August 31, 2005

8/30/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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


1. I Am Invited to Join the Green Zionist Alliance Slate of Candidates to the World Zionist Congress.

2. Are Animal-based Diets the Major Contributor to Global Warming?

3. JVNA Coordinator Noam Mohr to Speak at Earthsave Event on the Impacts of Animal-based Diets on Global Warming

4. Was Global Warming a Major Factor Behind "Katrina"

5. Effort to Ban Kosher Slaughter in Belgium

6. Article on Treatment of Animals in the U.S. and Elsewhere

7. Tuna Sales Plummeting Due to Mercury Concerns

8. Toward a JVNA Slogan

9. Another Letter in Yosef Hakohen’s Series on Jewish Teachings About Animals

10. What We Are Learning About Animals’ Behavior

11. Seeking Participants for a Survey on Health Effects of Primarily Raw Food Diets

12. Outreach for Jewish Vegetarianism at the Atlanta Jewish Fair/A Model for Future Efforts

14. Update on Animals Rescued From Evacuated Israeli Settlements

15. Emergency Relief Fund for Animals Stranded and Injured by Katrina

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.




I have had a wonderful time sharing simchas and other events with my older daughter and her family the past few weeks. However, because of this I have fallen a bit behind on the JVNA newsletter. So, if I haven’t responded as soon as I would have liked to or if some recent item did not get included in this newsletter, I hope that you understand. Some items that are not time dependent have been deferred to the next JVNA newsletter. As always, comments, suggestions and items of interest are always welcome. Many thanks.

1. I Am Invited to Join the Green Zionist Alliance Slate of Candidates to the World Zionist Congress.

Below is part of a letter inviting me to join the Green Zionist Alliance Slate of candidates to the World Zionist Congress. I plan to accept. More details in a later message, including how you can vote in the upcoming election and help improve Israel’s environment.

August 24, 2005

Dear Dr. Schwartz:

We are proud to forward an invitation from the Executive of The Green Zionist Alliance for you to join our Slate of candidates to the World Zionist Congress.

Joining our Slate gives you the opportunity to represent The Green Zionist Alliance as a delegate to the 35th World Zionist Congress, June 19-22, 2006, in Jerusalem.

The first environmental slate to win a seat in the 108-year history of the World Zionist Congress, The Green Zionist Alliance ( is working hard to strengthen awareness of the importance of environmental issues in Judaism, Israel, and the Middle East.

We have chosen you in deference to your position in the community to create awareness, your professional affiliations, and your enthusiasm for Jewish communal initiatives.

As we approach the Zionist Congress parliamentary-style election, the votes we receive directly translates into the number of our delegates invited to join us next summer in Jerusalem.


We would be honored for you to join this extraordinary opportunity to help shape the land of Israel.


Hal D. Klopper Rabbi Michael M.Cohen
Executive Director Co-Founder

2. Are Animal-based Diets the Major Contributor to Global Warming?

The following is a summary of a very important report written for EarthSave by JVNA Coordinator Noam Mohr:

EarthSave Report: A New Global Warming Strategy:
How Environmentalists are Overlooking Vegetarianism as the Most Effective Tool Against Climate Change in Our Lifetimes by Noam Mohr

The complete report, including endnotes can be found at:


Global warming poses one of the most serious threats to the global environment ever faced in human history. Yet by focusing entirely on carbon dioxide emissions, major environmental organizations have failed to account for published data showing that other gases are the main culprits behind the global warming we see today. As a result, they are neglecting what might be the most effective strategy for reducing global warming in our lifetimes: advocating a vegetarian diet.

Global Warming and Carbon Dioxide

The environmental community rightly recognizes global warming as one of the gravest threats to the planet. Global temperatures are already higher than they’ve ever been in at least the past millennium, and the increase is accelerating even faster than scientists had predicted. The expected consequences include coastal flooding, increases in extreme weather, spreading disease, and mass extinctions.

Unfortunately, the environmental community has focused its efforts almost exclusively on abating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Domestic legislative efforts concentrate on raising fuel economy standards, capping CO2 emissions from power plants, and investing in alternative energy sources. Recommendations to consumers also focus on CO2: buy fuel-efficient cars and appliances, and minimize their use.

This is a serious miscalculation. Data published by Dr. James Hansen and others show that CO2 emissions are not the main cause of observed atmospheric warming. Though this may sound like the work of global warming skeptics, it isn’t: Hansen is Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies who has been called “a grandfather of the global warming theory.” He is a longtime supporter of action against global warming, cited by Al Gore and often quoted by environmental organizations, who has argued against skeptics for subverting the scientific process. His results are generally accepted by global warming experts, including bigwigs like Dr. James McCarthy, co-chair of the International Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group II.

The focus solely on CO2 is fueled in part by misconceptions. It’s true that human activity produces vastly more CO2 than all other greenhouse gases put together. However, this does not mean it is responsible for most of the earth’s warming. Many other greenhouse gases trap heat far more powerfully than CO2, some of them tens of thousands of times more powerfully. When taking into account various gases’ global warming potential—defined as the amount of actual warming a gas will produce over the next one hundred years—it turns out that gases other than CO2 make up most of the global warming problem.

Even this overstates the effect of CO2, because the primary sources of these emissions—cars and power plants—also produce aerosols. Aerosols actually have a cooling effect on global temperatures, and the magnitude of this cooling approximately cancels out the warming effect of CO2. The surprising result is that sources of CO2 emissions are having roughly zero effect on global temperatures in the near-term!

This result is not widely known in the environmental community, due to a fear that polluting industries will use it to excuse their greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the Union of Concerned Scientists had the data reviewed by other climate experts, who affirmed Hansen’s conclusions. However, the organization also cited climate contrarians’ misuse of the data to argue against curbs in CO2. This contrarian spin cannot be justified.

While CO2 may have little influence in the near-term, reductions remains critical for containing climate change in the long run. Aerosols are short-lived, settling out of the air after a few months, while CO2 continues to heat the atmosphere for decades to centuries. Moreover, we cannot assume that aerosol emissions will keep pace with increases in CO2 emissions. If we fail [to] start dealing with CO2 today, it will be too late down the road when the emissions catch up with us.

[Editor’s note: It should be mentioned that animal-based agriculture uses far more carbon dioxide than plant-based diets, because of electricity necessary for the additional pumping of irrigation water and the production of the additional fertilizer and pesticides used to produce grain to feed animals.]

Nevertheless, the fact remains that sources of non-CO2 greenhouse gases are responsible for virtually all the global warming we’re seeing, and all the global warming we are going to see for the next fifty years. If we wish to curb global warming over the coming half century, we must look at strategies to address non-CO2 emissions. The strategy with the most impact is vegetarianism.

Methane and Vegetarianism

By far the most important non-CO2 greenhouse gas is methane, and the number one source of methane worldwide is animal agriculture.

Methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gases put together. Methane is 21 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2. While atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have risen by about 31% since pre-industrial times, methane concentrations have more than doubled. Whereas human sources of CO2 amount to just 3% of natural emissions, human sources produce one and a half times as much methane as all natural sources. In fact, the effect of our methane emissions may be compounded as methane-induced warming in turn stimulates microbial decay of organic matter in wetlands—the primary natural source of methane.

With methane emissions causing nearly half of the planet’s human-induced warming, methane reduction must be a priority. Methane is produced by a number of sources, including coal mining and landfills—but the number one source worldwide is animal agriculture. Animal agriculture produces more than 100 million tons of methane a year. And this source is on the rise: global meat consumption has increased fivefold in the past fifty years, and shows little sign of abating. About 85% of this methane is produced in the digestive processes of livestock, and while a single cow releases a relatively small amount of methane, the collective effect on the environment of the hundreds of millions of livestock animals worldwide is enormous. An additional 15% of animal agricultural methane emissions are released from the massive “lagoons” used to store untreated farm animal waste, and already a target of environmentalists’ for their role as the number one source of water pollution in the U.S.

The conclusion is simple: arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products. Simply by going vegetarian (or, strictly speaking, vegan), , , we can eliminate one of the major sources of emissions of methane, the greenhouse gas responsible for almost half of the global warming impacting the planet today.

Advantages of Vegetarianism over CO2 Reduction

In addition to having the advantage of immediately reducing global warming, a shift away from methane-emitting food sources is much easier than cutting carbon dioxide.

First, there is no limit to reductions in this source of greenhouse gas that can be achieved through vegetarian diet. In principle, even 100% reduction could be achieved with little negative impact. In contrast, similar cuts in carbon dioxide are impossible without devastating effects on the economy. Even the most ambitious carbon dioxide reduction strategies fall short of cutting emissions by half.

Second, shifts in diet lower greenhouse gas emissions much more quickly than shifts away from the fossil fuel burning technologies that emit carbon dioxide. The turnover rate for most ruminant farm animals is one or two years, so that decreases in meat consumption would result in almost immediate drops in methane emissions. The turnover rate for cars and power plants, on the other hand, can be decades. Even if cheap, zero-emission fuel sources were available today, they would take many years to build and slowly replace the massive infrastructure our economy depends upon today.

Similarly, unlike carbon dioxide which can remain in the air for more than a century, methane cycles out of the atmosphere in just eight years, so that lower methane emissions quickly translate to cooling of the earth.

Third, efforts to cut carbon dioxide involve fighting powerful and wealthy business interests like the auto and oil industries. Environmental groups have been lobbying for years to make fuel-efficient SUVs available or phase out power plants that don’t meet modern environmental standards without success. At the same time, vegetarian foods are readily available, and cuts in agricultural methane emissions are achievable at every meal.

Also, polls show that concern about global warming is widespread, and environmental activists often feel helpless to do anything about it. Unless they happen to be buying a car or major appliance, most people wanting to make a difference are given little to do aside from writing their legislators and turning off their lights. Reducing or eliminating meat consumption is something concerned citizens can do every day to help the planet.

Finally, it is worth noting that reductions in this source of greenhouse gas have many beneficial side effects for the environment. Less methane results in less tropospheric ozone, a pollutant damaging to human health and agriculture. Moreover, the same factory farms responsible for these methane emissions also use up most of the country’s water supply, and denude most of its wilderness for rangeland and growing feed. Creating rangeland to feed western nations’ growing appetite for meat has been a major source of deforestation and desertification in third world countries. Factory farm waste lagoons are a leading source of water pollution in the U.S. Indeed, because of animal agriculture’s high demand for fossil fuels, the average American diet is far more CO2-polluting than a plant-based one.


* Organizations should consider making advocating vegetarianism a major part of their global warming campaigns. At a minimum, environmental advocates should mention vegetarianism in any information about actions individuals can take to address global warming.

* Government policy should encourage vegetarian diets. Possible mechanisms include an environmental tax on meat similar to one already recommended on gasoline, a shift in farm subsidies to encourage plant agriculture over animal agriculture, or an increased emphasis on vegetarian foods in government-run programs like the school lunch program or food stamps.

Noam Mohr is scheduled to speak about this report at the “Zen Palate” in Union Square in NYC on Wednsday, September 14, 2005 (7-10 PM, including a vegan mail).

3. JVNA Coordinator Noam Mohr to Speak at Earthsave Event on the Impacts of Animal-based Diets on Global Warming

Forwarded message:

EarthSave NYC presents:
The Dinner/Lecture Series with Noam Mohr
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
7pm -10pm
Zen Palate Union Square

"Vegetarianism -- the most Effective Strategy Against Global Warming in Our Lifetimes."

EarthSave NYC is proud to present Noam Mohr who will be speaking on "Vegetarianism, the most Effective Strategy Against Global Warming in Our Lifetimes."

After getting degrees in physics from Yale and Penn, Noam Mohr worked on global warming campaigns for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, for which he published several reports on climate change and fuel economy standards. He has also served as state legislative specialist for the Humane Society of the United States; He currently works on farmed animal issues for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Additionally, he serves as Coordinator for Jewish Vegetarians of North America.

The Dinner/Lecture will take place at Zen Palate Restaurant in Union Square. Price includes an all vegan buffet.

Call: 212.696.7986

Zen Palate Resaurant
34 East Union Square
New York, NY 10003

[As indicated in the introduction of each issue of the JVNA newsletter, please contact the group or restaurant for further information re kashrut (kosher certification) and other concerns that you may have.]

4. Was Global Warming a Major Factor Behind “Katrina”

Katrina's Real Name
By Ross Gelbspan
August 30, 2005, Boston Globe

The hurricane that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming.

When the year began with a two-foot snowfall in Los Angeles, the cause was global warming.

When 124-mile-an-hour winds shut down nuclear plants in Scandinavia and cut power to hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland and the United Kingdom, the driver was global warming.

When a severe drought in the Midwest dropped water levels in the Missouri River to their lowest on record earlier this summer, the reason was global warming.

In July, when the worst drought on record triggered wildfires in Spain and Portugal and left water levels in France at their lowest in 30 years, the explanation was global warming.

When a lethal heat wave in Arizona kept temperatures above 110 degrees and killed more than 20 people in one week, the culprit was global warming.

And when the Indian city of Bombay (Mumbai) received 37 inches of rain in one day -- killing 1,000 people and disrupting the lives of 20 million others -- the villain was global warming.

As the atmosphere warms, it generates longer droughts, more-intense downpours, more-frequent heat waves, and more-severe storms.

Although Katrina began as a relatively small hurricane that glanced off south Florida, it was supercharged with extraordinary intensity by the relatively blistering sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.

The consequences are as heartbreaking as they are terrifying.

Unfortunately, very few people in America know the real name of Hurricane Katrina because the coal and oil industries have spent millions of dollars to keep the public in doubt about the issue.

The reason is simple: To allow the climate to stabilize requires humanity to cut its use of coal and oil by 70 percent. That, of course, threatens the survival of one of the largest commercial enterprises in history.

In 1995, public utility hearings in Minnesota found that the coal industry had paid more than $1 million to four scientists who were public dissenters on global warming. And ExxonMobil has spent more than $13 million since 1998 on an anti-global warming public relations and lobbying campaign.

In 2000, big oil and big coal scored their biggest electoral victory yet when President George W. Bush was elected president -- and subsequently took suggestions from the industry for his climate and energy policies.

As the pace of climate change accelerates, many researchers fear we have already entered a period of irreversible runaway climate change.

Against this background, the ignorance of the American public about global warming stands out as an indictment of the US media.

When the US press has bothered to cover the subject of global warming, it has focused almost exclusively on its political and diplomatic aspects and not on what the warming is doing to our agriculture, water supplies, plant and animal life, public health, and weather.

For years, the fossil fuel industry has lobbied the media to accord the same weight to a handful of global warming skeptics that it accords the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries reporting to the United Nations.

Today, with the science having become even more robust -- and the impacts as visible as the megastorm that covered much of the Gulf of Mexico -- the press bears a share of the guilt for our self-induced destruction with the oil and coal industries.

As a Bostonian, I am afraid that the coming winter will -- like last winter -- be unusually short and devastatingly severe. At the beginning of 2005, a deadly ice storm knocked out power to thousands of people in New England and dropped a record-setting 42.2 inches of snow on Boston.

The conventional name of the month was January. Its real name is global warming.

Ross Gelbspan is author of ''The Heat Is On" and ''Boiling Point."

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.

5. Effort to Ban Kosher Slaughter in Belgium

Thanks to JVNA advisor and agricultural expert Prof. Joe Regenstein for forwarding the articles below to us. He has informed me that it is primarily an issue for Muslims in Belgium. However, JVNA has consistently opposed efforts that would end Jewish ritual slaughter (shechita), while continuing other types of slaughter. If later developments make it look like it would be beneficial to adapt a previous JVNA press release re shechita and to send it to the Jewish media, I would check with the JVNA advisory committee re doing so.

Belgian community representatives address proposed ban on kosher slaughter
By: Gidon Van Emden

BRUSSELS, Aug. 21 (JTA) — As a small group of voters in this country of 10 million people, Belgium’s 30,000 Jews generally keep a low profile.

But the community recently sent representatives to Senate hearings on a
proposed law affecting shechitah, the traditional Jewish method of killing
animals for meat consumption.

Shechitah has been legal in Belgium since 1808, when Napoleon granted
Judaism the status of an official religion. However, because of the size
of the Jewish population in Belgium, not many animals are killed according
to shechitah: Of a total of 549,000 cattle killed in Belgium in 2004, just
382 were killed by kosher slaughterers.

The law under discussion doesn’t single out the Jewish practice — it also
targets dhabiha, the Muslim method of slaughter — but the legislation
clearly is aimed at reining in religious slaughtering.

Belgium’s chief rabbi, Albert Guigui, one of two experts representing
Belgian Jewry at the hearings, said the proposed law “stigmatizes meat
that was killed for Jews and Muslims.”

The second representative, Pinchas Kornfeld, a community leader from
Antwerp, claimed that the law “mainly tried to attack the Muslims, but the Jews will also feel the effects of it.”

The law was proposed nearly a year ago by Jean-Marie Dedecker, a senator from the Flemish Liberals and Democrats, a center-right political party. The legislation is a private initiative, however, as Dedecker’s party
refuses to support it.

Dedecker’s main support has come from an unexpected corner: the Vlaams Belang, a far-right Flemish political party that some accuse of racism.

The law was created after Global Action in the Interest of Animals, a
local animal-rights group, brought the issue of ritual slaughter to
Dedecker’s attention.

The legislation urges the government to crack down on animal slaughter
outside of government-inspected abattoirs. Illegal killings occur yearly
around Id al-Adha, a Muslim festival that traditionally involves the
slaughtering of a sheep for each family.

As many as 22,000 animals are slaughtered illegally for the festival each year, and Dedecker said he wants to pass the law before next January’s festival.

Kornfeld said the Jewish community has no problem with restricting slaughter to legal abbatoirs.

“All kosher meat is slaughtered in the official abattoirs and by certified employees of the Jewish community,” he said.

But the community does take issue with other parts of the law: It proposes mandatory stunning of animals before slaughtering, and labeling all meat that was “ritually slaughtered.”

Stunning an animal before slaughter is against halachah, or Jewish law, so making stunning mandatory effectively would ban shechitah.

Philip Carmel, Brussels-based international relations director of the Conference of European Rabbis, said that according to halachah there’s no need for stunning: “The act of shechitah immediately stuns the animal. If we didn’t believe that this method stunned the animal, then we wouldn’t have this method of slaughter. We have a method of slaughter that is humane.”

Belgium is not the first country where mandatory stunning has been proposed. The United Kingdom last year explored the option of introducing such a measure. The European Commission in 1993 issued a directive that recognized religious exceptions to regulations calling for mandatory stunning.

Sweden, a European Union member since 1995, currently is the only E.U. country that doesn’t allow shechitah. Norway and Switzerland, which aren’t E.U. members, also prohibit kosher slaughter, forcing the Jewish communities there to import kosher meat.

The proposed legislation also focuses on the labeling of meat that was slaughtered according to religious tradition. Many animals killed according to the rules of shechitah do not pass additional strict inspections required for meat to be declared kosher.

Meat that does not pass these additional tests, as well as the hind quarters of slaughtered animals — which are difficult to make kosher — is sold to regular butchers. Labeling the meat as slaughtered under religious guidelines would make clear to consumers that the animal was intended for Jewish consumption.

“Labeling does not seem so bad at first glance, but in fact it stigmatizes Jewish slaughter,” Kornfeld said. “It’s like putting a yellow star on the animals. If this goes through, it’s the end of kosher slaughter in Belgium.”
(Copyright JTA. This news is available to you on a read-only basis.
Reproduction without JTA's consent is prohibited.)

Article in “Kosher Today,” a publication of the kosher food industry:

Belgium’s 30,000 Jews Face Shechita Wrath

(Brussels) Last year British Jewry was faced with the specter of a ban on religious slaughter (shechita). Thanks to a united Jewish community [which included a press release sent by the JVNA], the British government preserved the ancient rite. Several European countries outlaw shechita while the policy of the European Union is to encourage religious slaughter of animals. Now Belgium s 30,000 Jews have been testifying before Senate hearings about shechita, which has been legal in Belgium since 1808, when Napoleon granted Judaism the status of an official religion. Ironically, Jewish spokesmen say of 549,000 cattle killed in Belgium in 2004, just 382 were killed by kosher slaughterers. A new law curtailing religious slaughter would have a far greater impact on the sizeable Muslim community in the country. A major issue for rabbis dealing with the proposed new regulations is the proposed mandatory stunning, which has also become a problem for Jews in several countries. Stunning before shechita is against Jewish law. In testimony before the US Congress in the 1950 s experts testified that the use of the sharp knife is as effective as stunning as rendering the animal instantly unconscious. To Jewish leaders, the efforts to ban shechita in Belgium are just the latest battleground for the ancient rite.

6. Article on Treatment of Animals in the U.S. and Elsewhere

Forwarded Message-----
From: DawnWatch

Op-ed by Peter Singer on US animal welfare in Boston Globe 8/29/05

[While I differ with Peter Singer on some elements of his philosophy, I have included his article below because it has valuable information for people interested in the current treatment of animals in the United States.]

The Saturday, August 20, Boston Globe includes an op-ed by Peter Singer (Princeton professor and author of "Animal Liberation") that examines animal welfare laws in the United States as compared to other countries. It is available here

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone when sending a letter to the editor.

Here is the op-ed:

Un-American about animals
By Peter Singer August 20, 2005

WHAT COUNTRY has the most advanced animal protection legislation in the world? If you guessed the United States, go to the bottom of the class. The United States lags far behind all 25 nations of the European Union, and most other developed nations as well, such as Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. To gauge just how far behind the United States is, consider these three facts:

Around 10 billion farm animals are killed every year by US meat, egg, and dairy industries; the estimated number of animals killed for research every year is 20 million to 30 million, a mere 0.3 percent of that number.

In the United States, there is no federal law governing the welfare of animals on the farm. Federal law begins only at the slaughterhouse.

Most states with major animal industries have written into their anticruelty laws exemptions for ''common farming practices." If something is a common farming practice, it is, according to these states, not cruel, and you can't prosecute anyone for doing it.

Together these last two points mean that any common farming practice is legal. If you hear farm industry lobbyists trying to tell you that there is no problem in the United States because unhappy animals would not be productive, ask them how it can be good for a hen to be kept with four or five other hens in a cage so small she couldn't stretch her wings even if she had the whole cage to herself.

To measure how far ahead other countries are, we can first look at British animal protection legislation. British law makes it illegal to keep breeding sows in crates that prevent them from walking or turning around -- the way in which about four out of every five US sows are kept. In Britain, law does not allow veal calves to be denied adequate roughage and iron, as is common in the United States to help produce the gourmet veal often served in restaurants.

Nevertheless, it is not Britain but Austria that has the most advanced animal protection legislation. In May 2004, a proposed law banning the chicken ''battery cage" was put to a vote in the Austrian Parliament. It passed -- without a single member of Parliament opposing it. Austria has banned fur farming and prohibited the use of wild animals in circuses. It has also made it illegal to trade in living cats and dogs in stores and deems killing an animal for no good reason a criminal offense. Most important, every Austrian province must appoint an ''animal lawyer" who can initiate court procedures on behalf of animals.

Why are Europeans so far ahead of Americans in protecting animal welfare? I doubt that it is because Americans are more tolerant of cruelty. In 2002, when the citizens of Florida were given a chance to vote on whether sows should be confined for months without ever having room to turn around, they voted, by a clear majority, to ban sow crates. Most Americans, though, have never had the chance to cast that vote. The animal movement in the United States has not succeeded in turning animal rights into electoral issues about which voters seek their candidates' views.

As a result, the American animal movement has shifted toward targeting corporations rather than the legislatures. For example, in 2001, the organization Viva! launched a campaign accusing Whole Foods of selling inhumanely raised duck meat. Whole Foods responded by exploring the issue and setting new company-wide standards for raising ducks.

Other sets of standards will follow by 2008, Whole Foods plans to have in place a set of standards for all the species of farm animals it sells. By addressing an individual corporation, animal rights activists are hoping that other retailers will follow suit and this pressure will influence legislation changes in the United States.

Judged by the standards of other developed countries, over recent decades the United States has done little to improve the protection of the vast majority of animals. We should direct our energies to reducing the suffering of farm animals and put pressure on our corporations and our legislatures, both state and federal, to bring the United States at least up to the standards of the European Union in our treatment of animals.

Peter Singer's most recent book is ''In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave."

7. Tuna Sales Plummeting Due to Mercury Concerns

New York Times article:
Mercury has tuna sales plummeting - New York Times

[EXCERPT: Mercury is of particular concern for fetuses because scientists believe that mercury in the mother's body passes to the fetus and may accumulate there. Young children are vulnerable because mercury can have a damaging effect on developing brains. Scientists at the National Academy of Sciences have said that adults can also be at risk if mercury levels are high enough. Symptoms of mercury toxicity include kidney troubles, irritability, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, and memory problems.]

With Sales Plummeting, Tuna Strikes Back
August 19, 2005
The New York Times

FOR much of the last three decades, canned tuna fish has been America's favorite seafood and a trusted staple of children's lunches. Those days, however, are over.

As awareness has increased about the high levels of mercury in some kinds of canned tuna fish, tuna has taken on an image problem. Some consumers are shunning the product in favor of other kinds of fish or are avoiding fish altogether. Now 21 percent of consumers say they are "extremely concerned" about mercury in fish, up from 17 percent two years ago, according to the NPD Group research firm.

As a result, industry sales are sagging. Since March 2004, when the federal government issued a new advisory about seafood consumption and mercury, sales of canned tuna in the United States swung from modest growth to a steady decline. Sales are down 10 percent in the last year, causing a revenue loss of $150 million for the $1.5 billion industry, according to ACNielsen.

The joint Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency advisory was the first time canned tuna fish was mentioned in such warnings. Previously, the agencies has warned only about mercury in swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish.

Hoping to stem the decline and repair tuna's reputation, the industry is trying to arrange a government program to oversee an advertising campaign promoting the benefits of tuna. Called "Tuna - A Smart Catch," the ad campaign would not directly address the mercury issue, but instead would highlight the various health benefits of tuna fish.

In one TV ad, moms proclaim that tuna has "way less fat than beef and pork," contains no carbs and is "good for us."


Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

8. Toward a JVNA Slogan

From time to time we get a request for a suggestion for a slogan to be put on a banner for a vegetarian or animal-rights event. In response to a recent request, Rabbi Dovid Sears suggested:

“Tza’ar ba’alei chayim assur min ha-Torah,” (Causing pain to animals is forbidden by the Torah).

If you have any other suggestions, please let me know. Once we get several good ones, we will put them in a future JVNA newsletter, so that our readers can choose one to fit a specific occasion or purpose.


9. Another Letter in Yosef Hakohen’s Series on Jewish Teachings Re Animals

[Due to space considerations, we are unable to present all the letters in this valuable, interesting series. For additional letters, please go to Hazon - Our Universal Vision: ]

The Journey to Unity - 135

The Animals in Eden:

This past Shabbos, we chanted the following words:

"For the Compassionate One will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her ruins; He will make her wilderness like Eden and her wasteland like the Garden of the Compassionate One; joy and gladness will be found there, thanksgiving and the sound of music." (Isaiah 51:3).

The above passage serves as a reminder that we will once again return to the ideal state of the Garden of Eden. In this spirit, I would like to share with you the following excerpt from: "The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism" by Rabbi David Sears. This excerpt is from the chapter, "Eden and the Messianic Age," and it begins to discuss the spiritual level of the animals in the Garden of Eden:
In the second chapter of Genesis, the Torah describes the Garden of Eden, an idyllic environment in which the first man and woman, and with them all living beings, could enter into communion with God. Formed of the dust of the Earth but imbued with a Divine soul, Adam and Eve lived in this wondrous place of luxuriant trees and plants, together with all the species of animals.

The animals of Eden were neither predatory beasts of the wilderness nor the domesticated animals with which we are familiar; they were awesome beings possessed of beauty and wisdom, which, like Adam and Eve and the first ten generations of humankind, peacefully subsisted on vegetation alone. Their mode of existence was not something to be shunned or pitied, as it is today. Indeed, sea-creatures and fowl were deemed worthy of receiving the first explicit Divine blessing, given on the fifth day of creation (Genesis 1:22). The other animals were created on the sixth day, together with Adam and Eve, and they received a separate affirmation of Divine favor (ibid. 1:25).

The dignity of animals is borne out by a number of sources. The Talmud states that God conferred with the souls of all animals prior to creation, and they readily agreed to be created as such, even choosing their own physical forms.[1] This teaches us that they were deserving of God's consideration, and that they were given to understand their destiny in positive terms. Another testimony to the worthiness of animals is their connection to angels. Although angels are incorporeal spiritual beings,[2] their forms as envisioned by the prophets were often those of animals. This suggests that in their spiritual source, animals occupy an exalted rung - an inference supported by the fact that the Torah uses animals to symbolize the Twelve Tribes of Israel.[3]

Animals, too, serve their Creator. The Talmud tells how Rabbi Elazar Ben Arach caused his master Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai to share a mystical vision with him in which they heard the wondrous song of all creatures, bringing to life the words of the Psalmist: "Praise God from the Earth: sea giants and all the depths, fire and hail, snow and vapor, storm wind that fulfills His word; mountains and all heights, trees and all cedars; animals and all beasts, creeping things and winged fowl..."[4] This is the theme of the Sabbath and Festival prayer "Nishmas kol chai" ("The souls of all living things shall praise Your Name..."), as well as the Perek Shira ("Chapter of Song"), an ancient rabbinic work mentioned in the Talmud[5] and much favored by the Kabbalists.
In another section of his book (p.230), Rabbi Sears tells the following story concerning the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of the Chassidic movement:

Rabbi Yisrael of Rizhin (1797-1850) related how the Baal Shem Tov and his disciples once prayed the Afternoon Service before the Sabbath in the open fields. The flocks grazing nearby gathered together and began to bleat loudly when the Chassidim prayed.

The Rebbe of Rizhin explained that all levels of creation are incorporated within humankind. Thus, when a human being accomplishes a spiritual ascent, all of creation ascends, as well. Before Adam sinned, all sentient beings occupied such a lofty spiritual level that they all perceived Godliness. During his prayer, the Baal Shem Tov elevated and perfected his portion of creation and his aspect of Adam to such a degree that even the cattle and sheep acquired greater awareness of their Maker, and they all cried out to God along with him.

According to Rabbi Elimelech of Grodzisk (1824-1892), when the Baal Shem Tov uttered the words, "He restored the destitute from poverty, and established families like a flock" (Psalm 107:41), the sheep immediately surrounded him. According to Rabbi Aharon of Karlin (1806-1872), all the animals stood on their hind legs like human beings, and raised their front legs toward heaven in supplication.

[1] Chullin 60a, with Rashi, s.v. li'tzivyonam.
[2] Cf. Mishneh Torah, Yesodei HaTorah 2:3. The Zohar I, 101a, 144a, and III, 68b, states that the "bodies" of angels are formed of air or fire, whereas Pardes Rimonim 24:11 (51a) describes the angel as a composite of the four elements, even asserting that "an angel is like a physical body in comparison to the sublime level of the tzaddik." However, this does not mean to ascribe actual physicality to the angels. In general, the angelic realm is a spiritual analogue of physical nature, whereas human souls occupy an altogether higher rung; cf. Yerushalmi Shabbos 2:6; Tikkunei Zohar, Tikkun 70 (137a); Likkutei Moharan II, 1:1.
[3] Genesis, ch. 49.
[4] Chagigah 14b, citing Tehillim 148, acc. to Maharsha.
[5] Chullin 64b.

Hazon - Our Universal Vision:

10. What We Are Learning About Animals Behavior

Haaretz article August 25, 2005

If we could talk to the animals ...
By Tamara Traubman

After many decades during which scientists have maintained a clear boundary between animals and humans, a growing number of researchers are adopting the notion that animals have culture, a capacity for social learning and self-awareness. Some even have begun to talk about animals' "souls." [This does not contradict the Torah teaching that human beings are uniquely created in God’s image.]

On Tuesday, two leading researchers in the field, Dr. Andrew Whiten of St. Andrews University in Scotland and Dr. Frans de Waal of Emory University in Atlanta, published the results of a study, which was widely covered by the media, including Haaretz. Observations of chimpanzees revealed that chimps, like humans, follow socially acquired norms - attesting perhaps to the fact that chimpanzees possess culture.

Tamar Fredman, a researcher from the Ben Shemen Monkey Park, says that "researchers once said use of tools is what distinguishes humans from animals, but then animals were shown to use them too. Later it was said that the ability to manufacture tools was crucial, and after that cultural transmission was considered the ultimate distinction. But now we see that primates, too, have different cultures."

The evidence indicates that primates transmit cultural traditions of food processing, as well as social conventions, beyond inherited characteristics transmitted through their genes, she says.

Fredman says the new findings have more than merely theoretical significance, and carry implications regarding the moral justification and legality of conducting experiments on animals, and on primates in particular. They also impact the problem of granting to animals the right to life and freedom, as well as freedom from torture.

Fredman's doctoral thesis, under Dr. Whiten's supervision, concerns the capacity for social and cultural learning in capuchin monkeys. She is investigating what capuchins are capable of learning from one another, and if they are capable of learning better methods of procuring food.

Fredman taught one monkey a more efficient way of opening food containers, which improved its means of acquiring food. The monkey was relocated to a community that was not familiar with the technique, where it began to show the other capuchins the new trick. Fredman is observing to see whether the other monkeys will understand that the new method is better and adopt it, or whether they will stick to their traditional technique.

Nadav Levy, a zoologist and author of a book (in Hebrew) entitled "Ethics, Emotions and Animals," which he wrote together with his father Prof. Ze'ev Levy, says that animals have a much broader range of feelings and experience than we imagine. His numerous anecdotes includes stories of animals who befriended, protected or adopted animals of a different species.

Sometimes, Levy says, humans are able to understand what animals are telling them. The Amazonian Maku tribe, he says, recognize four kinds of barks that their hunting dogs produce. Each bark represents a different mammal, and indicates whether it is prey to be chased, or a danger to escape from. The various barks signal a peccary, a small pig-like creature; an agouti, a type of rodent; a tapir and a jaguar.

Some primatologists and zoologists, Fredman says, are accepting the new insights gladly, but others remain skeptical. They ask whether the chimps' behavior is merely mimicry or indeed learning of the type found in humans. For example, Fredman says, if a chimpanzee finds a rock next to a half-crushed nut, it may understand the inference, and use the rock to break open the second half. "This is a case," Fredman says, "of trial and error."

If, however, the chimp sees another chimp breaking a walnut and repeats the action, this will be perceived as a more complex ability, involving apprehension of the causality of the action, imagining the action observed and reenacting it. Often monkeys are compared to children, or are treated as a type of underdeveloped human, instead of recognizing them as a separate branch of evolution, writes American primatologist Craig Stanford, in his book "Significant Others."

"This is what we are capable of," Fredman says. "Perhaps we are not intelligent enough to really see them. It helps us position them somehow, but I believe there are many things we are simply not wise enough to see, because animals lack the linguistic aspect that we can communicate with."

"Man," Douglas Adams wrote in "The Hitchkiker's Guide to the Galaxy", "always assumed that he was more intelligent than the dolphins, because he had achieved so much - the wheel, New York, wars and so on - while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were more intelligent than man - for precisely the same reason."

11. Seeking Participants for a Survey on Health Effects of Primarily Raw Food Diets

Forwarded message:


I am writing to you with a very important and timely request. My name is Lenka Zajic, and I am a second year Masters Student in the Vegan & Live Foods Nutrition Program at the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, AZ. This program has been developed and is being provided by Gabriel Cousens, M.D., as a foremost expert and leader in this field.

As part of my Thesis project, Dr. Cousens and I have opted to run a worldwide survey of people who have been on a living foods diet for at least 2 years. The survey is being presented in the form of a comprehensive on-line questionnaire on the experiences of these people before, during and after their transition to live foods, in various areas of physical, mental and spiritual health.



It is important we get at least 300-400 participants to complete the questionnaire in order to obtain enough data to assess any common issues among this target group as well as calculate all relevant statistics. This will hopefully benefit the entire live foods movement.

As a website dedicated to providing information and services on live foods and the live foods movement, we are sincerely asking for your support in gathering this much needed data by sending out the following “request for participation” in the LIVING EXAMPLES SURVEY to everyone on your e-mail list AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! The survey will be open on-line during the month of August and the beginning of September ONLY!

All you need to do is this:

1) Copy and Paste this Introductory E-mail (asking for participation) into a new message created by you for your e-mail clientele;
2) Send that e-mail message to everyone on your e-mail list ASAP;
3) Send a reply to me indicating that you have been generous enough to distribute this request.

If you feel NOT to send it out, I would GREATLY appreciate a reply indicating that so I can keep track of whom the e-mails have gone out to. Thank-you again for your support with this! J

Lenka J. Zajic
Clinical Assistant
Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center
Patagonia, AZ 85624
520-394-2520 x202

12. Outreach for Jewish Vegetarianism at the Atlanta Jewish Fair/A Model for Future Efforts

Forwarded message from Debra Berger who handed out Jewish vegetarian material at the Atlanta Jewish Fair last Sunday:

Hi Richard.
Sorry for the delay; busy few days.
Anyway... patrons at The Jewish Festival were very receptive to the Jewish Vegetarian info: lots of questions, and "Thank You for doing this" comments. There were not as many rabbis present as years past, but several there took the new brochure “A Case for Jewish Vegetarianism” (I had a lot, in addition to what you sent; I gave away over 60 copies!)
One woman gave me a $10 donation for your book! Should I send it to you, or can I put it towards the cost of the booth (Lew paid for that)? She wanted it for her brother, a Jewish educator.
[Please use it toward the cost of the booth.]
I gave the other copy [I sent Debra 2 copies of my book “Judaism and Vegetarianism” and several other items] to Rabbi [Hillel] Norry, our local vegetarian Rabbi [and a JVNA advisor], who was thrilled to receive it and will use it in his education/cooking classes. [I had thought that I previously sent him a copy.]
Additionally, I was able to get over 100 signatures on letters and postcards to Canada against the seal hunt and to our senators/reps to vote for animal protection laws! I have to copy and sort them, fill in some rep names, and mail them to HSUS this week.
I also received a request to teach an 8th grade class, but I have been working, so will follow up asap.
All in all, I feel that it was worth being there, and lots of people were exposed to an issue that they may not have previously given thought to!
If time and finances permit, I am hoping to table at at least one large Chanukah Bazaar...I have to think of something to SELL, as people come there to buy things!!!
Sheila Schwartz [my sisiter-in-law] came by, after your books were gone and said "you should meet my brother in law; he is an expert on this issue", not knowing that we were already in touch. Sheila's granddaughter, Rebecca, went to middle school with my daughter.I did not realize that you had Southern connections!

The table was sponsored by The Interfaith Council for the Protection of Animals & Nature.

Thanks for all of your help!!!
Debra Berger

14. Update on Animals Rescued From Evacuated Israeli Settlements
Cats rescued from West Bank

Israeli animal-rights activists rescued 250 cats from evacuated West Bank settlements. The cats were collected over the weekend at Ganim, Kadim, Sa-Nur and Homesh, northern West Bank settlements that were evacuated this month as part of Israel’s withdrawal plan. Most of the animals are believed to have been abandoned by their owners. Hundreds of lost pets also have been recovered from the Gaza Strip, another area evacuated by Israel. Animals not reunited with their owners will be put up for adoption.


Hakol Chai, the Israeli sister charity of Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI), played a major role in rescuing dogs, cats, and farm animals from Gaza. Now that the border to Gaza is about to be sealed, Hakol Chai has been asked to help on the West Bank, in two settlements still unvisited by rescuers. The large mobile clinic was assigned by the Veterinary Services to work in Gaza first, as its 30 cages and 20 humane traps plus veterinary staff were needed in this area, because it has far more settlements, and far larger settlements, than the West Bank.

Hakol Chai's clinic has now traveled everywhere within the Gush Katif region in southern Gaza, including Morag, Neve Dekalim, Shalev, Atzmona, Netzer Hazani, Gan Or, and Rafiah Yam, and also to Kfar Darom and Netzarim in the center of Gaza. It is the only veterinary clinic with an experienced vet and trained staff, in addition to volunteers, working in the territories.

Hakol Chai's work in Gaza was filmed by the Army, the footage shown on the main TV stations in Israel. Its work was also featured on the main radio station. Newspapers in Israel and abroad, print and online, also carried the story, including the BBC:

For PHOTOS of the rescue effort, see:

For STORIES of the rescue effort, see:

In addition to cats and dogs, Hakol Chai's staff and volunteers found chickens, iguanas, a cage of 40 parakeets, and in an "animal corner" for children, turkeys, geese, and other animals. Seventeen thirsty goats found without water were given water, and their location was reported to the Veterinary Services. A dog was found who had been stolen five years before, resulting in a dispute between his original guardians (identified by a microchip), and his current ones. A tiny kitten hanging on the edge of survival was saved by Hakol Chai's veterinarian.

Hakol Chai appealed to the Prime Minister's office for help in locating guardians of dogs that it found bearing microchips. The microchips give the guardian's name, but not their address. The Prime Minister's office has access to the location of individuals and agreed to help in the effort.

The Israeli government has stated that it will reimburse all the organizations who participated in the rescue for their expenses. For this purpose, a total of approximately $33,000 was provided to the Environment Ministry's fund to help animals, as Hakol Chai's attorneys had originally requested be done before the rescue effort began. Each organization will submit a list of the expenses it incurred and reimbursements will be issued against expenses.

More than 100 volunteers from the public applied to the Veterinary Services for permits to enter the territories to help, and the Army provided a second briefing for new volunteers, but only a limited number were allowed in, for security reasons. In addition to the animal organizations, Veterinary Services representatives, together with volunteers, also participated in the rescue effort.

CHAI/Hakol Chai needs funds to help with caring for and homing animals rescued, where the owners have not been found. Help is also needed to continue the vital work of the clinic once this rescue effort is over. The clinic provides low-cost spaying and neutering from one end of Israel to the other, as well as education in responsible animal care. For further information about the work of the clinic and of Hakol Chai in Israel, please visit our website at
Sign up for our e-newsletter at

CHAI is a 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax-deductible. Hakol Chai in Israel is a registered charity with the Israeli government.
Donations can be made at .

15. Emergency Relief Fund for Animals Stranded and Injured by Katrina

Humane Society of the United States
DISASTER STRIKES: HSUS Mobilizes to Save Animals

Dear Richard,

In response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina yesterday, The Humane Society of the United States has launched a massive relief effort to rescue animals and assist their caregivers in the disaster areas. Because you've been a generous supporter of HSUS, I wanted to update you on our plans and ask if you could make a small emergency contribution to support our relief work. Please click here to donate today:

Even as you read this, our highly-trained Disaster Animal Response Teams are heading to Mississippi to begin a multi-state animal rescue and recovery effort. Our 38-foot Disaster Response Unit and other rescue vehicles affiliated with our teams are fully stocked and on their way.

Our entire relief effort is funded by donations from people like you, and we desperately need your support. Please make an emergency contribution to our Disaster Relief Fund today. Your tax-deductible gift will be used exclusively for our disaster animal relief work.