The name Torat Chayim was chosen because Torah is about rootedness and Chayim is about dynamism. We want a Torah that is strongly rooted in tradition and that is also responsive to—and pushing us forward in—our time. Further, Torah is about life. It is about ethics, human dignity, and the perpetuation—and sanctification—of life. We embrace a life-affirming, dignity-affirming Torah, and work to ensure that Torah only adds to—and never detracts from—human dignity and the sanctity of life.
|Rabbinic Statement: Turning Kapparot Into an Act of Compassion?
“Despite only a small fraction of members of the Jewish faith practicing the ritual using live chickens, each year thousands of chickens are kept in harsh and torturous conditions waiting to be used for kapparos… We encourage reframing the custom and turning it into a life-giving, rather than a life-taking custom by donating the money from your kapparos to an animal-advocacy organization and going into Yom Kippur with a mindset of compassion.”Rabbinic Declaration Against Prejudice and Hurtful Discourse Against the LGBTQ+ Community
“It is clear and obvious that the use of insulting, hurtful words like “perverts” directed against human beings created in the image of God is unacceptable and dangerous…”
“We believe that protecting religious freedom is a source of joy and pride to all the members of our communities. We believe that our Father in Heaven is overjoyed that the three religions, all serving one God, the God of Abraham, are now acting as partners in defending religious tradition and the sacred in a secular society.”
“The Torah affirms the necessity of assisting those in our society who need our aid… It is our responsibility as leaders in the Jewish community and beyond to unequivocally oppose the Trump administration’s attempts to target immigrants with disabilities and their families.”
“No one deserves to go hungry. No one deserves to be abandoned by the leaders tasked to ensure equitable access to sustenance. We, the undersigned rabbinic members of Torat Chayim, call upon our government not to abandon the most vulnerable among us. If there is even one child who goes to bed crying because his or her stomach is empty, then our nation has failed. If even one senior citizen or disabled worker dies because they weren’t able to purchase basic foods, then our nation and our government has failed.”
Members of Torat Chayim voice their support for Africans seeking asylum in Israel.
“Temporary Protection Status (TPS) protects people from being returned to harm—precisely the conditions Salvadorians face today—gang conscription, sexual violence, and human trafficking. As a nation, we promised to protect nearly 200,000 Salvadoran neighbors by allowing them to remain in the United States. Please join us in advocating for their security.”
“Judaism introduced the world to the vision of a messianic age in which peace and harmony reign, when poverty and injustice will be eradicated, and the dignity of all humans, of all race, color, gender and religion will be assured. This dream has always emanated from the City of Jerusalem whose very name means ‘teaching peace.’ We invite all nations and religions of the world to join our hands and be our partners in this awe-inspiring yet practical quest, tangibly symbolized by Jerusalem.”
“We affirm our belief that the Kotel belongs to all Jews, and call upon Prime Minister Netanyahu to implement a practical and equitable solution to allow for a pluralistic prayer space at the Kotel.”
“The Torah knows that it is difficult to achieve this high level of understanding. That’s why it has underscored the obligation to care for the stranger 36 times. But it also knows that we are capable of achieving this level of understanding. And when we do, we not only fulfill God’s commandments; we fulfill our own humanity.”
“We ask members of faith communities to learn about and speak of the Rohingya refugees around family tables and in religious centers. We call upon the nations involved to stop selling arms to Myanmar. We have serious concerns about Israel, the Jewish State, which was established on the embers of the Holocaust and understands genocide all too well, selling weapons to a state behaving in such a matter. We say to the Rohingya people: You are not alone.”
“We Jews and Christians have more in common than what divides us: the ethical monotheism of Abraham; the relationship with the One Creator of Heaven and Earth, Who loves and cares for all of us; Jewish Sacred Scriptures; a belief in a binding tradition; and the values of life, family, compassionate righteousness, justice, inalienable freedom, universal love and ultimate world peace.”
“The Jewish tradition provides a few ways to atone, including swinging money around one’s head or a chicken. Once swung around the head, the chicken is ritually slaughtered and supposed to be given to the poor. There is no legal imperative to use a chicken for this ritual and so we call on all Jews to stop using chickens for kaparot and to use money instead as the chickens are grossly mistreated.”
“The central teaching of the Bible is that every human being is created in the image of God. This means that every individual and group is unique and to be treasured — but is, no less, equal and of infinite worth. Equality and protection of the law are enshrined in the founding documents of the United States and are central to our national culture and values consensus.”
“As Jews and citizens, we believe that governments must protect the dignity and rights of every human being. By using the death penalty, our country fails to live up to this basic requirement.”
“Reducing climate change must be a central focus of Jewish life today. We strongly recommend that our fellow rabbis, Jewish educators, and other Jewish leaders, and our synagogues, Jewish schools, and other Jewish individuals and organizations take major steps to increase awareness of climate threats and steps that must be taken to reduce them.”
“The Assad regime will not cease these brutal attacks unless it faces the threat of serious military repercussions such as airstrikes against air bases associated with chemical weapons and suspected storage facilities. We therefore urge you to fully appreciate the importance of this moment and to act decisively to avoid dire consequences.”
“As a group, we acknowledge that there are many ways to be Jewish, and certainly many ways to be religious. We hope these short, thoughtful replies prompt readers to reflect more deeply on the meaning of their religious lives and to strive for deeper authenticity while re-affirming a life of moral and spiritual growth.”
“Imposing one narrow version of Orthodox Judaism as the official standard for prayer and for conversion in Israel harms the unity of the Jewish people and it harms support for Israel in America.”
“A substantial body of research suggests there is significant and unnatural pain caused toward animals during their raising and slaughter for human consumption, that factory farming is one of the leading contributors to carbon emissions, and that the consumption of large amounts of meat is a leading contributor to cardiac disease, gastrointestinal ailments, and certain types of cancers.”
“Our Sages taught that one may not with good conscience take part in actions with a government official who acts on his or her own authority or does not consider him or herself bound by any limits (Bava Kama 113b). Authority is only just and righteous when it is proscribed by law and by civic norms. Any leader who taunts, harasses, threatens and intimidates the citizens and residents of his country with abandon is one whose policies and attitudes we must respond to with acts of spiritual resistance.”
“We believe that religion should be lived in daily life and applied in the public square and in making policy judgments. We also believe that religion should be invoked with care because its tendency to judge matters in absolute or ultimate terms may interfere with the ability of the political system to work through partial steps, compromises and pragmatic accommodations. We also affirm that it is improper to claim that God or our religion is totally on one side, be it progressive or conservative. We affirm that people of good faith can come to contradictory conclusions on policy matters. “