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A selection of initiatives, blogs, resources and communities on Jewcology intended for use by Teachers and Educators.


Blogs

Aytzim (Ecological Judaism) is Back—Let’s reconnect!

It’s a mystery--we lost our Aytzim facebook page and all our facebook friends. So we will be sending out new invites to like our page. In case you have forgotten, we are all about the environment—saving our world. And these days, it has become more important than ever. Aytzim is the umbrella organization of: Green Zionist Alliance, Jewcology.org, EcoJews, and Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth. Aytzim means “trees” and here’s a little about the other organizations in our product grove: Green Zionist Alliance—Since its founding in 2001, the ...

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A Tisha B’Av Message: Will We Again Fail To Heed the Warnings?

Tisha B'Av (the 9th day of the month of Av) which we commemorate this year (2017) on July 31 - August 1, reminds us that over 2,000 years ago Jews failed to heed the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah about the importance of changing their ways, with the result that the first Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the first of many negative things that occurred on that day, including the destruction of the second Temple as well. Today there are no prophets like Jeremiah to issue warnings, but we are getting increasingly dire warnings from climate scientists that now it is not ...

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Statement I Drafted on Climate Change Threats and the List of 37 Israeli Orthodox Rabbis Who Signed It

STATEMENT BY ISRAELI ORTHODOX RABBIS ON THE CLIMATE CRISIS “In the hour when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the first man, he took him and let him pass before all the trees in the Garden of Eden and said to him:  "See my works, how fine and excellent they are.  Now all that I created I created for your benefit.  Think upon this and do not corrupt or destroy my world.  For if you destroy it, there is no one to restore it after you.” (Midrash: Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28) Today, 97% of climate scientists and all the major science academies worldwide-- an ...

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Relating Tisha B’Av to Today’s Environmental Crises

Tisha B'Av (the 9th day of the month of Av) which we commemorate this year on July 31-August 1, reminds us that over 2,000 years ago Jews failed to heed the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah, with the result that the first Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the first of many negative things that occurred on that day, including the destruction of the second Temple as well. Today there are many “Jeremiahs” warning us that now it is not just Jerusalem and its Temple but the entire world that is threatened by climate change and its effects, species extinction, soil ...

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EcoPeace Middle East new publication; new brief

EcoPeace Middle East, a unique environmental organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israelis, with the primary objective of promoting cooperative efforts to protect the region's shared environmental heritage, recently published a new report entitled "Decoupling National Water Needs for National Water Supplies:  Insights and Potential for Countries in the Jordan Basin". This report analyses and compares the water allocation and management experience of Jordan, Palestine and Israel using the lens of economic and resource decoupling to highlight ...

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Shavuot and the Connection to Vegetarianism

  A compilation of articles by Richard Schwartz A Dialogue on Shavuot Night For many years Danny Shapiro looked forward to staying up all night at his synagogue with his friends on the first night of Shavuot, hearing talks about and discussing Torah teachings. This year he especially anticipated this annual commemoration of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, because Rabbi Greenberg would be meeting with Danny and other college students for an hour at 3 AM to answer any questions on Judaism that they brought up. Danny had recently become a vegetarian ...

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A Dialogue on Shavuot Night About Vegetarianism and Veganism

For many years Danny Shapiro looked forward to staying up all night at his synagogue with his friends on the first night of Shavuot, hearing talks about and discussing Torah teachings. This year he especially anticipated this annual commemoration of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, because Rabbi Greenberg would be meeting with Danny and other college students for an hour at 3 AM to answer any questions on Judaism that they brought up. Danny had recently become a vegetarian and had done a lot of background reading on Jewish connections to vegetarianism and he wanted ...

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This article initially was published in the May 3 issue of the Jerusalem Post Environmentalists demonstrate near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, as the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) meets, December 12, 2015. (photo credit:REUTERS) ------------- I generally find articles by Jerusalem Post op-ed editor Seth Frantzman to be well-reasoned, insightful and informative. So I was disappointed and saddened to read his April 25 article, “Plan for, don’t gripe about, climate change,” in which he argues that we should ...

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Why Peace is So important for Israel – a Yom Ha’atzmaut Message

This article points out the importance of peace for Israel to be able to more effectively address climate change and other environmental threats.  It considers why a just, comprehensive, sustainable, mutually-agreed-upon resolution of Middle East conflicts is essential and will have many benefits for Israel, the U.S., and even the entire world. (It is from Chapter 7 of the 2nd edition of my book, "Who Stole My Religion? Revitalising Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperilled Planet," published July 2016). ------------ "It shall come to pass ...

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People Climate’s Movement

Aytzim supports the People’s Climate Movement this April 29th in Washington, D.C. (and across the country) to stand up for our communities and climate. The People's Climate Movement is organizing a country-wide arc of action, culminating on April 29th in Washington DC in a powerful mobilization to unite all of our movements. To change everything, we need everyone. On April 29th, we will march for our families. We will march for our air, our water, and our land. We will march for clean energy jobs and climate justice. We will march for our communities and the ...

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Shmita Revival: The Reconsideration and Expansion of Sacred Land

  David Krantz will be speaking at the Mountain and Sacred Landscape Conference at The New School in New York City on Friday, April 21 from 8:30 to 10:00 am. David is a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow and a Wrigley Fellow researching solar-energy policy and faith-based environmentalism. He also runs the environmental nonprofit, Aytzim: Ecological Judaism, parent organization of Jewcology.org, the Green Zionist Alliance, EcoJews, and Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth. He serves on the board of directors of Interfaith Moral Action on ...

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Should the Holocaust Be a Spur to Activism?

"For me the Holocaust was not only a Jewish tragedy, but also a human tragedy. After the war, when I saw that the Jews were talking only about the tragedy of six million Jews, I sent letters to Jewish organizations asking them to also talk about the millions of others who were persecuted together with us – many of them only because they helped Jews" – Simon Wiesenthal (1) Every year around Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, my Orthodox synagogue has a memorial commemoration. It is a well-planned event, featuring a talk by a Holocaust scholar or survivor, ...

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Parshat Tzav: How Meat Consumption Today Differs from The Time of the Mishkan (Sanctuary) in the Wilderness

And that which is left thereof [from the meal-offering] shall Aaron and his sons eat; it shall be eaten without leaven in a holy place; in the tent of meeting they shall eat it. . . . it is most holy as the sin-offering and the guilt-offering. Leviticus 6:9.10 When the Jewish people were in the wilderness before they entered the land of Israel, the consumption of meat was associated with holiness. Every piece of meat consumed came from an animal sacrificed in the Mishkan (Sanctuary), an act meant to bring the worshiper closer to God. The word korban (sacrifice) is ...

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Environmental Issues in Israel

The Third Annual Barbara Siegel Memorial Israel Program will be on Sunday, April 2 at 11:00 am at Congregation Or Hadash in Fort Washington, PA. Our speaker, David Krantz, is a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow and a Wrigley Fellow researching solar-energy policy and faith-based environmentalism. He also runs the environmental nonprofit, Aytzim: Ecological Judaism, parent organization of Jewcology.org, the Green Zionist Alliance, EcoJews, and Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth. He serves on the board of directors of Interfaith Moral Action ...

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The Making of a Jewish Activist: My Biography From My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

I am a ba’al t’shuvah – meaning “one who has returned” – a Jew who started practicing Judaism late in life. I did not grow up in a religious family, and I did not receive a yeshiva education as observant Jewish children generally do today. Most of my current Jewish learning comes not from formal education, but from extensive reading and conversations with Jews from many different backgrounds, plus Torah classes and lectures over the past few decades. Like most Jewish boys growing up in New York during the 1940s, I went to a Talmud Torah school a ...

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Summary and Conclusions Chapter of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

In this hour we, the living [post-Holocaust Jews], are “the people of Israel.” The tasks begun by the patriarchs and prophets and continued by their descendants are now entrusted to us. We are either the last Jews or those who will hand over the entire past to generations to come. We will either forfeit or enrich the legacy of ages. – Abraham Joshua Heschel (The Earth is the Lord’s), 107 ------------------------- What A Wonderful Path Judaism Is!  Judaism proclaims a God who is the Creator of all life, whose attributes of kindness, compassion, ...

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How Can We Revitalise Judaism: Chapter 15 of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

Little does contemporary religion ask of man. It is ready to offer comfort; it has no courage to challenge. It is ready to offer edification; it has no courage to break the idols, to shatter callousness. The trouble is that religion has become “religion” – institution, dogma, ritual. It is no longer an event. Its acceptance involves neither risk nor strain. – Abraham Joshua Heschel183 We must cultivate a sense of injustice, impatience with vulgarity, a capacity for moral indignation, a will to readjust society itself when it becomes complacent and ...

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How Can Prayer Inspire Activism? Chapter 14 of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

  Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, and falsehoods. The liturgical movement must become a revolutionary movement, seeking to overthrow the forces that continue to destroy the promise, the hope, the vision. – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel180 -------------- Based on Rabbi Heschel’s challenging statement above, prayers should help transform people and inspire them to actively strive to create a more humane, compassionate, just, peaceful, and ...

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Should Jews be Vegetarians, or Even Vegans, Chapter 13 of MY Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every fruit tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food...” – Genesis 1:29 The dietary laws are designed to teach us compassion and to lead us gently to vegetarianism. – Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat, Israel What was the necessity for the entire procedure of ritual slaughter? For the sake of self-discipline. It is far more appropriate for man not to eat meat; only if he has a strong desire for meat does the Torah permit it, and ...

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Judaism and Animal Rights- Chapter 12 of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

JUDAISM AND ANIMAL RIGHTS There are probably no creatures that require more the protective Divine word against the presumption of man than the animals, which like man have sensations and instincts, but whose body and powers are nevertheless subservient to man. In relation to them man so easily forgets that injured animal muscle twitches just like human muscle, that the maltreated nerves of an animal sicken like human nerves, that the animal being is just as sensitive to cuts, blows, and beating as man. Thus man becomes the torturer of the animal soul. – Rabbi ...

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