Spirituality Subscribe

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


Returning to Natural Wisdom, Expanding Our Love (appeared in EJP, 3/3/17)

In the depth of winter, when the stark lines of bare tree branches are etched against a gray sky, it feels like each tree has pulled away from its neighbor, shrinking into itself, saving its energy to survive the cold season. We are also seeing that same reflex toward isolation in our society and country. To continue reading click here.    

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The Complete Text of My Latest Book, “Who Stole My Religion? Revitalising Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperilled Planet”/Please Share

I am posting the complete text of my book, because I want to start as many respectful dialogues on the key issues as I can, with the hope that this will help revitalise Judaism and also help shift our imperilled planet onto a sustainable path. ---------------------- WHO STOLE MY RELIGION? Revitalizing Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet By Richard H. Schwartz with Rabbi Yonassan Gershom and Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz 1 Who Stole My Religion? Revitalizing Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to ...

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Purim and Vegetarianism

There are many connections between vegetarianism and the Jewish festival of Purim: 1. According to the Talmud, Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, was a vegetarian while she lived in the palace of King Achashverus. She was thus able to avoid violating the kosher dietary laws while keeping her Jewish identity secret. 2. During Purim it is a mitzvah to give "mat'not evyonim" (added charity to poor and hungry people). In contrast to these acts of sharing and compassion, animal-based diets involve the feeding of over 70 percent of the grain in the United States ...

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Seasons in the Era of Climate Change

by Stephen Jurovics, Ph.D. Each of the seasons of the year can evoke, for many of us, an image of what we most enjoy about that period. It may be the sequence of warm spring days with clear blue skies during which the outside world exerts a strong pull and diminishes our commitment to work or study, that period we call “spring fever.” For others, it’s the summer days of sunshine and high temperatures when many leave work to vacation at the beach and enjoy the water, sand, and sunshine. The familiar images and anticipated enjoyment are inexorably moving ...

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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. Please share with others. 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 ...

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Tu Bishvat: All About the New Year of the Tree(s)

Tall Trees in Bidwell Park, Chico, California

My youngest daughters' friends were impressed that Judaism celebrates a New Year of Trees, marked by planting and honoring trees. Here's a round-up of how to observe this special day. (more…)

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Gateway of Trees: Tu Bishvat Resources on Wellsprings of Wisdom

Tree on the banks of Big Chico Creek, California, Julie Danan

If you are looking for fresh material about Trees and Tu Bishvat, I invite you to explore the Gateway of Trees on Wellsprings of Wisdom. Wellsprings of Wisdom is a virtual retreat center built around ancient Jewish symbols from nature. Explore Trees in Jewish sources and your own life, through many modalities including photos, nature sounds and video. Enjoy Torah study, rituals, and a guided mediation. There are stories and blessings about trees as well as resources for celebrating Tu Bishvat, the New Year of Trees. Plus that time I hugged a tree. Learn about the cosmic ...

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Winter Holds the Promise of Spring: Monthly Update from Wellsprings of Wisdom

First snow of the season, Julie Danan

We are experiencing tumultuous times, but that very turmoil calls more people to take personal action for service, healing, and bettering the world. To avoid burnout and bitterness, it’s important to stay centered and nurture our inner lives. Wellsprings of Wisdom strives to integrate the timeless and the timely, Tikkun HaLev (healing our hearts) with Tikkun Olam (repairing our world). (more…)

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 The Best Approach to Promoting Veganism?

  While climate change is an existential threat the United States, and, indeed, the entire world, there has not been sufficient attention to it by most people. It was not discussed at all during the recent presidential debates, and was not a major campaign issue. Unfortunately, “denial is not just a river in Egypt,” and most people today are, in effect, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic as we head toward a giant iceberg. Here are several importan  reasons we all should be very concerned about climate change. Science academies worldwide, 97% of ...

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Questions That Can Be Considered at Tu Bishvat Seders (With Responses)

It is hoped that the questions below will be helpful to people leading Tu Bishvat seders, as a way to increase audience participation. Suggested responses are given following the questions. Please send me suggestions for additional questions and for improved answers. Thanks. The questions are below, followed by suggested answers: 1. What is the origin of Tu Bishvat? 2. Where is Tu Bishvat mentioned in the Tanach? 3. Why are we considering trees and fruits and nature in the middle of the winter? 4. Why was the 15th of Shvat singled out to be the ‘New Year for ...

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For Tu Bishvat: 36 Jewish Quotations About Trees

Since Tu Bishvat is considered the "birthday for trees," a time when trees are to be judged regarding their fate for the coming year, I hope the following Jewish quotations about trees and fruits will be helpful for celebrations of this increasingly popular holiday. 1. 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) 2. In the hour when the Holy one, blessed be He, created the first person, He showed him the trees in the ...

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Tu B’Shvat and Vegetarianism

Tu B'Shvat is arguably the most vegetarian of Jewish holidays, because of its many connections to vegetarian themes and concepts: 1. The Tu B'Shvat Seder in which fruits and nuts are eaten, along with the singing of songs and the recitation of biblical verses related to trees and fruits, is the only sacred meal where only vegetarian, actually vegan, foods, are eaten. This is consistent with the diet in the Garden of Eden, as indicated by God's first, completely vegan dietary law: And God said: "Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of ...

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Celebrating Tu Bishvat as if Environmental Sustainability Matters

Since Tu Bishvat, the “New Year for Trees,” has increasingly become a “Jewish Earth Day,” why not use Tu Bishvat Seders as, among other things, a time to consider how we can effectively respond to current environmental crises that threaten all life on the planet? The world is rapidly heading toward a climate catastrophe, severe food, water, and energy scarcities, and other environmental disasters. This is a strong consensus of almost all climate scientists and science academies worldwide. The warmest year for the world since temperature records have been kept ...

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Lessons From Trees: A Tu Bishvat Message

Some of my most important lessons in life I learned from Jewish verses about trees. From the following I learned that I should be an environmental activist, working to help preserve the world: In the hour when the Holy one, blessed be He, created the first person, He showed him the trees in the Garden of Eden, and said to him: "See My works, how fine they are; Now all that I have created, I created for your benefit. Think upon this and do not corrupt and destroy My world, For if you destroy it, there is no one to restore it after you. (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28) F...

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Preserving the Sacred Environment: A Religious Imperative – A Tu Bishvat Message

Many contemporary Jews look upon Tu Bishvat (February 10-11 in 2017) as a Jewish Earth Day, a day for contemplating our ecological heritage - and the multitude of threats it currently faces. An ancient midrash has become all too relevant today: "In the hour when the Holy one, blessed be He, created the first person, He showed him the trees in the Garden of Eden, and said to him: "See My works, how fine they are; Now all that I have created, I created for your benefit. Think upon this and do not corrupt and destroy My world, For if you destroy it, there is no one to ...

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What people have said about the documentary, “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperilled Planet”

What People Are Saying about "A Sacred Duty," a video that shows how applying Jewish values can help reduce environmental threats and help shift our imperilled planet onto a sustainable path. Please note that the movie will be ten years old in November 2017, and is due for a renewal so that many more people will see it. It can be freely wen at www.ASacredDuty.com, where there is more information about the movie, including several reviews. ========= "We at CLAL believe that if Judaism is going to be taken seriously by American Jews and for that matter by all ...

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Wellsprings of Wisdom: A Virtual Retreat Center

Bear Hole, Bidwell Park, Chico, CA

I am delighted to announce and share my newly redesigned and relaunched website, http://wellspringsofwisdom.com/ It's a place for anyone interested in Jewish spirituality in nature. Wellsprings of Wisdom is a site for your soul, an island of quiet contemplation in a sea of noisy information. It's the rare online place where you can pause to refresh your soul, re-enchant your world, and renew your inner life. At this virtual retreat center, ancient Jewish symbols from nature become gateways to personal growth and action. You are invited to immerse yourself in the ...

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A Basic Case for Vegetarianism (and Veganism)

There is 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. Please consider: 1. While Judaism mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives, numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease, stroke, many forms of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases. 2. While Judaism forbids tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, inflicting unnecessary pain on animals, most farm ...

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Miraculously Stretching the Oil: a Chanukah Message

The Jewish festival of Chanukah commemorates the miracle of the oil that was enough for only one day, but miraculously lasted for eight days in the liberated Temple in Jerusalem. Hence, this holiday is a good time to consider our own use of fuel and other resources. Like Chanukah’s miraculous extension of scarce resources, vegetarianism also allows the increasingly scarce resources of our contemporary world to go much further. This is no trivial matter, since it is expected that many future conflicts between nations will involve scarcities of oil, water and other ...

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Why I Made Aliyah

My wife and I are relatively new residents at Protea Hills, having made aliyah from Staten Island, New York City, on August 3, 2016. We are very appreciative of the warm welcome we have received from so many of you and look forward to meeting many more of you in the near future. Besides our love and support for Israel, a major reason we made aliyah is we have two very supportive, loving daughters living in Israel, Susan in Ma’alei Adumim and Devorah in Beit Shemesh, and they, along with their wonderful husbands and our fabulous grandchildren, increasingly urged my ...

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