Changing how we eat and farm is an ethical discussion as it is a practical one. Religious beliefs are often the guiding principals of such ethics. Join us in taking a look at how the Jewish Initiative for Animals is supporting Jewish communities in aligning their food choices with their values.
Since Farm Forward’s inception we have worked to build an unprecedented network of connections in diverse religious communities, which has created a launching point for our new Faith in Food Initiative. We’ve cultivated ongoing conversations about the plight of farmed animals with leading Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, and Daoist spiritual leaders through annual participation in multiple national conferences and live presentations at dozens of seminaries, departments of theology, and departments of religious studies.
The Faith in Food Initiative was given an enormous boost in 2015 when we forged the organizational partnerships that made possible our Jewish Initiative for Animals (JIFA). In October of 2015, we were joined by a full-time, three-person team for JIFA. Their efforts have already empowered communal Jewish institutions across the US to create ethical food policies that are aligning their food choices with their Jewish values, and challenging the status quo of factory farmed animal products in religious sectors across the nation.
JIFA plays an integral part in Farm Forward’s vision to stimulate and support religious institutions in taking community-specific approaches to the problem of factory farming. More specifically, the reminder that religious institutions have the power to develop ethical food policies that reflect their own spiritual values.
JIFA has already collaborated with nearly 65 national and local Jewish organizations—camps, synagogues, youth groups, community centers, schools, college programs, and more unique spiritual foodservice and animal-interaction settings—to produce educational resources that spark curiosity and fascination with how Jewish values interact with how we treat animals.
In our view, secular nonprofit groups like Farm Forward have no business telling religious institutions how their spiritual and religious practices should regard and treat animals. We believe this is the work of the peoples of faith. To work with Farm Forward’s Faith in Food initiative, regardless of which faith you ascribe to, enables you and your community to transform our nation’s food system as a whole, from your unique perspective and place of power. Only by working together from our common goals, and the common points in our differing belief systems, can we hope to end the destructive factory farming that, we believe, equally separates us from our collective humanity.