Spirituality Subscribe

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


Blogs

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 ...

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A tree of life: mapping the growth of the Jewish-environmental movement

Speaker: David Krantz From pickle makers to bicyclists to farmers to environmental-policy wonks to Yiddishists, learn more about the nascent Jewish-environmental movement. What initiatives are working in the field? Where are they? What are their strengths and challenges? And how can you become involved? The Limmud Festival 2018 (December 22 - 27 in Birmingham, UK) is one of the biggest celebrations of Jewish learning and culture in the world. David Krantz leads Aytzim (Jewcology, Green Zionist Alliance, EcoJews, and Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth) and serves ...

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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:...

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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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A dozen links to reports and articles on climate threats and why shifts to vegan diets are essential to efforts to avert a climate catastrophe

1. Article by Richard Schwartz: Climate Change: An Existential Threat to the US, Israel, and the World http://jewcology.org/2018/10/climate-change-an-existential-threat-to-the-u-s-israel-and-the-world/ 2. Article about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s October 2018 warning :that the world has until 2030 to make major, unprecedented changes to avert catastrophic climate events by 2040 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/07/climate/ipcc-climate-report-2040.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage 3. Report in November 2018 from ...

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Fancy Words and Feelings of Connection on Thanksgiving

When you heat up a pot of water it will boil when it gets to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. But which of the H²O molecules will be the first to transform into gas form and start to bubble up? That we can’t know. In scientific lingo it’s called a stochastic process: it follows a statistically predictable pattern, but the individual events can’t be precisely predicted. In recent months my friend, Fordham law professor and political blogger Jed Shugerman, has been writing and tweeting about “stochastic terrorism” (#stochasticterrorism). He defines it as “the public ...

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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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Chanukkah Chesed Challenge: Acts of Kindness

The evening of November 8 was the first of the month of Kislev, which means Chanukkah (there are many English spellings!) isn't far away - it begins on the 25th of Kislev and ends on the 2nd of the month of Tevet. During these days, from today until the end of Chanukkah, I invite you to be part of the Chanukkah Chesed Challenge. Chesed means "kindness," and the idea of the Chanukkah Chesed Challenge is to work consciously, every day, to do one act of chesed, or kindness, to someone you encounter throughout the day. This act should be something that does not ...

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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 27 – Elul Solastalgia* Blues

by Rabbi Ben Weiner~ Like almost every Jewish festival, the High Holidays have both spiritual and natural resonance, which, at the deepest level, are intertwined.  Our ancient ancestors, linking the quality of the oncoming rainy season with the quality of their deeds, derived the need to perform an intense ceremony of  repentance at just the time they began anxiously scanning the sky for clouds. Growing up in central New England, it was not the rains I anticipated as the days of Elul ticked away but the first signs of autumn--cool dewy mornings and crisp breezes by ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 26 – Returning to The Trees of Life

by Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein~ I am a tree hugger. From long ago. I have planted trees, hundreds of them. I have celebrated Arbor Day as a Girl Scout. I have hiked in the woods from the time I was little. There is a tree that grows in the center of the Merritt Parkway on the way into New York. I passed this tree every week on my way to rabbinical school. It is a beautiful tree with many strong, curved branches coming out of the central trunk. It looks like a menorah. There is another tree like that, a very old tree on the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, ME. Over a ...

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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 24 – Delights in Breaking Your Own Behavior and Heading Toward Love

by Molly Bajgot~   delights in breaking your own behavior and heading towards love:   when water logged branch comes girdling down the stream and gets caught by poised stick, gracefully, i hang   caught on its varied   fluttering,   communicating with its dancer.   i watch from a brightly blazed, hot sun rock naked, this intimate exchange   and then, off it goes —   drifting away, pushed by some force lightly more powerful than all the other tide pulses, ...

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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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