April 17, 2005

4/17/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy Passover!

2. Getting Health and Diet Connections More Widely Discussed

3. Our Beautiful Planet: Jewish Teachings for Spring

4. A Special Spring Blessing

5. Recent Item re Slaughter in Israel

6. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) Message re the March of Dimes and Animal Cruelty

7. Would You Like to be a JVNA Contact Person for Your Area?

8. Would you Like to be Involved in a Jewish Vegetarian Group in Your Area?

9. Do You Know of a Vegetarian Seder in Your Area?

10. Derech Hateva's Summer Program: Israel Trail Teen Adventure

11. Popular TV Program has a Vegetarian and an aAnimal Rights Message

12. JVNA Advisor’s Group Promotes More Humane “Animal Science” Programs at Land Grant Colleges

Some material has been deferred to a later 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. Happy Passover!

Best wishes to members of our Jewish audience for a joyous, kosher Passover (starting on the evening of April 23). I hope that you fond the article below of interest. Please feel free to share it with others and to send me suggestions for additional points and articles. Thanks.

Passover and Vegetarianism
by Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Passover and vegetarianism? Can the two be related? After all, what is a seder without gefilte fish, chicken soup, chopped liver, chicken, and other meats? And what about the shankbone to commemorate the paschal sacrifice. And doesn't Jewish law mandate that Jews eat meat to rejoice on Passover and other Jewish festivals?

An increasing number of Jews are turning to vegetarianism and they are finding ways to celebrate vegetarian Passovers while being consistent with Jewish teachings. For many years, Jonathan Wolf, a Jewish vegetarian activist, has hosted up to 50 people for completely vegetarian seders.

Contrary to a common perception, Jews are not required to eat meat at the Passover seder or any other time. According to the Talmud (Pesachim 109a), since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, Jews need not eat meat to celebrate Jewish festivals. Scholarly articles by Rabbi Albert Cohen in the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and Rabbi J. David Bleich in Tradition magazine provide many additional sources that reinforce this point. Also, Israeli chief rabbis, including Rabbi Shlomo Goren, late Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel and Rabbi Sha'ar Yashuv Cohen, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Haifa, were or are strict vegetarians

The use of the shankbone originated in the time of the Talmud as a means of commemorating the paschal lamb. However, since the Talmudic scholar, Rabbi Huna, states that a beet can be used for this purpose, many Jewish vegetarians substitute a beet for the shankbone on the seder plate (Pesachim 114b). The important point is that the shankbone is a symbol and no meat need be eaten at the seder.

Jewish vegetarians see vegetarian values reinforced by several Passover themes:

1. At the seder, Jews say, "Let all who are hungry come and eat". As on other occasions, at the conclusion of the meal, birkat hamazon is recited to thank God for providing food for the world's people. This seems inconsistent with the consumption of animal-centered diets which involves the feeding of 70% of the grain grown in the United States and two-thirds of the grain that we export to animals destined for slaughter and the importing of beef from other countries, while 20 million of the world's people die of hunger and its effects annually.

Although he is not a vegetarian, Rabbi Jay Marcus, Spiritual Leader of the Young Israel of Staten Island, saw a connection between simpler diets and helping hungry people. He commented on the fact that "karpas" (eating of greens) comes immediately before "yahatz" (the breaking of the middle matzah) for later use as the "afikomen" (dessert) in the seder service. He concluded that those who live on simpler foods (greens, for example) will more readily divide their possessions and share with others.

2. Many Jewish vegetarians see connections between the oppression that their ancestors suffered and the current plight of the billions of people who presently lack sufficient food and other essential resources. Vegetarian diets require far less land, water, gasoline, pesticides, fertilizer, and other resources, and thus enable the better sharing of God's abundant resources, which can help reduce global hunger and poverty.

3. The main Passover theme is freedom. While relating the story of our ancestors' slavery in Egypt and their redemption through God's power and beneficence, many Jewish vegetarians also consider the "slavery" of animals on modern "factory farms". Contrary to Jewish teachings of "tsa'ar ba'alei chayim" (the Torah mandate not to cause unnecessary "pain to a living creature"), animals are raised for food today under cruel conditions in crowded confined spaces, where they are denied fresh air, sunlight, a chance to exercise, and the fulfillment of their natural instincts. In this connection, it is significant to consider that according to the Jewish tradition, Moses, Judaism's greatest leader, teacher, and prophet, was chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt because as a shepherd he showed great compassion to a lamb (Exodus Rabbah 2:2).

4. Many Jewish vegetarians advocate that we commemorate the redemption of our ancestors from slavery by ending the current slavery to harmful eating habits through the adoption of vegetarian diets.

5. Passover is the holiday of springtime, a time of nature's renewal. It also commemorates God's supremacy over the forces of nature. In contrast, modern intensive livestock agriculture and animal-centered diets have many negative effects on the environment, including air and water pollution, soil erosion and depletion, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats, and contributions to global warming.

Jewish vegetarians view their diet as a practical way to put Jewish values into practice. They believe that Jewish mandates to show compassion to animals, take care of our health, protect the environment, conserve resources, and share with hungry people, and the negative effects that animal-centered diets have in each of these areas, point to vegetarianism as the ideal diet for Jews (and others) today.

Sources for further information on connections between Judaism and vegetarianism include:

1. The International Jewish Vegetarian Society; 855 Finchley Road, London NW 11, England (jewishvegetarian@onetel.net.uk).

2. Judaism and Vegetarianism by Richard Schwartz, new, revised edition (New York: Lantern, 2001)

3. The web site of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA):
JewishVeg.com, including over 100 articles at JewishVeg.com/schwartz by Richard H. Schwartz.

4. Micah Publications; the source for books on Judaism and vegetarianism and related issues; 255 Humphrey Street, Marblehead, Massachusetts 01945;
or micah@micahbooks.com They have published vegetarian-friendly haggadahs, "Haggadah for the Liberated Lamb" and "Haggadah for the Vegetarian Family", both by Roberta Kalechofsky, founder and director of Jews for Animal Rights (JAR) and Micah Publications, which contains traditional and new material for a vegetarian seder, including recipes, songs, notes, readings, and a bibliography, and "The Jewish Vegetarian Year Cookbook" by Roberta Kalechofsky and Rosa Rasiel, which includes many recipes suitable for Passover. They also have a vegetarian Passover cookbook and a video casette that describes a vegetarian seder.

Other books that have vegetarian recipes appropriate for Passover include "No Cholesterol Passover Recipes" by Debra Wasserman and Charles Stahler and "Vegan Passover Recipes" by Nancy Berkoff, both published by the Vegetarian Resource Group (P. O. Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203; www.vrg.org), and "Jewish Vegetarian Cooking" (the official cookbook of the International Jewish Vegetarian Society) by Rose Friedman (Thorsons Publishers).

Return to Top

2. Getting Health and Diet Connections More Widely Discussed.

The congressional hearings discussed below provide a chance to make people more aware of the health benifits of vegetarian/vegan diets:

Contact person: "Marilyn Clement" marilyncle@earthlink.net

Public Hearings on Healthcare Across the Nation

The Campaign for a National Health Program NOW has announced that it will be mobilizing people to participate in Congressional Hearings on healthcare in some 70 local communities. Public hearings on the health care crisis and proposed solutions have already been scheduled in 10 cities. People are questioning the rising cost of healthcare and offering their own solutions to Congress.

"A national health care system is the one thing Congress could do to help decrease the costs of health care, bring some rationality to the U.S. economy, and save the personal budgets of millions of American families" said Marilyn Clement, Coordinator of the Campaign for a National Health Program NOW.

"45 million people, almost all in working families, have no healthcare and half of the bankruptcies in the country are caused by health care tragedies."

Communities organizing these hearings say they want their Members of
Congress to pay attention to people in their districts instead of Washington lobbyists.

"What if we had a "healthier" Congress elected in 2006? They could pass a national health care bill that covers everybody," said Sharda Sekaran, of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. "Healthcare is a human right, not a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder."

These public Congressional Hearings started in St. Louis on April 1st.


Currently scheduled hearings include:
May 2nd Buffalo, NY May 30th Wells, VT
May 14th New York, NY May 21st Aliquippa, PA (Pittsburgh)
June 1st Rochester, NY June 13th Birmingham, AL
June 28th Boston, MA August Sacramento, CA
September Chicago, IL Sept or Oct Alamosa, CO
Sept or Oct Selma, AL
See list attached for the other 70 cities involved in this campaign.
For more information, contact cnhpNOW, 212-475-8350.
Thanks to everyone who is working on this. If you would like to be involved don't hesitate to contact us. Also if you know people who would be interested anywhere in the country, please forward this email.
Marilyn Clement
National Coordinator cnhpNOW

Return to Top

3. Our Beautiful Planet: Jewish Teachings for Spring

Thanks to scholar, author, and JVNA advisor Yosef Hakohen for the following two items on Jewish teachings that are very appropriate this time of the year.

The Journey to Unity – A Teaching for Spring

"Remember this day on which you departed from Egypt, from the house of bondage…Today you are leaving, in the month of spring." (Exodus 13:3,4)

Dear Friends,

With the arrival of spring, do you feel an urge for the "great outdoors"? According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, a noted sage of the 19th century, you should not suppress this desire, which Hashem - the Compassionate One - implanted in you, for it can give you the spiritual opportunity to develop a deeper appreciation of Hashem's world. Rabbi Hirsch expresses this idea in the following excerpt from his travel memoirs, which were written as letters to a friend:

How could you think, dear N___, that your letter would still find me within my four walls? "The winter is over, the blossoms are showing, the time for singing has come," could your friend stay in the house? No, my dear. Even as a child I envied our ancestors when - on the night my father presented them to me with their feet sandalled, their loins girded, the wanderer's staff in their hands, the bread-bundles on their shoulders - I would have given the sweetest charoses for a drink of bitter water if I could have wandered thus for forty years with them in the desert. I almost believe that all you homebodies would one day have to atone for your staying indoors, and when you would desire entrance to see the marvels of heaven, they would ask you, "Did you see the marvels of God on earth?" Then, ashamed, you would mumble, "We missed that opportunity."

How different were our Rabbis in this respect. How they breathed and felt, thought and lived in God's marvelous Nature. How they wanted to awaken our senses for all that is sublime and beautiful in Creation. How they wanted to teach us to fashion a wreath of adoration for God out of the morning's rays and the evening blush, out of the daylight and the night shadows, out of the star's glimmer and the flower's scent, out of the roar of the sea and the rumble of the thunder, the flash of the lightning. How they wanted to demonstrate to us that every creature was a preacher of His power, a monitor of our duties; what a Divine revelation they made of the book of Nature.

("From the Notebook of a Wandering Jew" - Collected Writings of Rabbi S.R. Hirsch. Vol. 8)

The Siddur, the classical Prayer Book of the Jewish people, was arranged by the prophets and sages who lived at the beginning of the Second Temple period, with some additions added by sages in later generations. It contains psalms, prayers and blessings which help to awaken our senses for all that is sublime and beautiful in the creation. For example, there are blessings over various wonders of nature such as lightning, thunder, a rainbow, and the first blossoms of fruit trees. Another example from the Siddur is Psalm 104. Our Sages established the custom of chanting this psalm on Rosh Chodesh, the New Moon. The theme of the psalm is the beauty and harmony of creation, and it opens with the following words: "Bless Hashem, O my soul; Hashem my God, You are greatly exalted; with beauty and splendor are You clothed." In his commentary on this verse, Rabbi Hirsch explains that King David is proclaiming: "All of creation is Your garment." Through this "garment," we are given a glimpse of the beauty and splendor of our Creator. In the next excerpt from this psalm, David continues his song of praise:

"You are the One Who sends the springs into the streams; they flow between the mountains. They water every beast of the field; they quench the wild creatures' thirst. Near them dwell the birds of the heavens, from among the branches they give forth song. The One Who waters the mountains from His upper chambers, from the fruit of Your works the earth is sated. The One Who causes vegetation to sprout for the animal, and plants through human labor; to bring forth bread from the earth and wine that gladdens the human heart; to make the face glow from oil, and bread that sustains the human heart. The trees of Hashem are sated, the cedars of Lebanon that He has planted; there where the birds nest, the stork with its home among cypresses, high mountains for the wild goats, rocks as refuge for the gophers. The One Who made the moon for the setting of the festivals, the sun knows its destination. You make darkness, and it is night, in which every forest beast stirs. The young lions roar after their prey, and to seek their food from God. The sun rises and they are gathered, and in their dens they crouch. The human being goes forth to his work, and to his labor until evening. How manifold are Your works, Hashem; with wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions. Behold this sea, great and of broad measure; creeping things are there without number, creatures small and great... All of them look to You with hope, to provide their food in its proper time. You give it to them, they gather it in; You open Your hand, they are sated with good. When You hide Your face, they are dismayed; when You retrieve their spirit, they perish, and to their dust they return. When You send forth Your spirit, they will be created anew; and You will renew the surface of the earth. May the glory of Hashem endure forever; let Hashem rejoice in His works." (Psalm 104, verses 10-31)

Rabbi Hirsch, in his commentary on the above psalm (verses 16-18) writes: "Hashem did not provide only for the human being and for the creatures that are meant to serve the human being and to be in his care. He also satisfied the "trees of Hashem" - the trees which are neither planted nor cultivated by human hands. The cedars of Lebanon have their fill of nourishment and serve as the dwelling places of the free fowl of the wild."

The central theme of this psalm is expressed in the words: "How manifold are Your works, Hashem; with wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your possessions." In his commentary on this verse, the Malbim, a noted biblical commentator of the 19th century, writes that the psalmist is expressing his wonder at the Divine wisdom which established for each of the diverse creatures within creation the means by which it can survive.

The Prophets of the Compassionate One taught us not to deify any aspect of creation; however, they also taught us that all of creation is an expression of the Divine wisdom. In this spirit, the King and Prophet, David, proclaimed, "The heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:2). We should therefore never lose our sense of wonder at Hashem's creation, as David also proclaimed, "Wondrous are Your works, and my soul is very aware of them" (Psalm 139:14).

One of the classical biblical commentators, Radak, points out that the ideal day for contemplating the wonders of the creation is "Shabbos," as on the Sabbath Day, we are free of the mundane cares of the week. It is for this reason that we find the following verse in the psalm which is called, "the Song for the Sabbath Day":

"For You have given me joy in Your deeds, Hashem; I sing joyously at the work of Your hands." (Psalm 92:5)

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

Hazon - Our Universal Vision: www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/

Return to Top

4. A Special Spring Blessing

A Tree Blessing and Story:
By Yosef Hakohen

Introductory Note:

Hashem - which literally means "the Name" - is a respectful way of referring to the most sacred four-letter Divine Name which expresses the Divine attribute of compassion. This Name was only pronounced (as it is spelled) in the Holy Temple by the Kohanim - ministers. During conversation and study, we refer to this Name as "Hashem"; however, when we say our traditional Hebrew prayers and blessings, or read from our Sacred Scriptures, we pronounce this Name as "Ado-nai" - the Master of all. Ever since Abraham and Sarah, we have proclaimed the universal message that the Compassionate One is the Master of all creation. For example, when we are in need of healing and salvation, we do not direct our prayers to the various forces within nature that the Compassionate One created; instead, we direct our prayers to the Master of Creation – the Compassionate One. As King David prayed:

"A song for the Ascents: I lift up my eyes unto the mountains; from where will come my help? My help is from Ado-nai, Maker of heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:1,2)

Dear Friends,

Jewish tradition helps us to deepen our appreciation for the wonders of creation by providing us with various blessings that we say when we witness various phenomena of creation. For example, we say the following annual blessing of thanksgiving to the Compassionate One upon seeing the blossoms of fruit trees in the month of Nissan - the first month of spring – before the fruit begins to ripen:

The transliteration is according to the Ashkenazi pronounciation:

Boruch Atoh Ado-noi Elo-heinu Melech ho'olom shelo chisar b'olomo kloom u'voro bo brios tovos v'ilonos tovos l'hanos bohem bnei odom. - Blessed are You, Ado-nai, our God, Sovereign of the universe, Whose world lacks nothing, and Who created within it good creatures and good trees to bring pleasure to human beings. (This blessing can be found in the Siddur - the classical prayer book, and in the ArtScroll Siddur, it is found on page 228.)

This year, the month of Nissan begins on Saturday night, April 9th, and concludes on Sunday, May 8th. (If the fruit trees in your area blossom in a different month, then the blessing is made during that month.) The blessing is made when the blossoms are still on the trees, and one blessing covers all the trees. For further information on the laws and customs of this blessing, visit:


Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Horowitz - known as the "Bostoner Rebbe" - tells a story from his childhood regarding the annual blessing for blossoming fruit trees. His father was a Chassidic Rebbe living in Boston; however, there were no fruit trees in his neighborhood. Each year, his father sent out messengers to search for the ideal place where he, his family, and his Chassidim could make the annual blessing upon seeing the blossoms of the fruit trees. In a book of stories from the life of the Bostoner Rebbe, titled "And the Angels Laughed," the Rebbe tells the following tale about his father's search for fruit trees:

One year, we went to Allston, which was then quite new and green. We drew up in front of a house that had a large plot of land, with what seemed to be fruit trees inside a tall surrounding fence. One of the drivers, Mr. Israel Sachs, of blessed memory, went in to ask permission for us to enter and say our blessing over the trees. The man of the house wasn't in, but his wife, a good Italian Catholic, was quite gracious, and she said: "Of course, by all means!"

Father got out of the car, and followed by a procession of his Chassidim, entered the gate. We said our bracha (blessing), and prepared to leave, happy to have done our mitzva. When Mr. Sachs went over to thank our hostess, she asked him: "Could you please ask the Grand Rabbi for a special favor?"

"What is it?"

"Well, do you see that tree in the corner of the yard over there? It used to have very good apples, but for the last year or so, it hasn't produced any at all. Since the Rabbi gave a blessing to all the other trees, perhaps he could give that tree a blessing too."

Mr. Sachs translated her request to Father in Yiddish, and Father agreed. He turned around and said in Hebrew, "May this tree bring forth good fruits."

That fall, Father's new gabbai (sexton), came upstairs to tell him that a woman had come by and left him a large basket full of bright red apples. With the apples, she left this message: "Please tell the Grand Rabbi that all these apples are from that barren apple tree he blessed!" ("And the Angels Laughed," pages 29-32, Mesorah Publications)

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

Related Comments:

1. If one recites a traditional blessing in English, one should not pronounce the sacred four-letter Divine Name as "Hashem"; one should rather say one of the following three terms: Lord, God, or Ado-nai. For example, one can say, "Blessed are You, Lord, our God" or "Blessed are You, Ado-nai, our God."

2. The above story is from "And the Angels Laughed," pages 29-32. It is shared with you courtesy of the copyright holder, ArtScroll/Mesorah. For further information, visit: : http://www.artscroll.com/linker/hazon/home

Hazon - Our Universal Vision: www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/

Return to Top

5. Recent Item re Slaughter in Israel

Thanks to JVNA advisor and agriculture expert Prof. Joe Regenstein for forwarding this item from “Kosher Today”:

Move to End Shooting of Animals After Slaughter

(Jerusalem) Israel s leading Torah authorities have moved to end the practice in at least two slaughterhouses in Europe and Australia of shooting animals immediately after glatt kosher slaughter to assure insensibility. Led by the venerable sage Rabbi Sholom Yosef Elyashiv, the rabbis argued that the shooting of the animals reverses blood flow to the point where even salting may not be able to remove the blood from the meat. Kosher Today has learned that an abattoir in Ireland has already reversed the policy. The forceful ruling was agreed to by most of Israel’s halachic authorities, leaving an unambiguous opinion about the negative implications in Jewish law to the practice of shooting. Kosher slaughtering practices in many instances encourage an additional cut to facilitate bleeding. In addition to Rabbi Elyashiv, some of the rabbis that issued opinions are Rabbis Karelitz, Weiss, Bransdorfer, Sternbuch, Vozner, Halberstam, Ulman and Yosef.

Return to Top

6. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) Message re the March of Dimes and Animal Cruelty

As you may know, PCRM has been spreading the word about the March of Dimes and animal cruelty. With volunteers' help, we have educated thousands of people about the charity's shocking animal experiments, ranging from blinding newborn kittens to drugging animals with cocaine and alcohol.

We are now stepping up this campaign, and I need your help. The key now is to communicate to MOD's local and national sponsors. Once they realize what MOD is doing, many resolve that their funds should only go to humane and effective non-animal research. Could you please keep an eye out for names of companies sponsoring the March of Dimes in your area? These could be radio stations, newspapers, grocery stores, or your local bank branch. When you identify them, please forward as much contact information as you can to PCRM at Research@pcrm.org (mailto:Research@pcrm.org) . If you have already helped us build this database, thank you. Last year, several former March of Dimes supporters contacted me directly to ask how they could help reform health charities like MOD-all because of volunteers' efforts.

Volunteers are also needed to go to the WalkAmerica in their town and hand out leaflets to walkers about the cruel animal research that the MOD funds. Leafleting at the walk is an excellent way to spread the word. At www.walkamerica.org, you will find information about walks in your community. You can request leaflets by visiting www.pcrm.org/resch/charities/mod_form.html.

Last year, with the help of some very generous members, we sponsored airplane banners in the skies above 10 different walks. This year, we have added mobile billboards at accommodating locations. The banners and billboards allow us to advertise MOD cruelty to people at the walks and even those just walking around town! If you would like to sponsor or organize either of these, please let me know.

Please pass along this e-mail to anyone you think may be able to help with the 2005 March of Dimes campaign.

Our Humane Charities Campaign Coordinator is Kristie Stoick. If there is anything you need, Kristie is ready to help. You can reach her at 202-686-2210, ext. 335 or kstoick@pcrm.org.

Thank you again for the work you do to help animals.

Neal Barnard, MD
PCRM President

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, especially good nutrition. PCRM also conducts clinical research studies, opposes unethical human experimentation, and promotes alternatives to animal research.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
5100 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Ste. 400, Washington, DC 20016
Phone: 202-686-2210 Email: pcrm@pcrm.org

Return to Top

7. Would You Like to be a JVNA Contact Person for Your Area?

We are starting a new service at the JVNA web site (JewishVeg.com). We plan to list contact people for various areas. This will enable new people to contact others in their area to learn about local vegetarian groups and activities. Please let us know if you would like to be a contact person, and please send contact information and anything else that you would like people to know about you and your area. Thanks.

Our first contact person is Becca Klauder (becca@mlhf.com) of Philadelphia. Thanks, Becca.

Becca Klauder
P O BOX 614 Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Main Line Health & Fitness 610-527-2200 voice becca@mlhf.com

Return to Top

8. Would you Like to be Involved in a Jewish Vegetarian Group in Your Area?

If you would like to be involved in a Jewish vegetarian group in your area, please let us know along with contact information and other information that you would like to share. We would try to help facilitate the formation of such groups, although they would not be officially affiliated with JVNA, as we do not have the means to fund or coordinate such groups.

Return to Top

9. Do You Know of a Vegetarian Seder in Your Area?

If you are aware of a vegetarian or vegan seder in your area, please let us know, along with as much information about the seder as you can, including contact information, and we will try to help make people aware of it. We often get messages from people seeking vegetarian seders. Thanks.

Return to Top

10. Derech Hateva's Summer Program: Israel Trail Teen Adventure

Forwarded message from Derech Hateva:

Register now for Derech Hateva, SPNI's (Chevrah L'Haganat Hateva) Summer Teen Program, July 4 – August 3, 2005*! This month-long program for teens aged 14-17, features backpacking & hiking, biking, swimming and rock climbing during a multi-week nature expedition along the Israel Trail (Shvil Yisrael) in the north of Israel.

Experience the magnificent natural beauty of Israel's north while you learn outdoor skills, Torah perspectives on Judaism & nature, gain leadership and teamwork skills as you hike and volunteer along the way. Discover what it takes to celebrate Shabbat outdoors and how to keep kosher & live Jewishly in nature, all in Israel.

There will be separate boys and girls groups, of 8 to 12 participants from Israel, the US, and Europe, each led by two highly trained & experienced bi-lingual educator/guides.

Derech Hateva, a program of the Jerusalem branch of SPNI (Society for the Protection of Nature, in Israel) is directed by Yael Ukeles, the founder of Teva Adventure, a not-for-profit organization that provides kosher, Shomer Shabbat Jewish outdoor educational programs
to the worldwide Jewish community. Derech Hateva utilizes SPNI's abundant knowledge of the land of Israel synthesized with a unique approach to outdoor Jewish education.

For more information on our program please contact us at programs@tevaadventure.org or call us at 718-576-1302 in the US or 02-624-8743 in Israel.

Or to pre-register, please send an email with your name, age & contact information to israel@tevaadventure.org.

**Exact dates are subject to change

Return to Top

11. Popular TV Program has a Vegetarian and an animal Rights Message

Thanks to JVNA advisor and activist Laura Slitt for forwarding the following message from “Dawnwatch”:

The episode of the hit CBS series Judging Amy that aired on Tuesday, April 12, included two storylines relevant to animal advocates. One that explored cruelty to companion animals, was handled beautifully. The other issue, one relevant to billions more animals, the choice of Amy's daughter Lauren to go vegetarian, is still being played out.

Starting with the good news on the animal cruelty issue:

Amy sees a case in which a teenage boy has beaten his mother and locked her in a basement for hours. The neighbors heard her screaming.The prosecutors call him sadistic and remorseless and want him charged as an adult.

We first learn that something was very wrong with his rearing when his mother explains that she can no longer control him, and then says,
"He won't stay in his room anymore. When he was little I could lock him in his room till he settled down. 'You want to be loud, you want to carry on? Fine - Mom's going to the grocery store -- see you in a few hours.' I can't do that anymore, he is too big and mean."

Later, when Eric is on the witness stand, he says, of the attack on his mother:
"It ain't like I didn't warn her."
When queried he says,
"I told her if she touches the dog, something is going to happen."
Judge Amy Gray: "What dog? Is there a dog in the picture?"
Prosecutor: "I believe Eric keeps a pitbull in his mother's back yard."
Amy: "What happened to the dog?"
Eric is silent, looking distressed and angry. Amy explains this is his last chance to tell her what happened before she has to decide whether to have him tried as an adult in which case he could go to jail for a long while. She asks again.
Amy: "What happened to the dog?"
Eric: "She hit him with the bat. She can't hurt me, so she goes after the dog."
The Mother yelling: "That dog was dangerous, he was training it to attack me!"
Eric yelling back: "That dog couldn't hurt nothing! They were going to kill it because it wouldn't fight. That's why I took him. I taught him to fight back. I know because he bit me when I pulled her off. He was hurting and thought I was her."
Amy: "What is the dog's name Eric?
Eric: "Cassius."
Amy: "You want to see Cassius again?"
Eric, now sobbing: "He is dead. She beat his face in. His jaw was all...
I took him to the park and I buried him that night."
Mother: "I didn't want that dog in my yard. It was always barking and making noise."
Amy: "So you beat it to death with a baseball bat?"
We see, again, Eric crying. End of scene.
At the time of sentencing this is what Amy says:

"I am surprisingly hopeful today. I am saying that because it is very hard to hear what has been said in this courtroom and not feel disheartened. Here is child rearing at its worse. Abusive, negligent, mutually destructive. As parents we must prepare for the day when our children will test us, and it is at that point that we must be the most vigilant, not just in disciplining them but in disciplining ourselves so that punishment does not become an outlet for our anger and disappointment. Done well or done poorly, parenting leaves its mark. And as Sonya Oldham has learned, you reap what you sow.

"But I promised you hope today and for that I direct you to Eric Oldham. There is a lot to look past, I know. Eric is a violent kid. And I have to admit that initially I saw him as a kid who didn't care about anyone or anything, so emotionally damaged that he was not capable of caring. But I was wrong.

Eric loved his dog. He rescued it, he trained it, he took care of it, he mourns its death. And while that doesn't make him any less violent, it is a cause for hope. So, Eric, I am dismissing the kidnapping charge. However, I find probable cause on the charge of assault in the second degree. So, if Eric admits... (After a brief consultation with his lawyer, he nods) I will commit Eric to DCF as delinquent for placement in a residential treatment center for eighteen months. I am recommending the QUANT facility which has an inmate program for the training of seeing eye dogs. Seems like a good fit.

You know there is a world out there where you don't need those fists, Eric. Protect what is good in you and you won't ever have to face a locked door again.

And in a soft voice, she says to him, "Good luck."

The episode did a beautiful job of making the connection between what cruelty or kindness to animals says about a person's character.
At least with regard to companion animals.

One of the strong points of "Judging Amy" is that Amy's character is complex. She is a sensitive, intelligent, charismatic person, but far from perfect. We see that clearly in her reaction to her daughter Lauren's choice to go vegetarian. Here is how the theme has played out so far:

Amy is boasting over breakfast that she is cool with Lauren's attempts to differentiate herself, as young teenage girls do. (Lauren appears to be about twelve or thirteen -- the actress who plays her is in the seventh grade.) She says she can die her hair pink, and not tell her things, and Amy won't let it get to her.

Lauren walks into the room wearing a "Meat is Murder" t-shirt. Amy asks where she got it. Lauren says it is from her friend Regan, a friend Amy has not met. Lauren pushes the bacon off her plate, saying "Ew."

Amy: "So, you're suddenly a vegetarian?"
Lauren: "Yes."
Amy: "Yes what?"
Lauren: "Yes I am a vegetarian."
Amy: "You are going to just stop eating meat?"
Lauren: "That's what vegetarian means."
Amy: "Yes, I know, Lauren, but you can't just eat toast and gummy bears and whatever. You're gonna have to get protein, otherwise you won't be healthy. Isn't that right, ma?"
Amy's mother (Tyne Daly): "I think the two heart attacks disqualify me on this topic."
Lauren: "We don't have to eat animals to survive, but we do it anyways, just because we like it, and that's cruel."
Amy: OK, OK. For the record, animals eating other animals is a totally natural thing. Believe me if there were animals who were bigger than you and smarter than you and had opposable thumbs, they'd eat you.
Lauren as she leaves: "I am not going to argue about it."
Amy calling after her: "Well I think you should think this through because I am not going to make you a separate tofu whatever at every meal."

Another day (the next day?) Lauren comes down to breakfast but only wants to take a banana. Amy says, "Just drink some milk or something." (It has not been made clear whether Lauren is vegetarian or vegan but previews of the upcoming episode suggest she has become a "straight-edge" girl, and they are vegan.)

The doorbell rings. It is Regan, who is tough looking -- spiky hair, loads of eye shadow, multi pierced ears. She and her brother stopped by to give Lauren a ride to school, but Amy won't let Lauren ride with them. When Lauren leaves the room for a moment, Amy reads aloud Regan's badge: "Meat is murder." Then Amy comments sarcastically, "Wow, I didn't know that. I am a judge, you think they would have told me."
Regan says: "Maybe you didn't listen."
Amy says, "I think it is time for you to go Regan."

The next relevant scene is dinner time. The whole family is surprised that Amy has cooked.
She tells Lauren: "Its ravioli. There is no meat."
Then Amy's brother says, "What is in this? These little round things. Did you put shrimp in this?"
Lauren: "I knew it!"
Amy: "It is just shrimp. You didn't say anything about seafood."
Lauren: "You are trying to trick me into eating meat!"
Amy: "Shrimp is not meat."
Brother: "It is also not an ingredient in ravioli."
Lauren: "Why don't you just respect my beliefs?"
Amy: "A lot of vegetarians eat seafood. And I think you should too Lauren."
Lauren: "You don't know what is best for me."
Amy: "And Regan does?"
Lauren, leaving: "You don't even know her."
Amy, again yelling after her: "I know she dresses like a homeless person!"

Actually, throughout the episode, both Regan and Lauren wear jackets covered in various animal rights badges, such as the 'no fur' badge.

That night, Amy discovers that Lauren has run away. She has only gone as far as her father's house across town. The next morning when she gets home, Amy says they need to have a big talk that night. Lauren consents but says:
"Don't talk about my friends. Just because they don't agree with you, doesn't make them bad."
Amy says, "OK."

That night we see Lauren asleep in her room. Amy comes in and hangs up her jacket. The last shot is on the 'no fur' badge.

We hope the show is heading towards suggesting that Amy should take some real interest in and show some respect for Lauren's positions. The promo for the upcoming week was not promising. It said: "Amy's daughter is hanging out with the wrong crowd and Amy is getting scared." But promos are not written by the show's producers. In an upcoming scene we hear Amy asking Lauren" "You went to a club called the straight edge??"

Since straight-edgers, besides being vegan, consume no alcohol and do no drugs, such friends should hardly be a parent's worst nightmare. But they look rough, as Regan does, so it is reasonable that Amy might be nervous. We can't tell yet how this will play out.

Since the upcoming episodes have already been filmed, viewer feedback will not impact them. But it can have a significant impact on future seasons, so please take a moment to let the producers know that Lauren's choice is a good one. Notes from parents of healthy vegetarian teenagers would be particularly useful. If that is you, I urge you to write!

Also, there is a poll on the Judging Amy page, where we can support Lauren's choice. It asks "Is Lauren too bratty?"
Since Lauren hasn't really been bratty, but has only decided for herself that she wants to be vegetarian, it is a disappointing question.
The options given are:
-- Yes, she needs to learn to respect her mother.
-- No, she's acting like a normal teen.
-- Not sure.
Unfortunately, as I send this out, the first option is ahead. You can vote at:

And you can post a comment supporting Lauren's healthful and compassionate choice at:
Choose "Judging Amy" from the pull-down menu.

I send big thanks to activists Karen Loveless and Lucy Shelton for making sure we knew about this episode.

Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. To unsubscribe, go to www.DawnWatch.com/unsubscribe.php. If you forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts, please do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this tag line.)

Return to Top

12. JVNA Advisor’s Group Promotes More Humane “Animal Science” Programs at Land Grant Colleges

Thanks to JVNA advisor and vegetarian activist David Cantor and his group “Responsible Policies for Animals” for the following message:

Please Cross-Post Widely

Dear Members and Friends of Responsible Policies for Animals,

Just starting to arrive at the desks of land-grant university (LGU) presidents in all 50 states is Responsible Policies for Animals’ (RPA’s) fourth mailing in the 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign – the nationwide effort to end our publicly funded LGUs’ “animal science” programs. Violating nonhuman animals’ rights and based on industry profits, not education, “animal science” is one of the biggest subsidies to the flesh, milk, and egg industries. And we all pay – vegan or not!

RPA’s first three 10,000 Years Is Enough mailings to LGU presidents emphasized the animals’ basic rights and explained how providing training, research, and propaganda for the flesh, milk, and egg industries hurts agriculture, ecosystems, and human nutrition and health in addition to countless billions of nonhuman animals. Details are available at www.RPAforAll.org and in the first three issues of RPA’s newsletter, Thin Ice.

The fourth mailing, again emphasizing the animals’ rights, identifies specific false beliefs universities must promote or fail to correct in order to teach “animal science.” The mailing – a brief letter and factsheet – appears below. It was mailed on April 13, 2005, from RPA’s Glenside, Pennsylvania, office, so it has arrived at some East Coast LGUs by now. Like the previous 10,000 Years Is Enough mailings, this one was also sent to the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC), in Washington, D.C.

Please lend your personal voice to this important effort for nonhuman animals, people and ecosystems. In the next few days, write a brief letter to the president of your state’s LGU whose name and address are provided at www.RPAforAll.org. Urge her or him to start taking the necessary steps to eliminate the school’s “animal science” program. Also write to other LGUs with which you have a personal association, or to as many as your time allows. And tell the president of NASULGC his organization is doing the public a tremendous disservice by failing to work with RPA to put an end to “animal science”:

Dr. C. Peter McGrath President NASULGC
1307 New York Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20005-4722

Thank you! And let me know of any questions you may have.

Meanwhile, two other bits of good news:
(1) RPA’s first bumper sticker is available and is already proudly displayed on cars in at least three states! The designer did a fabulous job: Animals bred and destroyed for food – including fish – with sun coming up on the horizon and this animal rights message: “They’re sentient beings, not food choices!”

(2) It is now possible to support RPA online at www.RPAforAll.org.

Best wishes,
David Cantor
Executive Director
Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc.
P.O. Box 891
Glenside, PA 19038
Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit organization showing influential people how to establish responsible policies for animals that are also responsible policies for people and ecosystems showing animal rights advocates how to avoid the animal “welfare” trap. RPA’s 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign aims to end the teaching of animal agribusiness at U.S. universities. Its This Land Is Their Land campaign aims to protect wildlife by ending direct abuses and human land-use practices that harm wildlife, people, and ecosystems. Donations to RPA are tax deductible as allowed by law.
April 2005
To Whom It May Concern:
Responsible Policies for Animals’ (RPA) is sending this update on its 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign – the nationwide effort to end our land-grant universities’ (LGUs’) service to the animal flesh, milk, and egg industries – to the president or chancellor of each “1862” LGU, the president of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC), and other interested or potentially interested parties.

Two crucial facts tested and confirmed by the 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign are that the LGUs cannot justify “animal science” programs and the LGUs’ “animal science” programs continue to operate only due to inertia, industry influence, and the failure of our government and the news industry to investigate the matter and inform the public.

Were a case presented for eliminating mathematics, literature, or any other academic program as a case has been made for eliminating “animal science,” university administrators could easily refute it based on the program’s substance and how it serves students’ and society’s needs. LGUs in particular should be able to defend their non-academic programs as serving the common good, not just private economic interests.

The opposite is true for “animal science.” LGUs that have been accountable enough to respond to RPA’s campaign mailings have either put forward no reason or reasons that do not hold up for keeping “animal science.” RPA has refuted all reasons put forward in defense of “animal science.” By failing to respond, the others have also confirmed “animal science” cannot be defended. Like 30 of the 50 “1862” LGUs contacted and provided with extensive information three times since spring 2003, NASULGC has also failed to reply.

The basic rights of nonhuman animals, shown to exist to the same extent that human rights can be shown to exist, must be established in law and custom for nonhuman animals to be treated humanely by humans and for other important needs to be met, such as sound human nutrition and ecosystem protection. That “animal science” is based on the false notion that nonhuman animals have no rights indicates the fundamental pedagogical unsoundness of “animal science.” The enclosed factsheet, “Animal Science: False Teachings for Destructive Industries,” elaborates further on that.

Unless it can be shown that the false beliefs discussed in the factsheet are in fact true or that LGU “animal science” programs debunk them rather than promote them or passively allow students to believe them, it is absolutely indisputable that “animal science” has no place in universities regardless of one’s view of the human/animal relationship.

Every human being shares in the responsibility to eliminate the flesh, milk, and egg industries, the most significant obstacles on Earth to the humane treatment of nonhuman animals, sound human nutrition, ecosystem protection, resource conservation, and sustainable agriculture. Because “animal science” programs are mainstays of those industries, people with authority or influence regarding our LGUs have a particular duty to work to eliminate those programs.

RPA gladly answers questions, documents its assertions, and provides other information about the 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign upon request. RPA appreciates being informed of any progress toward eliminating the LGU “animal science” programs. Thank you for considering this important and urgent matter and for any contribution you may make to this crucial effort.

David Cantor
Executive Director
Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc.

P.S. Because managing “farm animals” humanely to extinction will be a long-term process, some LGUs may wish to consider transforming their “animal science” programs to animal sanctuaries. That can make eliminating “animal science” less disruptive for some students and instructors and more rewarding for veterinary students and others who would rather help nonhuman animals live good lives to their species’ natural lifespans than keep them enslaved to industry’s quest for profit.
Responsible Policies www.RPAforAll.org P.O. Box 891
For Animals, Inc. Glenside, PA 19038

Responsible Policies for Animals’ (RPA’s) 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign seeks to end our publicly funded land-grant universities’ (LGUs’) “animal science” programs that serve the flesh, milk and egg industries and are an egregious disservice to the common good. This factsheet is part of the fourth mailing to the 50 states’ “1862” LGUs showing how the violations of nonhuman animals’ rights inherent in “animal science”bring other harm to nonhuman animals, people, and ecosystems.

In addition to violating nonhuman animals’ rights and teaching without factual basis that nonhuman animals have no rights, “animal science” programs otherwise fail to meet basic pedagogical standards. They omit relevant available knowledge. They fail to challenge assumptions and to correct false notions. Conflict of interest produces those failings. Rather than serve farmers, sustainable agriculture, and sound nutrition as our LGUs should, “animal science” serves the private interests of the flesh, milk, and egg industries and related industries including but not limited to pharmaceuticals, feed crop, petroleum, and fast food.

Following are some of the many beliefs “animal science” programs teach or fail to correct that are shown to be false by biology, anthropology, nutrition, medicine, philosophy, and other fields. Absent such beliefs, it makes no sense to study “animal science” or to plan or build a career in the flesh, milk, or egg industry. Upon request, RPA gladly elaborates further and provides sources in addition to those touched upon here.

The false belief that nonhuman animals do not have any rights.

Since 1892, authors have explained nonhuman animals’ moral rights that human beings should establish in law and custom. Making human beings the only right-holders is unjustifiable factually and ethically. A few of the relevant books: Animals’ Rights Considered in Relation to Social Progress by Henry S. Salt, The Case for Animal Rights by Tom Regan, Rain Without Thunder by Gary L. Francione, Animal Rights/Human Rights by David Nibert, and Speciesism by Joan Dunayer.

“Animal science” programs, however, proceed on an unfounded assumption that nonhuman animals lack the most basic rights: to live according to their natures, to live free from exploitation by human beings, and others. Some “animal science” literature dismisses animal rights without accurately teaching what it is. RPA has not yet found any accurate animal rights teaching in an “animal science” course.

The false belief that animal welfare is taught in “animal science” programs.

“Welfare” means overall wellbeing. Like human beings, the animals people widely exploit for food are subjects-of-a-life and have a basic interest in living their lives as long as possible in good health. Virtually all animals used by the flesh, milk, and egg industries are slaughtered at a small fraction of their species’ natural lifespans. Many die in even less time. Often they suffer and die because of methods invented and promoted by “animal science” fulfilling its mission of making animals more economical and productive for industry.

A long-standing, false definition of “animal welfare” treats nonhuman animals as legitimate tools of human beings and deems their welfare to be violated only when cruelty or neglect makes the animals unfit to serve human interests. That is not genuine welfare. The preventable suffering and deprivation nonhuman animals are universally forced to endure

when exploited for food proves that true animal welfare – animals’ wellbeing – will not exist until nonhuman animals’ basic rights are established in law and custom.

The false belief that human beings are natural omnivores.

Countless people harbor vague notions that human beings evolved as “hunter-gatherers” and therefore are natural omnivores. That is untrue. Humans and their close ancestors lived on plants for millions of years before imitating other species by starting to scavenge birds’ eggs and bits of flesh from carnivores’ kills. Even after humans developed organized hunting by imitating social carnivores such as wolves, flesh did not constitute a large portion of the human diet.

But it makes no sense to teach or study “animal science” if one realizes human beings, like the other great apes and many other nonhuman primates, evolved as herbivores. Milton R. Mills, M.D., explains comprehensively in “The Comparative Anatomy of Eating” that humans have all of the food-related anatomical & physiological traits of herbivores and none of those of omnivores or carnivores. That article is immediately accessible online. The same knowledge is available from other sources.

The false belief that human beings need to consume protein from nonhuman animals for good health.

As explained in The China Study: The Most Extensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted by Cornell University Professor Emeritus T. Colin Campbell (2004), protein from nonhuman animals came to be called “quality protein” long ago because it most quickly replaces depleted cells and produces the most rapid growth in humans. Protein from humans would serve even better if growth were the only purpose of food!

“Quality protein” is a far cry from healthful or nutritious protein. For many decades, it has been known that the saturated fats and cholesterol that come along with animal protein cause serious and often fatal chronic diseases. And flesh, milk, and eggs provide few needed nutrients. Campbell’s research established that protein from animals causes serious diseases and in particular acts as a “switch” causing cancer growth where cancerous cells exist but without animal protein might not grow. A balanced whole-foods plant-based diet provides plenty of protein. Too much protein causes debilitating health problems.

Campbell authored or co-authored more than 350 peer-reviewed scientific-journal articles, received many prestigious awards, and sat on many prestigious commissions during his decades of research.

The false belief that raising animals for food for a large human population can be ecologically sustainable.

Taking up agriculture about 10,000 years ago marked a more dramatic departure from our species’ original ecological nice than its gradual shift from gatherer of plant foods to gatherer-scavenger-hunter had. The enslavement of nonhuman animals, often called “domestication,” was another significant ecological change. About 5 million people existed on Earth when farming began – approximately the number of people living in Croatia today. Of the 6.4 billion people living today, many times the “original” 5 million already lack adequate food and/or fresh water.

Much less fresh water and topsoil – much less total farming – are needed to produce plant foods for people to eat than to grow feed crops, breed and raise animals to eat them, “process” the animals, and feed them and their milk and eggs to people. Disagreements will always occur as to how much the resource gap can be closed, but raising animals for food also causes other ecological harm: desertification from overgrazing, pollution of surface and groundwater by animal factories, and more. Apart from whether the human population is sustainable even with flesh, milk, and eggs eliminated from the diet, only wishful thinking, not the facts all taken together as appropriate in educational institutions, can conclude that raising animals for food can possibly be ecologically sustainable.

April 2005

Return to Top

** Fair Use Notice**
This document may contain copyrighted material, use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owners. I believe that this not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

4/5/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Comprehensive Report Provides “Stark Warning” re Earth’s Future

2. Article from JVNA advisor Dan Brooks on “Eating as if the Earth Matters”

3. Article by JVNA Advisor Rabbi David Rosen on the Pope’s Positive Relationships With the Jewish Community

4. Article on Judaism and Vegetarianism by Jewish Scholar and Author Rabbi David Aaron, Followed by My Letter/Please Write

5. New Conservative Vegetarian Group Formed

6. PCRM Seeking Help in Suing the Dairy Industry for Misleading Ads

7. Availability of Veggie Burgers Increasing

8. Update re Earth Day (April 22, 2005)

9. Exciting Eco-Activist Program in Israel

10. Environmental Program in the Catskills

11. Raw Food Vegetarians Have Thin But Strong Bones

12. Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center Announces New Book and Author’s Speaking Tour

13. Force Feeding of Geese and Ducks Now Illegal in Israel

14. Opinion Article about the Canadian Seal Slaughter

15. New York Times Article on Foie Gras

16. Update on Shechita Post-Postville

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. Comprehensive Report Provides “Stark Warning” re Earth’s Future

While the report discussed below was also discussed in last week’s Newsletter, I am including this item because of its great importance, and because it might have been missed by some people in the midst of the great attention in the media to the Pope and to Terri Schiavo.

Forwarded message from Grist magazine:

Comprehensive assessment of world's ecosystems released; be very afraid

The largest and most comprehensive assessment of the world's ecosystems ever undertaken was released today, and the results constitute a "stark warning" that "the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted," according to the 45-member board of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. The study was written by 1,360 experts from 95 countries, including government officials, scientists, members of civil-society groups and indigenous tribes, and industry representatives, under the rubric of the U.N. Environment Program, using widely agreed-upon scientific evidence. It warns of rapid decline in biodiversity and freshwater availability, and says the likelihood of disease outbreaks (a la SARS), "dead zones" in coastal waters, and destructive climate shifts will rise sharply in the coming 50 years. It recommends means of slowing some of the damage -- developing markets for freshwater, improving forestry practices, removing some agricultural subsidies -- but stresses that none of those means are yet being applied.

straight to the source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Seth Borenstein, 30 Mar 2005

straight to the source: Scripps Howard News Service, Joan Lowy, 29 Mar 2005

Return to Top

2. Article from JVNA advisor Dan Brooks on “Eating as if the Earth Matters”

Vegetarians in Paradise regularly presents informative articles by guest contributors on subjects of interest to vegetarians and vegans. This month we feature a commentary by Dan Brook, Ph.D. who is a writer, poet, teacher, and activist, and has been a happy and healthy vegetarian since 1983. Dan lives with his vegetarian wife, vegetarian son, and vegetarian rat in San Francisco. Dan created and maintains Eco-Eating , The Vegetarian Mitzvah , No Smoking? and CyberBrook's ThinkLinks . He can be contacted via Brook@california.com. [This article is especially important and timely in view of the above item.]

Eco-Eating: Eating as if the Earth Matters

Vegetarians in Paradise

By Dan Brook, Ph.D.

Are people still eating meat? Do some of them consider themselves environmentalists? Can they be both? More and more scientific evidence strongly suggests that a vegetarian diet is both good for our bodies and good for our environment. Eating lower on the food chain is clearly the way to go. I know how hard switching could be--I was there over twenty years ago--but I also learned how important it is and how good it feels! And more and more people, including celebrities and athletes, are becoming vegetarian too.

Many reputable health and science organizations--including the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Dietetic Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, National Cancer Institute, National Heart Foundation, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Union of Concerned Scientists, World Health Organization, and others-all agree that a diet centered around fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can significantly reduce the incidence of heart disease, cancer, and stroke, the top three leading causes of death in the US.

Eating meat and other animal products is also correlated with high blood pressure, obesity, asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer's, atherosclerosis, aneurysm, impotence, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious ailments. According to the most recent data, in fact, about 2/3 of diseases in the U.S. are diet-related--and vegetarians are much less afflicted by all of them.

Further, because more than half of all antibiotics in the U.S. are given to livestock (plus immense amounts of chemicals, steroids, hormones, and other), resistant bacteria are increasing at an alarming rate. And don't forget mad cow disease, bird flu, hoof and mouth, E. coli, salmonella and food poisoning. Additionally, fish often contain arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium, and toxic POPs including PCBs, DDT, and dioxin, which cannot be removed from the fish, even after freezing and cooking, and which bio-accumulate in consumers. Since the meat industry is unhealthy and unsafe, reducing your consumption is the best bet. Indeed, many people who stop eating meat report feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually better.

Jamie Adams of the Nutrition Care Division at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu explains that maintaining a vegetarian diet is an excellent way to promote health and reduce the risk of disease. Adams recommends reducing the consumption of animal protein and cholesterol (which is found exclusively in meat) and saturated fat (which is abundant in meat). Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in fat, especially saturated fat, and much lower in cholesterol. Vegan diets contain absolutely no cholesterol. Vegetarian diets also tend to be rich in health-protecting vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Fiber, which is essential for good health, is totally absent in animal products.

While repeated research clearly demonstrates that the best way to protect our health is to eat a vegetarian diet, we increasingly discover that our individual rights and health are also related to our environmental rights and health. The 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, was selected precisely for this belief-which she also puts into action. We need to think of the environment as being both outside and inside of each of us.

We eat much more than food with each meal; indeed, we cannibalize our environment. The editors of the prestigious World Watch (July/August 2004), a leading environmental institute and magazine, nicely summarize this vital issue in a recent report:

"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."

Vegetarianism, therefore, is literally about life and death-for each of us individually and for all of us together. Eating animals simultaneously contributes to their suffering and death, the ill-health and early death of people, the unsustainable overuse of oil, water, grain, and other vital resources, environmental destruction, including species extinction, deforestation, and global warming, the legitimacy of force and violence, the mis-allocation of capital, skills, land and resources, vast inefficiencies in the economy, massive inequalities in the world, the transmission and spread of dangerous diseases, and moral failure in so-called advanced societies. Vegetarianism is an antidote to all of these unnecessary tragedies.

Being vegetarian has many environmental benefits. By choosing a vegetarian diet you will, for example:

* Save massive amounts of precious water, indeed up to 5,000 gallons for every pound of beef you don't consume
* Avoid polluting our streams, rivers, and other waterways, as well as our air and soil, with chemicals, feces, and other contaminants
* Reduce the depletion of topsoil, thereby better respecting and preserving our land
* Reduce our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels, such as oil
* Prevent the destruction of tropical and rain forests, including the Amazon, protecting "the lungs of the Earth"
* Protect coral reefs as well as other ocean life and habitats
* Lessen the emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, the two major greenhouse gases that significantly contribute to global warming, deemed the most dangerous threat to life on our planet, according to Oxfam International, the World Bank, the Pentagon, World Meteorological Organization, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, and other major reports (it is estimated that eating a single pound of hamburger does the same damage as driving a car for about three weeks)
* Scale down the destruction of wildlife habitat, helping to save endangered species from becoming extinct, thereby preserving vital biodiversity.

Besides significant environmental and health benefits, there are many ethical arguments for vegetarianism. Without going into detail, we can simply quote Alice Walker, who says: "[Animals] were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men." All the rest is commentary.

Being vegetarian is clearly the best diet for your personal health, your spiritual health, and our collective environmental health. We need to educate our families, friends, and others on the benefits of vegetarianism, trying to get everyone involved! In the meantime, congratulate yourself for making a healthy, sustainable, and life-affirming choice.

There's no need to feel guilty about what you eat or don't eat, do or don't do. Instead, there is a need for all of us to move in a positive direction--for ourselves as well as for the environment. Remember that being a vegetarian isn't about sacrificing anything; it's about making positive choices aimed at improving our health, saving animals, and protecting the environment that we all share. Being a veggie makes a world of difference. Enjoy the process!

For more information on vegetarianism with its many benefits, in addition to Vegetarians in Paradise, please visit some of the following web sites:


If you prefer the phone, you can also call toll-free 1-866-MEAT FREE for a free vegetarian starter kit.

Return to Top

3. Article by JVNA Advisor Rabbi David Rosen on the Pope’s Positive Relationships With the Jewish Community

The real hero in reconciling Christians and Jews
By David Rosen
Sun., April 03, 2005 Adar2 23, 5765

Forty years ago, during the papacy of Pope John XXIII, the Catholic Church determined that the attempt to present the Jewish people as rejected by God was false, and cleared the Jews of responsibility for the death of Jesus.

But it was Pope John Paul II who was the true hero of Christian-Jewish reconciliation. The late pontiff called for "a new and profound understanding between the Church and Judaism everywhere, in every country, for the benefit of all." He stated unequivocally that the idea that the Church has replaced the Jewish people in a covenant with God was wrong, and even questioned the attempt to proselytize among Jews.

The two most significant events in terms of Christian-Jewish reconciliation were his visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome in 1986 and his visit to Israel in 2000. The scene of John Paul embracing the chief rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff, reached millions of believers who did not choose to or who could not read his writings. He described the visit to the synagogue as the most important event of that year, one that would be remembered for "hundreds of thousands of years" and gave "thanks and praise to Providence" for the occasion.

Full diplomatic relations were inaugurated between the Vatican and Israel in 1993, and then the Pope made an official visit to Israel in 2000, in a clear rejection of the traditional position of the Church that the Jews had been exiled from their land because of their refusal to accept Jesus and were condemned to wander. The visit had a powerful effect, primarily on the Jews of Israel. Most of them, especially traditional and Orthodox Jews, had never met a modern Christian. The common image of Christianity among them was negative, drawn from a tragic past.

The Pope's visit to Israel opened the eyes of Israelis to a new reality. Not only was the Church no longer an enemy, its head was a true friend! To see the Pope at Yad Vashem, demonstrating solidarity, weeping at the suffering of the Jewish people, to learn that he had helped save Jews during the Holocaust and that subsequently, as a priest, he had returned Jewish children adopted by Christians to their Jewish families, to see the head of the Catholic Church placing a prayer of atonement for the sins of Christians against Jews between the stones of the Western Wall - all of these scenes had a profound effect on many Israelis.

The widespread publicity given the Pope's visit to Israel had no less an important effect, and perhaps a more important one, on Christians, particularly on Catholics, in their relation to Jews, Judaism and Israel. Tension resulting from some of the Pope's actions was undeniable. Some of those acts involved the behavior of the Church and the Holocaust, such as the canonization of Edith Stein, a Jewish woman who converted to Catholicism and was murdered by the Nazis. A still rankling problem is that Pope Pius IX is remembered for his support of the abduction of the Jewish boy Edgardo Mortara in 1858. However, I am convinced that none of John Paul's actions stemmed from insensitivity - quite the contrary.

The canonization of Pius XII, accused of inaction during the Holocaust, has been delayed to this day, and that apparently is a sign of the sensitivity of the Church and particularly of the late pontiff to the Jews.

I believe this issue will remain a source of tension between the Church and the Jews, even if the Vatican releases additional documents, given the subjectivity of historical memory and its interpretation.

Nevertheless, the contribution of Pope John Paul II to the new spirit in Vatican-Jewish relations was unprecedented. In a speech to the American-Jewish Committee in 1985, John Paul said, "I am convinced, and I am happy to state it on this occasion, that the relationships between Jews and Christians have radically improved in these years. Where there was ignorance and therefore prejudice and stereotypes, there is now growing mutual knowledge, appreciation and respect. There is, above all, love between us; that kind of love, I mean, which is for both of us a fundamental injunction of our religious traditions... Love involves understanding. It also involves frankness and the freedom to disagree in a brotherly way where there are reasons for it."

If such love does indeed exist today between Jews and Christians in general and Jews and Catholics in particular, we are grateful to Pope John Paul II for his great contribution in making this so.

Rabbi David Rosen, former chief rabbi of Ireland, is director of the American Jewish Committee's Interreligious Affairs Department. He formerly served as the Anti-Defamation League's co-liaison to the Vatican.

Return to Top

4. Article on Judaism and Vegetarianism by Jewish Scholar and Author Rabbi David Aaron, Followed by My Comments/Please Write

The morality of meat
By Rabbi David Aaron
Jewish World Review
April 1, 2005 / 21 Adar II, 5765

The Talmud (Bava Metzia 85a) tells a story about the famed author of the Mishna, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. The rabbi was walking down the street one day, when a little calf ran up to him and hid under his cloak. Apparently, the calf had run away from the slaughterhouse.

The rabbi said to the calf, "Go back to be slaughtered, for this you have been created." At this point, a Divine decree was made against him because he had not shown pity on the creature. As a result he became sick and suffered for many years, until one day he showed pity on a family of young rats and was suddenly healed.

We know that Judaism permits us to eat meat as long as the animal was slaughtered properly, so what did Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi do that was so wrong? He incorrectly said, "for this you were created." The Talmud is teaching us that, contrary to his declaration, animals were not created for human consumption. The first man and woman ate fruits and vegetables — not animals — in the Garden of Eden. It was only later, after the Flood during the time of Noah, that G-d allowed mankind to eat meat.

We cannot understand the exact connection between the sins of mankind and the subsequent permission to eat meat, but we do know that eating meat is a concession that G-d made.

One suggested reason for this concession is that humanity has an inclination for aggression and cruelty. Humans were not created cruel; they incorporated the characteristic over a period of time. And now that we are challenged with this inclination, we have to figure out how to sublimate it and eventually overcome it.

One way is through the consumption of meat. There is something cruel and vicious about eating meat; it is a way of releasing aggression. But sometimes people have a craving for it. Cravings are really our efforts to express and satisfy a need. Better we satisfy our need for aggression by eating meat than by doing something harmful to people, the Torah grants. Better we not have the urge for cruelty and aggression in the first place, but it is a reality that we now have to deal with and work to overcome.

Judaism does not advocate complete suppression of our negative urges, rather it gives us outlets to sublimate them while guiding us to gradually overcome them. Therefore, when we crave, we must satisfy the craving in some way while working towards kicking the habit.

Take a drug addict, for example. There are two approaches to treating the addiction. One method is cold turkey —just stay off the stuff and go through an excruciating period of withdrawal. The other approach is measured withdrawal, which looks like hospital-sanctioned drug abuse but is really medical intelligence. To wean the addict, the doctors slowly administer, each day, decreasing amounts of the drug until the addiction is gone. If a person who did not know anything about this method walked into the hospital, from his limited perspective he would conclude that this place promotes drug abuse as an ideal.

In the same way, there are Torah laws that do not express the ideals of Judaism but exist as a way to reach those ideals. In the case of consuming meat, whether it is to satisfy a craving and sublimate the need for aggression or some other divine reason unknown to us, the Torah temporarily concedes and allows us to do it in the interest of helping us eventually overcome the urge and become vegetarians.

People who are already vegetarian should not pride themselves and think that this is a sure sign that they are more spiritually and ethically evolved than anyone else. Who knows, perhaps, they are expressing their cruelty in other ways that are even more vicious and destructive.


The Talmud states: "G-d says, 'I created the evil inclination and I created Torah as its antidote.'" The Torah is an antidote to our negative and destructive inclinations. Therefore, the Torah may sometimes appear to be sanctioning some type of amoral behavior, but in fact, it is simply employing a realistic approach in order to empower people to stop doing what they otherwise may not have had the power to overcome on their own.

Keeping this essential principle in mind, we can now explore the meaning of eating kosher and some of the seemingly odd kosher laws.

Although, as we mentioned, Torah laws do not always indicate the ideal, without a doubt they outline a way towards reaching the ideals. Therefore, incorporated within such Torah laws are windows to the future.

The laws regarding kosher slaughter are one example. Although G-d allowed humanity to eat meat, one of the "Seven Laws of the Descendants of Noah" is the prohibition against eating a limb ripped off from a live animal. G-d deemed that although humanity needed an outlet for their cruelty this is too much.

As the world evolves G-d chose the Jewish people to become a model of ethical excellence for the rest of the world. Therefore, He placed upon them even more restrictions regarding the consumption of meat.

Many of these laws are meant to remind us that eating meat is not ideal and therefore we should not feel completely comfortable to eat any kind of meat we want — in any manner we want. Torah law states that we can eat the meat of only birds and animals that are herbivorous but not wild animals that are meat-eating. Judaism adheres to the principle that we are what we eat: an animal's character is infused somehow in its flesh and blood, so we have to be careful about which animals we eat. We want to release and sublimate our cruel urge, not fuel and increase it.


Torah Law also states how to slaughter the animal. The shochet (slaughterer), using a special razor sharp knife, must kill the animal with a single quick stroke against its throat. This type of slaughter ensures a quick death so that the animal is spared any prolonged suffering. In addition, this method expedites the maximal outpour of the animal's blood. Torah Law, besides discouraging the over-consumption of meat, does not permit us to eat the blood of an animal.

It is bad enough that we are eating animal flesh but to eat its blood is already too much. Judaism also teaches that the animal's soul is connected to its blood. Therefore, we want to refrain from ingesting animal spirit.

Torah law further obligates that we drain out any remaining blood absorbed in the meat. One way is through salting. Another way is by roasting the meat over an open fire. Interestingly, some meat, like liver, requires both techniques. Salting alone does not get the blood out of liver. You must also broil or roast it on a grill, where the blood can be drawn out.

Throughout history and even today, many countries have tried to make Jewish ritual slaughter illegal, claiming that it is inhumane. Through testing, they claim that they have found a more humane slaughtering technique — electric shock. By placing nodes on the animal's body, they attempt to show that an animal has a more traumatic death when it is slaughtered with a knife rather than by electric shock. Of-course, it is difficult to really know just how much pain an animal is experiencing once you are already killing it.

But for Judaism the issue goes deeper than the intensity of the pain experienced by the animal. The core of the matter lies in the definition of humane. Isn't humane about maintaining our humanness? What is less humane — a guy behind a glass booth going "buzz, buzz, buzz", killing, with the just a push of a button, hundreds of animals within minutes as they pass by on a conveyor belt, or someone who, one by one, is very conscious of the fact that he is slaughtering animals and very careful about how he does it?

Whether the animal is under greater pain with Jewish slaughter is debatable, although Jews do not believe that to be true. But even if we could prove such a thing, there is another, more important value to consider: maintaining the awareness that we are slaughtering animals. We can never feel comfortable about it. In fact, there is another Torah law that requires that we cover the blood once it pours out, to remind us that we should not feel so great about what is going on here. We must never become insensitive to what we are doing and forget that it is not ideal.

A Hassidic tale tells about a new shochet (kosher slaughterer) who arrived in the shtetl (villiage). To sharpen his knife between each slaughtering, he would spit on the sharpening rock. The great Baal Shem Tov approached him and said, "Your slaughtering ritual is very different from the fellow who was here before you."
"Really?" the man replied. "What's the difference?"
"It's the way you wet your sharpening rock," the Baal Shem Tov said.
"How do I do it differently?" the man asked.
"The other shochet used to wet the rock with his tears."

The kosher laws generate an atmosphere of discomfort and preserve, as much as possible, our humanness while we sublimate our cruel urges. Therefore, we cannot feel free to eat any animal we choose, certainly not those of a wild meat-eating nature. We cannot eat meat before removing its blood. And we must cover its blood and maintain a healthy sense of embarrassment. If we are not slaughtering our own meat then we must purchase only meat that we know has been slaughtered in this most uncomfortable and humane way.

JWR contributor Rabbi David Aaron (http://www.rabbidavidaaron.com/) is the founder and dean of Isralight (http://www.isralight.org/) , an international organization

My Comments:

Please consider writing a letter to the Jewish World Review complimenting them and Rabbi David Aaron for the nice article and suggesting that they help put Jewish teachings on vegetarianism onto the Jewish agenda. As positive and as scholarly as the article is, it, like so many recent articles on the subject, does not consider the devastating health and environmental effects of animal-centered diets, or the mistreatment of billions of animals on factory farms.

My response sent to the publication is below.


Dear editor,
Thank you for publishing Rabbi David Aaron’s interesting, clear article on Jewish teachings on vegetarianism. To further the discussion on the many moral issues related to our diets, I hope that you will publish my article below. Thanks, and best wishes,

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.


There is a widely accepted aspect of modern life that contradicts many Jewish teachings and harms people, communities, and the planet: the mass production and widespread consumption of meat. High meat consumption and the ways in which meat is produced today conflict with Judaism in at least six important areas:

1. While Judaism mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives, numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease, stroke, many forms of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases.

2. While Judaism forbids tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, inflicting unnecessary pain on animals, most farm animals—including those raised for kosher consumers—are raised for slaughter on "factory farms" where they are confined in cramped spaces, are often drugged and mutilated, and are denied fresh air, sunlight, exercise, and any opportunity to satisfy their natural instincts.

3. While Judaism teaches that "the earth is the Lord's" (Psalm 24:1) and that we are to be God's partners and co-workers in preserving the world, modern intensive livestock agriculture contributes substantially to global climate change, soil erosion and depletion, air and water pollution, overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats, and other environmental damages.

4. While Judaism mandates bal tashchit, not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value, or to use more than is needed to accomplish a purpose, animal agriculture requires the wasteful use of land, water, fuel, grain, and other resources.

5. While Judaism stresses that we are to assist the poor and share our bread with hungry people, an estimated twenty million human beings worldwide die each year because of hunger and its effects--a horror which could be partly alleviated by feeding grain to people rather than animals destined for slaughter. More than 70% of the grain grown in the U.S. is given to animals who will be killed, and it takes up to sixteen pounds of grain to produce just one pound of edible beef.

6. While Judaism stresses that we must seek and pursue peace and that violence results from unjust conditions, animal-centered diets, by wasting valuable resources, perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty that often lead to instability and war.

In view of these important Jewish mandates to preserve human health, attend to the welfare of animals, protect the environment, conserve resources, help feed hungry people, and pursue peace, contrasted with the harm that animal-centered diets do in each of these areas, Jews (and others) should sharply reduce or eliminate their consumption of animal products, and the Jewish community should play a leading role in advocating vegetarianism as a moral and ecological imperative. Besides having great benefits for animals, such actions would greatly benefit the health of the Jewish people and others, move our precious, but imperiled planet to a more sustainable path, and show the relevance of Jewish teachings to the problems confronting the world today.


God's initial intention was that people be vegetarians: “And God said: ‘Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit -- to you it shall be for food.’” (Genesis 1:29) While God later gave permission for people to eat meat (Genesis 9:3; Deuteronomy 12:20), many Jewish sages regarded this as a concession. Based on the arguments above, there are many reasons to believe that God prefers that people have vegetarian diets. Some scholars also believe that God attempted a second vegetarian experiment in terms of the manna from heaven, which kept the Israelis in good health for 40 years in the wilderness. When the people cried out for flesh, God reluctantly provided it, and this resulted in a plague that caused many deaths at a place called “The Graves of Lust.”

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook, the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel believed that the permission to eat meat was only a temporary concession to the practices of the times and that the kosher laws were an implied reprimand and were designed to keep alive a sense of reverence for life that would bring the Jewish people back to the original diet. Rav Kook felt that 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 on all of God’s holy mountain,” Isaiah 11:6-9) meant that during the messianic period people would be vegetarians.

Sources for Further Information:

Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) http://jewishveg.com/
Richard Schwartz articles http://JewishVeg.com/schwartz
Judaism and Vegetarianism, Richard H. Schwartz (New York: Lantern Books, 2001)
Vegetarian Judaism, Roberta Kalechofsky (Marblehead, Massachusetts: Micah Publications, 1998)
“A Case for Jewish Vegetarianism” (2005) Aaron Frank and others; for free copies, call 1-888-VEG FOOD.

Return to Top

5. New Conservative Vegetarian Group Formed

[Just as I have been trying to make people aware of “Republicans for Environmental Protection” (www.rep/org) to show that preserving the environment can be a bipartisan issue, I plan to promote this conservative vegetarian group to show that one need not be liberal to be a vegetarian or a vegetarian advocate. I have asked the founder/leader to submit an article on why conservatives should be vegetarians.]

Forwarded message from Jennifer

Here's our short description.

The website conservativeveggie.com is a website that I started because I wanted a place for conservative vegetarians to express their views more openly. I wanted to show that conservative vegetarians have as much to say on environmental and animal rights issues as their liberal counterparts. This could also be a place where they can discuss their views on religion and politics. This website gives the conservative vegetarian an opportunity to share their similar values.

Thank you,

Return to Top

6. PCRM Seeking Help in Suing the Dairy Industry for Misleading Ads

Forwarded message from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM):


The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is working to bring public attention to the false and misleading dairy industry campaign claiming that eating dairy products helps you lose weight. We are looking for individuals who purchased milk, yogurt, or cheese in reliance on these ads and did not lose weight.

Adding dairy products to your diet is more likely to cause weight gain than weight loss, and cow's milk has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and other serious health problems. Nevertheless, the dairy industry is falsely asserting that drinking cow's milk helps people lose weight. Clinical data shows this is not true.

PCRM would like to bring a lawsuit against the dairy industry for false advertising. The lawsuit would seek compensatory damages on behalf of an injured plaintiff and would use any information obtained to alert the public about this false weight loss claim and the health risks associated with dairy consumption. To bring this case, we need someone who bought and consumed dairy products (milk, yogurt, or cheese) to lose weight in reliance on these advertisements. If you or someone you know fits into this category and is interested in helping, please e-mail PCRM at dkinburn@pcrm.org or contact PCRM Associate General Counsel Dan Kinburn at 202-686-2210 ext. 308.

Thank you so much for your help.

Return to Top

7. Availability of Veggie Burgers Increasing

Thanks to agriculture science expert and JVNA advisor Prof. Joe Regenstein for forwarding the following message:

Gardenburger's Hamburger-style Classic Burger is now featured on cafeteria menus in all 1,500 New York City schools.

Some companies are making it easier for consumers to choose whole grain products by using a black-and-gold label shaped like a postage stamp. Bruegger's Bagels, Kashi, Gardenburger and Snyder's of Hanover are among those using the stamp, which was developed by Oldways Preservation Trust, a Boston-based think tank that specializes in food issues, reported ABCNews.com.

Return to Top

8. Update re Earth Day (April 22, 2005)

Earth Day Network (EDN) US Network Update

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the environment in 2005? Let us know at: http://www.earthday.net/involved/thread/topicView.aspx?id=2. Your addition to our new message board can be seen by hundreds of viewers each day!

Also, be sure to check out Earth Day Network's new partnership with theOrganic Trade Association, Go Organic! At: http://organicearthday.org/.

The 35th Anniversary of Earth Day is right around the corner, April 22, 2005! If you know of an Earth Day event, we encourage you to list it at: http://www.earthday.net/_groups/Login.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2f_groups%2f_groups%2fdefault.aspx for others to learn about, possibly participate, get ideas,etc. We look forward to celebrating Earth Day with you!

We encourage you take full advantage of our various Web site features, from the What’s in Your Water guide to our event data base where you can register your Earth Day events for the entire network of over 12,000 organizations to see. Please feel free to email us at earthday@earthday.net if you have questions, comments or suggestions.

Return to Top

9. Exciting Eco-Activist Program in Israel

This is forwarded from Ezra Weinberg, an rabbinic student studying this year in Jerusalem. His email is ezrox@aol.com

Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo (Introduced by Rabbi Shalom Bradt)

I am very excited to let you know about a fantastic new program set to launch, G-d willing, Fall 2005 in Jerusalem. The "Eco-Activist Beit Midrash," a project of Sukkat Shaleym Inc., will be the first learning center focused on truly integrating modern day ecological activism and traditional Jewish teachings concerning the environment.

Program participants will spend 3 days a week learning texts; and 2 days a week hiking, volunteering, and contributing in the field to the work of organizations addressing a wide range of environmental issues in Israel. Students will visit problem sites, work alongside local activists, and learn to examine and integrate the spiritual and practical dimensions of issues such as land use, pollution, bio-diversity, consumerism, and environmental responsibility. Coursework in pedagogy, certification coursework in either permaculture design or outdoor guiding skills, and opportunities to initiate programs in local communities will all prepare students for Judaism as a resource and guide in organizing ecological programming to improve the world around them.

This is a very special program and we are seeking students who already have a background in environmental and/or social activism. Classes will be taught in English. All traditional texts will be utilized in Hebrew and/or Aramaic with translations provided where necessary. Prospective students need not have any Hebrew language skills.

We are looking for twelve highly motivated activists interested in exploring what their tradition has to offer the environmental movement. If you or anyone you know might be interested, or if you have any questions please feel free to contact us at: shulim26@actcom.co.il by phone: 02-622-1456 or check out our website www.shlomoyeshiva.org/eco

Return to Top

10. Environmental Program in the Catskills

Forwarded message from Elat Chayim (Introduced by Mia Cohen)

At Elat Chayyim: Jewish Spiritual Retreat Center
May 30 - June 5, 2005
With Josho Somine and Mia Cohen

Spend a week in the Catskill Mountains camping in the woods, living in community, working with your hands and heart, and learning sustainable solutions for the earth's future!

This week long intensive will be a combination of classroom time and hands on as we begin to explore the terrain of our ecological footprint as human beings, our relationship to the natural world, and the role we play as individuals and communities in thinking about our environment, our use of resources, and how we supply our needs.

Together we will learn Ecological Place Making & Permaculture and build a special place in the landscape of Elat Chayyim for reflection and connection.

We will utilize a mixture of spiritual and ecological observation exercises, practical techniques for construction and restoration, journaling and reflecting, and hands-on mindful labor.

This course is geared towards the environmental enthusiast, earth activist, nature lover, gardener, landscaper, artist, community planner, urban dweller, and anyone who wants to get their hands dirty and learn techniques for connecting to the flows and processes of the natural world.

*Evenings will be devoted to slide shows & dialogue on Urban Sustainability, City Repair projects, and Social Issues regarding sustainability and earth awareness.

To register contact Kristen toll free 800-398-2630 or email info@elatchayyim.org

Return to Top

11. Raw Food Vegetarians Have Thin But Strong Bones

[Thanks to the several people who forwarded me messages re this item.]

Raw food vegetarians have low bone mass

[from Washington University School of Medicine]

St. Louis, March 28, 2005 -- Vegetarians who don't cook their food have abnormally low bone mass, usually a sign of osteoporosis and increased fracture risk. But a research team at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis also found that raw food vegetarians have other biological markers indicating their bones, although light in weight, may be healthy.

The study, published in the March 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, was led by Luigi Fontana, M.D., Ph.D., research instructor in medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science. Fontana and colleagues studied 18 strict raw food vegans ages of 33 to 85. All ate a diet that not only lacked animal products but also included only raw foods such as a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains and legumes, dressed with olive oil. They had been on this diet for an average of 3.6 years.
Fontana says more study is needed to prove that raw food vegans have light-but-healthy bones. One study could involve following large groups of them for years to look at fracture rates. Other, more imminent studies will involve using micro MRI to get a 3-D look at bone architecture and structure. Those studies could begin soon.

In the meantime, Fontana isn't telling people to follow such an extreme diet.

"I think over the long term, a strict raw food vegan diet could pose some health problems," he says. "But it's not my role to tell them to eat differently. I'm simply interested in learning about the positive and/or detrimental health effects of this diet.

"However," he concludes, "if someone wishes to improve their health and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, I would definitely suggest that they get away from the refined and processed foods that Americans usually eat and try to eat a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and fish."

full story:
AnimalConcerns.org: Forums (discussion boards), More News Headlines, Events, E-Mail Lists, Jobs, and Organizations! Try searching for the news item on Animalconcerns! http://www.animalconcerns.org/

Return to Top

12. Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center Announces New Book and Author’s Speaking Tour

"Spiritual Nutrition" Released by Rebbe Gabriel Cousens, M.D., M.D.(H)

Spiritual Nutrition: Six Foundations for Spiritual Life and the Awakening of Kundalini, by Rebbe Gabriel Cousens, M.D., M.D.(H), explores the spiritual, scientific, intuitive, and metaphysical aspects of nutrition and the awakening of consciousness. It is a blueprint for creating the critical mass of conscious people necessary for planetary transformation. This book is written by the founder of the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center, a living model for the Culture of Liberation, and a spiritual teacher coming from the direct experience of his own life. Spiritual Nutrition shows the Jewish way as a complete path to Liberation. It gives you both the inspiration and technology to live in a way that enhances the Divine unfolding, creating an attracting focus for the lightning bolt of grace.

“…a new age Kosher for the Spiritual aspirant.”
Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi, author and leader in the Jewish renewal movement

“This book will become a standard for ages to come... The author leads us beyond the limited precepts of nutrition into the realms of Divinity."
From the Preface by Viktoras Kulvinskas, author of Survival Into The 21st Century

Book Tour events (details at www.treeoflife.nu/spiritualnutrition.html):
- Los Angeles (April 3)
- San Francisco Bay Area (May 6-7, 8)
- Sacramento (May 8)
- Sedona (May 20-21)
- New York City (May 22, 23, 24)
- Newport, RI (May 26)
- York, Maine (May 29)

Return to Top

13. Force Feeding of Geese and Ducks Now illegal in Israel

From: Menashe Eliezer, Leader of the Israeli animal rights group Anonymous for Animal’s Rights [ menashe@anonymous.org.il ]

Starting today (1 April 2005): force-feeding of geese and ducks is illegal in Israel!

Israel , The Israeli Supreme Court ruled on August 2003 in a detailed decision* that force-feeding of geese and ducks is in violation of the Animal Welfare Act, and that the regulations that had allowed this practice were not valid. The Court allowed an extension of about a year>and a half, ending at the end of March 2005, before the ban was to be enforced. Yesterday, on 31 March 2005, the Supreme Court rejected a request by the Ministry of Agriculture to extend the delay by an additional year. Israel is the world's fourth largest producer of foie gras, and most of its production is designated for export to the European Union and Japan.

Anonymous for Animal Rights, which manages this campaign for the last 6 years, wishes to thank every person and organization who took part in this campaign, wrote letters to Israeli authorities, attended vigils in front of Israeli Consulates, provided us with information, and gave us moral or financial support. Special thanks to the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), whose financial support made possible our public campaign, and Noah, The Israeli Association of Animal Protection Organizations, which managed the legal struggle against force-feeding.

Best wishes,
Menashe Eliezer Coordinator Anonymous for Animal Rights

Return to Top

14. Opinion Article about the Canadian Seal Slaughter

All God’s creatures

March 15 was designated the International Day of Protest Against the Canadian Seal Hunt. Rallies were organized in 41 cities around the world. I attended a rally in Toronto organized by the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA). With protesters from across the Greater Toronto Area, we challenged the Canadian government’s legislation allowing the seal hunt and informed them that a strong majority oppose this cruel, horrific and unnecessary action.

The Canadian seal hunt is the largest single mass slaughter of a mammalian wildlife species in the world. More than one million harp seals are condemned to be cruelly slaughtered over a three-year period. This figure does not include the hundreds of thousands of seals wounded that never recover.

The seals are slaughtered mainly for their fur. There is a small market for seal oil and almost no market for the meat, so carcasses are left to rot on the ice. Seal penises are sold in Asian markets as an aphrodisiac.

Whether they bleed to death from the stabbing of the hakapiks (large ice picks), are struck with wooden clubs, or are shot – the seals suffer an agonizing and terrifying death. The screaming baby pups are heartlessly killed while their mothers watch.

The seal hunt has been ongoing for years. Three decades ago, a small group of concerned citizens joined together to stop the massive and brutal commercial hunt of “whitecoat” harp seals on the east coast of Canada. It was then a new breed of animal advocacy organization, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), was born. Two million contributors worldwide now support it.

I am proud my mother volunteered for IFAW in those early years. She told me, “I read about the plight of the seals and felt I had to do something. In university, I got students to sign a petition banning the hunt and secured pages of signatures which I sent to [IFAW founder] Brian Davies.” When I was 15, my mother handed me a thank-you card with a picture of a baby seal that Davies sent her. With this, she also passed on the desire to stand up for what I believe in.

As an activist, I learned there is strength in numbers and that we have the ability to change policy and various forms of cruelty to animals. Thanks to IFAW’s vigilance and supporters, it is now illegal to hunt “whitecoat” seal pups for commercial purposes off Canada’s east coast. However, the Canadian government continues to heavily subsidize the hunt of harp and hooded seals off the Atlantic Coast.

Another organization currently helping the seals is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). On the society’s website, www.protectseals.org, it is stated: “The slaughter will begin in late March. By the end of this year’s hunt, more than 300,000 baby seals will have been brutally killed, many as young as 12 days old.”

Seal hunting is an off-season activity conducted by fishers. They earn a small fraction of their incomes from sealing and the rest from commercial fisheries. The connection between the commercial fishing industry and the seal hunt in Canada gives consumers worldwide the power to end this cruel and brutal slaughter.” A U.S. boycott on Canadian seafood products has been launched by the HSUS.

If you want to send the fishers and the government a strong and clear message and help curtail this brutal expression of cruelty to animals, stop eating Canadian seafood. You can also protest by e-mailing Prime Minister Paul Martin at pm@pm.gc.ca and/or contacting the organizations mentioned in this column.

I believe, together, we can end the seal hunt. Just as my mother did, I will pass on my passion and animal rights literature to my children and continue the mesorah (Jewish tradition) of helping all God’s creations through the value of tikkun olam (healing the world).

Miriam can be reached at Miriam@jtvproductions.net.

Return to Top

15. New York Times Article on Foie Gras

One Man's Liver...
Published: April 4, 2005

The Chef Recommends That You Enjoy the Sauternes All by Itself Tonight

The list of things we do to animals before we eat them is constrained only by the limits of human hunger and ingenuity, which means it is not constrained by much. Trapping, hooking, netting, plucking, bleeding, butterflying, beheading, gutting - the search for delicious knows few bounds or qualms.

That's why it is surprising that a prominent chef, of all people - Charlie Trotter, the TV celebrity and author from Chicago - would decide to draw the line at a practice as old and esteemed as the force-feeding of ducks and geese to give them fatty, luscious livers.

That's right: Chef Trotter has renounced foie gras, on ethical grounds.

He says he stopped serving it about three years ago, after becoming unnerved at the sight of farm ducks being tube-fed into obesity. He kept quiet about it, but the conspicuous absence of foie gras from his menus led to rumors in the restaurant world, and he was outed last Tuesday in The Chicago Tribune.

Don't be frightened, foodies, but this may be a trend - another example of how far the animal-rights cause has come in from the fringe. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year banned the production or sale of foie gras in California. (The law takes effect in 2012, to give the state's tiny foie gras industry - basically, a guy in Sonoma named Guillermo - time to adjust.) A similar bill has been introduced in New York, the country's only other foie gras producer. Other chefs, perhaps fearing the unthinkable, have jumped all over Mr. Trotter, calling his gesture hypocritical grandstanding by a media hound (and author, so you know, of "Charlie Trotter's Meat and Game," with recipes like Foie Gras Five Ways and Sweet-and-Sour Braised Lettuce Soup With Foie Gras and Radishes).

They should knock it off. Fine cooking is fine art, and Mr. Trotter should feel free to use whatever materials he likes. He says foie gras is cruel, but he could have also called it boring - a cliché slurped by too many diners who, we suspect, would swoon just as easily over the velvety succulence of Spam or schmaltz on rye, if they were prohibitively priced and listed on the menu in French. By spurning an easy fix of fancy fat, Mr. Trotter is simply making his job a bit harder, and this man-eat-duck world a slightly kinder place. There is much to admire in that.

Return to Top

16. Update on Shechita Post-Postville

The following appeared in the latest issue of “Kosher Today”

Concern Over OIE Standards for International Schechita

(Paris) An international organization devoted to animal welfare is in the process of adopting standards for the "Slaughter of Animals for Human Consumption" that has schechita leaders in several countries concerned. Known as the OIE, the World Organization for Animal Health, appointed an ad hoc group to adopt guidelines for animal slaughter. "The ad hoc group acknowledged the significance of religious requirements, cultural and ethnic factors associated with some forms of slaughter. The ad hoc group felt it important that these should not be treated as exempt from these guidelines…" The OIE guidelines appear to inject regulation into the act of schechita itself. The OIE, an intergovernmental organization was created by 28 nations in January 1924. In May 2004 the OIE included 167 member countries. Schechita organizations in the US were hopeful that the humaneness of schechita would be defended by the USDA and by such internationally recognized animal welfare experts as Dr. Temple Grandin, who forcefully defended schechita in the UK when it was under attack. Comments on the guidelines were due today but schechita advocates were hoping to make their views known prior to OIE's adoption of the guidelines.

The head of the ad hoc group is Prof. Arnon Shimshony of Tel Aviv, Israel.

Return to Top

** Fair Use Notice**
This document may contain copyrighted material, use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owners. I believe that this not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.