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


Blogs

My Response To An Article Claiming “The US Left Is the Greatest Existential Threat Facing Israel”

This article is a response to an article, “The US Left is the greatest existential threat facing Israel,” that appeared in the Arutz Sheva Israel National News publication on July 2, 2018. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/22395 A very strong majority of Democratic politicians strongly support Israel and believe that Israel has the right to exist and to defend itself against terrorism and military attacks. Just as opposing Trump’s policies does not make one anti-American, opposing some of Israel’s current positions, as many Israelis, ...

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My challenge to Chabad, the Lubavitch chasidic movement

I recently completed a Chabad course, 'Faith and Food,' which discussed how to sanctify eating. I was very disappointed because the moral and halachic (Jewish law) issues related to the production and consumption of meat and other animal-sourced foods were not addressed. I felt that Chabad missed a great opportunity. So I posted the message below when asked to evaluate the course: Kol hakavod to Chabad, Rabbi Kaplan and everyone else involved in preparing and presenting this course. However, as president emeritus of Jewish Veg, formerly Jewish Vegetarians of North ...

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Summary of my efforts to help revitalise Judaism and heal the world

     Below is a summary of my writings and activities that aim to revitalise judaism and help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path.They are based on my strong belief that Jewish values can make major differences and are needed perhaps more than ever before.       I welcome your comments and suggestions and would be very happy if you would join in my efforts and/or suggest others who might be interested in doing so.  The second edition of my book, “Judaism and Global Survival,” can be freely read at www.jewishVeg.org/schwartz. It discusses ...

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In Defense of Jewish Liberals

There have been many recent articles and letters in The Jerusalem Post critical of Jews who are liberals. Somehow the word “liberal” has become a negative one for many Jews. However, there is much in Jewish history and teachings that is consistent with Jews being liberals and even radicals, in the best sense of that word. From its beginning, Judaism has protested against greed, injustice and the misuse of power. Abraham, the first Hebrew, smashed the idols of his father even though his action challenged the common belief of the time (Genesis Rabbah, Chapter 38). He ...

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For many years I have believed that my religion, Judaism, has been stolen. Why? Because Judaism has powerful messages on peace, justice, compassion, sharing, and environmental sustainability that can help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path. Yet, most Orthodox Jews, while doing many  commendable things, are in denial about climate change and other environmental threats and are increasingly supporting politicians who promote benefits for the wealthiest Americans and highly profitable corporations, at the expense of average Americans. I ...

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Starting a Major Campaign to Help Heal Our Imperiled Planet

Shalom, It is time for a major effort for committed Jews, preferably joining with others, to apply Jewish values to help heal our imperiled planet. Here are some issues to be considered: The world is rapidly heading toward a climate catastrophe. Many climate experts think we are close to an irreversible tipping point when climate change will spin out of control, with disastrous consequences, unless very significant positive changes soon occur. My article: “Climate Change: An Existential Threat to Israel, the US, and the World,” published in the Jerusalem Post ...

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Imagining a Vegan World

The late Senator Robert Kennedy often stated: "Some see things as they are and ask why, I dream of things that have never been and ask why not?" Yes, why not? Why not a vegetarian world? Or, even better, since we are dreaming, why not a vegan world? When one considers all the negatives related to the current widespread production and consumption of animal products, it is hard to believe that so few people have seen the importance of shifting to such a world. What would a vegan world be like? It would be a world with far healthier people. There are numerous ...

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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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Frequently Asked Questions About Judaism and Vegetarianism

1. What is Jewish about vegetarianism and veganism? Note that when the word vegetarianism is used below it implies both vegetarianism and veganism. he word vegetarian implies both vegetarian and vegan. All the reasons for becoming vegetarian can be connected to important Jewish values. These include taking care of our health, showing compassion to animals, protecting the environment, conserving resources, helping hungry people, and seeking and pursuing peace. As later responses indicate, many teachings in the Torah, the Talmud, and other sacred Jewish texts can ...

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Are Jews Obligated to be Vegetarians?

In promoting vegetarianism since 1977, I have been arguing that Jews have a choice as to whether or not to be vegetarians. In support of the view that Jews need not eat meat today is the Talmud (Pesachim 109a states that since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, Jews are not required to eat meat in order to rejoice on festivals), scholarly articles by Rabbi Alfred Cohen and Rabbi J. David Bleich that indicate additional sources and arguments supporting the view that Jews do not need to eat meat in this period, and the fact that several Chief Rabbis are strict ...

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Vegetarianism: Essential for Jewish Renewal

Spirituality has led to a growing awareness of the unity of all beings, of our fundamental interconnectedness. For some this reflection has stayed on the level of purely personal enlightenment without much manifestation in behavior, but for others this understanding has led to a greater sense of responsibility, first toward all other human beings, and second toward animals. One form that this awareness takes is a growing move toward vegetarianism and veganism. No surprise, then, that the Jewish renewal consciousness that increasingly manifests in all the various ...

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Rabbinic Teachings on Vegetarianism

Introduction: Many Jews think that vegetarianism and animal rights issues are not part of basic Judaism. To counter this belief the following quotations of important rabbis are presented. Hirsch, Rabbi Samson Raphael While not a vegetarian, Rabbi Hirsch, one of the most important Orthodox rabbis of the 19th century, expressed very eloquently and powerfully ideas based on Torah values that are consistent with vegetarianism and seem to be inconsistent with realities of modern intensive livestock agriculture and the consumption of ...

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Summary Chapter for My Book, “Judaism and Vegetarianism”

The dietary laws are intended to teach us compassion and lead us gently to vegetarianism. (Rabbi Shlomo Riskin)1 JUDAISM MANDATES COMPASSION, NOT JUST FOR JEWS, but for the stranger, and even for enemies; not just for people, but for all of God’s creatures. Compassion is one of the characteristics associated with being a descendant of Abraham, the first Jew. Jews are to consider the welfare of animals and to avoid tsa’ar ba’alei chayim, inflicting pain on any living creature. Judaism stresses the preservation of life and health. This is so important that if ...

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Questions and Answers Re Judaism and Vegetarianism

This is chapter 7 of the 3rd edition of my book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism." The complete text can be found at www.JewishVeg.org/schwartz. ----------------- I keep six honest serving men, They taught me all I knew; Their names are what, and why, and when, And where, and how, and who. (Rudyard Kipling) DON’T JEWS HAVE TO EAT MEAT TO HONOR THE Sabbath and to rejoice on Jewish holidays? Rabbi Yehuda Ben Batheira, the Talmudic sage, states that the obligation to eat meat for rejoicing only applied at the time when the Holy Temple was in existence.1 He adds ...

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Judaism, Vegetarianism, and Peace

This posting is chapter 6 from the 3rd edition my book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism." it shows the connections between animal-based agriculture and the potential for violence and war. The complete text can be found at www.JewishVeg.org/schwartz. Seek peace and pursue it. (Psalms 34:15) OUR AGE IS CONTINUOUSLY THREATENED BY VIOLENCE, war, and the potential for war. The application of Jewish teachings related to peace and vegetarianism can help to reduce these threats, since Judaism mandates a special obligation to work for peace. The tradition does not ...

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Statements of Support for My book, “Judaism and Vegetarianism

These blurbs for my my 3rd edition of "judaism and Vegetarianism." The complete book and over 250 related articles can be freely read at www.JewishVeg.org/schwartz. I plan to add individual chapters from the book as blogs in the coming days, in the hope that it will be useful to readers. --------------------------- It is to be hoped that this major publication will not only adorn the bookshelf of many a Jewish home, but will also become a guide to an ever- increasing movement of Jews toward vegetarianism, born out of sincere religious conviction rooted in our ...

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This summary of the case for Jews to be vegetarians (and even more so vegans) is chapter 12 from the 2002 2nd edition of my book, "Judaism and Global Survival." And God said: "Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit -- to you it shall be for food."     Genesis 1:29 This chapter addresses a widely accepted aspect of modern life that contradicts many Jewish teachings and harms people, communities, and the planet -- the mass production and widespread consumption of meat. It ...

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Jewish Teachings on Peace

This posting is from chapter 7 of the 2nd edition of my book, "Judaism and Global Survival." ------------- "'Not by might, not by power, but by my spirit,' says the Lord of Hosts." (Zechariah 4:6) Judaism describes a special obligation to strive for peace. The tradition commands that people actively pursue peace. The Midrash states that there are many commandments that require a certain time and place for their performance, but with regard to the mandate to "seek peace and pursue it" (Psalms. 34:15), we are to seek it in our own place and pursue it everywhere ...

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Is Eating Meat a Mitzvah That Comes From an Aveirah (Sin)?

Judaism places much stress on performing mitzvot, carrying out God's commandments. However, a "mitzvah haba'ah b'aveirah" - a mitzvah based on an aveirah (sin or "illegitimate means") - is forbidden and is not considered a mitzvah. For example, if one uses a stolen lulav and esrog on Sukkot, it is not a proper mitzvah. Similarly, if money is stolen, it cannot be used to give tzedakah (charity). In fact, the sages indicate that it is better not to do the mitzvah at all than to do a mitzvah haba'ah b'aveirah. Eating meat is arguably a mitzvah haba'ah b'aveirah, actually ...

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A Dialogue Between a Jewish Vegetarian Activist and a Rabbi

  For a long time, I have been trying to start a respectful dialogue in the Jewish community. Because I have had very little success, I am presenting the fictional dialogue below. I hope that many readers will use it as the basis of similar dialogues with local rabbis, educators, and community leaders. Jewish Vegetarian Activist: 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 have hesitated because I know how busy you are, but I think this issue is very important. ...

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