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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