430 results for author: Richard Schwartz


Rosh Hashanah and Vegetarianism

Rosh Hashanah is the time when Jews take stock of their lives and consider new beginnings. Perhaps the most significant and meaningful change that Jews should consider this year is a shift away from diets that have been having devastating effects on human health and the health of our increasingly imperiled planet. While many Jews seem to feel that the holiday’s celebration can be enhanced by the consumption of chopped liver, gefilte fish, chicken soup, and roast chicken, there are many inconsistencies between the values of Rosh Hashanah and the realities of animal-centered diet 1. While Jews ask God on Rosh Hashanah for a healthy year, non-vege...

My foreword for Rabbi Yonassan Gershom’s Book, “Kapporus Then and Now: Toward a More Compassionate Tradition”

Kol hakavod (kudos) to Rabbi Yonassan Gershom for writing this splendid, much needed book, arguing that Jews should practice the ritual of Kapporos using money rather than chickens. He is the ideal person to write such a book for many reasons: 1. He is very knowledgeable on Jewish teachings, especially with regard to those about the proper treatment of animals. These include: Jews are to be rachmanim b’nei rachmanim (compassionate children of compassionate ancestors), emulating God, Whose compassion is over all His works (Psalms 145:9). Compassion to animals is a test for righteousness because, as Proverbs 12:10 indicates, “The righteous ...

Dvar Torah for Parsha Ki Teitzei: Can Compassion to a Bird Help Bring Moshiach?

If you come across a bird's nest on any tree or on the ground, and it contains baby birds or eggs, then, if the mother is sitting on the chicks or eggs, you must not take the mother along with her young. You must first chase away the mother, and only then may take the young. (Deuteronomy 22:6- 7) What is the reason for this unusual mitzvah? Maimonides argues that we send away the mother bird to teach us compassion. He insists that animal mothers, just as human mothers, suffer when their offspring are harmed. In Part 3, Chapter 48 of the Guide to the Perplexed, Maimonides writes: "As far as pain is concerned, there is no real distinction between ...

Deadly Heat Wave in Israel Should Be a Wake-Up Call To the Need For Dietary Changes To Help Avert a Climate Catastrophe

When I speak to people about climate change, often they say that perhaps it will be a problem for future generations, but not now. The recent very severe heat wave in Israel, with temperatures ranging from the mid 90s to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in the deaths of a one-year old baby and an 18 year old soldier and in many other people fainting or suffering from dehydration, is an indication that the effects of climate change are already being felt. Other counties in the Middle East experienced even higher temperatures, which reached 122 degrees F in Iraq and 134 degrees F in Iran. Of course the Middle East is not the only region ...

Top Ten Reasons for Restoring and Transforming the Ancient New Year for Animals

In view of the current widespread mistreatment of animals on factory farms and other settings, which is contrary to basic Jewish teachings, I believe that it is time to restore and transform the ancient and largely forgotten Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana L’Ma’aser BeHeima (New Year's Day for Tithing Animals) into a day devoted to considering how to improve our relationships with animals. The holiday occurs on the first day of the month of Elul and was initially devoted to counting domesticated animals intended for sacrificial offerings (Mishna, Seder Moed, Tractate Rosh Hashana 1:1).   Below are the top ten reasons why renewing this ...

Relating Tisha B’Av to Current Environmental Threats

Tisha B'Av (the 9th day of the month of Av) reminds us that over 2,000 years ago Jews failed to heed the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah, with the result that the first Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the first of many negative things that occurred on that day, including the destruction of the second Temple. Today there are many “Jeremiahs” warning us that now it is not only a temple in Jerusalem, but the entire world, that is threatened by climate change and its effects, species extinction, soil erosion, destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats, and many other environmental problems. As long ago as 1992, over 1,700 ...

Tisha B’Av and Vegetarianism

There are many connections between vegetarianism and the Jewish holiday of Tisha B'Av: 1. Tisha B'Av (the 9th day of the month of Av) commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. Today the entire world is threatened by climate change, and modern intensive livestock agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. 2. In Megilat Eichah (Lamentations), which is read on Tisha B'Av, the prophet Jeremiah warned the Jewish people of the need to change their unjust ways in order to avoid the destruction of Jerusalem. Today, climate scientists are warning that the world may be very close to a climate tipping ...

Leading US Animal Rights Activist Visiting Israel to Tell How His Holocaust Experiences Shaped His Activism

Alex Hershaft, Ph.D., is coming to Israel from May 2 to May 13 to explain how his experiences in the Warsaw ghetto was a major factor in his becoming a leading animal rights activist. With the theme, "From surviving the Warsaw Ghetto to co-founding the U.S. Animal Rights movement,"Dr. Hershaft will be giving several talks and will meet with Jewish and Arab animal rights activists. In his lectures, Hershaft will discuss how dealing with the trauma and grief over the loss of his family during the Holocaust shaped his values and outlook on life, and increased his sense of compassion. When his life was no longer in danger, he felt guilty that he ...

My activities in Israel to increase awareness about climate threats and veg diets

Below is the April 24 Jerusalem Post ‘In Jerusalem’ article about my vegetarian/vegan activities in Israel followed by my Times of Israel blog with links to YouTube videos of my talks, interviews, and other veg activities there.   Kol tuv,   Richard   ====   Apocalypse Cow Jerusalem Post article [In Jerusalem section] April 24, 2015 By Gavriel Fiske [Corrections in brackets [ ]] Reducing meat consumption could help avert a global disaster, according to Jewish vegetarian activist Richard Schwartz  Octogenarian vegetarianism activist Richard Schwartz, an Orthodox Jew from Staten Island, New York, has for decades explored the connection ...

I Am a candidate to Be a Delegate for the Green Israel Slate at the World Zionist Congress

Jews are properly concerned about the well-being of Israel and wish her to be secure and prosperous, but what about security, wealth, and comfort of another kind -- the quality of Israel's air, water, and ecosystems?  What about the physical condition of the eternal holy Land? What about climate change that, according to the Israeli Union for Environmental Defense (Adam Teva v’Din), may result in an average temperature increase of up to 6 degrees Celsius, a drop in average precipitation of 20-30 percent, severe storms when rain occurs, increased desertification, and an inundation of the coastal plain where most Israelis live by a rising Mediterra...

Review of “The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism, ” by Rabbi David Sears

David Sears. The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism, Create Space Independent Publishing Platform; 2nd edition (December 29, 2014), 400 pages Reviewed by Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. Currently most Jews eat meat and other animal products and relatively few Jews seem concerned about the cruel mistreatment of animals on factory farms and in other areas. However, David Sears landmark book, now in its just released second edition, with its many examples of Jewish teachings about compassion for animals, has the potential to change all of this. The Vision of Eden is a compilation of translations from various ...

Vegetarian Connections to Chanukah

by Daniel Brook, Ph.D. & Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. [A longer version of this article can be found in the holidays’ section at www.JewishVeg.com/Schwartz] Chanukah commemorates the single small container of pure olive oil — expected to be enough for only one day — which, according to the Talmud (Shabbat 21b), miraculously lasted for eight days in the rededicated Temple. A switch to vegetarianism would be using our wisdom and compassion to help inspire another great miracle: the end of the tragedy of world hunger, therefore ensuring the survival of tens of millions of people annually. Currently, from one-third to one-half of the ...

Video of Richard Schwartz’s 80th birthday celebration in Jerusalem on April 22, 2014

Below is a link to the video of my 80th birthday celebration in Jerusalem on April 22, 2014. It features talks by Rabbi David Rosen, Professor Yael Shemesh of Bar Ilan University, Rabbi MK Dov Lipman, Rabbi Yonatan Neril, director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, Rabbi Adam Frank, my older daughter Susan Kleid, and me. It is just under 41 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwFKE359y5k&feature=youtu.be There wre also 2 prerecorded talks: Rabbi Adam Frank's prerecorded greetings:(2 minutes and 25 seconds) is at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DsHFLswnTc&feature=youtu.be Rabbi Shmuly ...

Why I Will Always Be a Vegan

I will always be a vegan because the vegan diet is the diet most consistent with Jewish teachings on preserving human health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, helping hungry people, and pursuing peace. I will always be a vegan because animal-based diets contribute significantly to heart disease, several forms of cancer, diabetes, and other killer diseases. I will always be a vegan because animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, deforestation, soil erosion, deforestation, water pollution, rapid species losses, and other environmental threats to humanity...

Tisha B’Av and Vegetarianism

Jews can enhance their commemoration of the solemn but spiritually meaningful holiday of Tisha B'Av by making it a time to begin striving even harder to live up to Judaism's highest moral values and teachings. One important way to do this is by moving toward a vegetarian diet. Please consider: 1. Tisha B'Av (the 9th day of the month of Av) commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. Today the entire world is threatened by destruction by a variety of environmental threats, and modern intensive livestock agriculture is a major factor behind most of these environmental threats. 2. In Megilat Eichah ...

The Vegetarian Views of the Rav

Joseph Ber (Yosef Dov) Soloveitchik, affectionately known as the Rav (generally pronounced Ruv), was generally regarded as one of the leading philosophers, Talmudic scholars, and Jewish leaders of the 20th century. He stressed that Torah values were compatible with world culture and secular studies and promoted Jewish interaction with the broader community. The Rav was regarded as a seminal figure in the modern Orthodox community. Over a nearly 50-year career, he ordained almost 2,000 Orthodox rabbis, and served as a mentor, guide, and role model for tens of thousands of Jews. Given the Rav's great respect and influence among so many in the ...

Vegetarianism for a More Peaceful World

The universal dream of a peaceful, non-violent world will never be realized as long as we continue to consume the flesh of animals. Simply put, the senseless, mind-boggling, global slaughter of over 65 billion chickens, cows, turkeys, pigs, sheep, goats, ducks and other farm animals and an even greater number of fish and other sea creatures constitutes the largest source of pain, suffering, bloodshed, and killing on our planet. It is a bloodbath of inconceivable magnitude. Through the consumption of flesh, we desensitize ourselves to all forms of suffering and violence. But through the adoption of plant-based diets, we nurture our bodies and ...

Freeing Ourselves at Passover From Diets That Harm Us and Our Planet

Some Jews commendably go to extraordinary lengths before and during Passover to avoid certain foods, in keeping with Torah mitzvot. But at the same time, many continue eating other foods that, by Torah standards, are hardly ideal. On Passover, Jews are prohibited from eating, owning, or otherwise benefiting from chometz, foods such as breads, cakes, and cereals, that are made from one of the five grains (wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and oats) that ferment from contact with liquid. These prohibitions are based on several Torah verses and are observed with great care by religious Jews. Many Jews spend weeks before Passover cleaning their houses, ...

A Jewish Vegetarian Response to Efforts to Ban Shechita

As president emeritus of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I would like to address the many recent efforts in several countries to ban shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter). First, although JVNA believes that every person should be a vegan and that there should be NO slaughter of animals at all, we also oppose efforts to single out shechita for special criticism. There are many factors in the shechita process designed to minimize pain. Animals are to be killed by a shochet (ritual slaughterer), a religious Jew who is especially trained and certified. He ideally kills the animal with a single stroke, using a very sharp knife that is inspected ...

Frequently Asked Questions About Animal Sacrifices

1. If God wanted us to have vegetarian diets and not harm animals, why were the Biblical sacrificial services established? During the time of Moses, it was the general practice among all nations to worship by means of sacrifice. There were many associated idolatrous practices. The great Jewish philosopher Maimonides stated that God did not command the Israelites to give up and discontinue all these manners of service because "to obey such a commandment would have been contrary to the nature of man, who generally cleaves to that to which he is used to." For this reason, God allowed Jews to make sacrifices, but "He transferred to His service that which ...