Food Justice Subscribe

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


Blogs

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 ...

Read More


Judaism, Vegetarianism, and Feeding the Hungry

This posting is chapter 4 from the 3rd edition of my book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism." ----------------- If one takes seriously the moral, spiritual, and humanitarian values of biblical, prophetic, and rabbinic Judaism, the inescapable issue of conscience that must be faced is: How can anyone justify not becoming involved in trying to help save the lives of starving millions of human beings throughout the world—whose plight constitutes the most agonizing moral and humanitarian problem in the latter half of the 20th century? (Rabbi Marc H. Tannenbaum, former ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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, ...

Read More


Jewish Teachings on Reducing Hunger

This posting is chapter 6 from my book, "Judaismand Global Survival." ------------------------- "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the chains of wickedness, to undo the bonds of oppression, and to let the crushed go free... Is it not to share your bread with the hungry?"   Isaiah 58:6-7 On Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, Jews fast and pray for forgiveness, a favorable judgment, and a good year. On this same day, they are told, through the words of the prophet Isaiah, that fasting, confession of sins, and prayers are not sufficient; ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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. ...

Read More


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. ...

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


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...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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, ...

Read More


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".—...

Read More


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...

Read More