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ELUL 1: Renewing the ancient New Year for Animals with a Vegan spin

The New Year for Animals will be a day for raising awareness of human responsibility for animal welfare, and a call for humans to return to the Garden of Eden’s original vegan diet.

RIVKAH LAMBERT ADLER: One of the four Jewish New Years is being reclaimed, in an attempt to focus public attention on what Dr. Richard Schwartz, president emeritus of Jewish Veg and president of the Society Of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV) called, “increasing awareness of Jewish teachings on compassion to animals and how far current realities for animals are from these teachings”… The focal points of the renewed celebration of the New Year For Animals are three major events which will be held online in the US, UK and Israel. The local event is scheduled for 8 p.m. Israel time on Thursday, August 20…

Schwartz would like to imbue Elul 1 with new meaning for modern times. Toward that end he’s directing “a campaign to renew the ancient New Year for Animals” as a day to focus on the harm done by eating animals. Schwartz, the author of the classic Judaism and Vegetarianism, is framing his campaign with Jewish values… According to Schwartz, “Animal-based diets and agriculture seriously violate basic Jewish teachings on preserving our health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, helping hungry people and pursuing peace.” Even so, Schwartz commented that, “only a small percent of Jews are vegans or even vegetarians”…

The event, hosted on Zoom, will feature Schwartz discussing the history, rationale and importance of efforts to restore the ancient holiday. Other speakers include Dr. Yael Shemesh, professor of Bible at Bar-Ilan University; Rabbi Yonatan Neril, who is writing a commentary focusing on environmentalism in the Torah; and Dr. Alon Tal, from Tel Aviv University, author of Pollution in the Promised Land, and one of Israel’s leading environmental experts…

The organizers believe that reviving and transforming the observance of the New Year for Animals is vitally important because it demonstrates how Judaism applies its eternal teachings to contemporary issues. It also stresses the compassionate side of Judaism, making Jewish values relevant to vegan and vegetarian Jews who care about animals and the environment…

Rabbi David Rosen is a member of the Chief Rabbinate’s Commission for Dialogue with Religions and a former chief rabbi of Ireland. He said, “The idea to develop the ‘New Year for Animals’ from its original limited reference to become a day for raising awareness of human responsibility for animal welfare is, in fact, nothing less than an initiative to enhance our love of the Creator Himself, and is a sanctification of the Divine Name”. SOURCE…

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