February 2020 Newsletter – Retreat Recap, Free Passover Webinar & more!

February 25th, 2020


We hope you had a joyful and plant-powered Tu B’Shevat. We are happy to share that our Try Vegan for Tu B’Shevat program launched with Challenge 22 and has inspired 42 individuals to try a plant-based diet in the spirit of the New Year of the Trees!

Earlier this month we returned from our seventh annual retreat, which took place during this plant-focused holiday. We celebrated with some delicious vegan apple nachos (pictured below) paired with discussions about caring for the Earth through making sustainable diet choices.

Keep reading to learn more about how this year’s retreat went, a free Passover webinar coming up in March, along with other opportunities for you to engage with Shamayim’s work.


It was a fantastic weekend of learning, community building, and delicious plant-based eating at our seventh annual national retreat with the growing Jewish animal advocacy community earlier this month!

To everyone who attended, thank you for coming together to learn how to share the message of compassion for animals, our planet, and ourselves throughout our widespread Jewish communities. If you weren’t able to attend this time around, we invite you to join us next year at the Pearlstone Center in Reisterstown, Maryland from April 16 – 18, 2021. Be on the lookout for early registration offered within the next few months!

Feel free to check out more photos from the weekend, as well as the schedule and session descriptions.

We live-streamed a few sessions on Sunday, which you are welcome to view through Facebook:


Every year, the Passover seder is an opportunity to remember our journey from enslavement to freedom, recognize the forms of oppression that still exist today, and figure out how we can fight them. Today, our food system presents us with an enormous challenge: how to eat in line with Jewish values when it is propped up by industries that abuse workers, animals, and the environment on an unprecedented scale.

ShamayimJewish Initiative for Animals (JIFA)Jewish Veg, and Hazon offer a pre-Passover webinar that contextualizes these discussions for our holiday preparation and celebration. Participants will gain knowledge and resources needed to integrate these critical issues into their Passover seder—as well as tips for hosting a delicious plant-based Passover meal.  If we can help build a food system that is truly free for all – dayenu!

Please join us on March 12th at 9 AM Pacific/Noon Eastern for our free webinar entitled A Passover That Is Free for All: Worker, Animal, & Climate Justice.

Email lisa@shamayim.us with questions. Register for free here.


Check out our latest podcast episode, an interview with the influential & plant-powered Rabbi Wolpe, for an in-depth discussion about how he navigates addressing his diet publicly and from the pulpit, some of his favorite vegan foods, as well as the optimism he feels for the future of the plant-based movement. Rabbi David Wolpe is the Max Webb Senior Rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Rabbi Wolpe is among the leading figures of American Judaism, a colomnist for TIME, and perhaps the most recognizable plant-based Rabbi of our time.

Available on Apple Podcasts & Spotify.


Follow along with our Plant-Based Torah series, weekly D’var Torahs all about the connection between Torah and animal welfare, and the compatibility of plant-based living with Judaism and its central religious texts! We hope these weekly writings inspire you to live in alignment with the Jewish value that is Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim, not causing harm to animals.

Our latest D’var Torah: Plant-Based Torah – Parashat Mishpatim: At the Heart of Justice

Read all weekly D’var Torahs here.

Prefer to listen instead of read? Follow along with weekly episodes through Apple Podcasts or Spotify.


The next quarterly Rabbi Reflection Circle call will take place on March 5, 2020, at 9 AM Pacific/12 PM Eastern featuring guests Rabbi Jonathan Crane, a scholar of Bioethics and Jewish thought and associate professor of Medicine and Religion at Emory College who is currently teaching the first-ever college course on the ethics of eating animals, and Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, Executive Director & Campus Rabbi of the Suncoast Hillels and founder of Tikkun HaYam, the world’s only Jewish marine conservation organization

Share this program with a vegetarian or vegan Rabbi you know!


Shaked hosted a plant-based cooking workshop at Hillel at Stanford University in January to show his fellow students the ease and tastiness of vegan cooking! ⁣ Providing hands-on experience with plant-based cooking is so essential when educating others about veganism. Hats off to Shaked for providing this empowering opportunity for his peers!

Jessy and Rebecca at Rutgers University held a Tu B’Shevat seder event in partnership with a JNF fellow and fellow vegan, with amazing food served, of course! They discussed the connection between sustainability and Judaism and shared how easy it is to adopt a vegan lifestyle. They distributed info about the significance of the fruit trees in Israel, and discussed the purpose and point of why certain plants are consumed in honor of Tu B’Shevat.  All the food provided was plant-based, with fruit,  falafel, Israeli salad, pita bread, and hummus served. Amazing job, ladies!

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