January 18, 2006

1/19/06 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Your Vote Counts! The World Zionist Congress and Environmental Activism and Vegetarianism

2. Israeli Environmental Activist Wins Award

3. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Published

4. Bird Flu Pandemic Threat Update

5. Yosef Hakohen Letter About Our Shepherd Ancestors

6. Free JVNA Leaflets Available for Distribution/Corrected Message

7. COEJL Announces “Guide to Speakers on Judaism and Ecology”

8. Evangelical Christians Becoming More Environmentally Concerned

9. Action Alert: Help Prevent the Prolonged Death of Thousands of Animals

10. A Major Problem in the U.S. Medical System

11. Medical Costs Soar/Dietary Connections

12. Trying to Ban Foie Gras Production in New York State

13. Lantern Books Schedules a Book Discussion

15. 2005 ranked as Warmest Year in Recorded History

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. Your Vote Counts! The World Zionist Congress and Environmental Activism and Vegetarianism

Help us make the environment an issue for the Zionist Movement. Register to vote.
Once you have registered, you will be sent instructions on how to vote online. I am on the Green Zionist Alliance slate. Your vote for this slate will help get environmental issues and vegetarianism onto the Israeli agenda. Thanks.

Forwarded message from the Teva Center, a group dedicated to educating Jewish youth and their teachers about Jewish teachings on nature and environmental stewardship.


Tikkun Tip #35

Help Protect Israel's Environment

Shalom and welcome to TikkunTips. A nugget of eco-Jewish thought from your friends at the Teva Learning Center.

Once every four years, World Jewry are given the opportunity to share their voice on the directions of the Jewish State, through the World Zionist Congress. Americans have a special opportunity to make their voices heard through a proportional representation election to the American delegation, the World's largest. Israel faces many social and environmental challenges each of which contribute to the economic and security concerns currently being debated by the Israeli Government and the World Zionist Congress. Through the Congress elections we can ensure that our concerns are heard and addressed as well.

With the support of just 600 people four years ago, the Green Zionist Alliance won a seat at the Congress. Through a coalition with Mercaz, we received the right to appoint two members to the Board of the Keren Kayemet L'Israel (Jewish Nation Fund in Israel). Just last week it was announced that these two co-founders of The Green Zionist Alliance successfully petitioned to double the budgetary funding for Israeli river restoration projects. If 600 votes can help save Israel's rivers, your vote now can protect much more.
Please see the related message from GZA leader Rabbi Michael Cohen after the next item.

2. Israeli Environmental Activist Wins Award

Award-winning immigrant a force in environmental activism
By Dina Kraft
January 16, 2006

LOD, Israel, Jan. 16 (JTA) — High in an overcast sky, beneath a bank of clouds, Alon Tal is waving his hands and delivering a rapid-fire account of Israel’s environmental history.

[We videotaped an interview with Alon Tal for the video that we are working on.]

Tal is delivering this lecture in a conference room at the top of a former airport control tower — a fitting setting for a leading proponent of recycling in Israel. Captivated, his students, most of them government employees dealing with the environment, have their eyes fixed on him and a series of charts and lists documenting the battles to save Israel’s forests, beaches, air and water.
Tal, 45, a powerhouse in environmental activism, is an American immigrant to Israel who was born Albert Rosenthal in North Carolina. He came to Israel determined to make a difference. On Jan.10, he was awarded the Charles Bronfman Prize, a prize given to outstanding young Jewish humanitarians. Selected from dozens of nominees, the $100,000 award went to Tal as an example, the prize founders said, of “an outstanding environmental visionary who set out to change the world and has actually done so.”

Fighting for the environment in a country focused on development and security has not been easy. In receiving the award, Tal recounted a turning point one rainy winter night 12 years ago when he traveled to Beit Shemesh to deliver a talk on air pollution. He was convinced no one would attend on such a miserable, cold night. To his surprise, he was greeted by a hall packed with 300 people.

“And then I got it. The people of Israel really do care deeply about the health of their communities. They love this land of theirs. And when we learn to tap into that love, we really can move mountains.”

Tal has moved his share of mountains.

In 1990 he founded Adam Teva v’Din, the Israel Union for Environmental Defense. The group was the first environmental watchdog organization of its kind in Israel. It uses American-style legal advocacy to help protect Israel’s environment, filing court petitions challenging the government’s development policies that it says risk endangering the environment and public health. The group focuses on issues of air pollution, safe drinking water, solid waste management and accessible open space.

Their first victory was stopping sewage being dumped from Eilat into the Red Sea. One of their landmark court victories saw a $10 million purification system installed in the Kishon River in northern Israel, after the group uncovered that nearby factories were pouring more sewage into the river than they had been reporting, making the river toxic.

The organization has also worked with Jordan and the Palestinians on common water issues, including shared rivers.

“We’ll never restore our rivers without doing it together and we are doing it together,” Tal said.

Among Tal’s admirers is Naim Daoud, director of the environmental department of the Arab National Society For Health Research and Services.

“Alon Tal is an environmentalist who understands that ecology can be a force that brings people together and bridges our differences in the region. Few have done more in our field to make this happen,” he said.

In 1996 Tal founded the Arava Institute at his then-home, Kibbutz Ketura near Eilat. He also served as the chairman of Israel’s umbrella group for environmental organizations between 1999 and 2004 and is currently a board member of the Jewish National Fund.

After immigrating to Israel at the age of 20, Tal spent two years in the army as a paratrooper. Crisscrossing the Israeli landscape he saw great beauty, but also, to his surprise, a lot of trash. “We are willing to die for it, but not keep it clean,” Tal said. He had been looking for a way to contribute to Israel as an American immigrant, and soon realized that environmental work might be his calling.

While studying law, he did an internship with the environmental protection service, a department within the Interior Ministry that would eventually become the Ministry of Environment. There he met a woman who would become his mentor, Ruth Rotenberg. It was Rotenberg, he said, who suggested to him that Israel needed an environmental policy organization that would push the government to create better environmental policies.

“I thought he was a person who could move things,” said Rotenberg, now legal adviser and head of the legal department at the Ministry of Environment.

Tal then returned to the United States to do a doctorate in Harvard in environmental health policy — a degree that did not exist in Israel.

He returned here and founded the Arava Institute in 1996. It offers master’s degrees in desert studies and environmental studies. He recruited students not only from Israel but from abroad, including Jordan. Today, some 80 percent of the institute’s graduates hold key environmental positions in the region.

Among those at the award ceremony in Jerusalem were several of Tal’s students, including Zein Nsheiwat, 24, from Amman, Jordan.

“Alon’s classes are my favorites,” she said. Nsheiwat said it was not easy for her friends back in Jordan to see her come to Israel and study. But she is convinced it is the best thing she has ever done.

“I think we are doing something here — for the environment, for peace, for our countries,” she said.

The institute is affiliated with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where Tal is a member of both the Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology and the Department of Man in the Desert at the Jacob Blaustein Institute.

Avishay Braverman, the university’s former president, said Tal is a major asset.

“He is a force in bringing most of the practical aspects of how to keep the Holy Land ecologically sound,” said Braverman. “New immigrants like Alon Tal are so needed in the country. He is a role model.”

In his acceptance speech at the awards ceremony, Tal spoke about how he once wished he belonged to the generation of Israel’s founders but now realizes he has an equally if not more important task.

“We are blessed because we have the privilege and the responsibility to define what will be preserved of the land of Israel,” he said. “Will future generations enjoy the same natural treasures that so inspired pilgrims and prophets for a millennia?”

Related message from Green Zionist Alliance leader Rabbi Michael Cohen:

Dear GZA Slate Members,

When we established the GZA four years ago, one of our long term goals was to have Alon Tal named as the Chair of the KKL. That time is now. The combination of Alon receiving the Charles Bronfman Award last week and the flux in the Israeli political picture has given us the opportunity to push for this at this time. The GZA from its inception was, and is, about bringing about a revolution when it comes to Israel's environment. A significant piece of that revolution is making someone of Alon's environmental expertise and caliber the Chair of the KKL.

At this time I can't stress how important it is for you, and for all of us, to go the extra step in getting individuals we know to register to vote in these elections. To achieve this significant goal we will need the strongest showing possible at the Congress. This change is in our hands.

Rabbi Michael M. Cohen
The Green Zionist Alliance
Working Today For Israel Tomorrow

3. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Published

Forwarded message:

Dear Colleagues:

On January 19, 2006, Island Press will publicly release the comprehensive findings of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, an unprecedented 5-year effort by more than 1300 scientists in 95 countries to understand the complex interactions between human well-being and environmental sustainability (http://www.MAweb.org).

Orchestrated by the United Nations and funded in part by the United Nations Foundation, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment demonstrates, with scientific certainty, how human behavior has altered ecosystems more rapidly and dramatically in the last 50 years than in any other point of human history. But, perhaps more importantly, thanks to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment we now have a roadmap for helping define how we can slow or reverse this ecosystem degradation and build a path toward sustainable growth and human development.

Greater attention to ecosystem health not only will help preserve important species and habitat, but as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment shows, ecosystems also provide vital natural services upon which the global economy and human development depend, from climate regulation to water purification. Recently, the esteemed journal Scientific American devoted considerable attention to the relationship between ecosystems and health, economic growth, and poverty alleviation embodied in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. I encourage you to take a look at the featured articles to discover some of the win-win opportunities that come along with greater investment in ecosystem services.

You can access the Scientific American article, "The Climax of Humanity".

If you would like more information, or to get involved, please contact Erika Harms, Senior Program Officer for Biodiversity, at eharms@unfoundation.org. If you are in the D.C. area and are interested in attending Island Press's briefing on the Millennium Assessment book launch - January 19th at 9:00am at the National Press Club - please RSVP to Kathy Dismukes at Island Press at 202-232-7933 or kdismukes@islandpress.org.

Best wishes for a happy New Year,
Mary Evelyn Tucker & John Grim

4. Bird Flu Pandemic Threat Update

Forwarded message:

Avian Influenza: US to Test All Birds as More Deaths Reported Worldwide

In an effort to reassure US chicken consumers about their products, members of the industry's National Chicken Council (NCC) have announced they will test all domestic flocks for avian influenza. Tyson Foods, the largest slaughterer of animals in the world and purveyor of 26% of all domestically consumed (US) chicken flesh, is reportedly conducting 15,000 avian influenza tests per week. Pilgrims Pride Corporation, which controls 16% of the domestic market, and other companies are following suit by requiring contract "growers" to submit to testing. In total more than 90% of US chickens raised for their flesh will be tested. Ifany birds have the H5 or H7 types of avian influenza, the NCC says the entire flock "will be promptly and humanely destroyed on the farm and disposed of in an environmentally acceptable manner." The NCC agreement also calls for a 2-mile quarantine of all other chicken flocks located near an outbreak. The US poultry industry is attempting to diffuse consumer concerns about the possibility of highly pathogenic avian influenza coming to the US. Recent reports indicate that Turkey now has 15 known human cases of the disease, plus other human cases in China and Indonesia, although scientists have been unable to confirm any human-to-human transmission.

5. Yosef Hakohen Letter About Our Shepherd Ancestors

The Journey to Unity – 167a
Why Our Ancestors Were Shepherds:

The family of our father, Yaacov (Jacob), had seventy members. The Torah records that during the great famine, the seventy members of Yaacov's family went down into Egypt, where Yaacov's son, Yosef, had become the viceroy of Pharaoh. In order to enable his family to preserve their Hebrew identity and their commitment to the Compassionate One, Yosef decided to settle his family in the separate province of Goshen, which also had good pasture land for their flocks. Yosef took five men from among his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh. The Torah then states:

"Pharaoh said to his brothers, 'What is your occupation?' They replied, 'Your servants are shepherds, both we and our fathers.' " (Genesis 47:3)

Dear Friends,

Why did our ancestors choose to be shepherds? The beginning of an answer to this question can be found in the following excerpt from the commentary of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch on Genesis 4:2, where he discusses the differences between the life of the farmer and the life of the shepherd:

Agriculture demands all of one's physical energies. The Divine decree "By the sweat of your countenance shall you eat bread" (Genesis 3:19) is applicable particularly to the tiller of the soil. He must devote himself totally to his physical existence. Self-pride and pride of possession are especially predominant in the tiller of the soil. The ground that the farmer has fertilized with his own sweat becomes for him a supreme value, becomes part of his personality, and he is caught up in it and settles down.

To be sure, agriculture stimulates and develops civilization. Most inventions and skills may be credited to agriculture. The settlement of the land implicit in agriculture leads to the formation of society and state and to the administration of justice. The decree upon the human being to work the ground opened the way to humankind's development.

On the other hand, a farmer is a slave to his field, which lowers him to the level of the soil. Once he places his neck under the yoke of the pursuit of possessions, his spirit, too, becomes bowed. He can be manipulated through his desire for property. This leads to slavery; one human being is subjugated to another. Moreover, the farmer can easily come to worship the forces of nature, on whose influence hinges the success of his field.

Agricultural peoples were the first to lose faith in God and in the higher dignity of the human being; it was in their midst that slavery and idolatry first emerged.

By contrast, there is much virtue and advantage in pastoral life. The shepherd works mainly with living creatures, and the care he extends to them fosters in him human feelings of tenderness and empathy. His property is movable. The flock needs the shepherd's care, but does not owe its very existence to the human being. As a result, the shepherd is saved from the danger of attaching too much value to himself and to his property. His vocation does not drain all his energy, or occupy his mind to a great extent, and he has time to elevate his spirit to Divine and humane values. Hence, our forefathers were shepherds, as were Moshe (Moses) and David.

Conversely, consider the antipathy of the ancient Egyptians towards shepherds and pastoral peoples. All the negative outgrowths of the agricultural mentality discussed above were found in Egypt. Egyptian culture was based on agriculture; its characteristic features were polytheism, on the one hand, and human enslavement, on the other. Work was the purpose of the human being. The individual per se had no value, no dignity, no freedom. The Egyptian was born a slave to his occupation. Faith in God, the freedom of the human being, and the human being's likeness to God remained alive only in the hearts of one tribe of shepherds: our ancestors. The Egyptian leaders were therefore very shrewd in instilling in their people an implacable hatred for pastoral peoples.

...By and large, it may be said that the human being was destined to till the soil, rather than to shepherd sheep. This was also the destiny of Israel - according to the Torah and by virtue of the Torah. However, the Torah also provides the antidote to the dangers posed by agriculture and institutes preventive measures against the idolization of property, The Sabbath and the Sabbatical year testify for all time that the earth belongs to God, and that the human being is His servant. (Rabbi Hirsch then mentions other agricultural mitzvos in the Torah, including those which mandate the sharing of the harvest with the needy.)

By means of these and other laws, the Torah solves the spiritual problem posed by agriculture, and calls for the establishment of an agricultural state whose people serve God and are united in fraternal equality. But in agricultural societies outside the sphere of the Torah, consciousness of God, along with human freedom and the equality of all human beings, are in peril.

In the above excerpt, Rabbi Hirsch explained that the shepherd works with living creatures, and the care he extends to them can foster in him human feelings of tenderness and empathy. It is therefore relevant to mention the following Midrash about Moshe Rebbeinu – Moses, our Teacher:

"When Moshe Rebbeinu was tending the flock of Yisro in the wilderness, a little kid ran away from him. He ran after the kid until it reached the oasis, Hasuah. Upon reaching Hasuah, it came upon a pool of water, and the kid stopped to drink. When Moshe reached it, he said: 'I did not know that you were running because you were thirsty. You must be tired.' He placed the kid on his shoulder and began to walk. The Holy One, Blessed Be He, said: 'You are compassionate in leading flocks belonging to mortals; I swear you will similarly shepherd My flock, Israel.' " (Exodus Rabbah 2:2)

The Midrash adds that before David became King of Israel, he was a shepherd who took care of his sheep with tenderness and compassion. For example, he would first allow the very young sheep to graze so that they could eat the softer grass; moreover, he was sensitive to the needs of each age group. As a result of his special sensitivity and compassion, David was chosen to shepherd the flock of Israel, as it is written:

"And He chose David, His servant, and took him from the sheep corrals. From behind the nursing ewes He brought him, to shepherd Jacob, His people, and Israel, His inheritance." (Psalm 78:70,71)

Have a Shabbat Shalom,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

Related Teachings:

1. A commentary on the Torah known as HaKsav V'HaKabbalah states that one of the reasons why our ancestors chose to be shepherds was to experience an elevation of the soul and awe of the Creator through viewing His wondrous creations. (Commentary to Genesis 4:2)

2. It is written: "And Yaacov journeyed to Succos and built himself a house, and for his flocks, he made succos (booths of shelter); he therefore called the name of the place, Succos" (Genesis 33:17).

It seems strange that Yaacov would name a place "Succos" just because he built there "succos" for his flocks. The Ohr HaChaim, a noted Sephardic kabbalist and biblical commentator, suggests that perhaps Yaacov was the first person to build "succos" - booths of shelter - for his flocks, as a result of his compassion for the animals. Jacob therefore named the place "Succos" in order to commemorate this historic innovation.

3. Our father, Yaacov, was also called Yisrael (Israel). And the Torah records that Yisrael said to his son, Yosef:

"Your brothers are pasturing in Shechem...Go now, look into the shalom of your brothers and the shalom of the sheep, and bring me back word." (Genesis 37:13,14)

Yisrael asked Yosef to look into the "shalom" - peace and welfare - of his brothers, and to also look into the shalom of the sheep. Why did the sheep merit a special inquiry about their shalom? Was it simply an expression of concern for his property? According to our tradition, there was a deeper reason for his concern. The Midrash explains that Yisrael inquired about the shalom of the sheep because of a sense of gratitude to the sheep for all the benefits that he received from them. The Midrash states that we can therefore learn from Yisrael's words the following good trait: "A person should inquire about the shalom of anything that he benefited from" (Genesis Rabbah).

Another explanation is given by Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, a noted sage of the early 20th century who was known as the Alter of Slobodka. He was a leading sage of the Mussar movement which developed a greater emphasis on the study of Torah teachings related to personality refinement and ethical behavior. The Alter of Slobodka explains that Yisrael inquired about the welfare of the sheep in order to emulate the universal Divine compassion and concern. For a person who is truly compassionate will be concerned about the welfare of animals, since all of Hashem's creation is important. (This teaching is cited in the book, "Growth through Torah" by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin. This book offer insights from the Torah portion of each week which enhance each person's ethical and spiritual development.)

Hazon – Our Universal Vision: www.shemayisrael.co.il/publicat/hazon/

6. Free JVNA Leaflets Available for Distribution/Corrected Message

Please contact us at mail@jewishveg.com for copies of the JVNA leaflet for your own use and for passing them out to others. There is no cost for them and they can be very helpful in promoting the Jewish vegetarian case. Please consider giving out leaflets at your local synagogue, Jewish community center, and at Jewish events. Many thanks.

7. COEJL Announces “Guide to Speakers on Judaism and Ecology”

Forwarded message from COEJL (Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life):

Planning a program on Judaism and Ecology in your synagogue, school, or community organization? COEJL's Guide to Speakers on Judaism and Ecology can help you. The Guide has biographies of over 70 rabbis, scientists, educators, professors, and environmental professionals who are knowledgeable in their respective fields and experienced speakers on the intersection of Judaism and ecology. Indexed by both name and location, the guide enables you to design a program that meets the needs and interests of your audience.
Go to www.coejl.org for some general guidelines for using COEJL's Speakers Guide.

[All listed speakers act independently of COEJL. COEJL assumes no responsibility for the quality or content of the speaker.]

[Please note that I am on the list below.]
Alphabetical List of Speakers
David Abram, Alliance for Wild Ethics
Dr. Jeremy Benstein, Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership
Rabbi Philip Bentley, Temple Sholom
Adam Berman, The Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center
Ellen Bernstein, Shomrei Adamah
Rabbi Herbert Bronstein, North Shore Congregation
Dr. David Brooks, Friends of the Earth Canada
Rabbi Howard Cohen, Congregation Beth El
Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener, Interreligious Eco-Justice Network
Rabbi Michael Comins, TorahTrek Spiritual Wilderness Adventures
Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation
Dr. Peter Dratch, National Park Service
Evan Eisenberg
Dr. Marcia Falk
Rabbi Marla Feldman, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism
Jacob Fine, ADAMAH: The Jewish Environmental Fellowship
Rabbi Dan Fink, Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel
Jessica Freedman, COEJL of Southern California (CoejlSC)
Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel, Kesher Israel Congregation
Dr. Barak Gale, Steward Creation!
Rabbi Everett Gendler
Elihu Gevirtz, Condor Environmental Planning Services, Inc.
Rivka Gevurtz
Dr. Gabe Goldman, Brandeis Bardin Institute
Shoshana Gugenheim
Susanna Haas, Adam va-Adamah
Rabbi Jill Hammer, Tel Shemesh
De Herman, Shomrei Adamah of Washington, DC
Green Shalom of Temple Emanuel
Daron Joffe, Gan Chaim
Saul Kaiserman, Mandel Leadership Institute
Dr. Roberta Kalechofsky, Micah Publications / Jews for Animal Rights
Dr. Edward K. Kaplan, Brandeis University
Susan Kaplan, SAZ COEJL (COEJL of Southern Arizona)
Dr. Paul Kay, Dept. Environment & Resource Studies, University of Waterloo
Saran Kirschbaum, COEJL of Southern California (CoejlSC)
Rabbi Jamie Korngold, Adventure Rabbi: Synagogue Without Walls
Josh Lake, Outdoor Jewish Adventures
Barbara Lerman-Golomb, COEJL
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, The Shefa Fund
Andy Lipkis, TreePeople
Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger, The Chaplaincy Center
Nathan Martin, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Evonne Marzouk, Canfei Nesharim
Candace Nachman, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/ National Ocean Service/ Office of Coast Survey
Dr. Elliott Norse, Center for Marine Conservation
Daniel Orenstein, Center for Environmental Studies, Brown University
Michael Oshman, Green Restaurant Association
Nati Passow, Jewish Farm School
Dr. Orah Rein-Moshe
Marla Rottenstreich, RAVSAK: The Jewish Community Day School Network
Ramona Rubin, Eco Kosher Network
Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Lois Schiffer, National Capital Planning Commission
Rabbi Barry Schwartz, Congregation M&rsquokor Shalom
Dr. Eilon Schwartz, Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership
Dr. Richard Schwartz, College of Staten Island
Rabbi David Seidenberg, Green Garin / Maon Study Circle
Dr. Uri Shanas, University of Haifa
Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz, Project Y&rsquoaleh V&rsquoYavo, Inc.
Rabbi Jonathan Slater, Institute for Jewish Spirituality
Michal Smart
Shai Spetgang, Torat Hateva: Jewish Nature Centre of Canada
Rabbi Jeff Sultar, Mishkan Shalom
Hadar Susskind, Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Dr. Alon Tal, Ben Gurion University &ndash Sdeh Boker Campus
Dr. Mitchell Thomashow, Antioch New England Graduate School
Dr. Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Arizona State University
Rabbi Lawrence Troster, COEJL
Reuven Walder, SeaWeb
Lee Wallach, COEJL of Southern California (CoejlSC)
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center
Dr. Martin Yaffe, University of North Texas
Dr. Daniel Ziskin, Jews Of The Earth (JOTE)

Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life 443 Park Avenue South, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10016
(212) 532-7436 info@coejl.org
Copyright © 2006 COEJL (COEJL operates within the Jewish Council for Public Affairs)

8. Evangelical Christians Becoming More Environmentally Concerned

Forwarded message:

Is God Green?
By Jill Kuraitis
Boise Weekly

Local evangelical Christians want you to recycle. They'll be in seventh heaven if you walk more and drive less, volunteer to clean up rivers, highways and forest trails, plant more trees, and leave the ATVs and snowmobiles back at the house.

Now, hang a left for another message: The conservation community also wants you to recycle, walk more and drive less, clean up rivers and forests, plant more trees and leave the noisy dirty engines at home.

These hopeful stories of common ground are brought to you by God, says Pastor Tri Robinson of Boise's Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and by "shared core values," adds Rick Johnson, executive director of the Idaho Conservation League. The two have never met, but both speak the language of caretakers of the earth. And in the public arena, they represent the tentative beginnings of an alliance between the left and the right on the issue of environmental responsibility.

Pastor Robinson puts it this way: "We believe environmental stewardship is a biblical mandate and commission from God. All of God's creation is important to him, down to the last sparrow and blade of grass. We have wrongfully assumed that creation exists for our own consumption. We must get back to the heart of God. It is the responsibility of every true Christian to take stewardship seriously, and that includes environmental stewardship. We need to embrace the task to 'tend the garden.' "

ICL's Rick Johnson: "Faith-based conservation is interesting to me because the core values that define most religious groups are values in common with ICL. The greatest threat to the environment is a lack of community, and faith groups promote community. When people are disconnected from each other, they can be disconnected from the physical world. But together, communities take care of their gardens."



9. Action Alert: Help Prevent the Prolonged Death of Thousands of Animals

Forwarded Message from photographer/film maker Lionel Friedberg:
Based on messages from teresa@wlpa.org and teresa_afw@wp.pl

URGENT: AUSTRALIA- thousands of animals will endure horrendous,
prolonged deaths – please help us to stop killing for fun

Thousands of animals will endure horrendous, prolonged, painful deaths - torn apart by hunting dogs or dying slowly of wounds inflicted by bullets or crossbows ..

Dear all
This is an URGENT action we ask you to take. Please help us to stop this barbaric killing. How?
By 4th February 2006 send your letter to Ian Macdonald (Minister for Primary Industries) & copy it to Game Council, Greens & Gun Control (details later). Please pass this message to your friends.

Thank you for caring
- Teresa

The World League for Protection of Animals Box 211 Gladesville 2111.
Killing for fun is now a function of government

Crossbows, rifles and dogs to be used
You can help stop the killing! Let’s start by asking -

What’s happening?
* The general public has been given 30 days to comment on the announcement by NSW Ausralian Natural Resources Minister, Ian Macdonald, that licensed recreational hunters will use crossbows, rifles and dogs to hunt and kill feral cats, dogs, deer, goats, pigs and foxes in State Forests and on public lands. This will occur after a two day trial in four locations.

Who is managing this program?
* The program will be managed by the Game Council, a body representing licensed game hunters and dominated by nominees of hunting organisations.

What are the problems with this?
* Leader of the Democrats, Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans said when Game Council legislation was discussed in Parliament: The bill assumes that the Game Council and hunters have the same interests in controlling feral animals as do conservationists. However, the conservationists do not get a say into what happens. It could be argued that Dracula is in charge of the blood bank.

* The Game Council represents hunters. Not the wider community. And certainly not the animal welfare/rights movement. There are widely different views about killing for pleasure. It is the role of Government to ensure accountability to the general public through involving relevant sectors of the community in such a controversial program. This is not occurring.


What can You do?

1) By 4th February 2006 send your letter to:
Ian Macdonald, Minister for Primary Industries,
Address: Level 33 Governor Macquarie Tower 1 Farrer Place Sydney NSW 2000
Phone:(02) 9228 3344 (if phoning from outside Australia - 61 2 9228 3344)
Fax:(02) 9228 3452 (if faxing from outside Australia - 61 2 9228 3452)
Email: macdonald.office@macdonald.minister.nsw.gov.au

and make a copy to:
- Brian Boyle Acting CEO, Game Council
Address: PO Box 2506, Orange, New South Wales, Australia, 2800
Ph: (02) 6360 5100 (if phoning from outside Australia - 61 2 6360 5100)
Fax: (02) 6361 2093 (if faxing from outside Australia - 61 2 6361 2093)
Email: ceo@gamecouncil.nsw.gov.au

- Lee Rhiannon MLC, The Greens
Email: lee.rhiannon@parliament.nsw.gov.au

- Sam Lee , Gun Control Australia
Email: ncguncontrol@yahoo.com

Courteously express your deep concern at the proposal and ask that the program not go ahead. You may wish to use some of the points made in this paper - but it1s a good idea to use some of your own thoughts, ideas and concerns as well.


10. A Major Problem in the U.S. Medical System

Bad Blood: In the Treatment of Diabetes, Success Often Does Not Pay
Published: January 11, 2006
NY Times

With much optimism, Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan opened its new diabetes center in March 1999. Miss America, Nicole Johnson Baker, herself a diabetic, showed up for promotional pictures, wearing her insulin pump.

In one photo, she posed with a man dressed as a giant foot - a comical if dark reminder of the roughly 2,000 largely avoidable diabetes-related amputations in New York City each year. Doctors, alarmed by the cost and rapid growth of the disease, were getting serious.

At four hospitals across the city, they set up centers that featured a new model of treatment. They would be boot camps for diabetics, who struggle daily to reduce the sugar levels in their blood. The centers would teach them to check those levels, count calories and exercise with discipline, while undergoing prolonged monitoring by teams of specialists.

But seven years later, even as the number of New Yorkers with Type 2 diabetes has nearly doubled, three of the four centers, including Beth Israel's, have closed.

They did not shut down because they had failed their patients. They closed because they had failed to make money. They were victims of the byzantine world of American health care, in which the real profit is made not by controlling chronic diseases like diabetes but by treating their many complications.

Insurers, for example, will often refuse to pay $150 for a diabetic to see a podiatrist, who can help prevent foot ailments associated with the disease. Nearly all of them, though, cover amputations, which typically cost more than $30,000.

Patients have trouble securing a reimbursement for a $75 visit to the nutritionist who counsels them on controlling their diabetes. Insurers do not balk, however, at paying $315 for a single session of dialysis, which treats one of the disease's serious complications.

Not surprising, as the epidemic of Type 2 diabetes has grown, more than 100 dialysis centers have opened in the city.

"It's almost as though the system encourages people to get sick and then people get paid to treat them," said Dr. Matthew E. Fink, a former president of Beth Israel.

for the rest of this article
Related Articles

* Diabetes and Its Awful Toll Quietly Emerge as a Crisis (January 9, 2006)

* East Meets West, Adding Pounds and Peril (January 12, 2006)

* Living at an Epicenter of Diabetes, Defiance and Despair (January 10, 2006)

* Unlocking the Diabetes-Heart-Disease Connection (January 10, 2006)

11. Medical Costs Soar/Dietary Connections

Forwaded message from the International vegetarian News service

Cutting meat from diet could limit disease, health-care costs

According to Monday's report by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the national cost of medical care escalated to $1.9 trillion in 2004. This represents a 7.9% increase from the previous year, or nearly three times the 2.7% rate of inflation.

The cost of medical care now accounts for a record 16% of our gross domestic product and ruins the profitability and international competitiveness of our industries. In personal terms, it amounts to $6,500 for every American, or $15,500 per household. It represents a major financial burden, lost productivity, personal misery and premature death.

The real tragedy is most of the diseases associated with the outrageous cost of medical care are self-inflicted - through flawed lifestyles. These include inactivity, smoking, substance abuse and meat consumption.

Yes, meat consumption. According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, nearly 1.4 million Americans are disabled, then killed prematurely each year by heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases that have been linked conclusively with consumption of animal products. That accounts for 56% of all deaths, and presumably, for a similar percentage of medical costs.


12. Trying to Ban Foie Gras Production in New York State

Forwarded message from Pamela Rice, VivaVegie Director:

[The following comes from one of Mary Max's recent Animal Rights E-Alerts notices. To be always be informed about pro-animal legislation in New York, ask Mary to put you on her list: mrsmax@earthlink.net. -Pamela Rice]

Hello New Yorkers!

It's time we follow the compassionate lead of such countries as the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Israel, as well as our fellow state California, and ban the cruel production of foie gras!

Please, right now(!) contact Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to politely, yet firmly, urge him to use his authority as the leader of the New York State Assembly to pass Bill A. 7876, which will ban the force-feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras. Let him know that the production of foie gras is torture, not a valid farming practice, and that the public is opposed to eating food derived from such a cruel and morally reprehensible origin.

Speaker Sheldon Silver (mailto:Speaker@assembly.state.ny.us)
(212) 312-1400
250 Broadway, NY, NY 10007

To learn more about foie gras and investigations of a NYS foie gras producer, visit here.

As always, thank you!
Mary Max

13. Lantern Books Schedules a Book Discussion

The following just in from Jean Thaler, founder and former fearless leader of Big Apple Vegetarians. - Pamela Rice

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

Author Josephine Bellaccomo will speak and sign her book:

Title: Move the Message
Sub-title: Your Guide to Making a Difference and Changing the World
pb, $20.00

To purchase the book ahead of time (it's a good idea to read it before the discussion), go here.

When: Monday, January 30, 2006 at 6:30 - 8 p.m.

Where: Lantern Books, One Union Square West, Suite 201, Manhattan (at 14th St., across from the park, above clothing store Diesel, next door to Staples)

Cost: Free. Delicious munchies will be provided - Oreos for one, no doubt (they're vegan now).

RSVP not required.

Many of us "without the money to contract special media consultants or expensive public relations firms," as the author puts it, want to create change in the world but find communicating our visions difficult, whether our audience is one individual, a group - large or small - or the media. This book goes about telling us how to achieve our goals, despite our limitations.

The book can be ordered at Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, or at http://www.lanternbooks.com.

The group looks forward to active participation from readers. Discussion will be facilitated by me, Jean Thaler, and the Lantern staff. I have facilitated other book clubs in the past. My goal is to have a fun, informed, participatory discussion.

I am pleased to support this unique publisher and its authors - and I hope you are, too. January will be the fourth quarterly session of this group. Please direct any questions to jeanthaler@yahoo.com, or Lantern Books, promotion@lanternbooks.com, 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 at the Lantern homepage: http://www.lanternbooks.com

"Lantern Books publishes books for all wanting to live with greater spiritual depth and commitment to the preservation of the natural world." Lantern is the publisher of http://www.vivavegie.org/101/ 101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian, by Pamela Rice.

16. Help Sought for Documentary on Spiritual Cooking and Eating

Forwaded letter:

Dear Dr Schwartz,

How are you? Thank you for your mailouts.

I am writing to seek your advice and involvement in an upcoming project that I am a part of.

Some of my friends in the food and media industries are working together to make a documentary entitled ‘Divine Food’. The documentary is meant to cover the sanctity of food and the way in which it is cooked in various spiritual traditions. It will also focus onhow food is not merely meant for the gross body but rather an influence on one’s mind and consciousness. Amidst the modern impersonal conception of merely rushing to eat and dumping the body with all sorts of stuff, food when prepared with higher consciousness brings about taste and nourishment that are both holistic and uplifting. One of my friends has requested me to do research and establish contacts for potential interview sources and suitable filming locations. We are looking at practitioners in various spiritual traditions.

I'd be grateful for your input for the Jewish dimension to this. We are looking at unique food preparation procedures in synagogues and the ethics related to it as well as the distribution aspect. Interviews and on-sight shooting is being considered. We are looking for followers or persons who can give us access to the going-ons in these kitchens or persons preparing the food. We wish to interview them and cover aspects related to the essence of the preparation, the attitude and cleanliness involved in it and the manner in which the distribution is conducted. Both the cooks and the beneficiaries are needed for interviews and on-sight shooting is also being considered. We need as many contacts and sources as possible to bring out the entire culture related to their involvement in the preparation of sanctified food. Location is no barrier and you are welcome to provide both local and international links, sources and locations. The focus will be on vegetarianism in Judaism. If you do have Christian links for the same, these are also welcome.

I will let the interested parties know more as things evolve. The documentary will be produced by a private international food channel and the plan is to broadcast this globally. More details later. We are still at the conception level. This is more of a documentary that has come about due to the personal conviction of the people involved who want to broadcast the value of spiritual food. We’d be appreciative of the maximum level of access possible to these places and devotees who can nourish this important task, without in any way disrupting the sanctity of the temple kitchens. We wish to cover the entire culture related to this aspect.

Those who may be able to provide input are welcome to write to me at rjsimman@yahoo.com

Thanking you in advance,

R. Jai Simman

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