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


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Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) Related to Judaism and Animal Treatment

There has recently been much interest in animal issues, especially related to diet, animal experimentation, and the wearing of fur. What should be the reaction of Jews to this subject? The following, in question and answer form, provides some background, and perhaps will help begin a respectful dialogue on this increasingly important topic. 1. What does Judaism teach about the proper treatment of animals? Judaism teaches that we are forbidden to be cruel to animals and that we must treat them with compassion. Since animals are part of God's creation, people have ...

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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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Factsheet on Judaism and Resource Conservation

This is Factsheet four of a series of five fact sheets on Jewish teachings related to vegetarianism. ------------------ A. Jewish Teachings on Resource Conservation The prohibition against wasting or unnecessarily destroying anything of value, bal tashchit, ("thou shalt not destroy") is based on the following Torah statement: "When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy (lo tashchit) the trees thereof by wielding an ax against them; for you may eat of them but you shall not cut them down; for is the ...

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Factsheet on Jewish Environmental Teachings

This is the third factsheet in a series of five A. Jewish Environmental Teachings The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. (Psalm 24:10 The Talmudic sages assert that people's role is to enhance the world as "co-partners of God in the work of creation."(Shabbat 7a) They indicate great concern about preserving the environment and preventing pollution. They state: "It is forbidden to live in a town which has no garden or greenery" (Kiddushin 66a). Threshing floors had to be placed far enough from a town so that it would not be dirtied by chaff carried by ...

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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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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 Related to Vegetarianism

 This posting is chapter 8 from the 3rd edition of my book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism." ------------------------ ’Tis better thrice to ask your way Then even once to go astray.1 Q UESTIONS ON GENERAL VEGETARIAN-RELATED issues are considered in this chapter. Whole books can and have been written about some of these topics, but space concerns limit us to just brief introductions here. It is hoped that readers will use the discussions below as stepping stones to more detailed investigations, and will use the many valuable books in the Bibliography to investigate ...

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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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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 ...

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Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chaim – Judaism and Compassion to Animals

This posting is chapter two of the 3rd edition of my book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism." While our teacher Moses was tending the flock of Jethro in the wilderness, a kid ran away from him. He ran after the kid until it reached Hasuah. Upon reaching Hasuah, the kid came upon a body of water and began to drink. When Moses reached him he said, “I did not know that you were running because [you were] thirsty. You must be tired.” He placed the kid on his shoulder and began to walk. The Holy One, blessed be He, said, “You are compassionate in leading flocks ...

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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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Jewish Views on Population and Population Growth

This posting is chapter 11 of the 2002 2nd edition of my book, "Judaim and Global Survival." I have not updated it. ------ "For the Jewish people, the problem [of the population bomb] does not exist. On the contrary, it would be more accurate to describe our situation as a "Population Bust"... which spells demographic disaster for Jewry."                   Jewish Population: Renascence or Oblivion  -- a report of the N. Y. Jewish Federation[i]  [written in 2001] "Jews are rightfully concerned about the seriousness of the world population problem. ...

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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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Judaism and Climate Change

This posting is from chapter 10 of the 2nd edition of my book, "Judaism and Global Survival." While it was initially written about 16 years ago, I am posting it for its historical value, the concepts and ideas are still valid, and it has some insights that are relevant and seldom considered today. ------------ "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Proverbs 29: 18 Global climate change may be the most critical problem the world will face in the next few decades.There is a growing scientific consensus that we are already experiencing the effects of global ...

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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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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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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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