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


Blogs

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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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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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 Division of the Orthodox Union in New York, debates Richard H. Schwartz, author of “Judaism and Vegetarianism” and Professor Emeritus at the College of Staten Island. ...

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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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Sukkot and Vegetarianism

by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D. ~The Sukkot holiday, including Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, is known as the "Season of Rejoicing", because people's worries about the success of the harvest are over. Since one must be in good health in order to fully rejoice, the many health benefits of vegetarian diets and the knowledge that such diets are less harmful than animal-based diets to the environment, hungry people, and animals are factors that can enhance rejoicing. There are many other connections that can be made between vegetarianism and these joyous Jewish festiva...

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The Custom of Kappparot (Kaporus) in the Jewish Tradition

Rabbi Yonassan Gershom is co-author of this article. Every year, before Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), some Jews perform the ceremony of kapparot. The following, in question and answer format, is a discussion of the ritual and its relation to the treatment of animals. What is kapparot [in Ashkenazic Hebrew or Yiddish, kapporos or shluggen kapporos]? Kapparot is a custom in which the sins of a person are symbolically transferred to a fowl (or a substitute object—as discussed below). First, selections from Isaiah 11:9, Psalms 107:10, 14, and 17-21, and Job ...

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Why Perform a Rite that Involves Killing 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 ...

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Yom Kippur and Vegetarianism and Veganism

by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D. ~Yom Kippur, the culmination of the Aseret Y’mei Teshuva (the Ten Days of Repentance) that begins on Rosh Hashanah, is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. On this day, Jews refrain completely from food and water and spend many hours in synagogues, examining their deeds, vowing to repent for past transgressions, and seeking God’s blessings for a coming year of good health and positive outcomes. Yet, after Yom Kippur, most Jews return to animal-based diets that are arguably inconsistent with the values of Yom Kippur and Judaism in ...

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Our 2017 (5777) Collection of Earth Etudes for Elul

Introduction by Susan Levine~ Elul is the month before Rosh Hashanah, a time when we review our lives and think about how we will live the coming year. And during Elul this year, we have seen three category 4 hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, and Maria) wreak havoc in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and several other Caribbean islands. The scientists have blamed increased ocean temperatures for the high winds and rising floodwaters. What other evidence do we need to believe that climate change is real? Our earth etudes actually connect our earth with the spirit of Judaism--Tikkun ...

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Elul: A Time to Start Shifting Our Imperiled Planet Onto a Sustainable Path

by Richard Schwartz~ Elul is here. It represents an opportunity for heightened introspection, a chance to consider teshuva, changes in our lives, before the “Days of Awe,” the days of judgment, the “High holidays" of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The shofar is blown every morning (except on Shabbat) in synagogues during the month of Elul to awaken us from slumber, to remind us to consider where we are in our lives and to urge us to consider positive changes. How should we respond to Elul today? How should we respond when we hear reports almost daily of severe, ...

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Judaism, Vegetarianism, and Health

The material below is a slightly modified version of chapter 3 from the 3rd edition of my book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism," which was published in 2001 by Lantern Publications. "You may not rob yourself of your life nor cause your body the slightest injury....Only if the body is healthy is it an efficient instrument for the spirit’s activity....Therefore you should avoid everything which might possibly impair your health....And the law asks you to be even more circumspect in avoiding danger to life and limb than in the avoidance of other transgressions".—...

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Inconsistencies Between Animal-Based Diets and Rosh Hashanah-Related Teachings

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-cente...

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Earth Etude for Elul 15 – Wasting Food

by Scott Lewis, Ph.D. ~When you besiege a city for many days to wage war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them, for you may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. (Deuteronomy 20:19) The mitzvah of Bal Taschit, do not waste, helps frame Jewish environmental concerns. While most Jewish environmental activists recognize the importance of Bal Taschit for prohibiting wasting energy and polluting the earth, we might easily overlook the commandment’s important connections to Food Waste. Our sages ...

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An Acclaimed Documentary That Can Help Save the World”

Our planet is imperiled as perhaps never before by climate change and other environmental threats. It is urgent that steps be taken immediately to avoid the unprecedented catastrophe toward which the world is rapidly heading. Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), now named Jewish Veg, has produced a major documentary about how Jewish teachings can help address current environmental crises. While this one-hour documentary -- entitled "A SACRED DUTY: Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal the World" -- is especially suitable for synagogues, temples, JCCs, Jewish ...

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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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A Forgotten Mitzvah: Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chaim

While tsa’ar ba’alei chaim (the Torah mandate to avoid causing “sorrow to living creatures”) is a Torah prohibition, most Jews, including 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 former modern Orthodox congregation was incredulous. “What? Jews should be concerned about animals?” she exclaimed. 2. Some years ago, I was at a Sukkot gathering at which ...

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Update on the Major Effort to Restore and Transform the Ancient New Year for Animals

In an effort to restore the ancient New Year for Animals and to transform it into a day devoted to increasing awareness of Judaism's teachings on compassion to animals and how far current realities are from these teachings, the message below has been sent to many rabbis and other influential Jews. please help by sharing the message widely. Many thanks. ----------- Dear Rabbi, Please let us know if you are willing to sign the message below that encourages the restoration of the ancient New Year for Animals and its transformation into a day devoted to increasing ...

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An Audacious Initiative to Restore the Ancient New Year for Animals

The conditions under which animals are raised for food today are completely contrary to Jewish teachings about compassion to animals: While Judaism teaches that “God’s compassion is over all His works” (Psalms 145:9), egg laying hens are kept in cages so small that they can’t raise even one wing and they are debeaked without anesthetic to prevent them from harming other birds due to pecking from frustration in their very unnatural conditions. Male chicks fare even worse as they are killed almost immediately after birth, since they can’t lay eggs ...

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