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 and secured the grants that have made possible our new Jewish Initiative for Animals (JIFA). In October 2015 we hired a full-time, three-person team for JIFA. Their efforts are already empowering Jewish communal institutions across the US to create ethical food policies that are challenging the status quo of factory farmed animal products.
“Judaism embraces a diversity of responses to eating animals, but one constant is that killing an animal for food is not to be taken lightly. According to rabbinic tradition, how we treat animals is a matter of social importance and divine concern.”
Yadidya Greenberg, JIFA’s Kosher Meat and Animal Welfare Specialist
JIFA plays an integral part in our plan to stimulate religious institutions to take community-specific approaches to the problem of factory farming and specifically to develop ethical food policies that reflect their own values. JIFA has already collaborated with nearly 65 national and local Jewish organizations—camps, synagogues, youth groups, community centers, schools, college programs, and more—to produce educational resources that will spark inquiry into how Jewish values should interact with how we treat animals.
In our view, secular nonprofit groups like Farm Forward have no business telling religious institutions how they should regard animals, but we can and have called upon people of faith to work with us and with their communal institutions to engage in faith-based advocacy to transform our food system and end factory farming.