September 8, 2005

9/8/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

**URGENT ACTION ALERTS on foie gras in Chicago and Massachusetts

1. Implications of New Orleans and Other Aspects of Katrina’s Devastation on Our Causes

2. Is New Orleans Only the Beginning?

3. Environmental and Vegetarian Lessons From the Shabbat Morning Service

4. Some Jewish Vegetarian Outreach Ideas Triggered by the Above Article

5. Is Global Warming Affecting the Number and Severity of Hurricanes?

6. Israel Providing Aid to Respond to Effects of Katrina

7. An Indication of Our Increasing Influence/Plus responses to Some Important Questions

8. Another Article in Yosef Hakohen’s Series Re Jewish Teachings About Animals

9. Helping Animals Lost or Injured or Threatened by Hurricane Katrina

10. Two Rabbis Translate and Adapt Ancient Tale of People and Animals

11. A Vegetarian Success Story

12. Helping Animals After the Gaza Disengagement

13. Vegetarian Group Providing Humanitarian Aid After Ketrina Hurricane

15. Update on Foie Gras in Israel

16. Interfaith Celebration of Animals

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.


**URGENT ACTION ALERTS on foie gras in Chicago and Massachusetts

Tell Chicago to Ban Foie Gras
On September 13, an ordinance to ban the sale of foie gras in Chicago proposed by alderman Joe Moore will receive a hearing before the City Council. If you live in Chicago, please contact your alderman and tell her or him to "Please vote YES on Joe Moore's proposed ordinance to ban foie gras." To find out who your legislators are and how to contact them, ask the City Council at 312-744-3081, or visit the City of Chicago website. If you can also show support by coming to the hearing, contact us for more details. Click here for more info.

Tell Massachusetts to Ban Foie Gras
A bill introduced in Massachusetts to ban the notoriously cruel "delicacy" foie gras will be heard in committee on September 12. If you live in Massachusetts, please call or write your state (not federal) legislators and ask them: "Please SUPPORT S.B. 498, which would ban foie gras." Let them know this kind of gratuitous cruelty is abhorrent and unacceptable. To find out who your legislators are and how to contact them, check or ask us. Click here for more info.

Return to Top

1. Implications of New Orleans and Other Aspects of Katrina’s Devastation on Our Causes

JVNA joins many others in expressing our deep sorrow at the horrendous results of Hurricane Katrina, in which so many people lost their lives and so many others lost their loved ones, homes, jobs, and so much more. We hope that the outpouring of aid from so many other Americans and offers of help from so many other countries, wealthy and poor, (including Israel – please see item #6 below), and the governmental aid that is currently being provided will lead to a revitalization and restoration that will lead to as much recovery as possible as soon as possible. We urge our readers to make contributions to one or more of the many relief agencies that are collecting funds specifically to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Of course, animals have also suffered greatly and are still threatened, and information about this and ways to help the animals are indicated later (item #9).

Let us hope that Katrina will serve as a wake up call to the many threats facing humanity today. Because, in a sense, the whole world today is like New Orleans, facing many great threats, and the hurricane may be a foretaste of what faces humanity, unless major changes are made.

There were many warnings about the potential hazards that New Orleans faced because of its particular geographic location and the environmental changes that made it more vulnerable. Unfortunately, these warnings were generally unheeded, and the human and economic costs of failing to take action are very great. In addition to the loss of human and animal lives, the economic costs will be many times greater than the amount of money that would have protected New Orleans from the flood that devastated it, and there are many severe environmental consequences.

In a parallel way, JVNA has joined others in indicating that major changes are necessary to avoid the many current threats to humanity, but, unfortunately, here too the warnings are generally going unheeded. These threats include global warming and its effects (rising sea levels, more frequent and more severe storms, droughts, major forest fires, severe heat waves that threaten many lives, and major floods) [Please see item #5 below about the potential connections between global warming and hurricanes.]; widening water shortages; potential famines due to the combined effects of global warming and increasing water scarcities; rapid losses of bio-diversity; destruction of tropical rain forests, coral reefs, and other valuable habitats; and much more. Animal-based diets contribute significantly to all of these threats but this is generally not known or is ignored by most people. In the face of so many societal threats, and our knowledge of the many ways that animal-based agriculture worsens environmental threats and uses massive amounts of water and other scarce resources, it seems insane to continue to raise over 50 billion animals for slaughter annually. Hence, JVNA plans to seek more effective ways to get our messages out, and your comments and suggestions are always welcome.

The analysis above is reinforced in the next item.

Return to Top

2. Is New Orleans Only the Beginning?

New Orleans: Only the Beginning?
Future Hope column, September 6, 2005
By Ted Glick

It's a good thing that people across the political spectrum, even conservatives, have been speaking up to condemn what many see as the criminal negligence of the government, particularly Bush and his FEMA and Homeland Security Agency, in response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and it's a good thing that there is a tremendous outpouring of support for those who are suffering as a result. Because the likelihood is very high that there will be more and more hurricanes, floods, droughts, people displaced and other natural disasters hitting the U.S. in the coming years.

Indeed, God forbid, it is possible that Louisiana and Mississippi could be hit by another killer hurricane sometime this fall.

The scientists' predictions of what would happen as a result of global warming are coming true. There have been many other examples over the past several years, none in this country as disastrous, but Katrina may well be the wake-up call to galvanize a popular movement around this urgent survival issue that our threatened ecosystem badly needs.

Katrina is also example number one of this fact: global warming will disproportionately hurt black, Latino and other people of color, both in the U.S. and globally.

It is people of color who live on the islands in the South Pacific which have been shrinking as the oceans rise. Some of them will go under completely within the next 5-10 years.

It is the people of Bangladesh, most likely millions, who will be forced to leave their low-lying homes as sea levels continue to rise.

It is Indigenous, African, Asian and Latin American people who have been suffering as oil, coal and natural gas companies extract fossil fuels with little or no regard for the economic, social or environmental impacts of their operations.

It is disproportionately people of color who, as we have seen in New Orleans, tend to live in the areas of cities most vulnerable to flooding. White people with privilege tend to live disproportionately in the suburbs or exurbs.

But all people will be affected. Most of the 25,000 or so people who died as a result of the heat wave in Europe in the summer of 2003 were not people of color. Most were elderly white people. For that matter, all taxpayers in the United States will see tens of billions of dollars of their tax money go to pay for the damage done to New Orleans. This might have been avoided if Bush and Congress had not cut needed funding to strengthen the system of levees prior to Katrina at the same time that they were spending hundreds of billions for … war.

The government's response to Hurricane Katrina is also having a huge political impact. I was astounded a few nights ago to watch national public television news and hear David Brooks, a George Bush supporter and apologist, sharply criticize Bush's woeful performance as regards Hurricane Katrina. Not only that; he predicted that the anger and outrage among so many over the government's negligence and incompetence could well fuel a progressive movement of historic proportions. He was joined in this assessment by liberals Tom Oliphant of the Boston Globe and Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune.


Perhaps the disaster caused by Katrina, both natural and government-made, will be another kind of beginning, the beginning of a grassroots-based, multi-cultural, anti-racist, massive, independent people's movement. One which has no use for dishonest and deceitful politicians of any party, which operates democratically and transparently, and which raises up and supports the leadership of those who have been most hurt by this system's oppressive institutions. A movement which links the issues of global warming, war, racism, class inequality, and the need for a fundamental restructuring of our economy toward sustainability and justice for all.

As I said in a poem written in 1997, "We must use our anger, our outrage, our humanity,our love, burning like a low flame, a pilot light, flaring up as necessary into a burning torch to lead others into a future, a future world, we must, we have to, claim and win."

Ted Glick is the coordinator of the Climate Crisis: USA Join the World! campaign (, although these ideas are solely his own. He can be reached at or P.O. Box 1132, Bloomfield, N.J. 07003.

Return to Top

3. Environmental and Vegetarian Lessons From the Shabbat Morning Service

[Comments/suggestions on my article below are very welcome.]

By Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

While there has been recent progress on Jewish consideration of environmental and vegetarian issues, much more needs to be done. One approach is to show how central these issues are in the Jewish tradition. This article discusses several statements in the Shabbat morning prayers that point to Judaism’s great concern about animals and the environment.

In the Baruch Sheh’amar prayer, it states that, "Blessed is the One (God) Who has compassion on the earth; blessed is the One Who has compassion on the creatures [animals and people]". Since Judaism teaches that human beings, uniquely created in God’s image, are to imitate God’s positive attributes, we should also exhibit concern and compassion toward the earth’s environment and all of God’s creatures.

God is referred to in the Shabbat services as Rachum (the merciful One) and as Av harachamim (Father of mercies). Once again, as we are to imitate God, we should be merciful. The Talmud states that Jews are to be rachmanim b’nei rachmanim (merciful children of merciful ancestors) and that one who is not compassionate cannot truly be of the seed of Abraham, our father (Bezah 32b). It also states that Heaven grants compassion to those who are compassionate to others, and withholds it from those who are not (Shabbat 151b).

In the important ashrei psalm, recited twice during the morning service, it states that God is good to all, and that His mercies are over all of His creatures. According to Rabbi Dovid Sears, in his book A Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism, this verse is "the touchstone of the rabbinic attitude toward animal welfare, appearing in a number of contexts in Torah literature.” Referring to the Talmudic teaching that we are to emulate God’s ways, he states, "Therefore, compassion for all creatures, including animals, is not only God’s business; it is a virtue that we too must emulate. Moreover, compassion must not be viewed as an isolated phenomenon, one of a number of religious duties in the Judaic conception of the Divine service. It is central to our entire approach to life."

Ashrei is followed by a number of psalms extolling God that begin and end with "Halleluyah." The final psalm in that grouping ends with, "Let all souls praise God. Halleluyah! Let all souls praise God. Halleluyah!" Perek Shira, "A Chapter of Song," a mystical hymn dating from the 5th – 7th century that even today is found in many traditional siddurs (prayer books) portrays all living creatures singing their individual songs in praise of the Creator. The universe is filled with hymns as cows, camels, horses, mules, roosters, chickens, doves, eagles, butterflies, locusts, spiders, flies, sea creatures, fish, frogs, and many more offer Biblical songs of praise to God.

This concept is reinforced by other Shabbat morning prayers. The beautiful Nishmat prayer begins with: "The soul of every living being shall bless Your name, Lord, our God; the spirit of all flesh shall always glorify and exalt Your remembrance, our King." Shortly after the Borchu call to prayer, the Hakol Yoducha prayer indicates that "All will thank You and all will praise You ... All will exalt you …" The Artscroll siddur commentator states, "Thus every facet of the universe will join in thanking and lauding God." The Keil Adon prayer that is generally sang by the chazzan and congregation together, indicates that God "is blessed by the mouth of every soul."

What about the statements in chapter 1 of Genesis that humans are given dominion over animals (Genesis 1: 28) and that only humans are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27)? The Jewish sages interpreted dominion as meaning responsible stewardship or guardianship. This is reinforced by the fact that immediately after indicating that people have dominion, we are given God’s first dietary regimen which is completely free of animal products (Genesis 1:29) and we are soon told that our role is to work the land and also to guard it (Genesis 2:15) – we are to be "shomrei adamah" (guardians of the earth).

There is a very powerful environmental lesson in the second paragraph of the Sh’ma, one of Judaism’s most important prayers:

And it will come to pass that if you continually hearken to My commandments that I command you this day, to love Hashem, your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul – then I will provide rain for your land in its proper time, the early rains and the later rains, that you may gather in your grain, your wine and your oil. I will provide grass in your field for your cattle and you will eat and be satisfied. Beware lest your heart be seduced and you turn astray and serve gods of others and bow to them. Then the wrath of God will blaze against you. He will restrain the heaven so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its produce. And you will swiftly be banished from the goodly land that God gives you.

The message seems clear: if we put God’s teachings into practice and imitate His ways of mercy, compassion, and justice, we will have blessings of prosperity, justice, and peace; however, if we turn to false modern gods of materialism, egoism, hedonism, and chauvinism, we will be cursed with many environmental and other societal problems.

If more Jews become aware of the many beautiful Jewish teachings such as those above and strived to put them into practice, it would have great potential to help revitalize Judaism and move our imperiled planet toward a more just, humane, and environmentally sustainable path and a time when "no one shall hurt nor destroy in all of God’s holy mountain" (Isaiah 11:9).

Return to Top

4. Some Jewish Vegetarian Outreach Ideas Triggered by the Above Article

When I sent my article (above) to the JVNA advisory committee, author Lewis Regenstein responded very supportingly, and offered some very interesting suggestions:

R, you are a genius. How can anyone argue with this essay? You are truly
knowledgeable about Judaism. [Actually, there are many areas of Judaism where I would love to know more, but by focusing on vegetarian, environmental, and other social justice issues, I have developed some knowledge in these areas. I am certainly far from being a genius.] This essay should be distributed as widely as possible, maybe on some upcoming holiday.

Could we make a colorful, illustrated flyer or brochure out of it, something short that can be handed out by the thousands, perhaps entitled, "Judaism: A Religion of Compassion to All," or something like that?

Maybe we also ought to do short illustrated flyers, brochures, etc on "Judaism: A Religion of Compassion for All," "Judaism & Protecting the Environment," "Judaism & Protecting Animals," etc, & get these into synagogues, Jewish book stores, on the internet, etc., based on summaries of your writings,

Anyone who disagrees with them has an argument not with us but with the Torah, Talmud, etc.

I can help with funding.

Whatever responses you get, let's do it; your essays are absolutely irrefutable, persuasive, & very important.
When I expressed some uncertainty about our ability to distribute this material, based on our record with regard to the leaflets and booklets that are already available, Lew responded:

We need to bring someone on board who can devote some time to helping us with marketing/distribution of our literature, someone who knows how to do this.

Do we have anyone who works for a PR firm or anyone like that?

Maybe we should put out a notice that we can use such a volunteer.

It would be nice if we could find someone who would do for his/her bar/bat mitzvah project the distribution of our flyers, send a sample to every Jewish publication, to every synagogue with an order form for more, etc.
So, kind readers, what do you think? As indicated above, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina shows the importance of getting our message out more effectively and to wider audiences, lest there be far worse human and environmental disasters. Can you help in the production and distribution of Jewish vegetarian materials? Do you have skills and/or contacts that might be valuable? Many thanks.

Return to Top

5. Is Global Warming Affecting the Number and Severity of Hurricanes?

Forwarded message:

* Agence France-Presse reports (30 August 2005):

... More and more scientists estimate that global warming, while not necessarily making hurricanes more frequent or likelier to make landfall, is making them more vicious.

Hurricanes derive from clusters of thunderstorms over tropical waters that are warmer than 27.2 C (81 F).

A key factor in ferocity is the temperature differential between the sea surface and the air above the storm. The warmer the sea, the bigger the differential and the bigger the potential to "pump up" the storm.

Just a tiny increase in surface temperature can have an extraordinary effect, says researcher Kerry Emanuel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

In a study published in Nature in July, Emanuel found that the destructive power of North Atlantic storms had doubled over the past 30 years, during which the sea-surface temperature rose by only 0.5 C (0.9 F). [In this regard, it is very significant that the world’s largest and most influential group of climate scientists, the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” (IPCC) projects that the world’s average temperature will increase by 2,5 to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 100 years. And since this is an average, some areas will experience far higher temperatures.]

Emanuel's yardstick is storm duration and wind power: hurricanes lasted longer and packed higher wind speeds than before.

Another factor in destructiveness is flooding. Kevin Trenberth of the US National Center for Atmospheric Research suggests that hurricanes are dumping more rainfall as warmer seas suck more moisture into the air, swelling the storm clouds.

And "E" magazine (Sept-Oct 2005) reports:

"The general scientific consensus on climate change and hurricanes is this: Hurricanes won't necessarily become more frequent, but they will become more intense. While ocean and atmospheric circulation is the engine of a hurricane, heat is the fuel. 'In order to form, a hurricane must have ocean temperature of at least 80 degrees down to a depth of 164 feet,' says Curry. 'Sea surface temperatures all over the tropics are running 1.8 to 3.6 degrees above normal. This is due to global warming.' Thus, when other factors line up to form a storm, a warmer ocean means it will be all the more powerful and destructive."

And that is indeed what some scientists are now saying (though others remain skeptical). Katrina was one of the strongest hurricanes ever encountered in the Gulf of Mexico, and it wasn't alone. A study in the July issue of Nature reported that large tropical storms have increased by 50 percent in both the Atlantic and Pacific over the past 30 years. "These have been linked to rises in the temperatures of the ocean surfaces and warmer air temperatures," said the Times of London's online edition.

Return to Top

6. Israel Providing Aid to Respond to Effects of Katrina

Thanks to Yosef Hakohen for forwarding the message below from the Jerusalem Post.

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, THE JERUSALEM POST Sep. 7, 2005

Magen David Adom workers have wrapped up 15 tons of equipment and supplies for US victims of the Katrina hurricane.

Among the products to be sent are baby food and clothing, bed linen, disposable diapers, mattresses and bottled water donated by individuals, public organizations and companies.

The shipment will leave on Thursday on a plane leased for this purpose and be flown to the US, where the American Red Cross will distribute it to some of the hundreds of thousands of survivors and homeless people in various states.
Donations of money can be made to the Fund for Victims of Katrina via Bank Hapoalim, Yitzhak Sadeh branch (#720), account #310640 or by calling the toll-free number 1-800-390-101, which will also accept donations of equipment.

MDA director-general Eli Binn said MDA wanted to represent Israelis in expressing their sympathy for Israel's great friend, the US and the suffering of the hurricane's survivors.

Meanwhile, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is sending a team of doctors who specialize in emergency medicine and disaster relief to New Orleans. Led by Prof. Michael Alkan, a senior member of the university's faculty of health sciences, the group will include a pediatrician, an internist and a family physician, all with extensive experience in international relief work.

Organized under the auspices of IsraAID, a delegation of more than 25 medical personnel and psychologists as well as experienced search and rescue workers will be leaving on Friday. "The American system is clearly overwhelmed. Unfortunately, as Israeli medical personnel, we have accumulated far more experience in dealing with extreme trauma cases and disaster relief," explained Alkan. "We are all deeply connected to the US and want to express our concern by offering our expertise."

A world-renowned expert on infectious diseases, Elkan was part of a team organized by pharmaceutical giant Merck to reduce the spread of AIDS in Botswana and worked with Cambodian refugees in Thailand, set up a field hospital in war-ravaged Kosovo, brought a team to Congo following a volcano eruption and provided relief to the tsunami victims in Southeast Asia.

More Information:

Israel has taken an active role in supporting the victims of Hurricane Katrina, a devistating hurricane which last week flooded and destroyed many cities and towns in Louisiana, Mississipii, and Alabama. On September 5, 2005, the Israel Foreign Ministry put out an urgent call for all businesses and organizations to donate essential goods to the hurricane victims. Some Israeli organizations, such as Magen David Adom, have set up special funds with the sole purpose of sending monetary contributions to the victims.

The Hebrew University in Jerusalem is prepared to offer 20 or more scholarships and to shorten the acceptance process for students from Tulane Universtiy in New Orleans, Louisiana, which was forced to shut down and cancel its fall semester. Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine has offered Tulane medical students access to openings in the school to come study medicine in Israel.

With the death toll possibly reaching in the thousands, a non-governmental group called IsraAID (the Israel Forum for Internation Aid) is sending a private delegation of divers to New Orleans to search for bodies in flooded homes. The delegation of about 25 members will be armed with high-power flashlights to search for bodies in the dark, contaminated waters covering New Orleans. Previous IsraAID diving missions helped in rescue operations after the Southeast Asian tsunami, as well as in Turkey, Georgia and Romania. The task of finding bodies in this water is extremely dangerous because it may have become contaminated by chemicals, human waste, garbage and decomposing corpses.

Source: IMRA, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs,, The Jerusalem Post

Return to Top

7. An Indication of Our Increasing Influence/Plus responses to Some Important Questions

In a message dated 8/28/05 4:51:17 PM, David Pincus wrote:

I must admit, I originally joined your group because I saw it as an amusing sideshow. I thought that when I got tired of reading about all the problems the Jews are having, I could read about the Jewish Vegetarians, and that would provide some light-hearted amusement. Most of the time I didn't get around to reading the newsletter. Then, one day I opened it and started reading. Then I read more.

I am always very concerned about being the best person that I can be, and helping the Jewish nation do our job, to be a light unto the nations. And, your newsletter had an effect on me. I had been reading it uncomfortably for a while now, and then I realized that, I had been telling myself that "sure I agree with it in theory, but I don't know if I really agree with it in practice. After all, if it [eating meat] is so common in the mainstream Jewish, halachic world, how could it really be a problem?" Then, over the months, I began realizing things about the
Jewish community at large that made me question my reasoning. Namely,
I saw a lot of things within the Jewish world that didn't seem right. And undoubtedly, the kosher meat industry today is hardly what it is ideally supposed to be.

If this would've happened a year earlier, it would have been better. I just got married two months ago, and we have two sets of everything [dishes, silverware], one for meat, one for dairy. Oy. I guess the cost benefit of not buying meat might balance out the money we've spent buying separate dishes. So, Richard, I'm going to start slow, and I'm making no promises, but, for now, I'm making a conscious effort to buy much less meat. Maybe eventually, I'll turn vegan, who knows? But, I'll make baby steps, and I'll keep moving in that direction.

*** This, and my later responses are preceded by three asterisks.
*** The above paragraph indicates an important but generally overlooked reason for Jews to be vegetarians – it is far easier and less expensive to keep the kosher laws if one has a vegetarian or vegan kitchen.
I have some questions about the halachic aspects. I know you talk about how many Rabbis have accepted vegetarianism as a problem, but I feel like, if someone gave you a list of all the prominent Rabbis who did not accept vegetarianism, that would tremendously outnumber the ones who do. Basically, if five rabbis take a radical departure from mainstream Judaism and decide that something else is the right way to be, wouldn't it be far more significant that no other rabbis followed their lead?

*** We argue that Jews have a choice re our diets, based on many rabbinic statements and the fact that chief rabbis have been and are strict vegetarians. If you can get any of the non-vegetarian rabbis to engage in a public dialogue/debate with us, that would be very helpful in educating people about the realities of animal-based diets and agriculture, and thus a great public service and, I believe a kiddush Hashem (a sancttification of God’s Name.)
Understand here, I'm talking only about from a religious perspective.Personally, I have enough reasons to become vegetarian based on health, environmental, and animal cruelty issues.

*** For many years, I have argued that health, environmental, and animal cruelty issues are religious issues.
I'm saying that I don't particularly feel very swayed by the few rabbis who are vegetarians. If Rav Soloveitchik, or Rav Moshe Feinstein were vegetarians, it would be one thing, but I'm not that familiar with the rabbis you quoted, except in terms of other questionable, liberal policies like the halachic organ donor society, which Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen supports, and most mainstream Orthodox don't.

*** The important point, I believe, is that the production and consumption of animal products violate at least 6 basic Jewish teachings. If non-vegetarian rabbis disagree, I think they should engage in a respectful dialogue with us and try to show where we are wrong.
By the way, I believe that halachic authorities have indicated that organ donations are a mitzvah (good deed) if done properly.

And, I guess a personal bit of a "help me" question, what do you make for shabbos?

*** There are a wide variety of excellent vegetarian dishes that are very suitable for Shabbat and other occasions. You might want to consider some of the excellent Jewish and general recipe books written by Roberta Kalechofsky, Debra Wasserman, and others.

I look forward to the shabbos table the whole week, and I'm all for the side dishes, and I always eat vegetables, but I'm not exactly relishing not having chicken on shabbos. How do you compensate?

*** When one is aware of how horribly chickens are treated and the negative health effects (chicken is higher in cholesterol, per calorie, than beef, and lacks complex carbohydrates and fiber), I find it very easy to substitue soy-based foods and others for chicken. As Isaac Bashevis Singer stated, “I do not eat chicken for health reasons – the health of the chicken.”

Do you still sing the zemiros that talk about eating meat and fish?
How do you reconcile the views of the authors of the zemiros where it glorifies eating fish and meat?

***I avoid them whenever possible, since there are so many nice zemiros (Shabbat songs) that do not mention them. And if I am at a gathering where other sing them, I substitute “tofu and broccoli” for “meat and fish.” :)
And also, halachically, how should one view eating fish and cheese?

*** Since I am not a rabbi, I do not issue halachic opinions. Once again, Jews have a choice re our diets, and if we consider health, animal treatment, and environmental concerns and how they impinge on basic Jewish values, I believe that Jews should (not must, should) avoid these foods.
I think that the righteous will get to eat the Leviathan in the world to come, that hardly sounds like it's anti-fish eating.

*** Response from my book “Judaism and Vegetarianism”: These legends concerning the Leviathan are interpreted as allegories by most Jewish scholars. According to Maimonides, the banquet is an allusion to the spiritual enjoyment of the intellect. Abarbanel and others consider the expressions about the Leviathan to be allusions to the destruction of the powers that are hostile to the Jews. (References are given in the book.)

And cheese? I'm not talking about in today's dairy industry but,
Jewishly-ideally, should people eat cheese?

*** Please see my previous answer re cheese. Thanks.
Just some questions I'm having,

*** I hope that my response have been helpful. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Thank you very much and a tremendous Yasher Koach,

*** Than you, and good luck on your path to vegetarianism. Please let me know if we can help in any other way.
David Pincus

Return to Top

8. Another Article in Yosef Hakohen’s Series Re Jewish Teachings About Animals

The Journey to Unity - 137
Stories of Animals With a Higher Consciousness:

Dear Friends,

Long before the Chasidic movement began in the 18th century, the term "chasid" was used to describe someone who lovingly serves the Creator and all creation. In fact, Aharon, the Kohen, was described as a chasid (Deut. 33:8).The chassid serves with a higher consciousness known as "chasidus" - loving devotion. This loving devotion leads the chassid to do even more than what is required by Torah law. Our sages say that the tzadikim (righteous people) of old were also chasidim; moreover, even their animals developed the higher consciousness of chasidus (Avos D'Rabbi Noson 8:8). And the sages refer to the camels of Abraham, our father, as an example.

Before we can understand the chasidus of Abraham's camels, we first need to understand the chasidus of Abraham. It is well-known that Abraham helped many people in his generation to rediscover the One Creator of the universe. Through stressing the One Source of all creation, Abraham helped them to rediscover the unity of creation. Abraham therefore opposed the idolatry of his era, for he was aware that the deification of any fragment of creation - whether it be an aspect of nature, a human being, a nation, or humanity itself - can cause human beings to lose their consciousness of the unity and common origin of all creation. Rabbi Abraham Yaffen, a noted teacher of Jewish ethics in the early 20th century, elaborates on this idea in an essay that he wrote about our father, Abraham, and his love for humanity:

"It is precisely he (Abraham), who dedicated his life to acts of lovingkindness, who was also the great zealot who dedicated his life to the negation of idolatry in his generation. The reason for this can be understood: Idolatry is based on the assumption that the various forces within the world are separate one from the other; therefore, each human being is also considered to be separate from his neighbor. " (Mishel Avos - An anthology of Commentary on Pirkei Avos, p. 144)

Rabbi Yaffen adds that when Abraham would see the people of his generation fighting with each other, and how each would offer sacrifices to his own god in order to try to gain support in his struggle against his neighbor, Abraham would teach them that, on the contrary, "each should help his neighbor, for one God created them and desires the honor of all of them." Abraham therefore helped people to achieve a higher consciousness which made them aware of the unity of all creation.

In their own way, the animals under Abraham's care developed this higher consciousness. Our sages find a source for this tradition in the story of how Abraham's servant, Eliezer, traveled to Abraham's relatives in Charan, in order to bring back a wife for Abraham's son, Isaac. (To some degree, most of Abraham's relatives were still involved with idolatry.) When Eliezer arrived, Laban, a relative of Abraham, went to greet him, and he said to Eliezer:

"Come, O blessed of Hashem! Why should you stand outside when I have cleared the house and place for the camels?" (Genesis 24:31)

According to our tradition, the above words of Laban have a deeper meaning, and they are conveying the following message:

"Cleared the house" – I am aware that you are a disciple of Abraham who believes in the One Creator of the universe; thus, I have cleared the house of idols so you may feel free to enter. (Midrash Rabbah cited by Rashi)

"Place for the camels" – Abraham's camels would not enter a place containing idolatry, so Laban informed him that he also cleared the place for the camels from idolatry. (Avos D'Rabbi Nosson 8:8)

The camels of Abraham had achieved a higher consciousness that many people of that era had not yet achieved! Avos D'Rabbi Nosson then tells another story which took place in the Land of Israel at the end of the Second Temple period:

Once the donkey of Rabbi Chaninah ben Dosa was stolen. The robbers tied it up in a yard and left it straw, barley, and water, but it would not eat or drink. (The righteous donkey did not want to benefit from anything which did not rightfully belong to it.) The robbers said, "Why should we let it die and befoul our yard?" So they got up and opened the gate and let it out. The donkey walked along braying until it reached the home of Rabbi Chaninah ben Dosa. When it arrived, the rabbi's son heard its voice and said to his father, "That sounds like our animal." The rabbi said, "Open the door, my son, for it has nearly died of hunger." (The rabbi understood the higher nature of his donkey; thus, he realized that it had not eaten the food of the robbers.) Immediately, the lad opened the door and placed before it straw, barley, and water, which the donkey ate and drank (ibid).

Through the above stories, the sages are conveying to us the following message: The higher consciousness achieved by these animals should inspire us to develop our own unique spiritual potential as human beings who are created in the Divine image.

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

A Related Story:

The Talmud (Chullin 7b) tells the following story which took place in the Land of Israel: Rabbi Pinchas ben Ya'ir came to a certain inn. They placed barley before the donkey, but it would not eat. The barley was sifted, but it would not eat. The barley was carefully picked, but it would not eat. Rabbi Pinchas ben Ya'ir said to them: "Perhaps it had not been tithed?" They removed a tithe and it ate. Rabbi Pinchas ben Ya'r thereupon exclaimed: "This poor creature goes forth to do the will of its Creator, and you would feed it untithed produce?"

The above stories can be found in "The Vision of Eden" by Rabbi David Sears. The book is published by Orot:

Hazon - Our Universal Vision:

Return to Top

9. Helping Animals Lost or Injured or Threatened by Hurricane Katrina

I have received many messages about the desperate plight of animals due to Katrina and about ways to help. If I had the time, I could easily have produced a special JVNA newsletter just on this topic. I hope that the sampling of material below will be helpful and I apologize to the many good people and groups who sent me valuable messages that are not included here.
Dear Friends,

I have just read and signed the petition:
A Petition to Protect the Animal Victims of Hurricane Katrina

Please help by signing this petition. It takes 30 seconds and will really help. Please follow this link:
Below are some web sites that provide valuable information and/or indicate ways that you can help:


Urgent: Demand That Federal and New Orleans Officials Allow Animals to Be Evacuated.

Please take a moment to read this entire e-mail.

It contains information vital to saving the lives of countless animals!

What You Can Do
Read the Latest News From the Gulf Coast

Demand That Federal and New Orleans Officials Allow Animals to Be
In addition to the human misery that the storm left in its wake, Katrina left many thousands of animals dead and dying. But the greater problem has turned out to be state and federal governments adding to this and causing the slow and agonizing deaths of thousands more much-loved dogs, cats, and other animals through their failure to allow animal protection agents to rescue animals.

Worse, although the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) guidelines on animal handling in a disaster were carefully crafted years ago in cooperation with PETA and other animal organizations, our government has evidently thrown them out the window, even going so far as to order citizens to abandon their animals under threat of arrest; animals who in many cases were considered members of the family and were all that these people had left.
Emergency help needed for animals affected by Hurricane Katrina!
Hurricane Katrina has devastated the Gulf Coast, and the human death toll is climbing. Thousands of people were evacuated before Katrina hit, and many could not take their beloved pets with them. For survivors, concern over pets left behind only adds to their trauma.
Please help the American Humane Association rescue and care for the animals and families caught in Hurricane Katrina by making a donation today:
The American Humane Association's Animal Emergency Services has deployed teams to the devastated region and volunteers are standing by with their fleet of emergency vehicles. With their experience in responding to Hurricanes Charley and Ivan, they are fully prepared to head to the cities and communities that need our help the most!
Thank you for helping today!

##### Hurricane Katrina -- -- do a
search for Katrina -- nearly 70 links to Resources, News, Blogs on

----- -----

KatrinaAnimalHelp • Katrina Animal Help
The purpose of this group is to serve as a network for animal rescues, foster homes, tranporters, shelters, Katrina victims trying to find their pets,

DONATIONS (supplies/money):
Louisiana SPCA Hurricane Relief
c/o Houston SPCA
900 Portway Drive; Houston, Texas 77024-8022
ph: 713-869-SPCA (7722); fax: 713-869-5857; email:

DONATIONS (supplies/money):
Humane Society of Louisiana
c/o St Francis Animal Sanctuary
97 Obed Magee Rd.; Tylertown, MS 39667

DONATIONS (supplies/money):
Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association: 1-800-524-2996 or 225-928-5862.
Mail check/money order payable to: the Dr. Walter J. Ernst, Jr. Veterinary
Memorial Foundation, 8550 United Plaza Blvd., Suite 1001, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. Visit: for downloadable Hurricane

Return to Top

10. Two Rabbis Translate and Adapt Ancient Tale of People and Animals

Forwarded message from JVNA newsletter reader Ellen Lapuck:

Ancient Animal Rights Tale Gets a Human Menagerie - Two Rabbis, a Kentucky Sufi, a Christian Editor, a Muslim Artist, a Saudi Arabian Princess

SEATTLE, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Two American Rabbis have translated and adapted an ancient Iraqi tale into what is believed to be the first English adaptation -- The Animals' Lawsuit Against Humanity. Rabbi Dan Bridge and Rabbi Anson Laytner put more action into the story, jazzed up the ending, and personified both the animals and the humans. The book grabbed the attention of a Kentucky Sufi Publisher, a Muslim artist and a Saudi Arabian princess.

"The animals are portrayed in this story as beings who can think and who are willing to work with humans, but the humans just won't to listen to them," says Rabbi Bridge. "How we treat animals has a direct impact on how we treat one another."

After years of searching for a publisher, Rabbi Laytner found Fons Vitae. Virginia Gray Henry, the Director of Fons Vitae, lives in Kentucky and is Sufi. Arabic was the original language of the ancient tale, and was later translated to Hebrew by a medieval Rabbi for a Christian King.

The two American Rabbis translated the tale from the Hebrew to its present form. The Kentucky publisher hired a Christian copy editor and found the illustrator, a Pakistani Muslim woman -- the artist Kulsum Begum. Begum's work in this book was financed by a Saudi Arabian princess who wishes to remain anonymous.

According to Rabbi Anson Laytner, "The book has an environmental twist, looking not just toward saving the relationship that we have with the animals that we live with, but the relationship we have with the environment -- the land and the earth we live on."

"From ancient Iraq to the 21st century, The Animals' Lawsuit Against Humanity is an incredible multi-faith collaboration -- a triumph for the collective human spirit," says Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University, "The cooperation of representatives from all the religions of the Abrahamic family ... is to be congratulated."

The Animals Lawsuit Against Humanity is available for $14.95 in select bookstores or online at or

Return to Top

11. A Vegetarian Success Story

Forwarded message:

Twenty-five years ago, Oleta Thomas decided enough was enough.

She'd spent 40 years on prescription drugs for a slew of conditions that she blames on a childhood of milk shakes, hamburgers and processed food n what she calls the "Sad American Diet." Thomas suffered from migraines, bronchitis, earaches, kidney trouble and more. She wore neck and back braces for early arthritis and scoliosis. There seemed no hope in sight.

Then, she discovered a vegetarian lifestyle, which she attributes to incredible health, energy and vitality even now, at 75 years old.

"When I look at me now and think about that . . . I'm a walking, living miracle. I hardly ever go to the doctor anymore."

At 50 years old, Thomas was invited to join a macrobiotic cooking class in Casper, and within two weeks, began to feel better. It wasn't until she took that a step further, into vegetarianism with an emphasis on raw fruits and vegetables, that she saw the most remarkable results. Devouring the book "Fit for Life" in a single night, she saw the potential.

Within weeks, symptoms started clearing up. The headaches, indigestion and allergies cleared. Cystic tumors dissolved.

Now, at 75, Thomas glows with good health. "Your body will naturally heal and repair itself, if you give it the right kinds of foods and drinks," Thomas said. "I feel better now than I did at 18."

The transition wasn't easy, especially for a woman who had been raised on a dairy farm and spent many years on ranches. "I was afraid to mention it to my family, that I was becoming a vegetarian," she said. "And, some of my relatives disowned me."
Vegetarianism is gaining increasing popularity nationwide as people strive to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and fewer processed and animal-based products, according to Judy Barbe, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the Wyoming Dietetic Association. Many people seem to be avoiding certain foods, such as meat and dairy, without giving them up for life n for example, making one day each week a vegetarian day, or abstaining from meat and dairy
at most meals of the day. Many restaurants are offering vegetarian options, and organic produce is on a steady upward trend.

Barbe agreed that a vegetarian lifestyle can provide adequate nutrition for many people. "The bottom line is that either choice - vegetarian or non-vegetarian - can provide enough nutrition," she said. The kicker, of course, is whether most vegetarians are, indeed, meeting the nutritional requirements set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some, such as Thomas, educate themselves about the variety and value of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains, and carefully craft a daily eating plan for maximum nutrition. Others, however, may simply avoid eating meat, poultry, fish and dairy, which could put them in danger of health problems due to poor nutrition. "To make wise food choices requires practice and energy," Barbe explained.

"We have set up a special fund for the exclusive purpose of supporting Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. People wishing to donate food or equipment, please contact FFL Disaster Relief Office at "

Note: Vegetarian organizations with web sites are requested to display the Food For Life Banner. For more information

For more details, and to make a donation, go to

Gerry Coffey, IVU-Public Relations Officer and Regional Co-rodinator for North America

Return to Top

15. Foie Gras in Israel Update

Thanks to Israeli vegetarian activist Coby Algisser for the information below:

MK (member of the knesset) Katz submitted a bill to the Israeli Knesset that would overall the Israeli Supreme Court's decision (on April 1,2005) to ban the production of foie gras. However, MK Katz's bill was defeated.

Return to Top

16. Interfaith Celebration of Animals

Forwarded message:

Interfaith Celebration of Animals at the Unitarian Church in Golders Green
Hoop Lane, London NW11 8BS
Sunday September 18, 3pm to 5pm

Among those taking part will be Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke, President of the WCF, Rabbi Jackie Tabick, Chair of the WCF, Imam Dr. Abduljalil Sajid, our International Secretary, and representatives of all the major faith traditions.

Also participating will be the Director General of the RSPCA, Jackie Ballard, who will be lighting a candle for all the world's animals, and heads of the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Compassion in World Farming, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the International Primate Protection League and other leading animal welfare organizations.

The keynote address will be given by Professor Timothy Sprigge, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh.

Alll animal lovers will be warmly welcome at this very special interfaith event, described by Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke as "a beautiful occasion for an important cause".

For Further details, _Rev. Feargus O'Connor,, tel: 020 7837 4472 _ (

Return to Top

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