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Invitation to Zoom event discussing an initiative to renew the ancient New Year for Animals and to transform it into a day devoted to discussing Jewish teachings on compassion to animals and how animals are mistreated today

Shalom,

You are cordially invited to attend a Zoom discussion of the historic, potentially transformative initiative to restore the ancient New Year for Animals and to transform it into a day devoted to increasing awareness  of Jewish teachings about compassion to animals and how far current realities are from these teachings. It will also consider how animal-based diets and agriculture seriously violate basic Jewish teachings about preserving human health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, helping hungry people, and pursuing peace.

The event will take place on August 20, Rosh Chodesh Elul, when the ancient holiday was observed, at 9 PM eastern time, 6 PM Pacific time.

A VERY nice article about the initiative that was in the ‘In Jerusalem’ section of the Jerusalem Post can be read at https://www.jpost.com/judaism/renewing-the-ancient-new-year-for-animals-with-a-vegan-spind-638482

The link to join the meeting is https://sjsu.zoom.us/j/95222715669?pwd=UkdvcDNNNW5xdkxYeEtEMk93T1ZzUT09

Please join the growing  list of rabbinic supporters below. Many thanks.

Here is the list of speakers:

Dan Brook, professor of sociology at San Jose State University; author of An Alef-Bet Kabalah and Eating the Earth; maintainer of  The Vegetarian Mitzvah.

Lewis Regenstein, author of “Commandments of Compassion: Jewish Teachings on Protecting the Planet and Its Creatures,” Replenish the Earth, and other writings on Judaism and animals;

Richard Schwartz, PhD, president emeritus of Jewish Veg and author of Judaism and Vegetarianism;

Jeffrey Tucker, director of Florida Earth Save

Will Tuttle, Ph.D, visionary author of the international best-seller, The World Peace Diet; worldwide lecturer on veganism; recipient of the Courage of Conscience Award and Empty Cages Prize. (He will discuss how non-Jews will react to efforts to restore and transform the holiday.)

Aharon Varady, community planner & Jewish educator; founding director, the Open Siddur Project; a pioneer in efforts to restore and transform the ancient holiday.

Jonathan Wolf, founder of Jewish Vegetarians of North America; co-founder of L’Olam: The Jewish Environmental Network; executive director of Yashar: The Institute for Jewish Activism.

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A similar Zoom event is scheduled for Israel also on August 20 at 8 PM Israeli time.

The link is https://zoom.us/j/98374978301

The scheduled speakers are:

Miriam Maisel, MD, family practitioner, with emphasis on nutrition and lifestyle;

Rabbi Yonatan Neril, founder and director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development;

Sahar Reiner development director for Animals Now

Richard Schwartz, PhD, president emeritus of Jewish Veg and author of Judaism and Vegetarianism;

Yael Shemesh, professor of bible at Bar Ilan University;

Alon Tal, PhD, chairman of the Public Policy Department at Tel Aviv University and author of Pollution in the Promised Land;

Isaac Thomas, director of Vegan Nation;

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Below are lists of supporting organisations, rabbis, and organizational leaders and other influential Jews, followed by eight supportive statements by; rabbis and one by a vegan leader:

***** If you are a rabbi or a Jewish veg leader and would like to be added to the appropriate list and/or if you would like to help in sharing ideas or material about promoting this initiative, and/or you have suggestions about this initiative, please email me at VeggieRich@gjmail.com. MANY thanks!

Jewish organizations that support this initiative so far:

Animals Now, formerly Anonymous for Animal Rights  (Animals-Now.org)

Aytzim: Ecological Judaism, Parent organization of:

EcoJews, Green Zionist Alliance, Jewcology.org , Jews of the Earth , Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth (aytzim.org)

Bread and Torah Project (BreadandTorah.org)

Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL).   coejl.org

Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (www.chai-online.org)

EcoJews (jewcology.org/initiative/ecojews/)

Hakol Chai (www.chai.org.il)

Hazon: The Jewish Lab for Sustainability (hazon.org)

Green Zionist Alliance (https://aytzim.org/greenisrael)

Interfaith Council for the Protection of Animals and Nature (www.icpanonline.org.p4.hostingprod.com/home)

Jews For Animal Rights (www.micahbooks.com)

Jewcology (jewcology.org)  Jews of the Earth ,

Jewish Veg, formerly Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JewishVeg.org)

Jewish Vegetarian Society of the UK.   (www.jvs.org.uk)

Jewish Vegetarian Society of Israel.   (ginger.org.il)

Jews of the Earth (aytzim.org/jote)

Neohasid (www.neohasid.org)

Shamayim Institute Promoting Jewish Veganism & Animal Welfare (www.shamayimvaretz.org)

Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth (aytzim.org)

Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center (www.treeoflife.nu/)

Vegetarian Mitzvah (www.brook.com/jveg)

Yashar: The Institute for Jewish activism (website under construction).

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Rabbis who support this initiative so far

Rabbi Katy Z. Allen, Staff Chaplain, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Rabbi Rick Brody. Community Chaplain, Jewish Family Service of Colorado

Rabbi Lester Bronstein is immediate past president of the New York Board of Rabbis; rabbi of Bet Am Shalom in White Plains, New York since 1989; on the board of T’ruah: A Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

Rabbi Howard A Cohen, Congregation Shirat Hayam in Marshfield MA; creator and director of Burning Bush Adventures, a program that combined wilderness travel with Judaism for 30 years; deputy chief and chaplain of the Bennington Fire Department for the past 20 years.  

Rabbi Michael Cohen, teacher of Bible and the Environment at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies; teacher of courses on Conflict Resolution and the Bible at Bennington College.

Rabbi Gabriel Cousens, M.D., Director of Tree of Life Foundation and author of Torah as a Guide to Enlightenment

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, chairperson of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL); Rabbi of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda MD, and on the Board of Interfaith Power and Light 

Rabbi Yehoshua Engelman, psychoanalyst

Rabbi Ariel Edery, Beth Shalom, Cary NC

Rabbi Adam Frank, Israeli Masorti teacher and lecturer,

Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, writer and activist; his blog “Notes from a Jewish Thoreau” is at http://rooster613.blogspot.com/

Rabbi Irving (Yitz ) Greenberg, former President of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership; author of The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays

Rabbi Nathan Martin, Congregation Beth Israel of Media, Pennsylvania

Rabbi David Mivasair, Ahavat Olam Synagogue, emeritus, Vancouver, British Columbia

Rabbi Linda Motzkin, co-director of the Bread and Torah project

Rabbi Yonatan Neril, Founder and Executive Director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development in Israel

Rabbi Arnold Rachlis, University Synagogue, Irvine, CA

Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland: KSG, CBE, International Co-President, Religions for Peace; Member of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s Commission for Dialogue with Religions; former Chief Rabbi of Ireland

Rabbi Jonathan Rubenstein, co-director of the Bread and Torah project

Rabbi Amy Sapowith, Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation, Ashburn, VA

Rabbi Sid Schwartz, Founding Rabbi, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, Bethesda, MD. Author, Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future.

Rabbi David Seidenberg, director of neohasid.org

Rabbi David Serotta, director emeritus of Interfaith Council of Metropolitan, Washington

Rabbi Daniel Swartz,  Spiritual Leader, Temple Hesed; Executive Director, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center

Rabbi David Wolpe, Temple Sinai, Los Angeles

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, founder and director of the Shamayim V’Aretz Institute Promoting Jewish Veganism & Animal Welfare; author of over a dozen books on Jewish values and ethics

Rabbi Rain Zohav, Director, JOTE- Jews of the Earth, a project of Aytzim

Jewish Organizational leaders and other influential Jews who support this initiative

Syd Baumel, former editor of The Aquarian, a forum for shedding light on the path to personal fulfillment

Lara Balsam, Director of UK-based Jewish Vegetarian Society

Jeremy Benstein, The Heschel Sustainability Center, Tel Aviv, Israel; author of The Way Into Judaism and the Environment

Dan Brook, professor of sociology at San Jose State University; author of An Alef-Bet Kabalah and Eating the Earth; maintainer of  The Vegetarian Mitzvah.

Brandon Burr, OD, Director of Food Policy Animal Wellness Action Center for a Humane Economy

Jeffrey Spitz Cohan,  director of Jewish Veg

Lionel Friedberg, multiaward-winning cinematographer, producer, editor, and writer, producer of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World.”

A. J.  Frost, Senior Director of Operations/Assistant to the President & Dean of Valley Beit Midrash

Alex Hershaft, founder and director of the Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM)

Melissa Hoffman, director of Jewish Initiative for Animals (JIFA) and Rabbinical student

Roberta Kalechofsky, PhD, author or editor of many books, including Jewish Vegetarianism, Rabbis and Vegetarianism, and Judaism and Animal Rights; founder and director of Jews for Animal Rights

Lori Kirshner, President of Advancing the Interests of Animals (AIA), which she founded in 2001;  host of Animals Today, a nationally syndicated radio show and podcast

David Krantz, President of Aytzim: Ecological Judaism

Miriam Maisel, MD, family practitioner, with emphasis on nutrition and lifestyle

Nina Natelson, founder and director of  Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI)

Becky O’Brien, director for food and climate for Hazon: The Jewish Lab for Sustainability

Lewis Regenstein, author of “Commandments of Compassion: Jewish Teachings on Protecting the Planet and Its Creatures,” Replenish the Earth, and other writings on Judaism and animals

Sahar Riemer, Development Coordinator, Animals Now

Nigel S. Savage, President & CEO of Hazon: The Jewish Lab for Sustainability

Richard Schwartz, PhD, president emeritus of Jewish Veg; author of Judaism and vegetarianism

Yael Shemesh, Professor of Bible at Bar Ilan University

Peter Spiegel, Vice President and Secretary of Advancing the Interests of Animals (AIA);  producer and co-host of the radio show Animals Today,.

Isaac Thomas, Founder and CEO of Vegan Nation

Jeffrey Tucker, director of Florida chapter of Earth Save

Aharon Varady, community planner & Jewish educator; founding director, the Open Siddur Project

Jonathan Wolf, founder of Jewish Vegetarians of North America; co-founder of L’Olam: The Jewish Environmental Network; executive director of Yashar: The Institute for Jewish Activism.

Yossi Wolfson, coordinator of the Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society

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Messages of support from rabbis

The Maharal (Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague) wrote that “Love of all creatures is also the love of the Holy One, Blessed be He; for when one loves the Holy One, it is impossible not to love His creatures. The opposite is also true. If one hates His creatures, it is impossible to (truly) love He who created them” (Netivot Olam, 1)

Accordingly, the idea to develop the “ New Year for Animals” from its original limited reference, to become a day for raising awareness of human responsibility for animal welfare, is in fact nothing less than an initiative to enhance our love of the Creator Himself, and is a sanctification of the Divine Name. Rabbi David Rosen KSG, CBE, International Co-President,   Religions for Peace; Member of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s Commission for Dialogue with Religions; former Chief rabbi of Ireland.

It is a beautiful idea to renew/revive a classic day – Rosh Hashanah for counting and giving ma’aser behayma – which lost its actual function with the destruction of the Temple and the Exile. Your contemporary application of this attention in the form of addressing humanity’s relationship to animal life – and the widespread mistreatment of food animals and environmental abuse in today’s economy, marked by industrial farming and animal husbandry – is inspired. I wish you great success in this project because it would have a morally positive effect on our treatment of animals and the planet -as well as bring great benefits to human health in switching to a healthier diet and life enhancement eating. In this way, your project fulfills and advances the central mitzvah of the Torah: choose life. Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, former President of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership; author of The Jewish way: Living the Holidays

The Jewish tradition mandates that we are stewards of all God’s creation.  In our day we are increasingly sensitized to suffering of those living creatures in our care; this initiative helps us to recognize our obligation to animals and so helps us be more fully human. Rabbi David Wolpe, Temple Sinai, Los Angeles

Transforming this holiday, which was originally a time to tithe one’s flocks, into a day to focus on the treatment of animals on modern farms, would provide an excellent educational opportunity.  Unlike our farmer/herder ancestors who had daily contact with animals, modern Jews are often completely out of touch with where their food comes from, or how it is produced. Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, writer and activist; his blog “Notes from a Jewish Thoreau” is at http://rooster613.blogspot.com/

It is a great joy that we should reactivate a day to honor the holy relationship between the human and animal worlds, as per Genesis 1:29 and 1:30, where all of the animal and human species will be restored to a vegan way of life …. and with that a new level of peace will unfold on the planet. This is something to bring about and celebrate.  Rabbi Gabriel Cousens, M.D. Director of Tree of Life Foundation and author of Torah as a Guide to Enlightenment.

I applaud this initiative and effort to bring to fruition the awareness that Jewish tradition expects of humanity toward the animal kingdom.  Adam Frank, Israeli Masorti rabbi and teacher

By setting aside only one day—a single day—a year to focus on the undervalued significance that animals have in our lives allows us to reflect on the enormity and beauty of God’s creation. A single day each year empowers us to look into our core and go back to the Garden of Eden, the one locale where human and animal resided side by side, where one side didn’t dominate the other for gain. In this way, we return to the vision of Paradise, where all are treated with equality, respect, and dignity. That is the way of Torah. That is the way of Creation. That is way of the Divine. We should hear the call and celebrate the Animal, just as God intended. Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz,  founder and director of Shamayim v’Aretz; author of over a dozen books on Jewish values and ethics.

Just as Tu Bishvat has been renewed in our times as a day to plant trees and appreciate God’s creation, so too the first day of the month of Elul can be renewed as a time to focus on our relationship with animals. The Mishna makes clear that this is one of the four New Years in the Jewish calendar, and that it relates to the tithing of animals. Therefore, it is appropriate for us to consider how we relate to animals today, even if the ancient tithing practice no longer occurs after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Rabbi Yonatan Neril, founder and director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development; currently working on a book about environmental aspects and insights from the Torah.

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In our lifetimes, we have seen the renewal of the medieval custom of the Tu B’Shvat Seder, celebrating trees and fruits and nature and the Land of Israel.  Now is the time to similarly create new ceremonies for marking Rosh Hodesh Elul, named in the Mishna as one of the four New Years in the Jewish year [along with Rosh Hashana, Rosh Hodesh Nissan, and Tu B’shvat], specifically the one for tithing and other laws as they apply to animals.  We can use  this day to remember and rededicate ourselves to ending the cruelties of factory farming, to recognize the benefits which animals bring into the  world, to honor our pets, and to remind ourselves that all animals are Divine creatures possessing independent integrity,  whom we are prohibited by Jewish law from torturing or mistreating, and who were not created for our exploitation. Jonathan Wolf, a leader since the 1970s in the revival of the Seder Leil Tu B’Shvat; founder in 1975 of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America; currently executive director of YASHAR: the Institute for Jewish Activism

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Link to JPost article on renewing the New Year for Animals

https://www.jpost.com/judaism/renewing-the-ancient-new-year-for-animals-with-a-vegan-spind-638482

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