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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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 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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Why Is This Night Different?: Thoughts on Tu B’Shvat

One of the highlights of the Passover seder is the recitation of the four questions which consider how the night of Passover differs from all the other nights of the year. Similar questions are also appropriate for Tu B’Shvat, which starts on Friday evening, February 10, in 2017, because of the many ways that this holiday differs from Passover and all other nights of the year. While four cups of red wine (or grape juice) are drunk at the Passover seder, the four cups drunk at the Tu B’shvat seder vary in color from white to pink to ruby to red.   While ...

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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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Small Changes Add Up to Make a Big Difference!

After the November election, many of us were left with numerous concerns, including about how the president-elect and his advisors will deal with environmental issues such as climate change. While those concerns are still valid, I realized there are many things I could change about how I live my life that can make a difference for the environment. I made three resolutions: reduce, reuse and recycle. Resolution #1: Reduce. I am going to buy less — especially those things that have a negative impact on the environment, such as plastic tableware when I have company ...

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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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Chanukah and Vegetarianism

Many connections can be made between vegetarianism and the Jewish festival of Chanukah: 1. According to the Book of Maccabees, some Maccabees lived on plant foods since they were unable to get kosher meat when they hid in the mountains to avoid capture. 2. The foods associated with Channukah, latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (fried donuts) are vegetarian foods, and the oils that are used in their preparation are a reminder of the oil used in the lighting of the Menorah in the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabean victory. 3. Chanukah represents the ...

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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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An Existential Threat to Israel, the U.S., and the World

While climate change is an existential threat to Israel, 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 ten important reasons we all should be very concerned about climate change: 1. Science academies worldwide, 97% of ...

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“Noah, Superman, and Global Warming,” a Brilliant Article by a Rosh Yeshiva That Can Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet

A Message from the Rosh HaYeshiva Rabbi Dov Linzer Norman and Tova Bulow Rosh HaYeshiva Chair Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School A Thought on the Parasha Feel free to download and print the Parashat Noach sheet and share it with your friends and family. Noah, Superman and Global Warming God creates a perfect, self-sustaining planet, teaming with life. God places human beings in it and gives them seemingly divine powers: rule over all living things, and the ability to build, create, transform, and take mastery over the entire planet (Breishit ...

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Who Stole My Religion?

For many years I have believed that my religion, Judaism, has been stolen. Why? Because Judaism is a radical religion, with 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 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 have been a member of a modern ...

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Review of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?” by the Midwest Book Review

Wisconsin Bookwatch: October 2016
/James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief 
Midwest Book Review 
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575 The Judaic Studies Shelf Who Stole My Religion? 
Richard H. Schwartz 
Urim Publications 
c/o Lambda Publishers 
527 Empire Boulevard, Brooklyn, New York 11225 
www.UrimPublications.com
 9789655242348, $28.95, HC, 302pp, www.amazon.com "Who Stole My Religion?: Revitalizing Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet" by Richard H. Schwartz (President of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians ...

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Latest Review of “Who Stole My Religion?”

THE ARK, publication of “The Catholic Concern for Animas” AUTUMN/WINTER 2016 BOOK REVIEW WHO STOLE MY RELIGION? by Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. Although this book has been written to ‘revitalize Judaism and apply Jewish values to help heal our imperiled planet,' the references used from the Old Testament, apply as much to Christians as they do to Jews. Therefore, I felt it useful to review this book for The Ark. Schwartz takes a good look at the world today including it politics, economic systems and foreign policies, as well as the environment and our ...

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