From the biblical ten commandments to the modern state of Israel, Jewish communities have always believed in the importance of compassion for animals as a Jewish value. The sages of the Talmud called this value tza’ar ba’alei chayyim and prohibited causing any suffering to animals unnecessarily. Universally, Jewish sacred texts teach that animals matter, but, of course, different Jewish communities and individuals have come to diverse conclusions about what compassion for animals should look like in the modern world. Some Jews have worked passionately to end the tragedy of pet overpopulation and others have devoted themselves to saving endangered species.
Responding to the form of animal abuse that affects more animals than any other–factory farming–some Jews have worked to buy only higher welfare animal products while others have become pescatarians, vegetarians, or vegans. Many Jews have been so moved by the plight of farmed animals today that they have devoted themselves to volunteering or even leading farmed animal protection efforts at local and national organizations.
Until now, though, Jews who want to stand up for animals haven’t had many opportunities to do so as Jews. JIFA wants to change that by providing innovative new opportunities for the Jewish community to brings its values of compassion for animals into practice and build Jewish communities in the process.
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The HSUS is proud to work with America’s diverse faith traditions to advance our shared concern for animal welfare. Compassion for animals is a Jewish value and its one of the reasons I’ve devoted myself to building a kinder world for all animals, especially farm animals. I’m especially impressed by JIFA’s pioneering efforts to have faith-based institutions adopt ethical food policies that will help reduce meat use and get factory farming off the menu, thereby putting Jewish values of compassion back at the center of our plates.”
—Paul Shapiro, Vice President, Humane Society of the United States