism and Global Survival" "Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of his own family and does not do so is punished [liable, held responsible] for the transgressions of his family. Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of the people of his community and does not do so is punished for the transgressions of his community. Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of the entire world and does not do so is punished for the transgressions of the entire world." Babylonian Talmud ...

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Is Eating Meat a Mitzvah That Comes From an Aveirah (Sin)?

Judaism places much stress on performing mitzvot, carrying out God's commandments. However, a "mitzvah haba'ah b'aveirah" - a mitzvah based on an aveirah (sin or "illegitimate means") - is forbidden and is not considered a mitzvah. For example, if one uses a stolen lulav and esrog on Sukkot, it is not a proper mitzvah. Similarly, if money is stolen, it cannot be used to give tzedakah (charity). In fact, the sages indicate that it is better not to do the mitzvah at all than to do a mitzvah haba'ah b'aveirah. Eating meat is arguably a mitzvah haba'ah b'aveirah, actually ...

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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. 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 this issue is very important. ...

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Eighteen Reasons Jews Think They Should Not Be Vegetarians (and Why They Are Wrong)

1) The Torah teaches that humans are granted dominion over animals (Genesis 1:26), giving us a warrant to treat animals in any way we wish. Response: Jewish tradition interprets "dominion" as guardianship, or stewardship: we are called upon to be co-workers with God in improving the world. Dominion does not mean that people have the right to wantonly exploit animals, and it certainly does not permit us to breed animals and treat them as machines designed solely to meet human needs. In "A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace," Rav Kook states: "There can be no doubt in the ...

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Judaism’s Mission Today

What a wonderful path Judaism is! Judaism worships a God who is the Father of all humanity, Whose attributes of kindness, mercy, compassion, and justice are to serve as examples for all our actions. Judaism teaches that every person is created in God's image and therefore is of supreme value. Judaism asserts that people are to be co-workers with God in preserving and improving the earth. We are to be stewards of the world's resources and to see that God's bounties are used for the benefit of all. Nothing that has value can be wasted or destroyed unnecessarily. ...

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