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


Blogs

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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Working Together: Will a Single Plan Ameliorate Climate Disruption? Earth Etude for Elul 23

by Andy Oram~ Climate disruption is a universal scourge that requires a coordinated worldwide response. As such, it is a constant frustration to activists who wish that institutions everywhere could collaborate on implementing the Paris accords and to do even more. We often lament that governments and companies go their own ways, violating their own promises to hold back carbon production. Why can't humanity learn to work together in its own interest? Recourse to Jewish traditional texts can help us accept this situation. In particular, the story of the ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 18

Awareness of Holiness: Re-enchantment with the World and Restitution by Renee Shapiro~ A few years ago I did a short, pithy d’var Torah with my photos based on a couple of lines from a portion I was learning. The lines are Exodus/Shemot 3:4-5. 4.When YHWH saw that he had turned aside to see, God called out to him out of the midst of the bush, He said Moshe! Moshe! He said, here I am.  5. He said: Do not come near to here, put off your sandal from your foot—for the place on which you stand—it is holy ground (Everett Fox translation) It strikes me that the import...

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Three Shavuot Articles Related to Vegetarianism

~Please feel free to share these articles widely. Thanks. By Richard Schwartz.   A Shavuot Message: Applying Torah Values To Our Diets      Since Shavuot is z'man matan Torateinu (the commemoration of the giving of the Torah to the Israelites on Mount Sinai), many dedicated religious Jews admirably stay up the entire first night of Shavuot to hear talks about and discuss Torah teachings.      Among these Torah teachings are that Jews should preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, ...

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My Response to a Negative Review of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

Below is my response to a review of my book, "Who Stole My Religion? Revitalising Judaism and Applying Jewish Values t Halp Heal Our Imperilled Planet" by Rabbi Natan Slifkin (“The Zoo Rabbi”), with my comments interspersed (in bold font). Material starts below. Several weeks ago, in a post entitled "How Frum Is Your Food?", I lamented how the Orthodox Jewish community (and particularly the ultra-Orthodox community) pays very little attention to animal welfare, especially in comparison to the enormous emphasis on stringency with kashrut. This is a major reason ...

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A Potentially Game-Changing Rabbinic Statement on Vegetarianism

Jewish Veg Rabbinic Statement     “Judaism’s way of life, its dietary practices, are designed to ennoble the human spirit. It is therefore a contradiction in terms to claim that products that come through a process that involves inordinate cruelty and barbarity toward animal life can truly be considered kosher in our world. In our world today, it is precisely a plant-based diet that is truly consonant with the most sublime teachings of Judaism and of the highest aspirations of our heritage.” Rabbi ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 10 – I Can Do Something

by Joan Rachlin~ I recently retired and have since been immersed in climate change related activities. I once heard it said that most working folk are "denatured," so one of my post-retirement goals has been to “renature.” With this kavannah in heart and mind, I have been trying to more actively appreciate the boundless gifts nature offers us daily. Most specifically, I’ve begun to notice, appreciate, and more consistently support those who produce the food that sustains my family and me. Through the physical labor of farmers we are given the gift of nourishm...

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Hurricane Harvey Should Be a Wake-up Call to the Urgency of Working to Avert a Climate Catastrophe

The catastrophic effects of Hurricane and now Tropical Storm Harvey should be the latest and strongest of wakeup-calls to the fact that the world is heading toward a climate catastrophe. Of course there have always been severe storms, but we have now had three (Katrina, Sandy, and Harvey) in 13 years, whereas in the past they may have happened once in 100 years or more. There are three important climate change factors that are making storms more severe, and they are all increasing: 1. Warmer air holds more moisture; 2. the seas have ...

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The Making of a Jewish Activist: My Biography From My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

I am a ba’al t’shuvah – meaning “one who has returned” – a Jew who started practicing Judaism late in life. I did not grow up in a religious family, and I did not receive a yeshiva education as observant Jewish children generally do today. Most of my current Jewish learning comes not from formal education, but from extensive reading and conversations with Jews from many different backgrounds, plus Torah classes and lectures over the past few decades. Like most Jewish boys growing up in New York during the 1940s, I went to a Talmud Torah school a ...

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Summary and Conclusions Chapter of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

In this hour we, the living [post-Holocaust Jews], are “the people of Israel.” The tasks begun by the patriarchs and prophets and continued by their descendants are now entrusted to us. We are either the last Jews or those who will hand over the entire past to generations to come. We will either forfeit or enrich the legacy of ages. – Abraham Joshua Heschel (The Earth is the Lord’s), 107 ------------------------- What A Wonderful Path Judaism Is!  Judaism proclaims a God who is the Creator of all life, whose attributes of kindness, compassion, ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 3: G-d’s Might, Detroit, and Coming Back to Life

by Moshe Givental ~ Every year on Tisha b’Av we begin a 7-week journey of preparation for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Like most significant experiences in life, for the Jewish Holy Days to have the potential for transformation, they require preparation. So we started a few weeks ago by looking at the broken-ness of our physical, ethical, and spiritual worlds signified by Tisha b’Av, moved towards the hope of a world filled with love 6-days later at Tu b’Av, and are now in the midst of a month of working on Heshbon HaNefesh (our soul accounting), reflecting on ...

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Throw Out the Cookie Jar …. And Save the Planet

As a lifetime Weight Watcher, I have learned a few tricks. The most helpful to me was this one: Banish red light food from your home...and keep healthy food cut up and ready to eat at the front of your refrigerator in plastic see-through containers.  Now what does that have to do with saving the planet?  Well, a whole lot. Fracked gas is not healthy for people or the climate. Neither is nuclear-powered electricity. These are red-light energy products, the healthy alternatives being solar and wind energy. Even knowing this, companies profiting from red light dirty ...

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Restoring Eden: Behar and Bechukotai

The loss of Eden near the beginning of Genesis sets in motion the entire saga of the Torah. In fact, the Torah can be read as one long quest to regain Eden. But what does a restored Eden look like? One of Eden’s characteristics was that none of the animals ate each other, and, more specifically, human beings had no permission to eat any of the other animals. Instead, human beings and all the animals shared the plants for food. This motif of sharing and non-violence between species is used as a signal throughout Tanakh (scripture) to let us know when we are talking ...

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The Jewish Imperative of an Animal-Free Diet

Jeffrey Cohan, the Executive Director of Jewish Veg, is coming to Teaneck, NJ. He will be leading an hour-long, interactive presentation at Congregation Beth Sholom on the significance of Tza'ar Baalei Chayim (the Jewish mandate to prevent animal suffering) in our contemporary world. This event begins at 7 pm and is free and open to the public.

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The Jewish Veg Event of the Decade


Light the Way: Support Pope Francis’ Call for Climate Action

Pope Francis is speaking to world leaders at the UN on September 25 with a simple message for politicians: There is no more time for talk.  Now is the time to act on climate change. In his recent encyclical on climate change, Pope Francis wrote that “…faced as we are with global environmental deterioration. I wish to address every living person on this planet.”   His impassioned message to humanity was drawn from Torah.  He wrote that Genesis 2 teaches us that we are required to respect and protect the dignity of every human being.  And Psalm 148 is a ...

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Yom Kippur at the Lincoln Memorial

YOM KIPPUR Day of Atonement/ At-Onement Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC September 22-23, 2015 Sundown to Sundown For more information, and to RSVP, please visit the Facebook event page: Yom Kippur 2015 at the Lincoln Memorial   Kol Nidre  6:30pm to 8:30pm Morning Service with Yizkor   10am to 1:30pm Minchah/Neilah  5:00pm to 7:45 pm, concluding with shofar blasts followed by a multi-faith vigil   Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, a fast day for seeking both Atonement and At-Onement.  At this moment in history, we humans ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 19 – Movement Building and the Body

by Janna Diamond I invite you to sit up tall. Relax your shoulders. Soften the muscles in your face. Inhale and exhale. Tune in to where you are. Did you know that movement in the body does not repeat itself? Even the most subtle motion. Each gesture is an expression of exactly where you are in space at a given moment. Movement is information. Sensation is knowledge. Every second is a discovery. You are here. The body is our environment. The environment is our body. Let us become fluidly adaptable beings, softening to ourselves and those around us. Generating ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 11 – The Freedom of Dance; the Prayer of Protest

by Maggid David Arfa Shalom Shachna, the son of Holy Angel, the grandson of the Maggid of Mezeritch, learned to dance from the Shpoler Zeide.  For the rest of his life he would share with all who would listen how the Shpoler Zeide was a master of dance and able to achieve Holy Unifications with each step of his foot.  Adapted from Tales of the Hasidim by Martin Buber. “For many of us the march from Selma to Montgomery was about protest and prayer….Even without words, our march was worship.  I felt my legs were praying.”  Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel Some...

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God, Earth, and Earthling: 2 eco-theologies

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow This past Shabbat, in the same mail–delivery to my door,  there arrived both a copy of Rabbi David Seidenberg’s magnum opus Kabbalah & Ecology (published by Cambridge University Press), and the in-print Fall 2015 issue of Tikkun magazine, including an article of mine  on “Prayer as if the Earth Really Matters. ”   My article encodes into liturgy an explicitly unconventional eco-Jewish theology. It joins a series of articles in that issue of Tikkun that are a kind of anthology of eco-theologies in various traditions: ...

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