"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


'Animals and Their Jewish Guardians' in Tikkun

Sandra Nathan has written an in-depth overview of Jews in the animal protection movement for Tikkun magazine. Nathan asks, "Prominent within [the movement] is an impressive register of founders, leaders, authors, filmmakers, and celebrities who happen to be Jewish. Or do they happen to be animal advocates because they are Jewish?"

heebnvegan is featured in the article, and I'm quoted as follows:
The more I get involved in animal rights activism, the more I feel in touch with my Jewish identity. Running a blog about Judaism and animal protection issues has demonstrated just how important—and consistent with Jewish teachings—it is for Jews to be vegetarian. Activism to "repair the world" (tikkun olam) is a commanding force in the lives of many Jews. That meshes with the Jewish ideal of minimizing tsa'ar ba'alei chayim (unnecessary animal suffering). The suffering and inhumane treatment of the billions of farmed animals, both during their lives and at slaughter, is an atrocity we shouldn't stand for.
Quite a bit in the article is familiar territory for longtime heebnvegan readers (which certainly isn't a bad thing, because obviously the goal is to reach a different audience). Here are some other highlights:

  • Nathan points out that Lewis Gompertz, who founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the U.K. in 1824, was Jewish.
  • The article notes that Jews for Animal Rights "was founded on the first Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Avraham Kook's philosophy, 'to establish justice for animals, to search for the claim of their rights from mankind, which are hidden in the moral psychic sensibility in the deeper layers of the Torah.'"
  • It's noted that Lewis Regenstein, author of Replenish the Earth: A History of Organized Religion's Treatment of Animals and Nature and president of the Interfaith Council for the Protection of Animals and Nature, is Jewish. The group is an affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States and has the following as its mission: "to instill in one of the nation's most powerful institutions—organized religion—a responsibility to speak out against the threats to the survival of our planet Earth. There is a wonderful, if largely forgotten, heritage of respect for nature and animals in our religious traditions."
  • Filmmakers Frederick Wiseman (Primate and Meat), Victor Schonfeld (The Animals Film), and Jenny Stein (The Witness and Peaceable Kingdom) are "outed" as members of the tribe.


  • At 3/30/2009 9:43 AM, Anonymous Richard Schwartz said…

    Yes, it is a great article, Michael, and thanks for shining a spotlight on it. It is wonderful that Jews are such an active part of the animal rights movement, and this is very fitting because of Judaism's very powerful teachings on the proper treatment of animals.I try to bring these teachings out in my book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism," my many articles and podcasts at JewishVeg.com/schwartz and the movie I helped produce "A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World," which can be seen at www.ASacredDuty.com. But far more needs to be done at a time when animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to global warming and other environmental threats that are leading the world rapidly to an unprecedented catastrophe.

    I urge everyone to contact your local rabbis, Jewish educators and others and urge them to put vegetarianism and tikkun olam (repairing and healing the planet) on their agendas. The fate of our imperiled planet depends on it. Thanks

  • At 4/05/2009 4:44 PM, Anonymous Jessica said…

    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! I was given Rabbi Sears' e-mail address by someone else and (unfortunately) he did not know where I could obtain a copy, but he did give me the e-mail of someone else who could. Thanks again!


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