October 20, 2005

10/20/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Seeking Feedback re the JVNA and the Newsletter

2. Promoting Vegetarianism More Effectively

3. Our Message Is Spreading/Several Examples

4. Israeli Activists Protest Against Israeli McDonald’s

5. Excellent Editorial on Treatment of Animals in Israel

6. I Am a Candidate on the Green Zionist Alliance (GZA)
(www.greenzionism.org) Slate of Candidates for the Upcoming World Zionist Congress Elections/Please Vote

8. Rabbinical Student Seeking Animal Issues Projects

9. Israeli African Hebrews’ Vegan Diets keeping Them Healthy

10. New York Restaurant Serving Kosher Game

11. Considering Ecological Factors Re Our Food and Other Commodities

13. Article in Jerusalem Report Re Resistance to Horse Racing
in Israel

14. Vegetarian Female Seeking Vegetarian Male

Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[Materials in brackets like this [] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA, unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, material re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsement by JVNA or endorsement of kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observance, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event that you are interested in.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.


1. Seeking feedback re the JVNA and the Newsletter

Based on a suggestion from JVNA advisor and one of our volunteer legal advisors Mel Kimmel, I would like to seek feedback on the JVNA, this newsletter, and related matters. Every JVNA newsletter indicates that comments and suggestions are welcome. But, here are some specific questions:

* What do you think of the JVNA newsletter? Do you have any suggestions for improvements? What would you like to see more of? What would you like to see less of? Are you finding the newsletter versions at the JVNA web site (jewishVeg.com) valuable? Any other comments re the newsletter?

* Have you changed your habits in any way due to material in JVNA newsletters?

* Do you have suggestions re JVNA activities? Are there projects that you would like us to be involved in?

* How often do you check the JVNA web site? Do you have suggestions for improvements?

* Is there any area in which you would like to help JVNA? Do you have any special skills or contacts that might help us?

* Would you like to speak to groups about “Judaism and Vegetarianism?” We can provide you with valuable background information that cam help you effectively do this.

2. Promoting Vegetarianism More Effectively

While we have a very strong case, have truth, justice, and morality on our side, and a shift toward vegetarianism is increasingly becoming a religious imperative and a societal imperative, progress is very slow. Hence, I have written the article below and versions of it in letter and article form. Please feel free to share the article with others, and please let me know if you have any comments and/or suggestions re the article. Thanks.

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

In spite of the increasing need for a shift toward vegetarianism to counteract the present epidemic of diseases and the many environmental threats caused by the production and consumption of animal products, progress has been relatively slow. it is time for a consideration of new strategies to promote vegetarianism more effectively. The ten ideas suggested below are designed to start a dialogue that will lead to positive changes. It is my hope that this article will elicit additional suggestions and effective initiatives.

1) Set a Goal and a Time Table Toward a Vegetarian Conscious World

We should not be satisfied with the relatively slow progress currently being made toward vegetarianism, especially in the face of all the recent disturbing reports of environmental catastrophes ahead. One possibility is to declare a goal, such as “A Vegetarian-conscious world by 2010.” This could inspire our efforts by providing something to work toward. Note the term “vegetarian conscious.” We can’t hope that every person will be a vegetarian by 2010, or any other time, and we should not argue that each person must be a vegetarian. However, we can work, with a heightened sense of urgency, to see that everyone is at least aware of the many reasons for becoming a vegetarian, with the hope that many will act based on that knowledge.

2) Make People Aware That a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is Beneficial for People as Well as Animals

Many people resist vegetarian arguments, asserting that they can’t be concerned about animals when people face so many problems. We should stress that a shift to vegetarianism would be very beneficial to people as well as animals. Among the arguments we should use are:
• Animal-based diets increase risk factors for many life-threatening diseases, including heart disease, several types of cancer, and stroke.
• Animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to many environmental threats to humanity.
• The feeding of 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States (and almost 40 percent of the grain produced worldwide) to farmed animals contributes to an estimated 20 million of the world’s people dying annually from hunger and its effects.

3) Make People Aware That a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is a Societal Imperative Today

Humanity is arguably threatened as perhaps never before from global warming, widening water shortages, rapid species extinction, destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats, and many other problems. We should make people aware that all of these threats and many more are significantly worsened by the following: we are raising 50 billion farmed animals for slaughter annually worldwide; almost 40 percent of the world’s grain is used to fatten farmed animals; it takes 14 times as much water, ten times as much energy, and over 20 times as much land for an animal-based diet than it does for a vegan diet; animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases; and much more. We should also stress that diseases caused by the consumption of animal product results in soaring medical expenditures which are contributing to record budget deficits and the perceived need to cut basic social services.

4) Inform People That a Shift Toward Vegetarianism is a Religious Imperative Today

Most people profess to be religious today and many claim to base their lives on moral values related to their religions. We should respectfully discuss with such people how animal-based diets and agriculture contradict basic religious mandates to preserve our health, treat animals compassionately, preserve the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and seek and pursue peace. We should stress such biblical teachings as “God’s mercies are over all of his creatures” (Psalms 145:9), “the righteous person considers the lives of his or her animals” (Proverbs 12:10), that animals as well as people are to be permitted to rest on the Sabbath day (part of the Ten Commandments), and similar teachings from other holy books and teachers.

5) Relate Vegetarianism to Current News Items

Vegetarianism touches on almost all phases of life – health, nutrition, animals, the environment, energy, water and other resources, economics, politics, family life, and many more – and we should make people aware of connections. When there are news reports re global warming and its effects, we should point out that animal-based diets contribute significantly to emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases. When there are articles re taxes, budget deficits, and other economic issues, we should indicate that health costs are soaring in efforts to cure the many diseases that have been conclusively connected to animal-centered diets. When there are articles about water shortages and droughts, we should help make people aware that animal-based agriculture requires far more water and other resources than plant-based agriculture. Many additional examples can be given.

6) Start a Letter Writing Campaign

As a follow-up to the discussion in item #5, there should be a major campaign to get letters to editors on connections between various issues and vegetarianism. If only a small percentage of the people concerned about vegetarianism and related issues wrote a letter just once a month, it could have a major impact. A web site should be set up that gives talking points daily for letters based on current issues as well as sample letters.

As a related approach, since many people listen daily to talk radio shows, there should also be a concerted effort to get people to call such shows with vegetarian messages. While radio talk show hosts are generally very well informed on a wide variety of issues, I have found that many have major misconceptions re health, nutrition, and other vegetarian-related issues.

7) Make a Shift to Vegetarianism a Priority for the Animal Rights Movement

The vast majority of cases of animal abuses occur on factory farms. Yet, many, perhaps most, animal rights activists are working on other issues, such as circuses, rodeos, fur, pets, and animal experimentation. These are all important issues and it is essential to end all cases of animal abuse. But, animal-based diets and agriculture threaten most individuals’ personal health and the well being of humanity. If most animal rights advocates worked on promoting vegetarianism and veganism, even for a limited time, in addition to their other animal rights efforts, it could have a very powerful impact.

8) Challenge the Medical Establishment

Every person is concerned about his or her health and the health of loved ones. There is very strong evidence that incidents of heart disease, various types of cancer, strokes, and other chronic degenerative diseases can be sharply reduced by a shift to vegetarian and vegan diets, along with other positive lifestyle changes. Yet, the medical establishment, including most nutritionists, are ignoring this information, and are not making patients and the general public aware that many diseases can be prevented, and sometimes reversed, through dietary changes. It might even be called medical malpractice. I recently visited a cousin in a rehabilitation center, and was astounded at reading the daily menus, which had animal products at every meal. It is essential that we challenge medical practitioners and respectfully urge them to help educate people about healthy diets.

As indicated in point #10, others, such as educators, politicians, religious leaders, and reporters, should also be challenged to increase awareness of the health and many other benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets.

9) Form Alliances With Other Groups

Since vegetarianism has connections with many societal issues, we should try to build strong alliances with many other groups that are working for positive changes. For example, we should seek alliances with environmental groups, and inform them that the raising of 50 billion animals for slaughter annually, primarily on “factory farms,” contributes to many environmental threats; we should seek alliances with groups concerned about hunger, poverty, water and energy shortages, global warming, and related issues, and inform them about how the production of animal products contributes to many environmental threats and is extremely wasteful of resources.

10) Challenge the Media, Politicians, Educators, and Other Members of the Establishment

Since, as indicated above humanity is threatened as perhaps never before, and a switch toward vegetarianism is a societal imperative, and there are vegetarian connections to many current issues, we should try to meet with influential members of society and urge them to take a stand re vegetarianism, or at least to put the issues on their agendas. We should urge educators to see that children learn about proper nutrition and are provided with tasty, nutritious options at every meal. We should exhort reporters and editors to make people aware of the many negative effects of animal-based diets and the many benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets.
This is just an outline of some steps that I think would be helpful in moving toward a vegetarian world. I am sure that the many dedicated people in the vegetarian and related movements can add to my points and come up with additional suggestions. The important thing is that we become increasingly involved, for our sakes, for the animals, and for our precious, but imperiled, planet.

3. Our Message Is Spreading/Several Examples

a. In a message dated 10/10/05 12:20:34 AM, tgibson@______ writes:

Dear Richard

I read your ten steps [article] today* and thought you would like to know that I will be sharing them with my home economics students(70, 15 year old girls-three classes) this week when we study a vegan diet.

Theresa Gibson

*published in New Vegetarian and Natural Health, Spring 2005

Follow-up message:

Had the first in the three series of lessons on vegetarian food today and the girls were very interested in your ten steps. Made guacamole and sweet potato soup for them to sample-served with three different types of bread-millet. rye and organic whole meal. Everything was delicious. We even took pictures.
Follow-up message re the classes that Theresa taught:

Vegetarian Cooking

I teach At Mercedes College- a girls Catholic high school in Perth, Western Australia.My main teaching areas are religious education and economics but I am also known at the college for my strong views in supportof vegetarianism and my love of cooking.

So, each year the Home Economics department invites me to take a class in the Year 10 course to cover the basics of the vegetarian diet and to prepare and share some vegetarian food.This year there were three year ten classes.The girls in the class are 14 or 15 years old and have been studying Food and Nutrition for between one and three years

In my class I cover the reasons why people might consider the vegetarian diet for themselves. This year to helpexplain such a choice I referred to Richard Schwartz’ Ten Steps toward a Vegetarian World (which had been published in the Spring 2005 edition of “New Vegetarian and Natural Health”).This proved to be very useful in outlining not only the direct health benefits but also the easily understood links to almost all phases of life!.

Richard’s idea of a ‘vegetarian conscious world by 2010’ seems very possible to those of us living in a country like Australia with such a wonderful environment and vast productive agricultural areas.

The girls enjoyed trying two vegan dishes-guacamole and sweet potato/pumpkin soup.

I served these with bread made from different grains.

I really appreciate the opportunity these classes give me to explain the real choice that a vegetarian diet can be for a young person wanting to do something positive in the world today which not only help themselves but also, the planet.

b. jennymoxham@_______ writes:

Dear Richard,

Just wanted to say what a good article of yours that was in the new vegetarian and Natural Health.(10 STEPS TOWARDS A VEGETARIAN WORLD)
Have passed it on to a few others. keep up the excellent work!

Best wishes,
Jenny Moxham

4. Israeli Activists Protest Against Israeli McDonald’s

Thanks to JVNA newsletter reader Miriam Gross for the following:

Israelis marks anti-McDonald's day
Protesters rally across nation to mark international anti-McDonald's day; activists claim fast food chain harms environment, exploits workers and tortures animals

Orna Yefet

Activists throughout Israel demonstrated Sunday afternoon to mark international anti-McDonald's day, by staging protests, resentations and other activities across the country.

This annual demonstration, which has taken place for the past 20 years, aims to protest the fast food chain's destruction of the environment, exploitation of workers, and the torture and killing of animals, activists say.

The activists say the protests will focus on the destructive influence of consumer culture and corporate control over our lives.

The organization for the liberation of animals in Israel (ALI) and the coalition against McDonald's have partnered together to form a unified front to fight the for the common cause.

Activities against the corporation already began Friday in Tel Aviv, where activists resorted to street theater to protest.

They also presented a gallery of photos showing cruelty to animals, harm to the environment, and issues pertaining to workers' rights.

Free T-shirts and vegan food were also handed out and stands were constructed to supply information and pamphlets.

Later, protesters led a rally past the fast food branches in the center of Tel Aviv. Police attempted to disperse the crowds once they reached Dizengoff Square but were met with resistance.

'Disastrous policies'

Protests against McDonald's will continue Sunday throughout the country. The activists say they are demonstrating against the chain to protest its "disastrous policies."

Among other charges, the protesters claim McDonald's harms the public's health by selling unhealthy food and targets a young audience with its advertising campaigns. The chain also sell toys produced in Chinese sweatshops that employ children, the activists say.

They claim McDonald's harms animals, caging them in difficult conditions and slaughtering billions a year. The corporation is also accused of harming the environment by destroying the rainforests and producing waste, and causing starvation by using fertile land in poor countries for growing crops to feed animals used for fast food.

McDonald's in Israel declined comment on the protest.

The international anti-McDonald's day started in the 1980s when London Greenpeace launched a campaign against McDonald's under the heading "What's wrong with McDonald's?"

McDonald's sued the activists in a trial that went on for 10 years.

5. Excellent Editorial on Treatment of Animals in Israel

[I previously sent this editorial to advisors and that has already generated a few letters to editors. But, please write to letters@haaretz.co.il, to keep the momentum going.]

Rights for helpless animals
By Haaretz Editorial

Public campaigns to defend animals often lead to improvement, but the real changes occur when the government and the courts mobilize in their defense. Israel is still not one of the more advanced states in its treatment of animals, but the courts and the government have recently made several decisions that prove that the importance of this matter is beginning to be understood.

Last week, the Nazareth District Court rejected an appeal by a man convicted of abusing a cat by putting it into a sealed plastic bag. The man appealed his conviction, but the court ruled that he injured "a helpless animal that cannot defend itself and cannot sue for redress of its pain and injury." The significance of the court's ruling was its rejection of the argument that the abusive behavior was justified in order to deal with a plague of cats in the vicinity of the abuser's

Three weeks ago, the government decided not to support a bill that would enable geese to continue to be force-fed. Force-feeding causes great pain and artificially enlarges the goose's liver, all for the purpose of supplying the delicacy known as foie gras. Prior to the government's decision, the High Court of Justice, in response to petitions by animal welfare organizations, had ruled that force-feeding geese violates the law against abusing animals.

The government's decision is particularly significant because it affects the livelihoods of hundreds of people who were engaged, either directly or indirectly, in the goose-fattening industry. The government's decision thus effectively declares that the goal of preserving a source of employment cannot legitimize animal abuse. And on this note, the ongoing activity of the policemen who have been working with the Environment Ministry over the past several years to enforce the law against animal abuse deserves commendation. Their activity has led to the filing of several indictments.

Nevertheless, many shadows remain in the overall picture of the situation of animals in this country, and abuse is still widespread. This is particularly true with regard to farm animals such as chickens and cows, as humans have grown accustomed to viewing these animals as food products and have forgotten that they, too, are entitled to protection.

On the eve of Yom Kippur, people could once again be seen observing the custom of kapparot - a custom that has been criticized in rabbinical rulings for hundreds of years already and involves abusing terrified chickens with no nutritional or health justification. Veal calves are also still raised in Israel under terrible conditions, which include preventing them from drinking water in order to force them to drink a special liquid that causes them to gain weight.

One of the key problems is faulty enforcement, including the courts' tendency not to impose sentences that would deter offenders. Even when they are convicted, animal abusers are generally sentenced to fines that have no deterrent value or to suspended prison sentences. The government did indeed decide that the force-feeding of geese should not continue, but in practice, it does. From the point of view of the geese, there is thus far no comfort in the fact that both High Court justices and cabinet ministers have demonstrated compassion for their distress.
Roberta Kalechofsky’s letter in response:

Your editorial on the subject of Israel's slow but apparent advance to defend animals is very much appreciated. It is one of the ironies of history that Judaism, which has had for centuries, a clear and unequivocal defense of animals and has as one of its mandates, "tsa'ar ba'alei chayim" (you may not cause harm to living creatures), should have such a poor record in the modern world. The article in the Encyclopedia Judaica, vol 1, under "A", animal cruelty, outlines our human responsibility to non-human creatures, and makes clear that animals have a place in the Divine economy.

Where did this learning go and how did this value disappear from Jewish life?

Roberta Kalechofsky, Ph.D.
President, Jews for Animal Rights

6. I Am a Candidate on The Green Zionist Alliance (GZA) (www.greenzionism.org) Slate of Candidates forthe Upcoming World Zionist Congress Elections/Please Vote



NEW YORK, October 17, 2005 – The Green Zionist Alliance (GZA) (www.greenzionism.org) proudly introduces its Slate of candidates for the upcoming World Zionist Congress elections.

“We are inspired by the breadth and depth of our Slate,” said Rabbi Michael M. Cohen, co-founder of the Green Zionist Alliance. “Collectively, this roster demonstrates that concern for the environment truly transcends religious and political orientation.”

The GZA Slate is composed of 38 people in 17 States, from California to New Hampshire and Wisconsin to Arizona. The group includes activists, professionals, rabbis, scientists, students and leaders who represent and reflect the growing community of Jewish environmentalists with deep concern about the country, the people and the land of Israel, all passionately committed to creating a peaceful, pluralistic, and sustainable society.

Devoted to Israel’s ecological future, the Alliance works closely with a broad coalition of environmental organizations and leaders in the United States and Israel to ensure a high quality of life for all Israelis.

The Green Zionist Alliance offers a place for all Jews, regardless of political or religious affiliation, who care about humanity’s responsibility to preserve Creation and the special responsibility of the Jewish people to preserve the many ecological treasures of the land of Israel.

A complete listing of the Green Zionist Alliance Slate members may be found at www.greenzionism.org/greenz/slate.html

The election will be held from mid-November 2005 through February 28,2006. The Green Zionist Alliance is aiming to be the third largest delegation from the United States for the 2006 World Zionist Congress.

For additional information, contact:

Hal Klopper
Executive Director
Green Zionist Alliance
(646) 644-7891

Green Zionist Alliance :: The Slate
The candidates on our Slate include activists, professionals, rabbis, scientists, students and leaders who represent our extensive Green Zionist Alliance membership: the growing community of Jewish environmentalists with deep concern about the country, the people and the land of Israel, all passionately committed to creating a peaceful, pluralistic, and sustainable society.

We Proudly Present our Slate of Candidates
Rabbi Michael M. Cohen
Manchester Center, VT

Prof. Susannah Heschel
Hanover, NH

Aliza Kline
Newton, MA

Noam Dolgin
New York, NY

Ariana Silverman
Peekskill, NY

Rebecca Weaver
St. Louis, MO

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb
Washington, DC

Dr. Richard H. Schwartz
New York, NY

Stefanie Zelkind
New York, NY


Vote for The Green Zionist Alliance:
Show Your Concern for Israel's Environment!
Copyright 2005 by The Green Zionist Alliance

8. Rabbinical Student Seeking Animal Issues Projects

seahawk44 writes:

Hi Richard,

We met last year at the COEJL conference.I'm a rabbinical student at Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, very interested in various aspects of Judaism and animals, including, but not limited to animal-related spirituality, rituals and pastoral care surrounding the human-animal relationship, and Jewish ethics and attitudes towards animals.I have read a number of articles and written a good amount over the past few years.Now I'm trying to design a year-long independent study course at RRC based on Judaism and animals.It will involve combining some scholarship with practical rabbinics. Can you recommend any books or projects that might enrich this opportunity?

My response:Sounds great, Josh, and I wish you much success with this important project. Please feel free to use any of the material at the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) web site (JewishVeg.com), including my over 100 articles at JewishVeg.com/schwartz. If you do not have my book "Judaism and Vegetarianism," please send me your mailing address, and I will be happy to send you a complimentary copy, along with some related material including a "Judaism and Vegetarianism" CD.

Re other resources, I suggest you check the Micah Publications web site www.micahbooks.com, as they have several books that would be very valuabl for your project. A very important comprehensive book on Jewish teachings on animals is "The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism." It is available through Amazon.com and barnesandNoble.com.

Re projects, perhaps a student could send a questionnaire (and perhaps also personally contact) rabbis re applications of Jewish teachings on animals. I would be happy to consult with any student re possibilities. You might also want to contact Roberta Kalechofsky (founder and director of Jews for Animal Rights and Micah Publications; micah@micahbooks.com) and Nina Natelson (founder and director of Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI): chai_us@cox.net).

Best of luck with this important project, and please let me know if I can help in any other way.

Gmar chatimah tovah,

9. Israeli African Hebrews’ Vegan Diets keeping Them Healthy

Healthy lives bear fruit for African Hebrews
By Kwaku Sakyi-Addo
BBC, Israel

Sar Bakooriah is 68, and a sprinter. He runs 100 metres in under 12 seconds, while his big grey Afro-style hair sweeps against the Negev Desert wind.

At 68, Sar remains a good athlete Mr Bakooriah is one of 3,000 African Hebrew Israelites living at Dimona, at the foot of the Judean Hills in southern Israel, where miraculous health stories abound.

Men in their seventies lift weights in the gym and grandmothers, like Aturah Havenah, 60, run 8km every morning.

The African Hebrews who settled in Dimona 37 years ago, maintain a strict organic vegetarian diet that excludes dairy products and includes plenty of exercise.

Men sport Afros and women don't put chemicals in their hair. "If you feed your children cow's milk, you shouldn't be surprised when they become obese just like the cow. The milk of a cow is meant for calves to weigh three tonnes when they grow up," says Prince Asiel Ben Israel, 65, himself lean and fit as a boy despite his age.

Mr Israel was one of 400 African-Americans who left the United States in 1967, rejecting what they saw as a life of decadence and death. Under the leadership of Ben Ammi, then only 30, they stopped over in Liberia for two-and-a-half years.

There are too many funerals in Africa. There are never en ough hospitals. We have to stop and ask why

There, they lived off the land in the interior forests, "to reconnect with nature," according to Edem Adzogenu, a Ghanaian doctor in his 30s and one of scores of Africans from the continent who have recently joined the community.

Nearly 300 members of the community returned to the United States during that transition.

Those who were left settled in Dimona with Israeli citizenship. The Israeli authorities accepted their claim for citizenship as they traced their ancestry to indigenous black people who fled from the Romans in Israel in 70 AD, and migrated to East, Central and West Africa. The strict vegetarian diet of the African Hebrews has borne fruit.

Since they settled in Dimona, no more than five of their members have died; and among those born in Israel, not one has died of natural causes.

Infant, child and maternal mortality are zero, a fact confirmed by health authorities in Dimona.

"If the cow is eating greens, and the cow is healthy enough for us to eat its flesh, then why don't we go directly to what the cow is eating?" Ahmadiel Ben-Yehuda, curator of the community's historical museum asks rhetorically.

"There are too many funerals in Africa. There are never enough hospitals. We have to stop and ask why," says Ben Ammi. "It's because we've turned our backs on the simpler but richer gifts from God - all those fruits and vegetables that grow effortlessly around us.

"Africans are eating polished white rice from America instead of locally grown brown rice because we've been fooled into thinking that anything white is good and everything brown is inferior, that's the problem," says Ben Ammi.

The community also has a strong Afro-centric bent, which outwardly manifests itself in their long colourful gowns, sixties-style Afros and chemical-free braids. They maintain a communal structure where all children are everyone's responsibility and teenagers stop to say "Shalom" to passing grown-ups.

The African Hebrews have sent some of their members to Africa to work with communities in hopes of encouraging lifestyle changes. In Benin, they have established an organic farm and an agriculture and nutrition school.

In Ghana there is a soya products factory, a vegetarian food outlet and a local-rice mill.

In South Africa, they have a nutrition project for people living with HIV.

But with massive imports of cheap processed foods to the continent, and US-style fast food joints spreading in urban Africa, it could be an uphill task to convince people that a fresh orange from their backyard is healthier than what's inside the colourfully-labelled can on the shelf.

10. New York Restaurant Serving Kosher Game

The New York Times printed an article about "game" dishes at kosher restaurants. This provides a good opportunity to discuss factory farming and vegetarianism. http://www.goveg.com/feat/agriprocessors/ or region@nytimes.com.

If you do write, please limit your letter to 150 words or less.

For writers' guidelines, see http://www.nytimes.com/top/opinion/editorialsandoped/letters/.

Be sure to include the title and date of the piece, and your name, address, and phone numbers for verification.

October 19, 2005
Stalking Kosher Game (Hold the Giraffe)

IN the strictly kosher kitchen at Levana on the Upper West Side, Bill Spitz, the chef, ladles a deep-hued sauce of veal stock, cassis purée and juniper berries over slices of venison, each slice faintly pink at the middle. Stalks of vibrant green broccolini are tented above the venison, and the dish is whisked out to the dining room.

This is kosher? Yes, but check your delicatessen expectations at the door. This is kosher game.

While unusual game meats and birds can be difficult to obtain under the best of circumstances, for kosher restaurants like Levana, procuring kosher game is an outright challenge, requiring an almost grass-roots approach to acquiring one meat at a time. Sol and Avrum Kirschenbaum, brothers who own the restaurant with a third brother, Maurice, and his wife, Levana, plotted the menu for an Oct. 31 all-game and wine-pairing dinner, revealing the lengths to which they have gone to fill the table.

"We're going on a quail kill soon to get the quail," said Avrum Kirschenbaum, counting on his fingers as he went through the checklist. "We have a guy in Israel who said he can get us cured goose breast, that's new. And we will have glatt kosher foie gras, which is flash frozen and imported from Israel."

The game tasting menu is also expected to include bison ribs and venison sausage made in-house by Mr. Spitz. However, Sol Kirschenbaum added that any of these dishes might fall through, as most exotic items depend upon what can be procured and in what quantities.

Why is kosher game so difficult to obtain? The lengthy list of provisions for the slaughter and ritual preparation of kosher meat deters many farmers from seeking out kosher certification for their animals. A shochet, a trained kosher slaughterer, must be hired. Only parts of many animals can be sold as kosher. The carcasses are inspected several times for imperfections that would disqualify them. The meat is deveined, salted and soaked in cold water several times to draw out any remaining blood.

Then there is the hefty price tag, often double that of similar nonkosher meats.

According to the Orthodox Union, one of the primary agencies that certifies kosher products in the United States, only 10 species of mammals are kosher, including a few game animals, among them antelope, bison, deer, giraffe (yes, giraffe) and ibex.


11. Considering Ecological Factors Re Our Food and Other Commodities

[Thanks to JVNA advisor dan Brook for forwarding this article to me]

More than milchik and fleishik
by alexandra j. wall
staff writer
j., September 30, 2005

Your average mashgiach (kosher overseer) makes sure a dollop of sour cream gets nowhere near a plate of brisket. But Chaya Gusfield and Rabbi Debora Kohn are not your average mashgichot.

Rather than keeping the milchik away from the fleishik, these women are more concerned with separating cans from bottles and keeping paper-plate usage to a bare minimum.

The two Bay Area women, plus Howie Schneider of Santa Cruz, were recently certified according to the principles of "eco-kashrut."

"You think bigger than just straight kashrut," said Gusfield. "You take the principles of kashrut and include ecological concerns."

Gusfield, an Oakland resident who is in the Aleph rabbinical program of the Renewal movement, is a rabbinical assistant at Congregation Beth Chaim in Danville. Earlier this year, she and Kohn of Berkeley, also a Renewal rabbi, went through a certification process with Rabbi Dennis Beck-Berman, a Renewal rabbi based in Virginia.

Though the eco-kosher movement has been around for several decades, this was the first time the Jewish Renewal movement offered certification in the practice. Beck-Berman developed the curriculum, after Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi suggested such a course be taught.

The term eco-kashrut was coined in the 1970s by Shachter-Shalomi, universally known as Reb Zalman, the founder of Jewish Renewal. Beck-Berman offered another certification course as part of the Kallah, the biennial gathering of the Jewish Renewal movement this summer. Eco-kashrut practices are based not only on taking care of the environment, but shmirat hagoof (taking care of the body). Eating a vegetarian diet is one way to lessen one's impact on the planet, and buying organic and pesticide-free produce and avoiding genetically-modified food are further examples of following an eco-kashrut lifestyle. Ensuring that farm workers are compensated with fair wages and purchasing fair trade products is another. Furthermore, buying foods in bulk, to reduce packaging that is often not recyclable, is also a key principle.

"Eighty percent of the teachings are on issues of consumables, the foods and beverages that we eat and drink and how you choose what is more eco-kosher," said Beck-Berman. "We also discuss how you 'kosher' a home as opposed to a facility, meaning finding vendors and suppliers you feel comfortable with. We could spend more time with the topic of slaughtering animals, but a vegetarian diet is much more eco-kosher, so kosher slaughter is not our main focus." And unlike traditional mashgichim, who are trained in the ritual slaughter of animals, no killing is required.

Guided by these principles, Gusfield, who is also a lay leader at Kehilla Community Synagogue, helped prepare the kitchen at Kehilla's new Piedmont facility. Keeping kosher in the traditional sense is often not environmentally sound, she pointed out.

"A lot of kosher food is triple-wrapped," she said. "And by keeping kosher, you end up using more paper plates."

Kohn, who serves as spiritual leader at the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living in Danville, said she practices the principles of eco-kashrut more at home than in her professional life, since the residents of Reutlinger are mostly entrenched carnivores.

But they are open to the idea of eco-kashrut, "in terms of taking care of our planet and the community," Kohn said.

Before Kohn got there, the center didn't recycle anything. "My role here is strictly educational," she said. "The older generation is not used to recycling plastic and cans and paper. We're doing one thing at a time, but we'll get there."

Copyright J, the Jewish news weekly of Northern California

13. Article in Jerusalem Report Re Resistance to Horse Racing
in Israel

GO TO http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/398531952 TO SIGN THE PETITION AGAINST HORSE RACING CRUELTIES - for more information, go to www.chai-online.org

[Please consider writing a letter to the editor at jrep@jreport.co.il]

Animal-rights groups vs. horse-racing plan

The Agriculture Ministry continues to back a plan to bring horse racing to Israel, despite an animal-right's group's appeal to the Supreme Court against the plan and criticism by MKs opposed to legalized gambling.

Hakol Chai, an Israeli animal-rights organization with a sister group in Virginia (CHAI, the Concern for Helping Animals in Israel) petitioned the Supreme Court on September 18, claiming that the government, which approved the racing plan in 2004, had failed to take into account the cruelty endemic in the sport. The initiative, which is being pushed by Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz, would see two race tracks in Israel - the first in the North, in the Gilboa region, and a second in the Negev. Katz has said that the tracks will provide employment and serve as tourist attractions. Other MKs, notably Zevulun Orlev of the National Religious Party, have slammed the plan, claiming that additional legalization of gambling (beyond the current Mifal Hapayis lottery and the Sportoro soccer pools) will harm poor Israelis. A bill enabling the construction of the race tracks is now being prepared for approval by the Knesset, which must pass a law allowing work to begin.

The Agriculture Ministry rejects Hakol Chai's claims of animal cruelty."Horse racing in Israel isn't organized, and opening it to gambling is expected to raise the level of medical care and treatment of the horses, and so the appearance of this sport in Israel is welcome," says Dafna Yeristo - can't read this - a Ministry spokesperson. "Obviously, unprofessional care causes the horses much suffering. In addition, the sport will provide employment for many out-of-work Israelis and will contribute to regional development."

Tali Lavie, spokesperson for Hakol Chai, insists that the sport's cruelty is severe and well documented. Drugging and steroid use - 70% of race-horses are given performance-enhancing substances. Stomach, lung, and heart damage is widespread, as are bone fractures. Once the horses are no longer profitable, they are often killed. "Racehorses live, on average, six years, while a horse's normal life span is around 25," Lavie says. "Israel can find ways of developing tourism that don't involve causing such cruelty to animals."

Matti Friedman

14. Vegetarian Female Seeking Vegetarian Male

Forwarded message from Aviva

I am a 54 year old Jewish, vegetarian woman (convert, 5.7, slim, and healthy) Shomer Shabbat, and I would like to meet a Jewish, vegetarian man for companionship and or marriage. I am an outgoing, sensitive, intuitive person and love the outdoors,walking and talking with a friend, camping, swimming in a lake or cycling in nature. I love cultural events, reading (mostly non-fiction) singing in a choir, and listening to music in a quiet setting. I amhonest, direct, sincere, kind, with a sense of humor and joy of life (but not perfect which motivates me to be introspective at times to work on my life in order to grow forward spiritually). I obtained a M.A from the local university.I try to walk lightly on this earth and abhor cruelty to any living being. Although I live on Canada's west coast, I will relocate for the right person.

I am looking for a middle aged (up to 65) Jewish, vegetarian man (5.7 or over) who is Shomer Shabbat, healthy, strong, loving, successful, university educated, masculine, peaceful,honest and faithful. Someone who is willing to find friendship, love and happiness with me, who is fun to be with, and who is looking for a bashert [intended] to grow into the sunset years with. Please e-mailarro@mail.vcn.bc.ca

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