Animals Subscribe

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


Blogs

Earth Etude for Elul 14 –Inner and Outer Climate Change

by Rabbi Robin Damsky ~It’s been a year of change. Not just a move, but a move to a new climate zone and a very new culture. I moved from outside Chicago to Durham, NC, the South. The trees here are glorious – pines everywhere, wisteria in April blooming in the wild, crepe myrtle in vivid fuchsia and pale pastels just now. It’s hot. Average days are in the 90s and one can almost swim in the humidity. A long growing season brought daffodils in February, while I just set my second planting of pole beans. I’ve been graced by many a critter – my welcome basket ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 5 — True Tikkun Olam

by Dr. Karen I. Shragg ~ Euphemisms have always hurt us. Jews have had their ears tuned in to anti-Semitic language for a long, long time and know when someone is trying to paint us in a negative picture while couching it in coded language. But there is a new way that euphemisms are hurting the whole planet and its future. Recently the forecast of species extinctions and climate change have alarmed us and sent us running to our recycle bins, organic food and if we have time, to our laptops to write letters to the editor about the evils of using pesticides. We hear ...

Read More


My six articles related to Tu Bishvat

My 6 articles related to Tu Bishvat are below. You can scroll down to read each one. 1. Why Is This Night Different?: Thoughts on Tu Bishvat 2. Preserving the Sacred Environment: A Religious Imperative – A Tu Bishvat Message 3. Lessons From Trees: a Tu Bishvat Message 4. Celebrating Tu Bishvat as if Environmental Sustainability Matters 5. For Tu Bishvat: 36 Jewish Quotations About Trees 6. Tu Bishvat and Veganism (Suggestions very welcome) 1. Why Is This Night Different?: Thoughts on Tu Bishvat       One of the highlights of the Passover ...

Read More


Dvar Torah for parashat Sh’mot: Compassion to Animals – a Test for Leadership

     Parshat Sh’mot begins the story of Moshe (Moses), the greatest Jewish leader, prophet, teacher, and inspiration. It is instructive and important to consider why he was deemed fit to lead the Jewish people. After all, when he was chosen, unlike other leaders, he was not a military hero or leader, a major legislator, or an eloquent speaker - actually he initially had difficulty speaking and he had to rely on his brother Aaron for help in communicating.      So why was he chosen? The following midrash, rabbinic commentary on the bible, provides some insight:...

Read More


Climate Change: An Existential Threat to the U.S., Israel, and the World 

The greatest threat to humanity today is climate change. The world is on a path that could lead to an uninhabitable world by the end of the century unless major changes soon occur. And it might happen much sooner because of self-reinforcing positive feedback loops (vicious cycles) that could result in an irreversible tipping point when climate change spins out of control. An outrageous exaggeration, like those in the past that predicted an end to the world? Not according to science academies worldwide, 97% of climate scientists, and virtually all peer-reviewed papers on ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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. ...

Read More


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  ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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, ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 bird’s ...

Read More


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 rite ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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 ...

Read More


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...

Read More