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


Blogs

Summary of my efforts to help revitalise Judaism and heal the world

     Below is a summary of my writings and activities that aim to revitalise judaism and help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path.They are based on my strong belief that Jewish values can make major differences and are needed perhaps more than ever before.       I welcome your comments and suggestions and would be very happy if you would join in my efforts and/or suggest others who might be interested in doing so.  The second edition of my book, “Judaism and Global Survival,” can be freely read at www.jewishVeg.org/schwartz. It discusses ...

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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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In Defense of Jewish Liberals

There have been many recent articles and letters in The Jerusalem Post critical of Jews who are liberals. Somehow the word “liberal” has become a negative one for many Jews. However, there is much in Jewish history and teachings that is consistent with Jews being liberals and even radicals, in the best sense of that word. From its beginning, Judaism has protested against greed, injustice and the misuse of power. Abraham, the first Hebrew, smashed the idols of his father even though his action challenged the common belief of the time (Genesis Rabbah, Chapter 38). He ...

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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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For many years I have believed that my religion, Judaism, has been stolen. Why? Because Judaism has powerful messages on peace, justice, compassion, sharing, and environmental sustainability that can help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path. Yet, most Orthodox Jews, while doing many  commendable things, are in denial about climate change and other environmental threats and are increasingly supporting politicians who promote benefits for the wealthiest Americans and highly profitable corporations, at the expense of average Americans. I ...

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Starting a Major Campaign to Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet

Shalom, It is time for a major effort for committed Jews, preferably joining with others, to apply Jewish values to help heal our imperiled planet. Here are some issues to be considered: The world is rapidly heading toward a climate catastrophe. Many climate experts think we are close to an irreversible tipping point when climate change will spin out of control, with disastrous consequences, unless very significant positive changes soon occur. My article: “Climate Change: An Existential Threat to Israel, the US, and the World,” published in the Jerusalem Post ...

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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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Imagining a Vegan World

The late Senator Robert Kennedy often stated: "Some see things as they are and ask why, I dream of things that have never been and ask why not?" Yes, why not? Why not a vegetarian world? Or, even better, since we are dreaming, why not a vegan world? When one considers all the negatives related to the current widespread production and consumption of animal products, it is hard to believe that so few people have seen the importance of shifting to such a world. What would a vegan world be like? It would be a world with far healthier people. There are numerous ...

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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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Hanukkah: Our Sanctuaries

There is a hymn with a beautiful melody that many Jewish groups have been borrowing from our Christian neighbors in recent years that begins, "Oh Lord, prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true...." The words are also beautiful. The idea that an individual person could be a sanctuary is not foreign to Judaism.  In fact, many congregations use a Hebrew verse from the Torah as a free translation of this line of the hymn: "Ve'asu li mikdash ve'shakhanti b'tokham..." "They will make for me a Sanctuary and I will dwell among ...

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Frequently Asked Questions About Judaism and Vegetarianism

1. What is Jewish about vegetarianism and veganism? Note that when the word vegetarianism is used below it implies both vegetarianism and veganism. he word vegetarian implies both vegetarian and vegan. All the reasons for becoming vegetarian can be connected to important Jewish values. These include taking care of our health, showing compassion to animals, protecting the environment, conserving resources, helping hungry people, and seeking and pursuing peace. As later responses indicate, many teachings in the Torah, the Talmud, and other sacred Jewish texts can ...

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Are Jews Obligated to be Vegetarians?

In promoting vegetarianism since 1977, I have been arguing that Jews have a choice as to whether or not to be vegetarians. In support of the view that Jews need not eat meat today is the Talmud (Pesachim 109a states that since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, Jews are not required to eat meat in order to rejoice on festivals), scholarly articles by Rabbi Alfred Cohen and Rabbi J. David Bleich that indicate additional sources and arguments supporting the view that Jews do not need to eat meat in this period, and the fact that several Chief Rabbis are strict ...

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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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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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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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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 Peace

This posting is chapter 6 from the 3rd edition my book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism." it shows the connections between animal-based agriculture and the potential for violence and war. The complete text can be found at www.JewishVeg.org/schwartz. Seek peace and pursue it. (Psalms 34:15) OUR AGE IS CONTINUOUSLY THREATENED BY VIOLENCE, war, and the potential for war. The application of Jewish teachings related to peace and vegetarianism can help to reduce these threats, since Judaism mandates a special obligation to work for peace. The tradition does not ...

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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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