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First draft of my book, “Restoring and Transforming the Ancient Jewish New Year For Animals: An Idea Whose Time Has Come. Suggestions very welcome.

Shalom,

I would very much welcome suggestions on all or part of my draft below of a manuscript, tentatively entitled, “Restoring and Transforming the Ancient Jewish New Year for Animals: An Idea Whose Time Has Come.” I plan to send the final draft to MANY rabbis and Jewish veg and animal rights activists at least a month before Rosh Chodesh Elul, August 27 in 2022, when the ancient Jewish holiday occurred, hoping that would result in many holiday observances, and many suggestions to improve this book in future editions. This is all new, so I am VERY open to ideas, big and small.

MANY thanks,

KOL tuv,

Richard

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Restoring and Transforming the Ancient Jewish New Year for Animals: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

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Messages of Support from Rabbis and Other Jewish Leaders About Renewing the New Year for Animals and About This Book

Restoring and adapting an ancient Jewish holiday to modern practice may seem like an insurmountable challenge, but many Jews today believe it is possible. The following rabbis and activists not only believe it can be done, they wholehearted endorse the process. Lists of supporting Jewish organizations, rabbis, and influential Jews are in Appendices A, B, and C,

     It is expected that there will be many more supporting statements and endorsements after this book is widely distributed. This will help increase awareness that restoring and transforming the ancient Jewish New Year for Animals is indeed an idea whose time has finally come.

  1. Endorsements from distinguished rabbis (listed alphabetically)

From Rabbi Jonathan Jaffe Bernhard, Executive Director, Shamayim: Jewish Animal Advocacy: 

Becoming the people the Torah envisions will only happen through a reassessment of our relationship to animals.  Re-Imagining and Re-Vitalizing this ancient tradition is a step in that process that also allow for a Re-Engagement with an authentic expression of Jewish values and ritual.

From Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo, Dean of the The David Cardozo Academy, Jerusalem, and author of many Judaica books, including Jewish Law as Rebellion: A Plea For Religious Authenticity and Halachic Courage:  

As always, my dear friend Professor Richard Schwartz makes us aware of one of the top priorities in Judaism. May this book have much influence and inspire, and may we all take notice of his important words:

From Rabbi Gabriel Cousens, M.D. Director of Tree of Life Foundation and author of many Judaica and health books, including Torah as a Guide to Enlightenment:

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.  

From Rabbi Adam Frank, Israeli Masorti rabbi and teacher:

I applaud this initiative and effort to bring to fruition the awareness that Jewish tradition expects of humanity toward the animal kingdom. 

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

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, provides 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.

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

It is a beautiful idea to renew/revive a classic day – Rosh Hashanah for counting and giving ma’aser beheima – that lost its actual function with the destruction of the Temple and the Exile. 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 great success to this project because it would have a morally positive effect on our treatment of animals and the planet, and bring great benefits to human health in switching to a healthier diet and life enhancement eating. In this way, the project fulfills and advances the central mitzvah of the Torah: choose life.

From Rabbi Jill Hammer, Director of Spiritual Education for the Academy of Jewish Religion (Riverdale, NY).:

Rosh Chodesh Elul, the Talmudic New Year for Animals, is a wonderful time to reclaim our connection to our brothers and sisters of all species, examine our ethics around treatment of animals, and celebrate the ways humans are and can be in partnership with all life. I, for one, look forward to blessing the animals in a Jewish context!


From 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.

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, 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.

From Rabbi Arthur Waskow, PhD, founder and director, The Shalom Center; author of many Judaica books; a long time activist on social justice, peace, and environmental issues:

As the human species – homo not-always-sapiens —  turns our attention after a long and disastrous blind spot to the other species that are part of the great ecosystem of Temple Earth, restoring Rosh Chodesh Elul as the New Year for Animals will help us refocus on all the many Names of all the many beings that make  up Shmei Rabbah – the Great Name.

From Rabbi David Wolpe, Senior rabbi at Temple Sinai, Los Angeles; author of many Judaica books:

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. 

From Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz,  founder and director of Shamayim: Jewish Animal Advocacy and Uri L’Tzedek: the Orthodox Social Justice Organization; author of over a dozen books on Jewish values and ethics:

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.

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Statements From Leaders of Jewish Veg, Animal Rights, and Environmental Organizations (listed alphabetically)

From Jeffrey Cohan, executive director of Jewish Veg:

“The timing of the New Year for Animals is auspicious and profound. It falls on Rosh Chodesh Elul, when we begin a period of deep introspection, leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. As we examine our actions, the New Year for Animals reminds us that we can all do our part to lessen suffering and violence, to manifest the Divine attribute of compassion, by treating animals as friends, not food.

From David Krantz, Director or Aytzim: Ecological Judaism:

Falling on the first day of the month of Tishrei, Rosh Hashanah tends to 

get all of the attention as the New Year for years (and all of 

Creation), but the Jewish calendar actually includes four different New 

Year days.  Tu B’Shvat marks the New Year for trees, the first of Nissan 

marks the new year for months, the anniversary of a king’s ascent to the 

thrown marks the New Year for kings, and the first of Elul marks the New 

Year for non-human animals. In a world in which our interaction with 

non-human animals is dominated by our killing and consumption of them, 

the New Year for non-human animals calls us to rethink humanity’s 

relationship with our fellow animals with whom we share this precious 

Earth.

From Jakir Manela, director of Hazon: the Jewish Laboratory for Sustainability:

Just as Tu B’Shvat has been revived as a Jewish Earth Day, Rosh Hashanah La’Behemot is a modern-day reminder of human relationships with animals. Animals provide humans with companionship, and so much more. Rosh Hashanah La’Behemot is a time for us to consider and honor our relationships with beheimot, the animals in our lives. The holiday can serve as a chance to remind people of tza’ar ba’alei hayim, the prohibition against unnecessary cruelty to animals, to start conversations about animal welfare, and to start taking action to improve the lives of animals around the world.

From Aharon Varady, a pioneer in efforts to restore and transform the ancient holiday and founder and director of the Open Siddur Project.

The New Years for Animals would then be something more like a ḥeshbon nefashot – an accounting for all of the souls we, as individuals and as a society, are responsible for. What better way to begin a month of self-reflection and repair then to renew our awareness of ALL of the creatures we are in a direct relationship with (such as our pet cats and dogs), and indirectly, such as the kosher and non-kosher animals that are raised for our consumption, experimented on (ostensibly) for our benefit, shorn and skinned for our clothing, milked for our cereal, and paraded and raced in displays for our entertainment. There were animals that had once upon a time been domesticated by my ancestors that had remained dependent upon society long after they had been left feral and without care. There were also the non-domesticated, wild animals, whose habitat and ecology had been so disrupted by human development and land-use decisions that the very existence of their species, let alone their own lives, depended upon the mindful attention of human beings. I began to listen for the voices of these animals in the first blast of the shofar, the horn of a ram, during the traditional custom on Rosh Ḥodesh Elul, to begin the countdown to Rosh Hashanah.

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Contents

Messages of Support from Rabbis and Other Jewish Leaders about Renewing the New Year for Animals and About This Book

Foreword

Preface

Acknowledgements

Chapter 1: The New Year for Animals: Past, Present, and Future

Chapter 2:  Reasons To Restore and Transform the Ancient Jewish New Year for Animals

Chapter 3: Ways of Commemorating and Celebrating Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot

Appendices

A. List of Jewish Organizations Supporting the Renewal and Transformation of Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot

B.  List of Rabbis Supporting the Renewal and YTransformationof Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot

C. List of Jewish Activists Supporting the Renewal and Transformation of Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot

D. Jewish Quotations About Animals and How Animals Are Treated Today

E. Links To Valuable Background Material

F. Material About Jewish Veg and Animal Rights Organizations

G. Jewish Stories About Compassion For Animals

H. Suggestions For Promoting Improved Conditions For Animals

I. Sample questions To Provide Interviewers for Podcast and Radio Interview Programs and Suggested Responses

J.  Suggestions for Organizing and Carrying Out a Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot Event

K. Questions That Can Be Asked at a Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot Event and Suggested Responses

L. A Sample Press Release To Announce a Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot Event or Announce the Promotion of the Initiative To Restore and Transform the Ancient Jewish Holiday

Bibliography

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                        Foreword

The Torah is replete with commandments about the proper treatment of animals, and indeed most rabbinic authorities believe that the prohibition of causing suffering to animals, known in Hebrew as tza’ar ba’alei chayim, is an injunction of the Torah and not a later rabbinic interdiction.

     In Deuteronomy 13:18 it is written “and He will give you mercy and have mercy on you.” Our sages use this verse to indicate that compassion is an identifying characteristic of authentic Jews, and they declare that “he who has compassion on God’s creatures demonstrates that he is of the seed of Abraham, our Father; and one who does not have compassion on God’s creatures demonstrates that he is not of the seed of Abraham, our Father. (Betzah 32b)

     The great 16th century Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, known as the Maharal, expounds on the idea of “love of God” and states: “Love of all creatures is also love of God, for whoever loves the One God loves all the works He has made. When one loves God, it is impossible not to love His creatures. The opposite is also true. If one hates the creatures, it is impossible to love God Who created them.” (Netivot Olam, Ahavat Hare’a)

     The Torah gives humans permission to consume animal flesh under certain circumstances and restrictions. Probably there were times and places when people were not able to obtain enough plant-based nutrients, as opposed to the situation for the vast majority of people today. However, many commentators conclude that the Torah’s wording demonstrates that this permission is a concession to human weaknesses and negative desires.

     The Baal Haturim (on Deuteronomy 12:20) points out that this permission is followed by the words “ki yirchak,” meaning “when far away,” and states “that is to say that a person should keep far away from eating meat, as it is stated (Chulin 84a) ‘a person should not instruct his son to eat meat.’” 

     Rabbi Joseph Albo in his Sefer Ha’ikkarim notes the Talmudic statement (Kiddushin 21b) that the permission to eat meat is given due to the fact that “the Torah permits (concessions) for the evil inclination (in humans).”

      Many commentators reiterate this idea. Of particular relevance are the writings of the prominent 19th century Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook – in particular, those collected by his close disciple, the Nazir, Rabbi David Hacohen, in a booklet entitled “The Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace.” It includes passages in which Rabbi Kook explains how the commandments relating to kashrut (kosher laws) are designed to wean humans away from consuming animal products.

      People are less aware of the passionate position against consuming meat expressed by Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik in his article “The emergence of ethical man,” in which he reiterates that the permission is a concession to the evil inclination and human lust. He refers to the desire to eat meat as an “illicit demand.”

     The idea that was designed to inculcate ethical qualities in humans is clearly expressed by Jewish sages, who declare: “What does God care whether a man kills an animal in the proper way and eats it, or whether he strangles an animal and then eats it? Will the one benefit Him or the other injure Him? What does God care whether a man eats kosher or non-kosher animals? . . . But you learn that the commandments were given only to refine God’s creatures, as it says ‘God’s word is refined. It is a protection to those who trust in Him.’ “ (Midrash Tanhuma, Parshat Shmini 15b. Similarly, Genesis Rabbah, Lech Lecha 44:1. Leviticus Rabbah, Shemini 13:3)

     In keeping with this text, Nachmanides emphasizes that the purpose of the mitzvot is to improve human character. Concerning the mitzvah of shiluah haken (driving away the mother bird from its nest before taking the chicks or the eggs. Deuteronomy 22:6), he explains that the purpose of the commandment is precisely in order to educate us to be compassionate people.

     Maimonides (12 c.) had previously highlighted this idea in his Guide for the Perplexed (111:17), even though, as opposed to Nachmanides, he believed  that animals suffer pain and distress similarly to humans. 

     This teaching of compassion to animals is accordingly presented in the 15th century Jewish ethical work Orchot Tzaddikim (Shaar Rachamim) as central to the authentic Jewish way of life.

     The author of the Torah Temimah elaborates upon the Talmudic commentary on the above-mentioned verse from Deuteronomy, namely that he who is not compassionate cannot be of the seed of Abraham. Obviously, this is not a comment about legal status, but rather indicates that being Jewish is about more than simply keeping the letter of the law. Above all, as already stated, Judaism is meant to instill in us the most noble of qualities, compassion being at the very pinnacle. If a person keeps the letter of the law but desecrates its spirit, then in fact he undermines the authentic character of the true love of God that Abraham sought to bring to the world.

     Of course, not all Jewish authorities share the above negative views regarding meat consumption. Well-known is the statement that “there is no celebration without meat and wine.”  However to be precise, the Talmud states that this was the case when the Temple in Jerusalem was standing and that, since its destruction, celebration is just with wine (Pesahim 109a).  Moreover, Rabbi Hezkiah Medini, in his encyclopedic work Sdei Hemed (under the heading “basar”[meat]) brings the many rabbinic authorities who state that this is obviously only the case for those for whom eating meat is truly a pleasure.

     However, even for those who are of the opinion that it is still a mitzvah to eat meat on Sabbaths and festivals, this would only be valid when the process does not involve flagrant violation of Jewish law (a mitzvah haba’ah b’aveirah). The current conditions of livestock (factory) farming involving cruelty on a scale heretofore unknown that desecrates Jewish ethics; the use of massive doses of antibiotics and hormones fed to the animals that are retained in the animal flesh and passed on to humans threatening their health, which Judaism demands that we protect (Deuteronomy 4:9, 15); and the environmental dangers of the livestock industry in terms of water and land waste, deforestation, and air pollution, which, according to the United Nations research papers, are a cause of climate change greater than all the forms of transport put together and thus threatening the very Creation that we are meant to protect; mean that there can be little halachic justification today for a carnivorous diet, especially when so many plant based alternatives are available.. 

     Professor Richard Schwartz continues with his inspiring and indefatigable efforts to highlight Jewish teachings for compassion towards animal life and the enormously beneficial consequences of such for human welfare.

     This book presents his latest initiative to use the date that the sages of the Mishnah identified for tithing purposes as the New Year of Animals, Rosh Chodesh Elul, to highlight the spectrum of our religious ethical obligations towards animal life. In so doing , he gives expression to the most noble values of Jewish teaching to emulate the Divine Attributes, as the Talmud states (Shabbat 133b), “ just as God is gracious and merciful, so you must be gracious and merciful.” May his efforts continue to bear fruit to make our world a more compassionate and godly abode for all.

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; the American Jewish Committee’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs.

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         Preface: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

    The French writer Victor Hugo wrote, “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” There are many reasons why the time has finally arrived for a restoration of the ancient New Year for Animals and its transformation into a day devoted to increasing awareness of Judaism’s teachings about compassion for animals. Also, the horrific realities for animals raised for meat, milk and eggs and their miserable lives in factory farms, during transport to slaughterhouses and during the actual slaughtering process itself are very remote from these compassionate and ancient teachings. Other reasons, discussed more in the chapters,  include:

  • There has been a major increase in the number of plant-based substitutes for meat and other animal products, some with the appearance, texture, and taste so similar to actual animal products that even long-time meat eaters cannot tell the difference.
  • Many Jews and others, especially among the young, have been shifting to vegan diets.
  • People are becoming increasingly aware of the seriousness of climate threats and the importance of shifts to vegan diets as an essential part of efforts to avert a climate catastrophe.
  • There is increasing awareness of the horrifying conditions for animals in the meat, poultry, seafood, egg, and dairy industries.
  • There is increasing awareness within medical circles and the general public that animal-based diets and agriculture contribute significantly to heart disease, cancer, strokes, and other life-threatening diseases.
  • Animal agriculture is a direct cause of species extinction on a colossal, worldwide scale.
  • Animal exploitation contributes to deforestation, coral reef destruction, water and air pollution and many irreversible environmental problems; 
  • The general public’s infatuation with animal products leads to wasteful use of land, water, energy and other resources; 
  • The massive mistreatment and exploitation of animals—raised in factory farms, but essentially sourced from the wild—is not only morally and ethically wrong and against the finest and most enduring of Judaism’s teachings —  it makes future pandemics more likely.

     Because of the above, there have been efforts to get the ancient New Year for Animals back onto the Jewish agenda. This book is an effort to continue that momentum.

      It is essential that the present opportunity for positive changes not be missed because:

  • A societal shift to vegan diets is the only approach that has the potential to avert the looming climate catastrophe. It not only would sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions because there would be far less cows and other farmed ruminants emitting methane, a very potent greenhouse gas.It would also enable the reforesting of much of the over a third of the world’s ice-free land and rainforests that are currently being used to graze and grow feed crops for animals, resulting in the sequestering of much of the current atmospheric CO2, bringing it down from its current very dangerous level to a safe one.
  • Animal-based diets and agriculture seriously violate fundamental Jewish teachings on preserving our health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, helping hungry people, and pursuing peace.
  • Despite the very important considerations above, the vast majority of Jews are unaware of these realities and continue to eat meat and consume animal products 

     It is therefore urgent that this initiative to restore and transform the ancient New Year for Animals be successful. It greatly increases awareness of the points mentioned above and will help Jews shift to more healthy and sustainable plant-based diets.

      This volume discusses the history of the ancient New. Year, recent efforts to restore it, reasons why it is so important, and a variety of suggestions for commemorating and celebrating the renewed holiday.

     Much information and concepts are provided in the appendices to help carry out events related to the renewed holiday.

     This book is just the beginning of efforts to restore the ancient Jewish holiday. It is hoped that many rabbis and other knowledgeable Jews will make suggestions that will make this initiative successful. Hopefully, a new edition of this book will reflect their suggestions  

     Comments and suggestions are always welcome and can be sent to me at VeggieRich@gmail.com.

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Acknowledgements

[to be added. Many people will be asked for input.]

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        Chapter 1

The New Year for Animals: Past, Present, and Future

      [Thanks to Aharon Varady, Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, and Wikipedia for material in this section.]

All Jews know about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. But many do not know that there are four Roshei Shanim/New Year days in the Jewish tradition.  As indicated in the Mishnah, Rosh Hashanah 1:1:

The first of Nisan is the Rosh HaShanah for [the reigns of] kings and pilgrimage holidays.

The first of Elul is the Rosh HaShanah for tithing behemah [animals, for sacrifices]. Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon say, “The first of Tishrei.”

The first of Tishrei is the Rosh HaShanah for years, Shmitah [the sabbatical year], Yovel [the jubilee year], for planting, and for vegetables.

The first of Shvat is the Rosh HaShanah for [fruit-bearing] trees, according to Beit Shamai. Beit Hillel says it is on the fifteenth [of the month of Shvat, Tu biShvat].

     Only the first of Tishrei is a “New Year’s Day” in the sense that we now think of it. The others are more like fiscal year cut-off dates. similar, for example, to January 1, the cut-off date for the year in which income is to be declared for income tax purposes, although they do not have to be paid until the 15th of April (in the US).

     The first of Elul, the time of the ancient Jewish New Year for Animals, for ma’aser beheima, tithing animals suitable for sacrifices, was the cut-off date for determining in which year an animal could be counted for sacrifices. Animals born before that date were tithed in the old year; animals born after that date were tithed in the new year. The tithing of the animals occurred by means of passing animals through a narrow opening in a pen ,where every tenth animal was marked with red paint.

     Nowadays very few Jews are raising flocks of animals and, since there has not been a Jerusalem Temple since the year 70 C.E. (when the Romans destroyed it), there are no Temple sacrifices at this time. Nevertheless, this date remains on the Jewish calendar, although, admittedly, it is not very well known today. 

     The period of heshbon hanefesh (the traditional accounting for one’s relationships during the month of Elul) begins Rosh Chodesh Elul. It is the beginning of a month-long period of introspection during which Jews are to examine their deeds before the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  Starting on that date and for the entire month of Elul (except on Shabbat), the shofar (ram’s horn) is blown in synagogues during morning services to awaken Jews to their responsibilities. Therefore this date is an appropriate time for this renewed holiday when we consider how we can improve conditions for animals. 

     As Aharon Varady expressed it:

     What better way to begin a month dedicated to humbling ourselves and repairing our relationships than by reflecting first on our relationship with beheimot — the domesticated animals who depend on us for their care and sustenance. The category of beheimot includes all animals historically bred by humans as domesticated creatures, both kosher and non-kosher, for example, cats dogs, cows, donkeys, goats, pigs, chicken, and llamas. If we can imagine, empathize, and understand the dependency of beheimot in our care, how much better can we realize our relationship with the Holy Blessed One, and the infinite chain of inter-dependencies uniting all living relationships in reflection of this Oneness.

     It is significant that Judaism considers that for hiddur mitzvah (to enhance the mitzvah (commandment)), the shofar should ideally come from an animal that had been raised without cruelty and had died a natural death.

      Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot occurs from sunset on August 27 to sunset on August 28 in 2022.

      Renewing the New Year for Animals would not be the first time that an ancient Jewish holiday was redefined after the Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E. Shavuot, the “Feast of Weeks,” was originally celebrated with processions of people bringing their first fruits to the Temple. Today it focuses on the Jewish people receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai, which also took place on the same date. 

     Tu B’Shvat, the “New Year for Trees,” a day initially intended for tithing fruit trees for Temple offerings, was reclaimed in the 17th Century by mystics in Sefat, Israel, as a day for healing the natural world. It is now a kind of Jewish Earth Day, when people not only plant trees, but also have Seders that involve the eating of many fruits, the reciting of many blessings, and a focus on current environmental issues.

     Just as Shavuot and Tu B’Shvat were transformed, it is important that Rosh Hashana LaBeheimot  (New Year’s Day for Animals) be renewed and transformed into a day devoted to increasing awareness of Judaism’s powerful teachings on compassion for animals, and to considering a tikkun (healing) for the horrible ways that animals are treated today on factory farms and in other settings. This would involve a shift from the original focus of tithing for sacrifices toward learning about how animals are treated on factory farms, comparing that with Jewish teachings about the proper treatment of animals and other settings, and considering vegetarianism (and preferably veganism), a diet more consistent with fundamental Jewish values. Given that most Jews today are urban people who rarely, if ever, have contact with farmers or farmed animals, developing a modern version of this day would also be a great educational opportunity.

     A short video by Breslov chasid Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, who takes care of many cats and chickens, provides an excellent summary of the above points.It can be watched at https://youtu.be/z650-bx8Jdg

     Beginning in 2009, the festival began to be revived by religious Jewish animal protection advocates and environmental educators to raise awareness of the mitzvah  of tsar baalei chayim, the source texts informing Jewish ethical relationships with domesticated animals, and the lived experience of animals impacted by human needs, especially in the industrial meat industry.

     Informal celebrations of Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimotbegan that year at the goat barn of Adamah Farm on the campus of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut, including a blessing of assembled farm and pet animals, and a meditation on beginning the period of cheshbon hanefesh with a personal accounting of all the domesticated animals relied upon, followed by the shofar blast for Rosh Chodesh Elul. 

    During this time, Sarah Chandler and Rabbi Jill Hammer created a blessing and ritual for the occasion and Aharon Varady posted a sourcesheet, hoping it would in the very least begin to spark others imaginations. He also set up a Facebook page and a Facebook event page.

      Activists have reached out to synagogues and Jewish food, environment, and animal protection organizations, in order to raise the profile of the holiday and raise awareness for the conditions of domesticated animals in contemporary society in Jewish communities. 

In 2012, the first guided ritual communal meals for Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot were held at the Ginger House in Jerusalem and in major cities across the United States. Jewish Vegetarians of North America (now renamed Jewish Veg) held such an event at the Caravan of Dreams restaurant in Manhattan led by their president emeritus Richard Schwartz. And Prof. Dan Brook led a similar event in the Bay Area of California.

     Yossi Wolfson, coordinator of the Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society described the events in Jerusalem.

We had two different events to observe the New Year for Animals. The first followed the shape of a Tu B’Shvat Seder. We had a special Haggada, a compilation of texts relating to respecting animals and protecting them. The texts were from the Jewish heritage – starting with the Bible, continuing with commentators of different generations and ending with 20th century rabbis. 

   Between the texts, we had 4 cups of wine (or grape juice) symbolizing different types of animals: fish; reptiles/amphibians; birds and mammals. The Seder plate included plant equivalents of meats, cheese and mayonnaise – a silent reminder of the ways we exploit animals, and at the same time a reminder of the possibility of liberating ourselves from these oppressive relations. It was an exciting night. Not only was it a first-ever ceremony of the New Year for Animals, it brought together such a varied group of people: Ultra orthodox (Charedi) from the group BeHemla; Zionist-religious people and non-observant Jews. We had two new immigrants from the US and from Uruguay, Hebrew and English speakers of all ages. Discussions and singing continued far after midnight.

     These events were reinforced by several media articles in 2012. Richard Schwartz’s article, “An Audacious Initiative To Restore the Ancient New Year For Animals,” was in the August 8 Tikkun Magazine. His article, “Animal Rights and Jewish Law: Restoring and Transforming an Ancient Holiday,: was in the August 1 Haaretz and his article, “An overlooked mitzvah: Tsa’ar ba’alei chaim,” was in the August 19 Jerusalem Post. “New Year For Animals: The Time Has Come” by Jeffrey Cohan, Executive Director of Jewish Veg, was in the August 15 Jewish Forward. Pauline Dubkin Yearwood’s article, “At the New Year, let’s give animals a new Jewish chance,” was in the Chicago Jewish News on August 14. 

     Aharon Varady’s article, “Rosh Chodesh Elul: Jewish New Year For Animals,” was published by Hazon: Jewish Lab for Sustainability, on August 5, 2013. Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz’s article, “The Lost New Year: Celebrating the Animals,: was in the  August 7, 2017 NY Jewish Week.

     Several prominent rabbis have since lent their support for reviving the festival, including David Rosen, Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, Nathan Lopes Cardozo, David Wolpe, and Adam Frank. Appendix B has an updated list of supporting rabbis, and Appendices A and C have lists of supporting Jewish organizations and supporting Jewish organizational leaders and other activists.                                                                                                                                                                                    

      More recently, there have been several events commemorating the ancient New Year for Animals. In both 2020 and 2021 Richard Schwartz moderated Zoom events during which leading Jewish veg and animal rights activists spoke, one in the US and one in Israel, and another Zoom event at which participants read and discussed the Jewish quotations about animals in Appendix D.

     These Zoom events  received very positive media coverage. “Renewing the ancient New Year for Animals – with a vegan twist,”  was in the August 13, 2020 ’In Jerusalem’ section of the Jerusalem Post. It.can be read at https://www.jpost.com/judaism/renewing-the-ancient-new-year-for-animals-with-a-vegan-spind-638482 . An article about 2021’s planned activities, “A new year for animals?” was in the August 9 issue of the Jerusalem Report. It can be read at:https://jewcology.org/2021/07/a-new-year-for-animals-article-by-abigail-klein-leichner-in-the-august-9-jerusalem-report/ 

     In conclusion, there has been significant momentum in popularizing the idea that the New Year for Animals should be renewed and transformed into a day devoted to increasing awareness of Jewish teachings on compassion for animals and how far current realities are from these teachings. It is hoped that this book will build on this momentum and make the renewed holiday far better known and celebrated in Jewish communities. 

     It might not be an exaggeration to assert that the future of humanity and, indeed, all life on earth, depend on it.

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                                    Chapter 2 

Reasons To Restore and Transform the Ancient Jewish New Year for Animals

Below are ten important reasons why renewing the ancient Jewish holiday as a Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot (a New Year for Animals) is an idea whose time has come:

1. Observing the holiday would increase awareness of Judaism’s powerful teachings about compassion for animals. These include: (1) “God’s compassion is over all His works [including animals] (Psalms 145:9); (2) “the righteous person considers the lives of his or her animals” (Proverbs 12:10); (3) the great Jewish leaders Moses and King David were deemed suitable to be leaders because of their compassionate care of sheep when they were shepherds; (4) farmers are not to yoke a strong and a weak animal together nor to muzzle an animal while the animal is threshing in the field; (5) the Ten Commandments indicates that animals, as well as people, are to rest on the Sabbath day; (6) and much more, summarized in the Torah mandate that Jews are to avoid tsa’ar ba’alei chaim, causing any unnecessary “sorrow  to animals.” Many more Jewish teachings about compassion for animals are in Appendix D.

     Many religious Jews are properly diligent in “building fences” around some mitzvot. For example, there is great care on the part of religious Jews to fulfill the laws related to removing chametz (foods with leavening agents that are forbidden on the Jewish holiday of Passover) before that holiday. But other mitzvot, including tsa’ar ba’alei chaim are often downplayed or ignored.

     Perhaps this is not surprising when one considers that, with regard to animals, the primary focus of Jewish religious services, Torah readings, and education are on the biblical sacrifices, animals that are kosher for eating, and laws about animal slaughter, with relatively little time devoted to Judaism’s more compassionate teachings related to animals. 

     It is essential that this emphasis on the killing and sacrifice of animals be balanced with a greater consideration of Judaism’s more compassionate teachings about animals. Hence the need to restore and transform the ancient, long forgotten Jewish holiday into a Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot, a New Year for Animals.

2. Observing the holiday would increase awareness about the massive, widespread horrific treatment of animals on factory farms and thereby lead to dietary changes that would help reduce that mistreatment. Some examples are: (1) Egg-laying hens are kept in cages so small that they can’t raise even one wing and they are debeaked without anesthetic to prevent them from harming other birds due to pecking from frustration in their very unnatural conditions. (2) Male chicks at egg-laying hatcheries fare even worse as they are killed almost immediately after birth, since they can’t lay eggs and have not been genetically programmed to produce much flesh. (3) Dairy cows are artificially impregnated annually on what the industry calls “rape racks,” so that they will be able to continue ‘giving’ milk, and their babies are taken away almost immediately, often to be raised as veal under very cruel conditions to produce veal. (4) Nine billion land animals in the United States and about 80 billion animals worldwide are slaughtered annually after being raised under very cruel conditions on modern factory farms, where all of their natural instincts are thwarted. 

3. As Jews became more aware of the major inconsistencies of animal-based diets with Jewish teachings about preserving human health, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, and helping hungry people, many more Jews would shift to plant-based diets, and this would improve their health. 

4. A shift toward plant-based diets would also reduce the great threat posed by climate change. The almost daily news of severe, sometimes record-breaking, heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods indicate that the world is rapidly approaching a climate catastrophe. These severe events are occurring after a temperature increase of slightly more than one degree Celsius (about two degrees Fahrenheit) since the start of the industrial revolution. Climate experts are predicting an increase of at least three degrees Celsius by the end of this century, and that could come much sooner because self-reinforcing positive feedback loops could result in a tipping point, when climate spins out of control, with catastrophic events.

     Bottom line, the very existence of human life is threatened, so averting a climate catastrophe must become a “central organizing principle” for humanity today. A major part of these efforts must be striving to very significantly reduce meat consumption, as soon as possible.

      Reducing the consumption of meat and other animal products is the best approach to averting a climate catastrophe. A 2006 report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than is emitted by all the cars, planes, ships, and all other means of transportation worldwide combined. In a cover story, “Livestock and Climate Change,” in a 2009 issue of World Watch magazine, two environmentalists associated with the World Bank argued that he livestock sector is responsible for at least 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. A major reason for this huge contribution to climate change is the large amounts of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, emitted by cattle and other farmed ruminants.

      A position paper, “Animal Agriculture Is the Leading Cause of Climate Change,” by systems engineer Sailesh Rao concluded that a shift to plant-based diets would, in effect, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 87%. His analysis considered that reduced meat production would not only reduce methane emissions, but would also enable the over a third of the world’s ice-free land that is currently used for grazing and growing feed crops for animals to return to its mostly forested previous state. This would result in the sequestering of much atmospheric CO2, bringing it down from its current very dangerous level of about 420 parts per million (ppm) to a safe level below 350 ppm, greatly reducing the threat of a climate catastrophe.

 5. Ddecrdeasing consumption of meat and other animal-based foods would reduce many additional environmental problems, including deforestation, soil erosion, rapid species losses, desertification, acidification of oceans, and air and water pollution.

6. Shifting away from animal-based agriculture would reduce hunger and thirst worldwide. While an estimated nine million people die of hunger and its effects annually worldwide and over ten percent of the world’s people are chronically hungry, about 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and about 40 percent of the grain produced worldwide is fed to animals destined for slaughter. Also, a person on an animal-based diet requires up to 13 times as much water as a person on a vegan diet.

7. Renewing the ancient holiday would show that Jews are applying Judaism’s eternal teachings about compassion, health, justice, and environmental sustainability to today’s critical issues, and this is needed as never before, as the world approaches a potential climate catastrophe, severe food, water, and energy scarcities, and other environmental disasters.

 8. By reinforcing a compassionate side of Judaism, the New Year for Animals would improve Judaism’s image  among people concerned about vegetarianism and veganism, animal welfare, the environment, and related issues.

9. Reclaiming a holiday that they can more closely relate to and find relevant, meaningful, and appealing would also help bring back many Jews who are currently alienated to some extent from Judaism, and would strengthen the commitment of vegetarian and vegan Jews and Other Jews concerned about animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and related issues, who are already involved in Jewish life. They would be inspired that the Jewish community is recognizing that the production and consumption of meat and other animal products seriously violate Jewish basic mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people.

10. Seeking ways to creatively make the renewed/transformed holiday meaningful and enjoyable would help to revitalize Judaism. This has already happened with another ancient New Year, Tu B’shvat – the New Year for Trees, which has been renewed and transformed into a kind of Jewish Earth Day.

     In summary, restoring and transforming the ancient Jewish holiday is a win-win-win-win situation, better for individuals today, future generations, animals, and our imperiled planet.

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Chapter 3

Ways of Commemorating and Celebrating Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot

The previous two chapters discussed (1) the history of the ancient New Year for Animals and recent efforts to restore and transform it and (2) reasons why restoring and transforming the holiday are so important. This chapter provides suggestions on how the ancient Jewish holiday can now be commemorated and celebrated.

Since we are trying to restore an ancient holiday and transform it from its original purpose of tithing animals for sacrifices, there is no one established way to commemorate it. It is hoped that different Jewish congregations, schools, community centers, and families will adapt approaches that best suit them, as the restored holiday continues to be developed. 

     The Baal Haturim (on Deut.12:20) points out that this permission is followed by the words “ki yirchak” meaning “when far away”, and states “that is to say that a person should keep far away from eating meat, as it is stated (TB Chullin 84a ) ‘a person should not instruct his son to eat meat;’ ” 

Rabbi Joseph Albo in his Sefer Ha’ikkarim bases himself on another Talmudic statement (TB Kiddushin 21b) that the permission to eat meat is given due to the fact that “the Torah declares (concessions) for the evil inclination (in humans.)”

      Many commentators reiterate this idea, and in more modern times people are aware of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak Hacohen Kook’s writings – in particular, those collected by his close disciple the Nazir Rabbi David Hacohen, in a booklet entitled “The Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace,” which includes passages in which Rabbi Kook explains how the commandments relating to kashrut (kosher laws) are designed to wean humans away from consuming animal products.

      People are less aware of the passionate position against consuming meat expressed by Rabbi J. B. Soloveitchik in his article “The emergence of ethical man” in which he reiterates that the permission is a concession to the evil inclination and human lust, and refers to the desire to eat meat as an “illicit demand.”

     The idea that was designed to inculcate ethical qualities in humans is clearly expressed by our sages, who declare: “What does God care whether a man kills an animal in the proper way and eats it, or whether he strangles an animal and then eats it? Will the one benefit Him or the other injure Him? What does God care whether a man eats kosher or non-kosher animals? . . . But you learn that the commandments were given only to refine God’s creatures, as it says ‘God’s word is refined.

It is a protection to those who trust in Him’ “ (Midrash Tanhuma, Parshat Shmini 15b. Similarly, Genesis Rabbah, Lech Lecha 44:1. Leviticus Rabbah, Shemini 13:3)

     In keeping with this text, Nachmanides emphasizes that the purpose of the mitzvot as improving human character. Concerning the mitzvah of shiluah haken (driving away the mother bird from its nest before taking the chicks or the eggs. Deut. 22:6), he explains that the purpose of the commandment is precisely in order to educate us to be compassionate people.

     Maimonides (12 c.) had already highlighted this idea beforehand in his Guide for the Perplexed (111:17), even though as opposed to Nachmanides, he was of the opinion that animals suffer pain and distress similarly to humans. 

     This teaching of compassion to animals is accordingly presented in the 15th century Jewish ethical work Orchot Tzaddikim (Shaar Rachamim) as central to the authentic Jewish way of life.

     The author of the Torah Temimah elaborates upon the Talmudic commentary on the above-mentioned verse from Deuteronomy, namely that he who is not compassionate cannot be of the seed of Abraham. Obviously, this is not a comment about legal status, but rather indicates that being Jewish is about more than simply keeping the letter of the law. Above all, as already stated, Judaism is meant to instill in us the most noble of qualities, compassion being at the very pinnacle. If a person keeps the letter of the law but desecrates its spirit, then in fact he undermines the authentic character of true love of God that Abraham sought to bring to the world.

     Of course, not all Jewish authorities share the above negative views regarding meat consumption. Well-known is the statement that “there is no celebration without meat and wine.”  However to be precise, the Talmud states that this was the case when the Temple in Jerusalem was standing and that since its destruction, celebration is just with wine (TB Pesahim 109a.)  Moreover, Rabbi Hezkiah Medini in his encyclopedic work Sdei Hemed (under the heading “basar”[meat]) brings the many rabbinic authorities who state that this is obviously only the case for those for whom eating meat is truly a pleasure.

     However, even for those who are of the opinion that it is still a mitzvah to eat meat on Sabbaths and festivals, this would only be valid when the process does not involve flagrant violation of Jewish law (a mitzvah haba’ah b’aveirah.) The current conditions of livestock (factory) farming involving cruelty on a scale heretofore unknown that desecrates Jewish ethics; the use of massive doses of antibiotics and hormones fed to the animals that are retained in the animal flesh and passed on to humans threatening their health which Judaism demands us to protect (Deuteronomy 4:9, 15); and the environmental dangers of the livestock industry in terms of water and land waste, deforestation and air pollution, which, according to the United Nations research papers, are a cause of climate change more than all the forms of transport put together and thus threatening the very Creation that we are meant to protect; mean that there can be little halachic justification today for a carnivorous diet, especially when so many plant based alternatives are available.. 

     Professor Richard Schwartz continues with his inspiring and indefatigable efforts to highlight Jewish teaching for compassion towards animal life and the enormously beneficial consequences of such for human welfare.

     This book presents his latest initiative to use the date that the sages of the Mishnah identified for tithing purposes as the New Year of Animals, Rosh Chodesh Elul, to highlight the spectrum of our religious ethical obligations towards animal life. In so doing , he gives expression to the most noble values of Jewish teaching to emulate the Divine Attributes, as the Talmud states (TB Shabbat 133b) “ just as He is gracious and merciful, so you must be gracious and merciful.” May his efforts continue to bear fruit to make our world a more compassionate and godly abode for all.

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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; the American Jewish Committee’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs.

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         Preface: Veganism: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

    The French writer Victor Hugo wrote, “Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” There are many reasons why the time has finally arrived for a restoration of the ancient New Year for Animals and its transformation into a day devoted to increasing awareness of Judaism’s teachings about compassion for animals and how animals are treated today. 

They include;

  • The horrific conditions for animals raised for meat, milk and eggs on factory farms, during transport to slaughterhouses, and during slaughter are very remote from Judaism’s compassionate teachings.  
  • Animal agriculture is the most significant threat to the climate that we face–greater even than the threat from the burning of fossil fuels, as we shall see–and moving away from animal agriculture is required if we are to avert a climate catastrophe.
  • There is increasing awareness of the horrifying conditions for animals in the meat, poultry, seafood, egg and dairy industries.
  • Animal-based diets contribute significantly to heart disease, cancer, strokes, and other life-threatening diseases.
  • Animal agriculture is a direct cause of species extinction on a colossal, worldwide scale.
  • Animal exploitation contributes to deforestation, coral reef destruction, water and air pollution and many irreversible environmental problems; 
  • The general public’s infatuation with animal products leads to wasteful use of land, water, energy and other resources; 
  • The massive mistreatment and exploitation of animals—raised in factory farms but essentially sourced from the wild—is not only morally and ethically wrong and against the finest and most enduring of Judaism’s teachings but it is directly related to the spread of pandemics as witnessed by the global chaos caused by the Coronavirus.
  • There has been a major increase in the number of plant-based substitutes for meat and other animal products, some with the appearance, texture, and taste so similar to actual animal products that even long-time meat eaters cannot tell the difference.
  • Many Jews and others, especially among the young, have been shifting to vegan diets, as a result of the increasing awareness of all the harms associated with animal foods.

     Because of the above, there have been efforts to get the ancient New Year for Animals back onto the Jewish agenda. This book is an effort to continue that momentum.

      It is essential that the present opportunity for positive changes not be missed because:

  • A societal shift to vegan diets is the only approach that has the potential to avert the looming climate catastrophe. This would not only sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions because there would be far less cows and other farmed animals emitting methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. It would also enable the reforesting and rewilding of the over a third of the world’s ice-free land and rainforests that are currently being used to graze and grow feed crops for animals, causing the sequestering of much of the current atmospheric CO2, bringing it down from its current very dangerous level to a safe one.
  • Animal-based diets and agriculture contradict Torah and seriously violate fundamental Jewish teachings on preserving our health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, helping hungry people, and pursuing peace.
  • Many additional reasons are presented in Chapter 2.
  • Despite the very important considerations above, the vast majority of Jews are unaware of these realities and continue to eat meat and consume animal products. 

     It is therefore urgent that this initiative to restore and transform the ancient New Year be successful. It greatly increases awareness of the points mentioned above and will help Jews shift to more healthy and sustainable plant-based diets.

      This book discusses the history of the ancient New Year, recent efforts to restore it, reasons why it is so important and a variety of suggestions for commemorating and celebrating the renewed holiday.

     Much information and many concepts are provided in the appendices to help carry out events related to the renewed holiday.

     This book is just the beginning of efforts to restore the ancient Jewish holiday. It is hoped that many rabbis and other knowledgeable Jews will make suggestions that will make this initiative successful. Hopefully, later editions of this book will reflect their suggestions  

     Comments and suggestions are always welcome and can be sent to Richard Schwartz at VeggieRich@gmail.com.

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Acknowledgements

[to be added. Many people will be asked for input.]

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        Chapter 1

The New Year for Animals: Past, Present, and Future

      [Thanks to Aharon Varady, Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, and Wikipedia for material in this section.]

      All Jews know about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. But many do not know that there are four Roshei Shanim/New Year days in the Jewish tradition.  As indicated in the Talmud (Mishnah), Rosh Hashanah 1:1:

The first of Nisan is the Rosh HaShanah for [the reigns of] kings and pilgrimage holidays.

The first of Elul is the Rosh HaShanah for tithing behemah [animals, for sacrifices]. Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon say, “The first of Tishrei.”

The first of Tishrei is the Rosh HaShanah for years, Shmitah [the sabbatical year], Yovel [the jubilee year], for planting, and for vegetables.

The first of Shvat is the Rosh HaShanah for [fruit-bearing] trees, according to Beit Shamai. Beit Hillel says it is on the fifteenth [of the month of Shvat, Tu biShvat].

     Only the first of Tishrei is a “New Year’s Day” in the sense that we now think of it. The others are more like fiscal year cut-off dates, similar, for example, to January 1, the cut-off date for the year in which income is to be declared for income tax purposes, although they do not have to be paid until the 15th of April (in the US).

     The first of Elul, the time of the ancient Jewish New Year for Animals, for ma’aser beheima, tithing animals suitable for sacrifices, was the cut-off date for determining in which year an animal should be counted for sacrifices. Animals born before that date were tithed in the old year; animals born after that date were tithed in the new year. The tithing of the animals occurred by means of passing animals through a narrow opening in a pen where every tenth animal was marked with red paint.

     Nowadays very few Jews are raising flocks of animals and, since there has not been a Jerusalem Temple since the year 70 C.E. (when the Romans destroyed it), there is currently no tithing of animals for Temple sacrifices. Nevertheless, this date remains on the Jewish calendar, although, admittedly, it is not very well known today. 

     The period of heshbon hanefesh (the traditional accounting for one’s relationships) that begins on this day, Rosh Chodesh Elul,. involves a month-long period of introspection during which Jews are to examine their deeds before the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  Starting on that date and for the entire month of Elul (Except on Shabbat), the shofar (ram’s horn) is blown in synagogues during morning services to awaken Jews to their responsibilities. Therefore this date is an appropriate time for this renewed holiday when we consider how we can improve conditions for animals. 

     As Aharon Varady expressed it:

Rosh Chodesh Elul begins in earnest a month-long process of teshuva — an intense tikkun (healing) of our relationships, culminating with the New Years Day for Humankind, Rosh Hashanah.

     What better way to begin a month dedicated to humbling ourselves and repairing our relationships than by reflecting first on our relationship with beheimot — the domesticated animals who depend on us for their care and sustenance. The category of beheimot includes all animals historically bred by humans as domesticated creatures, both kosher and non-kosher, e.g. cats and cattle, dogs and donkeys, goats, pigs, chicken, and llamas. If we can imagine, empathize, and understand the dependency of beheimot in our care, how much better can we realize our relationship with the Holy Blessed One, and the infinite chain of inter-dependencies uniting all living relationships in reflection of this Oneness.

     It is significant that Judaism considers that for hiddur mitzvah (to enhance mitzvot (commandments), the shofar and other ritual objects should ideally come from animals that have been raised without cruelty and have died natural deaths.

      Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot occurs from sunset on August 27 to sunset on August 28 in 2022.

      Renewing the New Year for Animals would not be the first time that an ancient Jewish holiday got redefined after the Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E. Shavuot, the “Feast of Weeks,” was originally celebrated with processions of people bringing their first fruits to the Temple. Today it focuses on the Jewish people receiving the Torah at Mt. Sinai, which also took place on the same date. 

     Tu B’Shvat, the “New Year for Trees,” a day initially intended for tithing fruit trees for Temple offerings, was reclaimed in the 16th Century by mystics in Sefat, Israel as a day for healing the natural world. It is now a kind of Jewish Earth Day, when people not only plant trees, but also have Seders that involve the eating of many fruits, the reciting of many blessings, and a focus on current environmental issues.

     Just as Shavuot and Tu B’Shvat were transformed, it is important that Rosh Hashana LaBeheimot  (New Year’s Day for Animals) be renewed and transformed into a day devoted to increasing awareness of Judaism’s powerful teachings on compassion for animals, and to considering a tikkun (healing) for the horrible ways that animals are treated today on factory farms and in other settings. This would involve a shift in focus from tithing sacrifices toward learning about how animals are treated on factory farms, comparing that with Jewish teachings about the proper treatment of animals and other settings, and making choices about where we get our meat, milk, and eggs — and considering vegetarianism (and preferably veganism) as a better alternative, one more consistent with fundamental Jewish values. Given that most Jews today are urban people who rarely, if ever, have contact with farmers or farmed animals, developing a modern version of this day would be a great educational opportunity.

     A short video by Breslov chasid Rabbi Yonassan Gershom, who takes care of many cats and chickens, provides an excellent summary of the above points.It can be watched at https://youtu.be/z650-bX8Jdg

     Beginning in 2009, the festival began to be revived by religious Jewish animal protection advocates and environmental educators to raise awareness of the mitzvah  of tsa’ar ba’alei chaim, the source texts informing Jewish ethical relationships with domesticated animals, and the lived experience of animals impacted by human needs, especially in the industrial meat industry.

     Informal celebrations of Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimotbegan that year at the goat barn of Adamah Farm on the campus of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut, including a blessing of assembled farm and pet animals, and a meditation on beginning the period of cheshbon hanefesh with a personal accounting of all the domesticated animals relied upon, followed by the shofar blast for Rosh Chodesh Elul. 

    During this time, Sarah Chandler and Rabbi Jill Hammer created a blessing and ritual for the occasion and Aharon Varady posted a sourcesheet, hoping it would in the very least begin to spark others imaginations. He also set up a Facebook page and a Facebook event page.

      Activists have reached out to synagogues and Jewish food, environment, and animal protection organizations, in order to raise the profile of the holiday and raise awareness for the conditions of domesticated animals in contemporary society in Jewish communities. 

      In 2012, the first guided ritual communal meals for Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot were held at the Ginger House in Jerusalem and in major cities across the United States. Jewish Vegetarians of North America (now renamed Jewish Veg) held such an event at the Caravan of Dreams restaurant in Manhattan led by their president emeritus Richard Schwartz. And Prof. Dan Brook led a similar event in the Bay Area of California.

     Yossi Wolfson, coordinator of the Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society described the events in Jerusalem.

We had two different events to observe the New Year for Animals. The first followed the shape of a Tu B’Shvat Seder. We had a special Haggada, a compilation of texts relating to respecting animals and protecting them. The texts were from the Jewish heritage – starting with the Bible, continuing with commentators of different generations and ending with 20th century rabbis. 

   Between the texts, we had 4 cups of wine (or grape juice) symbolizing different types of animals: fish; reptiles/amphibians; birds and mammals. The Seder plate included plant equivalents of meats, cheese and mayonnaise — a silent reminder of the ways we exploit animals, and at the same time a reminder of the possibility of liberating ourselves from these oppressive relations. It was a very  exciting night. Not only was it a first-ever ceremony of the New Year for Animals, it brought together such a varied group of people: Ultra orthodox (Charedi) from the group BeHemla; Zionist-religious people and non-observant Jews. We had two new immigrants from the US and from Uruguay, Hebrew and English speakers of all ages. Discussions and singing continued far after midnight.

     These events were reinforced by several media articles in 2012. Richard Schwartz’s article, “An Audacious Initiative To Restore the Ancient New Year For Animals,” was in the August 8 Tikkun Magazine. His article, “Animal Rights and Jewish Law: Restoring and Transforming an Ancient Holiday,: was in the August 1 Haaretz and his article, “An overlooked mitzvah: Tsa’ar ba’alei chaim,” was in the August 19 Jerusalem Post. “New Year For Animals: The Time Has Come” by Jeffrey Cohan, Executive Director of Jewish Veg, was in the August 15 Jewish Forward. Pauline Dubkin Yearwood’s article, “At the New Year, let’s give animals a new Jewish chance,” was in the Chicago Jewish News on August 14.

     Aharon Varady’s article, “Rosh Chodesh Elul: Jewish New Year For Animals,” was published by Hazon: Jewish lab for Sustainability, on August 5, 2013. Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz’s article, “The Lost New Year: Celebrating the Animals,: was in the  August 7, 2017 NY Jewish Week.

     Several prominent rabbis have since lent their support for reviving the festival, including David Rosen, Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, Nathan Lopes Cardozo, David Wolpe, and Adam Frank. Appendix B has an updated list of supporting rabbis, and Appendices A and C have lists of supporting Jewish organizations and supporting Jewish organizational leaders and other activists..                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

      More recently, there have been several events commemorating the ancient New Year for Animals. In both 2020 and 2021, Richard Schwartz moderated Zoom events during which leading Jewish veg and animal rights activists spoke, one in the US and one in Israel, and another Zoom event at which participants read and discussed the Jewish quotations about animals in Appendix D.

     These Zoom events  received very positive media coverage. “Renewing the ancient New Year for Animals – with a vegan twist,”  was in the August 13, 2020 ’In Jerusalem’ section of the Jerusalem Post. It.can be read at https://www.jpost.com/judaism/renewing-the-ancient-new-year-for-animals-with-a-vegan-spind-638482 . An article about 2021’s planned activities, “A new year for animals?” was in the August 9 issue of the Jerusalem Report. It can be read at:https://jewcology.org/2021/07/a-new-year-for-animals-article-by-abigail-klein-leichner-in-the-august-9-jerusalem-report/ 

     In conclusion, there has been significant momentum in popularizing the idea that the New Year for Animals should be renewed and transformed into a day devoted to increasing awareness of Jewish teachings on compassion for animals and how far current realities are from these teachings. It is hoped that this book will build on this momentum and make the renewed holiday far better known and celebrated in Jewish communities. 

     It might not be an exaggeration to assert that the future of humanity and, indeed, all life on earth depend on it.

——————                         

                                    Chapter 2 

Reasons To Restore and Transform the Ancient Jewish New Year for Animals

Below are ten important reasons why renewing the ancient Jewish holiday as a Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot (a New Year for Animals) is an idea whose time has come:

1.Observing the holiday would increase awareness of Judaism’s powerful teachings about compassion for animals. These include: (1) “God’s compassion is over all His works [including animals] (Psalms 145:9); (2) “the righteous person considers the lives of his or her animals” (Proverbs 12:10); (3) the great Jewish leaders Moses and King David were deemed suitable to be leaders because of their compassionate care of sheep when they were shepherds; (4) farmers are not to yoke a strong and a weak animal together nor to muzzle an animal while the animal is threshing in the field; (5) the Ten Commandments indicates that animals, as well as people, are to rest on the Sabbath day; (6) and much more, summarized in the Torah mandate that Jews are to avoid tsa’ar ba’alei chaim, causing any unnecessary “sorrow  to animals.” Many more Jewish teachings about compassion for animals are in Appendix D.

     Many religious Jews are properly diligent in “building fences” around some mitzvot. For example, there is great care on the part of religious Jews to fulfill the laws related to removing chametz (foods with leavening agents that are forbidden on the Jewish holiday of Passover) before that holiday. But other mitzvot, including tsa’ar ba’alei chaim, the mandate not to mistreat animals, are often downplayed or ignored.

     Perhaps this is not surprising when one considers that, with regard to animals, the primary focus of Jewish religious services, Torah readings, and education are on the biblical sacrifices, animals that are kosher for eating, and laws about animal slaughter, with relatively little time devoted to Judaism’s more compassionate teachings related to animals. 

     It is essential that this emphasis on the killing and sacrifice of animals be balanced with a greater consideration of Judaism’s more compassionate teachings about animals. Hence the need to restore and transform the ancient, long forgotten Jewish holiday into a Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot, a New Year for Animals.

2. Observing the holiday would increase awareness about the massive, widespread horrific treatment of animals on factory farms and thereby lead to dietary changes that would help reduce that mistreatment. Some examples are: (1) Egg-laying hens are kept in cages so small that they can’t raise even one wing and they are debeaked without anesthetic to prevent them from harming other birds due to pecking from frustration in their very unnatural conditions. (2) Male chicks at egg-laying hatcheries fare even worse as they are killed almost immediately after birth, since they can’t lay eggs and have not been genetically programmed to produce much flesh. (3) Dairy cows are artificially impregnated annually on what the industry calls “rape racks,” so that they will be able to continue ‘giving’ milk, and their babies are taken away almost immediately, often to be raised as veal under very cruel conditions. (4) Nine billion animals in the U.S. and about 80 billion animals worldwide are slaughtered annually after being raised under very cruel conditions on modern factory farms, where all of their natural instincts are thwarted.

3. As Jews became more aware of the inconsistencies of animal-based diets with Jewish teachings about preserving human health, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, and helping hungry people, many more Jews would shift to plant-based diets, and this would improve their health. 

4. A shift toward plant-based diets would also reduce today’s greatest threat: climate change. The almost daily news of severe, sometimes record-breaking, heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods indicate that the world is rapidly approaching a climate catastrophe. These severe events are occurring after a temperature increase of slightly more than one degree Celsius (about two degrees Fahrenheit) since the start of the industrial revolution. Climate experts are predicting an increase of at least three degrees Celsius by the end of this century.  And that could come much sooner because self-reinforcing positive feedback loops could result in a tipping point, when climate spins out of control, with catastrophic events.

     Bottom line, the very existence of human life is threatened, so averting a climate catastrophe must become a “central organizing principle” for humanity today. A major part of these efforts must be striving to very significantly reduce meat consumption, as soon as possible.

      Reducing the consumption of meat is the best approach to averting a climate catastrophe. A 2006 report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than is emitted by all the cars, planes, ships, and all other means of transportation worldwide combined. In a cover story, “Livestock and Climate Change,” in a 2009 issue of World Watch magazine, two environmentalists associated with the World Bank argued that he livestock sector is responsible for at least 51 percent of greenhouse gases. A major reason for this huge contribution to climate change is the large amounts of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas, emitted by cattle and other animals.

      An analysis by systems engineer Sailesh Rao published in concluded that a shift to plant-based diets would, in effect, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 87%. His analysis considered that reduced meat production would not only reduce methane emission, but would also enable the over a third of the world’s ice-free land that is currently used for grazing and growing feed crops for animals to be resided. This would result in the sequestering of much atmospheric CO2, bringing it down from its current very dangerous level of about 420 parts per million (ppm) to a safe level below 350 ppm, greatly reducing the threat of a climate catastrophe.

 5. Reducing consumption of meat and other animal-based foods would reduce many additional environmental problems, including deforestation, soil erosion, rapid species losses, desertification, acidification of oceans, and air and water pollution.

6. Shifting away from animal-based agriculture would reduce hunger and thirst worldwide. While an estimated nine million people die of hunger and its effects annually worldwide and over ten percent of the world’s people are chronically hungry, about 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and about 40 percent of the grain produced worldwide is fed to animals destined for slaughter. Also, a person on an animal-based diet requires up to 13 times as much water as a person on a vegan diet.

7. Renewing the ancient holiday would show that Jews are applying Judaism’s eternal teachings to today’s critical issues, and this is needed as never before as the world approaches a potential climate catastrophe, severe food, water, and energy scarcities, and other environmental disasters.

8. Reinforcing a compassionate side of Judaism, the New Year for Animals would improve Judaism’s image among people concerned about vegetarianism and veganism, animals, the environment, and related issues.

9. Reclaiming a holiday that they can more closely relate to and find relevant, meaningful, and appealing would help bring back many Jews who are currently alienated to some extent from Judaism, and would strengthen the commitment of vegetarian and vegan Jews who are already involved in Jewish life. They would be inspired that the Jewish community is recognizing that the production and consumption of meat and other animal products seriously violate Jewish basic mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people.

10. Seeking ways to creatively make the holiday meaningful and enjoyable would help to revitalize Judaism. This has already happened with another ancient New Year, Tu Bishvat – the New Year for Trees, which has been renewed and transformed into a kind of Jewish Earth Day.

     In summary, restoring and transforming the ancient Jewish holiday would help shift our imperiled planet to a better world, one that is more compassionate, healthy, just, peaceful, and environmentally sustainable. It is a win-win-win-win situation, better for individuals today, future generations, animals, and our imperiled planet.  

    Achieving a vegan world may sound utopian today, as so much meat is being consumed in the developed world and as newly affluent people in several countries, including Japan, China, and India, shift toward animal-based diets. However, borrowing the title of a Buckminster Fuller book, we may have a choice between “Utopia and Oblivion,” between a largely vegan world and a largely dead Our current dietary and other practices are leading the world to major catastrophes from climate change, losses of biodiversity, water and food shortages, just to name a few problems. So, as difficult as it may seem, it is essential that we alert people to the necessity of adopting vegan diets.

     We hope that this book will help produce that essential result.

      Success is essential. There is no Planet B.

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Chapter 3

Ways of Commemorating and Celebrating Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot

The previous two chapters discussed (1) the history of the ancient New Year for Animals and recent efforts to restore and transform it and (2) reasons why restoring and transforming the holiday are so important. This chapter provides suggestions on how the ancient Jewish holiday can be commemorated and celebrated.

     Since we are trying to restore an ancient holiday and transform it from its original purpose of tithing animals for sacrifices, there is no single established way to commemorate it. A hope is that different Jewish congregations, schools, community centers, and families will adapt approaches that best suit them, as the restored holiday continues to be developed.

    Below are some suggested possibilities, starting with the simplest ones. For suggestions on organizing and carrying out any of the proposed activities, please feel free to email Richard Schwartz at VeggieRich@gmail.com.

A. A Rabbinic Sermon

      Complimentary PDFs of this complete book will be emailed to many rabbis throughout the world, with the hope that many of them will  use it as a basis for sermons. The material in the previous two chapters, the preface, and the appendices, especially the many quotations about Jewish teachings about compassion for animals in Appendix D, should be helpful for rabbinic sermon preparations.

B. A Class Presented By a Rabbi or Other Knowledgeable Jew

     The discussion above applies in this case as well.

C. Talk By Zoom Or In Person By a Rabbi Or Other Knowledgeable Jew

     Once again, the discussion above for a rabbinic sermon applies here. Having a Zoom event provides the possibility of a far bigger audience, and it can be recorded so that even more people can view it.

D. Interview Of a Person Knowledgeable About the Issues.

     Appropriate interviewees can be obtained using links to veg, animal rights, and environmental organizations in Appendix F.

 E. A Dialogue, Group Discussion, Or Debate

    This enables the sharing of different perspectives. Again, the abundance of resources in the appendices, especially the many Jewish quotations about animals in Appendix D should be very valuable for preparations.

    Especially relevant is Richard Schwartz’s article; “A Debate Between a Jewish Vegan Activist and a Rabbi.” It can be read at https://jewcology.org/2021/11/a-dialogue-between-a-jewish-vegan-and-a-rabbi/?fbclid=IwAR0aDN5mIBg7ypuQKsUdKA6S6XdZjuP-U476RexIA44keCyMxrddxygcEVU and his Jerusalem Report cover story in the August 9, 2021 Jerusalem Report, “Why Jews Should Be Vegans.” It can be read at https://jewcology.org/2021/07/my-cover-story-in-the-august-9-2021-jerusalem-post-on-why-jews-should-be-vegans/

F. A festive meal, with several divrei Torah on Jewish teachings on compassion to animals, why it is important that the ancient Jewish New Year for Animals be restored and transformed, or a related issue.

     This provides an opportunity for many personal conversations and several ideas to be shared by a variety of presenters.

     Some suggestions include: Provide plant-based meat alternatives  to show people many options are available and delicious. During the meal, hold a guided discussion regarding the connection of Jewish values to animal welfare.  Discuss how the ways in which animals are treated today within the food industry do not align with Jewish ideals.

G. Play Acting

     An example of this is the “Council of All Beings,” an activity proposed by Rabbi David Mevarach Seidenberg, during which participants take on the role of an animal, or the spirit representative of some habitat or aspect of the Council of All Beings natural world, and discuss how human beings are affecting them. It is a powerful activity for developing mindful awareness that I hope will lead us to renewing our sense of responsibility for our actions that impact the lives and homes of all the creatures and communities we share this precious world with.     

     More information about this activity can be found athttps://opensiddur.org/prayers/lunisolar/days-of-judgement-new-year-days/for-domesticated-animals/the-council-of-all-beings-on-rosh-hashanah-labehemah/and at http://opensiddur.org/2013/07/the-council-of-all-beings-on-rosh-hashanah-labeheimot-alef-belul/ .

H. Blessing of the Animals

     Rabbi Jill Hammer, who conducted such an event in 2010, stressed the value of such an event:

We have become tyrants on this planet, using its resources and other inhabitants for ourselves. Before we can make amends to one another at the New Year for Animals, we must first make amends to the vulnerable creatures who live among us. As we hear the cry of the shofar for the first time this year, may we also hear the cry of all life. May we be guided to protect the Earth and make room for other creatures to thrive.

(The shofar is blown, a single tekiyah/blast.)

We bless the creatures we are privileged to live with on Earth: the loving companion animals who live in our homes, the birds in the air, the burrowing creatures under our feet, the fish in the waters, the wild animals on land, and the billions of animals confined by the livestock industry waiting for slaughter. May we bless all living beings that we love, strengthening and protecting them.

     The following blessing can be recited at the event:

Baruch atah adonai, eloheinu melech ha’olam, meshaneh haberiyot.

Blessed is Eternal Being, Spirit of the Universe, in a world of many kinds of creatures. 

I. A Seder

     Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot is patterned to some extent after Rosh Hashanah LaIlanot, the New Year for Trees, Tu B’shvat. Since that latter holiday has a Seder as a central feature of its celebration, some Jewish groups might want to create a Seder for the New Year for Animals.

     Like the Passover Seder, the Tu Bishvat Seder involves the drinking of four cups of wine or grape juice. For Passover, the four cups represent four promises by God of the redemption of the Israelites; for Tu B’shvat, they represent the four Kabbalistic worlds and the four changing seasons from winter to fall, represented by changing the colors of the wine or grape juice from white to pink to ruby to red.

     Therefore, one possibility is to have a Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot Seder also divided into four parts separated by the drinking of four cups of wine or grape juice.

     One possible approach follows:

     Before cup one, discuss Jewish teachings on compassion for animals. The many quotations in Appendix D and Rabbi David Rosen’s discussion about Jewish teachings about compassion for animals in the foreword should be very helpful for this segment.

     Before cup two, discuss how animals are being mistreated today, very contrary to Jewish teachings; While, as considered in the previous section, Judaism has very strong teachings on compassion to animals, the realities are quite different from these teachings. For example:

·      Egg-laying hens are kept in cages so small that they can’t raise even one wing and their beaks are painfully seared off without an anesthetic, in order to prevent them from harming other birds due to pecking from frustration in their very unnatural conditions.

·      Male chicks at egg-laying hatcheries fare even worse as they are killed almost immediately after birth, since they can’t lay eggs and have not been genetically programmed to produce much flesh.

·      Dairy cows are artificially impregnated annually on what the industry calls “rape racks,” so that they will be able to continue ‘giving’ milk, and their babies are taken away almost immediately, often to be raised as veal under very cruel conditions.

The following story by Dr. Michael Klaper, the author of several books, including Vegan Nutrition: Pure and Simple and Pregnancy, Children, and the Vegan, dramatically illustrates the cruelty of the dairy industry: 

The very saddest sound in all my memory was burned into my awareness at age five on my uncle’s dairy farm in Wisconsin. A cow had given birth to a beautiful male calf. The mother was allowed to nurse her calf but for a single night. On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn—only ten yards away, in plain view of the mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The heartrending bellows that she poured forth—minute after minute, hour after hour, for five long days—were excruciating to listen to. They are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my brain. Since that age, whenever I hear anyone postulate that animals cannot feel emotions, I need only to replay that torturous sound in my memory of that mother cow crying her bovine heart out to her infant. Mother’s love knows no species barriers, and I believe that all people who are vegans in their hearts and souls know that to be true.

·      Nine billion animals in the U.S. alone are slaughtered annually after being raised under very cruel conditions on modern factory farms, where all of their natural instincts are thwarted.

     Many more examples can be given, 

      More information about the mistreatment of animals can be found in several books listed in the Bibliography, as well as in the section on animals at JewishVeg.org/Schwartz. Also, the last section of quotations about animals in Appendix D has quotations about the mistreatment of animals.

     Seder participants can be asked to research some example of animal abuse and to give a brief talk about it at the Seder.

     Some questions that could be addressed during this part of the Seder, even though they may be upsetting to some people, include:

     Since Jews are to be rachmanim b’nei rachmanim (compassionate children of compassionate ancestors), can we as Jewish consumers, kosher or not, justify the cruelty of factory farms to mass-produce meat that we do not really need for nourishment? Can we justify the force-feeding of ducks and geese to create pate de foie gras? Can we justify taking day-old calves from their mothers so that they can be raised in very cramped conditions to be eaten as “tender” veal? Can we justify the killing of about 250 million male chicks in the U.S. alone immediately after birth at egg-laying hatcheries—a total waste of sentient animal life—because they cannot produce eggs and have not been genetically programmed to grow as much flesh as the meat-producing breeds? Can we justify artificially impregnating cows every year on what the industry  calls “rape racks” so that they will be able to produce more milk; or artificially inseminating turkeys to get fertile hatching eggs, because the birds have been bred to get so fat they can no longer even mate naturally? Can we justify the many other ways that animals are unnecessarily exploited and mistreated in our society to meet consumer’s claimed needs?

     The kosher industry tends to focus only on the actual moment of slaughter, and the packing and preparation of the meat afterward. Very little, if any, attention is paid to how the animals are treated before slaughter. One has to wonder if this can be reconciled with kashrut, because kashrut is designed to be humane. But how can it be humane if most kosher meat, dairy, and eggs come from the same abominable factory farm conditions as does non-kosher food? Shouldn’t we be concerned — indeed alarmed —about the ways that food is being produced?

     Aharon Varady, a pioneer in restoring the New Year for Animals, put our relationships with animals into perspective:

When the second Temple stood [before 70 C.E., when it was destroyed by the Romans], the Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot [as the New Year for the Animals was then called] celebrated one means by which we elevated and esteemed the special creatures that helped us to live and to work. Just as rabbinic Judaism replaced our Temple offerings with tefillot — prayers — so too the Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot challenges us to realize the holiness of the animals in our care in a time without tithes. 

     The New Years Day for Animals is a challenge to remind us of our responsibilities to animals who depend on us for their welfare. Are we treating them correctly and in accord with the mitzvah of tsa’ar ba’alei chayim — sensitivity to the suffering of living creatures? Have we studied and understood the depth of chesed — loving kindness — expressed in the breadth of Torah teachings concerning the welfare of animals? 

   Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot is the day to reflect on our relationships with domesticated animals, to recognize our personal responsibilities to them, individually and as part of a distinct and holy people, and to repair our relationships with them, to the best of our abilities.

      Before cup three, discuss what Jewish groups are doing in order to reduce animal abuses. Appendix F discusses and provides links to several Jewish veg, animal rights, and environmental organizations.

      Before cup four, discuss what attendees can do to help increase awareness of Jewish teachings about compassion to animals and how to apply these teachings toward the creation of a more humane, compassionate, just, peaceful, and environmentally sustainable world. Appendix H, which provides many tips for promoting animal rights and veganism, should be very helpful here.

————————————————

Other approaches are, of course, possible, and one is as follows

     Before cup one, discuss mammals and how they are mistreated on factory farms, and how they are being affected by climate change.

     Before cup two, consider birds and how they are mistreated on factory farms.

     Before cup three, discuss fishes and other sea creatures and how they are mistreated both on aquatic factory farms and in the seas and affected by climate change.

     Before cup four,  discuss how insects are affected by climate change, the threats of species extinctions, and how declining insect populations will affect future agriculture.

    This approach might require participants to do some research before the event.

      Still another approach is as follows:

    Before cup one, discuss the mistreatment of animals on factory farms.

     Before cup two, discuss the mistreatment of animals in laboratories for animal experiments.

     Before cup three, discuss the mistreatment of animals at circuses, rodeos, and other entertainment venues.

     Before cup four, discuss the mistreatment of animals via hunting and trapping.

    So that the program is not all negative, some stories about the lives of animals and the many benefits they provider the world could be interspersed into the discussions.

    Tips on conducting a meaningful, successful Seder are in Appendix I.

     For suggestions on any aspect of this book and offers to help restore and transform the ancient holiday, please contact Richard Schwartz at VeggieRich@gmail.com.

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Appendix A.  List of Jewish Organizations Supporting the Renewal and Transformation of Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot

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 (chai-online.org

EcoJews (jewcology.org/initiative/ecojews/)

Hakol Chai (chai.org.il

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

Green Zionist Alliance (aytzim.org/greenisrael

Interfaith Council for the Protection of Animals and Nature 

Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (interfaithsustain.com)

Jewcology (jewcology.org)  

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

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

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

Jews of the Earth (aytzim.org/jote

Neohasid (NeoHasid.org

Shamayim: Jewish Animal Advocacy (ShamayimvAretz.org

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

Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center (TreeOfLife.mn.co

Vegetarian Mitzvah brook.com/JVeg

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

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Appendix B.  List of Rabbis Supporting the Renewal and Transformation of Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot

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

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.

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.  

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. 

Gabriel Cousens, M.D., Director of Tree of Life Foundation and 

     author of Torah as a Guide to Enlightenment

Yehoshua Engelman, psychoanalyst

Ariel Edery, Beth Shalom, Cary NC

Adam Frank, Israeli Masorti teacher and lecturer,

Yonassan Gershom, writer and activist; his blog “Notes from a Jewish 

     Thoreau” is at http://rooster613.blogspot.com/

Prof. David Golinkin, President, The Schechter Institutes, INC.Jerusalem, Irrving (Yitz ) Greenberg, former President of the National Jewish Center for
     Learning and Leader4hip; author of The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays

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

     Columbia

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

Yonatan Neril, Founder and Executive Director of the Interfaith Center for  

     Sustainable Development in Israel and co-ediotor of Eco Bibm]le

Arnold Rachlis, University Synagogue, Irvine, CA

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; the American Jewish 

     Committee’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs.

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

Amy Sapowith, Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation, Ashburn, VA

Sid Schwartz, Founding Rabbi, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist 

     Congregation, Bethesda, MD. Author, Jewish Megatrends: Charting the Course of the American Jewish Future.

David Seidenberg, director of neohasid.org, and author of Kabbalah and Ecology: God’s Image In This More-Than Human World.

Gerald Serotta, director emeritus of Interfaith Council of Metropolitan, 

     Washington

Yedidya (Julian) Sinclair,  consultant to Israeli hi-tech startup companies;    

     author of book on Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook’s great work on 

     shmita, Shabbat Ha’aretz.

Daniel Swartz,  Spiritual Leader, Temple Hesed; Executive Director, 

    Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life

Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center; author of many Judaica 

     books.

David Wolpe, Temple Sinai, Los Angeles; author of many books and 

     articles in the Jewish Week and the Jerusalem Post.

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

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

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Appendix C. List of Jewish Activists Supporting the Renewal and Transformation of Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot 

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

Lara Balsam, Director of UK-based Jewish Vegetarian Society

Beth Berkowitz,  Chair of Jewish Studies and Professor of Religion, Barnard 

     College.

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 website.

Jeffrey Spitz Cohan,  Director of Jewish Veg

Lionel Friedberg, multi-award-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.”

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

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

   (FARM)

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, a leader of the Israeli animal rights organization Animals 

     Today

Nigel S. Savage, founder and former long-time President & CEO of 

  Hazon: The Jewish Lab for Sustainability

Richard H. Schwartz, PhD, president emeritus of Jewish Veg; author of 

     Vegan Revolution: Saving Our World, Revitalizing and Judaism and 

     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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Appendix D:   Jewish Quotations About Animals and How Animals Are Treated Today

A. Attitude Toward Animals

1. “A righteous person regards the life of his or her animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”     Proverbs 12:10

2. “The Lord is good to all and His compassion iis over all His works.”  Psalms 145:9

3. “The tzaddik (righteous person) acts according to the laws of justice; not only does he act according to these laws with human beings, but also with animals.” The Malbim

4. “Living creatures possess a soul and a certain spiritual superiority which in this respect make them similar to those who possess intellect (people) and they have the power of affecting their welfare and their food and they flee from pain and death.”     Nachmanides, commentary on Genesis 1:29

5. “There is no difference between the pain of humans and the pain of other living beings, since the love and tenderness of the mother for the young are not produced by reasoning, but by feeling, and this faculty exists not only in humans but in most living beings.”     Maimonides Guide for the Perplexed

6. “For that which befalls the sons of men befalls animals; even one thing befalls them; as the one dies, so dies the other; yes, they all have one breath; so that man has no preeminence above an animal; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are of the dust. Who knows the spirit of men whether it goes upward; and the spirit of the animal whether it goes downward to the earth?””      Ecclesiastes 3:19-21

7. “It is forbidden, according to the law of the Torah, to inflict pain upon any living creature. On the contrary, it is our duty to relieve the pain of any creature, even if it is ownerless or belongs to a non Jew.”      Code of Jewish Law

8. “When horses, drawing a cart, come to a rough road or a steep hill, and it is hard for them to draw the cart without help, it is our duty to help them, even when they belong to a non-Jew, because of the precept not to be cruel to animals, lest the owner smite them to force them to draw more than their strength permits.”

     Code of Jewish Law

9.It is forbidden to tie the legs of a beast or of a bird in a manner as to cause them pain.”     Code of Jewish Law

10. “While our teacher Moses was tending the flock of Jethro in the wilderness a kid ran away from him. He ran after the kid until it reached Hasuah. Upon reaching Hasuah, the kid came upon a body of water and began to drink. When Moses reached him he said,  ‘I did not know that you were running because [you were] thirsty. You must be tired.’ He placed the kid on his shoulder and began to walk. The Holy One, blessed be He, said, ‘You are compassionate in leading flocks belonging to mortals; I swear you will similarly shepherd my flock, Israel.’”

     Midrash Exodus Rabbah 2:2

11 “As God is merciful, so you also be merciful. As he loves and cares for all His creatures and His children and are related to Him, because He is their Father, so you also love all His creatures as your brethren. Let their joys be your joys, and their sorrows yours. Love them and with every power which God gives you, work for their welfare and benefit, because they are the children of your God, because they are your brothers and sisters.”

     Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch, Horeb, Chapter 72, Section 482.

12. Here you are faced with God’s teaching, which obliges you not only to refrain from inflicting unnecessary pain on any animal, but to help and, when you can, to lessen the pain whenever you see an animal suffering, even through no fault of yours.”      Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch, Horeb, Chapter 60, Section 416.

13. “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 Samson Rafael Hirsch, Horeb, Chapter 60, Section 415

B. Biblical Teachings

1. “You shall not muzzle the ox when he threshes out the corn.”

     Deuteronomy 25:4

2. You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together.’  Deuteronomy 22:10

3.  Animals, as well as people, must be allowed to rest on the Sabbath day. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath unto the Lord, your God; in it you shall not do any manner of work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your man-servant, nor your maid-servant, nor your cattle, nor the stranger that is within your gates.” (Exodus 20:8–10)

4. Based on the question of the angel of God to Bilaam, “Why have you hit your donkey these three times?” (Numbers 22:32), the Talmud states that animals are to be treated humanely. [tsa’ar ba’alei chaim]

5. Based on Deuteronomy 11:15, “And I will give grass in the fields for your cattle and you shall eat and be satisfied,” the Talmud teaches that a Jew should not eat before first feeding his or her animals.

6. Animals should not be allowed to suffer discomfort from a heavy burden.

“If you see the ass of him who hates you fallen due to its burden, you shall surely not pass him by; you shall surely unload it with him.” (Exodus 23:5) 

7. We must be vigilant concerning the well-being of a lost animal. “You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep driven away and hide yourself from them; you shall surely bring them back unto your brother.” (Deuteronomy 22:1)

8. “If you happen to come upon a bird’s nest along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young.” Deuteronomy 27:6

C Messianic Times

1. “And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb,

And the leopard shall lie down with the kid;

And the calf and the young lion and the falling together;

And a little child shall lead them

And the cow and the bear shall feed;

Their young ones shall lie down together,

And the lion shall eat straw like the ox . . . .

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain…”

     Isaiah 11:6-9

2. The progress of dynamic ideals will not be eternally blocked. Through general, moral and intellectual advancement… shall the latent aspiration of justice for the animal kingdom come out into the open, when the time is ripe.

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace

D. Covenants With Animals

1. ”As for me,” says the Lord, “behold I establish My Covenant with you and with your seed after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the fowl, the cattle, and every animal of the earth with you; of all that go out of the ark, even every animal of the earth.”      Genesis 9: 9-10

2. “And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the animals of the field and with the fowls of heaven and with the creeping things of the ground. And I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the land and I will make them to lie down safely.”     Hosea 2:20

E. Prophets’ Views on Sacrifices

1. “For I spoke not unto your fathers, nor commanded them on the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt- offerings or sacrifices; but this thing I commanded them, saying, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.”      Jeremiah 7:22 -23

2. “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”     Hosea 6:6

3. ”To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me?” says the Lord. “I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs or of he-goats. . . bring no more vain oblations… Your new moon and your appointed feasts my soul hates; … and when you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; yes, when you make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.” Isaiah 1:11-16

4. “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I will take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Though you offer me burnt offerings and your meal offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace-offerings of your fat beasts. Take away from me the noise of your song; and let Me not hear the melody of your psalteries. But let justice well up as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”  Amos 5:21- 4

5. “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow before God on high?

Shall I come before God with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old?

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

   with tens of thousands of rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

   the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what the Lord requires of you

Only to do justice, to love mercy. and walk humbly with your God.”

7.  Reinforcing the above material are the words of Jerusalem-based Orthodox rabbi Nathan Lopes Cardozo: 

“Does Judaism really need animal sacrifices? Would it not be better off without them? After all, the sacrificial cult compromises Judaism. What does a highly ethical religion have to do with the collection of blood in vessels and the burning of animal limbs on an altar? 

No doubt Judaism should be sacrifice-free. Yet it is not. . . . How much more beautiful the Torah would be without sacrifices. 

If Judaism had the chance, it would have dropped the entire institution of sacrifices in a second. Better yet, it would have had no part in it to begin with. How much more beautiful the Torah would be without sacrifices! How wonderful it would be if a good part of Sefer Vayikra [the portion of the Torah that refers initially to sacrifices] were removed from the biblical text, or had never been there in the first place.”

F.. God’s Original Dietary Law

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. God did not permit Adam and his wife to kill a creature to eat its flesh. “Only every green herb shall they all eat together.”    Rashi’s commentary on Genesis 1:29

3. “You are permitted to use the animals and employ them for work, have dominion over them in order to utilize their services for your subsistence, but must not hold their life cheap nor slaughter them for food. Your natural diet is vegetarian.”

Moses Cassuto (1883 -1951) in his commentary From Adam to Noah

4. “Adam was not permitted meat for purposes of eating.”

     Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 59b)

G. Attitudes Toward Vegetarianism and Veganism

1. “The removal of blood which kashrut teaches is one of the most powerful means of making us constantly aware of the concession and compromise which the whole act of eating meat, in reality, is. Again it teaches us reverence for life.”

     Samuel Dresner, The Jewish Dietary Laws, 29

2. “Apparently the Torah was in principle opposed to the eating of meat. When Noah and his descendants were permitted to eat meat this was a concession conditional on the prohibition of the blood. This prohibition implied respect for the principle of life (“for the blood is the life”) and an allusion to the fact that in reality all meat should have been prohibited. This partial prohibition was designed to call to mind the previously total one.”

    Rabbi Moses Cassutto, quoted by Nehama Leibowitz, Studies in Genesis, 77.

3. “The Torah teaches a lesson in moral conduct, that man shall not eat meat unless he has a special craving for it… and shall eat it only occasionally and sparingly.”

   B.T. Chulin 84a

4. “Only a scholar of Torah may eat meat, but one who is ignorant of Torah is forbidden to eat meat.”    B.T. Sanhedrin 49b

5. “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 even this only after the trouble and inconvenience necessary to satisfy his desire. Perhaps because of the bother and annoyance of the whole procedure, he will be restrained from such a strong and uncontrollable desire for meat.”

    Rabbi Solomon Efraim Lunchitz, Kli Yakar

6. “Accordingly, the laws of kashrut come to teach us that a Jew’s first preference should be a vegetarian meal. If, however, one cannot control a craving for meat, it should be kosher meat, which would serve as a reminder that the animal being eaten is a creature of God, that the death of such a creature cannot be taken lightly, that hunting for sport is forbidden, that we cannot treat any living thing callously, and that we are responsible for what happens to other beings (human or animal) even if we did not personally come into contact with them”.

     Rabbi Pinchas Peli, Torah Today, Washington, D.C.: B’Nai B’rith Books, 1987, 118.

H. The Current Treatment of Animals

1. “The very saddest sound in all my memory was burned into my awareness at age five on my uncle’s dairy farm in Wisconsin. A cow had given birth to a beautiful male calf. The mother was allowed to nurse her calf but for a single night. On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn—only ten yards away, in plain view of the mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The heartrending bellows that she poured forth—minute after minute, hour after hour, for five long days—were excruciating to listen to. They are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my brain. Since that age, whenever I hear anyone postulate that animals cannot feel emotions, I need only to replay that torturous sound in my memory of that mother cow crying her bovine heart out to her infant. Mother’s love knows no species barriers, and I believe that all people who are vegans in their hearts and souls know that to be true.”

2. “How far have we the right to take our domination of the animal

world? Have we the right to rob them of all pleasure in life simply

to make more money more quickly out of their carcasses? Have

we the right to treat living creatures solely as food converting

machines? At what point do we acknowledge cruelty?

     Farm animals have always been exploited by man in that

he rears them specifically for food. But until recently they were

individuals, allowed their birthright of green fields, sunlight, and

fresh air; they were allowed to forage, to exercise, to watch the

world go by, in fact to live. Even at its worst . . . the animal had

some enjoyment in life before it died. Today the exploitation has

been taken to a degree that involves not only the elimination

of all enjoyment, the frustration of all natural instincts, but its

replacement with acute discomfort, boredom, and the actual

denial of health. It has been taken to a degree where the animal

is not allowed to live before it dies.”

     Ruth Harrison in her book “Animal Machines”

3. “Every year millions of animals are born and bred for the sole

purpose of satisfying those who like the taste of meat. Their

lives vary in length from a few weeks to a few years; most live

a fraction of the time they would in more natural conditions.

They die in slaughterhouses where, if the tranquilizers have

their effect, they know only a few moments of the awful fear of

death before they are stunned and their throats cut. This is what

all meat-eaters actively support, for there would be no batteries,

no sweatboxes, no need to castrate male animals or artificially

inseminate females, no cattle markets and no slaughterhouses if

there was no one insensitive enough to buy their products.”

     John Harris

4. “Aren’t humans amazing? They kill wildlife—birds, deer, all

kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the

million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

     Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them.

     This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those

animals leads to degenerative—and fatal—health conditions

like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer. So then

humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions

more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

     Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed

by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being

used to fatten domestic animals.

     Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans,

who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards

praying for’Peace on Earth.’”

5. “It seems doubtful from all that has been said whether the Torah would sanction factory farming, which treats animals as machines, with apparent insensitivity to their natural needs and instincts. This is a matter for decision by halachic authorities.”    Rabbi Aryeh Carmell, a twentieth-century Torah scholar who lived in Jerusalem

6. “The current treatment of animals in the livestock trade. definitely renders the consumption of meat as halachically unacceptable as the product of illegitimate means.”  Rabbi David Rosen

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Appendix E. Links To Valuable Background Material

The complete text of Vegan Revolution:Saving Our World, Revitalizing  Judaism by Richard Schwartz can be read at https://jewcology.org/2021/03/complete-text-of-my-latest-book-vegan-revolution-saving-our-world-revitalizing-judaism/

A strong vegan statement, including a video that was prepared by Jewish Veg and was signed  by 150 rabbis can be read at https://www.jewishveg.org/rabbinic-statement . Rabbis who would like to add their signatures can do so by visiting .https://forms.gle/VtgVZbPpMdUHJphJA .

Questions and answers about (1) \Judaism and vegetarianism and veganism, (2) Judaism and animals, and (3) animal sacrifices and the messianic period can be read at JewishVeg.org/schwartz .

Much valuable material is at the Jewish Veg website (JewishVeg.org) and at Prof. Dan Brook’s veg website “Eco-Eating” at https://sites.google.com/site/eatingtheearth/

Over 250-related articles by Richard Schwartz and the complete texts of his books, Judaism and Vegetarianism and, Judaism and Global Survival, can be read at JewishVeg.org/schwartz. Among the articles are ones relating Judaism to every Jewish holiday and Shabbat and four articles on restoring and transforming the ancient Jewish New Year for Animals.

MANY Jewish quotations about animals and related issues can be read at

https://jewcology.org/2021/07/jewish-quotations-about-animals-and-how-animals-are-treated-today/?These quotations are also in Appendix D of this book.

Richard Schwartz’s cover story in the August 9 Jerusalem Report, “Why Jews should be vegans” can be read at https://jewcology.org/2021/07/my-cover-story-in-the-august-9-2021-jerusalem-post-on-why-jews-should-be-vegans/

Richard Schwartz’s co-authored (with Prof. Dan Brook) cover story in the Jerusalem Report, “Climate change: an existential threat to humanity and how we can survive,” can be read at.https://www.jpost.com/jerusalem-report/climate-change-an-existential-threat-to-humanity-and-how-we-can-survive-643267 .

Richard Schwartz’s article, “A Dialogue Between a Jewish Vegan and a Rabbi,” can be read at https://jewcology.org/2021/11/a-dialogue-between-a-jewish-vegan-and-a-rabbi/?fbclid=IwAR0aDN5mIBg7ypuQKsUdKA6S6XdZjuP-U476RexIA44keCyMxrddxygcEVU

Richard Schwartz’s article, “Eighteen Reasons Jews Think They Should Not Be Vegetarians or Vegans (and Why They Are Wrong) can be read at https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/eighteen-reasons-jews-think-they-should-not-be-vegetarians-or-vegans-and-why-they-are-wrong/ .

The complete text of Perek Shira (Chapter of Song), with much explanations, can be read at https://www.songofexistence.org/assets/Sample%20Preview.pdf, in Hebrew and English,  It contains 85 sections, in each of which elements of creation use biblical and rabbinic verses in order to sing God’s praises, beginning with the celestial and ending with  dogs.

Below are links to Richard Schwartz’s four articles about efforts to renew and transform the ancient Jewish New Year for Animals:

A statement signed by 27 Orthodox rabbis warning of the moral and spiritual dangers of eating meat can be read at https://forward.com/scribe/369525/orthodox-rabbis-warn-of-moral-and-spiritual-dangers-of-eating-meat/

Material from New Year for Animals pioneer Aharon Varady about the initiative

Here is the resource page for Rosh Hahanah la-Behemah prayers and ritual activities at the Open Siddur Project: 

https://opensiddur.org/index.php?cat=410

For the Wikipedia article on Rosh haShanah la-Behemah, visit:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosh_Hashanah_LaBehema

Source sheet for teaching about Rosh Hashanah LaBehimot  

https://www.sefaria.org/sheets/184964?lang=bi

Prayer & Ritual resources including the Kavvanah for Shofar Blowing on RHLB: 

https://opensiddur.org/new-years-day/for-domesticated-animals/

A really great essay by Melissa Hoffman, director of the Jewish Initiative for Animals, about repairing our relationships with animals in the Times of Israel:

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/repairing-our-relationship-with-animals-is-an-act-of-teshuvah/

His discussion of Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot is at http://aharon.varady.net/omphalos/2012/07/rosh-hashana-labeheima-a-new-year-day-for-animals-domesticated-within-human-society

and at

http://opensiddur.org/2011/08/ראש-השנה-לבהמה-explanation-and-ritual-for-rosh-hashanah-labeheimot-new-years-day-for-animals/

and at

http://www.hazon.org/rosh-chodesh-elul-jewish-new-year-for-animals/

A discussion of a Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot  activity he was involved in is at http://opensiddur.org/2013/07/the-council-of-all-beings-on-rosh-hashanah-labeheimot-alef-belul/

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Appendix F. Material About Jewish Veg and Animal Rights Organizations

More information about each of the organizations discussed below can be found at their websites.

Animals Now, formerly Anonymous for Animal Rights is Israel’s leading animal rights group. They initially chose the name “Anonymous” out of “deep solidarity with the suffering of those sentient beings … who are subjected to systematic abuse, … imprisoned in laboratories, circuses, municipal pounds – but above all: in factory farms.” They often hold demonstrations aimed at improving conditions for animals. (Animals-Now.org)

Aytzim: Ecological Judaism works to educate and organize Jews for local, national and international environmental and climate action. Founded in 2001, Aytzim is among the longest-running Jewish-environmental nonprofits in North America. Today it is the parent organization of five projects, including EcoJews, the Green Zionist Alliance, Jewcology.org, Jews of the Earth, and Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth, a project that Aytzim runs in partnership with GreenFaith.  Through its projects, Aytzim has written and passed laws in Israel that  have led to millions of trees planted, hundreds of miles of bike trails built, and the declaration of nature reserves that have saved endangered  species from extinction. Aytzim’s two websites — aytzim.org and  jewcology.org — together host the largest collection of  Jewish-environmental materials available online.

Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI) works on behalf of Israel’s animals through education, legislation, and rescue. Its sister group Hakol Chai is active in Israel. Since 1984, CHAI has worked to improve conditions for and treatment of animals in Israel. Our efforts have resulted in important legislation, education, campaigns and direct support – efforts that have saved lives and raised consciousness about animals. (www.chai-online.org/)

Hazon: The Jewish Lab for Sustainability envisions vibrant sustainable Jewish communities, enriched by Jewish wisdom, authentic nature connection, and environmental responsibility, working with our partners to create a better world for all. Founded in 2000, Hazon has grown steadily to become the largest Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming and Environmental Education (JOFFEE) organization.They are building a movement that strengthens Jewish life and contributes to a more environmentally sustainable world for all. Their annual Israel Ride is the premier bicycling experience in Israel, benefiting the Arava Institute and Hazon(hazon.org)  

Inernational Jewish Vegetarian Society, also known as the Jewish Ecological and Vegetarian Society and Jewish Vegetarian Society- UK, has, since 1965, been a center for Jewish vegetarianism and vegan activism. There objectives to spread awareness of the benefits of rejecting cruelty to animals and the extension of this to an improved society where humanity is not cruel to fellow beings. Centered in London, the organization distributed for many years a quarterly publication, The Jewish Vegetarian, that included a wide variety of vegetarian-related material. (JVS.org.uk

Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society (Ginger), centered in Jerusalem, helps educate Israelis about Jewish teachings on vegetarianism, veganism, and animal rights, and for many years brought Israeli vegetarians  and vegans together through monthly lectures, cooking demonstrations, pot-luck meals, and other vegetarian-related events, as well as annual Tu Bishvat and Passover Seders. (ginger.org.il)

Jewish Veg, formerly Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)is a US-based nonprofit whose mission is to inspire and help Jews to transition to vegan lifestyles. The organization runs several programs, including: Plant Pathways, which offers practical and communal support for people transitioning to veganism; a Speakers Bureau, which educates Jews about the imperative of an animal-free diet; a Rabbinic Statement, in which rabbis urge their fellow Jews to eat plants; and holiday events, which create a feeling of community for vegan and vegetarian Jews.They assert that Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people ,and pursue peace point to vegetarianism (and preferably veganism) as the ideal diet for Jews. In 2007, the group produced the acclaimed documentary A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World, and made it freely available at www.aSacredDuty.com. (JewishVeg.org)

Shamayim: Jewish Animal Advocacy is a Center for Jewish Spirituality and Leadership. Its core mission is to educate about the benefits of kosher veganism, to empower others to show leadership on animal welfare issues, and to build Jewish spiritual community around these issues. (shamayim.us )

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Appendix G. Jewish Stories About Compassion For Animals

1. Rabbi Israel Salanter, one of the most distinguished Orthodox rabbis of the nineteenth century, failed to appear one Yom Kippur eve to chant the sacred Kol Nidre prayer. His congregation became concerned, for it was   inconceivable that their saintly rabbi would be late or absent on this very holy day. They sent out a search party to look for him. After much time, their rabbi was found in the barn of a Christian neighbor. On his way to the synagogue, Rabbi Salanter had come upon one of his neighbor’s calves, lost and. tangled in the brush. Seeing that the animal was in distress, he freed him and led him home through many fields and over many hills. His act of mercy represented the rabbi’s prayers on that Yom Kippur evening.

2. Rabbi Zusya of Hanipol, a Chassidic master, once was on a journey to collect money to ransom prisoners. He came to an inn and in one room found a large cage with many types of birds. He saw that the birds wanted to fly out of the cage and be free again. He burned with pity for them and said to himself, “Here you are, Zusya, walking your feet off to ransom prisoners. But what greater ransoming of prisoners can there be than to free these birds from their prison?” He then opened the cage, and the birds flew out into freedom.

When the innkeeper saw the empty cage, he was very angry

and asked the people in the house who had released the birds. They

answered that there was a man loitering around who appeared to be

a fool and that he must have done it. The innkeeper shouted at

Zusya: “You fool! How could you rob me of my birds and make

worthless the good money I paid for them?” Zusya replied: “Have

you read these words in the Psalms: ‘His tender mercies are over all

His works’?” Then the innkeeper beat Zusya and threw him out

of the house. And Zusya went his way serenely.

3. As the following dialogue indicates, the African King Kazia was astounded when he observed the cruel and unjust way in which Alexander

of Macedonia judged disputes, and wondered why Macedonia was still

blessed with God’s beneficence:

King: Does the rain fall in your country?

Alexander: Yes.

King: Does the sun shine in your country?

Alexander: Yes.

King: Perhaps there are small cattle in your country?

Alexander: Yes.

King: Cursed be the man [who would render such evil judgments].

 is only because of the merit of the small cattle that the sun shines upon you and the rain falls upon you. For the sake of the small cattle you are saved!64

The midrash concluded: “Hence it is written, ‘People and animals You

preserved, Oh Lord’ (Psalms 36:7), as if to say, ‘You preserve people, Oh

Lord, because of the merit of the animals.’ ” This suggests that God

provides rain and sun, the essentials of a healthy environment, even when

people are evil and do not deserve it, because of God’s concern for animals.

4.  Rabbi Judah the Prince was sitting and studying the Torah in front of the Babylonian Synagogue in Sepphoris. A calf being taken to the slaughterhouse  came to him as if pleading, “Save me!” Rabbi Judah said to it, “What can I do for you? For this you were created.” As a punishment for his insensitivity, he suffered from a toothache for thirteen years.

     One day, a creeping thing [a weasel] ran past Rabbi Judah’s daughter who was about to kill him. He said to her, “My daughter, let it be, for it is written, ‘and God’s tender mercies are over all his works’ (Psalms 145:9).” 

5. While our teacher Moses was tending the flock of Jethro in the wilderness a kid ran away from him. He ran after the kid until it reached Hasuah. Upon reaching Hasuah, the kid came upon a body of water and began to drink. When Moses reached him, he said, “I did not know that you were running because [you were] thirsty.  You must be tired.” He placed the kid on his shoulder and began to walk. The Holy One, blessed be He, said, “You are compassionate in leading flocks belonging to mortals; I swear you will similarly shepherd my flock, Israel.” Exodus Rabbah 2:2

     Many Biblical leaders of Israel were trained for their tasks by being shepherds of flocks. As the midrash quoted above indicates, God tested Moses through his shepherding. The greatest Jewish teacher, leader, and prophet was deemed worthy, not because of his abilities as a speaker, statesman, politician, or warrior, but because of his compassion for animals!

      God deemed David worthy of leading the Jewish people because he, like Moses, tended his sheep with devotion, bestowing upon them the care each one needed. David used to prevent the larger sheep from going out before the smaller ones. The smaller ones were then able to graze upon the tender grass. Next he permitted the old sheep to feed on the ordinary grass, and finally the young, mature sheep consumed the tougher grass. [1]

6. Rebecca was judged suitable to be Isaac’s wife because of the kindness she showed to animals. Eliezer, the Patriarch Abraham’s servant, asked Rebecca for water for himself. She not only gave him water, but also eagerly provided water for his ten thirsty camels. Rebecca’s concern for camels was evidence of a tender heart and compassion for all God’s creatures. It convinced Eliezer that Rebecca would make a suitable wife for Isaac (Genesis 24:11-20).

7. The patriarch Jacob also demonstrated concern for animals. After their reconciliation, his brother Esau said to him, “Let us take our journey and let us go, and I will go before you.” But Jacob, concerned about his children and flocks, replied: “My lord knows that the children are tender, and that the flocks and the herds giving suck are a care to me; and if my workers overdrive them one day, all the flocks will die. Let my lord, I pray you, pass over before his servant and I will journey on gently, according to the pace of the cattle that are before me and according to the pace of the children, until I come unto my lord, unto Seir” (Genesis 33:12-14).

8. Consistent with the fact that concern for the well being of animals is the test for a righteous individual, Jacob instructed his son Joseph to determine “whether it is well with your brethren and well with the flock” (Genesis 37:14). In the wilderness, the Israelites sought water for both themselves and their cattle (Numbers 20:4).

9 The Torah states ” Jacob journeyed to Sukkot and built himself a house, and for his livestock he made shelters; he therefore named the place “Sukkot” (booths)” (Genesis 33:17). The Ohr HaChayim, in his comment on the above verse, suggested the name Sukkot commemorated the shelters that Jacob built for his animals, for this may have been the first time that anyone had taken the trouble to spare animals from the distress of sun and cold.

10. Noah was called a tzaddik  (righteous person) because of his extraordinary care of the animals on the ark. [1] He was careful to feed each species its appropriate food at the proper time. Indeed, the Midrash tells us that Noah did not sleep due to his continuous concern for the welfare of the animals. The Torah explicitly designates only one other personality, Joseph, as a tzaddik. In times of crisis, they both provided food for both humans and animals.

11. Rabbi Abramtzi was a man full of compassion—his compassion was for all living things. He would not walk on the grass of the field lest he trample it down. He was very careful not to tread on grasshoppers or crawling insects. If a dog came to the door of his house, he would instruct the members of his household to feed the animal. In winter he would scatter crumbs of bread and seed on the window sills. When sparrows and other birds arrived and began to pick at the food, he could not remove his gaze from them and his face would light up with joy like that of a little child. He looked after his horses far better than his coachmen did. When traveling and the coach had to ascend an incline, he would climb down in order to lighten the load and, more often than not, he would push the cart from behind.

     On summer days he would compel his coachman to stop on the way and turn aside to a field in order that the horses should rest and partake of the grass. The rabbi loved these rest periods in the forest. While the horses were grazing, he would sit under a tree and read a book. At times he would pray in the field or the forest. This gave him great pleasure, for he used to say, “The field and the forest are the most beautiful and finest of the Houses of the Lord.”

     It happened once that the rabbi was on the road on a Friday. It would take another three hours to reach home. Due to the rain, the road was very muddy. The wagon could only proceed with difficulty. The mud gripped the wheels and slowed down its progress. It was midday and they had not even completed half the journey. The horses were tired and worn out. They had no energy to proceed further.

     The rabbi told the driver to stop and give fodder to the horses, so that they could regain their strength. This was done. Afterwards the journey was continued, but the going was heavy and the wagon sunk up to the hubs of the wheels in the mud. It was with the greatest difficulty that the horses maintained their balance on the swampy ground. The vapor of sweat enveloped their skin. Their knees trembled and at any moment they would have to rest.

     The coachman scolded and urged them on. He then raised his whip on the unfortunate creatures. The rabbi grabbed him by the elbow and cried out: “This is cruelty to animals, cruelty to animals.” The coachman answered in fury: “What do you want me to do? Do you want us to celebrate the Sabbath here?”

     “What of it?” replied the rabbi. “It is better that we celebrate the Sabbath here than cause the death of these animals by suffering. Are they not the creatures of the Lord? See how exhausted they are. They have not the energy to take one more step forward.”

     “But what of the Sabbath? How can Jews observe the Sabbath in the forest?” asked the coachman.

      “My friend, it does not matter. The Sabbath Queen will come to us here also, for her glory fills the whole world, and particularly in those places where Jews yearn for her. The Lord shall do what is good in His eyes. He will look after us, supply us with our wants and guard us against all evil.”

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Appendix H. Suggestions For Promoting Improved Conditions For Animals

Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of his own family and does not do so is punished [liable, held responsible] for the transgressions of his family. Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of the people of his community and does not do so is punished for the transgressions of his community. Whoever is able to protest against the transgressions of the entire world and does not do so is punished for the transgressions of the entire world.  (Shabbat 54b ) 

Judaism teaches that “it is not study that is the chief thing, but action [based on study] (Kiddushin 40b). So, it is important not only to study Judaism’s splendid teachings about compassion for animals and to investigate the many ways these teachings are violated today by abuses of animals on factory farms and in laboratories, circuses, rodeos, and other settings. It is a moral imperative to apply Jewish teachings to eliminate or at least sharply reduce these abuses.

    Some steps that can help increase awareness and lead to positive changes include: 

1. Ask rabbis, Jewish educators, and other Jewish leaders to give sermons and classes on Jewish teachings on compassion for animals.

2. Ask Jewish school principals and teachers to see that tsa’ar ba’alei chaim is emphasized in classes and that vegan meals, or at least vegan options, are provided.

3. Write letters to editors, politicians, educators, and others, stressing the importance of improving conditions for animals. If time permits, some time at Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimah events could be devoted to writing such letters, with pens, paper, and model letters provided.

4.  Become knowledgeable on the issues and volunteer to speak about them. Learn the facts about animal issues from this and other books (see Bibliography), the Internet (see websites listed in Appendix E), and other sources. Learn how to effectively answer questions about animal issues and use such questions as an opportunity to inform others.

5. Help educate others about Jewish teachings about animals. Wear a button. Put a bumper sticker on your car. Create and display posters. Write timely

letters to the editors of your local newspapers. Set up programs and

discussions. There are a wide variety of interesting animal rights and vegetarian/vegan slogans on buttons, bumper stickers, and T-shirts and sweat shirts. For example:

Love animals. Don’t eat them.

Veganism is good for life.

Happiness is reverence for life. Be vegan.

6. Use the material in this and other vegetarian/vegan books in discussions

with doctors. Help increase their knowledge of the many health benefits of

vegan diets.

7. Ask your local rabbis if Jews should eliminate or at least sharply reduce their consumption of meat and other animal products because of important Jewish principles such as bal tashchit, tsa’ar ba’alei chayim, and pikuach nefesh that are being violated by animal-based diets. Suggest that they 

 Include these concepts in sermons and classes.

8. Request that meat and other animal products no longer be  be served at synagogue and other Jewish organizational functions and celebrations. Ask school principals to provide students with nutritious vegan options.

9  Ask your rabbi and/or head of a Hebrew school to organize a trip to a

slaughterhouse so that people can observe for themselves how animals are

slaughtered. A trip to a factory farm to see how cattle, chickens, and other

animals are raised would also be very instructive.

10. Arrange synagogue and Jewish organizational sessions where vegan dishes are sampled and recipes exchanged.

11 Speak or organize an event with a guest speaker on the advantages

of veganism and its many connections to Judaism.

12  Get animal rights, vegetarian, and vegan  books into public and synagogue libraries by donating duplicates, requesting that libraries purchase such books, and, if you can afford it, buying some and donating them. Ask local librarians to set up special exhibits about vegan foods and vegan-related issues.

13. Work with others to set up a vegan food co-op or restaurant or

help support such places if they already exist. Encourage people to

patronize such establishments.

14. Register yourself with a community, library, or school speakers’

bureau. Take advantage of your increased knowledge and awareness to start

speaking out.

15. Contact the food editor of your local newspaper and ask that more

vegan recipes be included.

16. When applicable, raise awareness by showing how values of the

Sabbath and festivals are consistent with vegetarian and vegan concepts. For

example: point out that the kiddush recited before lunch on the Sabbath

indicates that animals, as well as people,  are also to be able to rest on the Sabbath day; on Sukkot, note that the sukkah (temporary dwelling place) is decorated with pictures and replicas of fruits and vegetables (never with animal products); on Yom Kippur, consider the mandate expressed in the prophetic reading of Isaiah to “share your bread with the hungry,” which can be carried out best by not having a diet that wastes large amounts of land, grain, water, fuel, and other agricultural resources. At JewishVeg.org/schwartz, there are articles in a special section with articles linking all the Jewish holidays and Shabbat to veganism and vegetarianism.

17. Join the International Jewish Vegetarian Society, Jewish

Veg (website addresses provided in Appendix E), and/or local vegan

groups.

18. If people are not willing to become vegans, or at least vegetarians, encourage them to at least make a start by giving up red meat and having one or two meatless meals a week (perhaps Mondays and Thursdays, which were traditional Jewish fast days).

19. Do not concentrate only on animal rights and veganism. They are only part of the pursuit of justice, compassion, and peace. Become aware and try to affect public policy with regard to the issues raised in this book: preserving health, showing compassion for animals, saving human lives, conserving resources, helping hungry people, and seeking and pursuing peace.

Jewish Teachings On Involvement and Protest

Judaism urges active involvement in issues facing society. A Jew must not be concerned only about his or her own personal affairs when the community is in trouble. 

If a person of learning participates in public affairs and serves as judge or arbiter, he gives stability to the land. But if he sits in his home and says to himself, “What have the affairs of society to do with me? … Why should I trouble myself with the people’s voices of protest? Let my soul dwell in peace!” — if he does this, he overthrows the world. (Tanchuma to Mishpatim)

     Judaism teaches that people must struggle to create a better society. The Torah frequently admonishes: “And you shall eradicate the evil from your midst” (Deuteronomy 13:6, 17:7, 21:21, 24:7). Injustice can not be passively accepted; it must be actively resisted and, ultimately, eliminated. The Talmudic sages teach that one reason Jerusalem was destroyed was because its citizens failed in their responsibility to constructively criticize one another’s improper behavior  (Shabbat 99b) They indicate that “Love which does not contain the element of criticism is not really love.” (Genesis Rabba 54: 3)    

    The essential elements of Jewish practice include devotion to Torah, study, prayer, performing good deeds and other mitzvot (Commandments), and cultivating a life of piety. But, as indicated in the following Midrash (a rabbinic story or teaching based on Biblical events or concepts), in order to be considered pious, a person must protest against injustice. Even God is challenged to apply this standard in judging people: 

R. Acha ben R. Chanina said: Never did a favorable decree go forth from the mouth of the Holy One which He withdrew and changed into an unfavorable judgment, except the following: “And the Lord said to His angel: ‘Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed there”‘ (Ezekiel 9:4). (Thus, they will be protected from the angels who are slaying the wicked.)

At that moment, the indignant prosecutor came forward in the Heavenly Court.

Prosecutor: Lord, wherein are these (marked ones) different from those (the rest)?

God: These are wholly righteous men, while those are wholly wicked.

Prosecutor: But Lord, they had the power to protest, but did not.

God: I knew that had they protested, they would not have been heeded.

Prosecutor: But Lord, if it was revealed to You, was it revealed to them? Accordingly, they should have protested and incurred scorn for thy holy Name, and have been ready to suffer blows… as the prophets of Israel suffered.

God revoked his original order, and the righteous were found guilty, because of their failure to protest. (Shabbat 55a)                  

      Hence, it is not sufficient merely to do mitzvot while acquiescing in unjust conditions. The Maharal of Prague, a sixteenth-century sage, states that individual piety pales in the face of the sin of not protesting against an emerging communal evil, and a person will be held accountable for not preventing wickedness when capable of doing so.  One of the most important dangers of silence in the face of evil is that it implies acceptance or possibly even support. According to Rabbeinu Yonah, a medieval sage, sinners may think to themselves, “Since others are neither reproving nor contending against us, our deeds are permissible.” (Orchid Tzaddilim 24)

     Rabbi Joachim Prinz, a refugee from pre-World War II Nazi Germany and former president of the American Jewish Congress, spoke to the 250,000 people who took part in the “March on Washington” organized by the Reverend Martin Luther King and others in 1963 on behalf of Civil Rights. He stated that under Hitler’s rule, he had learned about the problem of apathy toward fellow human beings: “Bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and most tragic problem is silence.”

     Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a leading twentieth century philosopher, believed that apathy toward injustice results in greater wickedness. He writes that “indifference to evil is more insidious than evil itself ” and that silent acquiescence leads to evil being accepted and becoming the rule.

     Jews are required to protest against injustice and to try to agitate for change even when successful implementation appears very difficult. The Talmudic sage Rabbi Zera states, “Even though people will not accept it, you should rebuke them.” (Shabbat 55a) We can never be sure that our words and actions will be ineffective. Thus the only responsible approach is to try our best.   

      Just as many drops of water can eventually carve a hole in a rock, many small efforts can eventually have a major impact.

     There are times when a person must continue to protest in order to avoid being corrupted: 

A man stood at the entrance of Sodom crying out against the injustice and evil in that city. Someone passed by and said to him, “For years you have been urging the people to repent, and yet no one has changed. Why do you continue?” He responded: “When I first came, I protested because I hoped to change the people of Sodom. Now I continue to cry out, because if I don’t, they will have changed me.” 

     In his article “The Rabbinic Ethics of Protest,” Rabbi Reuven Kimelman observes that the means of protest must be consistent with responsibility to the community. He states that protest must involve both love and truth since love implies the willingness to suffer, and truth, the willingness to resist. Together, he concludes, they encompass an approach of nonviolent resistance, toward the ends of justice and peace.

     The Talmud teaches that controversy and protest must be “for the sake of Heaven.” The protest of Korach against the rule of Moses in the wilderness (Numbers 16:1-35) is considered negatively by the Jewish tradition because it was based on jealousy and personal motives.

     Each person should imagine that the world is evenly balanced between good and evil and that his or her actions can determine the destiny of the entire world.

     Even if little is accomplished, trying to make improvements will

prevent the hardening of your heart and will affirm that you accept moral

responsibility. The very act of consciousness raising is important because it

may lead to other positive future changes.

   Please keep in mind that it is not only conditions for animals that is at stake (as important as this is), but the future of humanity. If we want to leave a decent, habitable, environmentally sustainable world for our children and grandchildren, it is important that we get involved. We should not be discouraged by the immensity of the task. As our sages, indicated, “It is not [your responsibility] to complete the [entire] task, but you are not free to desist from [doing all you can]” (Pirke Avot 2: 16).As anthropologist Margaret Mead put it, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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Appendix I: Tips for Organizing and Carrying Out a Holiday Seder

1. Preliminaries

It is best to hold a New Year for Animals Seder at a synagogue or a Jewish Community Center. Of course, it can also be held at a home. To reach widespread audiences, Zoom can be used.

The Seder can be publicized through flyers, synagogue announcements, email messages, Twitter, Facebook, and through personal conversations.

If held at a synagogue or JCC, members might be asked if they would like to be co-sponsors in honor or in memory of someone by contributing for food and other costs. The names of sponsors could be announced at the Seder and/or on a sheet that is distributed at the synagogue or other venue.

2. Getting maximum participation

Since this book is being made freely available as widely as possible as a PDF Seder participants can be asked to review it prior to the Seder and to bring questions and comments for the Seder and to consider preparing a short dvar Torah to deliver at the Seder.

Unless there is a very large number of participants, each attendee could be asked to briefly introduce themselves and tell about why they are attending.

3. Food

Since we are transforming an ancient holiday that did not involve eating directly, there is no tradition about the type of foods that should be served. And there is really no need for any food to be served, except for the grape juice or wine. However, since the renewed holiday is focused on compassion to animals, no meat or other animal products should be served. It is suggested that, in the tradition of another renewed holiday, Tu Bishvat, the Seder include foods from the seven species from Israel that are mentioned in the Torah (Deuteronomy 8: 7-10): wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and date honey

     The Seder leader and/or participants can pose additional questions and/or add additional concepts.

     Additional material on Jewish teachings on animals and related issues are in the section on animals at JewishVeg.org/Schwartz.

4. Blessings at the Seder

Before drinking the first cup of wine or grape juice the following blessings should be recited:

Baruch atah Adonoi, Eloheinu Melech ha’olom, bo’rei p’ree ha’gorfen.

Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine. 

     This blessing should be recited only before drinking the first cup and NOT before drinking the later cups.

Another blessing is below. It is appropriate here because it is recited by Jews at special occasions.

Baruch ataw Adonoi, Eloheinu Melech ha’olom, Sheh’hech’heeyanu, v’ki’amornu, v’heegeeyornu lazman hazeh.

Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this season.

This should also be recited only before drinking the first cup of wine or grape juice.

Appendix J. Sample Questions To Provide interviewers for Podcast and Radio Interview Programs and Outline of Suggested Responses

1. Why are you attempting to restore and transform an ancient Jewish holiday?

2. What are you objectives? What do you hope to accomplish?

3. What are Jewish teachings about the proper treatment of animals?

4. You mentioned that the holiday was originally related to animal sacrifices. Why were animal sacrifices part of the Jewish religion?

5. Why do you believe that the world is heading toward a climate catastrophe as well as major food, water, and energy scarcities?

6. Why do you think that your proposal to restore and transform the ancient holiday is a potential game changer?

7. How are you trying to get your message out?

8. What has been the response of the Jewish community so far?

9. What are the next steps in efforts to restore and transform the ancient Jewish New Year for Animals.?

10. Any final points you would like to make?

Outline of responses:

1. Why are you attempting to restore and transform an ancient Jewish holiday?

Judaism has very strong teachings about compassion for animals, but they are not being applied, and animals are treated horribly on factory farms and in other settings.

     To increase chances to avert a climate catastrophe, it is essential that there be a major shift to plant-based diets.

     Appendix D has many quotations about Jewish teachings about compassion for animals and how far realities for animals are from these teachings.

2. What are you objectives? What do you hope to accomplish?

Increase awareness of Judaism’s powerful teachings about compassion to animals and how far the realities re the treatment of animals differ from these teachings.

Move the world toward veganism.

Much more about this is in Chapter 2.

3. What are Jewish teachings about the treatment of animals?

Appendix D has a wealth of Jewish quotations about Jewish teachings on compassion for animals.

These include:  

“God’s compassion is over all His works.”  (Psalms 145:9)

“The righteous person considers the lives of his or her animals.” (Proverbs 12:10.

Torah: “Don’t yoke a strong and a weak animal together” and “do not muzzle the ox while he works in the field.”

Ten Commandments: animals, as well as people, to rest on Shabbat.

Feed animals before you feed yourself.

Test for leadership: Moses and King David were both considered fit to be Jewish leaders because of their compassionate treatment of animals when hey were shepherds.

4. You mentioned that the holiday was originally related to animal sacrifices. Why were animal sacrifices part of the Jewish religion?

Maimonides: Concession to the common mode of worship at the time.

Prophets: not God’s primary concern – God seeks compassion, justice. The sacrifices would be an abomination to God, if carried out along with acts of injustice and oppression.

Rav Kook: Messianic period will involve only non-animal sacrifices.

Questions and answers related to the biblical sacrifices can be read at https://www.jewishveg.org/schwartz/faq_sacrifices.html .

5. Why do you believe that the world is heading toward a climate  catastrophe as well as major food, water, and energy scarcities?

Consensus of almost all (97%) scientists, of major science academies worldwide, and of thousands of peer-reviewed articles in respected science journals.

      There has been a very substantial increase in the frequency and severity of heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods.

     The world has been heating up. Every decade since the 1979s has been hotter than the previous decade. 2020 tied 2016 as the hottest year on record. All of the 21 years in this century are among the 22 hottest years on records.

    More information about climate threats can be found at the article in the Jerusalem Report by Dan Brook and Richard Schwartz, “Climate change: an existential threat to humanity and how we can survive.” It can be read at .https://www.jpost.com/jerusalem-report/climate-change-an-existential-threat-to-humanity-and-how-we-can-survive-643267 .

6. Why do you think that your proposal to restore and transform the ancient holiday is a potential game changer?

A wake-up call.

Seriousness of the threats.

Judaism’s strong teachings being ignored.

     Focussing attention on Judaism’s teaching on compassion for animals will hopefully result in many Jews shifting to plant-based diets. This would sharply reduce climate threats, life-threatening diseases caused by animal-based diets, the massive mistreatment of animals, the very inefficient use of land, water, energy and other resources, and threats of future pandemics.

7. How are you trying to get your message out?

Wide variety of contacts.

Email.

Facebook.

Twitter.

Newsletter.

Calls.

Personal contacts.

Articles.

Letters to editors.

8. What has been the response of the Jewish community so far?

Very positive from the veg community and some rabbis.

A lot of denial. From animal-eaters

9. What are your next steps?

Very aggressively promote Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot.

Send this book to many rabbis and other Jews. Then follow up.

10. Any final points you would like to make?

Our world is rapidly approaching a climate catastrophe, severe food, water, and energy scarcities, and other environmental disasters.

To leave a decent, habitable, environmentally sustainable  world for future generations, it is essential that there be a societal shift toward vegan diets.

Yet many are in denial, “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, while we head toward a giant iceberg.”

Essential that changes be made, that Jewish values be applied to help shift our imperiled planet onto to a sustainable path.

===================

Key points to bring up during an interview

1. The world is rapidly approaching a climate catastrophe

2. The world is also approaching severe food, water, and energy scarcities and other major environmental disasters

3. Trying to avert the impending disasters should be a major focus for civilization today. 

4. An essential step in averting the catastrophe is a major societal shift to vegetarian (and preferably) vegan diets

5. Like other religions, Judaism has powerful teachings on compassion towards animals and environmental sustainability

6. Unfortunately, there is insufficient emphasis on these teachings, as more emphasis is on learning about the biblical sacrifices, which animals are kosher to be eaten, and how animals are to be slaughtered and prepared to be eaten.

7. There is much apathy and denial about the impending catastrophes and the need to make averting them a societal imperative.

8. Hence, there is a need to awaken people to the dangers and the need for major changes to avert the impending disasters.

9. Bold, audacious steps are necessary to wake people up.

10. I believe that such a step is to challenge the Jewish community through restoring an ancient, long forgotten Jewish holiday initially related to the sacrificing of animals and transforming it into one that aims to increase awareness of Judaism’s powerful teachings on compassion to animals.

Appendix K: A Sample Press Release To Announce a Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot Event or To Announce the Promotion of the Initiative To Restore the Ancient Jewish Holiday

COALITION OF JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS AND LEADERS  URGES RESTORATION/TRANSFORMATION OF ANCIENT JEWISH HOLIDAY

For Immediate Release:

Date of the press release

Contact:
Name, email address ,and phone number of contact

     A coalition of Jewish organizations and leaders is urging that the ancient Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah L’Maaser Beiheima (New Year’s Day for Tithing Animals), occurring on the first day of the month of Elul, a day initially intended for counting domesticated animals intended for sacrificial offerings, [Mishnah Seder Moed 1:1] be restored and transformed into a day devoted to accounting for our relationships with the animals in our society  which depend on us for their health and well-being

     “Just as Tu Bishvat, a day intended for tithing fruit trees for Temple offerings, was reclaimed in the 16th century by mystics as a day for healing the natural world on which our lives depend,” said Richard Schwartz, president emeritus of Jewish Veg, “it is important that Rosh Hashanah LaBeheimot become a day devoted to increasing awareness of Judaism’s powerful teachings on compassion for animals and as a tikkun (healing) for the horrible ways that animals are treated today on factory farms and in other settings.”

     Israeli Rabbi Adam Frank said, “I applaud this initiative and effort to bring to fruition the awareness that Jewish Tradition expects of humanity toward the animal kingdom.”

[Other quotations can be added and/or substituted, such as those at the beginning of this book.]

     Rosh Chodesh Elul occurs on the evening of August 27 in 2022.

     The coalition of organizations is planning many celebrations this year with the hope that they will increase from year to year, just as occurred with Tu Bishvat. [Several examples should be given here.]

     The coalition believes that restoring this ancient Jewish holiday is especially important today because a shift away from animal-based diets, in addition to lessening the mistreatment of animals, would reduce the current epidemic of diseases that is afflicting the Jewish and other communities, and would also reduce environmental and climate change threats that are greatly increased by the massive exploitation of animals for food.

      In addition, the supporting organizations believe that a proper restoration and transformation of the holiday would have the following additional benefits: show that Judaism is able to apply its eternal teachings to new situations; improve the image of Judaism in the eyes of people concerned about animals, vegetarianism, the environment, and related issues, by reinforcing a compassionate side of Judaism; bring back some young, idealistic Jews who are currently alienated to some extent from Judaism, especially those who are committed to vegetarianism, veganism, animal rights, and related issues, by restoring/transforming a holiday that they can more closely relate to and find relevant, meaningful,  and appealing; challenge Jews to creativity make the holiday meaningful, thereby helping to revitalize Judaism.

      Lists of supporting organizations, supporting rabbis, and supporting zJewish leaders are below. Among the supporting organizations are Hazon: The Jewish Lab For Sustainability,, Aytzim: Ecological Judaism, Jewish Veg, Shamayim: Jewish Animal Advocacy, and the Jewish Vegetarian Societies of the UK and of Israel. Among the supporting rabbis are Irving (Yitz Greenberg, David Rosen, Nathan Lopes Cardozo, David Wolpe, and Adam Frank. Among the supporting leaders are the directors of the Jewish organizations mentioned above.

================================

At the end of the press release, add lists of Jewish organizations, rabbis, and other influential Jews that support the restoration and transformation of the ancient Jewish holiday.

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Bibliography

  1. A. Jewish Books and Articles on Vegetarianism and Veganism

Berman, Louis. Vegetarianism and the Jewish Tradition. New York: K’tav, 1982.

Bleich, Rabbi J. David. “Vegetarianism and Judaism,” Tradition 23, no. 1

(Summer 1987).

Cohen, Rabbi Alfred. “Vegetarianism from a Jewish Perspective,” Journal of

Halacha and Contemporary Society I, no. II (Fall 1981).

Cohen, Noah J. Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chayim: The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Its Bases, Development, and Legislation in Hebrew Literature. New York: Feldheim, 1979.

Green, Joe. “Chalutzim of the Messiah: The Religious Vegetarian Concept as

Expounded by Rabbi Kook” (text of a lecture given in Johannesburg, South

Africa. Outline of some of Rabbi Kook’s vegetarian/vegan teachings).

Kalechofsky, Roberta. A Boy, A Chicken, and the Lion of Judea: How Ari Became a Vegetarian. Marblehead, MA: Micah Publications, 1995.

——. Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb. Marblehead, MA: Micah Publications, 1985.

——. Vegetarian Judaism. Marblehead, MA: Micah Publications, 1998.

——, editor. Judaism and Animals Rights: Classical and Contemporary Responses. Marblehead, MA: Micah Publications,1992.

——, editor. Rabbis and Vegetarianism: An Evolving Tradition. Marblehead, MA: Micah Publications, 1995.

Kook, Rabbi Abraham Isaac. “Fragments of Light: A View as to the Reasons

for the Commandments,” in Abraham Isaac Kook: A Collection of Rabbi Kook’s\ works, Ben Zion Bokser, translator and editor. New York: Paulist Press, 1978.

——. A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace (Hebrew), edited by Rabbi David Cohen, the Nazeer of Jerusalem. (English translation: Jonathan Rubenstein) www.jewishveg.com/AVisionofVegetarianismandPeace.pdf (September 2013).

Labenz, Jacob Ari, and Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, editors. Jewish Veganism and Vegetarianism. Albany: SUNY Press, 2019.

Pick, Philip, editor. The Tree of Life: An Anthology of Articles Appearing in the Jewish Vegetarian Magazine from 1966 to 1973. New York: A. S. Barnes, 1977.

Raisin, Jacob A. “Humanitarianism of the Laws of Israel: Kindness to Animals.” Jewish Tract 06. Cincinnati, OH: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1939.

Roodyn, Donald Bernard. Alternative Kashrut: Judaism, Vegetarianism and the Factory Farm. London: Reform Synagogues of Great Britain, 1978.

Schindler, Julian S. Animal Rights, Shechita and Vegetarianism: A Traditional Jewish Perspective. London: Union of Jewish Students, 1987.

Schochet, Rabbi Elijah J. Animal Life in Jewish Tradition. New York: K’tav, 1984.

Schwartz, Richard H. Vegan Revolution: Saving Our World, Revitalizing Judaism. New York: Lantern, 2016.

________, Judaism and Vegetarianism. New York: Lantern, 2001.

Sears, David. The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism. Meorei Ohr, 2015.

Yanklowitz, Shmuly. The Jewish Vegan. Santa Fe Springs, CA: The Shamayim v’Aretz Institute, 2015.

——, editor. Kashrut and Jewish Food Ethics. Boston, MA: Academic Studies Press, 2019.

B. Books on Jewish Teachings on Vegetarian- and Vegan-Related Issues

Amsel, Nachum. The Jewish Encyclopedia of Moral and Ethical Issues. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1996.

Benstein, Jeremy. The Way into Judaism and the Environment. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2006.

Bernstein, Ellen, editor. Ecology and the Jewish Spirit: Where Nature and the Spirit Meet. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 1998.

Cardozo, Rabbi Nathan Lopes. Jewish Law As Rebellion: A Plea for Religious Authenticity and Halachic Courage. Jerusalem/New York: Urim Publications, 2018.

Dorff, Elliot N. The Way into Tikkun Olam. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2005.

Dresner, Rabbi Samuel H. The Jewish Dietary Laws: Their Meaning for Our Time. New York: Burning Bush Press, 1959.

Fisher, Adam D. To Deal Thy Bread to the Hungry. New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1975.

Gershom, Yonassan. Kapporos Then and Now: Toward a More Compassionate Tradition. Raleigh, NC: Lulu Press, 2015.

Greenberg, Rabbi Irving. The Jewish Way: Living the Holidays. New York: Summit Books, 1988.

Gross, Aaron S. The Question of the Animal and Religion: Theoretical Stakes, Practical Implications. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.

. New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1974.

Hirsch, Rabbi Samson Raphael. Horeb, translated by Dayan Dr. I. Grunfeld.

New York/London/Jerusalem: Soncino Press, 1962.

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Schwartz, Richard H. Judaism and Global Survival. New York: Lantern, 2002.

Schwartz, Richard H., with Rabbi Yonassan Gershom and Rabbi Shmuly

Yanklowitz. Who Stole My Religion: Revitalizing Judaism and Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet. Jerusalem/New York: Urim Publications, 2016.

Sears, David. Compassion for Humanity in the Jewish Tradition. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1998.

Seidenberg, David. Kabbalah and Ecology: God’s Image in the More-Than-Human World. New York/Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Slifkin, Natan. Man and Beast: Our Relationship with Animals in Jewish Law and Thought. Brooklyn, NY: Yashar Books, 2006.

C. General Books on Vegetarianism, Veganism, and Animal Advocacy

Akers, Keith. A Vegetarian Sourcebook. Arlington, VA: Vegetarian Press, 1985, 1993.

Berry, Rynn. Food for the Gods: Vegetarianism and the World’s Religions: Essays, Conversations, Recipes. New York: Pythagorean, 1988.

Coats, David C. Old McDonald’s Factory Farm. New York: Continuum, 1989.

Davis, Karen. For the Birds: From Exploitation to Liberation. Brooklyn, NY: Lantern, 2019.

——. Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs. Summertown, TN: Book Publishing Co., 1997.

Eisnitz, Gail A. Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the US Meat Industry. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1997.

Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little Brown, 2009.

Godlovitch, S. R. and John Harris, editors. Animals, Men, and Morals: An Inquiry into the Maltreatment of Non-humans. New York: Taplinger Publishing Co., 1972.

Harrison, Ruth. Animal Machines. London: Vincent Street, 1964.

Koon, Joanne, Vegan Voices.

Lappé, Frances Moore. Diet for a Small Planet (20th anniversary edition). New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.

Lyman, Howard. Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat. New York: Scribner, 1998.

Lymbery, Philip. Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat. London: Bloomsbury, 2014.

Mason, Jim, and Peter Singer. Animal Factories. New York: Harmony Books, 1990.

Merze4r, Glen. Food Is Climate.

Moran, Victoria. Compassion: The Ultimate Ethic. Wellingborough, UK: Thorsons, 1985.

Rifkin, Jeremy. Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture. New York: Dutton, 1992.

Robbins, John. Diet for a New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness and the Future of Life on Earth, 25th Anniversary Edition (Kindle, 2012).

——. The Food Revolution: How your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and the World. Berkeley, CA: Conari, 2001.

Rowe, Martin. The Way of Compassion: Survival Strategies for a World in Crisis. New York: Stealth Technologies. 1999.

Schell, Orville. Modern Meat. New York: Vintage Books, 1985.

Schlottmann, Christopher, and Jeff Sebo. Food, Animals, and the Environment: An Ethical Approach. New York: Earthscan/Routledge, 2019.

Shapiro, Paul. Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2018.

Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York: New York Review of Books Publishers, 1990.

Tuttle, Will. The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony. New York: Lantern, 2005.

Walters, Kerry S., and Lisa Portress, editors. Ethical Vegetarianism: From Pythagorus to Peter Singer. New York: State University of New York Press: 1999.

Weis, Tony. The Ecological Hoofprint: The Global Burden of Industrial Livestock. London: Zed Books, 2013.

===============

https://opensiddur.org/index.php?cat=410

For the Wikipedia article on Rosh haShanah la-Behemah, visit:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosh_Hashanah_LaBehema

For his sourcesheet on Rosh haShanah la-Behemah at Sefaria, find:

Source sheet for teaching about Rosh Hashanah LaBehimot  

https://www.sefaria.org/sheets/184964?lang=bi

Prayer & Ritual resources including the Kavvanah for Shofar Blowing on RHLB: 

https://opensiddur.org/new-years-day/for-domesticated-animals/

A really great essay by Melissa Hoffman, director of the Jewish Initiative for Animals, about repairing our relationships with animals in the Times of Israel:

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/repairing-our-relationship-with-animals-is-an-act-of-teshuvah/
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