December 28, 2004

12/28/04 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

This update/Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Online Newsletter has the following items:

1. Responding to the Great Loss of Life and Suffering in Asia

2. What do the CIA, the Pentagon and the UN Have in Common?

3. Interested in Getting on a TV Reality Show?

4. Getting Healthier Foods Into Hospitals

5. Helping Achieve More Compassionate Treatment of Farm Animals

6. Example of Our Influence/From an Author

7. All VEGAN Grocery Store goes ONLINE!

8. Global Climate Changes, Other Environmental Threats, and the Bush Administration

9. Do Torah Teachings Justify Animal Exploitation?

10. Vegetarian Thoughts From a JVNA Newsletter Reader

11. A New Feature at the JVNA Web Site

12. ACTION ALERT: Tell Massachusetts to Ban Foie Gras!

* Some Quotations To Think About

Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[Materials in brackets like this [ ] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA, unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, information re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsements by JVNA, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event that you are interested in.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.


1. Responding to the Great Loss of Life and Suffering in Asia

Message from Yosef Hakohen, JVNA advisor and coordinator of “ Hazon - Our Universal Vision.” It is followed by a message from the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) on the tragedy and how one can contribute to help alleviate it.

Given the news of the great loss of life and suffering in Asia, we share with you the following teaching of Rebbeinu Yonah, a noted 13th century Torah sage, where he discusses our universal yearning for "shalom" - peace, harmony, and wholeness:

"A human being should pray for the shalom of the entire world and feel the suffering of others. And this is the way of the tzadikim - righteous ones...For a human being should not make supplications and requests just for his own needs; rather, one should pray that all human beings should thrive in shalom." (These words are from his commentary to Pirkei Avos 3:2, which teaches that we should pray for the true shalom of all governments, so that anarchy, violence, and chaos not prevail)

In this spirit, we pray for the arrival of the messianic era when the roaring of the sea will be a sign of life and not death; moreover, in this new era of spiritual enlightenment, the sovereigns of the nations will finally accept the sovereignty of Hashem - the Compassionate One - Who created all life, and all creation will therefore rejoice, as it is written:

"Tell it among the nations: When Hashem reigns, the world will not falter; He will judge the peoples with fairness. The heavens will be glad and the earth will rejoice; the sea and its fullness will roar. The field and everything in it will exult; then all the trees of the forest will sing with joy - before Hashem, for He will have arrived, He will have arrived to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness and peoples with His truth." (Psalm 96:10-13).

Hazon - Our Universal Vision:

AJWS reports:

American Jewish World Service is sending humanitarian aid to the people affected by the tsunami.

For several years, AJWS has partnered with 24 non-governmental,
community-based organizations in the region on sustainable community development projects.

[Arthur Waskow, author and director of the Shalom center adds : Because it is the only Jewish organization deliberately set up to assist non-Jewish communities to develop themselves, it is the only one with these kinds of grass-roots connections and experience in South Asia.]

AJWS is working with these local groups to assess needs and provide emergency relief - food, water, shelter and medicine -- and long-term development support.

Donations for this relief effort are being sought and can be made by mail, phone or Web site: American Jewish World Service, Asia Tsunami Relief, 45 West 36th Street, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018, 800-889-7146 or make a secure, online donation now.

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2. What do the CIA, the Pentagon and the UN Have in Common?

[This is included because, like other articles in recent JVNA newsletters, it illustrates broad issues that are often not adequately considered by society and its leaders. Some of the issues discussed in the article, like poverty, disease and climate change, have strong connections to animal-based diets and modern intensive “livestock” agriculture.]

What do the CIA, the Pentagon and the UN have in common?

by Katrina vanden Heuvel
12/21/2004 @ 5:33pm

They share a prescient view of the world's greatest dangers and their unheralded agreement on key issues facing the planet has received far too little attention in the media.

Since 2000, all three institutions have produced a number of valuable reports arguing that so-called soft issues like poverty, disease and climate change are endangering global stability and the future of the United States.

This rising consensus should compel US policy-makers to concede a most basic point--we need a global development agenda. It isn't a soft-headed, idealistic thing either. Unless we confront issues like poverty and gender inequality, the world will become more destabilized,
increasingly violent and less secure.

In December 2000, the CIA's Global Trends 2015 report warned of instability brought on by a shortage of drinking water--"the single most contested resource on the planet," as described the CIA's findings. The report also warned that nation-states would soon disintegrate, "non-state actors" like Osama bin Laden would emerge as greater threats, that populations would increase by one billion people by 2015, and that HIV/AIDS would represent a major security issue in sub- Saharan Africa, Asia and the former Soviet Republics.
(Another CIA report issued that same year, "Global Infectious Disease Threat," estimated that by 2020 over half of all deaths from infectious disease in the developing world will be caused by AIDS, imperiling government stability, food production, health services, and even nuclear/weapons security in places.)

Some cities in the Arab world would become "impossibly overpopulated hubs of discontent, dramatically under- serviced by such basic infrastructure as drinking water and sewage," as described the CIA's Global Trends 2015 report's conclusions. "Their population is likely to be young, hungry, sick, disillusioned and very, very angry."

The CIA's report argued that we should increase foreign aid and investment, along the lines of the Marshall Plan, to close a growing divide between rich and poor, which would, in turn, reduce threats to the United States.

The CIA's findings, which remarkably dovetail with the United Nation's Millenium Development Goals, ought to be heard as a rousing call to fund the UN's development agenda--the only truly global Marshall Plan of our time. The UN's Millenium agenda--adopted in 2000--includes reducing by half those suffering from hunger; reducing child mortality for children under five by two-thirds; cutting in half the number of those without access to safe drinking water and establishing universal primary education and halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases by 2015.

The statistics don't lie: UNICEF reports that one billion children are living in poverty (or every second child); more than 121 million primary school age children are out of school--the majority of them are girls; and that 10.6 million children died in 2003 before they were five of largely preventable deaths.

The global community knows how to deal with these catastrophes. By spending $150 billion dollars worldwide each year, the UN could actually meet its Millennium Goals over the next decade. (UNICEF puts the figure somewhere between $40 and $70 billion--either way, it's a paltry sum in contrast to the $956 billion spent annually worldwide on military items.)

Indeed, while the CIA and the UN may diverge on rationale and policy implications, the underlying issues in the decade ahead give credibility to the much-derided "soft" side of the global agenda. Supported by Gordon Brown, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, the UN Global Millennium Agenda offers an agenda that do-gooders as well as economists, national security strategists and CIA agents can (and should) love.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Pentagon tasked two futurologists with assessing long-term threats to the United States--their report , "Imagining the Unthinkable," focused on "worst-case" scenarios and actually cited climate change as a major long-term threat to US national security.

The report's co-author, Peter Schwartz, told NPR's Living on Earth that the "most extreme case would be a scenario of fairly rapid warming in the near future—the next, say, decade or so--that would in turn trigger rapid cooling. "Ultimately, we'd see 'warming' [in] Europe, parts of the northeastern United States and Canada. You'd see severe storms--more torrential rainfall--very short winters, a shift in the location of tornadoes--and 'mega-droughts.'" Conflicts over water and fishing rights would emerge, and refugees would flock to the US in greater numbers.

An even more recent report issued last fall—and authored by the Defense Science Board Task Force, an organization that advises the Secretary of Defense-- raised crucial issues. The report, virtually ignored by the mainstream media, found that: "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather they hate our policies" and "American direct intervention in the Muslim world has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists..." The study also concluded that US public diplomacy faces "a fundamental problem of credibility" and that US support for authoritarian regimes in the region has undermined the so-called war on terror by turning ordinary Muslims against the West.

Back in Dec. 2000, John Gannon--Chairman of the National Intelligence Council and one of the authors of the CIA Global Trends 2015 report--urged America to deal with countries that "feel they're being left behind"—thereby confronting the downside of globalization. Yet, four years have passed, and America's political leadership is doing quite the opposite: neglecting the global South and attacking the UN as outdated and useless.

While our mangled Iraq war policy is sowing hatred for America in the Middle East, American policy-makers have failed to heed the rising global consensus that poverty, climate change and the global HIV/AIDS pandemic demand intelligent and collective response and funding.

How many more reports (and threats) must appear before attacking the world's most glaring problems becomes priority number one?

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3. Interested in Getting on a TV Reality Show?

Forwarded message:

Looking for animal rights families/families who are anti-fur

My name is Melissa Mills. I work in casting at "Trading Spouses," a family-themed reality show that airs on Fox, Monday nights at 8PM. The purpose of our show is to compare and contrast various families across the country while highlighting their unique interests and cultures! For example, we've had everyone from hunters to vegans, alligator wranglers to family bands, tattoo artists to political activists appear on our show.

Currently, we are casting for new episodes and would like to meet families who are in favor of animal rights. We love interesting families who could show the world a little bit about what makes them so special! This is a terrific opportunity for any family who is energetic and who
wants to Learn about another way of life. In addition, every family who has appeared on the show has been compensated $50,000! This could be a chance for an animal rights family who wants their voice heard to have an audience of millions of people.

All families who want to be on our show must have the following: at least one child between the ages of 6 & 18, a crime-free background, US citizenship, and an ability to speak English. Also, the spouses must be legally married. Please have a look on our web site: for more details.

If you know of anyone who might fit this description, please contact
me as soon as possible.

Melissa Mills
Casting Assistant/Trading Spouses
Rocket Science Laboratories

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4. Getting Healthier Foods Into Hospitals

Head of Cleveland Clinic Is Attacking Big Mac
And in Hospital Lobby, McDonald's Fights Back

By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 15, 2004; Page A01

CLEVELAND -- The Pizza Hut is shuttered, its neon sign collecting dust on the floor. But knocking down the Golden Arches has proved far more difficult for Toby Cosgrove, the new head of the Cleveland Clinic.

A heart surgeon who has cleaned out a career's worth of clogged arteries, Cosgrove didn't think Big Macs, supersize fries and inch-thick, six-cheese pizzas belonged in the lobby of a hospital renowned for its cardiac care. So he decreed the fast-food joints had to go.

Pizza Hut went quietly. But McDonald's, halfway through a 20-year lease, has refused to shut down a franchise that serves 12,000 doctors, nurses, janitors, secretaries, patients and visitors each week.

"Our menu is something we're all proud of," said Marty Ranft, a McDonald's vice president. "We've got a great relationship with the Cleveland Clinic. We are not interested in closing" the restaurant.

In the struggle against obesity, Americans are losing. And among the favorite targets for blame are fast-food chains such as McDonald's. Studies show that consuming large portions of high-fat, salty, sugar-laden foods has helped create a nation in which 64 percent of people are overweight or obese. They often land here at the Cleveland Clinic seeking treatment for diabetes, strokes, heart failure and crippling joint pain.

"We have to set an example with the food we serve our patients and employees," said Cosgrove, a trim 63-year-old. "In a way, McDonald's was symbolic as much as anything else. It is not associated with heart-healthy food; neither is Pizza Hut."

But Cosgrove's crusade has been met with resistance from not just McDonald's executives, who say they are being singled out for a problem that goes beyond the occasional Happy Meal, but also from staff and visitors who resent what they consider to be a paternalistic attitude from bosses who can afford pricier, more healthful food.

"What they have in the cafeteria is not a lot better, and it's certainly not affordable," said Donna Wilkison, a post-operative nurse waiting in line for her McDonald's salad with chicken. The cafeteria salad bar, priced at $4.64 a pound, "gets very expensive. They need to bring in something else that's more affordable."

On its sprawling urban campus, the clinic has a Subway sandwich shop, Au Bon Pain and Starbucks. Adjacent to the McDonald's is a cafeteria that features a large salad bar, a grill, a deli and hot entrees. The choices range include fresh fruit and homemade mashed potatoes. At Subway, salads begin at $3.99 and subs are about $5. McDonald's salads cost $4.10.

Nutritionists such as Montefiore Medical Center's Miriam Pappo said the Cleveland Clinic battle is akin to fights being waged in America's schools -- and a handful of other hospitals -- over candy, soda and fast-food sales.

She said it was "appropriate" for clinic officials to act as role models, yet Pappo sympathized with McDonald's' argument that no one forces people to eat there. "In a way, they are a scapegoat," Pappo said. "But in other ways, they are contributing for sure."

Of its 13,000 U.S. locations, about 30 McDonald's outlets are in hospitals, including children's hospitals in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The New York City Health and Hospital Corp. does not intend to renew the McDonald's contract at its Elmhurst hospital and has not decided whether to keep the one in the Jacoby Medical Center in the Bronx, spokeswoman Kathleen McGrath said. The Harlem hospital closed its McDonald's earlier this year.

The Cleveland debate began two years ago when one of the clinic's most talented, most outspoken heart surgeons rose at a staff retreat to question how in good conscience they could tempt their patients with such unhealthful products.

"I can't tell you how many patients found this repulsive," said cardiology chairman Eric Topol. "How can the Cleveland Clinic, which prides itself on promoting health, have the audacity to have a McDonald's in the main lobby?"

Some days, the scent of cooking grease wafts up the one flight to Topol's domain, a heart center that has been ranked first in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for 10 straight years. He has heard all the wisecracks and not-so-amused comments about serving up a side of fries with that angioplasty.

"If this was a strip mall or a food court in a public place, that would be a different matter," he said in an interview. "We're supposed to be the icons for promoting good health."

Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy as the left-leaning Center for Science in the Public Interest, said McDonald's few salads, fish sandwiches and fruit drinks do not make up for its overwhelming emphasis on fried foods.

"They announced with a lot of fanfare they were going to change the frying oil, and they never followed through," Wootan said. "There's twice as much heart-damaging fat in the french fries and nuggets and apple pies in the lard they use."

McDonald's executives accuse Topol, Cosgrove and Wootan of opportunism and demagoguery, targeting an easy villain rather than the individuals doing the eating.

"If Dr. Cosgrove wants to say McDonald's is inconsistent" with the health goals of the hospital, "he needs to take a look at the vending machines with candy bars and salty snacks, the cafeteria with deep-fried chicken, baked pies and slabs of ribs," said William Whitman, director of U.S. media relations for McDonald's.

McDonald's nutritionists point to numerous high-calorie, high-fat foods in the clinic cafeteria. But their comparison of "typical meals" tallies a cafeteria breakfast of orange juice, three scrambled eggs, two pork sausage patties, two hash browns and two slices of toast against the steak, single egg and cheese on a bagel with hash browns from McDonald's.

As the burger battle has escalated, McDonald's public relations gurus have rolled out legal, political and economic arguments. They defend their food as healthful. But they also have suggested that Cosgrove is racist for targeting Turan Strange, the African American small businessman who owns the franchise, raised the specter of unemployment for its 40 low-wage workers and said that closing down will hurt Ohio beef producers.

Phillip Wilkins, a representative of the National Black McDonald's Operators Association, warned Cosgrove: "We vigorously support one another and will not hesitate to do so with every resource available to us."

In the meantime, business is brisk at the Cleveland Clinic McDonald's, one of four owned by Strange.

"I try to eat healthy, but for lunch I want something that's cheap," said Tanya Sutton, who works 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in patient food service. "At 11 a.m. they're still serving breakfast in the cafeteria, but that's my lunch break." She eats at the McDonald's a few times a week.

Nudged by his wife, engineering supervisor John Moorer walks through the cafeteria salad bar, loading his plate with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggs, cucumbers, cheese cubes and diced ham, which he knows is not good for his high blood pressure. But he has also opted for McDonald's or Pizza Hut: "I can't eat salad all the time. It's rabbit food."

Near retirement age, Moorer doesn't want his boss telling him what to eat. "If it's killing me, then that's my choice," he said.

McDonald's officials said they want to work with the clinic to develop more healthful menu options. But Cosgrove did not sound interested. He suggested a financial settlement is in the offing.

His next target: tobacco. He wants the Cleveland Clinic smoke-free by Independence Day.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

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5. Helping Achieve More Compassionate Treatment of Farm Animals

Whole Foods Market Establishes Foundation to Help Achieve More Compassionate Treatment of Farm Animals

As Company Celebrates 25th Year, It Will Donate Five Percent of Total Global Sales Tuesday, January 25 to Launch Animal Compassion Foundation

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Whole Foods Market(R) (Nasdaq: WFMI), the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket founded in 1980, invites shoppers to visit its 166 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom on Tuesday, January 25 as five percent of total company sales will be allocated to create the Animal Compassion Foundation. As an independent, non-profit organization with its own board of directors, the Foundation will provide education and research services to assist and inspire ranchers and meat producers around the world to achieve a higher standard of animal welfare excellence while still maintaining economic viability.

full story:

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6. Example of Our Influence/From an Author

Forwarded message:

Dear Richard,

Thank you for your thoughtfulness in sending Pamela's brochure to me. She has agreed to allow me to use up to ten of her 101 reasons for being a vegetarian.

You have made an amazing contribution in your work that is deserving of discovery by all who can benefit by it (which I think is everybody). I love your work. It goes deeper than so many of the writings on this subject, and is very enlightening. Taken in context with many Christian writings on the subject, it adds breadth and depth that is extremely beneficial. Given that there are over 200 million Christians in the United States, in addition to those of the Jewish faith, there are many who should find an interest in your work.

What do you feel is the best and most appropriate way to give proper credit to you and to Pamela for the portions of your work that is included in the book. I would like to lead others to your work so that they may benefit by it, as have I. I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter. Also, because of time constraints, I am limiting the chapter in my book, regarding the spiritual writings on diet to a narrower focus for now.

Rather than discussing each of the major world religions, I am focusing on Judaism and Christianity (parent and child), and will only lightly touch on the teachings of other world religions concerning vegetarianism and diet.

I hope to expand this work in future editions. However, it may be deserving of an entire book by itself. I've have completed over half the work I've wanted to accomplish on this topic, but it will require significantly more time than I can devote presently to complete it. Thus far I've researched and written on Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Jainism, Judaism, Christianity, Bahaii, and Islam, but have covered too broad of area in too little time and am not comfortable with presenting the information now.

It deserves far more attention. It has been beneficial to me personally, and I would like to find a way to share this benefit with others.

For my immediate purposes, the article you have written entitled, "A Vegetarian View of the Torah," is ideal for introducing Jewish thoughts on vegetarian and animal-based diets, and I would like your permission to use it in its entirety, without edits. It is the perfect beginning to this chapter, after my initial introduction.

With that permission, I would like to send this chapter to you for your review, to make sure you are completely comfortable with the context in which it will be represented.

Jim Simmons

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7. All VEGAN Grocery Store goes ONLINE!

Forwarded message:

My favorite store, Food Fight! Vegan Grocery, which (unfortunately) is on the other coast in Portland, OR, just launched an online store so that NY/NJ can get a chance to shop its shelves.

Shipping is quick. The customer service is award-worthy.

Goods include: Cheeses, fake meats, candy, jello, (many types of) jerky, dips, sauces, marshmallows, books, condoms, etc. Typical convenience store fare, but it's all VEGAN. What they also seem to do very well is keep their shelves stocked with items that go beyond the convenience store such as vegan haggis and vegan caviar.

After I visited the store in September I tried to track down some of the items here in Brooklyn, but was unsuccessful. Food Fight! online is a welcome resource for this vegan.

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8. Global Climate Changes, Other Environmental Threats, and the Bush Administration

Forwarded message:

Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

The Bush administration's irresponsible environmental policies have reached disturbing new lows. Just weeks after taking office, President Bush announced the United States would not participate in international efforts to control global warming through the Kyoto protocol. At the time, Bush insisted he was still "committed to a leadership role on the issue of climate change." Four years later, the Bush administration is the leading obstacle to progress. At a U.N. conference in Buenos Aires that ended Saturday, Bush's surrogates opposed efforts by other nations to hold a series of discussions about what to do to combat global warming when Kyoto expires in 2012. The Bush administration officials insisted that "it was too early to take even that step" and, if any meetings were held, "there shall be no written or oral report." The U.S. insisted that talks be limited to a single seminar where participants will not be allowed to discuss future cuts in greenhouse gasses. As a result, the future of international efforts to prevent catastrophic global warming is hanging by its "fingernails."


A big topic at the Buenos Aires conference was "adaptation assistance" -- providing resources "to poor, low-lying island countries to help them cope with the impacts of climate change." Such aid would benefit tiny Pacific Ocean nations like Tuvalu, Kiribati and Micronesia. But Saudi Arabia, one of the world's richest nations, insisted "aid include compensation to oil-producing countries for any fall in revenues that may result from the reduction in the use of carbon fuels." The United States stood alone in supporting the Saudi request.


Bush has rejected mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases because he claims they would have a "negative economic impact." But the international business community understands that the consequences of inaction would be far worse for their bottom line. For example, at a meeting organized by major insurance companies, "concerns were expressed about rapidly rising payments resulting from more severe and frequent hurricanes, heat waves and flooding."

Experts at the conference agreed that the "frequency and intensity of such events" is increasing because of global warming. Extreme weather patterns could cost the insurance industry an additional $25 billion annually if global warming is left unchecked.


The Bush administration is dropping the ball on global warming. So a bipartisan coalition of eight states -- four Republican governors, and four Democratic -- is taking matters into its own hands to control global warming. The consortium, called Northeast States for Coordinate Air Use Management, will implement a regional cap-and-trade system to control greenhouse gas emissions. The states involved see "environment, health and economic" benefits in taking action. Washington, Oregon and California are considering developing a similar plan. California has a plan (now being challenged by the auto industry) to reduce greenhouse gasses from automobiles by 30 percent over the next ten years.


The Bush administration stands "virtually alone in challenging the scientific assumptions underlying the Kyoto Protocol." In other words,
the world is getting hotter because of human activity. It might not seem like it today, but 2004 was the fourth-hottest year on record. The top ten hottest years have all occurred since 1990. The last year brought "four powerful hurricanes in the Caribbean and deadly typhoons lashing Asia." Alden Meyer, policy director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, "whatever is going on is not natural and is no longer within the realm of variability." Nevertheless, the Bush administration has announced its opposition to the phrase, "climate change," in favor of the ambiguous (and inaccurate) term, "climate variability."

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9. Do Torah Teachings Justify Animal Exploitation?

The article below provides some material for responding to arguments that are often brought up by animal rights advocates who challenge religious practices and by religious people who wish to justify their diets.

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. and Dovid Sears

Many apologists for the exploitation of animals seek justification in scripture, but their presumption is largely due to the misunderstanding of two important Torah verses that, when properly conceived, actually endorse the struggle to improve conditions for animals.

The first misunderstanding is that the Torah teaching that humans are granted dominion over animals (Genesis 1:26) gives us a warrant to treat them in whatever way we may wish. However, Jewish tradition interprets "dominion" as guardianship, or stewardship, not domination: we are called upon to be co-workers with God in improving the world. This biblical mandate does not mean that people have the right to wantonly exploit animals, and it certainly does not permit us to breed animals and then treat them as machines designed solely to meet human needs. In "A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace," Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel and a leading 20th century Jewish thinker, states: "There can be no doubt in the mind of any intelligent person that [the Divine empowerment of humanity to derive benefit from nature] does not mean the domination of a harsh ruler, who afflicts his people and servants merely to satisfy his whim and desire, according to the crookedness of his heart. It is unthinkable that the Divine Law would impose such a decree of servitude, sealed for all eternity, upon the world of God, Who is 'good to all, and His mercy is upon all His works' (Psalms 145:9), and Who declared, 'The world shall be built with kindness' (ibid. 89:33)."

This view is reinforced by the fact that immediately after God gave humankind dominion over animals (Genesis 1:26), He prescribed vegetarian foods as the diet best suited to humans (Genesis 1:29). This mandate is almost immediately followed by God's declaration that all of Creation was "very good" (Genesis 1:31). Perhaps this indicates that Adam and Eve's original vegetarian diet was consistent with the stewardship that God entrusted to them and to all humankind. Another indication of the true message of dominion is the Torah verse that indicates that God put Adam, the first human being, into the garden of Eden to "work it and to guard it." (Genesis 2:15)

The second error of apologists for animal exploitation is the presumption that the biblical teaching that only people are created in the Divine Image means that God places little or no value on animals. While the Torah states that only human beings are created "in the Divine Image" (Genesis 5:1), animals are also God's creatures, possessing sensitivity and the capacity for feeling pain. God is concerned that they are protected and treated with compassion and justice. In fact, the Jewish sages state that to be "created in the Divine Image," means that people have the capacity to emulate the Divine compassion for all creatures. "As God is compassionate," they teach, "so you should be compassionate."

A rabbinic teaching that we should imitate God is Hama bar Hanina's interpretation of the verse, "After the Lord your God you shall walk" (Deuteronomy 13: 5): "How can man walk after God?" the ancient sage queries. "Is He not called a 'consuming fire'? Rather, what is meant is that man ought to emulate the attributes of God. Just as God clothes the naked, so you shall clothe the naked. Just as God visits the sick, so you shall visit the sick. Just as God comforts the bereaved, so you shall comfort the bereaved. Just as He buries the dead, so you shall bury the dead."

In his classic work Ahavat Chesed ("The Love of Kindness"), the revered Chafetz Chayim (Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan of Radin) discusses this teaching at length. He writes that whoever emulates the Divine love and compassion to all creatures "will bear the stamp of God on his person." Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, a leading 19th century Jewish thinker, also discusses this concept: "You can know God only through His acts of love and justice; and, in turn, you too are called upon to act with love and justice." Concerning the biblical concept that human beings were created to "serve and safeguard the earth" (Genesis 2:15), Rabbi Hirsch states that this actually limits our rights over other living creatures. He writes: "The earth was not created as a gift to you. You have been given to the earth, to treat it with respectful consideration, as God's earth, and everything on it as God's creation, as your fellow creatures - to be respected, loved, and helped to attain their purpose according to God's will... To this end, your heartstrings vibrate sympathetically with any cry of distress sounding anywhere in Creation, and with any glad sound uttered by a joyful creature."

In summation, as the Lord is our shepherd, we are to be shepherds of voiceless creatures. As God is kind and compassionate to us, we must be considerate of the needs and feelings of animals. To this we may add that by showing compassion to animals through a vegetarian diet, we help fulfill the commandment to imitate God's ways.

Jewish tradition clearly forbids any display of cruelty toward animals. In Hebrew, this is called tza'ar ba'alei chayim, the biblical mandate not to cause "pain to any living creature." In contrast to this, Psalms 104 and 148 bespeak the worthiness of the animals of the field, creatures of the sea, and birds of the air before their Creator. Psalm 104 depicts God as "giving drink to every beast of the field," and "causing grass to spring up for the cattle." Perhaps the Jewish attitude toward animals is best summarized by Proverbs 12:10: "The righteous person regards the life of his or her animal." In his explanation of this verse, the Malbim, a 19th century biblical commentator, explained that the righteous person understands the nature of the animal, and hence provides food at the proper time, and according to the amount needed. He is also careful not to overwork the animal. According to the Malbim, the tzaddik (righteous person) acts according to the laws of justice. Not only does he act according to these laws with human beings, but also with animals.

In conclusion, apologists for animal exploitation who try to justify their stance from biblical text are mistaken. Since Judaism is concerned with the well being of animals and forbids causing them unnecessary pain, it clearly is a foe of animal exploitation.

Rabbi Dovid Sears is the director of the New York-based Breslov Center for Spirituality and Inner Growth. He is presently completing a comprehensive anthology of original translations and essays entitled The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism. His previous books include Compassion for Humanity in the Jewish Tradition, The Path of the Baal Shem Tov: Early Chasidic Teachings and Customs, and The Flame of the Heart: Prayers of a Chasidic Mystic.

Richard H. Schwartz is Professor Emeritus, Mathematics, College of Staten Island, City University of New York. He is author of Judaism and Vegetarianism , Judaism and Global Survival, and Mathematics and Global Survival. He has over 100 articles and book reviews at

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10. Vegetarian Thoughts From a JVNA Newsletter Reader

For: Temple Beth Or, The Light newsletter
Date: 12.25.04
By: Jeffrey Tucker, member of NALITH Foundation committee


The statement "nothing died to feed my face" has religious overtones. Why? Abstaining from meat often denotes spirituality, Buddha was a vegan, Essene dead sea scrolls recount Jesus' vegetarian teachings and The Jewish Vegetarians of North America vigorously promote diet as a multi-mitzvah.

Indeed so many talmudic issues are crammed into one's daily choice of
sustenance that you would be amazed!

In short, one's fork is wielded either as a benign plowshare or as a deadly weapon. As we spend a consumer dollar in effect we are voting: organically-grown fruit, veggies, grain with concurrent avoidance of water-soil-air-body-pollution (by herbicides, pesticides, dyes, preservatives, etc.) OR animal production for slaughter and over-zealous food-processing for profit (ethically-suspect, energy-intensive, ecologically-unsound and worse).

The JVNA’s chief spokesperson is Richard H. Schwartz, PhD, a tireless Educator and advocate for the USA and Israel. In Beth Or's library, you can read his "Judaism and Vegetarianism" and "Judaism and Global Survival," or go to, or many others, easily found. Explore each Jewish holiday’s vegetarian-based lessons, how Rami’s [Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Beth Or’s previous rabbi, and an author and thinker] minyan practices largely correspond, how 'kosher' living is radically-redefined for our modern world.

Personally, I see many 'normal' practices as addictions: involving sugar,
salt, tobacco, meat, dairy, alcohol, medications, coffee, processed grains, carbonation, cosmetics, animal abuse. Some are obvious – you lick the smoking habit, and then the rewards abound. Others are less obvious, but equally powerful. Isn’t the best addiction the discarded one?

Perhaps thousands of meals and snacks lie ahead for you. Each one presents an opportunity to show compassion for the earth and its creatures. By tweaking your choices, a bit here a bit there, especially on Shabbos, you lend support to your own (biological) temple, you align with treasured values, you save an occasional chicken, cow, or sheep whose Creator will surely acknowledge your deed one way or another. Tap me on the shoulder if I can be helpful in this.

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11. A New Feature at the JVNA Web Site

Noam has added a new feature to the web site. At the bottom of the homepage, you can now do searches for documents on the website.

We are still looking for volunteers to translate some of the material on the web site into Hebrew.

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12. Action Alert: Tell Massachusetts to Ban Foie Gras!

This alert is on the JVNA web site at

Tell Massachusetts to Ban Foie Gras!

A bill is to be introduced in Massachusetts to ban the notoriously cruel "delicacy" foie gras. If you live in Massachusetts, please contact your state (not federal) legislators and ask them to cosponsor legislation to prohibit the force feeding of birds for foie gras. To find out who your legislators are and how to contact them, check or ask us at

Foie gras is created by sticking a steel pipe down the throats of geese and ducks three times a day and using pressurized air to force large quantities of food into their stomachs. This force feeding causes the birds' livers to grow to ten times their normal size, producing "fatty liver," or "foie gras" in French. The birds suffer enormously, and many die. Foie gras production has been banned in many countries, most recently in Israel, the world's third largest producer of foie gras [The ban has not yet gone into effect]. In 2004, California passed a law banning foie gras as of 2012.

The Massachusetts bill is already cosponsored by Senator Fargo, Senator Tisei, Representative Pope, Representative Jim Leary, Representative Paulsen, and Representative Tom O'Brien, who could use the encouragement of a thank you letter:

Your help is critical to getting this bill passed. Thanks for making a difference!

For more action alerts, visit

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Quotations To Think About:

“The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future---deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” Editors, World Watch, July/August 2004

Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.
- Margaret Mead

Until we extend the circle of our compassion to all living things, we will
not ourselves find peace.

- Albert Schweitzer

It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets

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