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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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Earth Etude for Elul 27: Speaking Through Underground Networks

by Rosie Rosenzweig At my land’s end, the Burning Bush began an early blush this past July when its bright green leaves were to be made bold by summer.It, like me, is aging quickly towards some end not yet in sight.Now, only the hydrangea tree blooms. Gone are the fulsome stalks of my ever-blooming ones, fading into brown from their new-born white lace. I sweltered at the end of August when, weeding my yard to give my plants more life,I sought to do the same with the lingering debris hidden in me. When will that arise? In the middle-of-the-night when ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 26: Why is this Elul Different from All Other Eluls?

by Joan Rachlin During the Passover Seder we ask “Why is this night different from all other nights?” and we then spend the evening answering the four – and more – questions. Reciting the plagues, remembering enslavement, identifying with the “other,” and rising up against abuse of power are four pillars of Passover. The four questions and search for answers provide a relevant framework for this year's Elul reflection. As I engage in teshuvah, the ritual of stock-taking in advance of the high holidays, I ask myself many questions as I seek to find ...

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Update on my unprecedented campaign to promote veganism and the urgency of working to reduce climate threats

This is an update on the many recent occurrences re my campaign to build a possibly unprecedented, potentially transformative campaign, in conjunction with my soon-to-be-published book, “Vegan Revolution: Saving the World, Revitalizing Judaism,” to get veganism and the urgency of working to avert a climate catastrophe onto the Jewish agenda and beyond. Suggestions always VERY welcome. 1. My co-authored (with Professor Dan Brook) article, “Climate Change: “An Existential Threat to Humanity and How We Can Survive,“ will be the cover story in the next issue of ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 25: “If the world is created for my sake…”

by Rabbi David Seidenberg According to tradition this day (the 25th of Elul) is when the Creation of the world began - six days before Rosh Hashanah. According to the Mishnah, every person should believe, "the world was created for my sake". (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5) But what does this mean? That we can do whatever we want with the world because it is ours, or that I can do whatever I want because the world is *mine*? On the contrary, says Rebbe Nachman. He explains, "Since the world is created for my sake, I need to see and look in every moment into repairing the ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 23: Day of Atonement

by Carol Reiman The river sings to you, the voice of clear water, of ripples, of force over stones. Listen further, to sounds of children splashing in the great heat, where the flow is sullied from the waste of carelessness and greed. The gasping of those weakened by asthma in the droplet laden pandemic air. How, how did it come to this? Who did not see, who looked away? Stand by the tree, its massive trunk reaching into the sky, underground its community of roots. See the developers who come to remove the living growth, uproot its foundation, separate its life from ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 22: Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li

by Daniel Kieval The Hebrew letters of "Elul" are said to spell out ani l'dodi v'dodi li -- I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me.I invite you to listen to this song as a message of love being sung uniquely to you -- perhaps from the Divine, perhaps from the Earth, perhaps from your own Inner Beloved. You might try listening with each of these lenses and seeing what happens.Whoever the singer is, they are continually and faithfully offering their love and the possibility of relationship. Will you reciprocate? "I will be for you; will you be for ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 21: Of Fences, Barriers, and Trees

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen לְדָוִ֨ד ׀ יְה ׀ אוֹרִ֣י וְ֭יִשְׁעִי מִמִּ֣י אִירָ֑א יְה מָֽעוֹז־חַ֝יַּ֗י מִמִּ֥י אֶפְחָֽד׃ Of David. Adonai is my light and my help; whom should I fear? Adonai is the stronghold of my life, whom should I dread? (v.1) Of David, God is my life-force and my wholeness: whom would I fear? God is my fortress of strength for my life, whom would I dread?  (per Rabbi Ora Weiss) In Elul, we begin reading Psalm 27, and continue through Yom Kippur and to ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 20: Elul 2020

by Judith Felsen, Ph.D. Is this You?  Your eyes behind the mask search lights beaming,  bridging gaps of social distance, gazes merge in glances  momentary soul connection  Is this You?  Body wracked breath ventilated clinging to existence space suited team in rescue heroism humbly shared   facing of death Is this You?  Twisted pain contorted reason human armed, weapons fired in hate murder of resentment revenge, retaliation mind and deed in separated state Is this You? ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 19: A Tomato, A Single Tomato

by Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein Six months Inside, a cocoon Finding my authentic self Learning and relearning new skills Baking challah Chanting Torah Painting seascapes Planting Herbs for more flavor Cucumbers for pickles And tomatoes I’ve never done well at gardening But this year  This year Success! There, right there It is right there. A tomato A single tomato Ripe Ready for harvesting Juicy, Dew glistening on its fire engine red skin One perfect tomato Not like from the store Not like ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 18: Nature Meditation

by Rabbi Susan Elkodsi At a retreat two years ago, I was inspired by Rabbi Katy Allen's "walking in nature" Shacharit meditation. I believe there's power in being in nature, as Rabbi Nachman said, but it has been difficult for many during this pandemic. These photos were all taken by me and bring me comfort when I look at them. Rabbi Susan Elkodsi is the spiritual leader of the Malverne Jewish Center in Malverne, NY. She received ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY in May of 2015, and prior to that served student pulpits in New York, ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 17: The Mask as Force for Life-Sustaining Vision

by Chaplain Rabbi Dr Leslie Schotz On this journey of life our 2020 vision Forced us to look above our reflections And mask the face we present to the world. As walking treepeople of the earth we were called to acknowledge the microcosms of life and death and staring us into our focus upon breath. Beyond our collective comprehension of 2019 the year 2020 brought a vision which called us to see a larger picture of collective responsibility. The world of people were unified in fear and longing for life. Yet we isolated our bodies and nurtured our ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 16: Harmony of Colors

by Rabbi Robin Damsky The fingertips of Hurricane Isaías brush the skylights of my sunroom and drench the woods around my house. Tomorrow the guts are expected to touch down a few hours from here. I expect we’ll see just his shoulder, nonetheless yielding flash floods, downing power lines and trees, with potential tornado winds. The house is well protected. I feel safe... Yet I don’t feel safe in general. The world is reeling from an insidious disease completely preventable. As the icebergs in the polar caps melt, exposing bacteria frozen for hundreds of ...

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