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


Blogs

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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Should Jews Be Environmental Activists?

This is chapter 11 of my book, "Who Stole My Religion? Revitalising Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperilled Planet" And the Lord God took the man [Adam] and put him into the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it. – Genesis 2:15 The earth was not created as a gift to you. You have been given to the earth, to treat it with respectful consideration, as God’s earth, and everything on it [must be seen] as God’s creation, and [animals recognized as] your fellow creatures — to be respected, loved, and helped to attain their ...

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Is Judaism a Radical Religion?

There are no words in the world more knowing, more disclosing, and more indispensable. Words both stern and graceful, heart-rending and healing. A truth so universal – Elohim [God] is One. A thought so consoling – He is with us in distress. A responsibility so overwhelming – His Name can be desecrated. A map of time – from creation to redemption. Guideposts along the way: The Seventh Day; An offering – contrition of the heart. A utopia – would that all people were prophets. The insight – man lives by his faithfulness, his home is in time, and his ...

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The Political Shift of Orthodox Jews to the Right and Its Effects

This is chapter 2 of my book, "Who Stole My Relgion?" There is no precedent, whether in the European experience or Israel, for the nasty political and ideological writing that has become standard fare in U.S. fervently Orthodox publications, particularly the stream of vituperation directed against the Obama administration and the collateral adoption of far right positions....I believe that the embrace of right-wing attitudes is a factor in the high rate of attrition among younger Orthodox, a rate that dwarfs any gains achieved through outreach....In view of the ...

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Who Stole My Religion?

Note: This is chapter one of my book, "Who Stole My Religion? I am a Jew because the faith of Israel [Judaism] demands no abdication of my mind. I am a Jew because the faith of Israel asks every possible sacrifice of my soul. I am a Jew because in all places where there are tears and suffering the Jew weeps. I am a Jew because in every age when the cry of despair is heard the Jew hopes. I am a Jew because the message of Israel is the most ancient and the most modern. I am a Jew because Israel’s promise is a universal promise. I am a Jew because for ...

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Preface to “Who Stole My Religion?” by Richard H. Schwartz

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. – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel1 On some positions, Cowardice asks the question “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question “Is it popular?” But Conscience ...

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