December 15, 2005

12/15/05 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. JVNA Video Update

2. Urgent Year-End Fund Raising Appeal

3. New Project: Reaching Out to Religious Communities

4. New Israeli Health Magazine Proposed

5. Summary of the Negative Agricultural Effects of Intensive Animal-Based Agriculture

6. Reminder: Please Vote for the Green Zionist Alliance Slate

7. Are Bird Flu and Other Deadly Diseases Related to Environmental Deterioration?

9. Letters to the Jerusalem Post in Response to Their Article On Fur

10. A Nobel Diet?

11. A JVNA Project?

12. Connections Between Animal-Based Diets and Agriculture and Bird Flu

13. New Calendar Relates Jewish Teachings to Actions for a Better World

14. Correction

15. A Quote That Illustrates What is Needed for JVNA Success

16. Interested in a Job Organizing a “Beyond Oil Campaign”?

18. Chanukah-related Article by Dan Brook and Me Now Online

19. My Latest Interview Will Be Online by Monday Morning, December 19, 2005

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. JVNA Video Update

I hope that you received the special update on the JVNA video project that was sent out on Tuesday. If you have any suggestions related to it, please let me know. Thanks to everyone who sent in responses and/or financial help. One positive response is below:

Dear Richard,

Thank you for this very exciting report. SAZ [Arizona] COEJL will be very interested in showing at least one of your videos, or, if you reduce all that footage to one video, that video! at the Tucson Jewish Film Festival in 2006 (if you are finished) or 2007. We might be able to make it a significant event with you as a speaker, not as a Film Festival showing, but as a stand alone COEJL event. Please keep me posted as to your progress. I will try to send a donation to supportthis wonderful effort. Susan
If you have suggestions re how we can get stock footage of scenes of animal abuse on factory farms, environmental pollution, health care and hospital scenes, etc., please let me know.

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2. Urgent Year-End Fund Raising Appeal

As indicated in the special update on the JVNA video project, working with multi-award-winning photographer/filmmaker Lionel Friedberg, we have videotaped many interviews and many scenes in Israel that provide the potential of an extremely valuable video (with some important related videos) that has the potential of getting vegetarianism, environmental stewardship, health, and the proper treatment of animals onto the Jewish agenda (and later on other agendas). Your financial help is urgently needed for the success of this project.

Please make a tax-deductible donation to the JVNA by sending a check made out to JVNA or the Jewish Vegetarians of North America to
Israel Mossman
6938 Reliance Road
Federalsburg, MD 21632

Any amount will be welcome and appreciated. Donations of $1,000 or more will be acknowledged in the credits at the end of the video.

If you have suggestions re possible granting agencies and/or other potential sources of funds, please let me know.

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3. New Project: Reaching Out to Religious Communities

Some very exciting news! I will be leading a campaign sponsored by VUNA (Vegetarian Union of North America, an umbrella group affiliated with the International Vegetarian Union (IVU)) to get vegetarianism and related issues onto religious agendas. I believe that this has great potential to make a difference.

So far, based on my message to the JVNA advisory committee, JVNA will be a supporter of this project, as will the Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA) and the “Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians” (SERV). We will be seeking support from other religious vegetarian groups and later also from secular vegetarian and animal rights groups.

Below is some background material re the project. It is a “work in process,” so your suggestions are very welcome.

* Why challenge religious groups re vegetarianism?

The world is imperiled as perhaps never before and animal-based diets contribute significantly to these threats. Animal-centered diets are inconsistent with religious teachings to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people. Yet, religions generally are ignoring these important realities.

Many Americans take religion seriously, attend church, synagogue, mosque, etc. regularly, and are concerned about “moral values.” Yet few consider the many moral issues related to animal-based diets.

I believe that environmental threats, the current epidemic of diseases, widespread hunger, and the massive mistreatment of animals on factory farms are religious/moral/spiritual issues and religions should be actively involved in responding to these threats.

* Why should VUNA undertake this project?

- VUNA is an umbrella group, and hence in a good position to undertake such a project.
- No other group is doing it.
- Unlike some other groups, VUNA is not considered controversial or radical.
- Undertaking such a project has the potential of greatly increasing VUNA’s reputation and potential effectiveness.

* How would the project be administered

One possibility is to have a governing council with a very wide representation of males and females, Christians, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, etc., with perhaps even some non-believers, younger and older people, etc.

Decisions would be reached by consensus or votes in which decisive majorities would be required.

Since this would be a VUNA project, on important issues a majority of VUNA councilors would be required also.

* What are some of the activities that could be carried out as part of this project?

a. press releases
b. visits to clergy members
c. a vegetarian Sabbath
d. a letter writing campaign
e. sermons and classes
f. calls to religious radio programs
g. articles
h. a newsletter
i. debates and discussions
j. resolutions
k. position papers
l. a web site
m. it could use the lists of religious/vegetarian quotations, bibliographies, and URLs of religious/vegetarian groups at the SERV web site

* What resources do we have that would be helpful?

In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the religious material on vegetarianism, including books, booklets, leaflets, CDs, and DVDs. CVA has been very successful in distributing Christian vegetarian material at Christian events. SERV has very extensive lists of religious/vegetarian quotations, literature, and vegetarian web sites at its web site.

I have over 100 vegetarian-related articles and other items at and SERV has some vegetarian-related articles at its web site.

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4. New Israeli Health Magazine Proposed

Forwarded message:

BS"D [With God’s help]

Hello. I am tiring to start a small magazine about health to be put out in Israel and am looking or articles and advertisers.

It is a non profit magazine, whit a goal of introducing a healthy way of life, and among other things, the importance of eating organic vegetarian, etc. ...

I have not yet gotten together a full report with sample that I can show you, I am currently examining if such a project will be able to float. So if you kindly have any advice, articles, or leads of people who may want to advertise I would be grateful. [I responded that Ahdee is welcome to use any of my articles at]

ps. I have a small collection of articles donated by Viva and sustainable.

Thank you and have a great day
Ahdee Shepherd

The Loyal Shepherd Magazine

[If you have any suggestions for Ahdee, please contact Ahdee at Thanks.]

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5. Summary of the Negative Agricultural Effects of Intensive Animal-Based Agriculture

Forwarded message:

25%of the world ’s land surface is given over to grazing more than 1.25 billion cattle. Grazing is often said to be the only use for such land but, in many cases, a more efficient and sustainable use would be to grow trees for timber,fuel and food – such as nuts and fruits.More than 1/3 of the world's agricultural land suffers desertification through clearing forests for grazing; overgrazing; overcultivating croplands to feed farm animals as well as people; using poor irrigation techniques. A vegan – who eats only plant foods and products based on them – requires just 1/8 of the land needed to feed a meat-eater.

Farm animals convert only 5 to 15%of their food into meat, eggs, or milk. The fossil energy input to produce a day’s food for a vegan is just under 10,000 calories, while it is nearly double for a vegetarian and a massive 34,000 for a meat-eater. Much of the land now wasted in feeding farm animals could be used to grow ‘industrial crops ’ – for
example, to make renewable fuels and fibre (hemp,flax, etc)

Farm animals are voracious consumers of water. A day ’s food for a meat-eater requires over 15,000 litres (enough to take 300 baths)– compared with 5,000 for a vegetarian and a mere 1,150 for a vegan. [Common numbers for the English system are 4,200 gallons a day for typical animal-based diets, 1,400 gallons per day for vegetarians, and 300 gallons per day for vegans. The main contributor to water use is the irrigation of feed crops.]

Farm animals produce large quantities of urine and excrement – 23 kilograms per day for each cow. The ammonia and nitrates from this waste leach into the ground and surface water, polluting wells and rivers. Such pollution causes algal blooms,removes oxygen from the water and kills fish. Ammonia from farm waste also contributes to atmospheric pollution.

This is increased by the carbon dioxide (CO 2) released through burning forests, the methane given off as waste gases from farm animals – especially cows and sheep – and the nitrous oxides released from artificial fertilisers.

Nearly one billion people are under- nourished or starving, despite the world producing enough food to feed twice its human population of 6 billion. Yet 1/3 of the grain we grow is fed to farm animals. Nobody seriously suggests that animal products (e.g. meat, eggs and milk)are essential for health. Animal farming represents a squanderous misuse of scarce natural resources and is a major contributor to environmental destruction. Vegan diets use less land, water and fuel and are gentler on the planet and all of its inhabitants.

For further information on the vegan diet, visit
or send an A5 SAE to The Vegan Society,Donald Watson House,7 Battle Road, St.Leonards-on-Sea,East Sussex TN37 7AA Tel:0845 45 88244

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6. Reminder: Please Vote for the Green Zionist Alliance Slate (I Am On the Slate)

You have a chance to make a real difference in Israel by voting for the Green Zionist Alliance in the World Zionist Organization (WZO) elections. The elections are every few years. It'll cost you $7 ($5 for students) and takes about two minutes - and it really makes a difference. For more information and to register to vote, go to:
The registration deadline is January 15, 2006.

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7. Are Bird Flu and Other Deadly Diseases Related to Environmental Deterioration?

Ecosystem Changes a Threat to Human Health: WHO
Published on Friday, December 9, 2005 by Reuters

BANGKOK - The rise of deadly new diseases such as SARS and bird flu could be linked to the destruction of the environment, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

"Human health is strongly linked to the health of ecosystems, which meet many of our most critical needs," Maria Neira, director of WHO's Department of Protection of the Human Environment told a news conference at the launch of a new report.

Population growth and economic development were leading to rapid changes in global ecosystems and this was affecting human health, the report said. It said natural resources such as water, food, fuel and climate were important to prevent diseases and sustain good health as many human diseases originated in animals.

Such diseases, including influenza, tuberculosis and measles, established themselves in human populations after crossing from domesticated animal species including chickens, cattle and dogs.

"As a result of human actions, the structure and the world's ecosystems changed more rapidly in the second half of the twentieth century than at any other time in human history," the report said.

About 60 percent of the benefits that the global systems provided to support life on Earth were being degraded and used substantially, said the report, which involved more than 1,300 experts worldwide.

Harmful consequences to human health were being felt and could grow significantly worse over the next 50 years, it said.

Pressure on the environment could have unpredictable and potentially severe future impacts on health, the WHO said. It said regions facing the greatest risks included sub-Sahara Africa, Central Asia, parts of Latin America and parts of South and Southeast Asia.

"For the poor people, they might represent the problem in terms of food production, in particular, drought and flooding. And the problem is increasing," Neira said.

The report said some of the most serious problems included nutrition as degradation of fish stocks and farmland were factors in the malnutrition of some 800 million people around the world -- nearly all of them in poor countries.

Water-associated infectious diseases claimed 3.2 million lives each year, about 6 percent of all deaths, the report said. Yet more than 1 billion people lacked access to safe water supplies and 2.6 billion lacked adequate sanitation, it said.

Reuters 2005

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9. Letters to the Jerusalem Post in Response to Their Article On Fur

Due to efforts of JVNA, four letters appeared in Tuesday’s (December 13) issue of the Jerusalem Post in response to their article about fur. The letters were shortened.

Letters to the editor, December 13

Fur boycott

Sir, - I commend those whose efforts led the Castro fashion chain to discontinue selling fur products ("Are fur boycotts worth the effort?" December 9).

Judaism has very strong teachings about the proper treatment of animals. The psalmist indicates God's concern for animals, stating that "His compassion is over all of His creatures" (Psalm 145:9). Perhaps the Jewish attitude toward animals is best expressed by Proverbs 12:10: "The righteous person considers the soul (life) of his animal."

In sharp contrast, animals caught in steel-jaw leg hold traps suffer slow, agonizing deaths. Treatment of animals raised on "fur ranches" is also extremely cruel as millions of animals are confined with little room to move and all their natural instincts thwarted.

Based on the prohibition of tza'ar ba'alei haim (animal suffering), Rabbi Haim Dovid Halevy issued a halachic ruling in March 1992 indicating that Jews should not wear fur.

Staten Island, NY

Sir, - Asher Meir is right on target that animals are worthy of our moral consideration, and that kindness to animals has a "trickle-up" effect making us more compassionate to all.

When Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was asked how he could be a doting father and yet dictate the slaughter of other children his answer was: "They were only Jews." So when I hear Jews saying that it is okay to subsidize the mistreatment of innocent creatures with "They are only animals," I shudder. If we can dismiss the suffering of others, whether they have two legs or four, we never will find peace in this world.


Sir, - Fur is not a necessity. We now have much lighter, warmer and more economical materials available which do not rely on the slow, painful killing of sentient creatures.

Despite the cruelties I have witnessed by man, I would like to think that he is evolving to become a more compassionate being. As people become aware of the cruelties involved in production of the things they use, they are more and more seeking compassionate replacements. I think this is essential to our maturation as a species.


Sir, - Asher Meir concludes that he doesn't "see any justification for a total boycott of fur products." Respectfully, it seems that he has not fully read about the absolute horrors of the fur industry. God-fearing, compassionate Jews should not participate in the wearing of fur for vanity. Its production involves intense animal cruelty.

Some Jews, when they see a friend wearing a new garment say, "May you wear it out and acquire a new one." Some authorities write that this does not apply to garments made of leather or fur because they entail the killing of animals (Rabbi Moshe Isserlis on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 223:6).

It is our job as the Jewish people to show the rest of the world that animals are not ours to exploit.

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10. A Nobel Diet?

The following is the first paragraph in a Jeruslem Post article “The First Word: When the Nobel meets the Sabbath” about Prof. Robert Aumann, an Orthodox Jew, receiving a Nobel prize in economics.

Shira Leibowitz Schmidt, THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 8, 2005

Turtle soup is no longer the first course at the Nobel Prize grand banquet. Today the menus are more Scandinavian: salmon mousse with crayfish sauce, cured fillets of reindeer, juniper-berry cured salmon and pate of smoked eel, ice-cream parfait and Dom Perignon vintage 1995.

The menus for the past century appear on the Internet Web site of, except for this year's menu which, as always, is kept secret until the day of the banquet that serves 1,300 guests in Stockholm city hall's lavish Blue Room.

[These are the foods served to our outstanding people in so many fields? I wonder if any of the Nobel Laureates requested vegetarian meals. Perhaps their should be a Nobel Prize for Nutrition.]

The article continued:
But it is no secret that at least one Nobel Laureate and his guests will eat a somewhat different menu, for Prof. Robert Aumann is an Orthodox Jew and will be served a strictly kosher dinner, on kosher dishes with kosher wine.

This complete article can be read here.

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11. A JVNA Project?

I don't know if this is a project that JVNA would want to take on, but I think it would be wonderful and a great service to the vegetarian movement if there was a web site where vegetarian activists and supporters could find valuable facts and statistics on vegetarian connections to such topics as:

global warming
species extinction
water shortages
soil erosion
water pollution

along with perhaps a sample letter or two on each topic.

Probably much of this already exists scattered in many places, but it would be great if there was one repository and people could be encouraged to go there in response to current news stories, as this would greatly increase the chances for op-ed articles and letters to editors. The first step in this project would be to try to find out what material already exists and what areas/questions require more information.

If any vegetarian group or animal rights group has interns or volunteers, this might be a very valuable project. I would be happy to submit material from my vegetarian book and articles if such a project got started. I would also be happy to do some web surfing. It would probably be valuable to have a small committee of experts to oversee the site and its contents.

I believe that this would provide an extremely valuable service for the vegetarian community. Any volunteers?

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12. Connections Between Animal-Based Diets and Agriculture and Bird Flu

Eating Meat Threatens Millions With Bird Flu

Modern factory farms raise animals in extremely unnatural conditions. Almost all 10 billion land animals who are slaughtered in the U.S. each year are forced to live in extremely crowded sheds. They are surrounded by their own filth and breathe ammonia-laden air that destroys their lungs and compromises their immune systems. It comes as no surprise that these facilities have become major sources for deadly disease outbreaks such as hoof-and-mouth disease, mad cow disease, Mycobacterium paratuberculosis (which is thought by most scientists to cause Crohn’s disease in humans), and now the most dangerous of all: bird flu.

Avian influenza, or “bird flu,” threatens humanity with the greatest public health crisis in recorded history. Experts warn that the disease could kill one in eight human beings, including 40 million Americans, and cause a collapse of the world economy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), while the virus is destroyed by thorough cooking, it can be caught simply by eating undercooked meat or eggs, by eating food prepared on the same cutting board as infected meat or eggs, or even by touching eggshells contaminated with the disease.

The risk could not be more dire. Senior UN System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza Dr. David Nabarro describes it as a threat to “the survival of the world as we know it.” Dr. Gregory A. Poland of the Mayo Clinic has called it “what could arguably be the most horrific disaster in modern history.” Other experts describe the effects on society: “We haven’t even begun to conceive of, to understand, to comprehend what that may mean for our workplace”; “[S]chools are closed ... transportation systems are curtailed or shut down ... Critical infrastructure will or may fail: food, water, power, gas, electricity”; and “When this happens, time will be described, for those left living, as before and after the pandemic.”

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt called the likelihood of an influenza pandemic “very high, some say even certain.” Just walk into any factory-farm chicken or turkey shed and it’s easy to see why. One shed houses tens of thousands of birds who are never allowed outside and are cooped up in their own filth. When one bird gets sick, the disease can quickly spread to all of them. The conditions in these sheds provide ideal breeding grounds for pathogens, with birds living in their own feces from birth to slaughter and laying hens kept in stacked cages so that feces from the birds on top fall on the birds below. The air in the sheds is so filthy with ammonia and dust that it burns their eyes and throats.

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13. New Calendar Relates Jewish Teachings to Actions for a Better World

"A Kindness a Day" 2006 Calendar
365 Ways to Make the World A Better Place

New York, December 6, 2005 - Areyvut (, a New York-based non-profit organization, announces the release of its 2006 "A Kindness a Day" calendar.

Designed in a "one-day-per-page" format, the calendar offers 365 suggestions for people of all ages to better themselves and the world around them. For example, January 1st's entry suggests, "Let your first check of the year be to charity." Other entries remind readers to "call someone who won't expect it" or to "be quick to forgive those who have wronged you."

"Acts of loving kindness should not be random," explains Daniel Rothner, Areyvut's founder and director. "Charity, kindness and social justice must be an integral part of everyone's day. The 2006 calendar is great for adults and children; as well as homes, schools and other organizations; both as a guide to help inculcate Jewish values into one's life and as a springboard for discussion and study."

The original idea for the calendar was inspired by the "Book of Jewish Values," written by renowned author and member of Areyvut's Advisory Committee, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. The first edition of the calendar, published in 2005, saw widespread use throughout the Jewish communal and educational worlds, with lesson plans and open discussions based on the "Kindness of the Day."

The 2006 calendar includes various improvements over previous editions:
* Every Shabbat entry is connected to the weekly Torah portion;
* There are closer ties to the holidays - both religious and secular;
* 100 new entries, including submissions from students and teachers;
* A thematic index allows for better reference planning by those who use the calendar as a project/curriculum resource.

Calendars can be purchased through,, and at better Jewish book and gift stores nationwide. For sample pages, frequently asked questions and additional information, please see

About Areyvut

Areyvut - Hebrew for mutual responsibility and accountability - empowers Jewish youth around the world, enabling them to infuse their lives with the core Jewish values of chesed (kindness), tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (social justice). Established in September 2002, Areyvut reaches out to Jewish day schools, congregations and communities, regardless of affiliation. Areyvut offers unique opportunities for creating innovative and meaningful programs to make these values a reality for students and educators alike.

# # #
For More Information:

Alan Braverman
Braverman Communications Inc.

Daniel Rothner
Areyvut Founder & Director
1001 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 1208
New York, NY 10018
P: 212-813-2950
F: 212-813-2951

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14. Correction:

…..Last week’s JVNA newsletter had the following:

…..As Jonathan Wolf, JVNA founder, first president, and long-time vegetarian and social justice activist and advisor pointed out:

Rabbi Kook of Rehovot is I believe the NEPHEW of Chief Rabbi Kuk, whose only son (as far as I know) was Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook, leader of Gush Emunim.

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15. A Quote That Illustrates What is Needed for JVNA Success

Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

- Former US President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)

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16. Interested in a Job Organizing a “Beyond Oil Campaign”?

Forwarded message from Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center:

The Shalom Center seeks an effective activist organizer with knowledge of Jewish and other wisdom traditions to organize in the Jewish and other religious and some secular communities for our "Beyond Oil" project.

For a detailed description of the project, click to:

This requires working with congregations and shaping conferences of religious and secular folks -- to develop liturgies, sermons, social action, and ongoing covenant-groups to encourage efforts to reduce the use of oil/ and gasoline by households, congregants, the congregation as a body, and the society as a whole -- by making an impact on personal behavior and public policy.

The job will be full-time, with a minimum one-year intention. Home office is (preferably) Philadelphia, focus will be Boswash corridor.Applicants should Email Rabbi Arthur Waskow at -- with "Beyond Oil organizer" in the subject line. Please do NOT telephone.


Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director
The Shalom Center voices a new prophetic agenda in Jewish,

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18. Chanukah-related Article by Dan Brook and Me Now Online

The article can be found at

Dan Brook deserves much credit for very creatively adapting some material in my article relating Chanukah and vegetarianism. I urge others to consider doing similar things with one or more of my over 100 articles at

Please take a look at our article, and also please let others know about it. Thanks.

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19. My Latest Interview Will Be Online by Monday Morning, December19, 2005

I was just interviewed by vegetarian humorist and author Vance Lehmkuhl and you can hear my comments on Judaism and vegetarianism and what it is like to be a Jew and a vegetarian during this holiday season, by going to and clicking on my interview. Lease let me know what you think.

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