December 21, 2005

12/21/05 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. Happy Chanukah/Chanukah and Vegetarianism

4. Some Environmental Connections to Chanukah

5. Torah Teachings on Health

6. Is Veganism a Key to Reducing World Hunger?

7. Update on Green Zionist Alliance Campaign

9. An Orthodox Jewish Perspective on Vegetarianism

10. Lantern Books Reading Club Announces Event

12. Example of Our Impact/Interested in Organizing a Conference?

13. Israeli Soy Product Expanding in Europe

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

We are now in the process of trying to get stock footage that can be used to enliven the video and enable people to “see” what is being discussed by the interviewees. The main areas that we are seeking footage for are:
* animal abuse on factory farms and during transportation;
* slaughterhouse scenes;
* scenes of environmental pollution and degradation;
* scenes re health issues, such as hospital surgery, obesity, medical checkups;
* synagogue scenes, such as reading the Torah, raising the Torah, studying the Talmud, and dovening in synagogues.

If you have such material or other material on vegetarian-related issues, please let me know. It would be much appreciated, and contributors of footage will be acknowledged in the video credits and in a JVNA newsletter.

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2. Urgent Year-End Fund Raising Appeal

At a time when the world faces so many critical threats and yet there is much apathy and failure to adequately respond, the JVNA can play a very positive role in helping shift the world from its present destructive path to one that is far more humane, just, compassionate, healthy, peaceful, and environmentally sustainable. We have truth, morality, and justice on our side, but we need funds to effectively get our message out.

As indicated in the special update on the JVNA video project that was sent out recently, 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 can help get 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, which has such great potential.

Money is needed to enable Lionel Friedberg to travel all over the U.S. to interview key people, to obtain stock footage, to transcribe the interviews, to produce the final video, to distribute it, and for much more.

Every dollar received will go into the production of the video (and supplementary videos that will reinforce our message).

Please make a tax-deductible donation to the JVNA by visiting and clicking on “Donate Now,” or 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. Many thanks.

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3. Happy Chanukah/Chanukah and VegetarianismRichard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Best wishes to everyone for a very happy, meaningful Chanukah. It begins on the night of December 25 this year. I hope that my article below will help enhance your celebration of the holiday. Please feel free to share it with others.

Chanukah and Vegetarianism
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Many connections can be made between vegetarianism and the Jewish festival of Chanukah:

* According to the Book of Maccabees, some Maccabees lived on plant foods since they were unable to get kosher meat when they hid in the mountains to avoid capture.

* The foods associated with Channukah, latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (fried donuts) are vegetarian foods, and the oils that are used in their preparation are a reminder of the oil used in the lighting of the Menorah in the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabean victory.

* Chanukah represents the triumph of non-conformity. The Maccabees stuck to their inner beliefs, rather than conforming to external pressure. They were willing to say: This I believe, this I stand for, this I am willing to struggle for. Today, vegetarians represent non-conformity. At a time when most people in the wealthier countries think of animal products as the main part of their meals, when the number of McDonald's and similar fast food establishments are growing rapidly, when almost all celebrations involve an abundance of animal products, vegetarians are resisting and insisting that there is a better, healthier, more humane diet.

* Chanukah represents the victory of the few, who practiced God's teachings, over the many, who acted according to the values of the surrounding society. Today vegetarians are a very small minority in most countries, but they believe that, consistent with God's original diet (Genesis 1:29), and religious mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, preserve natural resources, and share with hungry people, vegetarianism is the dietary approach most consistent with Jewish values.

* Chanukah commemorates the miracle of the oil that was enough for only one day, but miraculously lasted for eight days. A switch to vegetarianism on the part of the world's people could help cause an even greater miracle: the end of the scandal of world hunger which results in the death of an estimated 20 million people annually, while over a third of the world's grain is fed to animals destined for slaughter.

* It is interesting that the ratio of eight days that the oil burned compared to the one day of burning capacity that the oil had is the same ratio (8 to 1) that is often given for the pounds of grain that are necessary to add a pound to a cow in a feed lot (a ratio of 16 to 1 is often given for the amount of edible beef produced). The miracle of the oil brings the use of fuel and other resources into focus, and vegetarian diets make resources go much further, since far less water, fuel, land, pesticides, fertilizer, and other agricultural resources are required for plant-based diets than for animal-centered diets.

* Chanukah commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from the Syrian Greeks. So, today, vegetarianism can be a step toward deliverance from modern problems such as hunger, pollution, and resource scarcities.

* On the Sabbath during Chanukah, the prophetic portion indicates that difficulties can best be overcome "not by might and not by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). Today, Jewish vegetarians are arguing that the way to a better, less violent world is not by exercising our power over animals, but by applying the spirit of God, "whose tender mercies are over all of His creatures" (Psalm 145:9).

* The Hebrew root of the word Chanukah also means education, Jewish vegetarians believe that if Jews were educated about the horrible realities of factory farming and the powerful Jewish mandates about taking care of our health, showing compassion to animals, protecting the environment, conserving resources, and helping hungry people, they would seriously consider switching to vegetarian diets.

* At the morning services during each day of Chanukah, there is a recitation of Hallel, the psalms of praise from Psalm 113 to 118. During the Sabbath of Chanukah and every other Sabbath during the year, the morning service has a prayer that begins, "The soul of all living creatures shall praise God's name". Yet, it is hard for animals to join in the praise of God when in the United States alone almost 10 billion animals are killed annually for their flesh after suffering from cruel treatment on factory farms.

In view of these and other connections, I hope that Jews will enhance their celebrations of the beautiful and spiritually meaningful holiday of Chanukah by making it a time to begin striving even harder to live up to Judaism’s highest moral values and teachings by moving toward a vegetarian diet.

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4. Some Environmental Connections to Chanukah

The following message and article was written by Jeremy Benstein, Associate Director of the Tel Aviv-based Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership:

Only 8 more S.H.O.P-ing days left til Hanukkah! Not the consumerist kind, of course, but Spiritual Hanukkah Orientation & Preparation days.

And to add to your insights this year, here is a column of mine that appeared in the People and the Book section of the most recent edition of the Jerusalem Report.

Chag sameach! [Happy holiday!]

On the Nature of Hanukkah - A Dialogue

- You're writing about Hanukkah? But don't you usually write about nature and the environment?
- Nu? So?
- So, what's the environmental side of Hanukkah? I always thought it was either about miracles, like the oil lasting eight days, or about bravery and fighting for independence.
- True - that's the Sunday school version, which always triggers its own debates about whether the holiday's message is more religious-theological, or more secular-political. But it's more complex than that.
- How so?
- Well, did you ever realize that Hanukkah represents the first oil crisis? And that the crisis was solved with renewable energy?
- Get serious! Besides, some would interpret that to mean that we should wait for God to solve our current energy problems miraculously.
- You're right. But it's no coincidence that Hanukkah comes towards the end of the mesik, the olive harvest in Israel, when oil becomes plentiful. Remember the nerot we light originally referred to oil lamps, not candles.
- That's interesting. You know, most of those candles are petroleum-based - it would certainly add meaning to switch to olive oil.
- I agree. There is indeed a whole agricultural side: The Mishnah, in Tractate Bikkurim, even mentions Hanukkah as the last time that people could bring their first-fruit offerings to the Temple, probably because the olive crop is the last of the seven species to ripen.
- Just as winter is setting in - which means that we renew our stock of oil just as the days shorten and we need it most.
- Nicely put - and that is another "environmental" side. The theme of light and its return is doubly represented on Hanukkah: not only the light of the sun, at the winter solstice, but the moon as well. The holiday straddles the new moon of Tevet, and the moon disappears and then reappears during the course of the festival.
- One thing I really like about the natural sides of our holidays is the universal connection it gives us: both to these cosmic cycles of light, darkness, and seasonal changes, but also to other peoples and their cultures. You know, many traditions have candle-lighting festivals in winter!
- That's sounds really New-Agey, but it's actually an ancient realization. The Talmud even hints that the origin of the eight days of Hanukkah is as a solstice festival.
- I thought the Talmud barely mentions Hanukkah.
- The Tractate of Avodah Zarah, dealing with idolatrous practices, relates that the Roman festivals of Calendria and Saturnalia take place eight days after and eight days before the solstice. Then a teaching of the rabbis is quoted: "When the first Adam saw the day getting progressively shorter, he said: "Woe is me, for because I have sinned, the entire world is being cast into darkness and returning to chaos! This must be the death that was decreed by Heaven!' He then sat for eight days in prayer and fasting. But as he observed the winter solstice and noted the day getting increasingly longer, he said: 'This must be the way of the world, ' and he celebrated an eight day festival." The point being that Hanukkah and those other festivals go back to that same universal experience of joy and relief at the return of the light in darkest winter.
- When you think about it, those natural cycles that we're so used to are no less miraculous than a story about a jar of oil.
- It's hard for us to believe in miracles these days - but maybe it's just about not taking things for granted.
- That's goes for the political dimension of the holiday as well.
- What do you mean?
- OK, so especially in this season, we should rededicate ourselves to the message of freedom, both particular and universal, and pray that renewed connections in both the natural and the national realms will give us reason to celebrate.
- You know, when it comes to how we celebrate, and those connections with other holidays, I've been troubled recently with the increasing commercialization of Hanukkah, much like its seasonal cousin, Christmas.
- I agree. And it's doubly ironic on Hanukkah, which represents the triumph of spiritual values over the materialistic culture of Hellenism. That's also another environmental aspect of the holiday: the emphasis on quantity in gift-giving, and the destructive effects of runaway consumer culture.
- Oy! That's a lot of guilt with the gelt!
- Well, we do build and preserve the world both with our presence, and our presents. The candles should represent for both, a ner tamid, a perpetual, sustainable source of light and not an esh okhelet, a destructive fire.
- Amen. Hag urim sameah, may it be a joyous festival of light for all.

Dr. Jeremy Benstein is associate director of the Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership in Tel Aviv, and the author of a forthcoming book from Jewish Lights on Judaism and the environment.

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5. Torah Teachings on Health

Forwarded article from author and Torah scholar Yosef Hakohen:

A Healthy Body is Good for the Soul:
"Only guard yourself and greatly guard your life." (Deuteronomy 4:9)

Dear Friends,

Rabbi Yose, a sage of the Mishna, said: "Let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven." (Pirkei Avos 2:17). Rabbi Ovadiah Bartenora, in his classical commentary on this teaching, writes: "Even when you are engaged in eating, drinking, and earning a living, do not have the kavanah - intention - that you are doing this for your physical pleasure, but rather for the sake of being healthy so that you can fulfill the will of your Creator." Yes, we should certainly enjoy those physical pleasures that the Creator intended us to have, but our primary motivation should be "for the sake of Heaven" - to have the strength to fulfill the life-affirming purpose of our Creator. The great 12th century sage, Maimonides - also known as "the Rambam" - elaborates on this idea, and he notes that even sleeping can be for the sake of Heaven if one sleeps with the intention of gaining physical and mental strength in order to know Hashem - the Compassionate One (Hilchos De'os, 3:3). In general, adds Maimonides, one needs a healthy body in order to know and emulate the ways of Hashem; "therefore, he must avoid that which harms the body and accustom himself to that which helps the body become healthier and stronger" (Ibid. 4:1). Maimonides also reminds us that our sages stressed the importance of exercise and good nutrition.

And Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch reminds us that it is a mitzva - Divine mandate - to take care of our health, as it is written: "Only guard yourself and greatly guard your life" (Deut. 4:9). The Hebrew term for "life" in this verse is "nefesh" - a term which can refer to the life-force which supports the body. In his explanation of this mitzva, Rabbi Hirsch writes:

"Not only may you not rob yourself of your life; you may not even cause your body the slightest injury. You may not ruin your health through carelessness, you may not weaken yourself by abstinence from that which is permitted, you may not willfully bring yourself into danger, you may not lessen your powers through an irregular way of life, or in any way weaken your health or shorten your life. Only if the body is healthy is it an efficient instrument for the spirit's activity. Therefore, even the smallest unnecessary deprivation of strength is accountable to God. Every smallest weakening is partial murder. Therefore you should avoid everything which might possibly impair your health. You should not risk your health except when God himself demands it. You should not rely on a protective miracle of Providence, unless the fulfillment of duty makes it necessary to face danger; for Providence does not protect carelessness and foolhardiness. And the law (of Torah) asks you to be even more circumspect in avoiding danger to life and limb than in the avoidance of other transgressions - see Choshen Mishpat 427 and Yorah Deah 116." (Horeb, chapter 62)

Rabbi Hirsch also conveys the following personal message to each of us: You have a responsibility to preserve your life and your health, for all creation has a claim to your beneficent activity, including "every human being whom you can serve, every animal that you have and can preserve, every tree which you can guard, and every earthly creature to which you belong" (Ibid.).

All of the above teachings can help us to understand the following statement in the Book of Proverbs:

"A person who does chesed (deeds of love) does good to himself." (11:17)

According to some of the commentaries, the "good" that the loving person does to himself is the providing of his necessary physical needs so that he can be healthy and strong. A person who is dedicated to chesed looks after his basic physical needs so that he can have the health, strength, and resources to give to others. With this altruistic intention, eating, drinking, sleeping, exercise, and all activities which enhance physical and mental health become deeds "for the sake of Heaven."

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

Related Comments:

* The Chafetz Chaim, whose teachings we discussed in previous letters, stressed the importance of good health to his students. In a talk that he gave at his yeshiva in 1903, he said: "Don't go learning and studying inordinately, beyond the normal amount of Talmud. A person must guard his body against ailments. He must therefore rest, renew his strength, breathe fresh air. An hour should be set aside regularly for a walk around evening time, or for resting at home. As much as possible, one should bathe in the river, to fortify the body. Excessive, exaggerated zeal and perseverance in study stems from the counsel of the bad inclination, which seeks to persuade a person to toil away beyond his strength, so that his body should become so weakened that he will be forced to give up the study of Torah completely; and thus his reward will be canceled by his loss. In my own self I have seen this: In my early years I kept learning and studying Torah beyond my strength, and as a result, my eyes became weakened; and so the doctors decreed that I must not read any printed work studiously for a full two years." ("The Chafetz Chaim" by Rabbi Moses Yoshor, ArtScroll)

* The Chazon Ish, a leading sage of the mid-twentieth century who lived in Bnei Brak, Israel, was constantly concerned about the health and welfare of yeshiva students. In a letter to one student who had been ill, he wrote: "Perhaps you can arrange to go to a resort for a month for recuperation. Ask your soul to be kind to your body." ("The Torah Personality" - Biographical sketches of leading sages published by ArtScroll)

* "Horeb" by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, explains the ethical and spiritual lessons that can be learned by fulfilling the mitzvos of the Torah, including the mitzvos of the heart and the mind. It also provides the reader with many of the details and laws regarding the mitzvos.

Hazon - Our Universal Vision:

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6. Is Veganism a Key to Reducing World Hunger?

Forwarded by Robert Andrews

Famine can only be avoided if the rich give up meat, fish and dairy,12128,865087,00.html
George Monbiot
Tuesday December 24, 2002
The Guardian

The Christians stole the winter solstice from the pagans, and capitalism stole it from the Christians. But one feature of the celebrations has remained unchanged: the consumption of vast quantities of meat. The practice used to make sense. Livestock slaughtered in the autumn, before the grass ran out, would be about to decay, and fat-starved people would have to survive a further three months. Today we face the opposite problem: we spend the next three months trying to work it off.

Our seasonal excesses would be perfectly sustainable, if we weren't doing the same thing every other week of the year. But, because of the rich world's disproportionate purchasing power, many of us can feast every day. And this would also be fine, if we did not live in a finite world.

By comparison to most of the animals we eat, turkeys are relatively efficient converters: they produce about three times as much meat per pound of grain as feedlot cattle. But there are still plenty of reasons to feel uncomfortable about eating them. Most are reared in darkness, so tightly packed that they can scarcely move. Their beaks are removed with a hot knife to prevent them from hurting each other. As Christmas approaches, they become so heavy that their hips buckle. When you see the inside of a turkey broilerhouse, you begin to entertain grave doubts about European civilisation.

This is one of the reasons why many people have returned to eating red meat at Christmas. Beef cattle appear to be happier animals. But the improvement in animal welfare is offset by the loss in human welfare. The world produces enough food for its people and its livestock, though (largely because they are so poor) some 800 million are malnourished. But as the population rises, structural global famine will be avoided only if the rich start to eat less meat. The number of farm animals on earth has risen fivefold since 1950: humans are now outnumbered three to one. Livestock already consume half the world's grain, and their numbers are still growing almost exponentially.

This is why biotechnology - whose promoters claim that it will feed the world - has been deployed to produce not food but feed: it allows farmers to switch from grains which keep people alive to the production of more lucrative crops for livestock. Within as little as 10 years, the world will be faced with a choice: arable farming either continues to feed the world's animals or it continues to feed the world's people. It cannot do both.

The impending crisis will be accelerated by the depletion of both phosphate fertiliser and the water used to grow crops. Every kilogram of beef we consume, according to research by the agronomists David Pimental and Robert Goodland, requires around 100,000 litres of water. Aquifers are beginning the run dry all over the world, largely because of abstraction by farmers.

Many of those who have begun to understand the finity of global grain production have responded by becoming vegetarians. But vegetarians who continue to consume milk and eggs scarcely reduce their impact on the ecosystem. The conversion efficiency of dairy and egg production is generally better than meat rearing, but even if everyone who now eats beef were to eat cheese instead, this would merely delay the global famine. As both dairy cattle and poultry are often fed with fishmeal (which means that no one can claim to eat cheese but not fish), it might, in one respect, even accelerate it. The shift would be accompanied too by a massive deterioration in animal welfare: with the possible exception of intensively reared broilers and pigs, battery chickens and dairy cows are the farm animals which appear to suffer most.

We could eat pheasants, many of which are dumped in landfill after they've been shot, and whose price, at this time of the year, falls to around £2 a bird, but most people would feel uncomfortable about subsidising the bloodlust of brandy-soaked hoorays. Eating pheasants, which are also fed on grain, is sustainable only up to the point at which demand meets supply. We can eat fish, but only if we are prepared to contribute to the collapse of marine ecosystems and - as the European fleet plunders the seas off West Africa - the starvation of some of the hungriest people on earth. It's impossible to avoid the conclusion that the only sustainable and socially just option is for the inhabitants of the rich world to become, like most of the earth's people, broadly vegan, eating meat only on special occasions like Christmas.

As a meat-eater, I've long found it convenient to categorise veganism as a response to animal suffering or a health fad. But, faced with these figures, it now seems plain that it's the only ethical response to what is arguably the world's most urgent social justice issue. We stuff ourselves, and the poor get stuffed.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

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7. Update on Green Zionist Alliance Campaign
[Why your vote for the Green Zionist alliance slate is very important.]

Forwarded message:

Dear GZA Slate Members,

Last week's Herald Tribune contained two op-ed pieces and an editorial on the sad state of the world's environment. What we are leaving our children and their children is worrisome, to say the least. We may not be around to answer them when they ask why nothing was done at the beginning of the 21st century. But we can act now so they may not have to ask those questions.

The bottom line is that the GZA can be part of the solution when it comes to a corner of the world that we all feel close to.

The bottom line is that only 40,000 American Jews have registered for the AZM elections to send delegates to the 2006 World Zionist Congress.

This low registration means that, if we are smart and make a real effort, we can make a real showing at the Congress. There are 38 of us on the Slate. If we each get 50 people to register and get each of them to register just 5 more people, that is 9,500 people. That would be 20% of the delegates. We would be one of the largest delegations.

This is ours for the taking. A pure grassroots endeavor. It will only happen if we each do our part.

Please take a few hours this week or during Hanukah and help bring that light into the future.

Michael [Rabbi Michael Cohen]

Rabbi Michael M. Cohen
Co-Founder, GZA
[As the above message indicates, you have a great 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 four 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 for mail registrations and February 15, 2006 for online registrations. Many thanks!]

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9. An Orthodox Jewish Perspective on Vegetarianism

The following article was submitted by Life Member, Janine Laura B. of “JIVES” (fondly switching two letters around, from the famous International Jewish Vegetarian and Ecological Society, IJVES) announcing a brand new chapter of the Veggie Jews, a popular group, (over 500 members strong) Headquartered in San Francisco, Northern California, which also reaches New York, now Los Angeles, and other vicinities, as well,

This new smaller chapter is located in the West Los Angeles/Beverly Hills vicinity, Pico-Robertson, Southern Sunny California area, where we just met for our very first time ever as a new free Veggie Jews group, with Judge, Arbitrator, Barrister and Solicitor, Honorable Peter Cohon’s support, remotely from northern California, only about a dozen of us, gathered around the table with our favorite funny Rabbi, born in Ireland, who gave us a very spiritual educational talk, which we’d like to share with you, too, and encourage you to tape the words of wisdom of other Veggie Rabbis in your community, or elsewhere, as well. Please go ahead and send them to me, and I’ll transcribe and return both the tape, with transcription, free of charge.

Our modest small Veggie Jews group, which is called K.E.R.O.V. similar to a couple of Hebrew words Karov meaning bringing together, or close, and also relative (as in a blood relative) and Kerev as in among us (standing for Kosher Ethical Raw/sprouted/living-foods Organic Vegans) will continue to meet every third Sunday of the month at 6:30 PM, and ask you humbly for ideas in the writing of “Haggadat Hashabbat Hatzachah” (Booklet on The Pure Sabbath -- hint: pure-vegans, kosher, of course!) Please call Janine Laura B. 310-358-9941 or write, please to: Janine Laura B., address: 1800 S. Robertson Blvd., # 252, Los Angeles, CA 90035-4359 with ideas, and for more details, and let your voice count, too, let’s all be “family!”

An Orthodox Perspective on Vegetarianism,
by Rabbi David O’Reilley McLashley

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Meeting at the strictly Kosher organic vegan restaurant called Leaf Cuisine in Los Angeles, Southern California, wonderful Orthodox Rabbi David O’Reilley McLashley gave us quite an interesting speech. Rabbi McLashley is a graduate of Hafetz Haim Yeshiva (Jewish Religious Seminary: the “Seekers of Life”) in New York City.

Rabbi McLashley: “I came up in County Cork, Ireland, only son of Irish parents, and a seventh generation vegan. Our family converted from the Druid faith (traditionally all vegetarians) four generations ago, on my mother’s side, and my father, converted to Judaism, just in his teens, before he married my mother. Many Irish Jewish converts moved here to USA. Since 1945, I have become an American, living here in the USA.

When living in Louisiana, near New Orleans, we were periodically going back and forth to Cork County, Ireland, while living in a Suburb of New Orleans called Metairie, which has now sadly been destroyed, by the Katrina hurricane.

First, I’d like to thank Richard Schwartz for his wisdom and great research on the subject of Judaism and Vegetarianism, many other learned Rabbis for their kindness, and to Gary Chase, for so graciously driving me here, at such short notice. I was very fortunate, indeed, to have Gary to talk with on the way, for we had such an enlightening conversation, and I learned a lot of wonderful things from Gary. We both agreed that when we eat something that disagrees with us, we create a spiritual imbalance! This leads me to introduce my topic, today:

I’d like to very briefly talk about a very spiritual topic; dealing with the close relationship and interesting contrast between the forces of the physical well being, and the spiritual malady, that is actually manifest in the forms of physiological illnesses.

Essentially, the way to ultimately explain this interesting phenomenon is to look closely, believing the assumption of this parallel to be true, by examining carefully what we put inside our bodies, because it may have an impact not only on our physical well being, but also have a greater impact on our souls; our spirituality. This result, naturally, will be either good or bad, depending on what we eat! Do you have any examples from your own past history, recollecting instances to relate to? Can you identify what the causes were?

What do I mean by that? Well, if you eat something that is not Kosher, the problem is that it actually imposes an impurity on our heart, and we absorb all of these impurities, and in fact what’s in the heart, is at the centre of what we are, spiritually, and this has great influence on our characteristics, or on our “Midot,” and how we relate to others.

The spiritual world and the physical world are equally related. We have spiritual consequences, even though we sense it first occurring on the spiritual plane, it can actually manifest itself, in turn, in the physical realm, as well. How does this relate to vegetarianism? Or to one who is on a purely vegan diet? Something developed on a level that involves eating without “rachmanut,” or without compassion. Does this affect us?

Even though it may be considered “Kosher”, many of the physical maladies that afflict us today, make us realize that the vegan-Kosher lifestyle is the most logical diet to adopt, not only Kosher alone. What if we could analyze our vegan diet, and be happy, by which I mean that what are we saying would be, “We’re doing our part, I’m practicing a humane diet, and isn’t that enough by itself?” No! That’s NOT enough, we have to destroy other peoples’ appetites, if you will, AND make a difference in other peoples’ lives, too, because Judaism and vegetarianism go hand in hand.

There is a terrible misconception abiding among some Orthodox Jews, that Judaism mandates the eating of meat. This is a drastic misconception. Numerous reasons from the commentaries on the Torah, written by Chazal (our learned Rabbis, may their souls rest in peace) in the Torah She’beal-Pe (The Oral Torah) negate this.

Many Orthodox Jews love animals. And, no, I don’t mean those who like their animals broiled, baked, or Bar-B'queued!

How can we point to connections between Judaism and Vegetarianism, directly from the Torah, with an Orthodox viewpoint?

Let’s start with the book of B’Reishit (Genesis). The diet that The Almighty prescribed to Adam and Hava (Eve) in the Garden of Eden was vegetarian.

It is difficult to understand the commandment, prohibiting eating ever min hachai. In other words, you cannot cut off a limb from a live animal; a sentient living creature, just like you and me!

We have a responsible obligation to treat animals ethically, whereby innocent animals should not suffer. However vile as it may seem, what the Torah prohibits, was actually common practice at that time.

You’ve got to know, look, we can’t just sit here and say, “Look, I’m practicing what I preach and doing my part to not partake in the killing cycle, I’m a vegan.” We can’t have that attitude, and not have a guilty conscience…

We all have to know that we have an obligation, especially I, as an Orthodox Jew, I have such a great obligation to spread the Torah, because it is my moral obligation to impart the true meaning of showing compassion towards all of the sentient beings that G_d created, and eat only of the plant kingdom.

It is very important, to understand that you can’t just sit around and preach to the vegan community.

Obviously, it would be very nice to always just be sitting around the table with like-minded people, but the truth of the matter is that it’s much more important to preach this message to people who are not going to be receptive to these ideas, the people who are going to say, you know, look it is necessary for us to eat meat, and not only is it acceptable, but it is praiseworthy, there is a greater purpose, and so on, and so forth.

However, I say that you can fulfill a Mitzvah, (blessed act, or good deed) but if you do it without the proper Kavana (Meaning) you are just paying lip service and don’t understand the spirit of the law, the real purpose of the Kashrut, (the whole concept of keeping Kosher,) which is to sensitize us to the spiritual souls of ALL living beings.

This is one of the purposes stemming from it, stewardship, or whatever other term we use, in caring for animals, or if we take it one step beyond that, and look at the concept of unity, or “achdut” which is in how we examine our actions on a larger scale, in the entire world, from the microcosm to the macrocosm, how do we affect the environment? It is historically immoral NOT to care for this ecological balance in the world!

In conclusion, here’s a story, about a man who drilled a hole in the bottom of the boat, causing the other people in it to say to him, “Are you crazy? You’re drilling a HOLE? A hole in the bottom of our boat? Then we’re all going to sink!” The man responded, “We’re all in the boat together.”

Therefore, you too, have to understand the hidden message, not to take the path of inequality, you could say well, they’re drilling a hole in “their” own boat, but the very important thing is to know that this is the path that we ALL should believe in, and we have to take over, so we don’t all sink with the others because of their beliefs. Because, “If I’m for myself alone, then who am I?” and, “If not now, then when?” Be brave – speak out, now!

B’Shalom, from Janine, Life Member Jewish Vegetarian Society (310) 358-9941 email: CA, USA

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10. Lantern Books Reading Club Announces Event

Forwarded message:

Dear Friends,

Join the Lantern Books Reading Club to meet new friends and discuss issues of animal rights, vegetarianism, and social justice.

When: Monday, January 30, 2006 at 6:30 - 8 pm
Where: Lantern Books, One Union Square West, Suite 201, New York City (14th St. & University Place, 2nd floor)
Cost: Free. Delicious munchies will be provided. RSVP not required.

Author Josephine Bellaccomo will speak and sign her book

Move the Message
Your Guide to Making a Difference and Changing the World
Josephine Bellaccomo
pb, $20.00

Many of us—without the money to contract special media consultants or expensive public relations firms—-want to create change in the world, but find communicating our vision difficult, whether our audience is one individual, small groups, large audiences, or the media.

This book can be ordered at Barnes and Noble,, or at

We look forward to active participation from our readers. Group facilitators will include moderator Jean Thaler, our readers, and Lantern staff. Jean Thaler formerly ran Big Apple Vegetarians and the Makor Book Club. Her goal is to have a fun, informed, participatory discussion. She is pleased to support this unique publisher and its authors. January will be our fourth quarterly session. Please direct any questions to, or Lantern Books, or 212-414-2275 x17.

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

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

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12. Example of Our Impact/Interested in Organizing a Conference?

Dear Dr. Schwartz,

I first became a vegetarian at the age of ten for animal rights reasons. Nearly six years later, I am slimmer, healthier, and more energetic than ever. But it wasn't until I bought your book, Judaism and Vegetarianism, that I realized the extent of the environmental impacts or spiritual benefits of going veg. Since I am a longtime environmentalist and religious Jew, your book only strengthened my conviction that I was doing the right thing. I used to feel guilty about my vegetarianism when I would learn the parshiyot detailing the animal sacrifices in the Temple or listen to yet another Dvar Torah proclaiming that Jews are required to eat meat in order to rejoice on Shabbat and holidays, but no more. You have opened my eyes to the rightness of my cause, and for that I thank you.

I always hear about vegetarian conferences or conventions. I would love to attend one of these and trade stories with fellow vegetarians, but it never seems to be practical. Either they're scheduled on Shabbat, or they're out of town, and in any case, they would not be kosher. I was wondering if you knew of any such conferences sponsored by Jewish organizations?

[If anyone has any suggestions re possibly organizing a Jewish vegetarian conference, please let me know. Thanks.]


Gila Heller

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13. Israeli Soy Product Expanding in Europe


Tivall expands in Europe

An Israeli vegetarian-food producer is building a plant in the Czech Republic, its first outside Israel. Tivall said this week it would invest $30 million in the plant in Krupka, about 50 miles north of Prague, because of a drastic rise in sales in Europe.

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