August 10, 2005

8/10/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. It’s incredible!!! JVNA Web Site 7th in 718,000 Listings at Google for "Vegetarianism!"

2. Are the Increased Number and Severity of Storms an Indication of Global Warming?

3. Should Vegetarianism Be a Factor In Foreign Policies?

4. Lantern Books Announces Upcoming Book Discussion on Vegetarian Book

5. Water Shortages in Israel
6. Are Israelis Concerned About Environmental Issues?
7. Israeli Knesset Has A Committed Environmental Lobby
8. Knesset Sets Two Days as Israeli Environmental Clean-Up Days

9. Roberta Kalechofsky publishes New Book

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. It’s incredible!!! JVNA Web Site 7th in 718,000 Listings at Google for "Vegetarianism!"

Please do a Google search for the word vegetarianism. it seems incredible to me, but with many hundreds of thousands of websites related to vegetarianism, our JVNA website ( has only six websites ahead of us in terms of popularity. Anyone have any thoughts re why this is?

A few of my thoughts: First, once again, I would to commend Noam Mohr for the excellent job he is doing maintaining the site, putting timely material on the front page, adding articles and other material from time to time, etc. Also, please visit, and help get other sites to link to us, so that we can maintain, and possibly improve our very favorable location on the Google list, and, even more important, so that you can send us suggestions on how we can improve the site and more effectively spread the Jewish vegetarian message.

Please send comments and suggestions to me and/or Noam Mohr,
Coordinator, Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) (;

2. Are the Increased Number and Severity of Storms an Indication of Global Warming?

Forwarded messages from Greenpeace and Care2:

Storm Warnings Intensify

As this season’s hurricanes slam into our coastlines, MIT scientists have hit us with a dose of reality: global warming is to blame. If you thought that hurricanes were occurring more often and with greater damage, it hasn’t been your imagination. And the most distressing news is it’s only going to get worse.

Visit our Web site for more on this study that has everyone talking:
Related message from Care2

Hi Richard,

In Florida, they know just how powerful hurricanes can be: over the last year, they have been reminded more than they care to count.

But unless we act now, global warming could make it storm events like these worse:

Recent studies suggest that hurricanes will become even more intense because of global warming. Because hurricanes get their strength from warm ocean water, higher water temperatures mean more energy for the storms.

Scientists are also documenting how rising temperatures are changing animal behavior. Marmots are now ending their hibernation three weeks sooner than they did 30 years ago, and Red Fox populations are migrating north. Arctic species, like polar bears, are thinner and suffer more health ailments than previous generations. Plant-life is also being forced to move because of a hotter climate. The Northern Coast Violet, a temperamental species that is sensitive to temperature, is having to expand northward to escape rising temperatures.

Modeling and evidence from historical plant migrations suggest that although some species will successfully migrate to areas with appropriate climate, many will be unable to migrate fast enough to keep pace with the current rate of

To save these species, it is essential that we don't wait to counter climate change. Take the pledge to fight global warming at

Our future is only as strong as the vision we have for it.But there is good news - we have the technology to avert catastrophic global warming.

We know where climate changing gasses come from: power plants and automobiles. We have the ability to curb the their emissions through strong laws and modern technologies. And we have the technology and the know-how to move beyond our current practices by using safe, clean and affordable renewable energy. We need only muster the political will to act!

Take the pledge to fight global warming, and we'll send a message to your elected officials telling them to combat climate change:

Thank you for standing up for our environment!

Michael Lawley,
Care2 and ThePetitionSite team

Visit for more information!

3. Should Vegetarianism Be a Factor In Foreign Policies?

[I was asked to write an article on an effective U.S. foreign policy for today. The result is below. Comments/suggestions welcome.]

Richard H. Schwartz

Noting that the Hebrew words for war, milchama, and bread, lechem, are derived from the word locham, which means both "to wage war" as well as "to feed," Jewish sages reasoned that when there is a shortage of grain and other resources, people are more likely to have disputes and wage war. Connections between shortages and violence have been observed from battles over wells in the days of the Hebrew patriarchs to modern disputes over oil in the Middle East. These connections are especially serious now, when the availability of abundant, affordable oil is nearing an end, according to some authorities. Other vital resources, such as water and arable land, are also becoming scarce. It is projected that at least half of the world’s people will live in areas chronically short of fresh water in 30 years, and the combination of global warming and shrinking aquifers is decreasing the ability to produce enough food for the world’s increasing population.

Former Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon stated: “Hunger and famine will do more to destabilize this world; [they are] more explosive than all atomic weaponry possessed by the big powers. Desperate people do desperate things.” Richard J. Barnet, author of many books on international conflicts, believes that the anger and despair of hungry people sometimes lead to acts of terrorism and economic wars.

What are the implications for U.S. foreign policy? Military strength, while important, is not sufficient, as we learned in Vietnam and are relearning in Iraq. It is essential that the US lead a multilateral effort to move toward world sufficiency of energy, food, and water, through conservation efforts and improved production approaches. A major part of this effort is a switch toward veganism, since the production of animal-based foods uses far more resources than the production of plant foods. For example, almost 40 percent of the world’s grain is used to fatten the 50 billion animals raised for slaughter annually, and it takes 14 times as much water for a typical American diet than it does for a vegan diet.

To reduce other potential sources of desperation and violence, the U.S. should join other nations in an ongoing major campaign to reverse global warming and to reduce hunger, poverty, disease, and illiteracy. Such efforts would also improve America’s humanitarian image, which, in turn, would lower the chances that terrorists would find support for their evil plans.

It is also essential that the world seek ways to reduce its huge military expenditures, since they are often the source of oppression, authoritarianism, death, and destruction, and they waste trillions of dollars that could be spent on health, education, environmental protection, housing, poverty reduction, jobs, mass transportation, etc., thereby leading to some of the problems that make violence and war more likely.

These suggested changes to reduce terrorism and wars may seem utopian, but as author Buckminster Fuller pointed out, we have a choice today, in effect, between “Utopia and Oblivion.”

The following Jewish teachings may be helpful in carrying out the above proposals: (1) Judaism teaches that the greatest hero is the person who converts an enemy into a friend; (2) Judaism teaches that violence and war result directly from injustice: “The sword comes into the world because of justice delayed, because of justice perverted, and because of those who render wrong decisions;” (3) Judaism emphasizes the pursuit of justice and harmonious relations between nations to reduce violence and the prospects for war. The prophet Isaiah declared: “And the work of righteousness shall be peace.” (Isaiah 32:17) Applying these teachings could help in the improved production and distribution of lechem and other resources, and this could lead to the fulfillment of the prophets’ dream of an end to milchamah.

4. Lantern Books Announces Upcoming Book Discussion on Vegetarian Book

Forwarded message from Lantern Books (my publisher):

Dear Friends,

Join the Lantern Books Reading Club! Meet author Pamela Rice, make new friends and discuss issues of animal rights, vegetarianism, and social justice.

When: Monday, September 26, 6:30 - 8 pm
Where: Lantern Books, One Union Square West, Suite 201, New York
City (14th St. & University Place, 2nd floor, over Diesel Clothing)

Cost: Free. Delicious munchies will be provided. RSVP not

Fall season book selection:

by Pamela Rice


101 REASONS WHY I AM A VEGETARIAN is a seminal work by a woman who has spent the last 15 years of her life thinking of almost nothing else except the connections between the human penchant for consuming animals and the degradation of human health, the environment, and our own moral integrity. If you think you know it all on this topic, you may need to think again. In the course of conducting he extensive investigative research, author Pamela Rice has uncovered facts you never imagined.

The author is the chief archivist at the Vegetarian Center of NYC, which she founded, and the publisher of her ever popular 16-page flyer "101 Reasons I Am a Vegetarian," known as "the mighty convincer." Ms. Rice lectures on the twin topics of subsidies to the meat industry and the link between meat and environmental degradation.

Ms. Rice will be on hand to answer your questions and looks forward to a lively discussion. This is an event not to be missed.

Pamela Rice
pb, 253 pp, $20

This book can be ordered at Barnes and Noble or To buy your book directly from Lantern visit: If you are in the Union Square area, you can also stop by the Lantern office during business hours to buy your copy.

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

Please direct any questions to, or Lantern Books, or 212-414-2275 x17.

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

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

The Following Four Items Consider Israel’s Environment. Items five and six discuss environmental threats, while items seven and eight discuss recent positive developments.

5. Water Shortages in Israel

Haaretz article August 4, 2005 (followed by comments from JVNA advisor and environmental author Lewis Regenstein)

Court bars private drawing of water from Yarkon
By Zafrir Rinat

No citizen has the right to draw water from a well and the state has the right to stop them from doing so, even if they have been at it for more than 100 years.

This ruling was handed down by a special court in Haifa recently.

The tribunal on water, part of the Haifa District Court, a few weeks ago decided to reject an appeal from the Ben-Ezer family of Petah Tikva against the Water Commission's decision to stop them from drawing water from the Yarkon River for agricultural purposes. This put an end to the drawing of water from the eastern reaches of the Yarkon, the only part of the river that has unpolluted water. The Ben-Ezers have the right to appeal the ruling before the Supreme Court.

In their brief to the court, the Ben-Ezers noted that they were the fifth generation of one of the original founding families of Petah Tikva. The family began using the Yarkon waters for agricultural purposes more than 120 years ago, they said, during the Ottoman period. Some 30 years ago, they set up a private pumping station at a more western part of the river but four years ago, the commission ordered them to stop. They were told to use a pipeline laid by the Mekorot national water company instead.

The change in policy was first caused by a severe drought and later because of attempts to rehabilitate the river. The Ben-Ezers said the commission, which did not let them pump during the hearings, was therefore responsible for the heavy damage caused to their orchards. They have a right to the land and therefore also to the water on it, they claimed.

For its part, the state told the court that there is a shortage of water for the public. The Ben-Ezer family, the state said, is indeed entitled to water but in a modern fashion - by joining a public supply like any other farmer that does not live next to a river.

Unusual step

The Yarkon River Authority took the unusual step of asking to respond to the suit, even though it was not charged. It said it would like to support the policy of stopping private consumption and pumping from the river. The authority wants to funnel as much water as possible into the river, the response stated, since the Yarkon is drying up and this has resulted in the loss of flora and fauna. The water level must rise if the river is to be rehabilitated, the authority said.

Shaul Weissman, formerly an assessor of damages for the Agriculture Ministry, who appeared as a witness on behalf of the Ben-Ezers, said that the family's orchards had suffered losses as a result of the cessation of pumping.

"The ruling states that the license the family received by law can be revoked," he said. "Mekorot is offering them water instead at a price that will make it unfeasible to keep the orchard. The authority's real objective is to get rid [of the orchard] so that the entire area can become a park."

A lawyer for the authority said the court had shown that it was necessary to divide the water more rationally in order to rehabilitate the river.

He said that people who had pumped from the river, even for a very long time, did not have the right to pay less for water than other farmers.
Comments from environmental author and JVNA advisor Lewis Regenstein:

This court decision described below, barring private parties from drawing water from a river, is an omen of things to come in israel.

The State is drying up, the wells, aquifers, and groundwater, already depleted, are being drained of their last reserves of water. Water deposited there for hundreds of thouands, even millions, of years is being used up in just two or three generations.

Israel's rivers are dangerously polluted and are also experiencing permanent depletion.

Remember a few years ago, some Olympic athletes from abroad died after falling into a river in Israel when a bridge collapsed ? They died not from drowning but from exposure to toxic chemicals in the water. This did not cause any particular scandal in Israel, altho there was much press on the incident; it seems the israelis have become accustomed to polluted rivers, and perhaps many view this as a sign of economic progress.

As Israel's rivers dry up, competition over water use heats up. Some wars make no sense, but a new war over use of the waters of the Jordan River would be quite rational, perhaps unavoidable.

A few years ago, a study projected that Israel's fresh water resources would be seriously 'depleted" within a dozen years or so. In plain language, this meant that Israel would essentially be running out of fresh water.

Huge areas of the earth become desertified every year, so there is nothing unusual in this phenomenon. But what it means in this case is that Israel will no longer be able to grow water-intensive crops, like wheat & cotton, raise livestock, especially cattle, and perhaps even traditional crops like oranges will be in danger.

Ultimately, as the land becomes desert like, there will be no water for drinking, growing food, supporting trees and other vegetation, the affected area it will have to be evacuated and abandoned. To what extent this occurs remains to be seen. But from here, it seems to have acquired an unstoppable momentum.

A few important but insufficient measures are being taken. The Jewish National Fund is fortunately building reservoirs to hold water. There is talk of a sea water desalinization program. But the main strategy seems to be to ignore the problem.After all, the thinking goes, why worry about environmental problems when we have people problems to deal terrorism, the Wall, budgets, etc.

Israeli environmentalists and some scientists have been sounding the alarm, but to little avail. Almost no one in a position of power or authority in Israel is paying attention to this impending disaster, so it seems quite probable that not much will be done to address the matter and that the consequences will be catastrophic.

Those who do discuss this seem divided between the camps of theology vs geology.

Those familiar with the latter realize that this area has for millenia been arid and that water has been considered a precious commodity that, once used up, cannot be replaced.

The theologists, when forced to think about the unpleasant fact that Israel has about used up this non-renewable but essential resource, assume that something will come along to solve the problem, like some technological breakthrough, or towing icebergs in from Antarctica. . Or perhaps Israel will be immune from ecological laws that are already affecting many millions of acres around the globe.

This approach requires faith rather than facts, but we Jews have always been good at this.

I do not know if Israel will be destroyed by an Iranian nuclear weapon or by the desertification of its land. But it seems to me that the State's chances of surviving in its present form for much longer than another decade or so are pretty slim unless it wakes up to the crisis it faces and launches a crash program to address them.

Perhaps a good start would be for Prime Minister Sharon to set a good example and stop raising cattle on his ranch, as this activity uses up more water than almost anything else we do.

Right now, the lack of leadership and public concern are a recipe for disaster.

Lewis Regenstein

6. Are Israelis Concerned About Environmental Issues?

Israelis just aren't driven by environmental cares
Haaretz article (August 4, 2005)
By Yoav Kaveh

Israel is the only country where you can buy the hybrid gasoline-electricity-powered Toyata Prius and get immediate delivery. In the United States, even though Toyota has increased production by 50 percent this year, there is a months-long waiting list of thousands of buyers, unless the buyer's name is Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Meryl Streep or Brad Pitt. Celebrities do not have to wait in line and do not even have to pay the full price.

Hybrid cars, which have both a small, economic gasoline engine and an electric engine, have become a hit in the U.S. In 2002 some 35,000 were sold; in 2004 sales shot up to 88,000 and by June of this year, 92,000 had been purchased.

In 2004, only 10 Israelis bought a Toyota Prius. In the first six months of
2005, this number more than tripled, to 36, while the Toyota Corolla sold 4,015 units. The failure of the Prius, however, is only one example of basic Israeli apathy and lack of awareness of environmental issues and fuel economy.

Salesmen in the polished showrooms of Hamasger Street in Tel Aviv seldom encounter customers whose car purchase decision is based on fuel consumption and low emissions. The most common questions are about discounts and bonus gifts. Even if someone does wonder aloud about emissions data, he won't find any.

Practically none of the glossy brochures printed by the importers – praising the amazing magnesium alloys in the car's body and the perfectly balanced air-conditioning system - mention anything about air pollution.

A new Toyota Prius costs NIS 180,000 [about $40,000]. It is a sophisticated, almost futuristic car that can run on electricity alone for short hops at relatively low speeds. At higher speeds, the gas engine starts automatically and joins the effort. The gas engine also recharges the electric batteries, so that the car never has to be plugged into a socket (and doesn't even have a plug point).

Israeli drivers are suspicious of hybrid cars, are afraid of breakdowns and
of buying a car "for life," - one that they won't be able to sell on the second-hand market. When spending NIS 180,000, the Israeli driver prefers an "executive car," like the Mazda 6 or Honda Accord, or an all-terrain vehicle such as the Hyundai Tuscon.

Europeans are also reluctant to buy hybrid cars and worship the diesel
engine. Even though the Prius won the 2005 Car of the Year award in Europe, sales throughout the continent this year have not even reached the 10,000 mark. The most popular models are cars with diesel engines and manual transmission.

The Volkswagen Golf and Peugeot 206 are the best-selling models in Europe. Unlike Europe, drivers in Japan and the United States favor gas engines with automatic transmissions. The most popular vehicle in the U.S. just now is the monstrous Ford 150F pickup truck, even though it was awarded the worst score (6 out of 10) by the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Prius, of course, is in first place with 9.5. The ideal car among Israelis is a station wagon with a 1.6 liter gas engine and automatic transmission - just like the best-selling Mazda 3.

1,100 deaths in Tel Aviv [due to air pollution]

Gas and diesel engines emit different types of air pollution. Gas engines contribute to the greenhouse effect, while diesel engines emit more toxic soot particles.

"Fewer than 15 percent of cars in Israel have diesel engines," says Avi
Moshel, who oversees vehicular air pollution at the Environment Ministry, "but they are responsible for 90 percent of the particle emissions. These particles are problematic and are a health hazard. The damage caused by pollutants emitted by gas-powered cars is much less direct."

Diesel engines without a mechanism for trapping and burning soot particles (only a few models are equipped with such mechanisms), are considered a greater health risk than gas engines. Still, diesel fuel is cheaper than gasoline; however diesel-powered cars consume less fuel per kilometer and are therefore more economical to drive.

A comparative survey conducted by Haaretz in March 2005 found that the Prius traveled 16.7 kilometers per liter of gas, the Renault Megane's consumption was one liter per 18.4 kilometers, and the Mazda 3 drank gas at a rate of one liter per 10.5 kilometers.

The correlation between car types and hospitalizations and deaths was examined from 1997-1999 by the Environment Ministry and the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, under the guidance of the EPA. A study conducted in Tel Aviv and Ashdod found that the increased air pollution was responsible for 8 percent of deaths annually, which translates to 1,100 deaths per year in Tel Aviv alone.

Buses, which are diesel powered and which account for 0.6 percent of all vehicles in Israel, are responsible for 20 percent of all particle emissions - those tiny soot particles that shoot out in black plumes and penetrate deep into our lungs and enter our blood stream. In 2004, the Environment Ministry measured 122 instances of excessive nitrogen oxide levels at its monitoring station at Kikar Hamoshavot in Tel Aviv, and 131 instances on Remez Street in Bnei Berak.

The heaviest Israeli celebrity who sits behind the wheel of a Prius is Transportation Minister Meir Sheetrit. The Finance Ministry is trying its own methods of promoting sales of these economical cars. In 2004 the ministry announced a huge discount on the purchase tax on hybrid cars: 40 percent instead of 95 percent. This lowered the price of the Prius from NIS 230,000 to NIS 180,000.

The Knesset Finance Committee is currently examining a proposal to reduce this tax to 10 percent and to grant a tax credit of two tax brackets to anyone who accepts a hybrid company car from his employer. This would mean paying income tax on a car perk of NIS 1,980 per month, instead of the current NIS 2,940.

Toyota's importer, who is still the only player in the hybrid car market, has sent a representative to the committee to promote the bill. Treasury officials, however, are aware of its problematic.

"We want to promote green cars, but are afraid of making a mistake," said Boaz Sofer, senior deputy director general at the Department of Customs and VAT. "Imagine if tomorrow a luxury hybrid jeep arrives in Israel, one that is more economical than a regular gas-powered jeep, but less economical than a station wagon. Should the discount apply to the jeep? And what if next year importers offer a car like the BMW 7 Series, but with an environmentally friendly hydrogen-powered engine? People will jump at the opportunity to save NIS 100,000 on a fancy car, not for ideological or environmental reasons."

Hard to sell

Some 60 percent of the new cars on Israel's roads belong to leasing companies or company car fleets. It is highly doubtful that they will embark on saving the environment.

"Leasing companies buy for price and not for the particular car," says Yaki Enoch, chairman of the Israel Motor Vehicles Importers Association and CEO of the company that imports Fiat-Alfa Romeo and Lancia. "Purchase price, easy maintenance and price - that is what interests them, and in the meantime hybrid cars do not meet those criteria."

"Once, we bought a few diesel cars," says Joseph Dahan, owner of Eldan
Rent-a-Car, "but we discovered it was hard to sell them, so we stopped. I figure that the hybrids will not catch on in the near future either. The importers will not give big discounts on such cars, and that will raise the leasing price and make them less worthwhile for our clients."


7. Israeli Knesset Has A Committed Environmental Lobby

Not all is bad in the Knesset
Haaretz article (August 8, 2005)
By Zafrir Rinat

The Knesset gone on its summer recess is accompanied, as usual, by uncomplimentary, albeit reasonably justified, descriptions of its members' caliber and the deterioration of their public norms. But not all is bad in this Knesset. It also has a green side that has created a broad environmental consensus.

In the past, there were Knesset members who engaged in environmental activity and set up the environmental legislative infrastructure of our times. But these were mainly individuals, like Yosef Tamir, who laid the foundations for environmental parliamentary activity some 35 years ago.

Today, the Knesset has a committed environmental lobby worthy of its name and a relatively large number of Knesset members who deal with environmental issues on an ongoing basis, rather than as a one-time project.

Lobbyists for the green organizations are also active in the Knesset, and its Commission for Future Generations is another means of promoting environmental consciousness.

The Knesset members' commitment is interesting, especially in view of the limited public appeal that environmental activity holds, despite its positive public image. It does not provide the instant political dividends that Knesset members usually covet. The reason for the MKs' interest in the issue derives to a large extent from their young age. They belong to a generation that has been exposed to the environmental awareness that has conquered the world in recent decades.

The result is an extensive barrage of parliamentary questions and motions for the agenda directed at the ministries, forcing them to explain their policy, make excuses for their shortcomings and even promise to take action to mend the situation. In addition, a number of Knesset committees have an especially loaded agenda of environmental debates.

MKs Yuri Stern and Leah Ness have dealt with dozens of environmental problems during their Knesset activity, as did Hemi Doron, Ilan Leibowitz, Roman Bronfman and Eitan Cabel. They promoted, among other issues, legislation for radiation protection, for increasing energy-consumption effectivity and to help build the Ayalon Park. MK Ahmed Tibi recently took action to promote animal rights.

One of the Knesset's last acts before taking its summer break was the approval of the freedom of information amendment initiated by Leah Ness, with the help of the environmental organizations. The amendment obliges a public authority to publish the environmental information at its disposal. The environment minister is to issue regulations defining this information.

The Knesset's environmental lobby is headed by MKs Omri Sharon and Michael Melchior. Sharon's public image is in a deep slump and he will have to answer many difficult questions regarding his partisan activity. But we cannot take away from him his consistent commitment to the environment. He recently helped promote the Clean Air Law that passed preliminary reading and is designed to improve the treatment of air pollution sources.

In a rare move, Sharon and MK Ronnie Bar-On even presented an objection to the plan to extend Jerusalem into open areas.

Of course, demagogic declarations on environmental issues are also made in the Knesset and quite a few superfluous bills are presented, mainly to glorify the Knesset members' names and portray them as enlightened legislators. Certain Knesset members avoid handling issues that would draw them into a confrontation with their party members, who, as ministers or mayors, create some of the environmental problems.

However, when politicians decide to deal with a forgotten and underprivileged sector in an attempt to delve into problems of waste and sewage, radiation and noise, they are doing exactly what they were sent to the Knesset for. It is to be hoped that they will increase this part of their activity. It is regrettable that the government is still very much behind the Knesset's environmental awareness and shows no intention of giving environment preservation its worthy place on the order of priorities.

8. Knesset Sets Two Days as Israeli Environmental Clean-Up Days

Forwarded message from the Jewish National Fund (JNF)

At JNF's Urging, Knesset Makes Environmental Clean-Up Days a National Priority in Israel

The Israeli Knesset Committee for Interior and Environment has decided to dedicate two days a year to cleaning up the environment, making Jewish National Fund's five-year environmental awareness and clean-up campaign a national priority.

Israel will participate in Clean Up the World Day, which occurs annually in September and is part of an international United Nations program. (JNF is a registered Non-Governmental Organization of the United Nations.) The second clean-up day will take place before Passover, and is unique to Israel. Both days will be spearheaded by JNF.

Last September's JNF Clean-Up the World Day attracted almost 50,000 Israeli citizens from 50 different organizations and communities. People from all backgrounds and walks of life--including the ultra-Orthodox, Arabs, Druze and Bedouins--worked together to keep Israel clean and beautiful. During the clean-up, a group of young people working in the northern Negev even uncovered three ancient settling pools excavated out of rock which have now been found to have served as water sources thousands of years ago.

The Knesset session to inaugurate the clean-up days was chaired by Minister of Knesset Ra'leb Majadla, who thanked JNF for its environmental efforts. He mentioned the successful clean-up campaigns previously organized by JNF in Tel Sheva and Kasfiya, two Bedouin villages in the Negev. JNF is devoting much time and resources to making the Negev cleaner, greener, and more hospitable through Blueprint Negev, the organization's plan to bring life to the Negev desert.

JNF has had tremendous success initiating clean-up efforts throughout Israel, including Rosh Tzipor Park outside Ramat Gan, the Ramon crater n Mitzpeh Ramon, the Trans-Israel Trail (cleaned by 5,200 schoolchildren in the Ministry of Education Shelach program), and the rehabilitation of the Yarkon River and Nahal Beersheba.

Minister Majadla announced that this year's first clean-up day will be September 20th, coinciding with the 5th annual clean-up day organized by the largest environment protection organization in the world, "Clean Up the World" International, a UN-recognized partnership of which JNF is a member. JNF will spearhead this year's Israeli participation, as it has each year since the event's inception, teaming with the Knesset Committee for the Ministry of the Interior and Environment, the Ministry of Housing, the Pratt Foundation of Australia, and the Neighborhoods Rehabilitation Program.

The day will be celebrated in 120 nations around the world with the participation of tens of millions of people. This year, particular emphasis will be laid on promoting clean-up activities among the Negev Bedouin, the Galilee Arabs, and in all the Israeli forests.

The second clean-up day is during the Passover preparation season when many Jewish families are doing their own house cleaning in preparation for the festival. The spring clean-up day will be under the framework of Israel's Environmental Week events, and be led by the "Clean Nature" voluntary organization, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority.

Israeli Vice-Premier Shimon Peres noted, "JNF's work proves that preserving clean, open-spaces and gorgeous scenery is not merely for poets, but rather is integral to keeping a nation safe and thriving."

Minister Majdala invited the participants to sign the JNF-prepared covenant "A Clean Israel in a Clean World," wherein they committed themselves to being active for a more pristine Israel under the rubric of international environmental awareness efforts.

9. Roberta Kalechofsky publishes New Book

Roberta, a JVNA advisor and founder and director of Jews for Animal Rights (JAR) is certainly the most prolific person in the Jewish vegetarian movement. I am planning to review the book if I get a chance (I have at least 5 books ahead of it which I have agreed to review), but meanwhile below is some information from the publisher about the book and Roberta.

Below is the review blurb of the book

Job Enters A Pain Clinic & Other Stories

Roberta Kalechofsky

Publishing Date: Dec. 26, 2005
5-1/2 X 8-1/2
214 pages

Roberta Kalechofsky’s seventh work of fiction is dedicated to Amos, a Yerkes laboratory chimpanzee. Kalechofsky has been an animal rights activist for twenty years and her anti-vivisection stance is brilliantly articulated in this collection of twelve stories. Some of the stories are grim, as is“Meditation on an Animal,” which describes a primate who self-mutilates in protest against her painful experiments.

A few of the stories are funny as is “Mary, Mary,” inspired by the semen bank of Nobel prize winners. Clara H (her name remains anonymous to protect the guilty) has a high I.Q., and accepts artificial insemination to protect her I.Q. lineage, but succumbs to ordinary female angst at motherhood and anger at men. In “Lady Death,” a “retired” ballerina conceives of a way to have art—and technology--make death seductive. Bodily pain, medical technology and death, wittily conceived or with the pathos of the lyrical “Myra is Dying” are the prevalent themes.

Some stories are based on true events, as is “My Poor Prisoner,” the story of the Berlin cabaret poet of the 1930’s, Eric Muhsam, and his imprisonment in Oranienberg in 1934, where the Nazis tortured a chimpanzee in order to drive Muhsam to suicide. Or the story set in Ravensbruck, the women’s concentration camp in the Nazi regime, where women of all backgrounds were sent: Jews, Communists, women who had been in the French underground, prostitutes, women who had committed “race defilement” by involvement with a Jew. Ms. Kalechofsky’s fictional genius creates Magda, the beautiful Aryan, Fonya, the dark-souled Jewish Communist, Katerina, the “Russian ice princess,” and Resi, the defiant prostitute, who are thrown together by their selection for the hypothermia experiments, and by the fate of a modernity shaped by technology, a fate which pervades these stories.

The pain clinic Kalechofsky’s modern Job enters is modernity, its artificial atmosphere, and its omnipresent concern with disease and health. This modern Job suffers from an undiagnosable back problem and spends his days in a perpetual round of massages, jacuzzi treatments, acupuncture, and pursuing a pill to eliminate pain. This is Job’s grand subject---as in the Bible and today. He runs a website, , which gets thouands of hits a week from similar sufferers. The story, as Cynthia Ozick remarked, is Kafkaesque, a witty “nightmare vision.” Job’s wife is “Everywoman” married to an irascible sufferer.

Please send your review to Micah Publications, 255 Humphrey St.,
Marblehead, MA 01945, or email it to Thank you.

Micah Publications, Inc.
Ph: 781-631-7601Fax: 781-639-0772
Roberta Kalechofsky, Ph.D. has been a vegetarian and an animal rights activist for more than twenty years. In 1985, she founded Jews for Animal Rights and has written and published many articles and books on the subject of Judaism, vegetarianism, and concern for animals. Some of her articles have been published in anthologies, such as "Religious Vegetarianism: From Hesiod to the Dalai Lama," and the forthcoming "A Community of Spirits," edited by Kimberly Patton and Paul Waldau. Her books include Vegetarian Judaism, The Jewish Vegetarian Year Cookbook, and two haggadot for a vegetarian seder, among others.

10. Article from Yosef Hakohen on Nature Teachings Related to the Days leading Up to Tisha B’Av

We have entered the period known as "The Nine Days of Av" which conclude with the Fast of Tisha B'Av - The Fast of the Ninth of Av. The fast begins this Saturday night.

This is a season when we remember that we are all in "exile" - individually and collectively. And due to human greed and arrogance, even the earth and its creatures are in exile. We will therefore review some uplifting teachings from our series which relate to this state of universal exile. When we meditate on ideas which we are already familiar with, we can gain new and deeper insights. And these insights can help us to find our way home:

1. According to the ancient classic, Perek Shirah, the following verse expresses the song of the trees: "Then all the trees of the forest will sing with joy before the Compassionate One - for He will have come to judge the earth' (I Chronicles 16:33)."

ArtScroll Commentary: "Where there has been disarray, a judge must restore order and replace chaos with justice. When the world is in turmoil, and justice is perverted, even the trees of the wild suffer, for the earth's resources are abused and depleted. When the rule of the Ultimate Judge is acknowledged and accepted, even the trees will express their joy by waving their branches ecstatically, because the health of nature will be restored."

The earth and its creatures will no longer be in exile, for the earth will be like the Garden of Eden.

2. According to Perek Shirah, the following verse expresses the song of the birds:

"Even the bird finds its home and the free bird her nest where she had her young; O to be at Your altars, O Compassionate One, Master of the hosts of creation, my Sovereign and my God." (Psalm 84:4)

The Song of the Bird begins by describing how the bird returns to its nest, and it then expresses our yearning to return to our "nest" by the altars of the Compassionate One.

On one level, the yearning for our "nest" can be understood as the yearning of each soul for its spiritual home. As Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes in his commentary on this verse: "Each soul builds its own 'nest,' as it were, in the House of the Lord. In the House of God there is assigned to each individual his own special task of purification, devotion, and upward striving in accordance with the particular nature of his personality." The Song of the Bird therefore expresses the yearning of each soul for its "nest" - its specific place and purpose within the House of God.

On another level, the yearning for our "nest" can be understood as the yearning for our unifying and elevating Temple in Jerusalem. The Song of the Bird therefore expresses our people's yearning to return to the altars of the Temple, where we can sing our own song of praise to the Compassionate One. In this spirit, we sing the following words at the Shabbos table: "May the Temple be rebuilt, the City of Zion replenished; there we shall sing a new song, with joyous singing ascend" (Tzur Mi-Shelo).

According to the Midrash cited by Rashi, the "bird" is the Community of Israel that will find its "nest" when the Temple will be rebuilt. In fact, the bird which represents our people is the dove, and this bird is especially known for its loyalty to its nest; thus, when we begin to leave the lands of our exile and return to our "nest" in Zion, the peoples will say, "Who are these that fly like a cloud, like doves to their cotes?" (Isaiah 60:8)

3. The yearning of the bird for its nest can also be understood as the yearning of humanity for its spiritual nest. For the Temple is to serve as the spiritual nest for all humankind, as it is written, "The mountain of the Temple of the Compassionate One will be firmly established as the head of the mountains, and it will be exalted above the hills, and all the nations will stream to it" (Isaiah 2:1). This universal vision appears again in the words of the following Divine promise which we chant on each fast day, including the afternoon of Tisha B'Av:

"I will bring them to My sacred mountain, and I will gladden them in My house of prayer; their elevation-offerings and their feast-offerings will find favor on My Altar, for My House will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples." (Isaiah 56:7)

It is written, "Like a bird wandering from its nest, so is a person wandering from his place" (Proverbs 27:8). In a certain sense, all human beings are "wandering birds" that will one day return to their spiritual home - their "nest" in Zion. In the concluding words of the Shabbos song, "Kah Ribon," this home is described as, "the Holy of Holies, the place where spirits and souls will rejoice!"

It is also written, "It shall come to pass that at every new Moon and on every Shabbos all humankind will come to bow before Me, says the Compassionate One" (Isaiah 66:23). The Midrash Yalkut Shimoni (503) comments:

"How is it possible that all humankind will come to Jerusalem every Shabbos and every New Month? (How can Jerusalem contain so many pilgrims?) Rabbi Levi says that in the future the entire Land of Israel will be like Jerusalem; moreover, the entire world will be like the Land of Israel. And how can they come on the New Moon and on Shabbos from the ends of the world? The clouds will come and carry them, bringing them to Jerusalem, and they will pray there in the morning. And this is as the Prophet praises them: 'Who are these that fly like a cloud, like doves to their cotes?' (Isaiah 60:8)."

As the above Midrash explains, all humankind will "fly like a cloud" to Jerusalem, and this poetic prophecy may be referring to air travel. In addition, the pilgrimage of all humankind to the Temple in Jerusalem is described as a journey of "doves to their cotes."

4. The Song of the Bird has another translation: "Even the bird finds its home and the free bird her nest where she had her young at Your altars, O Compassionate One..." This translation implies that the birds themselves are attracted to the sacred mountain of the Temple. In this spirit, Rabbi Slifkin writes in "Natures' Song":

"Visitors to the Kosel Ha-Maaravi, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, will notice the profusion of birds that inhabit it. Sparrows, swifts and doves all build their homes in this holiest of places, and their cries are heard incessantly. It is explained that birds have a sixth sense for sanctity." Rabbi Slifkin suggests that this spiritual sensitivity may be a reason why birds are represented in disproportionately large numbers in Perek Shirah.

With the help of Hashem, as our series develops, we will continue to discuss what we can learn from other creatures. In addition, we hope to discuss the Divine mandate to preserve each species of life, holy and unholy ways of relating to animals, the Divine prohibition against cruelty to animals, various mitzvos which teach us to be concerned about the welfare of all living things, and other related issues.

For further study, visit the archive (lower section) which appears on our website.


Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

11. Jewish Animal Rights Activist Credits Jewish Teachings for His Involvement/My Letter

Beliefs lead to activism: Utah native's protests for PETA has roots in his Jewish faith

By Susan Whitney,1228,165,00.html
Deseret Morning News

The last time Benjamin Goldsmith ate chicken was during his junior year at Salt Lake's West High School. He lunched on McDonald's McNuggets, and that afternoon he talked with a friend who is vegan.

Ben Goldsmith, a West High School graduate, works for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and protests in front of a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet.

Goldsmith questioned his friend. He listened and questioned some more. Then his friend showed him a video, "Meet Your Meat." After that day Goldsmith never ate meat - of any kind - again.

Goldsmith graduated from West in 2000 and left Utah for college. These days he lives in Virginia and works for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

As part of his job, he travels the country staging protests against big corporations. Goldsmith targets fast food outlets that, according to PETA, contribute to the inhumane treatment of animals. Having made progress with McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King, several years ago, PETA's current target is Kentucky Fried Chicken. The bulls-eye this Wednesday will be the KFC on south State Street in Salt Lake where Goldsmith and some fellow activists will spend the noon hour telling and showing the lunch crowd that the growing and processing of poultry in the United States doesn't come close to being humane - let alone just letting a chicken be a chicken before it becomes food. Goldsmith says he became a social activist not only because both his parents are social activists, but also because they raised him in the Jewish faith.

If you knew Ben as a boy, his parents say, you would not be at all surprised to see him on State Street this week. "Ben was always very earnest and committed," says his mother, Janet Wolf. "He has always been a lover of things lesser and smaller . . . always loved animals." When her son became a vegan, she knew it was not a passing phase. Goldsmith's father, Stephen, says, "Ben is nothing if not intense." He's passionate, yet logical, and "I learned as a parent to pay attention to that."

His religious upbringing taught him to respect others and to have integrity, he says. He doesn't see his social activism as a replacement for his faith, but rather as an extension of it. "Jewish law is very firm on the humane treatment of animals." Especially at Passover, he says, he feels the connection between his religion and his career. In his family there were many conversations about God and morality and the right way to live. He talked not only with his parents but with his Goldsmith grandparents. His other grandparents, the Wolfs, lived in Chicago and died when he was too young to really know them. Yet they had an effect on him, surely, his mother says. It is hard not to be effected by grandparents who survived the Holocaust.

His cause has changed the way both his parents live, they say. They've gradually come to avoid most meat. They don't eat chicken, at all. (His mother does call herself a "flexitarian" who will eat fish, and his father will still, on occasion, do a little catch-and-release fishing. But the elder Goldsmith adds that he fishes far less often than he used to, and with far more reverence.)

The Deseret Morning News spoke to Goldsmith by phone last week as he drove from a KFC protest in Bend, Ore., to a KFC protest in Eugene. The day before he was in Oregon, he had been in Logan picketing at yet another KFC.

Goldsmith says, "We will continue to put pressure on folks who stand to drastically improve the lives of animals." His father says Ben works without anger, without hostility, but that his work comes from his spirituality.

The elder Goldsmith says his son is trying to live the concept of "tikkun olam." Early rabbis used the phrase to express the hope of repairing the world through the coming of the kingdom of God. The phrase is also found in Ecclesiastes, where it refers to "setting in order." (Ecclesiastes 7:13 says, "Consider the work of God; who can make straight what he has made crooked?")

Modern Jews use the phrase to mean we all have a duty to engage in social activism, Stephen Goldsmith says. "We may not be able to complete the work, but we are obligated to try." His son is not going to save every chicken, but he knows he must continue to drive around the country and stand in the sun and hold up a sign.

Goldsmith tells people they don't need to eat animals to be happy. "Vegans and vegetarians are significantly healthier." Heart disease and stroke and so many other ailments are linked to a diet of animal products, he says, to anyone who will listen.

Still, he realizes others have the right to disagree. If you try to pin him down on the minimum it would take to make him happy, he says he would be happy if people who eat meat took a good look at where their food comes from and buy from companies that are the most humane. He'd like it if KFC did something to stop the worst abuses.

Also, he would like to see all chickens die by being given argon gas. With gas, they don't struggle to breathe, Goldman says. They just go to sleep.

In response to a telephone call, KFC spokesperson Diane Bloem, e-mailed the Deseret Morning News this statement: KFC and its suppliers, who also service top supermarket chains and other companies in the quick service industry, are committed to the humane treatment of chickens. In the past, KFC spokespeople have said they don't own any processing plants and they buy their chicken from the same processors that the big grocery chains use. PETA members countered by saying that if KFC put pressure on the processors, chickens' lives would improve. The new KFC statement seems to imply that KFC is more willing to be linked with the suppliers' practises (although the company did not respond when the paper asked that question).

August 9, 2005

Editor, Desert News

Dear Editor:

As president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), I was very pleased to see your article, "Beliefs lead to activism: Utah native's protests for PETA has roots in his Jewish faith." Benjamin Goldsmith's promotion of vegetarianism and animal rights based on Jewish values is not surprising, because of the inconsistencies of animal-based diets and agriculture with basic Jewish (and other religions') teachings to treat animals with compassion, preserve human health, preserve the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people. People interested in connections between Judaism and vegetarianism can find much information at the JVNA web site (JewishVeg,com). I hope that many people will act on that information, for the sake of our health, and that of our precious but imperiled planet.

Very truly yours,
Richard H. Schwartz

12. Potato Farmers Rejoice at Atkins’ Bankruptcy

Associated Press article:

Spud farmers 'jumping up and down in their fields' after Atkins filing
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, August 06, 2005

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- After being vilified as culprits behind rising obesity in America, potato farmers from Paul to Pocatello felt vindicated this week after learning that a company that led the low-carb diet craze has sought bankruptcy protection.

On Monday, Atkins Nutritionals Inc., started by the late nutrition guru Dr. Robert C. Atkins to promote a low-carb lifestyle, said it had filed for Chapter 11 reorganization, with $300 million in debt.

"As the word gets out to our growers, they're jumping up and down in their fields," said Frank Muir, president of the Idaho Potato Commission, a state agency that promotes the industry across the globe. "This has been a major challenge, and they've fought it."

Muir is among representatives of Idaho's largest agricultural crop, worth $2 billion annually to the state economy, who for the last three years had sounded alarms that high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets such as Atkins were cutting into profits by getting consumers to say "No" to carbohydrate-rich french fries, potato chips and hash browns.

He blamed the Atkins diet -- and others like it -- for cutting U.S. potato consumption by about 5 percent since 2002.

As a result, the commission has been forced to spend more than $5 million in two years on advertising, including hiring a TV fitness personality, Denise Austen, to appear in commercials in 31 U.S. markets.

It tried to remind consumers of the tuber's benefits: A seven-ounce potato has just 240 calories and, the commission declared, is part of a balanced diet.

Muir said the counteroffensive is working: potato deliveries from Idaho -- the state is responsible for about a third of the total U.S. potato crop -- are due to rise by 1 percent this year, or 500,000 50-pound bags.

The diet promoted by Atkins became one of the most popular in U.S. history, prompting companies including Kraft Foods and Heinz to introduce everything from low-carb Oreo cookies to low-carb ketchup.

It also drew criticism from nutritionists for focusing on fatty foods such as bacon and for slashing fruit and vegetable consumption.

"The most effective method of healthy lifelong weight management includes an eating plan based on complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, moderate in protein and relatively low in fat," according to the American Dietetic Association's Web site.

The Atkins Nutritionals filing comes at a time when the percentage of adults who remain on low-carb diets has dwindled from a peak of 9.1 percent in February 2004 to just 2 percent, according to market researcher NPD Group.

"There probably wasn't a great deal of remorse in the (potato) industry," Fred Zerza, a spokesman for Boise-based Simplot Corp., said of the bankruptcy filing. SNIP

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