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).

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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

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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/

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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/

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.)

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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

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