March 27, 2006

3/27/06 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

[Note: For vegetarian Passover recipes, please visit:]

1. Progress on Campaign to Celebrate Earth Day 2006 as an “Environmental Shabbat”/Please Help

2. Science Fiction: Will Global Warming Wipe Out Humanity?

3. New “Kosher and Humane” Web Site Blasts Factory Farming Practices as Contrary to Jewish Teachings

4. Article on Factory Farming Abuses/My Letter and a Response to it

5. Israeli Haredim (Fervently Orthodox Jews) Working Toward a Cleaner Environment

7. Animal Rights Activist/JVNA Advisor Interviewed

9. Bird Flu Update

10. Meatout 2006 Observance Breaks US and World Records

Some material has been deferred to a later 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. Progress on Campaign to Celebrate Earth Day 2006 as an “Environmental Shabbat”/Please Help

As indicated below, we are making great progress in our “Environmental Shabbat” campaign. But much more needs to be done to make this a truly groundbreaking initiative. Please help spread the word to as many groups and individuals as you can. Please ask local rabbis to observe Earth Day 2006 as an “Environmental Shabbat.” Ask your friends to also contact local rabbis and ask them to have an “Environmental Shabbat” on April 22. Volunteer to help organize such events. Inform rabbis and other Jewish leaders that valuable information can be found on COEJL’s web site ( and the Earth Day Network’s web site (

Here are the positives so far re the campaign to celebrate Earth Day 2006 as an Environmental Shabbat”:

* The campaign has been endorsed by the following groups:
COEJL (The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life);
The TEVA (Environmental) Learning Center;
The Shalom Center;
The Heschel Environmental Center (Israel);

* COEJL is going to have a special section at its web site ( devoted to the “Environmental Shabbat.”

* Earth Day Network is going to have a special section at its web site ( devoted to the “Environmental Shabbat.”

* The Union for Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center is working with COEJL to submit “Environmental Shabbat” – related material to over 900 reform Temples.

* My article below is going to be sent out by the Jewish telegraphic Agency (JTA) to its many Jewish weekly subscribers. Please look for this and other articles related to Earth Day 2006 and/or an “Environmental Shabbat” and please consider sending letters to the editor. If you see such articles in your local papers, please let us know s that we can respond and try to get others to respond.

Turning Earth Day 2006 Into an Environmental Shabbat
Richard H. Schwartz

This year, Earth Day (April 22, 2006) falls on a Saturday, providing a perfect opportunity to turn the day into an “Environmental Shabbat.”

Shabbat is a reminder of creation, as it is said, "For in six days the Lord made the heaven and earth, and on the seventh day, God rested." (Genesis 2:1.2) When God created the world, he was able to say, "It is very good." (Genesis 1:31) Everything was in harmony as God had planned; the waters were clean, the air was pure. But what must God think about the world today? What must God think when the rain he sends to nourish our crops is often acid rain due to the many chemicals poured into the air by our industries? When the abundance of species of plants and animals that God created are becoming extinct in tropical rain forests and other threatened habitats? When the fertile soil that God provided is rapidly being depleted and eroded? When the climatic conditions that God designed to meet our needs are threatened by global warming?

Earth Day also falls almost immediately after Passover this year, and today's environmental threats can be compared in many ways to the Biblical ten plagues, which are considered at the Passover seder:

* When we consider the threats to our land, waters, and air, pesticides and other chemical pollutants, resource scarcities, threats
to our climate, etc., we can easily enumerate ten modern "plagues".

*The Egyptians were subjected to one plague at a time, while the modern plagues are threatening us all at once.

* The Israelites in Goshen were spared most of the Biblical plagues, while every person on earth is imperiled by the modern plagues.

* Instead of an ancient Pharaoh's heart being hardened, our hearts today have been hardened by the greed, materialism, and waste that are at the root of current environmental threats.

*God provided the Biblical plagues to free the Israelites, while today we must apply God's teachings in order to save ourselves and our precious but imperiled planet.

The first Earth Day was in 1970, so this year’s event will be the 36th anniversary of Earth Day. The number 36 has special significance in Judaism, as it represents the number of tzaddikim, the lamed-vavniks who uphold the world. It also represents twice CHAI. CHAI (life) is composed of the Hebrew letters chet and yud, whose numerical values are 8 and 10, thus adding up to 18. Hence, we can relate Earth Day this year to improving two lives, that of our endangered planet and that of Judaism.

Our planet is arguably threatened as never before. Just to take one problem, global warming, we have recently experienced record heat waves, increasing numbers and severity of hurricanes and other storms, rapid melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, major floods, and severe droughts. This has all occurred due to a one degree Fahrenheit average increase in the global temperature. This is very frightening since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group composed of the world’s leading climate scientists has projected an average global temperature increase of 2.5 to 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century, and that would have catastrophic effects in many areas worldwide.

An ancient midrash (rabbinic teaching) has become all too relevant today:
“In the hour when the Holy one, blessed be He, created the first person, God showed him the trees in the Garden of Eden, and said to him:
‘See My works, how fine they are; Now all that I have created, I created for your benefit. Think upon this and do not corrupt and destroy My world, For if you destroy it, there is no one to restore it after you.’ "
(Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28)

Environmental problems today are due to the fact that the ways of the world are completely contrary to Jewish values:

*Judaism teaches that the earth is the Lord's and that we are to be partners and co-workers with God in protecting the environment. But today's philosophy is that the earth is to be exploited for maximum profit, regardless of the long-range ecological consequences.

*Judaism stresses bal tashchit, that we are not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value. By contrast, wastefulness in the United States is so great that, with about 4% of the world's people we use about a third of the world's resources, and this has a major impact on pollution and resource scarcities.

* Judaism asserts that a wise person considers the long-range consequences of his/her actions and that we must plan for future generations; but the way of the world today is often to consider only immediate gains.

It is urgent that Torah values be applied toward the solution of current environmental problems. This means, for example: an energy policy based not on dangerous energy sources, but on CARE (conservation and renewable energy), consistent with Jewish teachings on preserving the environment, conserving resources, creating jobs, protecting human lives, and considering future generations.

The book of Jonah, which is read as the prophetic portion during the afternoon service of Yom Kippur, has a powerful lesson with regard to current ecothreats. Jonah was sent by God to Nineveh to urge the people to repent and change their unjust ways in order to avoid destruction. Today, in a sense, the whole world is Nineveh, in danger of annihilation and in need of repentance and redemption, and each one of us must be a Jonah, with a mission to warn the world that it must turn from waste, materialism, greed, and injustice, in order to shift the world from its present perilous path.

Hence, making Earth Day 2006 an Environmental Shabbat, with sermons, classes, environmentally-conscious meals and other environmentally-related activities can be an important step toward moving our imperiled planet to a sustainable path and revitalizing Judaism.

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2. Science Fiction: Will Global Warming Wipe Out Humanity?

[JVNA does not generally have science fiction articles, but the one below by JVNA advisor John Diamond reflects many previous items in JVNA newsletters. It can be a valuable wake-up call. Responses welcome, as always. Thanks. And thanks to John for his valuable work on this.]

Global Warming Induced Human Extinction, An Avoidable Catastrophe
by John K. Diamond

Rosh Hashanah, 5850 (2090): The last human being alive on earth starves to death.

During the first decade of this century, conclusive scientific data from NASA Atmospheric Research proved that global warming is primarily caused by greenhouse gases (primarily methane) being emitted directly and indirectly by the over 50 billion animals raised annually worldwide for human consumption of beef, poultry, dairy and eggs.

The Summer 2005 Issue of “Earth Save Magazine” had a report by Noam Mohr, coordinator for the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), entitled "A New Global Warming Strategy: How Environmentalists are Overlooking Vegetarianism as the Most Effective Tool Against Climate Change in our Lifetimes."

Based on the NASA Atmospheric data, other reputable sources and Noam Mohr’s report, some of the world’s leading climate scientists and vegetarian/environmental organizations combined to issue a warning to humanity that unless consumption of animal based foods is severely reduced or eliminated in the current generation, the human species would be threatened by extinction by the end of the century or sooner.

In 2006, Dr. Richard Schwartz, President of the JVNA, with the cooperation of several environmental groups and the leaders of the annual "Earth Day," held on Saturday, April 22nd, actively promoted the idea of religious communities celebrating that “Earth Day” weekend as an "Environmental Sabbath." Many copies of Noam Mohr’s report were distributed during that weekend, which also marked the beginning of a concentrated campaign to make people aware of the importance of eliminating animal foods for human consumption within the current generation in order to prevent the predicted impending catastrophe.

From that time, the group urged Christian, Jewish, Islamic and other religious groups to strongly recommend that their members eliminate animal products from their diets and take additional steps to respond to global warming and other environmental threats. This met with great success in many cases, as people became increasingly aware of the severe threats that humanity was facing. However, the momentum of population growth, the continued demand for more and more consumer goods in the United States and newly developing countries, and the increasing demand for animal products in China, Japan, and other countries where affluence was increasing proved too great to overcome.

By 2030, the global warming "tipping point" had been reached. Global temperatures began increasing at an accelerating and uncontrollable rate, although at that point, much of the world’s energy was coming from renewable non-polluting sources and hydrogen-fueled transportation had been almost universally adopted.

By 2050, half of the ice at both of the Earth’s poles had melted, raising sea levels 10 feet, and caused some coastal cities to become uninhabitable. Many of the world’s primary aquifers became dry after many decades of being overused to grow crops for farmed animal consumption. Severe fresh water shortages became worse as the rising seawater ruined water supplies in coastal areas. Mini-wars began to break out in many parts of the world over fresh water supplies.

By 2075, almost all of the ice at both of the Earth’s poles had melted, and sea levels had risen an additional 13 feet. All of the coastal cities became uninhabitable, and severe food shortages were occurring worldwide due to lack of clean water and the desertification of almost all of the world’s previous agriculturally productive land. One billion people each year around the world were starving to death with little hope in sight. To avoid starvation and flooding, people began a mass migration toward the Earth’s Polar Regions, where there was still some fresh water and agriculturally productive land.

By 2080, all of the remaining human population was concentrated in both polar areas and for the next five years, they were able to exist on a vegan diet that their ancestors in the first decades of the century rejected. Many still died from starvation, as the limited area they were living on could not sustain everyone.

But the uncontrolled global warming started to take its final toll. Rising temperatures over the next five years made the Polar Regions too hot to raise any food.

On Rosh Hashanah, 5850 (2090) the last human being alive on earth starves to death.

Simultaneously, on a planet in a distant galaxy, a newly-created Adam and Eve in their Garden of Eden are commanded by Hashem:

"Behold, I have given to you all herbage yielding seed that is upon the surface of the entire earth, and every tree, that has seed-yielding fruit; it shall be yours for food."

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3. New “Kosher and Humane” Web Site Blasts Factory Farming Practices as Contrary to Jewish Teachings

JVNA is thinking of exchanging links with the new blog. Please take a look at it and let us know what you think. Thanks.

Forwarded message from

Hi. We've launched a new website/blog,, to discuss issues of tzaar baalei hayyim and our kosher food chain:

We very much want your input, and would also appreciate a link to our site and any shout outs you can give us. We'll be glad to link to your site as well.

Thank you for your help.

Kol Tuv,
The Team at

Below is some background material from the new website/blog:
New JBlog: Kosher And Humane is a new website/blog exploring the issues of "tzaar baalei hayyim and our kosher food chain." Here's a sample of the writing:

Does Jewish law – which commands owners to feed their animals before eating, and mandates humane treatment of animals – support what appears to be barbaric cruelty? If it does not, why are we eating these products, and why are rabbis endorsing them? … Does human desire (note: I wrote "desire," not "need") automatically trump tzaar baalei hayyim law? …

Should we care about animal welfare? Or is the comfort of our stomachs more important than the laws of our Torah?

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4. Article on Factory Farming Abuses/My Letter and a Response to it

American consumers abuse animals
By Matthew Brophy
March 22, 2006
Minnesota Daily

One day animal cruelty shall be held in the same regard as slavery in our nation's past.

John Doe, a local Minnesotan homeowner, was arrested Friday for the torture of animals. Inside his home, investigators found cats dangling upside down, some of them dead, some still painfully writhing with life. Dogs were jammed inside cages so tight that turning around or even lying down was impossible.

Interrogators learned that Doe conducted inhumane practices: castrating cats without anesthesia, searing the beaks off of canaries before locking them in overcrowded cages and imprisoning dogs in dark, crowded pens.

Psychologists would characterize Doe as a sociopath, capable of extreme cruelty and callous to animal suffering.

Truth be told, there is no actual one John Doe; there are many. The above abusive practices are commonplace in factory farms, which slaughter animals for meat on a massive scale. Instead of cats, dogs and canaries, the practice involves cows, pigs and chickens: animals of equal if not superior intellect and sentience.

We are supporting these legal yet unethical practices. If you go to McDonald's, Burger King, KFC or any other fast-food restaurant, you are eating meat that comes from factory farms. The vast majority of our meat comes from these industrial factories.

If you eat meat, you're asking meat suppliers to torture animals on your behalf. They're not torturing animals just for fun - they're doing it for the dollar in your outstretched hand. Who's more at fault, those who torture animals to make a buck or those who torture animals to save a buck?

As consumers, it's easy to deny moral responsibility. We feel we can spend our money however we choose. We can buy a burger with moral impunity; after all, we're not the ones torturing animals. We can buy cheap clothing from Wal-Mart; after all, we're not the ones enslaving children in sweatshops. We are innocent consumers; we are not the torturers, and we are not the slave masters.

We can rationalize all we want. In fact, human beings are ingenious when it comes to deflecting blame. In a famous psychology experiment, Stanley Milgram revealed that a significant majority of human beings will torture other human beings if an authority figure is present applying verbal pressure and assuming moral responsibility.

Consumer society is the authority that absolves us of all moral responsibility: Meat-eating is the norm. In fact, if you don't eat meat, you're un-American, a sissy, a hippie, a commie.

The societal pressure to eat meat overwhelms us. How easy it is to forget about the animals in industrial factories enduring torture in order to feed our hungry mouths. Our trivial lust for meat does not justify our inflicting severe suffering of animals. At the very least, we are complicit; it is for us [that] meat suppliers torture animals.

One day in the not-too-distant future, the animal cruelty of the meat industry shall be held in the same regard as slavery in our American past. Future generations will look back upon our present society's endorsement of animal torture as dark times of mass immorality. Perhaps it will be our great-grandchildren who will look at us with shocked expressions, wondering how we could have been a part of the widespread torture of animals.

The animal liberation movement is not extreme, just as the anti-slavery movement was not extreme. It is part of our moral ascension as beings with an ethical conscience. Ignorance toward animal cruelty is not an excuse. And callousness is not a justification.

The founder of the modern-day animal liberation movement, Peter Singer, will be speaking on our campus about our ethical responsibility toward animals. Singer is widely heralded as a philosopher, writer and activist. Time Magazine deemed him one of the top 100 most influential people on the planet.

Matthew Brophy is a University student. Please send comments to
My letter:

March 22, 2006

Editor, Minnesota Daily

Dear Editor,

As president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), I want to strongly commend Matthew Brophy for his excellent article, "American consumers abuse animals," in which he discussed the many abuses of billions of animals on "factory farms." What makes the situation even more scandalous is that these animals are mistreated to produce foods that are causing an epidemic of heart disease, cancer, and other degenerative diseases, and whose production significantly contributes to global warming, rapid loss of biological diversity, widening water shortages, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other important ecosystems, and other environmental threats. In addition, seventy percent of the grain produced in the United States and over a third of the grain produced worldwide is fed to animals destined for slaughter while an estimated 20 million people die annually worldwide due to hunger and its effects.

So, for a more humane, healthy, just, non-violent, and environmentally sustainable world, it is essential that there be a major shift towards plant-based diets.

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Hey Richard,
Thanks so much for writing in to the MN Daily promoting plant-based
diets! As you may already know, the letter got published and will
hopefully raise awareness among the thousands of young readers of the
paper. You can view it at Thanks and stay in touch!

-Gil Schwartz

Gilbert Schwartz
Campaign Coordinator, Compassionate Action for Animals
300 Washington Ave SE, Rm. 126
Minneapolis, MN 55455

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5. Israeli Haredim (Fervently Orthodox Jews) Working Toward a Cleaner Environment

Forwarded article by Yosef Hakohen, preceded by his introductory comments:

Introduction: The following is an article from the Jerusalem Post about the Haredi (fervently Orthodox) community in Israel and the environment. The Haredi community includes Chassidim, members of the Lithuanian yeshiva world, Sephardim and Yemenite Jews. Some of the Haredi neighborhoods in Jerusalem which are mentioned in the article are actually very old neighborhoods which were built by Haredi Jews before the rise of the modern Zionist movement.

The attached article attempts to present a fair and balanced perspective on the relationship of the Haredi community to the environment, and for the most part, it succeeds in this attempt; however, it failed to mention Haredi Torah scholars - such as Rabbi Aryeh Carmell and Rabbi Yehudah Levi - who have written extensively on Torah and environmental issues. It also failed to mention that "Betar" - a Haredi city south of Jerusalem - has won awards from the Israeli government for urban planning which is sensitive to the environment. In addition, the article contains a couple of comments which are not entirely accurate, and the corrections or clarifications are to be found in brackets:

Sanctifying the environment
gail lichtman, THE JERUSALEM POST Mar. 16, 2006

If you think that the crowding, lack of greenery and garbage problems in Mea She'arim and the older haredi neighborhoods prove that haredim don't care about the environment, think again.

Shomera, an environmental group founded in Jerusalem's predominantly haredi neighborhood of Har Nof, is now one of the leaders in the fight to preserve the Jerusalem Forest and in promoting other environmental issues in the city. Ma'ayan Hahinuch, the Shas [Sephardi Haredi] school system, is developing an innovative school curriculum to teach environmental awareness in haredi schools. Beit Ya'acov, the Agudat Israel educational system for girls and women, has introduced continuing education courses on the environment for its teachers. And both Shomera and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) have responded to a growing interest in community gardens and clean-up campaigns in haredi neighborhoods around the city.

In part, this growing environmental awareness can be attributed to a trickle-down effect caused by the general increase in environmental awareness on the part of the overall Israeli public over the last 20 years It can also be attributed to the growing influence of Western haredim, mainly from English-speaking countries, who have brought higher levels of awareness and expectations of environmental cleanliness and aesthetics to Israel with them.

And the third factor is an emphasis on environmental issues spearheaded by Mayor Uri Lupolianski, the city's first haredi mayor and his haredi-led administration - an emphasis that has led to the availability of city funding for environmental projects in the haredi community.

Even though the haredi population in 2005 constituted only 11.7 percent of the overall population of Israel, the community comprises some 30% of Jerusalem's 700,000 residents.

In a groundbreaking study, "Haredi Community and Environmental Quality," published in 2003 by The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, authors Prof. Yosseph Shilhav of Bar-Ilan University's Geography Department, and environmental planner Moti Kaplan examined the haredi communities' attitudes towards the environment.

The study dispelled the stereotypical premise that there is a correlation between the religious character of certain Jerusalem neighborhoods and their levels of greenery, amount of open space and/or cleanliness. The only correlation, the authors found, is the socioeconomic one. "If we look at neighborhoods on the same socioeconomic level, we will see similar levels of greenery, open spaces and cleanliness," states Shilhav.

Those haredi neighborhoods whose population is of a low socioeconomic status have correspondingly low levels of greenery, lack of open spaces and problems of cleanliness corresponding to other low socioeconomic neighborhoods in the city.

Newer haredi neighborhoods, with higher socioeconomic populations, correspond to similar more upscale "secular" neighborhoods.

As for the less-than-clean appearance of city streets in some haredi neighborhoods, the report states that, "Experience shows that if the municipality cleans and renovates the streets… the residents continue to maintain cleanliness… The high population density and demographic structure of the haredi population generate large amounts of refuse, which must be removed frequently. If the municipality invests in cleaning and garbage disposal, the residents show their appreciation by assisting the effort."

"There is nothing particular about the haredi population that leads to neighborhood neglect," states Akiva Wolff, head of the Center for Business Ethics and Social Responsibility's Environmental Response Unit at the Jerusalem College of Technology - Machon Lev, and one of the researchers for the Jerusalem Institute study.

"It is mostly a factor of poverty and densely populated neighborhoods with lots of kids."

That said; the study also found that there are certain features that distinguish the haredi attitude to the environment from that of the general public and these have contributed to a slower awakening to the issue.

Despite numerous Jewish sources relating to humans' relationship to the environment, Diaspora Jewish life showed a certain disregard towards the environment.

The fact that, in exile, the Jewish people lacked a territory was one reason for this disregard. The other was that after the destruction of the Second Temple, the Jewish people turned inward to Torah study, which elevates the spiritual over the material. [Torah study was also emphasized before the destruction of the Second Temple.] In addition, the haredi community, which has its roots in a densely populated, Eastern European, urban environment, devoid of greenery, simply followed the same pattern of living in Israel. [There were some haredim, however, who came from villages in rural areas.]

As the environmental movement in Israel developed, the haredi community came to see it as liberal and left wing. Many environmental events take place on Shabbat, when haredim cannot participate. Secular environmentalists also tend to have what the report terms a naturocentric conception in which nature is viewed as an entity in its own right, with a dimension equal to that of mankind. The traditional Jewish approach, the report argues, is an anthropocentric approach, in which mankind is the be-all and end-all. Therefore, some religious Jews view the secular approach as a form of paganism, a kind of "worship of the land."

"Haredim do not treat the environment as a value per se or in a quasi-religious manner as environmentalists do," the report notes. "Their attitude is strictly instrumental." [The practical approach of Haredi environmental activists is influenced by Torah teachings and mitzvos regarding the environment. For example, the Torah teaches that the earth and its resources belong to the Creator, and that human beings are only the custodians. In this spirit, Haredi farmers do not work the land on the Sabbath and during the Sabbatical year.]

And it is exactly this practical attitude that speaks to the community.

Eight years ago, Tamar Gindis, an American immigrant living in Har Nof, co-founded the non-profit organization Shomera Lesviva Tova (Guardians for a Good Environment), in response to a specific threat to the neighborhood - the planned Route 16 road that would run through the Jerusalem Forest.

"I put an ad in the neighborhood newspaper asking for those concerned to contact me," she recalls. "That's how it all started."

She was joined by her neighbor, Moshe Kempinski, another English speaker, who was concerned about the building of an old-age home on the edge of the Jerusalem Forest that would destroy the local view and intrude on the forest.

They started to work on these two issues, which were later joined by others. "The fact that our quality of life was threatened allowed us to bridge unbridgeable gaps," Kempinski explains. "Suddenly, the environment came into the community's awareness. And this awareness gave birth to all kinds of projects."

"When I first started, I was made to feel that what I was doing was nice but not essential," Gindis says. "People would tell me that it was hitzoni [external] and not ruhani [spiritual], not the focus of their lives.

Slowly but surely the community began to wake up to environmental issues. Now, our community administration [minhal kehilati] even has a special position to deal with the environment."

Shomera also sponsors tours conducted by haredi tour leaders.

"I got interested in the environment because of the filth," explains Tehilla Cohen, a former student at the Beit Ya'acov Institute for Teachers and a tour guide. "This is our country and if we don't want to live in a jungle, we have to act. The environment is a one-way ticket. If we ruin it, there is no way back."

Four years ago, Cohen decided to direct her energies and teaching skills to conducting tours, mainly for families and school groups.

"When I give my tours, I include environmental issues such as ecological balance and keeping the environment clean. Sometimes I feel no one is listening. But more and more, there is awareness. I feel the seeds are being planted and something will come out of this in the future."

Shlomo Buskilha, a former teacher, has been conducting haredi tours for the past five years, many for Shomera. "Awareness of preserving the environment is very low in the haredi community. I have to explain even the simplest concepts. I am even asked why it is important that the forest not be paved over… This is really a shame. The haredi community could make the environment its flagship issue. This is a universal issue that would be good for us to promote, especially since we are often perceived as only being concerned with issues particular to our community."

Yael, a mother from Har Nof, regularly takes part in Shomera tours, often bringing seven of her children with her. "It is important to connect the children to Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel] and [these tours] do it in a way they really enjoy."

Today, Shomera is a leading player, along with the municipality, in environmental programs for the haredi community. These efforts include development and preservation of the Jerusalem Forest, nature tours, educational programs for schoolchildren, teacher training, adult gardening courses, community gardens, horticulture therapy, community clean-ups, workshops, lectures, support for publication of books and articles on Judaism and the environment and information campaigns on environmental issues such as water conservation, recycling, etc.

Shomera has even a proposed project for recycling mikve (ritual bath) waters to be used for watering the forest and public parks.

The organization has also moved beyond the haredi community into the general public and has a mixed staff ranging from haredim to secular, "so we can be more responsive to different communities," Gindis says.

In 2004, working with the municipality's haredi education department, Shomera helped implement an environmental gardening and beautification pilot project in 10 haredi schools, involving some 8,000 students.

"We worked on developing a curriculum accompanied by a practical project that would have ramifications not just on the school but also on the surrounding neighborhood and connect the school with the community and the local community administration," says Gershon Binet, acting director of the haredi education department.

Lekach - The Haredi Learning Center in Jerusalem, the haredi branch of the Jerusalem Association of Community Councils and Centers Ltd., designed a curriculum that draws on the Jewish sources and can be used in both boys' and girls' schools.

Binet also takes a practical approach, seeing environmental studies as a tool towards furthering studies. He uses the words cleanliness, aesthetics and beautification far more often than environment.

"We see aesthetics and cleanliness as religious mitzvot," Binet continues. "The talmid hacham [scholar] has to look neat and clean. More aesthetic surroundings contribute to better learning. So this is not just education for cleanliness but also for a better learning atmosphere."

Binet chose large schools in different socioeconomic neighborhoods. The program includes preparation of a booklet with the Jewish sources because "this is what speaks to our population," plus lesson plans for the teachers.

On the practical side, there are clean-ups, improving the appearance of school buildings, gardening and composting.

This year, the project was expanded to 35 haredi schools, with some 15,000 students.

In another project with the Beit Ya'acov Institute for Teachers, Shomera helped put together a program for teachers in Beit Ya'acov schools.

"Shomera came to us and suggested a program," says Chaya Kiel, director of continuing education at the Beit Ya'acov Institute. "We started last year with some 40 teachers and this year we anticipate 80 general teachers, and 15 students in our institute."

The program provides courses for teachers designed to strengthen their awareness of the environment and give them the tools to teach this subject in their schools. The individual schools decide whether to teach environmental studies as a stand-alone subject or integrated into another subject.

"There is no doubt that the program is having an impact," Kiel continues. "It is still too early to see the full effect but we are hearing from our teachers how they are introducing it into their schools and have already had clean-ups."

Last year, S., a high-school teacher in the Beit Ya'acov network, finished the course, which involved classes twice a week over a period of three months.

"The course taught me awareness of the environment," she says. "The material was presented in concentrated form, including facts and figures. Even though I had read about the issues before, I did not have the kind of knowledge I now have. This enabled me to introduce the subject into my lessons. I connect the material to the Jewish sources."

S. continues, "I also gained a greater awareness of the environment on a personal level, especially with respect to my use of disposable products. I would like to see greater awareness of green issues in my neighborhood. We need to keep the neighborhood cleaner - although I also think the city has to do more."

Two years ago, the Romema local community administration approached the SPNI to help establish a community garden. At first, the program was developed as a community activity for teenage girls. SPNI taught the girls how to plant and tend an ecological garden, growing herbs, vegetables and flowers.

Today, the project has been taken over by children and pensioners.

"The community is continuing with this project on its own," says Amanda Lind, SPNI Jerusalem branch project coordinator. "We see ourselves as catalysts - we teach, guide, lead and then turn over to the community to run on its own."

By far the most ambitious project, and one spurred by an NIS 100,000 grant from the municipality, is the development of a haredi curriculum on the environment by Ma'ayan Hahinuch's Pedagogic Center, which was implemented this year as a pilot project in 10 Jerusalem schools.

"There are two aspects to this curriculum," explains Gabriel Cohen, director of the Pedagogic Center. "One is the emphasis on practical aesthetics - personal neatness, clean schools and clean communities. And the other is environmental education in the broad sense of the word - ecology, recycling, air and water quality, noise, etc. - concepts that the haredi world doesn't really have.

"There was a definite need to develop a curriculum for the haredi schools," Cohen continues. "We see this curriculum not just for our schools in Jerusalem but for haredi schools throughout the country. Next year, we are looking to go national with the program."

The curriculum is instructional and interactive, integrating practical activities such a recycling, planting gardens and clean-ups with theoretical and Jewish source material.

The center also has developed special workbooks for both teachers and pupils.

Because of the different nature of studies for boys and girls in haredi schools, two different approaches were developed.

"We tie the environment in with Halacha [Torah law]," Cohen explains. "And because we are looking at the environment from a Jewish point of view, was have called our program Derech Ben Melech [the King's Highway]. Our symbol is a crown with the slogan - I cleaned, I made order, I sanctified Hashem [God]." Each pilot school has an ecological corner decorated with attractive placards, noting the various aspects of the program. Different classes are given responsibility for garbage collection, composting, gardening, etc. The center is also working on developing a slide program.

"I was surprised at how well our schools have received this curriculum," Cohen notes. "This is a completely new area for us. All that goes on in the larger secular society concerning the environment filters down to us. So this concept is falling upon fertile ground. And the fact that we link it to the Jewish sources enables our schools to connect to the topic."

"There is an awakening in the haredi community to this issue that started a number of years ago," explains Shilhav. "We could see this already in our 2003 study. The more haredim go out of their ghettos into new communities, the more interest there is in the environment. As the haredi community becomes more involved in politics and administration, it is exposed more to environmental issues."

"There has been a revolution in the community compared to only a few years ago. I am sure that the haredim will be occupying more space on the environmental hard drive in the future," concludes Wolff.

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7. Animal Rights Activist/JVNA Advisor Interviewed

Forwarded message from David Cantor, Director of Responsible Policies for Animals /Please cross-post freely.

Dear Responsible Policies for Animals Members & Friends,

An extensive animal rights interview has just been posted online that I hope will interest you: “The David Cantor and Responsible Policies for Animals Inc. Interview.”

You can access it by going to and scrolling down the home page a little ways or by going directly to the interview here.

The Abolitionist Online, a much-needed new publication, shares Responsible Policies for Animals’ (RPA’s) objective of seeing animal activists rededicate themselves to the struggle to establish legal rights for all sentient beings – the goal of the animal rights movement.

Like RPA, The Abolitionist Online helps explain why no amount of activity that merely seeks to improve the animal welfare status quo can ever lead to animal rights and why saving more animals than are doomed under the human boot is only possible when the animals get their legal rights and are no longer property of humans.

The interview describes the RPA dream in more detail than anywhere else to date. Crucial is the mix needed in animal rights education: The basic un-refuted argument suffices ethically – nonhuman animals have moral rights that humans should respect because they are sentient (they experience their lives and can suffer), but their legal rights require fundamental change that will only occur when human beings realize how beneficial the results will be for humanity. People will live much better lives when animal exploitation and abuse end and our species adopts humane ways of life.

You might wish to glance at the interview to see if you’ll want to read it in its entirety. It is extensive! It took months to complete. I hope you will find it unique and original and will wish to share it with others. If you would like RPA to mail you a hard copy, just let me know. Of course, let’s discuss any aspect of the interview that might interest, intrigue, puzzle, or concern you.

And please explore the rest of The Abolitionist Online and tell friends about the zine. It provides important articles and interviews you won’t find anywhere else.

Thank you for considering reading the Abolitionist Online interview, for your efforts for the animals and their ecosystems, and for supporting Responsible Policies for Animals. Don’t hesitate to do the impossible: It’s been done before, and it will be done again – if we do it together.

Best wishes,
David Cantor

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9. Bird Flu Update

Bird flu likely in US this year
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER - Tuesday, March 21, 2006
More testing as bird flu expected this year in U.S.

WASHINGTON -- Bird flu is likely to arrive this year in the United States, with the increased testing of tens of thousands of wild birds expected to reveal dozens of suspected cases, the Bush administration said Monday.

Officials will test 75,000 to 100,000 wild birds this year, or nearly six times the number screened since 1998, according to a government plan finalized Monday. The government also plans to quarantine and destroy any poultry flocks where the virus appears.

The wild bird testing could reveal 20 to 100 suspected cases of bird flu, although follow-up testing is likely to reveal "dozens" are false alarms, Interior Secretary Gale Norton said. The emphasis will be on Alaska and other spots along the Pacific flyway, a common route that migratory birds follow into the United States, possibly carrying the virus as they do. Tests will also be run on 50,000 water and bird-dropping samples from waterfowl habitats, the government said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt stressed that people are not yet at risk from the virus, which has ravaged wild and domestic birds alike in Asia, Africa and Europe.

"At this point, if you're a bird, it's a pandemic. If you're a human, it's not a pandemic," Leavitt said.

Norton said that while officials plan to announce any positive tests for bird flu, it will take another five to 10 days for the Agriculture Department's laboratory to confirm the results.

"This is a disease of birds and not humans, at this point. Finding a bird with the disease does not signal a pandemic," Norton said.
Human cases of bird flu have been rare, but scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form easily spread among people, sparking a worldwide epidemic.

Officials also worry the virus might spread from wild birds to the nearly 10 billion chickens raised each year in the United States. Authorities say cooking kills the virus and it is safe to eat properly handled and cooked poultry.

Commercial poultry companies already test every flock for bird flu. If the deadly virus shows up in a commercial bird, the entire flock would be quarantined and killed, and the area would be disinfected. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said the government would compensate farmers for their destroyed flocks.

Unlike in many of the countries affected by bird flu, the United States has a highly consolidated, $29 billion poultry industry that raises the majority of its birds in controlled, indoor facilities. That minimizes contact between wild and domestic birds.

While the deadly strain of the virus has not yet been found in the United States, other strains have. Birds, like humans, have a flu season. Less virulent "low-pathogenic" flu viruses are common. But three times -- in 1924, 1983 and 2004 -- a lethal, "highly pathogenic" strain has emerged in the United States.

In a related development, a federal study says the bird flu virus is mutating into more variations with genetic characteristics that increase the risk of infection in humans.

Researchers are finding more human cases of the disease caused by a variant that had only been seen in birds before 2005, said Rebecca Garten, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist who led the study. The research was presented Monday at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

"As the virus continues its geographic expansion, it is also undergoing genetic diversity expansion," Garten said in an e-mailed statement before the conference. "Change is the only constant."

The virus, called H5N1, has spread from Asia to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. At least 177 people have caught the flu, and 98 of them have died.

This report includes information from The Associated Press and Bloomberg.
© 1998-2006 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Sign for Animal Rights 2006 today!
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10. Meatout 2006 Observance Breaks US and World Records

Forwarded message from FARM (Farm Animal reform Movement):


A thousand communities in all 50 states and 28 other countries welcomed spring this week, with colorful educational events ranging from information tables, exhibits, and lectures to cooking demonstrations, receptions, and elaborate “lifestivals.” Visitors were asked to “kick the meat habit on March 20 (first day of spring) and to explore a nonviolent, wholesome diet of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.” The observance had widespread support from celebrity entertainers, health authorities, public officials, and the media.

International Meatout observances have been coordinated since 1985 by FARM (Farm Animal Reform Movement), a nonprofit educational organization in the nation’s capital. This year’s observance was co-sponsored by In Defense of Animals and Vegetarian Times, with support from PETA. Community events are arranged by local consumer and animal protection groups.

Lifestivals, featuring live bands, speakers, food samples, exhibits, and literature, were held in San Francisco, Sacramento, Seattle, Portland, Detroit, Boston, Knoxville, Atlanta, and San Juan. More than 10,000 were expected at the Seattle event. Nearly 300 staffers were treated to a vegan lunch and literature at the annual Congressional Meatout Reception in the nation’s capital.

Activists distributed samples of wholesome, nonviolent veggie burgers, soy dogs, and “chicken” nuggets in front of scores of KFC and other fast food outlets. At a Michigan KFC outlet, a “policeman” arrested a knife-wielding "Col. Sanders" for his role in crippling and torturing millions of chickens. Several Meatout walks called public attention to the Meatout message.

Forty U.S. universities arranged information tables, exhibits, lectures, and meat-free dining halls. These included Alabama, American, Arizona, Brigham Young, Colorado, Florida, George Washington, Georgetown, Georgia, Harvard, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northwestern, Pennsylvania, Sarah Lawrence, Stanford, Syracuse, Utah, Utah State, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Elementary and high school teachers held special classes on the benefits of plant-based eating. Humane societies and animal sanctuaries throughout the U.S. offered Veg Starter Kits to visitors.

Hundreds of giant billboards and bus cards in ten major metropolitan areas, along with scores of letters to editor and media interviews, carried the Meatout message to millions.

Seventeen governors and mayors issued Meatout proclamations promoting consumption of vegetables, fruits, and grains. The All-Yours greeting card company designed a set of special Meatout greeting cards. Celebrity headliners included Casey Kasem, Joaquin Phoenix, James Cromwell, Mary Tyler-Moore, Ed Asner, Jennie Garth, and Bill Maher.

A record 28 other countries took part in this year’s Meatout observance. Canada, Croatia, England, Germany, and India held multiple events. Irish activists simulated a bird flu die-in. Spanish activists were displayed in a public square inside meat-like plastic trays. France and Germany built their own Meatout web sites. Other participating countries were Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Israel, Italy, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Tanzania, Thailand, Uruguay, and Zimbabwe.

FARM -10101 Ashburton Lane, Bethesda, MD 20817

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

March 21, 2006

3/21/06 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Jewish Ritual Slaughter in the UK Avoids Censure

2. Is Factory Farming the Main Cause of Bird Flu?

3. Bird Flu Found on Israeli Farms/Please Write

4. Should Vegetarians Support Lab-grown Meat?

5. Lantern Books Announces New “SuperVegan” Web Site

6. Third U.S. Case of Mad Cow Disease Found in Alabama

7. Update, Correction, and Revised Article From Peter Cohon of Veggie Jews on Eco-Kashrut

8. Seeking Volunteers!

9. Major Educational Event on Global Warming

10. Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center Announces Passover 2006 Internships and Event

11. Yosef Hakohen Begins a New Hazon Series of Letters

12. Article Relates Vegetarianism and Peace/My Letter/Please Write

13. Global Water Shortages in Our Future?

15. European Vegetarian Union Announces Publication of New Book/I Have an Article in It

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. Jewish Ritual Slaughter in the UK Avoids Censure

Following is an article from JTA — The Global News Service of the Jewish People.

British Jewish groups rejoicing after ritual slaughter avoids censure
By: Daniella Peled

[Although we oppose all slaughter of animals for food except under extremely unusual circumstances, JVNA has always defended shechita when it has been singled out for criticism and we did so in the case discussed below.]

LONDON, March 14 (JTA) — Jewish groups are welcoming the British government’s decision to reject a recommendation to ban kosher slaughter as a victory for their unified campaign.

The threat to ritual slaughter, known as shechitah, was raised after a June 2003 report from the government-sponsored Farm Animal Welfare Council advised that the practice should be outlawed.

The council had argued that shechitah and the Muslim method of halal slaughter — both of which demand the animal be fully conscious when its throat is cut — contravened British laws against animal cruelty, which mandate that all animals butchered in Britain must be electrically stunned before they are killed.

But a specially formed Jewish coalition, Shechita UK, fought the recommendation by emphasizing scientific evidence that shechitah — which involves cutting an animal’s throat with a surgically sharp blade, leading to rapid loss of consciousness — is a humane method of slaughter.

The British authorities initially appeared inclined to accept the council’s assertions, the result of a four-year investigation, that “animals (especially cattle) slaughtered without pre-stunning are likely to experience very significant pain and distress.”

But in its final statement, issued last week, the government emphasized that it was “committed to respect for the rights of religious groups.”

Describing the council report as “inaccurate and biased,” Henry Grunwald, the chairman of Shechita UK, said, “The government’s response means that the Jewish community can continue freely to practice the Jewish religious humane method of animal slaughter for food in this country.

“We are pleased that the government has recognized and understood our concerns,” he added.

Jewish leaders say the campaign not only has served to preserve the right of British Jews to produce and eat kosher meat, but also highlighted a rare example of community unity.

Shechita UK took pains to incorporate members of the Board of Deputies — the representative body of Anglo Jewry — along with various shechitah bodies and all the British authorities that oversee kosher food.

“It’s been a real example of cooperation,” said Shechita UK’s campaign director, Shimon Cohen. “The Orthodox community from left to right pulled together in a major way and had the full support of the progressive community. This is the first time anyone can remember that we all sat around together and actually delivered something.”

The last serious challenge to kosher slaughter in Britain came in 1985, when the council recommended that the government “require that the Jewish and Muslim communities review their methods of slaughter so as to develop alternatives which permit effective stunning.”

The community overturned that threat, but the lessons learned in fighting
that campaign — “It’s vital to be united,” Cohen said — were put to use in the latest lobbying effort.

European animal rights laws demand that livestock must be stunned before slaughter, but most countries — except Sweden and Switzerland — make exceptions on the grounds of religious liberty.

However, kosher slaughter is seen by the public to be an act of cruelty to animals.

It was that view that was the main focus for the Shechita UK campaign, which set out to put across the concept of shechitah as a compassionate method of slaughter.

There may be further challenges ahead, though, with the council preparing to publish a report on the slaughter of “white meat” animals, which includes poultry.

“The work of Shechita UK is not yet complete,” said Grunwald. “We believe that shechitah should be unequivocally acknowledged as a humane method of animal slaughter for food.”

Copyright JTA. This news is available to you on a read-only basis.
Reproduction without JTA's consent is prohibited.

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2. Is Factory Farming the Main Cause of Bird Flu?

Forwarded message from author and JVNA advisor Rabbi Yonassan Gershom:

[This material is very significant since bird flu has been recently found in Israel, as indicated below.]

The price of Cheap Chicken is Bird Flu
From the Los Angeles Times
By Wendy Orent
WENDY ORENT is the author of "Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World's Most Dangerous Disease."

March 12, 2006

CHICKEN HAS never been cheaper. A whole one can be bought for little more than the price of a Starbucks cup of coffee. But the industrial farming methods that make ever-cheaper chicken possible may also have created the lethal strain of bird flu virus, H5N1, that threatens to set off a global pandemic.

According to Earl Brown, a University of Ottawa flu virologist, lethal bird flu is entirely man-made, first evolving in commercially produced poultry in Italy in 1878. The highly pathogenic H5N1 is descended from a strain that first appeared in Scotland in 1959.

People have been living with backyard flocks of poultry since the dawn of civilization. But it wasn't until poultry production became modernized, and birds were raised in much larger numbers and concentrations, that a virulent bird flu evolved. When birds are packed close together, any brakes on virulence are off. Birds struck with a fatal illness can still easily pass the disease to others, through direct contact or through fecal matter, and lethal strains can evolve. Somehow, the virus that arose in Scotland found its way to China, where, as H5N1, it has been raging for more than a decade.

Industrial poultry-raising moved from the West to Asia in the last few decades and has begun to supplant backyard flocks there. According to a recent report by Grain, an international nongovernmental organization, chicken production in Southeast Asia has jumped eightfold in 30 years to about 2.7 million tons. The Chinese annually produce about 10 million tons of chickens. Some of China's factory farms raise 5 million birds at a time. Charoen Pokphand Group, a huge Thai enterprise that owns a large chunk of poultry production throughout Thailand and China as well as in Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Turkey, exported about 270 million chickens in 2003 alone.

Since then, the C.P. Group, which styles itself as the "Kitchen of the World," has suffered enormous losses from bird flu. According to bird-flu expert Gary Butcher of the University of Florida, the company has made a conscientious effort to clean up. But the damage has been done.

Virulent bird flu has left the factories and moved into the farmyards of the poor, where it has had devastating effects. Poultry may represent a family's greatest wealth. The birds are often not eaten until they die of old age or illness. The cost of the virus to people who have raised birds for months or years is incalculable and the compensation risible: In Thailand, farmers have been offered one-third of their birds' value since the outbreak of bird flu.

Supplementary message from Rabbi Gershom:

Here's another good site on the NAIS animal ID issue -- – excellent blogs, updates, links to articles, etc. Some of these personal stories on the blogs are really scary -- the USDA is already tracking animal owners through pedigree registrations, phony
surveys, farm websites, government farm programs, etc. People have been involuntarily signed up by the USDA without their consent or knowledge. And if this becomes mandatory, veterinarians will be required to report any animal "sightings" -- essentially spy on you if they come to your farm to treat an animal and happen to see other unregistered animals. This is really, really fascist stuff...

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3. Bird Flu Found on Israeli Farms/Please Write

[This articles or variations of it may appear in many Jewish weeklies this week. So, please be on the lookout and consider writing letters, perhaps using material in the above section. Thanks.]

Hit with avian bird flu, Israel starts mass sorting of poultry
Jewish Telegrahic Agency (JTA)
By Dan Baron
March 19, 2006

JERUSALEM, March 19 (JTA) — For once, terrorists are not the infiltrators most worrying Israelis.

The Jewish state joined the fraternity of nations affected by avian flu over the weekend, when a contagion in the Negev prompted the mass sorting of poultry and quarantine of several farm personnel.

With less than two weeks to go before national elections, interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert moved fast to prevent panic.

“The fact that avian flu has been discovered warrants serious attention, but I recommend we stay calm to ensure this does not spread to humans,” he told his Cabinet on Sunday.

Formally known as H5N1, avian flu has reached across Europe, Africa and parts of Asia since 2003, killing at least 100 people who caught it from infected fowl, and killing or forcing the slaughter of tens of millions of chickens and ducks across Asia. Scientists fear it may mutate into a strain communicable between humans, triggering a global pandemic.
Although health officials did not immediately confirm that ailing turkeys discovered at four Negev farms had been the victims of H5N1, the government took no chances, ordering all poultry at the affected sites poisoned and buried.

Some $3.4 million was earmarked to compensate farmers for their losses. Some 400,000 to 500,000 turkeys and chickens would be killed; Israeli farmers annually raise 200 million birds for food.

Four agricultural workers who showed signs of the flu were hospitalized. But tests revealed they were clean of H5N1.

Agriculture Minister Ze’ev Boim said closures had been imposed on the four Negev farms to prevent the avian flu penetrating northward. He predicted that the outbreak would be eradicated within 45 days.
Officials have also played down media reports that some infected poultry may have already reached stores, noting that the meat could be consumed as usual if properly cooked.

“There is no lack of meat, and the public need not fear meat bought in recognized stores,” Boim said.

Despite the ministry’s assurances, poultry and egg sales dropped in Israel over the weekend, Ha’aretz reported. The Israeli daily quoted predictions from economists that more than 40 percent of the businesses in the poultry, egg and meat sectors are in danger of going out of business as a result of the expected drop in sales.

In neighboring Egypt, a 30-year-old woman died of avian flu, stoking regional jitters. Israel has been cooperating closely with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, testing dead fowl found in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on behalf of their owners.

Despite the testing, Palestinian heath officials buried alive hundreds of chickens on Saturday, saying they did not want to risk waiting for the results.
Haaretz editorial 3/19/06

Preparations urgently needed

Over the last few days, Health and Agriculture Ministry predictions have come true: A deadly strain of bird flu, which has already been diagnosed in some 40 countries worldwide, including some of the largest states in western Europe, has reached Israel. As of yesterday, four centers of the disease had been located here, mainly in the south of the country. However, no human being has yet fallen ill.

The deadly strain of bird flu (H5N1) was first discovered in Hong Kong in 1997, and then in other countries, to a greater extent, in 2003. But according to the World Health Organization, to date, there has been no outbreak of bird flu among humans anywhere in the world. There have also thus far been no signs of the scenario that so frightens health authorities worldwide coming to pass: that of the bird flu virus mutating into a form that would be highly contagious among human beings, as happened in 1918 with the outbreak of Spanish influenza, which killed tens of millions of people.

Based on the experience accumulated worldwide, there is no reason for the public to panic. Over the past few months, the Health Ministry has prepared detailed plans on what to do should the bird flu virus infect human beings. In addition, the government has budgeted NIS 150 million to buy Tamiflu, a drug that probably will help people who catch the virus.

At the moment, the main fear is of serious economic damage to Israel's egg and poultry industry due to a decline both in local consumption and exports. Therefore, the health and agriculture ministries' main job is to prevent the disease from spreading to additional birds and to contain it as much as possible.

Nevertheless, certain statements made yesterday by veterinarians arouse concern: They said that the manner in which poultry carcasses were being handled while being destroyed in communities in the south is liable to increase the risk of the disease spreading. The veterinarians' criticisms raise questions about how serious and thorough a job Agriculture Ministry personnel are doing to contain the spread of the disease, as well as about how well they understand the danger to both the agricultural industry and the public health.

The Health Ministry must take urgent and thorough action to locate everyone who has been in contact with the infected birds, in order to give them preventive treatment and ensure that the disease does not break out among human beings as well. The ministry must also prepare the country's health care institutions for the possibility that the disease might spread to people. And the health and agriculture ministries both must immediately improve their communication with the public, since the way in which the public reacts to the flu will have a major impact both on how far it spreads and on its economic ramifications for the consumption of poultry and eggs in Israel.

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4. Should Vegetarians Support Lab-grown Meat?

Forwarded article from Veg News January/February issue pages 20, 21 (by permission)

Cruelty-Free Meat
By Erik Marcus

For years, “animal scientists” in universities around the country have made things steadily worse for farmed animals. They’ve turned an entire industry into their own little shop of horrors, unleashing wave after wave of miseries onto pigs, cows, sheep, chickens and turkeys. Most animal protectionists rail against practices like beak searing, battery cages, or gestation crates—and all of these practices owe their development to animal science. But now, it looks like a new batch of meat-industry researchers could turn out to be the best friends the animals ever had. Research to create lab-grown meat has been quietly underway for years, and recently, several key breakthroughs have been made. Though this technology isn’t yet ready for prime time, there are encouraging signs that lab-grown meat could one day replace factory farming as the source of America’s meat.

Steak in Space

The lab-grown meat concept took root in the space program. NASA wanted astronauts to be able to eat meat during long space missions, but sending animals into space and dealing with their waste, housing needs, and veterinary care was unthinkable. So NASA scientists experimented with the idea of whether a few muscle and fat cells from farmed animals could be sent into space and then cloned—millions of times—to make meat for hungry astronauts. The initial research was successful, and NASA has already proven it's possible to make small amounts of meat from a single cloned cell. Now, university researchers are trying to scale this technology up to make it possible to feed not just a small team of astronauts, but the rest of us here on earth, too. Jason Matheny, a doctoral student from the University of Maryland, says, “With a single cell, you could theoretically produce the world's annual meat supply. And you could do it in a way that's better for the environment and human health. In the long term, this is a very feasible idea."

There's a lot of excitement here because of the strong possibility that, as the technology evolves, it will become much cheaper to produce meat in a lab than to produce it from animals. After all, why put up with all the mess, the manure, the transport and slaughter, when you can simply grow the stuff in vitro? From the industry’s perspective, there are no organs to render, no daunting manure disposal regulations to worry about, and no pesky animal rights people with their cruelty investigations. Lab-grown meat would also be an inherently clean product, putting an end to food safety issues like E. coli, salmonella, and mad cow disease.

Sheets and Blob

Current research focuses on two approaches to meat cultivation: either growing sheets of it on a membrane, or growing little blobs of it on beads. In either case, meat is scraped off and refashioned into conventional hamburger or chicken-nugget forms. Perhaps the biggest current obstacle is that this flesh must be stretched as it grows, to simulate the motion of a living animal and impart the right texture. This sounds tricky, but it's not exactly nuclear fusion when you consider the technical problems faced by research and development people in other industries. For instance, if you understand even the basics of what it takes to mass-produce flat-panel monitors, manufacturing lab-grown meat looks comparatively easy. Though it sounds a little weird to be producing meat in labs, there are few associated ethical problems. On the contrary, there’s every reason to aggressively pursue this research; once the technology is perfected, all that’s needed will be a few living cells to produce millions of pounds of meat. Not one animal will need to be killed to provide the cells for mass cloning. Lab-grown meat will completely lack nervous systems, brains, pain receptors and the capacity to feel fear. Through this technology, billions of animals can be spared wretched lives and brutal deaths. Think hard about the issue and you can make an airtight case that it's far crueler to pick and eat an autonomous organism like a carrot than it is to eat meat grown in a laboratory.

Meat of the Matter

Serious money will have to be spent to perfect this technology, and it can only come from one place: the meat industry. Fortunately, they’ve got strong reasons for tossing buckets of cash into research and development: fear and self-preservation. If I were running the show at Tyson Foods, I'd be terrified that a competitor would be first to develop animal-free flesh cheaply manufactured on a large scale. If that happened, my whole company—and its 26 billion dollars in annual sales—could go down the tubes overnight. We can’t expect meat companies to care about animals, but we can be certain they’ll vigorously protect the financial interests of their shareholders. Given the breakthroughs that have already been made, any large-scale meat producer wanting to remain in business in 20 years must invest heavily in the technology behind artificial meat production. The consequences of coming in second in this, the meat industry’s Manhattan Project, are ruinous. I’m willing to bet progress is made very quickly. For the first time, the enormous profitability of America's top meat companies may work in favor of farmed animals. If even two percent of the meat industry’s billions get invested in research and development for animal-free meat, imagine the progress that could be made.What irony if, at the end of the day, animal liberation came not from a book, not from an organization, not from a million acts of conscience, but rather from the R&D laboratory of a blood-soaked company like Tyson Foods.
Erik Marcus is the author of Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, and Money. He also publishes, and hosts the world’s first food-related podcast, “Erik’s Diner,” available at

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5. Lantern Books Announces New “SuperVegan” Web Site

Lantern is proud to announce the launch of the most awesome, amazing, fantastic, ginormous vegan website that ever crept upon the face of the world wide web. We call it SuperVegan!

SuperVegan blogs the most up-to-date information on news, events, and products of interest to vegans and vegan wannabes. SuperVegan's detailed and curated web directory will help you find whatever vegan jollies you're seeking in no time, whether it's vegan booze, a vegan-minded podcast to listen to on your commute to work, or a vegan date.

SuperVegan is also home to The Amazing Instant New York City Restaurant Finder, the city's only internet restaurant search engine made by vegans for vegans (and people who just wanna eat like vegans). You can find restaurants to suit almost any need, based on location, price range, cuisine, availability of alcohol, and more.

For all things vegan, check out SuperVegan first!

Who are the folks behind SuperVegan?

SuperVegan is the brainchild of Lantern. LanternMedia, Lantern's web production wing, provides web services for a diverse group of clients, including book publishers, magazines, educational institutions and more. Lantern Books publishes books on vegetarianism, animal advocacy, environmentalism, spirituality, and non-violence.

SuperVegan is just one part of Lantern's community service efforts. We also host and moderate monthly free screenings and discussions of independent films. On March 21st we'll screen The Future of Food and on April 18th we'll present two films exploring disability and charity mentality in the media.

For more information, please contact:
Olivia Lane
212 414 2275 x13

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6. Third U.S. Case of Mad Cow Disease Found in Alabama

Alabama Cow Tests Positive for Disease

WASHINGTON (AP) - A cow in Alabama has tested positive for mad cow disease, the Agriculture Department confirmed Monday.

A routine test last week had indicated the presence of the disease. Results were confirmed by more detailed testing at a government laboratory in Ames, Iowa, said the department's chief veterinarian, John Clifford.

U.S. investigators have found two previous cases of mad cow disease. The first was in December 2003 in a Canadian-born cow in Washington state. The second was last June in a cow that was born and raised in Texas.

forwarded message from

Subject: US probe seeks second calf from Alabama mad cow

Mar 17, 2006 — WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Officials investigating the new
U.S. case of mad cow disease said on Friday they had a "strong lead"
on a second calf from the crossbred beef cow and hoped to find the
farm where the cow was born a decade ago.

The U.S. Agriculture Department announced the new case, in a cow in
Alabama and the third U.S. case overall, on Monday. A reexamination of
the carcass has confirmed the cow was at least 10 years old.
Officials declined to identify the owner, the general location of the farm or the name of the auction barn, also in Alabama, where the farmer bought the cow a year or so ago.

full story

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7. Update, Correction, and Revised Article From Peter Cohon of Veggie Jews on Eco-Kashrut

[This is a follow-up to the article on Eco-kashrut in the previous JVNA newsletter.]

Hi Richard,

Thanks for your e-mail and for quoting my piece on eco-kashrut in your
[previous] newsletter. Unfortunately, there's a little problem. After I made my post to Veggie Jews (which was inspired by a PETA activist alert), Aviva Allen responded that she had been totally misquoted by the Canadian Jewish News, which had misunderstood and twisted many of the things that she actually said. In other words, the article might represent somebody's idea of eco-kosher but not hers. I subsequently spoke to her on the phone, posted a public apology to the group and explained what had happened. I also asked the group not to contact her, as I had originally suggested. I then posted a newer opinion piece called Eco-Kosher versus Veggie-Kosher to deal with the issues without involving Aviva. (Renamed and pasted below.)


[Comments and suggestions on the article below are welcome. As indicated in the introductory material of every JVNA newsletter, 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. It should be kept in mind that eco-kashrut does not only involve foods, but all consumer objects, such as automobiles, light bulbs, houses, etc.]

By Peter Cohon

Since writing my rant about eco-kashrut as described by the Canadian Jewish News, I’ve heard privately from a Veggie Jews’ member and long-time, well-respected Jewish veggie who wrote:

“ . . . [I]t's one of the great problems with the vegetarian movement---how far can we take people on the road. Any organization, faced with a great evil and with enormous funds from the opposition, will have a problem with strategy. It's hard to know the best way to fight evil.’

“My own desire would be for everyone to be vegetarian, possibly as much vegan as possible. But realities impinge, and we have to be realistic.”

“If people find the road to organics something they can handle, I don't think they should be dissuaded---painful as that decision is for vegetarians to make.”

“I always keep in mind that if we could persuade 15% of the public to stop eating factory farmed products (fish, dairy, and animals) it would kill the factory farming business which, like any industrial business, requires huge numbers to make it feasible. The economics of factory farming requires that massive numbers of people eat meat and dairy products. This is not so in organic farming.”

“To kill factory farming is no small achievement.”
In other words, the writer advises us to go slow, take small steps like promoting organic foods and, over time, our impact will be felt by agribusiness and lead to an end of factory farming. This is the eco-kosher approach to tactics. But will they really work?

I’ve spent a good deal of time on the internet recently Googling eco-kosher web sites. I must have read about 20 of them quite thoroughly and carefully to make sure that I understood the movement’s message. Here’s what I found out:

Out of the 20 eco-kosher web sites that I studied, many written by rabbis, a couple quoted the phrase “tsa'ar ba'alei chayim” (a mandate not to cause pain to any living being) and one urged readers to boycott veal. None of them promoted vegetarianism. The emphasis was on combining popular environmental movement ideology with Jewish culture. But, despite considering themselves “environmentalists,” the creators of these web sites all ignored the enormous waste and pollution created by the animal agriculture industry.

It is difficult for me to imagine how a movement that does not promote vegetarianism is going to cut factory farming by 15% or even 0.0001%. In an effort to promote environmentalism into the mainstream Jewish community, eco-kashrut takes an approach rather like trying to cure cancer with a Band-Aid. The attitude seems to be: “Don’t worry, buy organic and the world will heal itself.” If only it were that easy.

In my opinion, eco-kashrut is simply fraud. It gives folks the false impression that by buying “organic” lox or recycling a paper bag you can help make the world a significantly better place while ignoring the true human health, ecological and animal cruelty costs associated with raising and eating animals for food. It is precisely because the mainstream environmental movement ignores these essential issues that we have veggie, vegan and animal rights organizations.

I’ve been told that eco-kashrut is a good compromise, a good place for folks to start making the transition to a lifestyle that will tread more lightly on the planet and the animals while preserving our health. But, in fact, vegetarianism itself is a compromise between a conventional diet and a cruelty-free vegan diet. At least vegetarianism is a really good and meaningful compromise and one well worth pursuing on our way to a more cruelty-free future. By contrast, eco-kashrut is a fa├žade, a make-believe compromise that, in terms of diet, requires little or no real change for the better.

As long as the eco-kashrut movement is afraid or unwilling to make issues out of the environmental rape of factory farming and the un-kosher cruelty of industrial agribusiness, as long as it ignores the “V” word, it will never bring us to a significantly more just world. To make that kind of progress eco-kashrut needs to take reasonable risks, like promoting vegetarianism and veganism -- risks that it has shown no inclination to take. The eco-kashrut folks just don’t want to offend anyone. But nobody ever corrected a major societal injustice without offending somebody.

So, if you’re part of the eco-kosher movement, but not a veggie or vegan, why not choose a path that might actually close down those nasty old factory farms, protect your health and strengthen our environment BEFORE the Messiah comes. Go veggie-kosher!

Write to me for a copy of “PETE'S PROGRAM FOR A 10 WEEK TRANSITION TO AVEG*N DIET.” It’s free. (Or find it at the Veggie Jews’ Yahoo Group website listed under “files.”)

If you are involved in eco-kosher groups, why not spread the news that there is no eco-kosher without veggie-kosher?

And, as always, remember: It’s only kosher if it’s cruelty-free!

Pete Cohon, founder
Veggie Jews

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8. Seeking Volunteers!


In promoting vegetarianism, we have truth, justice, and morality on our side. But those who profit from the staus quo re animal-based diets and agriculture are using billions of dollars to mislead people and to keep them confused or thinking that animal-foods are necessary for good health.

We are trying very hard to get the vegetarian message out in the Jewish community and beyond with no paid staff and with limited time and resources. If we can get some voluntary assistance, it would be very helpful. Much of the help we are looking for can be done with a computer – compiling lists of media people, rabbis, synagogues, etc. If you can volunteer even a few hours on a one-shot basis or an hour or more a week, please let me know. Your help will be gratefully acknowledged in a future JVNA newsletter. Many thanks.

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9. Major Educational Event on Global Warming

Pizza, Climate Change and a Movie

Make a date with other Sierra Club activists and attend the WORLD PREMIERE of THE GREAT WARMING
[This is not an endorsement of the pizza being either vegan or kosher. This is included in this newsletter because of the importance of the material about global warming.]

Join us for beer, FREE pizza and a FREE movie. Come with us to the 7 p.m. Premiere Screening of The Great Warming & panel discussion immediately following. [I am hoping to come for the 7 PM film and the talks.]

WHEN: Thursday, March 23rd at 5:30 p.m. Meetup; 7:00 p.m. Movie

WHERE: 5:30 Meet-up: Old Castle Pub & Restaurant (upstairs bar)
160 West 54th Street (just off 7th Avenue)
7:00 Movie Ziegfeld Theatre 141 West 54th St. (between 6th & 7th Avenues)
RSVP: For the pre-film Meet-up, send an email to Bob.Muldoon@sierraclub.org_ or call (212) 791-3600, x32 -- please let us know if you are attending, even if you are unable to join us for the pre-screening pizza.
THE FILM IS FREE BUT RSVPs are required - To RSVP go to

About The Great Warming:
Narrated by Alanis Morissette and Keanu Reeves, The Great Warming sweeps around the world to reveal how a changing climate is affecting the lives of people everywhere. The film examines evidence that human activities are provoking an unprecedented era of atmospheric warming and climatic events: more drought, wildfires and flooding, polar melting, more powerful storms and more variable weather. The Great Warming also showcases initiatives aimed at reversing the trend toward permanent damage to our planet, as well as scenes documenting the emerging voice of America's Evangelical community urging action on climate change from pulpits across the country.

Filmed in the USA, China, Europe and South America, this wide-ranging,
compelling film taps into the growing groundswell of public concern about climate change to present an emotional, accurate picture of our children's planet.

* Brent Blackwelder of Friends of the Earth,
* Rev. Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals,
* Rev. Robert Edgar of the National Council of Churches,
* Marc Brammer of New York Climate Rescue,
* Barbara Lerman-Golomb of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life
* Sister Pat Daly of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment.

STONEHAVEN PRODUCTIONS with the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, Friends of the Earth, National Council of Churches, New York Climate Rescue, and Union of Concerned Scientists

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10. Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center Announces Passover 2006 Internships and Event

Passover 2006 Internships
April 12 – April 21

Do you want to have a meaningful, spiritually connected Passover in community and get paid for it?

Come spend the Passover holiday with us: Work a little; Play a little; Learn a little and be part of an amazing Jewish community. Our Passover program primarily serves senior adults, but our community of 8-10 interns are typically in their 20’s and early 30’s. Interns work five to seven hours per day in the kitchen, dining hall or housekeeping departments, and spend the rest of their time however they choose. They may attend classes/workshops offered at the center, or take personal space for reading, hiking, canoeing, and other leisurely pursuits.

Our teacher-in-residence will be K’vod Wieder.
K’vod received his masters degree in counseling from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, CA, worked as a program director for Chochmat HaLev – a Jewish meditation center in Berkeley, CA, and has taught classes, retreats, and counseled students in meditation, prayer, and creative forms of Jewish spirituality.

Special Programs with K’vod just for interns include:
Seder of Awakening
This Passover, we have the opportunity to deepen your experience of the holiday. This central story of our tradition is viewed by our Sages as a description of inner development and transformation. Every year, we have the opportunity to not just remember that we were once slaves in Egypt, but to have fresh experience of transcending our own bounds and constriction. This Seder will give us the opportunity to open our inner eye through meditation, chant, discussion, and of course, eating.

In the following classes, we will examine Jewish sources of Talmud, Midrash,
Kabbalah, and Chassidut that explore how the teachings and practices of
Passover can be tools to help us experience more freedom in our lives. Our meditations, discussions, and song will be relevant and with heart.

1) Pesach As A Gateway To Inner Freedom
2) The Plagues And The Nature of Resistance
3) Matzah and Chametz – Authentic Humility As A Path To The Sacred
4) The Haggadah – Liberation Through Expression

Interns will all work one Seder night and be able to participate in the Seder of Awakening for the second seder. Interns receive room, board and $20 per day (plus tips – about $5-10 per day). To apply, please download the complete the application available at the Isabella Freedman website and email it to Adam Berman at

Visit our website.

The application is posted under the Jobs/Internships link.

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11. Yosef Hakohen Begins a New Hazon Series of Letters

Forwarded message from Yosef Hakohen:

With the approach of Spring, "Hazon - Our Universal Vision" will begin the following new series:

"My Firstborn Child": Israel's Story as the Human Story

The Compassionate One told Moses to give Pharaoh the following message:

"So said the Compassionate One: My firstborn child is Israel...Send out My child that he may serve Me" (Exodus 4:22,23)

"My firstborn child is Israel" - Israel is called the firstborn, because Israel was the first people to serve the Compassionate One; however, at the End of Days, all peoples will serve the Compassionate One, as it is written (Zephaniah 3:9): "For then I will cause the peoples to speak a pure language, so that they all will proclaim the Name of the Compassionate One, to serve Him with a united resolve" (Commentary of the Sforno).

"My firstborn child is Israel" - With Israel, the womb of humanity will be opened (Commentary of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch).

With the help of the Compassionate One, we will soon begin a new series which will explore how the story of our people represents the human story. Just as we received the Divine promise, "I shall take you to Me as a people" (Exodus 6:7), so too, we received the Divine promise, "Many nations will join themselves to the Compassionate One on that day, and they shall become a people unto Me" (Zechariah 2:15).

As we shall discuss, the story of Israel's survival and renewal brings a message of hope to the entire world. Among the themes that we shall discuss in this series are the following:

1. The Universal Goal of Israel's Separate Journey
2. The Spiritual Causes and Cures for "Sinas Yisrael" - the Hatred of the People of Israel
3. The Role of Converts
4. The Role of the Promised Land
5. "You Shall Be Rebuilt, O Maiden of Israel" (Jeremiah 31:3) - The Feminine Role of the People of Israel
6. Our Reunion with the "Shechinah" - the Divine Presence
7. Beyond Death: Renewing Eternal Life on this Earth

Since our story represents the human story, we have the potential to serve as an ethical and spiritual model that can inspire all the nations; thus, the task of Jewish teachers and activists is to help us become aware of this potential. We will therefore discuss Torah guidelines regarding how we are to speak to or about our people.

If you would like to join our regular mailing list in order to receive our new series, please send your e-mail address to: .

Please share this announcement with others who may be interested.

Thank You, and Much Shalom!

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen


Just as Israel's story represents the human story, so too, the human story represents the story of the world, for our tradition teaches that the human being is a microcosm of the whole world (Midrash Tanchuma, Pekudei 3). The Vilna Gaon, a leading sage of the 18th century, finds a reference to this idea in the following verse:

"And God said: 'Let us make the human being in our image and after our likeness.' " (Genesis 1:26)

Who was the Creator speaking to when He said, "Let 'us' make the human being"? The Vilna Gaon explains that since the human being was created last, the Creator was addressing everything that was created previous to the human being, bidding each to contribute a portion of its characteristics to the human being. For example, the human being's inner strength is traced to the lion, his swiftness to the deer, his agility to the eagle, his cunning to the fox, his capacity for growth to the flora - all of which are unified within the human being.

Hazon - Our Universal Vision:

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12. Article Relates Vegetarianism and Peace/My Letter/Please Write

The following article appeared (in a somewhat edited form of the submission below) in the March/April 2006 issue of Fellowship, the magazine of the “Fellowship of Reconciliation” (FOR). Please note my letter to the editor below, and please consider writing your own letter.

Peace People Should be Vegetarians!
by Diana Rozendaal

For me, faith has always been about how I live my life. That is one of the things that I like so much about FOR –I t doesn't call people to a certain list of beliefs, but to a life of action. Like Dorothy Day, FOR believes that salvation is now, and that the kingdom of God is within each of us.

Vegetarianism is one essential aspect of my faith. Because eating meat wastes resources, supports global starvation, pollutes my body, and harms animals, I am a vegetarian. I find that my vegetarianism keeps me centered-it's empowering, because each time I eat, I live my values. That's power.

The environmental issue is simple: Raising animals for food requires about 20 times as many resources as eating crops directly. Most FOR members are also conservationists, yet if you're eating meat, you are paying others to cycle massive amounts of grain, corn, and soy through animals-it takes about 20 times as many calories, in the form of feed for farmed animals, to eat chickens, pigs, and cattle, than to eat the plants directly. None of us would ever throw 20 plates of pasta in the trash, but each time we choose to eat meat, that's what we're doing. Pollution is a huge issue with farmed animal agriculture also, as farmed animals produce 130 times the excrement of humans in the U.S., without waste treatment systems.

Eating meat supports global poverty and domestic worker exploitation as well. The Worldwatch institute has an entire report on the fact that eating meat here supports poverty abroad-even as 800 million people do not have enough food to eat. As Fr. Dear explains, "While people suffer and die of starvation in Central and South America, these regions ship their grain to the U.S. to feed our cows, pigs, and chickens so that we can satisfy our desire for animal flesh, milk, and eggs." P. 3.

And worker exploitation: Human Rights Watch, in their "Blood, Sweat, and Fear" report in 2005, describes "systematic human rights violations," and calls U.S. treatment of slaughterhouse workers a human rights crime. Things are equally bad on pig, chicken, and egg factory farms, and they're bad and getting worse for dairy and cattle ranchers. We don't have to support it.

Since going vegetarian, I've never felt better-I have more energy, need less sleep, and just feel so great. And according to the American Dietetic Association, based on looking at all of the scientific evidence, vegetarians suffer lower rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity than meat-eaters. In fact, pure vegetarians are one-tenth as likely to be obese as meat-eaters: Vegetarianism is a natural slimming diet, because it's not a diet, but a change in lifestyle.

Noted primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall explains in her most recent book, Harvest for Hope, "Since 1986 I have been traveling three hundred days a year, lecturing, going to meetings, lobbying, teaching, and so on. Never in one place for more than three weeks consecutively, and usually only a few days. I honestly don't think I could have maintained this pace when I was thirty years old-and I believe that giving up meat is the reason why I can today." [p.141]

And of course, there are the animals. Fr. Dear says, "We need to understandthat if we're eating meat, we are paying people to be cruel to animals. For the simple reasons that all animals are creatures beloved by God and that God created them with a capacity for pain and suffering, we should adopt a vegetarian diet." [p 10-11] Basically, factory farms treat animals like commodities, and even small and so-called organic or free range farms treat them like commodities. We don't have to raise animals for food-we'll be healthier if we don't-so we shouldn't.

Each time I sit down to eat, I'm casting my lot with the poor of the world, taking a stand against environmental waste and degradation, treating my body like a temple, and refusing to support cruelty to animals. FOR challenges us to live our lives peacefully, and vegetarianism allows us to do just that, at every meal.

Anyone who would like to explore these issues should visit, where the health, environmental, animal welfare, and human rights arguments for vegetarianism are addressed in fully cited analysis. For recipes and tips on giving vegetarian eating a try, please visit

Diana Rozendaal works for PETA
March 16, 2006

Editor, Fellowship

Dear editor,

Kudos to Diana Rozendaal for her thoughtful article, “Peace People Should be Vegetarians.” It’s no coincidence that the slogan of the peace movemant and the vegetarian movement are the same: “All we are saying is give PEAS a chance.” More seriously, there are strong connections between dietary choices and the potential for war.

The Hebrew word for war, milchama, is directly derived from the word locham, which means both "to feed" as well as "to wage war." The Hebrew word for bread, lechem, comes from the same root. This led Jewish sages to suggest that lack of bread and the search for sufficient food and other resources tempt people to make war. Hence, feeding tremendous amounts of grains to animals destined for slaughter, instead of feeding hungry people, can increase the potential for war. And over seventy percent of the grain produced in the United States and over a third of the grain produced worldwide is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as an estimated 20 million people die of hunger and its effects annually.

As Ms. Rozendaal points out so well, animal-based diets and modern intensive livestock agriculture also have major negative effects on human health, animals, and our imperiled planet. Hence, I believe that FOR would make a major contribution toward a more healthy, just, humane, compassionate, environmentally sustainable, and peaceful world by helping get dietary considerations onto our nation’s agenda.

Very truly yours,
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

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13. Global Water Shortages in Our Future?

Forwarded article:

International Summit on Global Water Supplies Begins With Dire Warnings of Shortages, Inequalities
By MARK STEVENSON Associated Press Writer
March 16, 2006, Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- An international summit on global water supplies opened Thursday with presidents and princes calling for solutions to shortages and inequalities in the most basic of commodities.

Organizers of the weeklong forum said their goal was to improve water supplies for the poor. But opponents claimed their real mission was privatization.

"Water is a public possession that all governments must guarantee," Mexican President Vicente Fox said in his welcoming speech at the Mexico City convention center where 11,000 delegates and representatives of about 130 countries met behind closed doors.

But Loic Fauchon, president of the non-governmental World Water Council, told the 4th World Water Forum that the poor often struggle to obtain decent, affordable water.

"We must stop attempting to solve the problem of water supply on the basis of macro-economic theories, abstract mathematical models, or inhuman restructuring plans," he said, calling for policies based on "feeling and solidarity."

© 2006 The Associated Press

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15. European Vegetarian Union Announces Publication of New Book/I Have an Article in It

It's a veggie world
'UTOPIA TODAY - REALITY TOMORROW - A vegetarian world'

The European Vegetarian Union is happy to announce that the book is now available!
Thirty five authors - nutritionists, medical doctors, authors of bestsellers, founders of important organizations, researchers, IT-specialists, philosophers, sci-fi fans, musicians and talented individuals - generously contributed to this EVU fundraiser project. The authors come from a variety of countries, cultural backgrounds and religions but they all have one thing in common: the conviction that a more compassionate world is not only possible but inevitable if humanity is to prosper.
The authors share their individual ideas of how tomorrow's vegetarian world will be, whilst looking at a more compassionate future from many different angles. The result is a cocktail of good vibes, light and hopes. Yes, it is true. Vegetarians are still a minority today. But WHAT a minority!
We have become a social group to be reckoned with, also at an international level. What better proof is there than the increasing effort by the food industry to accommodate our preferences? The veggie-market is not booming without good reason!
If you are interested in seeing what people expect from a future vegetarian world, you can order the book from the EVU, Bahnhofstr. 52, CH-9315 Neukirch-Egnach, via Amazon or through a book shop.
Renato Pichler
President of the EVU
136 pages, 35 authors from 11 countries, ISBN 3-909067-05-0, this book is available in English only (translations are planned).

The books can be ordered (see link) via Amazon but the shipping to US unfortunately costs an arm and a leg.

We are delivering free of charge, with the disadvantage that it takes a very long time for the books to arrive.

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