Passover illuminates the plight of refugees, from Ukraine to our southern border
"Let Passover's significance drive our compassion, as we watch the journey of Ukrainian refugees, Afghan refugees and asylum seekers at our border."
RNS Religion News service - April 2022 “It’s a holiday where we talk about freedom and liberation, and one of the greatest issues (vegans) want to talk about is the greatest amount of suffering on the planet — the killing of 80 billion land animals a year,” said Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, an Orthodox rabbi who made a commitment to veganism on his wedding day 11 years ago.Not long afterward, Yanklowitz founded “Shamayim” (meaning “sky” or “heaven”), a Jewish animal advocacy organization that promotes veganism with the actress (and now Jeopardy co-host) Mayim Bialik and Matisyahu, the Jewish reggae singer and rapper.
Center for American Progress- March 2022 22 Faith Leaders To Watch in 2022 Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz "My Jewish faith, rooted in Torah, reminds me daily to never accept the world as it is but to always work to reduce suffering and combat injustice. For me, this is about participating in a spiritual revolution for empathy, compassion, and self-transformation that is deeply interconnected with a social transformation. For me, I’m left with the question: How can we be religious pluralists embracing epistemic humility and bridge-building while also embracing a morally robust vision for progress that leads us to challenge others’ truths that lead to oppression?"
The Jerusalem Post- January 2022 Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, founder and president of Uri L’Tzedek, the Orthodox Social Justice Movement, said the ad signifies a need for reform. The Arizona-based leader said the ad may result in being a call to action. “We must put a stop to the crisis of the frum objectification of women, the erasure of their faces, the silencing of their voices, the enabling of eating disorders, and call for teshuva (repentance) for the shaming,” Yanklowitz asserted.
NPR's KJZZ - January 2022 Scottsdale Rabbi Calls for unity after terrorism at Texas Synagogue
Religion News - November 2021 That hope, said Yanklowitz, creator and president of Uri L’Tzedek (the Orthodox Social Justice movement) and the animal advocacy organization Shamayim, is based on the activism the climate movement has generated. “I see a revolution started, a spiritual revolution of people who are changing their lives and are working to change their communities,” he said.
Jewish News Of Greater Phoenix - November 2021 “Right now, stage one of this crisis really is bare necessities,” Yanklowitz said. Refugees need a place to live, they need food, furniture, household items. Then, they’re going to need job training, help finding jobs, help with schools, English classes — all the things for “basic survival in America,” he said, noting he is seeking volunteers for service work — like teaching English or providing childcare. After that, VBM can work on deeper relationship building.
Arizona Republic - October 2021 "We give them as long of a runway as possible," Yanklowitz said, "to pull their lives together, to find support for them that they can get through their day and take care of their families. Because it's going to take a long time for them to integrate."
Arizona Jewish News - September 2021 At 10 a.m., as the temperature tipped over 100 degrees, Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, AJJ’s founder, addressed the small crowd.Alluding to Rosh Hashanah and the birthday of creation, Yanklowitz reminded people that the moment Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, they were called to be stewards and guardians of the planet.“They are called to responsibility,” he said. “This is what every faith hears and most certainly our Jewish faith which calls for bold action.”
Jewish News of Greater Phoenix - July 2021 "Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, founder of Arizona Jews for Justice, and six of the organization’s members joined Revs. Jesse Jackson, Dr. William J. Barber II and Transformative Justice Coalition President Barbara Arnwine in a march and sit-in at U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s Phoenix office on Monday, July 26.
Phoenix New Times - February 2021 “Many vegans or vegetarians within Jewish institutions are eager to build communities or committees that are exposing others to these ideas through films, books, and discussion groups,” Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz says. “We’ve found it to be very successful as a national program.”
Jewish News of Greater Phoenix - January 2021 Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, founder of Arizona Jews for Justice, is excited about Biden’s commitment to reunite migrant families, but he’s also preparing for a new kind of border crisis.
Arizona Republic - January 2021 “One of the roles we play is being a process space for Jews in the community to talk about their experiences of anti-Semitism or fears of their security,” said Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, founder of Arizona Jews for Justice.
Insider - December 2020 Santa Claus came to town — thanks to an Orthodox rabbi in Scottsdale, Arizona. Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz and his wife Shoshana have been foster parents for years, in addition to having four children of their own. They currently have two foster children who are brothers, one who just turned 3 and one who is about to turn 4.
The Forward - December 2020 Shmuly Yanklowitz, a 39-year old Orthodox rabbi in Scottsdale, near Phoenix, lived in a caravan hilltop yeshiva in the West Bank in his 20s. Over the years, he built a life committed to liberal causes, running Jewish education and social justice programs. He voted for Biden.
Jewish News of Greater Phoenix - December 2020 Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, AJJ founder, pointed out that while other organizations target different border towns, the San Luis Río Colorado area is very underserved. “We know that a lot of times, supplies are obviously a Band-Aid solution,” Yanklowitz said. “We expect with the new administration that there will be a large increase of asylum seekers coming through the border that we’ll be able to serve differently.”
The Forward - October 2020 "[P]rayer should not permeate the divisive realms of governments, especially a democratic government that represents a population with great diversity. It should not be invoked in policy matters, nor in matters of great import before courts and judges. Let’s keep prayer within communities of faith and in spiritual moments away from the all-too-toxic halls of political power where they can be used to oppress rather than uplift others."
Jewish News of Greater Phoenix - September 2020 Religious freedom and the right to observe religious laws, including kashrut, while incarcerated is an essential part of maintaining human dignity, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz said. “There are people who take the approach, ‘If they committed a crime or were found guilty, they should have no rights.’ And I don’t think that’s the Jewish approach,” Yanklowitz said. “As a Jew, I think you maintain your human dignity while you’re in there, you maintain your religious freedoms as is reasonable.”
JTA - September 2020 “As Jewish communities become more traditional, your main street cred is the number of biological kids you have,” said Shmuly Yanklowitz, an Orthodox rabbi in Arizona who founded an organization that advocates for fostering and adoption in the Jewish community. “It’s built into the culture to give people a blessing to have many children … There is a lot of pressure.” Through YATOM, Yanklowitz runs educational programs and provides small grants to families... to encourage them to foster and adopt children. Yanklowitz has fostered eight children with his wife and, through his organization, worked with 29 family units to pursue fostering and adoption.
Heritage Florida Jewish News - September 2020 “What it means to be a responsible Jewish person is to reinterpret text. Not to be a fundamentalist,” said Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, “but to continue to understand text in our new era.”
Arizona Republic - July 2020 "Those who are religious people in Arizona and those who have any form of moral conscience ... understand that children separated from their families is a horrific reality, a human-rights abuse, and that the world is watching us," said Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, founder of Arizona Jews for Justice.
The North Jersey Record - June 2020 Fighting racism is a religious imperative, according to Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, the founder of Uri L'Tzedek (Jewish Social Justice) a national group dedicated to combating oppression. He recently launched a campaign to mobilize the Orthodox Jewish community and its leaders to combat racism.
The Forward - June 2020 "At this turbulent moment, we, as a community, have to take the initiative to listen to the voices of the vulnerable and to be humble allies in their cause. Then, and only then, can we be true supporters of the movement to end violence, bigotry, and hatred once and for all."
Religion News Service - May 2020 “The epidemic is overwhelming. We see the numbers of deaths, and it’s paralyzing at times,” said Yanklowitz. “But our religious teachings tell us that ‘pikuach nefesh’ — saving lives — is the most important of commandments.”
Jewish News of Phoenix - April 2020 AJJ’s new initiative, the Mask Project, is designed to help as many vulnerable groups as it can. It provides jobs for out-of-work immigrant mothers, who are being paid to sew hundreds of filtered cloth masks per week, and delivers those masks to Jewish medical professionals, Jewish seniors and the Navajo Nation. “We’ve been trying to figure out innovative ways to be productive and helpful,” Yanklowitz said. “The Mask Project was a way to really meet multiple goals.”
Tablet Magazine - March 2020 "We get a double shot of rabbinical wisdom from Pinchas Allouche, the founding rabbi of Congregation Beth Tefillah, and Shmuly Yanklowitz, the president and dean of Valley Beit Midrash. They each share the story of their unlikely journey toward becoming a rabbi, and explain how they’re trying to make Judaism accessible to all sorts of Jews today."
The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle - December 2019 Politics was brought up by an attendee during audience questions at the end of the program. According to Yanklowitz, we must start with G-d to get beyond politics and see humanity. “It’s not from prayer, but seeing G-d within every human being,” Yanklowitz said.
Insider - November 2019 "In what I have perceived as a moral crisis over the last number of years in how Americans are relating to foreigners, immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, I felt like it was time to take a more expansive approach," Yanklowitz told Insider. "I saw a lot of demonization and dehumanization of Muslim refugees, and I wanted to be a part of the welcome team."
AZ Mirror - July 2019 “A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness… That is the message” Yanklowitz said. “We might stand here in front of a building that has millions of dollars… and is fake power in front of soul power.”
JTA - June 2019 Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, the founder of Shamayim: Jewish Animal Advocacy, criticized Hasidic opposition to the ban in an email to JTA, saying that wearing shtreimels is a custom but not mandated by Jewish law. “It is not required to actualize holiness,” said Yanklowitz, who is Orthodox. “What is required, however, is the need to follow the notion of ‘tzar ba’alei chaim’: not causing needless pain to animals.”
Jewish News of Phoenix - January 2019 “There is enormous energy to act, and these campaigns to support asylum seekers produce so much positivity,” Yanklowitz said. “What keeps Arizona Jews for Justice on track is that our mission is nowhere close to being fulfilled, nor are the needs of refugees being met at an adequate level.”
JTA - December 2018 Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, founder and president of the Orthodox social justice group Uri L’Tzedek, went as far as calling the venue cancellations “a total misstep.” “It sounds to me like near homophobia to block someone for merely being a lesbian,” he said.
New Jersey Jewish News - December 2018 “I have been very impressed by the Reform Jewish community’s social justice leadership and always saddened by my own religious Orthodox community’s lack of leadership toward social justice,” said Yanklowitz, a global social justice leader and educator who serves as president and dean of Valley Beit Midrash, a learning and leadership center in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Washington Post - November 2018 According to Shmuly Yanklowitz, a Modern Orthodox rabbi and founder of a progressive-minded Orthodox rabbinical association, the Orthodox movement “is certainly in opposition toward capital punishment, with exception.”
AZFamily.com - November 2018 A Valley rabbi opened his heart and his home to complete strangers. “We want to make a statement that America needs to re-cultivate empathy,” said Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, who welcomed a Syrian refugee family into his home because he says that is what Thanksgiving is all about.
The State Press - October 2018 Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz is a part of Arizona Jews for Justice & Valley Beit Midrash and encouraged everyone to vote and unify together as communities, while reflecting on the multiple hate crime attacks. “America has a sickness,” Yanklowitz said. “Today, we also remember Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones, two African Americans who were murdered this past weekend in what appears to be a hate crime.”
The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle - September 2018 Yanklowitz said rabbis not only reflect their community but also should lead efforts that seek justice, peace and truth. He describes his social activism goals as “protecting the vulnerable,” and said he has specific interests in workers’ rights, animal welfare and foster and adoption advocacy.
Huffington Post - July 2018 After President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz was disturbed to read about one of the judge’s more controversial rulings. The case involved a defunct kosher meatpacking company Yanklowitz knew well, the New York-based Agriprocessors. The company’s treatment of undocumented workers created a scandal within the Orthodox Jewish community a decade ago, when Yanklowitz was a rabbinical student concerned with social justice.
Cronkite News - March 2018 In spite of the pouring rain, members of the Jewish community and DACA recipients gathered at Cesar Chavez Memorial Plaza in Phoenix on Tuesday, pressing for a clean DREAM Act.
New Jersey Jewish News - January 2018 Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz says he is “rooted” in his commitment to halacha, Jewish law, even though he is a staunch advocate for an open form of Orthodox Judaism, one infused with social activism. He supports embracing feminism and women’s leadership, engaging in intradenominational and interfaith partnerships, and welcoming potential converts to Judaism and others with differing opinions.
Interfaith Family - November 2017 Rabbi Yanklowitz said, “With the proper inclusive programming and outreach opportunities, there are ways to make interfaith families feel welcome in the community, which will, in turn, spark interest in creating and perpetuating loving Jewish households.”
The Forward - October 2017 "The biggest threat facing the Jewish people today is the concept of “real estate.” In the past, existential threats may have been losing Jews to other faiths, or pure secular assimilation, or intermarriage. But today, unfortunately, many Jews leave because of an unmet desire for excessive material accumulation. They feel lost, but there is no one to guide them."
KJZZ - September 2017 “The Jewish community understands very well from our experience as Israelites in Egypt what it meant to be a stranger in a foreign land,” Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz said. “Though that narrative comes over and over the obligation not only for compassion, but for justice.”
Algemeiner - July 2017 “There’s not one vegan synagogue in America,” said Yanklowitz, who holds a master’s degree in Leadership and Psychology from Harvard University, and a master’s degree in philosophy from Yeshiva University. “It’s very hard to make changes, and we to have to make it easier for people. If people see that vegan food can be healthy and tasty, they are more likely to consider a dietary change. The synagogue should be a place of education, where people can learn about the health benefits of going vegan.”
VegNews - July 2017 “There’s not one vegan synagogue in America,” Yanklowitz said. “It’s very hard to make changes, and we to have to make it easier for people. If people see that vegan food can be healthy and tasty, they are more likely to consider a dietary change. The synagogue should be a place of education, where people can learn about the health benefits of going vegan.”
Jewish Journal - September 2016 “I almost always wear my tallis for street protests,” Yanklowitz said in a phone interview from his Phoenix office last week. “And that’s because those protests are a form of prayer for me. I view it as a conversation in partnership with God to be at street protests, to stand in solidarity with vulnerable populations.”
Tablet Magazine - September 2016 “I appreciate the difficult strategic balance that the president and the minority speaker have to wrestle with here,” Yanklowitz said. “At the same time I think the images of Syrian refugees, the images of the atrocities have to speak for themselves. And at some point everything cannot merely be a political calculation, but has to be an all-out effort to stop more atrocities even when there’s difficult consequences for that.”
The Forward - August 2016 Yanklowitz and Orthodox advocates have their opponents, and their campaign to introduce non-abstinence-based sex ed in Orthodox schools is a challenge, to say the least. But they join a larger movement of interdenominational Jewish educators and organizers who’ve been advocating for comprehensive sex and consent education from a Jewish lens.
AZ Central - December 2015 "I have felt that there's a lot of fear and anger toward the Syrian refugee population today," said Yanklowitz, who is the president and dean of Valley Beit Midrash in Phoenix. "I felt that I not only want to be a part of welcoming this vulnerable population, but also making clear to others that we should not only open our borders but open our homes."
The Times of Israel - June 2015 “I have been teaching about social justice and the value of human dignity and saving human life for many years,” Yanklowitz told The Times of Israel from his hospital bed. Speaking somewhat slowly, still in pain, Yanklowitz said that he felt divinely inspired in making his decision to donate. “I felt an imperative to give all I could give,” he said.
12 News Phoenix - June 2015 "For years, I've just been hearing news of people dying and it constantly feels tragic and I feel so helpless," he said. So Yanklowitz decided to be a part of the solution in a major way, by saving the life of a complete stranger. "I donated a kidney to an orphan who was in dire need, who was going to die. He had been on dialysis for a number of years," Yanklowitz said.
Columbia Spectator - March 2013 "It's a hard thing to balance where some people come for a very traditional experience and some want a shorter experience and some want to read the text and some want to sing," Yanklowitz said. "I see my role, being an orthodox rabbi and as a pluralist, to have a traditional and progressive experience."
The Jewish Star - May 2009 Uri L’Tzedek reached prominence last May after launching a boycott against the Rubashkin meat processing plant following a federal raid that netted some 500 illegal immigrants and reports of poor working conditions. The date of Tav HaYosher’s launch this past Tuesday coincided with the anniversary of the raid. “Rubashkin showed a lack of internal transparency and accountability,” explained Shmuly Yanklowitz, the co-director of the organization, over a bowl of green Café Nana soup. “It showed how unprepared the Orthodox leadership is to tackle our problems.”
New York Times - December 2008 Mr. Yanklowitz, a recent Yeshiva graduate and co-founder of Uri L’Tzedek, which describes itself as “the Orthodox social justice movement,” told the audience he had visited Postville and met a former Agriprocessors employee named Maria, a young woman from Guatemala. “Maria worked in hot, slavelike conditions from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. so that we could have our kosher meat,” he said.