Jewcology Blogs



A Dialogue Between a Jewish Vegan Activist and a Rabbi

Dialogue Between a Jewish Vegan Activist and a Rabbi It is vital to conduct respectful dialogues within the Jewish community on whether Jews should be vegtarians, or even vegans. I have imagined a dialogue as a means of encouraging readers to conduct such debates with local rabbis, educators, and other Jewish leaders. Scene: A Jewish vegan activist meets his or her rabbi in the latter’s office. Jewish Vegan Activist (JVA): Shalom, Rabbi. Rabbi: Shalom. Good to see you. JVA: Rabbi, I have been meaning to speak to you for some time about an issue, but I ...

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Eighteen Reasons Jews Think They Should Not Be Vegetarians or Vegans (and Why They Are Wrong)

Below are 18 reasons why many of my fellow Jews think they should not be vegetarian or vegan (henceforth veg*an) and my rebuttals to the reasons: 1) The Torah teaches that humans are granted dominion over animals (Genesis 1:26), giving us a warrant to treat animals in any way we wish.Response: Jewish tradition interprets “dominion” as responsible guardianship or stewardship: we are called upon to be co-workers with God in improving the world. Dominion does not mean that people have the right to wantonly exploit animals, and it certainly does not permit us to breed ...

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What Diet Does God Prefer for People?

What Diet Does God Prefer for People? The most basic line of demarcation in the realm of Halacha (Jewish law) is the one between the permitted and the forbidden. Yet, in the realm of the permitted, we also find a further line between the accepted and the ideal. At this point, we do not simply ask what does God allow but what does God prefer.      Within this context, it is essential that we not only ask which foods God permits but that we also consider the diet that God prefers for us. The following arguments are submitted in furtherance of my view that God's ...

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First published review of my latest book, VEGAN REVOLUTION: SAVING OUR WORLD, REVITALIZING JUDAISM, in the Jerusalem Report

Chronicling the Jewish Vegan Revolution Review by Abigail Klein Leichner Chicken soup on Shabbat, lox and bagels on Sundays, pickled tongue on Purim, eggs on Passover, cheesecake on Shavuot, brisket with tzimmes for Rosh Hashanah, pastrami on rye for any occasion.Animal products are as deeply ingrained in the cultural rituals of Judaism as a schmear of schmaltz on matzah.While Israel is believed to have the highest percentage of vegans per capita in the world – approximately 5% of the population – the switch to a plant-based diet mainly is confined to ...

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Reduce Our Carbon Footprint

Last fall, Rabbi Rain Zohav, Director of Jews of the Earth, led an intergenerational program at the Mishkan Torah Synagogue in Greenbelt, MD. Rabbi Rain served as the Education Director on how to reduce our carbon footprint. The format of the day was organized like this: - Meeting with both adults and students. - Begin with the chant Ma Gadlu (How Wonderous Are Your Works) by Shefa Gold—see the sample here—it is the first song on the list: https://www.oysongs.com/products/songs.cfm?artist_id=200&EzPage=3 - Present some key environmental Jewish texts. ...

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Jews of the Earth at Ohalah

A Conference for Rabbis and Cantors Dedicated to Renewing Judaism Jews of the Earth, also known as J.O.T.E., had a very visible presence at the Ohalah Conference which was held in January 2020. Before the planning for the conference started, the members advocated for the theme to be about the climate crisis and it was: Lizkor et Ha Brit - To Remember the Covenant: Inspiring Hope and Vision."  “I will remember my covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature (Genesis 9:15).” “And Elohim heard their cry and remembered the covenant with ...

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A Largely Overlooked Issue That Should Defeat President Trump

 Whether or not humans are causing climate change should not be a political issue. In the scientific community, it is a settled debate. Climate experts agree that the world must undertake changes to avert devastation of human civilization due to climate catastrophe. Yet, President Trump and almost all Republican legislators have denied human-caused (anthropogenic) climate change and have rolled back or weakened regulations designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions      Climate change is a major threat to human civilization. Broad society breakdown ...

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WHY JEWS SHOULD SUPPORT JOE BIDEN

         The upcoming US elections will be critical for the future of Jews, Israel, the US, and, indeed, the entire world. Below are some key reasons, many of which relate to President Trump’s negatives, why Jews should support Joe Biden:    1. There is an overwhelming consensus of climate experts that the world will soon experience catastrophic climate events unless major changes soon occur, and there have been many recent examples of severe climate events. However Trump is not only in denial about climate change, but, along with most Republican legislators, ...

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“I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year” – The sixth year before the shmita is the time to develop social resilience

In the "Behar" Torah portion, God commands the people of Israel to observe the shmita - by stopping the cycle of agricultural activity (which most people rely on for sustenance) once every seven years and make due with things that grow on their own. The following verses address a question that may arise:  "But you might ask, ‘What will we eat during the seventh year, since we are not allowed to plant or harvest crops that year?’" (Leviticus 25:20) – In other words, it’s fine and dandy to take a break from work and all, but if we don’t plant what will we ...

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Interview of me about my newest book, VEGAN REVOLUTION: SAVING THE WORLD, REVITALIZING JUDAISM

Shalom,     An interview of me about my just published book, VEGAN REVOLUTION: SAVING THE WORLD, REVITALIZING JUDAISM on “Vegan Stories Podcast’ can be heard by visiting veganstoriespodcast.com. .   The promotion message by interviewer Jeff Rosenblum is:     I am so proud and honored to share Episode 7 of Vegan Stories Podcast (published this morning) with my guest, Richard H. Schwartz, who I interviewed (remotely from Israel) last Tuesday (the day his new book was published).  I'll let the title, subtitle and, of course, Episode 7 (see link below) speak ...

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Climate Change:An existential threat to humanity and how we can survive

https://www.jpost.com/jerusalem-report/climate-change-an-existential-threat-to-humanity-and-how-we-can-survive-643267?fbclid=IwAR2QSDSmMsEll9UxB4_74ysRggVTqlwCOj2xnJHziLJSumEQJVeAUICjN88 My co-authored cover story on climate change in the October 5, 2020 issue of the Jerusalem Report

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Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah, and Veganism

~by Richard Schwartz Vegans and vegetarians eat plant-based diets. Vegetarians eat no animal flesh, while vegans also avoid dairy products and eggs, and many do not wear leather, fur, or silk. Many vegans and vegetarians avoid involvement in any activity that involves the mistreatment of an animal.  Some people may prefer to start as vegetarians before progressing to veganism.      There are many connections that can be made between vegetarianism, and even more so veganism,  and the joyous Jewish festivals of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret (the ...

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Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet

The greatest threat to humanity today is arguably climate change. We are on a path that could lead to an uninhabitable world by the end of the century unless major, transformative changes soon occur. And disaster might strike even sooner if self-reinforcing positive feedback loops (vicious cycles) in the climate system cause global warming to spin out of control. An outrageous exaggeration, like the doomsday scenarios of the past? Not according to science academies worldwide, 97% of climate scientists, and virtually all peer-reviewed papers on the issue in respected ...

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My latest book, VEGAN REVOLUTION: SAVING THE WORLD, REVITALIZING JUDAISM, just published

Shalom, I am delighted that my latest book, VEGAN REVOLUTION: SAVING THE WORLD, REVITALIZING JUDAISM, has just been published!! I have started a comprehensive, unprecedented, potentially transformative campaign, in conjunction with the book’s publication, to get vegetarianism and veganism, animal rights, health, environmental sustainability, and related issues solidly onto the Jewish agenda (and other agendas), and to help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path. I would VERY much welcome your involvement in this campaign. This would be very helpful in ...

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Yom Kippur and Veganism/Vegetarianism

by Richard Schwartz There are many connections that can be made between the sacred Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and plant-based diets which may be interpreted as “vegan,” or at least “vegetarian.” Vegetarians eat no animal flesh, while vegans also avoid dairy products and eggs, and many do not wear leather, fur, or silk. Many vegans and vegetarians avoid involvement in any activity that involves the mistreatment of an animal.  Some people may prefer to start as vegetarians before progressing to veganism. The connection to the vegan and vegetarian ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 29: Elul Unmasked

~by Judith Felsen, Ph.D. In rendezvous with You dare I reveal,  express the self behind the mask, the one not dressed in Yom Tov finery, but quarantined instead in tattered garb, clutching remnants of protection combat refugee within and out, who journeyed through the year  bracing challenge, tasks You offered? ~ Might I share my truth, not wishful fantasy, my doubt, uncertainty and fear, brokenness and grief, contained in fragile self  sustained by You,  deprived externals nourished by Your ...

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Shanah Tovah — May You Have a Good Year

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen The world is on fire,     laying waste to forest and city. G!d is my life-force and my wholeness: whom would I fear? (Ps. 27:1)** May we remain ready and willing to engage with the world. The ice sheets are collapsing,      and the waters are rising. G!d is my fortress of strength for my life, whom would I dread? (Ps.27:1)**   May we always keep our feet firmly planted on the ground. The injustice is overwhelming,     killing too, too many black and brown, indigenous ...

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Rosh Hashanah Message: Is God’s ‘Very Good’ World Approaching an Unprecedented Catastrophe?

by Richard Schwartz Rosh Hashanah commemorates God's creation of the world. The "Ten Days of Repentance" from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is a period to evaluate our deeds and to do teshuvah (repentance) for cases where we have missed the mark. Sukkot is a holiday in which we leave our fine houses and live in temporary shelters (sukkahs) to commemorate our ancestors' journey in the wilderness. Hence, the upcoming weeks provide an excellent time to consider the state of the planet's environment and what we might do to make sure that the world is on a ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 28: Dying. Birthing.

by Rabbi Robin Damsky ~ Burning. I am consumed by the burning. I lived in Santa Barbara and other parts of California for about 20 years. I remember the Painted Cave Fire in 1991 that started on “The Pass” – the way we Santa Barbarans referred to the San Marcos Pass that led up into Los Padres National Forest. Santa Barbara is typically a dry, high chaparral, but in the last three plus decades it has faced many years-long running droughts. Lack of water led to restrictions in watering lawns, bathing and flushing toilets. “If it’s yellow, leave it mellow, if ...

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