February 24, 2005

2/24/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. My Schedule

2. Relating Vegetarianism to Shabbat

3. Some Environmental Questions Addressed to Vegetarians/Suggestions Welcome

4. Newsweek Article Discusses Healthiest Foods

5. Environmental/Vegetarian/Animal Rights Publisher Starts a “Books Reading [Discussion] Club”

6. Protecting the Right to Purchase Natural Supplements

7. Stopping the Slaughter of Baby Harp Seals

8. A Travel Agency That Specializes in Vegetarian-Related Trips

9. “Kosher Today” Report on the Postville, Iowa Slaughterhouse and a Rebuttal from Failledmessiah.com

10. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate To Speak on “The Future of the Planet is in Your Hands"

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. My Schedule

I am scheduled to attend a Shabbaton sponsored by he Orthodox Jewish environmental group Canfei Nesharim this Shabbat in Silver Spring, Maryland, followed by an environmental conference sponsored by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) Sunday through Tuesday in Washington, DC. I am scheduled to speak on Monday at the COEJL conference on environmental impacts of our diets and the agriculture that produces our food.

I plan to report on the Shabbaton and conference in the next JVNA newsletter.

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2. Relating Vegetarianism to Shabbat

Suggestions for improvements of my article below are very welcome. Thanks. Please also consider using the material in the article for your own articles, letters, and talking points.

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

There are many connections that can be made between vegetarianism and Shabbat (the Sabbath day):

1. Shabbat is very important in Judaism. The writer Ahad Ha'am stated that "More than the Jews kept Shabbat, Shabbat kept the Jews". Yet, if it could help save a life, one must (not may) violate the Sabbath (Pesachim 25a). One must not say: although this person is very sick and his/her life is threatened, I can't drive him/her to the hospital or call for emergency help until Shabbat is over. Better to violate the commandments on one Shabbat so that a person can live and fulfill many more commandments.

2. Animals, as well as people, must be able to rest on the Sabbath day. The kiddush (sanctification over wine or grape juice) that is recited on Sabbath mornings includes the following verse from the Ten Commandments:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is a sabbath unto the Lord, thy God; in it thou shalt not do any manner of work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates.” (Exod. 20:8-10)

Similar statements occur in Exodus 23:12 and Deuteronomy 5:12-14. Based on these Torah statements, Rashi states that animals must be free to roam freely on the Sabbath day and graze and enjoy the beauties of nature. This is a far cry from conditions for animals today on factory farms.

3. It is not necessary for Jews to eat meat or fish on Shabbat. In a scholarly article in "The Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society" (Fall, 1981), Rabbi Alfred Cohen, the editor, concludes that "If a person is more comfortable not eating meat, there would be no obligation for him to do so on the Sabbath" In a responsa, an answer to a question based on Jewish law, Rabbi Moshe Halevi Steinberg of Kiryat Yam, Israel, states, "One whose soul rebels against eating living things can without any doubt fulfill the commandment of enhancing the Sabbath and rejoicing on festivals by eating vegetarian foods. . . . Each person should delight in the Sabbath according to his own sensibility, enjoyment, and outlook." All of the above is reinforced by the fact that there are Chief Rabbis, including Rabbi Sha'ar Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa, and Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, who are strict vegetarians, including on Shabbat and Yom Tovim (festivals).

4. Shabbat is a reminder of creation, as it is said, "For in six days the Lord made the heaven and earth, and on the seventh day, He rested." (Exodus 1:11) When God created the world, he was able to say, "It is very good." (Genesis 1:31) Everything was in harmony as God had planned, the waters were clean, the air was pure. But what must God think about the world today? What must God think when the rain he sends to nourish our crops is often acid rain due to the many chemicals poured into the air by our industries? when the ozone layer that He provided to separate the heavens from the earth is being depleted at such a rapid rate? when the abundance of species of plants and animals that He created are becoming extinct in tropical rain forests and other threatened habitats, before we are even been able to catalog them? when the fertile soil that He provided is rapidly being depleted and eroded? when the climatic conditions that He designed to meet our needs are threatened by global warming? Modern intensive livestock agriculture is a major factor behind these environmental threats.

5. The observance of Shabbat is an example of the imitation of God; since God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, so we too are to work for six days and rest on the seventh day. Judaism teaches that we are to emulate God's attributes of mercy, for "His tender mercies are over all of His creatures" (Psalm 145.9) A vegetarian diet that does no harm to animals, and does not waste large amounts of grain, land, water, fuel, and other agricultural resources while millions of people die of hunger and its effects every year, is an effective way to mirror the merciful ways of the Lord, who is our shepherd.

6. Psalm 96 which is recited at the Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat (welcome to the Sabbath service) begins with, "Sing to Hashem (God) a new song. Sing to Hashem everyone on earth". According to Rabbi Everett Gendler our purpose is to join with all sentient creatures in singing praises to the Creator for all the wonders of creation. He states, "to respect the life of our fellow choir members by not killing them and eating their corpses would seem an obviously desirable condition for choral collegiality (Rabbis and Vegetarianism: An Evolving Tradition, edited by Roberta Kalechofsky, Micah Publications, 1995, p. 21).

7. Shabbat is a day of thankfulness for our blessings. On Friday night it is traditional for fathers to bless their children. So too, vegetarianism can be a blessing for the world, because of its health, ecological, and other benefits.

8. "It is forbidden to catch any living thing on the Sabbath, even a flea, … it is forbidden to kill on the Sabbath, anything that possesses life" (Code of Jewish Law). This mitzvah seems most consistent with vegetarianism, which also avoids the taking of any life.

9. On Shabbat, we thank G-d for His mercies during the previous week. This is also most consistent with a diet that does not require the cruel treatment of animals.

10. On every Shabbat (and festival) morning, Jews chant "Nishmat kol chai t'varech et shim'chah" ("the soul of all living creatures shall bless Thy name"). This would seem to be most consistent with enjoying Shabbat with a sumptuous vegetarian meal that doesn't involve cruel treatment of animals.

11. One of the highlights of the Shabbat morning service is the reading of the Torah. It is the Torah that contains God's original vegetarian law: "Behold I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree-yielding seed - to you it should be for food." (Genesis 1:29). The Torah also has much about all the reasons for vegetarianism - taking care of our health, compassion for animals, protecting the environment, helping hungry people, and conserving natural resources.

12. Along with the commandment to observe Shabbat is the commandment of 6 days of labor: "Six days a week you should work and do all your creative labor, and the seventh day is Shabbat to the L-rd, your God." Judaism teaches that work enobles and sanctifies life, and that idleness may lead to temptation and sin. However, modern intensive livestock agriculture reduces jobs as farms get bigger and many smaller farms disappear.

13. Jews have sumptuous, joyous meals on Shabbat, and sing z'mirot (songs of praise of G-d and the holiness and beauty of the day). At the end of the meal, birkat hamazon (blessings in appreciation of God ‘s kindness and mercy in providing enough food for everyone) is recited. Yet, today over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as 15 to 20 million people worldwide die annually because of hunger and its effects.

14. Shabbat is viewed in the Jewish tradition as a foretaste of the Messianic period - a time of peace, justice, and harmony. According to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, the Messianic period will be vegetarian. He based this view on the prophecy of Isaiah, "The wolf will dwell with the lamb . . .the lion will eat straw like the ox . and no one shall hurt nor destroy in all of God's holy mountain" (Isaiah 11: 6-9).

15. In addition to being a day of oneg (joy), Shabbat is also a day of learning - learning that people often don't have time for during a hectic week filled with work and other responsibilities. Vegetarians believe that if people learned about the incredible realities related to the mass production and widespread consumption of meat, many would change their diets so as to avoid continuing a diet with so many negative effects.

16. Shabbat is a time of renewal. We can help personal renewal occur by returning to the original human diet, the vegetarian diet of Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), a diet that can help us feel renewed because of the many health benefits of plant-based diets.

17. Shabbat is a time of joyful rest. A person can be truly joyful when healthy, and this is best accomplished through a vegetarian diet.

18. The manna, vegetarian food provided to the Israelites in the desert after their exodus from Egypt, taught the Children of Israel several lessons, one of which is that they should refrain from labor on Shabbat. While only enough manna was provided on other days to meet that day's needs for nourishment, a double portion was provided on Friday morning so that there was no need to gather manna on the Sabbath, when none was provided. Hence, a vegetarian food was used to help show the Israelites that they were to rest on the seventh day. (see Exodus 16:5, 22-30.)

In view of these and other connections, I hope that Jews will enhance their celebration of the spiritually meaningful Shabbat by making it a time to begin striving even harder to live up to Judaism's highest moral values and teachings, and one important way to do this is by moving toward a vegetarian diet.

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3. Some Environmental Questions Addressed to Vegetarians/Suggestions Welcome

The questions below were recently sent to the JVNA web site My responses are interspersed. Please let me know if you have further suggestions. Thanks.


I have been a vegetarian for many years, and am also Jewish. I would like to ask one question of you, as follows:

*** Thanks. Howard, for your thoughtful questions (below). My responses are interspersed between your paragraphs, preceded and followed by ***. Since you raise several very important questions and issues, I also plan to include your message and my response in a Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) newsletter (please let me know if you would like to receive future copies, with no cost or obligation to you), to see if readers have additional ideas or suggestions. It just happens that I am scheduled to speak at a national convention of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) next Monday on the environmental implications of our diets, so your question comes at a time when I am thinking about such issues. ***

My diet includes large quantities of fruits and vegetables, pounds of each a day. (Since these foods have such a low calorie density, and I exercise regularly, I am not at all overweight.) Of course, this is considered to be healthy, and I am fortunate that I truly enjoy eating foods that are healthy. However, I vaguely recall reading somewhere that truck farming (farming of fruits and vegetables) is an intensely gasoline-intensive process, such that consumption of fruits and vegetables is essentially equivalent to consumption of large quantities of fossil fuels. According to this model, future production of fruits and vegetables may be threatened by the expiration of the earth's resources of fossil fuels.

First, do you have any information on this model? Is this correct? I
could not find anything in a Google search just now, but perhaps I did not use the correct search terms.

*** It is true that fruits and vegetables and other foods are often shipped for great distances, and this does require large amounts of energy. ***

Does Jewish vegetarianism have anything to say about this dilemma? For example, are Jewish vegetarians ethically required to:

a) Limit their consumption of fruits and vegetables to a minimum amount, obtaining the majority of their calories from grain products?

*** I think at least part of the answer is to support local food coops that get their products from local farmers, hence reducing transportation costs. ***

b) Eat as much of these products as they wish, but advocate continued
research and development of alternative fuels or more efficient farming machinery?

*** I definitely think that Jews (and everyone else) should be concerned about current environmental crises, and this is why most issues of the JVNA newsletter have material on global warming and other current environmental issues. I think that it is essential that there be extensive efforts to increase conservation and the use of renewable energy sources. ***

c) Something else?

*** As indicated, we should strive to increase the use of locally grown products as much as possible. ***

***In general, based on many Jewish teachings on environmental stewardship (discussed in my books and the environmental articles at JewishVeg.com/schwartz), I believe that Jews should be leaders in the environmental movement and that tikkun olam, the Jewish mandate to heal, repair and properly transform the world, should become a central principle for our synagogues, schools, and other aspects of Jewish life today. ***

Further questions:
Would it be considered unethical to consume more than one's share of the finite amount of fossil fuels?

*** As indicated above, based on many Jewish teachings, we should strive to minimize our impact in terms of pollution caused and resources used. Being a vegetarian (and even more so, a vegan) is an important step re this. ***

How do these questions compare in weight to the issue of killing animals for food?

*** It should be considered that animal-based agriculture requires far more land, water, fuel, and other agricultural resources than plant-based agriculture. I like to point out that while vegetarianism is an important part of the necessary response to current environmental and other threats, it is not the complete answer, and we must also work for improvements in other areas. ***

What ethical principles are relevant to this question?

*** The realities of animal-based diets and modern intensive "livestock" agriculture are inconsistent with Jewish mandates that we preserve our health, treat animals compassionately, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people. ***

Can you suggest any relevant sources I might consider?

*** Yes, our JVNA web site (JewishVeg.com, including my over 100 articles at JewishVeg.com/schwartz)

My books, "Judaism and Vegetarianism" and "Judaism and Global Survival"

Many of Roberta Kalechofsky’s books on Judaism and vegetarianism and animal rights (www.micahbooks.com)

In the secular world, books by John Robbins ("The Food Revolution"). Howard Lyman ("Mad Cowboy"), and others.

Thank you for your consideration,

Howard Schaffer
Metuchen, NJ

Thanks for your very thoughtful questions. Best wishes,

Richard (Schwartz)
President, JVNA

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4. Newsweek Article Discusses Healthiest Foods

Thanks to Yosef Hakohen for forwarding this article to me.

Due to space considerations, only part of the article is included below, but the complete article can be found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6941995/site/newsweek/

Feel-Good Foods
New research shows some foods and beverages can improve your health as well as your diet. Our top picks

By Jennifer Barrett Ozols
Updated: 2:16 p.m. ET Feb. 10, 2005

Feb. 10 - Are you worried about high cholesterol? Try switching from sugary cereals to whole-grain varieties like Total or Puffed Kashi. Do you want to improve your night vision? Eat more blueberries. Depressed? Try eating more salmon, and you’ll lower your risk of heart disease, too.

Over the past several years, researchers have identified a range of health benefits—from lower blood pressure to improved memory skills and mental acuity—linked with the consumption of certain foods and beverages. A new study to be published next week in the journal Biological Psychiatry indicates that some foods could even help fight depression. A team of researchers at McLean Hospital, associated with Harvard University, found that omega-3 fatty acids and uridine, two substances that occur naturally in foods such as fish, walnuts, molasses and sugar beets, prevented the development of signs of depression in rats as effectively as antidepressant drugs. Another study published last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea, which has already been shown to help fight heart disease, cancer and other diseases, may also fight fat.

“There are new studies out all the time about new health benefits that foods provide,” says Dee Sandquist, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. The ADA, which has reviewed scientific studies on everything from fatty fish to fermented dairy products, calls those with documented health benefits “functional foods.”

“They’re whole foods and fortified, enriched or enhanced foods,” says Sandquist. “Functional foods have evolved as food and nutrition science has advanced beyond the treatment of deficiencies to reducing the risk of disease.”

Several such foods fit into the federal government’s updated dietary guidelines, released last month, which put renewed emphasis on making healthy choices. The new guidelines boost the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables to four and a half per day, emphasize whole grains over other kinds of carbohydrates and encourage fat-free or low-fat dairy options. “Half your plate should be filled with fruits or vegetables; the other half should be evenly divided between whole grains and protein. Then add three servings of skim dairy products,” suggests Dr. Christine Gerbstadt, a registered dietician in Pittsburgh.

Which foods pack the most punch in those categories? NEWSWEEK spoke to some of the top nutrition experts and sorted through the latest studies to select foods and beverages that fit into those guidelines and provide a range of health benefits backed by strong scientific evidence. Here, in no particular order, are our top eight picks:

Fatty fish [My articles at http://JewishVeg.com/schwartz discuss negative effects of producing and eating fish.]



Both almonds and walnuts have been shown to lower cholesterol. For example, a study published last fall in the journal Metabolism found that participants who followed a specific dietary plan high in heart-healthy foods, including almonds, decreased their LDL or “bad” cholesterol (since it can clog arteries) by 35 percent—in just two weeks. And a study published in 2002 in the journal Circulation found that participants who substituted a portion of almonds for their usual daily snacks reduced their LDL cholesterol by 9.4 percent and raised their HDL cholesterol (or “good” cholesterol, since it has been shown to protect against heart attacks) by 4.6 percent in four weeks.


Tip: Nuts are high in calories and fat, so eat only a small portion (23 almonds make up a serving).

Whole Grains
Research has shown that people who eat whole grains have lower body mass index, lower total cholesterol and lower waist-to-hip ratios. Various studies on a variety of different populations found that people who eat three daily servings of whole grains can reduce their risk of heart disease by 25 to 36 percent, stroke by 37 percent, type 2 diabetes by 21 to 27 percent, digestive system cancers by 21 to 43 percent, and hormone-related cancers by 10 to 40 percent, according to researchers at the Grain Institute at the University of Minnesota who reviewed various studies.

Why? In a study published in the December issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Harvard researchers found that whole grains lowered the risk of coronary heart disease in men, and suggested that the bran component could be a key factor. Another study, published a month earlier, that followed more than 27,000 men over an eight-year period found that those who consumed the most whole grains in their diets gained less weight. Harvard researchers concluded that components in whole grains may alter a person’s metabolism and reduce long-term weight gain. The ADA has also found “very strong” scientific evidence that beta-glucan in whole oat products can reduce LDL cholesterol levels.

In an analysis of more than 85 studies, apple consumption was consistently shown to be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, asthma and type 2 diabetes, compared to other fruits and vegetables, says Murray.


Cruciferous Vegetables
One of the American Cancer Society's key dietary recommendations for reducing the risk of cancer is to regularly include cruciferous vegetables, which include: cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale. “Brussel sprouts are like eating a vitamin pill. It’s all nutrients,” says Gerbstadt.

But all members of the so-called “cabbage family of vegetables” contain more phytochemicals with demonstrable anti-cancer properties than any other vegetable family, says Murray. Most of these compounds are glucosinolates, which break down in the body and fight the development of cancer in different ways.


Small red beans, a pea-sized legume often used in recipes for Mexican food, were found to have the highest antioxidant levels among 100 different types of fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts and spices tested last year by Ronald L. Prior, a USDA nutritionist and research chemist based in Little Rock, and his colleagues. Antioxidants reduce damage from oxygen, like that caused by free radicals, and may reduce the risk of cancer.

Diets rich in legumes—which include several varieties of beans (kidney, black, lima, pinto and garbanzo), peas (yellow and split green, though not garden) and lentils—are also known to lower cholesterol levels and improve blood glucose control in diabetics. Legumes contain many important nutrients and phytochemicals, and when combined with grains, they form a complete protein, says Murray. They provide at least 20 percent of the USDA daily recommended doses of iron, magnesium and folate, and are also a good source of complex carbohydrates, fiber and B vitamins.


Like legumes, blueberries have consistently demonstrated antioxidant effects (they’re the second-most antioxidant-rich food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture). Researchers have found that blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Some studies also indicate that blueberries might help improve night vision and prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. After British pilots touted the vision-improving benefits of blueberries in World War II, researchers studying blueberry extracts found that they do improve nighttime visual acuity, and lead to quicker adjustment to darkness and faster restoration of visual acuity after exposure to glare, says Murray. Clinical studies have shown good results in individuals with sensitivity to bright lights, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. Additional research points out that blueberries may be protective against the development of cataracts and glaucoma, and used in the treatment of varicose veins, hemorrhoids and peptic ulcers.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6941995/site/newsweek/

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5. Environmental/Vegetarian/Animal Rights Publisher Starts a “Books Reading [Discussion] Club”

Forwarded message from Lantern Books

Join the Lantern Books Reading Club to meet new friends and discuss issues of animal rights, vegetarianism, and social justice.

WHEN: Quarterly, beginning Monday, March 28, 6:45-8 PM

WHERE: Lantern Books, One Union Square West, Suite 201, New York City (southwest corner of 14th St. & University Place, 2nd floor)

FIRST BOOK: "Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust," by Charles Patterson, 232 pages, $20

COST: Free. Munchies will be provided. RSVP not required.

At our inaugural session on March 30, we will be joined by the author, Charles Patterson.

To buy your book directly from Lantern visit: www.lanternbooks.com or order through your local bookstore. Availability at libraries is not guaranteed.

We look forward to active participation from our readers. Group facilitators will include moderator Jean Thaler, our readers, and Lantern publisher, Martin Rowe. Jean Thaler formerly ran Big Apple Vegetarians and the Makor Book Club. Her goal is to have a fun, informed, participatory discussion. She is pleased to support this unique publisher and its authors.

Please direct any questions to jeanthaler@yahoo.com, or Lantern Books, promotion@lanternbooks.com or 212-414-2275 x17.

If you wish to be on the Lantern Books "New York City Events" list in the future, please sign up on our homepage: www.lanternbooks.com

"Lantern Books publishes books for all wanting to live with greater spiritual depth and commitment to the preservation of the natural world."

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7. Stopping the Slaughter of Baby Harp Seals

Forwarded message

We've all seen the baby harp seal pictures -- adorable dark eyes staring out at us benevolently from pillowy white fur. But cruelty season is fast-approaching in Canada. Sign the petition: http://www.care2.com/go/z/21459

In a month's time, hunters armed with clubs and rifles will bludgeon and shoot to death hundreds of thousands of baby harp seals out on the ice floes of Eastern Canada. Shockingly, at least 95% of the seals killed will be less than three months old and more than 40% may be skinned alive.

Canada's seal hunt is the largest deliberate slaughter of marine mammals in the world. The government has set a legal quota of up to 319,500 seals this year. The seal pelts are served up to the fashion industry, with additional profits from meat, oil, and the sale of genitalia to Asian markets. But the killing of baby seals doesn't make sense economically or ecologically, nor is it sustainable.

The Canadian government wants the media and public to believe that no one cares about the innocent blood spilled each year. That's why we must create a public outcry!

Tell the Canadian Parliament that you DO CARE about the cruelty inflicted upon these seals and that the hunt is indefensible!

Sign the petition: http://www.care2.com/go/z/21459

Thank you for taking action today!

Dawn S
Care2 and ThePetitionSite team

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8. A Travel Agency That Specializes in Vegetarian-Related Trips

Forwarded messages

Sunday, February 20, 2005; Page P08

Tired of asking, "Is there meat in this?" [Of course, observant Jews have to raise questions about kashrut.] Then book a hotel, cruise or trip that caters to vegetarians. Among the options:


Donna Zeigfinger (with her husband) is a vegan travel agent. (Green Earth Travel)

* The White Pig B&B (5120 Irish Rd., Schuyler, Va., 434-831-1416, www.thewhitepig.com) is run by a vegan couple and is home to 13 pigs -- that you can pet, not eat. The three rooms run $150 to $230 per night and include a vegan breakfast and afternoon treats, such as vegan brownies. Chef/innkeeper Dina Brigish will also prepare a gourmet dinner for $45 (basket) or $60 (full meal) per person; lunch is $10. Doubles from $80, including veggie or pescatarian (no meat, but eats fish)



* Rio Caliente (800-200-2927, www.riocaliente.com), about 45 minutes from Mexico's Guadalajara, pairs rejuvenating activities (i.e., nature hikes, hot springs, yoga) with gourmet vegetarian meals. Nightly rates from $128 per person double include three veggie meals a day, lectures, exercises, etc.

* The Regency House Natural Health Spa, near Fort Lauderdale. Fla., stresses fitness and healthy (meat-less) eating; a five-day package ($799 per person double until April 23), for one, includes room, three vegetarian meals daily, vegetarian cooking demos, etc. Info: 800-454-0003, www.regencyhealthspa.com.



* WanderbirdCruises (866-SEA-BIRD, www.wanderbirdcruises.com) is a 90-foot Dutch fishing vessel that sails along the Maine and Canadian coastline. Besides catering to vegetarian sailors, its captains (one is vegetarian) also plan a handful of vegetarian cruises, such as the Sept. 5-9 "Sail With Whales Featuring Vegetarian Fare" for $1,150 per person.

* Bicycle Beano Cycling Holidays (011-44-1982-560-471, www.bicycle-beano.co.uk) organizes cycling holidays in Wales and England with vegetarian meals. The three-day Wye Valley trip on July 1, for example, starts at $453 per person for camping and veggie meals.mill. The April 17-23 trip is $3,165 per person double, land only.


* Green Earth Travel, of Cabin John, specializes in vegetarian vacations. Vegan owner Donna Zeigfinger can also supply a list of meat-free restaurants in various destinations (free for clients who book with her agency; otherwise $10 per city). Info: 301-229-5666, www.vegtravel.com

* On the International Ecotourism Society's Web site (www.ecotourism.org click on Travel Choice to find travel operators worldwide who specialize in environmentally aware trips and organic and/or vegetarian cuisine.

* The Specialty Travel Index has a vegetarian tours category, such as a retreat in Hawaii. Info: 888-624-4030, specialtytravel.com.

* Vegan Tours (877-233-0146, vegantours.com) offers trips to some of Costa Rica's top natural attractions. Cost: $350 per person double, for lodging, three meals a day and tours.


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9. “Kosher Today” Report on the Postville, Iowa Slaughterhous and a Rebuttal from Failledmessiah.com

“Kosher Today” report

AgriProcessors Passes Albertsons (FMI/NCCR) Audit

(Postville, Iowa) An independent audit of the AgriProcessors plant last Thursday gave high marks to the glatt kosher slaughterhouse. The audit was conducted on behalf of the Albertsons supermarket chain, a large Agri customer, and was based on guidelines for animal handling developed by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) in collaboration with the National Council of Chain Restaurants (NCCR). "The audit once and for all put to rest the shameful accusations against the kosher schechita at our plant," said Sholom Rubashkin of Agri. The Albertsons audit did not include the controversial Section 5 on kosher slaughter, which sources say is in the process of being changed. Supermarket News quoted Karen Brown, FMI's Senior Vice President, as saying that a much-delayed meeting with rabbis and certifying agencies is in the works. Kosher Today has learned that the meeting will take place next month, although final details are still being worked out. Albertsons had agreed to the suggestion of the Orthodox Union not to include Section 5 in the Agri audit which the rabbis and the agencies say conflicts with the religious practice of schechita itself. A broad coalition of rabbis and agencies had requested a meeting with FMI more than a year ago to discuss their objections to the guidelines adopted by FMI in January 2003. Sources say that the kosher slaughter audit will be changed to satisfy the Jewish religious requirements, which will ultimately be confirmed by the long awaited meeting between FMI/NCCR and the Orthodox leaders.

Response from failedmessiah.com:

Rubashkin Passes FMI Audit -- Actual Slaughter Not Part Of Audit -- Removed To Accommodate Rubashkin

AgriProcessors has apparently passed an independent audit done for Albertsons according to the Food Marketing Institute standards.

However, the audit did not include any aspect of the slaughter itself. This special accommodation was made on a one-time basis until the FMI standards are specially rewritten to accommodate Rubashkin. All other kosher facilities can pass the original FMI audit without accommodation.

Even though the OU has trumpeted newly-changed and improved procedures in the plant, AgriProcessors CEO Sholom M. Rubashkin said the new Albertsons audit:

[O]nce and for all put to rest the shameful accusations against the kosher schechita at our plant.

How an audit that did not include shechita itself and was conducted months after the PETA exposé and after plant procedures were publicly changed can be said in any way to clear Rubashkin of any past wrongdoing is unclear.

The USDA investigation is still "ongoing" and, two months after the investigation's findings were expected to be made public no report has yet been issued.

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10. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate To Speak on “The Future of the Planet is in Your Hands"

Forwarded message:

The Cooper Union and Lantern Books are pleased to present:

Prof. Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Environmental and Peace Activist
Founder of the Green Belt Movement

"The Future of the Planet is in Your Hands"
Lecture and Book Signing in the Historic Grand Hall

Tuesday March 8
7:15 to 9:00 p.m.
Please be seated by 7:00 PM

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
7 East 7th Street at Cooper Square
6 train to Astor Place or R or W trains to West 8th Street
No RSVP necessary

Donations to the Green Belt Movement are welcome at the door.
Two-thirds of book sales will go to the Green Belt Movement.

for more information please visit:

for map of, and further directions to, Cooper Union visit:

The Green Belt Movement
Sharing the Approach and the Experience - New and Expanded Edition
Wangari Maathai
ISBN: 159056040X
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February 21, 2005

2/21/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Relating Vegetarianism to Purim/Suggestions Welcome

2. Is it Already Too Late to Prevent Horrific Effects of Global Warming?

3. Update on the ‘McLibel’ Trial/Victory for Plaintiffs Against McDonald’s

4. Kyoto Protocal Becomes International Law

5. An Example for Jews?/Statement of the National Council of Churches USA on Global Warming

6. Article by a Rabbi re the JVNA’s Teachings on Vegetarianism

7. Some Republican Leaders Joining the Battle Against Global Warming

8. Amazon Forests Not Doing Well

9. Article in Los Angeles Times on the Postville Slaughterhouse Issue

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. Relating Vegetarianism to Purim/Suggestions Welcome

With Purim (March 25 this year, starting after sundown on March 24) about 5 weeks away, I am planning to send the material below to the Jewish media. Comments/suggestions for improvements are very welcome. Also, please consider using the material below to create your own articles and letters about Purim. Thanks.

Purim and Vegetarianism
Richard H. Schwartz

There are many connections between vegetarianism and the Jewish festival of Purim:

1. According to the Talmud, Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, was a vegetarian while she lived in the palace of King Achashverus. She was thus able to avoid violating the kosher dietary laws while keeping her Jewish identity secret.

2. During Purim it is a mitzvah to give "mat'not evyonim" (added charity to poor and hungry people). In contrast to these acts of sharing and compassion, animal-based diets involve the feeding of over 70 percent of the grain in the United States to animals, while an estimated 20 million people die of hunger and its effects annually.

3. During the afternoon of Purim, Jews have a "seudah" (special festive meal), when family and friends gather to rejoice in the Purim spirit. Serving only vegetarian food at this occasion would enable all who partake to be consistent with Jewish mandates to preserve health, protect the environment, share with hungry people, conserve resources, and treat animals with compassion (as well as the vegetarian practices of Queen Esther).

4. Jews make noise with "groggers" and other noisemakers, to drown out the infamous name of Haman when it appears during the reading of the Megillah (Book of Esther). Today, vegetarians are "making noise" in attempting to educate people and drown out the very well-funded propaganda of the beef and dairy industries.

5. On Purim, Jews emphasize unity and friendship by sending gifts of food ("shalach manot") to friends. Vegetarians act in the spirit of unity and concern for humanity by having a diet that best shares the earth's abundant resources.

6. Because Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people, it is the most joyous Jewish holiday. By contrast, animals on factory farms never have a pleasant day, and millions of people throughout the world are too involved in trying to obtain their next meal to be able to experience many joyous moments.

7. Mordecai, one of the heroes of the Purim story, was a nonconformist. As the book of Esther states, ". . . And all of the king's servants . . . bowed down and prostrated themselves before Haman . . . But Mordecai would not bow down nor prostrate himself before him" (Esther 3:2). Today, vegetarians represent non-conformity. At a time when most people in the wealthier countries think of animal products as the main part of their meals, when McDonald's and similar fast food establishments are still popular, vegetarians are resisting and insisting that there is a better, healthier, more humane diet.

8. Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from the wicked Haman. Today, vegetarianism can be a step toward deliverance from modern problems such as hunger, pollution, and resource scarcities.

9. Purim commemorates the time when conditions for the Jews changed from sorrow to gladness and from mourning to festival. Today, a switch to vegetarianism could result in similar changes for many people, since plant- based diets would reduce health problems, pollution, water scarcities, and hunger.

10. Jews hear the reading of the Megillah twice during Purim, in order to reeducate themselves about the terrible threats to the Jewish people and their deliverance. Jewish vegetarians believe that if Jews were educated about the horrible realities of factory farming and the powerful Jewish mandates about taking care of our health, showing compassion to animals, protecting the environment, conserving resources, and helping hungry people, they would seriously consider switching to vegetarian diets.

11. Hamantashen, the primary food associated with Purim, is a vegetarian food.

In view of these and other connections, I hope that Jews will enhance their celebrations of the beautiful and spiritually meaningful holiday of Purim by making it a time to begin striving even harder to live up to Judaism’s highest moral values and teachings by moving toward a vegetarian diet.

Letter to the editor re “Vegetarianism and Purim”

Dear editor,

According to the Talmud, Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, was a vegetarian while she lived in the palace of King Achashverus, in order to avoid violating the kosher dietary laws while keeping her Jewish identity secret. Therefore, Purim is an ideal time for Jews to consider a shift toward vegetarian diets.

This dietary change would be consistent with important Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and pursue a more peaceful, less violent world.

While Purim commemorates the triumph of the Jews in ancient Persia over their oppressors, a shift to plant-based diets would enable contemporary Jews to reverse current threats from an epidemic of disease related to animal-based diets and the many environmental problems related to modern intensive animal-based agriculture.

Very truly yours,

Richard Schwartz

p. s. I thought you might be interested in my Purimsphpiel (Purim humor) below, which was published by Sh'ma magazine, after they requested me to submit something on the topic, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Reb Henna taught: "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Clearly, the chicken. How do we know this? We learn from the
Book of Esther that when Mordecai asked Esther to go before King
Ahashveros to plead for the Jewish people, she was 'chicken,' fearing
for her life. Only when Mordecai 'egged' her on, telling her that
perhaps she was enabled to be queen for just this EGGcelent purpose,
did she muster the courage and 'scrambled' to appear before the

Reb Roosta stated, "Speaking of birds, I heard that a Heavenly
voice once announced: 'A Robin Redbreast in a cage puts all Heaven in
a rage'". (William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence”) Reb Chicka
responded, "Not to EGGaggerate, but - If a robin redbreast in a
cage puts all heaven in a rage, how feels heaven when, dies the
billionth battery hen?" (Spike Mulligan, British comedian) Reb
Poultrie stated, "Since Queen Esther was a vegetarian to avoid
violating the dietary laws while hiding her Jewish identity, and
since our esteemed editor Rabbi Judah, the Prince was stricken with
pain for many years because he callously treated a frightened calf,
perhaps we should egg on Jews to protest against current horrible
treatment of chickens.

Another Purim Shpiel

Pork More Kosher than your Bubeleh’s Brisket
A Purim Spiel, by Aaron Gross

Pork is treyf (non-kosher) par excellence and, I argue, the perfect food for the celebration of Purim. Forget those triangular hamantaschen cookies. Whether you keep kosher or eat everything, I suggest that this Purim Jews should start eating kosher pork instead of chicken, fish, or beef. What food could be more in line with the topsy-turvy spirit of Purim than kosher pork? Now, I’m not talking about eating a dead pig—that, we can do without. I’m talking about fakin’ bacon, pseudo-sausage, and pigless pepperoni! There is a wave of wonderful vegetarian faux pork in today’s supermarket and, I submit, this pork is more kosher than you Bubeleh’s brisket. Most of this faux pork is certified kosher (no kidding), but what makes me say it is more kosher?

First, eating kosher pork rather than meat allows you to pig-out without porking-up. According the American Dietetic Association, multiple studies have shown that eating meat can contribute to obesity. More significantly, the three biggest “killers” in this country—heart disease, cancer, and stroke—are all preventable to some degree through lifestyle changes, including adopting a low fat vegetarian diet (see www.PCRM.org for more info).

Second, kosher pork is green. No, I don’t mean that the pork is actually the color green. Thankfully, that is only the case in Dr. Seuss books. I mean that vegetarian faux pork is ecologically sound while meat-based diets contribute to our ecological woes. According to the environmental think tank, the Worldwatch Institute, meat-based diets burden our limited supply of fossil fuels because the grain fed to farm animals is an energy-intensive product. Animal agriculture also wastes land resources and contributes to water and air pollution.

Finally, kosher pork saves lives. I don’t have in mind here your own life, though a vegetarian diet may save it. Rather, I mean the lives of literally billions of animals that are raised and killed in cruel conditions each year to feed our appetite for meat, fish, eggs, and milk. Even in a Purim spiel, I think it’s hard to laugh at the plight, for example, of chickens who routinely have their sentient beaks seared off with hot irons when they are only days old. The beak is seared off so the chickens can’t mutilate each other with it in the filthy, over-crowded conditions that prevail on today’s factory farms.

Purim’s playful spirit calls Jews to drink until they cannot distinguish the holiday hero, Mordechai, from the villain, Haman. Despite the interpretation popular at the last Purim party I attended, this is not just a call to drink heavily. Rather, it invites us to laugh at what we think constitutes good and evil and to reevaluate our moral habits. The diet God ordained for humanity in the Genesis story was vegetarian (1:29), and, even without kosher pork, a vegetarian diet makes sense on Purim and everyday.

Pork—it’s what’s for Purim.
Aaron Gross holds a Masters of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. He has been active as an educator and lay-leader in Reform and trans-denominational Jewish communities for more than a decade. He opened and headed People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) Indian office in 2000 and consults for PETA on religious issues.

2. Is it Already Too Late to Prevent Horrific Effects of Global Warming?

Forwarded article:

Time to prepare for inevitable effects of our ill-fated future
San Francisco Chronicle
by Mark Hertsgaard
Sunday, February 13, 2005

At the core of the global warming dilemma is a fact neither side of the debate likes to talk about: It is already too late to prevent global warming and the climate change it sets off.

Environmentalists won't say this for fear of sounding alarmist or defeatist. Politicians won't say it because then they'd have to do something about it. The world's top climate scientists have been sending this message, however, with increasing urgency for many years.

Since 1988, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, comprised of more than 2,000 scientific and technical experts from around the world, has conducted the most extensive peer-reviewed scientific inquiry in history.

In its 2001 report, the panel said that human-caused global warming had already begun, and much sooner than expected. What's more, the problem is bound to get worse, perhaps a lot worse, before it gets better.

Last month, the climate change panel's chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, upped the ante. Although Pachauri was installed after the Bush administration forced out his predecessor, Robert Watson, for pushing too hard for action, the accumulation of evidence led Pachauri to embrace apocalyptic language: “We are risking the ability of the human race to survive,” he said.

Until now, most public discussion about global warming has focused on how to prevent it -- for example, by implementing the Kyoto Protocol, which comes into force internationally (but without U.S. participation) on Wednesday. But prevention is no longer a sufficient option. No matter ho many “green” cars and solar panels Kyoto eventually calls into existence, the hard fact is that a certain amount of global warming is inevitable.

The world community therefore must make a strategic shift. It must expand its response to global warming to emphasize both long-term and short-term protection. Rising sea levels and more weather-related disasters will be a fact of life on this planet for decades to come, and we have to get ready for them.

Among the steps needed to defend ourselves is quick action to fortify emergency response capabilities worldwide, to shield or relocate vulnerable coastal communities and to prepare for increased migration flows by environmental refugees.

We must also play offense. We must retroactively shrink the amount of warming facing us by redoubling efforts to remove existing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and sequester them where they are no longer dangerous. One way is to plant trees, which absorb carbon dioxide via photosynthesis.


Mark Hertsgaard is the author most recently of “The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World;” and “Earth Odyssey: Around the World In Search of Our Environmental Future.”

3. Update on the ‘McLibel’ Trial/Victory for Plaintiffs Against McDonald’s

Published on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 by http://news.independent.co.uk/

'McLibel' Campaigners Win Legal Aid Battle
by Geoff Meade

Two environmental campaigners who took on hamburger chain McDonald's and lost today won their claim that the libel trial was unfair.

The European Court of Human Rights said the UK legal system breached the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression.

Britain's David Morris(R) and Helen Steel stand outside McDonald's restaurant in central London, February 15, 2005. Morris and Steel, two activists found to have libeled the U.S. fast food chain after the longest court case in English legal history, did not have a fair trial, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday. (Kieran Doherty/Reuters)

The verdict from the Strasbourg court is a last-minute victory for Helen Steel and David Morris - and could force the Government to change libel laws which they claimed stifled their free speech and favored the rich.

Today's result signals the end of a David and Goliath struggle which pitted the impoverished campaigners from Tottenham, north London, against the power of a huge multi-national company.

McDonald's launched the libel action after Ms Steel and Mr Morris took part in a leafleting campaign against the company.

They had been handing out leaflets called "www.mcspotlight.org What's Wrong with McDonald's", accusing the company of paying low wages, cruelty to animals used in its products and dozens of other malpractices.

McDonald's won and the High Court awarded the company £40,000 in libel damages.

But the so-called "McLibel Two" refused to pay at the end of the 314-day libel trial - the longest civil or criminal action in English legal history.

Instead they went to the Strasbourg Human Rights Court, claiming the UK libel laws operated heavily in favor of companies like McDonald's.

They said the system breached their human rights because they were denied legal aid and because they were obliged to justify every word of the allegations against McDonald's.

The Human Rights judges agreed today, saying the lack of legal aid effectively denied the pair the right to a fair trial as guaranteed by the Human Rights Convention, to which the UK is a signatory. It also breached their right to freedom of expression.

A Department for Constitutional Affairs spokeswoman said: "We are studying the judgment very carefully."

The pair might now qualify for legal aid. Changes introduced in the Access to Justice Act in 2000 means people can sometimes qualify in libel actions under "special measures".

In the original libel trial Ms. Steel and Mr. Morris, with no legal training, found themselves up against a crack legal team appointed by McDonald's.

In their submissions to the Human Rights Court they declared: "The contrast and inequality (between the legal expertise) could not have been greater. McDonald's were represented by a QC specializing in libel law, a junior barrister, two or three solicitors and the resources of a large firm of solicitors.

"All (Steel and Morris) could hope to do was keep going, two inexperienced, untrained and exhausted individuals who were pushed to their physical and mental limits."

Unable to get legal aid, the pair could not expect a fair trial nor the right to freedom of expression, the Human Rights judges were told.

Being made to prove the absolute truth of every claim made in the leaflet protesting against McDonald's business practices contravened the basic principle of free speech Ms Steel and Mr Morris argued.

At the hearing last September Ms Steel, an unemployed gardener, said she wanted large powerful companies to be restricted from suing for libel in the same way as governmental bodies could not do so.

"Ordinary people should be able to make criticisms that they think are valid about a company without having the fear of being sued for libel."

As he awaited today's verdict Mr. Morris said both he and Ms. Steel already felt completely vindicated - and they would never pay the £40,000 libel damages imposed on them.

"We have already won because there is growing public concern and debate about the activities of the fast-food industry and multinational corporations in general.

"We shouldn't have had to fight the longest case in legal history just to challenge a multinational corporation and put our point of view over."

The director of the human rights and law reform group Justice, Roger Smith, said: "This is a wonderful victory for the sheer perseverance of two litigants who have just stuck to the task and insisted upon justice. I think it's also a victory for human rights and a recognition of legal aid as a basic human right which should be available in all types of cases where it is absolutely necessary."

© 2005 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd

4. Kyoto Protocal Becomes International Law

Forwarded message from Greenpeace:

People around the world are celebrating today as the Kyoto Protocol becomes international law. Kyoto is the international treaty, signed by 141 nations that limits global warming pollution around the world.

Kyoto: New Dawn for the Climate

Notably, the largest worldwide polluter, the United States, is not part of the treaty. In 2001, President Bush reneged on his campaign promise to address global warming and withdrew the United States from the Protocol. However, states and regions around the country refused to let Bush block efforts to protect the climate, and have moved ahead with strong action to curb global warming. From limiting global warming pollution to mandating a certain amount of energy needs come from renewable sources like wind and solar - states are moving past the president's inaction. Last week, Senators McCain and Lieberman introduced legislation that would limit pollution across the country.

At the same time, Americans are demanding those responsible for global warming pollution be held accountable for their actions. Greenpeace has currently teamed up with Friends of the Earth, and the cities of Boulder, Colorado and Oakland, California to demand two
government banks stop financing overseas projects that lead to global warming.

Read more at: http://climatelawsuit.org

Read more about the Kyoto Protocol. Go to:

5. An Example for Jews?/Statement of the National Council of Churches USA on Global Warming

TODAY at the National Council of Churches USA


People of faith reject 'false gospel' on the environment, hail enactment of Kyoto Protocol, demand U.S. government accountability

For more on these and other stories. . . Go to: www.councilofchurches.org

Please forward this communication to interested friends and colleagues.

Your comments are welcome: mlyris@ncccusa.org

'God's Earth is Sacred'
In Open Letter, Theologians Warn of 'False Gospel' on the Environment, Call Christians to Repent of Sin

In an effort to refute what they call a “false gospel” and to change destructive attitudes and actions concerning the environment, a group of theologians, convened by the National Council of Churches USA, released an open letter Feb. 14 calling on Christians to reject teachings that suggest humans are “called” to exploit the Earth without care for how our behavior impacts the rest of God’s creation. The statement, “God’s Earth is Sacred: An Open Letter to Church and Society in the United States,” points out that there is both an environmental and a theological crisis that must be addressed. Read more about development 'God's Earth is Sacred.'.

Grassroots Campaign Issues 'God's Mandate: Care for Creation;' Call-In Day to Fete Kyoto Accord

The "God's Earth is Sacred" statement was released on the heels of a grassroots campaign that last week issued “God’s Mandate: Care for Creation,” signed by more than 1,000 clergy and laypeople from Catholic, Protestant and Jewish traditions. And it comes just before a broad-based effort on Feb. 16 to lift up the international Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Faith communities are encouraged to use the Kyoto Bulletin Insert and Minute for Mission and to participate in February 16's National Day of Prayer and Call-In Day to remind elected officials of our moral obligation to protect creation.
God’s Earth is Sacred:
An Open Letter to Church and Society in the United States

God’s creation delivers unsettling news. Earth’s climate is warming to dangerous levels; 90 percent of the world’s fisheries have been depleted; coastal development and pollution are causing a sharp decline in ocean health; shrinking habitat threatens to extinguish thousands of species; over 95 percent of the contiguous United States forests have been lost; and almost half of the population in the United States lives in areas that do not meet national air quality standards. In recent years, the profound danger has grown, requiring us as theologians, pastors, and religious leaders to speak out and act with new urgency.

We are obliged to relate to Earth as God’s creation “in ways that sustain life on the planet, provide for the [basic] needs of all humankind, and increase justice.” Over the past several decades, slowly but faithfully, the religious community in the United States has attempted to address issues of ecology and justice. Our faith groups have offered rich theological perspectives, considered moral issues through the lens of long-standing social teaching, and passed numerous policies within our own church bodies. While we honor the efforts in our churches, we have clearly failed to communicate the full measure and magnitude of Earth’s environmental crisis-religiously, morally, or politically. It is painfully clear from the verifiable testimony of the world’s scientists that our response has been inadequate to the scale and pace of Earth’s degradation.

To continue to walk the current path of ecological destruction is not only folly; it is sin. As voiced by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who has taken the lead among senior religious leaders in his concern for creation: “To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin. For humans to cause species to become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation . . . for humans to degrade the integrity of Earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the Earth of its natural forests, or destroying its wetlands . . . for humans to injure other humans with disease . . . for humans to contaminate the Earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life, with poisonous substances . . . these are sins.” We have become un-Creators. Earth is in jeopardy at our hands.

This means that ours is a theological crisis as well. We have listened to a false gospel that we continue to live out in our daily habits-a gospel that proclaims that God cares for the salvation of humans only and that our human calling is to exploit Earth for our own ends alone. This false gospel still finds its proud preachers and continues to capture its adherents among emboldened political leaders and policy makers.

The secular counterpart of this gospel rests in the conviction that humans can master the Earth. Our modern way of life assumes this mastery. However, the sobering truth is that we hardly have knowledge of, much less control over, the deep and long-term consequences of our human impacts upon the Earth. We have already sown the seeds for many of those consequences. The fruit of those seeds will be reaped by future generations of human beings, together with others in the community of life.

The imperative first step is to repent of our sins, in the presence of God and one another. This repentance of our social and ecological sins will acknowledge the special responsibility that falls to those of us who are citizens of the United States. Though only five percent of the planet’s human population, we produce one-quarter of the world’s carbon emissions, consume a quarter of its natural riches, and perpetuate scandalous inequities at home and abroad. We are a precious part of Earth’s web of life, but we do not own the planet and we cannot transcend its requirements for regeneration on its own terms. We have not listened well to the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

The second step is to pursue a new journey together, with courage and joy. By God’s grace, all things are made new. We can share in that renewal by clinging to God’s trustworthy promise to restore and fulfill all that God creates and by walking, with God’s help, a path different from our present course. To that end, we affirm our faith, propose a set of guiding norms, and call on our churches to rededicate themselves to this mission. We firmly believe that addressing the degradation of God’s sacred Earth is the moral assignment of our time comparable to the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s, the worldwide movement to achieve equality for women, or ongoing efforts to control weapons of mass destruction in a post-Hiroshima world.

Ecological Affirmations of Faith

We stand with awe and gratitude as members of God’s bountiful and good creation. We rejoice in the splendor and mystery of countless species, our common creaturehood, and the interdependence of all that God makes. We believe that the Earth is home for all and that it has been created intrinsically good (Genesis 1).

We lament that the human species is shattering the splendid gifts of this web of life, ignoring our responsibility for the well being of all life, while destroying species and their habitats at a rate never before known in human history.

We believe that the Holy Spirit, who animates all of creation, breathes in us and can empower us to participate in working toward the flourishing of Earth’s community of life. We believe that the people of God are called to forge ways of being human that enable socially just and ecologically sustainable communities to flourish for generations to come. And we believe in God’s promise to fulfill all of creation, anticipating the reconciliation of all (Colossians 1:15), in accordance with God’s promise (II Peter 3:13).

We lament that we have rejected this vocation, and have distorted our God-given abilities and knowledge in order to ransack and often destroy ecosystems and human communities rather than to protect, strengthen, and nourish them.

We believe that, in boundless love that hungers for justice, God … acts to restore and redeem all creation (including human beings). …

We confess that instead of living and proclaiming this salvation through our very lives and worship, we have abused and exploited the Earth and people on the margins of power and privilege, altering climates, extinguishing species, and jeopardizing Earth’s capacity to sustain life as we know and love it.

We believe that the created world is sacred-a revelation of God’s power and gracious presence filling all things. This sacred quality of creation demands moderation and sharing, urgent antidotes for our excess in consumption and waste, reminding us that economic justice is an essential condition of ecological integrity. We cling to God’s trustworthy promise to restore, renew, and fulfill all that God creates. We long for and work toward the day when churches, … , will respond to the "groaning of creation" (Romans 8:22) and to God’s passionate desire to “renew the face of the Earth" (Psalm 104:30). We look forward to the day when the lamentations and groans of creation will be over, justice with peace will reign, humankind will nurture not betray the Earth, and all of creation will sing for joy.

Guiding Norms for Church and Society

These affirmations imply a challenge that is also a calling: to fulfill our vocation as moral images of God, reflections of divine love and justice charged to “serve and preserve” the Garden (Genesis 2:15). Given this charge and the urgent problems of our age -- from species extinctions and mass poverty to climate change and health-crippling pollution -- how shall we respond? What shall we be and do? What are the standards and practices of moral excellence that we ought to cultivate in our personal lives, our communities of faith, our social organizations, our businesses, and our political institutions? We affirm the following norms of social and environmental responsibility:

Justice-creating right relationships, both social and ecological, to ensure for all members of the Earth community the conditions required for their flourishing. Among human members, justice demands meeting the essential material needs and conditions for human dignity and social participation. In our global context, economic deprivation and ecological degradation are linked in a vicious cycle. We are compelled, therefore, to seek eco-justice, the integration of social justice and ecological integrity. The quest for eco-justice also implies the development of a set of human environmental rights, since one of the essential conditions of human well being is ecological integrity. These moral entitlements include protection of soils, air, and water from diverse pollutants; the preservation of biodiversity; and governmental actions ensuring the fair and frugal use of creation’s riches.

Sustainability-living within the bounds of planetary capacities indefinitely, in fairness to both present and future generations of life. God’s covenant is with humanity and all other living creatures “for all future generations” (Genesis 9:8-17). The concern for sustainability forces us to be responsible for the truly long-term impacts of our lifestyles and policies.

Bioresponsibility-extending the covenant of justice to include all other life forms as beloved creatures of God and as expressions of God’s presence, wisdom, power, and glory. We do not determine nor declare creation’s value, and other creatures should not be treated merely as instruments for our needs and wants. Other species have their own integrity. They deserve a “fair share” of Earth’s bounty- a share that allows a bio-diversity of life to thrive along with human communities.

Humility-recognizing, as an antidote to arrogance, the limits of human knowledge, technological ingenuity, and moral character. We are not the masters of creation. Knowing human capacities for error and evil, humility keeps our own species in check for the good of the whole of Earth as God’s creation.

Generosity-sharing Earth’s riches to promote and defend the common good in recognition of God’s purposes for the whole creation and Christ’s gift of abundant life. Humans are not collections of isolated individuals, but rather communities of socially and ecologically interdependent beings. A measure of a good society is not whether it privileges those who already have much, but rather whether it privileges the most vulnerable members of creation. Essentially, these tasks require good government at all levels, from local to regional to national to international.

Frugality- restraining economic production and consumption for the sake of eco-justice. Living lives filled with God’s Spirit liberates us from the illusion of finding wholeness in the accumulation of material things and brings us to the reality of God’s just purposes. Frugality connotes moderation, sufficiency, and temperance. Many call it simplicity. It demands the careful conservation of Earth’s riches, comprehensive recycling, minimal harm to other species, material efficiency and the elimination of waste, and product durability. Frugality is the corrective to a cardinal vice of the age: prodigality - excessively taking from and wasting God’s creation. On a finite planet, frugality is an expression of love and an instrument for justice and sustainability: it enables all life to thrive together by sparing and sharing global goods.

Solidarity-acknowledging that we are increasingly bound together as a global community in which we bear responsibility for one another’s well being. The social and environmental problems of the age must be addressed with cooperative action at all levels-local, regional, national and international. Solidarity is a commitment to the global common good through international cooperation.

Compassion-sharing the joys and sufferings of all Earth’s members and making them our own. … From compassion flows inclusive caring and careful service to meet the needs of others.

A Call to Action: Healing the Earth and Providing a Just and Sustainable Society

For too long, we, our Christian brothers and sisters, and many people of good will have relegated care and justice for the Earth to the periphery of our concerns. This is not a competing “program alternative,” one “issue” among many. In this most critical moment in Earth’s history, we are convinced that the central moral imperative of our time is the care for Earth as God’s creation.

Churches, as communities of God’s people in the world, are called to exist as representatives of the loving Creator, Sustainer, and Restorer of all creation. We are called to worship God with all our being and actions, and to treat creation as sacred. We must engage our political leaders in supporting the very future of this planet. We are called to cling to the true Gospel - for “God so loved the cosmos” (John 3:16) - rejecting the false gospels of our day.

We believe that caring for creation must undergird, and be entwined with, all other dimensions of our churches’ ministries. We are convinced that it is no longer acceptable to claim to be “church” while continuing to perpetuate, or even permit, the abuse of Earth as God’s creation. Nor is it acceptable for our corporate and political leaders to engage in “business as usual” as if the very future of life-support systems were not at stake.

Therefore, we urgently call on … all people of good will, to join us in:

Understanding our responsibilities as those who live within the United States of America - the part of the human family that represents five percent of the world population and consumes 25 percent of Earth’s riches. We believe that one of the surest ways to gain this understanding is by listening intently to the most vulnerable: those who most immediately suffer the consequences of our overconsumption, toxication, and hubris. The whole Earth is groaning, crying out for healing-let us awaken the “ears of our souls” to hear it, before it’s too late.

Integrating this understanding into our core beliefs and practices surrounding what it means to be “church,” to be “human,” to be “children of God.” Such integration will be readily apparent in: congregational mission statements, lay and ordained ministries, the preaching of the Word, our hymns of praise, the confession of our sins, our financial stewardship and offerings to God, theological education, our evangelism, our daily work, sanctuary use, and compassionate service to all communities of life. With this integrated witness we look forward to a revitalization of our human vocation and our churches’ lives that parallels the revitalization of God’s thriving Earth.

Advocating boldly with all our leaders on behalf of creation’s most vulnerable members (including human members). We must shed our complacency, denial, and fears and speak God’s truth to power, on behalf of all who have been denied dignity and for the sake of all voiceless members of the community of life.

…, we call out with broken yet hopeful hearts: join us in restoring God’s Earth-the greatest healing work and moral assignment of our time.



6. Article by a Rabbi re the JVNA’s Teachings on Vegetarianism

PETA and the Jewish Question
[written April, 2004; material in bold for emphasis is by the article’s author]

Last week I distributed to my congregational e-mail list a message which directed interested readers to the website of PETA (People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals) to view an astonishingly offensive comparison between Holocaust victims and caged chickens awaiting slaughter. It was the opening salvo in a new shock campaign by PETA which they have named “The Holocaust On Your Plate” and which is centered around a traveling exhibition of large photos and text which juxtapose the Nazis’ victims and animals slaughtered for food.

Naturally the Jewish community was outraged by this offensive campaign and PETA was quickly deluged with angry e-mails (mine among them) condemning the organization for its callousness and for the inference that humans are, at all times and in all situations, to be equated with other species. PETA’s stock response was to inform us that the exhibit and campaign were created and backed by Jews, some of whom are reported to be supporters of Holocaust memorial institutions, as if to say, “Because some Jews were involved in this project it can’t possibly be considered offensive to Jews!” More realistically, I suspect that PETA’s leaders believe that any publicity is good publicity.

Sadly, this effort will serve to deflect attention from what is of growing interest to many in the Jewish community, namely the wealth of teachings and commentaries within Judaism which support, for many reasons, the choice of a vegetarian diet or one in which animal flesh occupies a diminishing portion of the whole.

Prof. Richard Schwartz is the foremost contemporary proponent of Jewish vegetarianism. He has written extensively on the subject and, in this recent PETA imbroglio, has found himself uncomfortably squeezed on both sides of the vociferous debate. As a Jew, he understands Jewish outrage over the comparison between death camp victims and poultry, yet he strives to keep the larger subject–the impact on our world of raising and eating animals–from getting lost in the heat of the debate.

In an article found at www.jewishveg.com (the Jewish Vegetarian website.) , Prof. Schwartz cites six major Jewish reasons for vegetarianism [emphasis by the article’s author]:

1. The creator of the world first commanded humans to eat only from that which grows (Genesis 1:29) and this interpretation is agreed to by the major Torah commentators as well.

2. Permission to eat meat was granted to Noah and his descendants after the flood on a temporary basis only due to human frailty. The Bible connects meat eating with uncontrollable appetite (Deuteronomy 12: 20). In the days of the Messiah, all creatures will be vegan (based on "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb…… the lion will eat straw like the ox ……", Isaiah, 11:6-9).

3. The commandment not to cause grief to living creatures comes from the Torah and is therefore of greater significance than the ensuing commandments given by the Rabbis. The permission granted in the Bible to eat meat does not include abusing animals before they are slaughtered. Since modern animal farming severely abuses animals, meat eating constitutes [....] a transgression against the prohibition concerning animal abuse.

4. Care of the spirit and the concurrent care of one’s physical health that is a component of it, is an important Jewish commandment. Research testifies that consumption of meat and meat products increases the likelihood of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic degenerative diseases.

5. The prohibition against destroying the environment ("thou shall not destroy," bal tashchit) is a commandment from the Torah. It is based on Deuteronomy 20:19-20 which prohibits the destruction of fruit-bearing trees during wartime, and [on] extensions of the sages. Livestock agriculture causes pollution and destruction of the environment. It requires large agricultural plots, and huge amounts of water, energy, and other resources.

6. Aiding the hungry is another important mandate in Judaism. Farmers are required to leave the corners of the fields and the gleanings of their harvests for the hungry. However, 70% of the grain produced in the West is consumed by animals raised by the food industry. Part of the resources that are channeled to the meat industry could be utilized to feed the hungry in third world countries.

These citations are but the proverbial tip of the iceberg of information Prof. Schwartz has amassed on the subject of Judaism and vegetarianism. To the extent that we take our commitment to Judaism seriously and understand the demands it places upon us to be God’s partners in stewardship of this planet, this is a subject we should not and cannot avoid. I encourage you to visit Prof. Schwartz’s website [JewishVeg.com/schwartz] or to read his book Judaism and Vegetarianism. (New York City: Lantern Books, 2001)

[Rabbi Lieberman’s added note: In the interests of full disclosure, let me note that I am not a strict vegetarian. I do eat fish but eliminated all meat from my diet some years ago. My dietary choices do reflect, however, a serious commitment to the principles of kashrut.]

On a final note, Jewish vegetarians or those interested in the subject, might wish to track down a Passover haggadah entitled Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb (Roberta Kalechofsky).

Have a ziesen (sweet) Pesach!

Reb Elias Lieberman
The Falmouth Jewish Congregation

7. Some Republican Leaders Joining the Battle Against Global Warming

On the Right Track
New Republican leaders emerging in battle against climate change
By Amanda Griscom Little
04 Feb 2005

Last week, an international task force co-chaired by Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) predicted a fast-approaching "point of no return" for climate change -- possibly in as few as 10 years -- after which the crisis and its symptoms will be irreversible.

You probably didn't read about it in the U.S. papers, which largely ignored the findings -- just as you probably haven't been reading much about the Kyoto Protocol, though the treaty will go into effect in less than two weeks, with the conspicuous noncooperation of the world's most heavily polluting nation.

But, even as the Bush administration tries its darndest to pretend that nothing fishy is afoot with the climate, a handful of Republicans in the Senate are emerging as leaders in the fight against global warming -- and we don't just mean John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Take, for instance, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who led the congressional fight to reject Kyoto in 1997, opposes the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, and consistently supports the Bush administration's stance (or lack thereof) on global warming. Not an impressive record -- and yet Hagel is now declaring climate change a "top-tier issue," says his spokesperson Mike Buttry, and is preparing to introduce "one of the most comprehensive climate bills that have been proposed to date. It will have a domestic piece, an international piece, and a tax piece."

Hagel told his home-state paper, the Lincoln Journal Star, that his bill, which will be introduced in February, is compatible with the new climate strategy being cooked up by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. These remarks came soon after the senator met with Blair to discuss an idea for an international agreement dubbed by some insiders "Kyoto-lite," which the P.M. is reportedly crafting with the hope that President Bush will get on board. The agreement as envisioned would require the administration to acknowledge the scale of the climate crisis and commit to developing the technology necessary to manage it. No mention thus far of mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions -- presumably that's why Blair thinks Bush might go for it. Likewise, Hagel's bill includes no compulsory emissions caps -- rather, it's "incentive-based," says Buttry.


8. Amazon Forests Not Doing Well

Forwarded item from Grist magazine:

If Amazonian rainforests are, as the old saying goes, the lungs of
the world, then our respiratory outlook is not good. The forests
face a trio of threats. There are fire and logging, as poor farmers,
cattle ranchers, and agribusinesses clear land for crops or cattle.
Then there's "dieback," whereby the forest vegetation dies from lack
of water, which is driven by drought, which is driven by climate
change, which is driven by excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,
which is exacerbated by fire, logging, and dieback in the Amazonian
rainforest. Ah, such tangled webs we weave. Attempts to break the
cycle have been inauspicious. Last year, Brazil's Workers' Party,
led by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, suspended logging
licenses in an attempt to slow deforestation of the Amazon. In
response, loggers and their allies rioted, blockaded a major highway,
burned buses, threatened to seize an airport and dump poisonous
chemicals in rivers, and promised that "blood will flow." The
government vowed not to "cave into blackmail," and then, uh, caved
into blackmail, restoring the licenses last week. And so the world's
lung cancer progresses, untreated.

straight to the source: The Boston Globe, Associated Press, Charles
J. Hanley, 12 Feb 2005

straight to the source: The New York Times, Larry Rohter, 13 Feb 2005

9. Article in Los Angeles Times on the Postville Slaughterhouse Issue

Practices at kosher slaughterhouses stir debate
By Stephanie Simon
Los Angeles Times
Posted February 18 2005

The beef is produced according to ancient Jewish law: A trained rabbi makes a swift cut across each animal's neck with a long, sharp knife. The blood drains quickly from the meat. Orthodox rabbis supervise the process and certify the beef as kosher.

But when an animal rights activist went undercover at one of the United States' top kosher slaughterhouses, he found practices that had raised deep concerns among some observant Jews.
The activist, from the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, was assigned to the sausage line at Agriprocessors Inc. in Postville, Iowa. Whenever he could, however, he slipped over to the kill floor with a hidden camera. There, he filmed cattle struggling to stand minutes after they should have been dead. Some even staggered about after their throats had been slit and their windpipes ripped out.

The Orthodox Union, the largest kosher certification authority in the world, has declared that the procedures at Agriprocessors "meet all [our] standards to the highest degree." Meat from the plant -- sold under the brand names Aaron's Best and Rubashkin -- is certified not only as kosher, but as glatt kosher, which means it's deemed of the highest quality.

But kosher law is more than a procedural checklist. It's based on the ancient Jewish principle of tza'ar ba'alei hayyim -- the need to minimize pain to all living beings. And that's where the video has caused unease.

The Torah lists specific rules for treating animals humanely. For instance, oxen must not be muzzled on the threshing floor because it would torment them to see grain they could not eat. Rabbinical scholars nearly 2,000 years ago introduced the general principle that Jews must make sure the animals they use for work and food do not suffer.

That principle is integral to kosher slaughter, which, experts say, can be virtually painless if done correctly.

After watching the video, which PETA posted online, some rabbis have concluded that the animals at Agriprocessors suffer unnecessarily -- and have declared the meat unfit.

"The animals appear to be in agony," Rabbi Joel Rembaum recently wrote his congregation at Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles. "The meat that comes from there is not kosher."

Rabbinical scholars within the Conservative movement declared the Agriprocessors system unacceptable for kosher slaughter in a legal opinion issued in 2000. The Iowa plant is one of the few in the nation that still uses it.

"Does the meat technically fulfill the requirements of kosher slaughter? Yes," said Rabbi Elliot Dorff, a leading philosopher in the Conservative Jewish movement. "But if by calling it `not kosher' [you] mean that the meat should not be eaten, I agree with that. The way it's produced violates Jewish law."

Many Orthodox rabbis dispute that conclusion.

They point out that the system was designed to speed the draining of blood -- an imperative in kosher slaughter. It's the method preferred by the chief rabbinate of Israel. And it is an ancient Jewish custom.

Although Agriprocessors maintains that its animals do not suffer, it will -- on the advice of the Orthodox Union -- implement some new practices on the kill floor.

Workers no longer will rip out the animals' windpipes immediately after the neck is cut. Veteran inspectors have described that practice as horrifically painful. Also, any cattle that survive the initial cut will be stunned to ensure they lose consciousness quickly. (Animals handled in this way will not be sold as kosher.)

Other changes also may be in the works. The U.S. Department of Agriculture sent a team in December to investigate the plant -- including the work of its own inspectors, who are supposed to monitor animal welfare as well as meat safety.

Meanwhile, two big Agriprocessors customers, supermarket chains Albertsons and Safeway, have asked the slaughterhouse to accept surprise inspections from independent animal welfare experts. And some Jewish leaders intend to push for a rethinking of kosher certification laws across the industry. Calling for rabbinical inspections on farms and ranches, they argue that "kosher" should mean an animal has been treated humanely while alive, not just at the moment of death.

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February 19, 2005

2/19/05 Special JVNA Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

This special Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Online Newsletter has 3 recent articles by American rabbis, the first in response to Dennis Prager’s recent article, which was discussed in a special JVNA newsletter last week, and the other two in response to the Postville controversy. My comments on each article are interspersed or appear at the end of the articles. They are preceded by [*** and followed by ***]. Please consider using these articles and my comments as the basis of letters to editors, calls to radio programs, and for general talking points. Thanks.

1. A Response to Dennis Prager, by Rabbi Hillel Norry

2. “From Postville to ‘Glatt-gate,’” by Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer

3. “Setting the Record Straight on Kosher Slaughter,” by Rabbi Menachem Genack

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.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.


1. A Response to Dennis Prager, by Rabbi Hillel Norry

[Rabbi Norry is a long-time vegetarian and a member of the JVNA advisory committee. His article below is an unsolicited response to the article by Dennis Prager that was discussed in last week’s special JVNA newsletter, in which Prager criticized the animal rights movement and “secular humanists” for placing animals on the same level as people. Rabbi Norry has sent the article to Prager and to World Net Daily, the publication that published Prager’s article. I have encouraged Rabbi Norry to rewrite his article to make it more general and to send it to the Jewish media.]

I am a Rabbi, a dedicated and observant Jew, and a lover of humanity. I believe in God and in the immeasurable value of human life.

I am also a vegetarian, an animal lover, a defender of scientific education, and a vocal advocate for these ideals -- not in contrast with my Jewish values, but indeed because of them.

[*** The above two paragraphs are very important, because Prager and others argue that, basically, there are two types of people: those who accept basic religious values, such as the teaching that only humans are created in God’s image, and animal rights activists and other “secular humanists,” who completely reject religious teachings. One of the main goals of the JVNA is, as Rabbi Norry indicates above, to show that it is precisely our Jewish teachings that inspire our activism for the better treatment of animals and for a shift toward a diet that is far better for the health of humans, farmed animals, and our imperiled planet. ***]

In your article "The case for Judeo-Christian values, part 4," you spoke of the devastating impact on our society of secular values as they clash with religious values regarding the value of animal and human life.

While I agree with much of your condemnation of secular values, I must strongly disagree with you regarding both your presentation and many of your conclusions. You present what I can only describe as false and exaggerated examples of human life vs. animal life, but completely neglect the overwhelming evidence that most cruelty to animals is also bad for humans. A diet base on animal foods has repeatedly been linked through the most rigorous scientific study with many of the most destructive and degenerative human diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and others. While you advocate for scientific research to cure these diseases, you should recognize the preventative measures advocated by many scientific and medical groups; primary among them the adoption of a whole food vegetarian diet.

It is not necessary for any human benefit to consume the flesh of animals. In fact it is harmful to human health, destructive of the environment, and wasteful of valuable resources that could be better used to feed the hungry and provide for the needy. All of these are Torah values. And they are not secondary or esoteric side issues. Maintaining our health, protecting God's creation, and providing assistance to those less fortunate than us, are all Primary mitzvot which we are obligated to practice to the maximum degree possible.

[*** The last two paragraphs are also extremely important, as they reinforce our arguments that a shift toward vegetarianism is not only essential for ending the widespread very cruel treatment of animals, but it is also a societal imperative because of the many negative effects of animal-based diets and modern intensive agriculture and it is a religious imperative, because of the many basic religious mandates that are violated by the widespread production and consumption of animal products. ***]

I would have preferred that you remembered to emphasize these religious values, rather than simply attacking those who seek to relieve the needless suffering of God's beloved creations. One does not have to equate human life with animal life to acknowledge that God also loves animals. This is the view of our tradition also. And while we may not yet be able to get rid of all animal suffering, we are commanded to seek the greatest possible measure of mercy in our lives, and to alleviate the suffering of any living creature - human and animal - if we can.

[*** Another extremely important point that, unfortunately, is not often discussed in the Jewish community and other religious communities. ***]

With regard to the Holocaust comparisons of groups like PETA, I want to add a couple of things. I do not support PETA, and I do not think it is useful or true to draw comparisons between suffering. Emerson said, "All suffering is local", and the suffering of one of God's creatures can never accurately be compared with another. However, not only have you repeated a patently false historical "fact", namely that the Nazis were animal lovers, but you have neglected the other well documented historical fact that the Nazis explicitly structured their industrial destruction of the Jews on the model of animal slaughter. This is not to compare the suffering of animals and humans, but shows that the way we treat animals, is similar to the way the Nazis treated us. In this way of thinking, since it is "okay" to treat animals as a commodity without regard for the cruelty imposed on them, all we must do is think of the "Other" as an animal, and it becomes "okay" to treat them the same way. This has been the approach of every cruel dictator who first demonizes his enemies and calls them dogs, or pigs or vermin, and then proceeds to slaughter them with impunity.

[*** These are also valuable points that should be stressed far more often as we try to respond to current societal threats. We should strive to improve conditions for people and animals, not because of PETA or any other group, but because of Jewish teachings. ***]

Lastly, as a religious person myself, I am always aware of the great crimes against humanity done in the very name of religion. Many religious people, who advocate the same Judeo-Christian values that you do, act with cruelty, bigotry and hatred towards other human beings in the name of God. As we try to elevate the value of human life, should this internal house-cleaning not at least be one of our missions?

[*** Yes. As we have often argued, the proper application of Jewish (and other religions’) values is essential in responding to current societal threats, but too often religious values have been used in negative ways. This is, unfortunately, not a new phenomenon, as can be seen by reading the words of the biblical prophets. ***]

I welcome the opportunity to continue a dialogue with you and thank you for your passionate work,

[*** Yes. For a long time, the JVNA has been calling for a respectful dialogue. Unfortunately, Prager and most members of the Jewish establishment seem to be ducking the possibility of such a dialogue. While they continue to write about Judaism’s beautiful and powerful teachings, they are ignoring how far current realities are from these teachings. I believe that it is essential that we continue respectfully seeking such a dialogue, because the future of Judaism and that of our planet are at stake. ***]

Rabbi Hillel Norry
Congregation Shearith Israel
Atlanta, Georgia

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2. “From Postville to ‘Glatt-gate,’” by Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer

From Postville to ‘Glatt-gate’
Rabbi Shammai Engelmayer

[*** This article appeared in the February 4, 2005 issue of the Jewish standard of New Jersey. I think it provides excellent background material on biblical teachings that point to vegetarianism as the ideal Jewish diet. It also provides a very good discussion of shechita and a valuable consideration of the Postville glatt kosher slaughterhouse, as well as an implied request that rabbis speak out more re the mistreatment of animals. (The article was scanned into my computer, and this led to many errors. I tried to find and correct them all, but please forgive any that I inadvertently overlooked.)***]

There is nothing wrong with she­chita. There is something seri­ously wrong, however, with its supervision. That is the true message of the controversial PETA video revealing abuses at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa.

The requirement of a unique method of slaughter is inferred from the Torah, which states that "you shall kill of your herd and of your flock, which are Lord has given you, as I have commanded you … “ (See Deuteronomy 12:21.) The context strongly suggests that this unstat­ed method is meant to guarantee a quick kill done as painlessly as possible.

In the beginning, after all, humans were meant to be vegetarians. (See Genesis 1:29.) Humans nevertheless developed a hunger for meat so great that it led to committing unspeakable cruelties. Genesis 9:1‑6 suggests that human behavior had sunk so low that the people did not bother to kill the animals; they just ripped limbs right off. God's grudging dispensation in this text recognizes that human nature is baser than He had hoped and that to prevent suffering on the part of animals requires setting some rules.

Israel, of course, was given a far more restrictive code than humankind in general. Killing animals for food in Israel was limited to the sacred precincts, under sacred cover, in acknowledgement that this is being done under His grudging sanction, not to mention His watchful eye. (See Leviticus 17:24. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, the late 19th century bib­lical commentator, says the killing of an animal without such sacred cover "is to be taken as murder.")

The rule in Leviticus 17, however, could only work in the confined area of a wilderness encampment. Once the people were settled in the land, their lust for meat would cause them to violate the law if they lived too far away from the sanctuary. This could lead to a general rejection of Torah law. Enter Deuteronomy 12:20­-21, which sets new ground rules. "When the Lord your God shall enlarge your bor­der, as He has promised you, and you shall say, I will eat meat, because your soul longs to eat meat; you may eat meat, to your heart’s desire. If the place which the Lord your God has chosen to put His name there is too far from you, then you shall kill of your herd and of your flock, which the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and you shall eat in your gates, to your heart's desire."

It is the “as I have commanded you" that is critical, The sacred cover is replaced by "basar ta'avah" (meat eaten solely to satisfy one's craving). God con­tinues to control the situation, however, by setting forth a humane way of killing.

To eat meat killed in my other way denies that any divine sanction attaches to the killing and the eating.

The talmudic sages infer from this that meat eating should be a sometime thing, at best. "The Torah teaches here ... that a person should not eat meat unless he has an extraordinary appetite for it," not just an everyday craving. The sages add, “a person should not teach his child to [have an eagerness for] meat …” (See Babylonian Talmud tractate Chullin 84a.)

The infrequency of meat‑eating is implied, as well, in the very name sages gave to this meat, basar ta’avah, which itself is based on the wording of the Torah. It echoes the quail incident in Numbers, when the Israelites demanded meat and God sent them quail ‑- and then sent a plague to kill those whose craving for meat was the most immoderate. States Numbers 11:34: "And he called the name of that place Kivrot Ha‑ta’avah [‘The Graves of Lust”]; because there they buried the mitavim [the people who had the craving].” See Psalms 78, which is harshly critical of these meat-cravers.)

Shechita, the sages taught, is the method of killing referred to by the Torah. Holding the knife above the animal’s throat, a horizontal cut is made across it, preferably in one swift stroke, although an unbroken series of cuts is acceptable. The cut (or cuts) must sever most of the animal’s windpipe and gullet. Preferably, the cut(s) should also sever the carotid arteries and jugular veins, to allow for almost instantaneous loss of conscious­ness and speediest blood loss.

If there is the slightest pause in the cutting, if the cut is made in the wrong place, or if the knife is pressed into the neck rather than drawn across it, the she­chita is invalid. It is invalid, as well, if any tissue is torn, rather than smoothly cut.

The chalaf, as the slaughterer's knife is known, must not be pointed in any way. It most be completely clean and, above all, razor sharp. Think paper cut; the actual cutting is painless and the hurt comes only several seconds later. In the case of a properly slaughtered animal, death should set in before any pain is felt.

The chalaf is long and thin, to allow for the smoothest cutting motion with the least meant of pressure. The design also insures that the knife will always remain in view throughout the shechita, to assure that no tearing occurred (tearing causes pain).

[*** For a comprehensive discussion of Jewish teachings on the proper treatment of animals, vegetarianism, shechita, and related issues, see Rabbi Dovid Sears’ book, “The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism.” ***]

Given all of this, how can any halachic authority argue that what went on in Postville measures up to the stan­dard set by the Torah itself, even if it gets by on a technicality?

In fact, some rabbis did initially condemn the Postville shechita. The most notable were Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, the chief rabbi of Haifa, and a member of the Israeli chief rabbinate's kashrut committee, and Rabbi Ezra Raful, head of the rabbinate's international shechita super­vision department.

Within days, however, both recanted. Cohen had signaled why in his original statement condemning the Postville she­chita. He began that statement by saying "I must stress that I find it very difficult to
offer an opinion without knowing the identity of the slaughterhouse involved and especially the name of the rabbi, if any, that, gives it the kosher certification.

This suggests that had he known that the plant in question was supervised by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, he would not have classi­fied what he saw as a "brutal act" or a “cruel" procedure, no matter what his eyes saw and his mind told him was true. Cohen said as much in his recantation. (To its credit, although the O.U. [Orthodox Union] went on the offensive publicly in defense of Postville, it demanded procedural changes at the Agriprocessors plant.)

[*** In a personal conversation, Rabbi Cohen told me that his views have been misrepresented and that he supports the procedural changes that the O.U. has demanded at the Postville slaughterhouse. ***]

One Orthodox rabbi who refused to be cowed into submission was Rabbi David Rosen, a former chief rabbi of Ireland and currently an official of the American Jewish Committee in Israel. The video disclosed flagrant violation[s] of Jewish halachic requirements," he wrote in a letter to the Jerusalem Post, adding that "the meat of the animals abused in this way is rendered totally non‑kosher as a result."

Postville is not the first time that the kosher consumer has been ill-served by those upon whom we rely to safeguard the kashrut of our meat. The pressure to produce kosher meat in ever‑increasing quantity ‑ itself a complete negation of the spirit of the Torah and the enactments of the sages ‑ is in large part responsible for the Postville fiasco and for the abuses that do not get reported.

Nowhere is this more true than in "Glatt‑gate." Bluntly stated, while "glatt” meat is costing you more, the odds are high that you are being duped. Absent a miracle of biblical proportions, it simply is not possible for there to be so much glatt beef on the market when only one in 20 cows actually qualifies (and that may be an underestimate).

The term “glatt kosher" dates back only to the last decade of the 19th century, but the standard has existed at least since talmudic times.

Originally, all meat had to meet this standard. When the lungs were removed and inspected after shechita, they had to be "smooth," meaning free of any adhesions of a kind known as sirchot (defined as a collection of fibrous tissue). Rabbi Joseph Karo, in the Shulchan Aruch, allows only one exception to this, based on a rul­ing found in BT Chullin 49a. (The specifics of that objec­tion are not relevant here.)

Karo, a/k/a the Beit Yosef, was a Sephardi and it is a common misconception that Rabbi Moses Isserles, author of the Ashkenazic gloss to the Shalchaa Aruch, disagreed with him on this. Actually, the Rama, as Isserles is usually referred to, clearly states a preference for smooth lungs, with no sirchot, and considers anything less to be a "kula gedola" He accepts this "great leniency," mainly because it was too ingrained in Ashkenazic practice by his day to reverse, but he is not happy about it.

(See S.A. Yoreh De'ah 39:13 for both opinions.) Such meat is “stam kosher," meaning just barely acceptable.

The Rema adds that the leniency applies only to adult animals, by which he means large adult animals, such as cows or buffalo. Small animals, such as lamb, sheep or deer must he free of sirchot of any kind. This applies to fowl, as well ("glatt kosher chickens" is a redundancy; all kosher chickens must he "glatt kosher").

For most Sephardim (the term is used here in its broadest sense), any adhesion, removable or not, is one adhesion too many. Their meat must be "chalak," a Hebrew word meaning "smooth," according to Karo's standards. The Yiddish counterpart is “glatt," but it accepts up to two "minor" removable adhesions (such an adhesion is called a "rir”). For most chasidic Jews, glatt meat is the only acceptable meat.

While it was not a primary reason for why the sages instituted the rule, the *smooth lung" requirement had the effect of severely limiting meat consumption because it made the meat more expensive. The sages suggested as much when they recommended that only the very, very rich could eat meat every day (not should, mind you, only could), but that for virtually everyone else, it should be restricted to Shabbat only. (See BT Chullin 84a.)

Nearly 15 years ago, the availability of glatt meat was so limited that a major purveyor of glatt deli products was close to going out of business, It called the OU for help. The OU, only with great difficulty, helped find a supply of legitimately glatt kosher meat and the threatened purveyor of provisions was saved from extinction.

Given that, from whence comes the current glut of glatt? From a redefinition; one particular authority redefined the term "glatt" and also blurred the distinction between a rir and a sircha. Some other kashrut authorities eventually followed this lead. That redefinition turned vir­tually every piece of formally stam kosher meat into glatt, necessitating the creation of a new category, super-glatt, for those "in the know." Heaven only knows the true sta­tus of "kosher meat" today that is not labeled as glatt.

Those who should be speaking out against both our excessive meat‑eating and the problems or kashrut supervision in the meat industry are not doing so, and only they know why they remain silent. The kosher con­sumer deserves better and Jewish law requires it. To paraphrase an old advertising slogan, in the end, we all have to answer to a Higher Authority.

[*** It is good that Rabbi Engelmayer is urging rabbis to speak out. But, he seems to be limiting it to opening up a discussion on kosher slaughter procedures. Like most rabbis, he seems to be ignoring that there is almost no discussion in the Jewish community of the fact that animal-based diets and modern intensive animal-centered agriculture violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people. It is up to us to seek to get these issues onto the Jewish agenda, because, once again, the future of Judaism and that of our imperiled planet are at stake. For a further discussion of this, please see my comments interspersed in the next article. ***]

Shammai Engaimayer is rabbi of the Conservative synagogue Temple Israel Community Center in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, and an instructor in the UJA‑Federation‑sponsored Florence Melton Adult Mini-School of the Hebrew University.

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3. “Setting the Record Straight on Kosher Slaughter,” by Rabbi Menachem Genack

[***Rabbi Menachem Genack is the Rabbinic Administrator of the Kosher Division of the Orthodox Union. He is also a Rosh Yeshiva at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, Yeshiva University. This article appeared in “The Commentator,” the publication of students at Yeshiva University.” ***]

Setting the Record Straight on Kosher Slaughter
By Menachem Genack
The Commentator
February 15, 2005
http://www.yucommentator.com/news/2005/02/15/Opinion/Setting.The.Record.Straight.On.Kosher.Slaughter-853165.shtml (requires free registration)
Send e-mails at http://www.yucommentator.com/main.cfm?include=submit

Many people expressed concern about the standards for humane treatment of animals at a kosher slaughterhouse after viewing a well-publicized video of kosher slaughter at the AgriProcessors plant in Iowa, which was released by the animal rights organization PETA. Any slaughterhouse, whether kosher or non-kosher, is by definition a disconcerting, blood-filled and gruesome place. Torah law, however, is most insistent about not inflicting needless pain on animals and in emphasizing humane treatment of all living creatures.

[***I want to commend Rabbi Menachem Genack and the Orthodox Union both for its efforts to improve the situation at the Postville, Iowa glatt kosher slaughterhouse and for their laudable public commitment to do all that is halachically acceptable to ensure the most humane slaughter conditions possible in all plants that it certifies However, as President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I wish to point out that since, as Rabbi Genack reminds us, “any slaughterhouse, whether kosher or non-kosher, is by definition a disconcerting, blood-filled and gruesome place,” we should consider that its products are having devastating effects on the health of Jews and others and on the environment, and that the production and consumption of meat violate at least six basic Jewish mandates.***]

Kosher slaughter, shechita, involves cutting the trachea and esophagus with a sharp, flawless knife. At the same time, the carotid arteries, which are the primary supplier of blood to the brain, are severed. The profound loss of blood and the massive drop in blood pressure render the animal insensate almost immediately. Studies done by Dr. H. H. Dukes at the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine indicate that the animal is unconscious within seconds of the incision.

After the shechita at AgriProcessors, an additional cut is made in the carotid arteries to further accelerate the bleeding. This is not done for kashrut reasons, for after the trachea and esophagus have been severed the shechita is complete, but rather for commercial reasons, to avoid blood splash, which turns the meat a darker color. The carotid arteries are attached to the trachea and at AgriProcessors the trachea was excised to facilitate the bleeding.

In the overwhelming number of cases the animal is insensate at that time. However and inevitably, particularly when it is considered that 18,000 cattle were slaughtered during the seven-week period when the video was shot, there was a tiny percentage of animals whose carotid arteries were not completely severed so they were not completely unconscious. [*** many experts who viewed the videos disagree. ***] Although this is very infrequent, the removal of the trachea immediately after the shechita has now been discontinued. It should be kept in mind that in a non-kosher plant, when the animal is killed by a shot with a captive bolt to the brain, it often has to be re-shot, sometimes up to six times, before the animal collapses. The USDA permits up to a five percent initial failure rate.

At AgriProcessors and at other plants it supervises, the Orthodox Union is committed to maintaining the highest ritual standards of shechita without compromising the halacha (Jewish law) one bit. The OU continues to vouch for the kashrut, which was never compromised, of all the meat prepared by AgriProcessors,

[*** As president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), I can testify that JVNA has consistently opposed efforts to single out shechita for criticism. While we believe that Jews and others should shift toward plant-based diets, JVNA believes that properly carried out ritual slaughter is a superior method of slaughter, which aims to minimize animal pain, and that Jews who continue to eat meat should eat kosher meat.

However, we, respectfully, believe that it is essential to indicate that the inhumane treatment of animals at the Postville slaughterhouse that has been shown on the videotape is not typical of shechita, as many long-time veterinarians, animal welfare experts, and rabbis have testified. It is critical to immediately change the slaughter procedure [some changes have already been made], based on the advice of halachic experts and animal welfare experts, such as the highly respected Dr. Temple Grandin. Otherwise, we fear the possible negative effects on Jews and Judaism if people associate conditions at that slaughterhouse with Jewish ritual slaughter.

What appears on these videos seems to show animals, unnecessarily and in contravention of Jewish tradition, being mistreated and made to suffer. I am concerned that those who know little of Judaism may come to believe that this is actually what Jewish observance requires and condones, and may thereby become hostile to Jews and Judaism.

We want the idealistic vision of the Torah to be admired and influential in the world, not associated with cruel and insensitive practices. ***]

As I indicated previously, images of slaughter - especially selected images in an abbatoir -- are jarring, particularly to the layman. Statements by PETA that animals were bellowing in pain after the shechita are an anatomical impossibility. After the animal's throat and larynx have been cut, it cannot vocalize.

PETA is well known for the passion it brings to the issue of animal rights, but it is an organization devoid of objectivity. PETA's comparison of the killing of chickens to the Holocaust is, at a minimum, morally obtuse. So to whom should we turn for an objective view about the situation at AgriProcessors and about kosher slaughter in general? Here are the opinions of some experts:

[*** While the JVNA has been and continues to be critical of some of PETA’s activities, in this case PETA has consistently focused on the Postville plant and stated that they believe that shechita, when properly carried out, is a superior method. ***]

[*** Re the items below, the question is, were the inspections done before or after the PETA videotapes were made public? Many veteran veterinarians, animal welfare experts, and rabbis indicated their shock and revulsion at the scenes shown on PETA’s videos. The important issue now is what steps will be taken to insure that in the future shechita will always be carried out in the best possible way, consistent with Jewish law. ***]

1. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge inspected the plant. She found the handling of the animals to be humane and commendable. She said, after viewing the shechita, that the animals were unconscious within two to three seconds. She also said that chickens were handled more carefully by the rabbis than by her own "grandmother on the farm."

2. AgriProcessors is under constant USDA inspection. Dr. Henry Lawson, the USDA veterinarian at the plant, told me that he considers the treatment of the cattle at AgriProcessors to be humane and that the shechita renders them unconscious within a matter of seconds. He determines this by certain physiological criteria related to the eyes, tongue and tail of the animal.

3. Rabbi Dr. I.M. Levinger, a veterinarian and one of the world's foremost experts on animal welfare and kosher slaughter, called the shechita practices at AgriProcessors "professional and efficient," emphasizing the humane manner in which the shechita was handled. Dr. Levinger was also highly impressed with the caliber of the ritual slaughterers. He issued his evaluation following a thorough two-day on-site review of shechita practices and animal treatment at the plant. He viewed the kosher slaughter of nearly 150 animals.

4. AgriProcessors has hired an animal welfare and handling specialist to evaluate the plant processes. The specialist was recommended by both Dr. Temple Grandin, a foremost expert in animal welfare, and also by the National Meat Association. In reviewing the shechita process, the specialist made the following observations:

· The shechita process was performed swiftly and correctly;
· The shechita cut resulted in a rapid bleed; and
· All animals that exited the box were clearly unconscious.

[*** As the JVNA has always argued, and even PETA agrees, shechita, when properly carried out, is a superior method of slaughter. However, even if shechita is carried out perfectly and pain during slaughter is minimized, can we ignore the many violations of Jewish teachings on compassion to animals that occur daily in the mistreatment of billions of animals on "factory farms" in the United States and worldwide, and the other ways that the production and consumption of animal products violate basic Jewish teachings? ***]

The OU and AgriProcessors are committed to the Torah principles of humane treatment of animals. At the OU we constantly review our procedures, evaluate them, and if necessary, improve or correct them. We don't want ever to be wedded to a mistaken procedure. AgriProcessors has been completely cooperative in working with the OU and shares our philosophy.

As Torah Jews, we are imbued with the teachings which require animals to be rested along with people on the Sabbath and fed before the people who own them, and that the mother bird must be sent away before her young are taken to save her grief. These and similar statutes make it clear that inhumane treatment of animals is not the Jewish way.

[*** Yes, as JVNA consistently argues, Judaism has very strong teachings on the compassionate treatment of animals. But we should also consider the many violations of Jewish teachings related to animal-based diets and modern intensive livestock agriculture.

When Judaism mandates that we treat animals with compassion, can we ignore the cruel treatment of animals on factory farms, where they are raised in cramped, confined spaces without sunlight, fresh air, or opportunities to fulfil their natural instincts? When Judaism stresses that we must diligently protect our health, can we ignore that animal-based diets are major contributors to the epidemic of heart disease, many forms of cancer, and other killer diseases and ailments afflicting the Jewish community and others? When Judaism mandates that we be partners with God in protecting the environment, can we ignore the significant contributions of animal-centered agriculture to air, water, and land pollution, species extinction, deforestation, global climate change, water shortages, and many other environmental threats? ***]

Kosher slaughter, by principle, and as performed today in the United States, is humane. Indeed, as PETA itself has acknowledged, shechita is more humane than the common non-kosher form of shooting the animal in the head with a captive bolt, for reasons noted above. The Humane Slaughter Act, passed into law after objective research by the United States government, declares shechita to be humane. For Torah observant Jews, it cannot be any other way.

[*** Rabbi Genack’s article indicates that our campaign to stress that the Postville controversy should be a wake-up call to the need to address the many moral issues related to our diets has not been successful. It is essential that we continue and increase our efforts, because, for the sake of our health, the sustainability of our imperiled planet, Jewish values, as well as for the animals, it is essential that there be a major shift toward plant-based diets. ***]

[*** Further thought: Since nutritionists have concluded that one can be properly nourished on a diet free of animal products, a fundamental question that Rabbi Genack and other Jewish leaders should address is: since Judaism mandates that we should diligently guard our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people, and animal-based diets and agriculture have negative effects in each of these areas, shouldn’t Jews (and others) seriously consider a switch toward meatless diets? ***]

[*** Further thought: The current controversy must be a wake up call to end the many violations of Jewish teachings associated with the production and consumption of animal products. I believe that the horrific scenes of the mistreatment of animals at the Postville glatt kosher slaughterhouse and the efforts of some Jewish groups to defend the facility’s procedures raise questions that go to the heart and soul of Judaism: If slaughterhouse procedures are not consistently monitored for strict adherence to the ideals of shechita, are we carrying out our mandate to be "rachmanim b’nei rachmanim" (compassionate children of compassionate ancestors)? Are we failing in our obligation to properly imitate G-d, Whose "tender mercies are over all His creatures" (Psalms 145:9)? If, as is recited at synagogue services every Sabbath and Yom tov morning, "the soul of every living creature shall bless G-d’s Name," can we expect these cruelly treated animals to join in the praise? If, "the righteous person considers the life of his or her animal" (Proverbs 12:10), how will we be judged, based on our treatment of animals? ***]

Service [for Rabbi Genak’s article in the Commentator] Provided by College Publisher, Inc.

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“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
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