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A selection of initiatives, blogs, resources and communities on Jewcology which focus on animals.


Blogs

Should Jews be Vegetarians: A Debate

This debate initially appeared in the Jerusalem Post on October 25, 1999, but it is still very relevant today. ==================== SHOULD JEWS BE VEGETARIANS? A DEBATE (Richard H.Schwartz, PhD's debate with Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, which appeared years ago in the Jerusalem Report) ========== Introduction: In addition to its benefits for health, animals, and the environment, vegetarianism may be  called for by some of Judaism's most cherished tenets. Is it time to reconsider our dietary traditions? Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, Rabbinic Coordinator of the Kashrut ...

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Should Jews Be Vegetarians, or Even Vegans?

The consumption of meat and other animal products  and the ways in which they are produced today conflict seriously with Judaism in at least six important areas: While Judaism mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives, numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease, strokes, many forms of cancer, and other life-threatening diseases. 2. While Judaism forbids tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, inflicting unnecessary pain on animals, most farm animals -- including those raised for kosher ...

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Chanukah and Veganism

Jews can enhance their celebrations of the beautiful and spiritually meaningful holiday of Chanukah by making it a time to begin striving even harder to live up to Judaism's highest moral values and teachings by moving toward a vegan diet. Here are eight reasons, one for each night of Chanukah: 1. Chanukah represents the triumph of non-conformity. The Maccabees stuck to their inner beliefs, rather than conforming to external pressure. They were willing to say: This I believe, this I stand for, this I am willing to struggle for. Today, vegetarians, and even more so ...

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Vegan Connections to Chanukah

My article is co-authored with Daniel Brook, Ph.D. 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, and even more so veganism, 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 ...

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Yom Kippur and Vegetarianism

   by Richard Schwartz ~                          There are many connections that can be made between the sacred Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and vegetarianism: 1.  On Yom Kippur, Jews pray to the “Living God,” the “King Who delights in life,” that they should be remembered for life, and inscribed in the “Book of Life” for the New Year.  Yet, typical animal-based diets have been linked to heart disease, stroke, several types of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases, that shorten the lives of millions of people annually. 2. ...

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Rosh Hashanah and Vegetarianism*

by Richard Schwartz~ 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  ...

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Rosh Hashanah Message: Saving Our World.

      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. 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 sustainable path.      When God created the world, He was able to say, "It is tov meod (very good)." (Genesis 1:31) Everything was in ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 29 – World as Lover, World as Self

by Daniel Kieval~ there is a meditation practice watching everything arising, inside and outside responding with a gentle, "not me" this thought - "not me" this anger - "not me" this leg - "not me" "not me" it is a Big Truth all this stuff is unfolding in a giant performance art piece we call The Universe and we are just a witness to this flow They say the opposite of a small truth is a lie, but the opposite of a big truth is another big truth is it not equally true to say to everything - "me" ? this anger - "me" this song - "me" this wafting scent of ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 28 – Not One

by David Greenstein~ There is not one blade of grass on earth without its angel descending from above, prodding it urgently: “Grow, grow!”* And, in return, the grass keeps growing. There is not one lion on earth without its angel descending from above, prodding it urgently, “Roar, roar!” And, in return, the lion keeps roaring. There is not one stream on earth without its angel descending from above, prodding it urgently, “Flow, flow!” And, in return, the stream keeps flowing. There is not one bee on earth without its angel descending from above, ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 25 – The Hawk and the Kippah

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen~ For the past 13 years since my ordination, I have been wearing a rainbow kippah. The kippah and its pattern hold many meanings for me: connection to family, covenant with G!d, hope for the future, acceptance of all kinds of people (including myself), and more. Periodically, I have had to make a new kippah, when the previous one wore out. Recently, when I again needed to make a new kippah, as I thought about it, I realized that I wanted to make this new kippah slightly different from all my previous rainbow kippot. I crocheted the first few ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 21 – Choose Life! Whose Life?

by Rabbi David Seidenberg~ Every year before Rosh Hashanah we read the ultimate Torah portion about t’shuvah, returning to God, called parshat Nitzavim. Every year we are reminded that if we turn toward God, then God will circumcise our hearts. And every year, in a section of Nitzavim that Reform congregations also read on Rosh Hashanah, we are admonished, “Choose life!,” even as we pray to be inscribed in the Book of Life. How do we choose Life? A few weeks before Rosh Hashanah, in parshat Ki Teitzei, we are given concrete instruction. “When a ...

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My articles on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot

     I am posting this material involving articles related to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot relatively early for the following reasons: 1 I hope that readers will use the material to create their own articles and letters and/or talking points for radio call-in programs and for other activities; 2 I plan to send the material to the Jewish media soon, and would welcome any suggestions you might have for improvements; 3 I often receive messages re kapporot (kapporus) ceremonies when it is too late to respond effectively, so I wanted the articles on that ...

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My Two Environmental Essays Related to the Hebrew Month of Elul

Elul: A Time to Start Shifting Our Imperiled Planet onto a Sustainable Path      Elul is here. It represents an opportunity for heightened introspection, a chance to consider teshuva, changes in our lives, before the “Days of Awe,” the days of judgment, the “High holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The shofar is blown every morning (except on Shabbat) in synagogues during the month of Elul to awaken us from slumber, to remind us to consider where we are in our lives and to urge us to consider positive changes.      How should we respond to Elul ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 14 – The Earth Is on Fire — And the Torah Tells Us What to Do About It

by Jeffrey Cohan- This summer, our precious Earth has been burning. Catastrophic wildfires have ravaged their way across several California counties. One of the fires is the largest ever in the state. In Colorado, four massive wildfires have consumed a total of almost 250,000 acres. All four rank among the Top 10 largest conflagrations in the state’s history. Even in Sweden, of all places, 50 wildfires have broke out this summer, including at least one above the Arctic Circle. Sweden is so unaccustomed to such calamities, the country doesn’t own a ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 12 – The Sh’ma

The Sh’ma, A Jewish Invocation of the Unity: An Interpretation for the 21st Century by Rabbi Arthur Waskow~ [This might best be recited paragraph by paragraph, each one read by a member of the community until the last line, which everyone says together.] Sh’sh’sh’ma Yisra’el – Hush’sh’sh and Listen, You Godwrestlers – Pause from your wrestling and hush’sh’sh To hear -- YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh/ Yahhhhhh. Hear in the stillness the still silent voice, The silent breathing that intertwines life; YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh / Yahhhh elohenu B...

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Earth Etude for Elul 8 – The Silence of the Frogs: Environmental Confession

by Rabbi Lawrence Troster~ Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are traditionally called the Ten Days of Repentance. Part of the Jewish concept of repentance is the act of confession, the Vidui. We confess publicly rather than privately, and in general terms rather than in specifics, because it allows everyone to confess without shame or embarrassment. It also binds the sins of one person to that of the whole community so that all take responsibility. While Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) said that we are only to confess in specific terms for sins between one person and ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 5 – In Regard to Feathers

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen~ For many years I collected feathers. Walking along the trails, near my home or far away, whenever I spotted a feather, I brought it home. Together with rocks, shells, bits of wood, and other nature memorabilia, they helped to create a sense of the outdoors inside. The feathers meant a lot to me. Then one day, while trying to identify a feather my granddaughter had found, I stumbled inadvertently across a government website with information about feathers. I learned that it is illegal in the United States to collect feathers. The reason ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 1 – A Pilgrimage to Honor the Earth

by Rabbi Moshe Givental~ Over a decade ago now, I was sitting in a Parshah HaShavua (weekly Torah Portion) class and my teacher asked the following question: Why are human beings called ADAM in our holy Torah? ADAMAH, after all, is our Hebrew word for the Earth. So ADAM would mean something like Earth-ling. However, human beings are no more from the earth than any other life on our majestic planet. When we name something, we pick a name to highlight some unique quality of that being before us. Names are not chosen at random. Rabbi Yehoshua Karsh then paused for a  ...

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Summary of my key activities to promote veganism during the two years I have been living in Israel

Shalom, I would like to update you on some of the things I have been doing to promote veganism in the now two years that I have been living in Israel, with the hope that it might inspire others to take similar actions. With many of the areas of my involvement I have added a suggestion of how it could be applied more widely to break through the current widespread denial, apathy, misinformation, and resistance and help get veganism and related issues onto the Jewish agenda.I am sorry that this message is very long but I hope the examples and suggestions I include make it ...

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Four articles advocating restoring and transforming the ancient New Year for Animals

by Richard Schwartz Shalom,       The ancient New Year for Animals falls on Rosh Chodesh Elul, (on August 11 - 12 in 2018). Included below are my 4 articles on why the holiday should be restored into a day devoted to increasing awareness of Judaism’s compassionate teachings on animals and why these teachings should be applied to reduce current abuses of animals.     The titles of the four articles are: Why an Ancient Jewish Holiday Should Be Restored and transformed. An Auditious Initiative to Restore the Ancient New Year for Animals  An ...

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