WHO STOLE MY RELIGION: Revitalizing Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet. By Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D., With Rabbi Yonassan Gershom and Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz.
BOOK REVIEW by Judy Carmen:
Like some of the prophets of ancient times, Dr. Schwartz is courageously calling on the Jewish people to return to their core values and take up the challenge of healing the earth and bringing peace and justice to all living beings. This is no casual reprimand. Dr. Schwartz is warning his Jewish readers, as well as people of all faiths, that if we do not do our part to stop the relentless destruction of earth and take action to repair the damage we have done, there are dire consequences which will affect us all. So, while this book is written for Jews about the Jewish responsibility to “Be a light unto the nations,” it is truly a call to all of us.
In addition to reading and honoring his passionate pleas, I also learned a great deal about Judaism, politics, history, economics, as well as Israel and Palestine. He weaves a brilliant tapestry showing the interconnections of many important issues. Jews, Schwartz reminds us, are commanded to work for justice and peace and he states absolutely that Judaism is “an activist religion.” “To practice justice is considered among the highest demands of prophetic religion,” he writes. And by allowing injustices and not taking action to stop them, we fail to live up to the highest and noblest values.
Dr. Schwartz shines a light on such injustices as climate change; giant corporations consuming the earth without ethics; relentless wars; and the horrors of animal agriculture and meat eating. When any of us support those practices, we are driving humanity and all life toward the brink of destruction. In his section on “Imagining a Vegan World,” he brings us a picture of the world that we can all create—a world in which people would be healthier, animals would no longer suffer and die at the hands of human beings; the environment could heal from the ravages of animal agriculture; world hunger could be eliminated; and world peace for all people and all animals would finally arrive. As he says, a “vegan diet is imperative to move our precious but imperiled planet away from its present catastrophic path.” May all Jewish people follow Dr. Schwartz’s guidance and may we all work together to create a truly vegan world in which peace, justice, and freedom at long last prevail for all humanity and all beings everywhere.
Judy Carman is the Co-Founder Circle of Compassion.org; author of Peace to All Beings: Veggie Soup for the Chicken’s Soul; www.peacetoallbeings.com.