ABOUT AKIVA GERSH- THE "VEGAN RABBI"
Shalom and thank you for visiting the "Vegan Rabbi" website.
I want to share a bit about myself and how Vegan Rabbi came to be.
I grew up in the U.S. eating lots of meat, barely any vegetables and with a very weak connection with Judaism. By time I was in high school I felt that Judaism was archaic, irrelevant to the world (and my life) and, most tragically, uninspiring.
During my first year in college I had many realizations about the negative impact we modern-day humans are having on the world through our seemingly innocent everyday actions. By the end of that year I decided to major in Environmental Studies and became vegetarian (after a childhood of eating lots of meat and no veggies).
The following year I became vegan at the age of 19 and continued my studies as well as my activist work trying to inspire positive change.
Around that same time I began to discover teachings in the Jewish tradition that related to environmental ethics and animal welfare. I was absolutely in shock. I never kneW that Judaism focused on these issues and, yet, I saw that it has for thousands of years.
This inspired me to look deeper into my Jewish roots which turned into a journey that lasted a few years.
Eventually that journey led me to studying Torah in a yeshiva in Tzfat, Israel and it is there that I fell in love with and deeply connected to the Jewish path of life.
After about six months in Tzfat I returned to the U.S., continued my yeshiva studies and began my work in the field of Jewish Education, a field I continue to work in today over 20 years later.
Over the years, in addition to other subjects and topics, I have taught about the connection between Judaism and the environment, animal welfare and veganism to thousands of students through classes, courses and workshops.
(Along the way, in 2003, I got married and in 2004 my wife Tamar and I moved to Israel where we continue to live with our four kids.)
And the rest is history! Or, really, the future!
(My formal studies include: a BA in Religious Studies from Brown University, an MA in Jewish Education from Yeshiva University and rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Sulam Yaakov in Jerusalem.)