Archive for : Animal Welfare

On Chanukah: 8 Nights, 8 Gifts That Give Back

Adam Sandler got it right with his famous Hanukkah song on SNL: “Chanukah is the festival of lights. Instead of one day of presents, we get eight craaazy nights!” Well, almost right. It’s true that there are 8 nights of Chanukah, but this year, instead of giving the same old presents, delight your friends and family with meaningful gifts that really give back. Here are some of our faves for 2014:

1. CSA Subscription
Give your loved one a season’s worth of delicious veggies and fruits by joining together with a couple of friends to sign them up for a CSA. Your friend will get lots of great food, and you’ll support the work of a local farmer.

2. Krochet Kids
Support this international non-profit that empowers people through the creation and sale of knit and crochet hats. Keep your loved one’s warm, and make a difference while you’re at it.

3. Donate in Their Honor.
Got a friend who feels passionately about an organization’s mission? Make their holiday by making a donation in their honor to support the org’s work.

4. Give a Goat
Heifer International empowers people to purchase livestock for families in developing rural countries. Make a difference in a community’s life by donating to “give a goat” in honor of your loved one.

5. Membership to Botanical Garden
Buy your loved one a year long membership to their local botanical garden. They’ll have fun wandering through the trees throughout the whole year. Meanwhile, you’ll support the gardens’ ecological and educational initiatives.

6. Punjammies
Get a pair of these beautiful, sari-inspired pajamas sewn by women in India who have been rescued or who escaped from a life of forced prostitution. Your purchase will have your loved one sleeping in style, and will support the work of an amazing organization.

7. VWU Certificate
You have heard of an IOU certificate. Do one better and make them an VWU (volunteer with you) certificate, good for one day (or more) of volunteering together at the organization or cause of their choice.

8. Beauty + Ethics
Have a friend who is obsessed with lotions or fancy soaps? Buy them something delicious (and certified cruelty free!) at The Body Shop (“beauty with heart”) and your purchase will help support campaigns against animal testing, that support children worldwide, foster environmental stewardship, and more.

Monday Link Roundup

Happy Monday! Hopefully the soggy weather, which left much of the East Coast water-logged over the last couple of days, didn’t cramp your weekend style. To inject a little sunshine into the beginning of the week, here’s your weekly dose of inspiration from around the web.

  • The New York Times published an article by the inimitable Samuel Freedman about a Jewish summer camp focused on young Jews of color.
  • The JTA posted the latest news about the tens of thousands of peaceful protesters crowding the streets – and not just in Tel Aviv.
  • Meanwhile, The Forward offered an op-ed by J.J. Goldberg which recounted Israeli novelist, David Grossman’s thoughts on the protests and his experiences from the front line.
  • GOOD offers a bit of fascinating (and comparatively hopeful) environmental news about how humans are helping animal populations around the world adapt to a changing global climate.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle to end on a bright note, shares how a seven year old kid decided to donate his piggybank money to a local environmental nonprofit.

Spotlight On: Agahozo Shalom’s Nature Park in Rwanda

This essay was originally published on the blog Rwanda on the Wing by Agahozo Shalom Youth Volunteer, Jared Cole. The Agahozo Shalom Youth Village is a Repair the World grantee-partner organization doing amazing work in Rwanda.

Murakaza neza ku Parike Y’Umutungo Kamere W’Agahozo! What in the world does that mean? It means that you are about to enter a brand new nature park. This will be the first of several posts about a special project: a student club has adopted a piece of land and turned it into the Parike Y’Umutungo Kamere W’Agahozo.

The name translates to Agahozo-Shalom Nature Park. At the very top of the hill we call home, which is part of ASYV’s property, the Environment Club envisioned a place where people could protect and enjoy trees. The park features a 600 meter trail that surrounds the 1.72 hectare (4.26 acres) natural area. The mix of trees, tall grasses, and wildflowers provide a glimpse of what wild Rwanda looks like.
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Weekly Torah: Parshat Acharei Mot 5770

This post is part of a weekly series of Torah commentaries presented by the American Jewish World Service. It was contributed by Dvar Tzedek alumna Rachel Farbiarz.

Parshat Acharei Mot details the elaborate rituals performed by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. Among the several segments of strange choreography, perhaps none is more bewildering than that of the two he-goats, donated by the Israelite community as sin offerings.

Lots were cast to determine the goats’ fates, with chance selecting one goat “for the Lord” and the other “for Azazel.” ((Leviticus 16:8.)) The Lord’s goat was slaughtered and sacrificed, while the other was consigned to a more elusive fate. The High Priest laid his hands on the buck, confessing “over it all the iniquities and transgressions of the Israelites, whatever their sins.” ((Leviticus 16:21.)) The animal was then led “off to the wilderness for Azazel.” ((Leviticus 16:9.)) “Thus,” the parshah explains, did the goat “carry on it all [Israel’s] iniquities to an inaccessible region.” ((Leviticus 16:21.))

The identity of the mysterious “Azazel”—mentioned in Scripture only here—has rankled commentators both ancient and modern. Defined variously as a specific location in the desert, a more general geographical descriptor or the incarnation of a supernatural, demonic being, Azazel in all its renderings denotes a destination beyond the pale of the good and the ordered world. The terminus of “Azazel” is a state of forbidding uncultivation, a menacing realm that lurks outside the boundaries of acceptable human society. ((For a good summary of Azazel’s various interpretations, see: Pinker, Aaron. “A Goat To Go To Azazel.” Journal of Hebrew Scriptures vol. 7, 2007: 2-25.))
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Carmel Fire Relief: What You Can Do

Tonight is the 8th and final night of Hanukkah. As we light our candles and watch them burn slowly down, we do so with a heavy heart, aware that in Northern Israel a fire raged out of control for days, killing 42 people and destroying thousands of homes and businesses.

As many of us followed the destruction on the news, several organizations both in the U.S. and Israel, were mobilizing to help with the disaster response efforts, and all of them could use our assistance. Here is a list, which is by no means exhaustive, that covers a range of issues related to the recovery work being done, from housing to environmental restoration to animal welfare.
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