July 21, 2005

7/21/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) Hierarchs Endorse [Very Strong] Statement on the Environment/My Response

2. Israeli Knesset Committee Discussion of Animal Treatment in Israel



5. Another Article in Yosef Hakohen’s Series on "Relating to Other Creatures"

6. Which of the Following Gives the Better Idea of Where We Are Heading?


8. JVNA Joins Other Animal-Rights and Vegetarian Groups in Opposing CAFTA (The Central American Free Trade Agreement)

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, material re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsement by JVNA or endorsement of kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observance, 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. Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) Hierarchs Endorse [Very Strong] Statement on the Environment/My Response

[This statement from a Christian group is included because of the very serious nature of the threats it discusses, because so much of its analysis is based on Jewish teachings, such as stewardship, and because I believe it provides material that should make us think more deeply about the issues. I think that it is a very important, challenging statement and I strongly recommend that you read it and consider applying some of its message, which I believe is very consistent with Jewish vegetarian teachings and objectives. My interspersed comments (on the early sections of the article are in brackets and are preceded by 3 asterisks ***. Comments and suggestions are very welcome. The SCOBA material has been slightly modified for this primarily Jewish group.]

SCOBA, 8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021

Statement on the Environment

A group of Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant theologians, convened in Washington, DC by the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, released a letter recently calling all Christians to reject teachings that suggest humans are "called" to exploit the Earth without care for how our behaviour impacts the rest of God's creation.

[*** The nature of the group is very important as there are some people who consider people concerned about the environment as a fringe element, or “Environmental wackos.” It is becoming increasingly clear that environmental concern is becoming more and more mainstream.”]

This letter, reprinted below, was endorsed by the hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) at their meeting in New York City, on June 21, 2005, following its approval by the SCOBA Social and Moral Issues Commission, and recommendation by the SCOBA Study and Planning Commission.

[*** This indicates that much study went into preparing the report. It is indicative of the deeper analyses that are being carried out and are pointing to major environmental threats and the need for quick responses.]

God's Earth is Sacred:
An Open Letter to Christians in the United States

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

[*** This is just one of many recent statements pointing to the seriousness of current threats and the importance of rapid responses. Fortunately, there are groups in the Jewish community like the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) and Canfei Nesharim (a recently formed group of Orthodox environmentalists) that are working on applying Jewish teachings to current environmental threats, but, as in other communities, much more needs to be done.]

We are obliged to relate to Earth as God's creation "in ways that sustain life on the planet, provide for the [basic] needs of all humankind, and increase justice."

[** This certainly consistent with Jewish teachings.]

Over the past several decades, slowly but faithfully, the religious community in the United States has attempted to address issues of ecology and justice. Our faith groups have offered rich theological perspectives, considered moral issues through the lens of long-standing social teaching, and passed numerous policies within our own church bodies.

[*** Yes, fortunately there has been much greater concern re environmental threats in religious communities, and we hope this trend will continue and expand.]

While we honor the efforts in our churches, we have clearly failed to communicate the full measure and magnitude of Earth's environmental crisis - religiously, morally, or politically. It is painfully clear from the verifiable testimony of the world's scientists that our response has been
inadequate to the scale and pace of Earth's degradation.

[*** A very honest statement – while religious groups have, as indicated above, become increasingly involved, far more needs to be done in all religious communities. One of the goals of the JVNA is to help promote greater environmental awareness and activism in the Jewish community, while, of course, also pointing out how animal-based agriculture is a major part of the problem.]

To continue to walk the current path of ecological destruction is not only
folly; it is sin.

[*** A powerful statement. Can we make a similar statement from a Jewish perspective. Are we, for example, failing to adequately apply Torah teachings, such as bal tashchit (the mandate not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value), tsa’ar ba’alei chaim (the mandate not to cause unnecessary pain to animals)?

As voiced by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who has taken the lead among senior religious leaders in his concern for creation: "to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin. For humans to cause species to become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God's creation...for humans to degrade the integrity of Earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the Earth of its natural forest, or destroying its wetlands...for humans to injure other humans with disease...for humans to contaminate the Earth's waters, its land, its air, and its life, with poisonous substances...these are sins." We have become un-Creators. Earth is in jeopardy at our hands.

[*** Again, a very powerful statement. I hope that many more religious leaders will speak in these terms, because the fate of humanity is at stake.]

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

[*** Certainly Judaism also, while teaching that only human beings are created in God’s image teaches that God is very concerned about animals and the entire natural world.]

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

[*** Yes. Judaism teaches that the wise person considers the possible consequences of his or her actions before acting. We must increasingly make people aware that conditions will be far worse for our children and grandchildren if we do not move to a more sustainable path.]

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

[*** Yes, it is essential that the United States and other developed nations recognize our major impact on the planet’s ecosystems and make proper changes. The SCOBA statement ignores the significant contributions of animal-based diets and agriculture on many environmental threats. I have e-mailed them about this, but I have not yet received a response. Please consider emailing them at the email address at the end of their statement. Thanks.]

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

Ecological Affirmations of Faith

[*** From this point on, I plan to comment far less.]

We stand with awe and gratitude as members of God's bountiful and good creation. We rejoice in the splendor and mystery of countless species, our common creaturehood, and the interdependence of all that God makes. We believe that the Earth is home for all and that it has been created intrinsically good (Genesis1).

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

… We believe that the people of God are called to forge ways of being human that enable socially just and ecologically sustainable communities to flourish for generations to come. And we believe in God's promise to fulfill all of creation, …

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

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

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

We believe that the created world is sacred - a revelation of God's power and gracious presence filling all things. This sacred quality of creation demands moderation and sharing, urgent antidotes for our excess in consumption and waste, reminding us that economic justice is an essential condition of ecological integrity. We cling to God's trustworthy promise to restore, renew, and fulfill all that God creates. … We look forward to the day when the lamentations and groans of creation will be over, justice with peace will reign, humankind will nurture not betray the Earth, and all creation will sing for joy.

Guiding Norms for Church and Society

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Churches, as communities of God's people in the world, are called to exist as representatives of the loving Creator, Sustainer, and Restorer of all creation. We are called to worship God with all our being and actions, and to treat creation as sacred. We must engage our political leaders in supporting the very future of this planet. …

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

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

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

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

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

Join us in restoring God's Earth - the greatest healing work and moral assignment of our time.

Contact: SCOBA Office
East 79th Street
New York, NY 10021

Phone: 212-570-3593
Fax: 212-774-0202
Email: scoba@goarch.org

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Thanks to Israeli vegetarian activists Coby Algisser and Oren Roman for translating the following discussion in an Israeli Knesset committee and sending it to me:

Words of MK (Member of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament)) Meshulam Nahari and other MKs at the Education, Culture and Sports committee debating regulations for veal farm-storage on June 6, 2005.

Meshulam Nahari (MN): It is not good. It is cruelty to animals (tsa’ar ba’alei chaim). … we are talking about the law. How do we check whether he broke the law. I am more concerned that people are breaking the Torah prohibition of tsa’ar ba’alei chaim.

We already discussed this matter here regarding the forced feeding of geese, and I presented a ruling of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef that regarding this matter there is no question. It is forbidden. When it comes to tsa’ar ba’alei chaim, there is no use in talking about certain conditions or regulations. When it comes to inflicting suffering on animals - it is forbidden.

Dr. David Haimovitz (DH): Then let me ask you: why does Judaism allow us to slaughter animals?

MN: The Torah allowed slaughtering for "people's existence" (i.e. in order for people to eat its meat and live from it). [*** We now know that people can be properly nourished, and even healthier, without eating meat.] But it didn't allow taking a calf, and raise it cruelly. This doesn't constitute "people's existence".

DH- The same goes for cows. A cow doesn't give milk, people have to take it from her. She won't give it willingly.

MH: The Jews are [supposed to be] merciful people born to merciful parents [rachmanim b’nei rachmanim]. But here we go and choose cruel ways. Most of the foie gras, from force feeding geese, is sent abroad.

Avraham Poraz (AP): Regarding ventillation, I don't see why we can’t apply the laws at once.

MN: The cells too. You speak of 3 farms. People abuse animals to profit from it. For the sake of greed they go and violate the Torah's orders. Who needs that? In order to make money?

DH: We don't NEED to milk cows either.

MN: There is no tsa’ar ba’alei chaim here. You cause the animals pain if you don't milk them. What are you talking about? A cow which is not milked suffers.

DH: Have you ever milked? Have you ever fed cows?

MN: Believe me I grew up with this and I know what it is.

AP: Gentlemen have no doubt. I think this whole phenomenon of "milk veals" is wrong from A-Z, but we need to be realistic and therefore need to do the following things, in my view: Firstly, ventillation should be applied immediatly, there is no reason that even in existing facilities ventilators or air conditioning systems should not be used.

MN: I would like to ask, if they are raised like regular animals, would that be wrong? Except for some people who don't care about tsa’ar ba’alei chaim, who would not make so much money.

AP: MK Nahari, I hold the same opinions, but since these things already exist and we need to allow people adjustment time, we need to allow for an adjustment period. ---

MN: A year. Not more than a year

AP: --but this 10 year period seems exaggerated.

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Dear Dr. Schwartz:

I noticed your article on “TEN WAYS FOR VEGETARIAN WORLD” on a Jain forum on a Yahoo group. It is a wonderful concept.

Can you permit use of your article in our quarterly magazine JAIN DIGEST? we will of cource give complete credit to you and publish your picture along with it.

If you need information on our organization: www.jaina.org and you can click on publications link to see a few back issues of JAIN DIGEST.


Dilip V Shah
First Vice President, JAINA

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Thanks to JVNA advisor and author of the current series of articles on "Relating to Other Creatures" Yosef Hakohen for sending the following message. I am including it because I understand that it is consistent with the view of a leading vegetarian doctor, John McDougall. The main idea I believe is to have as many natural products, such as fruits and vegetables as possible in our diets and to limit soy products and other processed foods.


Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 20, 2005

The Health Ministry will issue a director-general's advisory recommending that consumption of soya products be limited in young children and adults and avoided if possible by infants.After a year's work, a committee of experts said that people who eat soya products should do so in moderation, pending additional studies in the coming years that reach firm conclusions on whether it promotes cancers, harms male fertility or has other harmful or beneficial influences.

The 13-member committee, headed by Prof. Zvi Weizman, included ministry Food and Nutrition Service head Dr. Dorit Nitzan-Kalusky, oncologist Prof. Tamar Peretz, Metabolism expert Prof. Elliot Berry, gynecology Prof. Amnon Brzezinski, pediatrics Prof. David Branski and other specialists, who looked into soya products and health.

Soya contains an estrogen-like hormone (phytoestrogen) that can have some of the effects of human estrogens if consumed in large quantities. The local food industry is a major developer and producer of soya-based food. Nitzan-Kalusky said that soya is widely used by all ages because it is a cheap protein substitute for meat. The ministry, as it said during the Remedia baby formula scandal a few years ago (in which babies died or suffered permanent neurological damage due to the lack of a B vitamin in soya-based Remedia formula) reiterated that infants should ideally be breastfed, and if not, given baby formula based on cow's milk. Only in special circumstances (such as allergies to cow's milk) should they get mother's milk from a breast-milk bank or be given soya-based formula, which is popular among haredi families who do not want to mix milk-based baby formula with meat meals for supposed kashrut reasons.

The ministry decided not to adopt a regulation allowing babies to get soya formula only upon recommendation of a physician (in effect in some countries such as New Zealand). However, because of potential dangers of significant amounts of soya in the diet, the ministry will disseminate information to the public and health system workers about possible harm from its frequent consumption.

The ministry said it could not reach practical conclusions regarding soya and cancer, as study results were conflicting. Excessive estrogen is known to be involved in breast cancer, but since the evidence is not clear, women at high risk for breast cancer or who have the disease itself should consult their physican before starting a high-phytoestrogen diet. Since estrogen is a female hormone, there is evidence that it may reduce male fertility, thus men who eat soya should do so in moderation, the ministry said. Soya and flax seed have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, which is beneficial, but there is no clear proof that isoflavones in these products reduce the risk of heart disease, the ministry said.

This article can also be read here

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5. Another Article in Yosef Hakohen’s Series on "Relating to Other Creatures"

The Journey to Unity - 123

The Song of the Hen:

"He gives nourishment to all flesh, for His lovingkindness endures forever" (Psalm 136:25)

"He gives nourishment to all flesh" - The great lovingkindness of the Compassionate One extends to all creatures, for He prepares for each and every creature the food that is fitting for it. (Commentary of Radak)

Dear Friends,

In his book on Perek Shirah - "Nature's Song" - Rabbi Nosson Slifkin writes: "The chicken finds food everywhere. It is also very flexible in its diet, able to eat different types of seeds, vegetables, insects, and so on. Thus, the song of the chicken is one of acknowledging God's provision of food, one way or another, to all His creations." The Song of the Hen is a therefore a song of faith - a reminder that the Creator has many ways of providing sustenance to all creatures, including us!

The theme of the hen's song - the Divine nurturing of all creatures - is a major theme within our traditional prayers. For example, we chant Psalm 145 three times a day, and according to the Talmud (Brochos 4b), the main theme of this psalm is found in verse 16: "You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing." We also chant the following passage each morning:

"Call out to the Compassionate One with thanks, with the harp sing to our God - Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes mountains sprout with grass. He gives to an animal its food, to young ravens that cry out." (Psalm 147:7-9)

Another example are these excerpts from Psalm 104, a psalm which we chant on "Rosh Chodesh" - the New Moon:

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 the Compassionate One 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, O Compassionate One; 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. (Psalm 104, verses 10-28)

Our appreciation and thanksgiving for the Divine nurturing of all creatures is expressed in the opening blessing of the "Birchas Hamazon" - a series of blessings which we say to the Compassionate One after eating bread:

"Blessed are You, O Compassionate One, our God, Sovereign of the universe, Who nourishes the entire world with goodness - with grace, lovingkindness, and compassion. He gives nourishment to all flesh, for His lovingkindness is eternal. And through His great goodness, we have never lacked, and may we never lack nourishment for all eternity, for the sake of His great Name. For He is God Who nourishes and sustains all, and benefits all, and He prepares food for all of His creatures that He has created. Blessed are You, O Compassionate One, Who nourishes all."

According to the Talmud (Brochos 48b), the above blessing was composed by Moses in gratitude for the manna with which the Compassionate One sustained the People of Israel in the desert. The universal language of this blessing seems to indicate that Moses understood the Divine gift of manna to the People of Israel as a manifestation of the Divine love and concern for all life; therefore, Moses praises the One, "Who nourishes the entire world."

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

Related Teachings:

1. The Hebrew text of the Song of the Hen is, "Nosen lechem l'chol basar, ki l'olam chasdo." The ArtScroll Tanach translates this verse as, "He gives nourishment to all flesh, for His lovingkindness endures forever." The ArtScroll commentary on Psalms cites an alternative translation of the Song of the Hen. The word "olam" also means "world"; thus, "ki l'olam chasdo" can be translated as, "His lovingkindness is to the world" (Alschich). The song of the hen can therefore be translated in the following manner: "He gives nourishment to all flesh, for His lovingkindness is to the world."

2. Special foods such as bread, wine, the seven species for which the Land of Israel is praised, and certain grains have their own unique blessing of thanksgiving which is said after eating. For other foods and beverages, there is the following "general" blessing of thanksgiving to the Compassionate One where we express our appreciation for the nurturing of all creatures:

"Blessed are You, O Compassionate One, our God, Sovereign of the universe, Who creates numerous living things and their needs; for all that You have created with which to maintain the life of every being. Blessed is the One Who is the life of the worlds."

3. When we say in Hebrew our traditional prayers and blessings, the sacred Four-Letter Divine Name which expresses the attribute of compassion should be pronounced as if it was spelled, "Ado-nai" - the Master of all. The ArtScroll Siddur adds: If one is saying the traditional prayers and blessings in English, one should say "God" or "Lord" or one should pronounce the Divine Name in the proper Hebrew way – "Ado-nai" (in accord with the ruling of most halachic authorities).

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

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6. Which of the Following Gives the Better Idea of Where We Are Heading?

The following items are forwarded from GRIST MAGAZINE

Chinese villagers riot to keep polluting pharmaceutical plant closed

Thousands of Chinese protestors battled police for hours on Sunday night in an effort to stop a polluting plant from resuming operations. Villagers in Xinchang, China, 180 miles south of Shanghai, say corrupt local officials have refused to do anything about chemical wastes from the Jingxin Pharmaceutical Co. that have ruined crops, poisoned the local river, and made villagers sick. Jingxin was closed after an explosion there killed a worker in early July; after plans to reopen it were announced on Thursday, people traveled via mountain paths and rice paddies to protest by throwing rocks and overturning police cars. Police have bussed in reinforcements and closed off all roads to the facility. Protestors in Xinchang say they're inspired by the success in the nearby city of Dongyang, where more than 10,000 rioters turned out against a polluting pesticide factory in early spring. They vow to keep it up until the Jingxin plant is moved. Says one demonstrator, "They are making poisonous chemicals for foreigners that the foreigners don't dare produce in their own countries."

straight to the source: The New York Times, Howard W. French, 19 Jul 2005

straight to the source: Reuters, 19 Jul 2005

Seattle to reduce landfilling by producing less trash in the first place

Seattle is pioneering programs to cut landfill costs by stopping trash before it starts, pursuing an ambitious long-term goal of becoming a "zero-waste" city. Seattle Public Utilities is using more electronic documents, radically reducing its use of paper, and instituting a green buying program for non-toxic cleaners, greener electronics, and other eco-friendly products. Manufacturers are being encouraged to institute take-back programs for their products, intercepting them for reuse or proper disposal before they are sent to the dump. Last year, 11 city-sponsored green-building projects salvaged or reused 57,000 tons of materials, and the "Use-It-Again-Seattle" give-and-take-free-stuff program kept 221 tons of materials out of landfills. While recycling means making something new from something used, "waste prevention means not making the waste in the first place," said Chris Luboff of Seattle Public Utilities. "We're trying to broaden that concept."

This just in! Seven of the nation's most influential Governors--Governors Rod Blagojevich D-IL, Jim Doyle D-WI, Christine Gregoire D-WA, Ted Kulongoski D-OR, Janet Napolitano D-AZ, Bill Richardson D-NM, and Brian Schweitzer D-MT-- signed an open letter to the President urging him to make energy independence a top national priority. They called on the President to"lead a bold national project to achieve environmentally and economicallysustainable American energy independence within a decade."


[With regard to the message below, please keep in mind the generally overlooked fact that plant-based diets require far less energy, land, water, and other resources than animal-based diets.]

America's Governors Call for Bold Solutions as the Energy Bill Moves Forward

The call for energy independence from seven prominent Governors comes at a crucial moment as the long-awaited conference committee meets to negotiate the energy bill. In light of soaring gas prices, lawmakers are under pressure to send the President an energy bill before the congressional recess in August.

Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-IL), noted that both the House and Senate versions of the energy bill do little to stop rising gas prices. "We need an energy bill that delivers relief to everyday people who work hard to make ends meet," said Blagojevich.

Read the Governors’ Letter

'Industrial chemicals in the bodies of babies who have not yet lived outside the womb'

"If ever we had proof that our nation's pollution laws aren't working, it's reading the list of industrial chemicals in the bodies of babies who have not yet lived outside the womb," Slaughter, a Democrat, said.

Cord blood reflects what the mother passes to the baby through the placenta. "Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests," the report said. - Reuters

This article was originally published on page 4 of Cape Argus (a South African paper) on July 14, 2005

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8. JVNA Joins Other Animal-Rights and Vegetarian Groups in Opposing CAFTA (The Central American Free Trade Agreement)

By a 14-2 vote, with two abstentions, the JVNA Advisory Committee endorsed the letter below, opposing the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), largely because of the reasons given in the letter:

Sign on Letter for Animal Rights, Animal Welfare, and Vegetarian

Organizations Opposed to DR-CAFTA

Dear Member of Congress:

We, the undersigned animal rights, animal welfare, and vegetarian
organizations, are writing to express our opposition to the Dominican
Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement.

This agreement poses a serious threat to the welfare of billions of
nonhuman animals, including farmed animals, marine animals, and terrestrial wildlife, as well as to human health and the environment.

Expansion of Factory Farming

Under DR-CAFTA, animal agribusiness interests view the elimination of
import tariffs as an opportunity to dramatically increase exports of beef, pork, dairy, and poultry products and to undercut small farmers in Latin America using traditional agriculture methods. US agribusiness will flood Latin American markets with cheaply produced meat and dairy products created with cruel, industrial scale methods, including "factory farm" agriculture.

Latin American producers using traditional methods fear that these cheap imports will force them to shift to a US-style intensive confinement factory farm systems to remain competitive. The high volumes of water used to clean these factory farms will be a serious concern for the environment and public health in areas lacking adequate water treatment facilities.Beyond absorbing market share from Dominican and Central American producers, agribusiness interests also view DR-CAFTA as an opportunity to dramatically increase consumption of animal products in Latin America by making cheap meat products more available. While this may be profitable, it will be a public health disaster for Latin America.

Already, increased consumption of meat and dairy products in the Caribbean and Latin America have led to dramatic increases in diabetes and heart disease rates, with experts predicting that 62% of global diabetes will be in these regions by 2025.

This increase in consumption will also mean increased production. This
will guarantee more animal suffering and environmental degradation. Factory farm poultry and pork production are two of the most severe causes of water pollution in the US. Increased beef production will
lead to the further degradation of rangelands, including taxpayer
subsidized public lands.

Marine Life Threatened by Expanded Fishing

As commercial zones are increasing and regulatory controls are undermined, larger enterprises will move into areas previously zoned solely for small fisherman and their use of larger nets. This destructive practice not only catches more of the fish, it also sweeps up other species that have been left alone by small fisherman, like sea turtles. This is just one example of the ways in which plant and marine biodiversity is gravely threatened by CAFTA-DR.

Weak Environmental Protections Endanger Wildlife

According to the Sierra Club, "While [CAFTA countries (excluding the US)] account for less than one percent of the earth's land area, 8% of all the planet's biodiversity is found in this region, including some 24,000 plant species, over 1000 bird species, over 600 species of reptiles and several hundred types of mammals. Three out of four migratory bird routes in the Western Hemisphere pass through the CAFTA countries. Of the 836 migratory bird species that are listed in the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act, some 350 neo-tropical migratory species (mainly songbirds) migrate through or are winter residents of the CAFTA countries. Even the U.S. trade negotiators admit that CAFTA could contribute to the ‘loss of migratory bird habitat’ through investments in the agricultural sector."Loss of habitat means starvation and death for their resident animals, making environmental preservation an animal rights issue as well as a
conservation issue.

DR-CAFTA’s weak environmental protections, contrasted with its strong protections for corporate investors, provisions for corporations to sue countries over natural resource agreements, and ability for corporations to sue nations in international tribunals severely imperils protection of critical wildlife habitat areas. The agreement’s sole environmental provision merely requires simply that countries enforce their existing environmental law, and even this is undermined by language that gives countries discretion on which laws they prioritize in allocating enforcement resources. DR-CAFTA requires that international enterprises be subjected to rules no more strict than those for national enterprise, despite the ongoing problem of flagrant abuse the law and environment national enterprises. Environmental enforcement is already lax in Central America and will not be up to the task of policing added environmental pressure from new investments under DR-CAFTA.

The potential threat to the environment of this Chapter 11 expansion can be seen in the Harken Oil Case.As reported in the online environmental journal Grist, "Harken Costa Rica Holdings, a transnational corporation with close ties to Harken Energy of Texas, obtained an agreement to drill off the coast of Costa Rica, contingent on the outcome of an environmental assessment. When it was found that the drilling would pose a serious threat to the rich marine ecosystems of the Talamanca region, the Costa Rican government decided the drilling was contrary to its environmental law, and Harken was denied the right to drill. In response, Harken tried to bring an
international suit against Costa Rica. It demanded the outrageous sum of $57[.5] billion to compensate for profits Harken would have made from the drilling. A stipulation in the contract forced the company to take their suit to domestic courts in Costa Rica, but had CAFTA's investor rules been in place, Harken could have bypassed the domestic court system and taken the case straight to a NAFTA-style tribunal."

With a GDP of only $38 billion, the threat alone would have forced Costa Rica to concede and settle, regardless of whether Harken would have been able to substantiate their case in the end. If the project had proceeded as intended, sea turtle nesting beaches, rare manatees, and over 100 species of fish would have suffered.

Forests at Risk

Forest ecosystems in Central America, including rainforests and coastal mangroves, represent critical and irreplaceable wildlife habitat. Already experiencing an unprecedented rate of destruction, DR-CAFTA will hasten the logging of these forests.

Oxfam International has warned that DR-CAFTA may replicate the increased deforestation that came as a result of US corn dumping on Mexico. 1.5 million small farmers were driven off their land. This led to an upsurge in tree clearing for farming and fuel. Subsequent to NAFTA’ implementation, the annual rate of deforestation in Mexico rose to 1.1 million hectares, practically doubling the pr-NAFTA rate of 600 thousand hectares per year was practically doubled. Under DR-CAFTA this phenomenon is likely to be repeated with Central America’s rice farmers. This will also hasten a trend already seen in El Salvador-as farmers are forced out of business by cheap agriculture imports, they move to the cities for work. Forested rural areas are cleared to open to roads and logged for development.

DR-CAFTA will allow large-scale dumping of imported shrimp on the US, resulting in increased logging of Central American mangrove forests to create shrimp farms, destroying refuge and nursery grounds for juvenile fish, crabs, shrimps, and mollusks, and shelter for birds.

We ask that all members of Congress recognize nonhuman animals as stakeholders when weighing the costs of this agreement. Mahatma Gandhi once said that, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Our nation must apply this principle to matters of international trade as well as domestic policy and members of Congress must vote "NO!" to this inhumane agreement.


National Organizations:
Animal Protection Institute
Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting
EarthSave International
Friends of Animals
Humane Farming Association
In Defense of Animals
League of Humane Voters USA
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
United Poultry Concerns
Vegan Research Institute
Voice for A Viable Future
Wildlife Watch

No Compromise
Veg News Magazine

Local Organizations
Activism Center at Wetlands Preserve
AESOP-Project [Allied Effort to Save Other Primates]
Alliance for Animals
Animal Acres
Animal Defense League-Los Angeles
Animal Protection and Rescue League
Animal Protection of New Mexico
Animal Rights and Rescue Coalition
Cape Cod Coalition for Animal Rights
Delaware Action for Animals
Division of Animal Welfare
Eastern Shore Sanctuary and Education Center
Feral Cat Caretakers Coalition
League for Earth and Animal Protection
League of Humane Voters of Ohio
Mercy for Animals
Michigan Animal Rights Society
Orlando Animal Rights Alliance
Rattle the Cage Productions www.RattletheCage.org
Showing Animal Respect And Kindness
Sonoma People for Animal Rights
Southern California Vegetarians
The Coalition for New York City Animals, Inc.
The Empathy Project
Uconn Animal Rights Club
Unitarian Universalists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - Los Angeles
Voices for Animals
Woodstock Animal Rights Movement

Animal-Friendly Businesses
Oh Sweet Mamas

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"God is good to all, and His mercy is upon all of His works" (Psalms 145:9).

"The righteous person understands the needs of his animal" (Proverbs 12:10).

"Just has God has compassion for humans, so He has compassion for animals" (Midrash: Devarim Rabbah 6:1).

"We should regard all creatures as our friends in the universe, for we are all created beings whose abilities are God-given" (Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov ["Master of the Good Name"] 1698-1760)

Just as [God] is merciful, so shall you be merciful. (Talmud: Sota 14a).

God watches over and shows mercy to all. Similarly, a person should be benevolent to everyone, and no creature should seem despicable to him. Even the smallest living thing should be exceedingly worthy in his eyes. (Rabbi Moses Cordovero).

The Maker of All, the Wise One Who transcends everything, is associated with His creatures in having made them. To disparage them, God forbid, would reflect upon the honor of their Maker. (Rabbi Moses Cordovero)

Love of all creatures is also love of God, for whoever loves God, loves all the works that He has made. (Maharal of Prague).

The rabbis regarded the human body as a sanctuary (Ta'anit 11a-b).
Since maintaining a healthy and sound body is among the ways of God – for one cannot understand or have any knowledge of the Creator if one is ill - therefore one must avoid that which harms the body and accustom oneself to that which is helpful and helps the body become stronger.
- Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Deot

Jews comprise only a small percentage of the world’s people. We are responsible for only a small portion of the problems resulting from modern intensive livestock agriculture. However, it is essential that we Jews strive to fulfil our challenge to be a light unto the nations and to work for tikkun olam – the healing and repair of our imperfect and unjust world. This mission must include the lightening of the immense burden of our diets on animals, the environment and the world’s poor and hungry. To do so is to demonstrate the relevance of Judaism’s eternal teachings to the problems of the world today.

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