April 27, 2006

4/27/06 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Update on JVNA Video/Lionel Coming East for Interviews/More Background Footage Sought

2. Update on Earth Day 2006 as an “Environmental Shabbat”

3. An Earth Day-Vegetarian Connection

4. Update on the New Video "If This Is Kosher …"

5. Rabbi Gellman in Newsweek on Judaism and Vegetarianism

6. Global Warming and Animal-Based Diets

7. Environmental Education Opportunity in Israel

8. The 6th Veggie Pride Parade on May 20 in Paris

10. Historic Vote Bans Foie Gras in Chicago!

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. Update on JVNA Video/Lionel Coming East for Interviews/More Background Footage Sought

I am VERY excited about the prospects for our video. We have some great interviews. We also have wonderful background footage, so that the video will be far from a series of talking heads. Our multi-award-winning film producer Lionel Friedberg is coming east to interview some of the leading Jewish vegetarian activists. He will be staying with me a few days next week to interview me and to videotape some Torah and other Jewish sacred writings at my synagogue and other synagogue-related material. Suggestions welcome.

Below is a brief review of our objectives and philosophy in working on the video, for those who are new recipients of the JVNA or who would like a refresher:

I am currently working with multi-award winning film producer Lionel Friedberg in producing a video tentatively titled “So It is Written: Applying Jewish Values to Heal a Fractured World.” The video will be based on teachings in the Torah, Talmud, and other traditional Jewish sources and how they can be applied to respond to current environmental and health problems and the current massive mistreatment of animals. It will be produced from a very positive Jewish perspective and will show how Israeli and other Jewish groups are responding to current problems.

I recently (November 2005) returned from a visit to Israel with Mr. Friedberg. We were successful in getting some very valuable footage, including interviews of six rabbis, two animal rights activists, about twenty environmentalists, a wholistic health doctor, two Jewish Vegetarian Society leaders, two rabbinical students, two environmental students, an owner of a vegetarian restaurant, and several vegetarians at the vegetarian community of Amirim.

Our aim is to get the Jewish message of compassion, respect for all life, environmental stewardship, tikkun olam, etc., out to as many people as possible. The video will be made available free to synagogues, schools, colleges, clubs, churches, other institutions and TV stations all over the United States, as well as in Israel.

Our philosophy in producing the video includes the following: We need to reassess our place in the world... as humans, as “shomrei adamah (guardians or custodians of the planet), as Jews who are to be co-workers with God. To do this we need facts and information. That is what this video will provide. We will show Israel as a microcosm of a greater whole. It is symbolic of what is happening to the entire planet. In that tiny piece of geography, smaller than many national parks in Africa, we can see what ails our world. But as Israel is also the cradle of three of the world's greatest faiths, it encompasses relevance and meaning beyond all proportion to its size. It is the birthplace of the Bible, and of the great writings that guide and sustain us in our everyday affairs and in our relationship to God.

Hence, there will be a focus on Israel, and a spotlight on sacred texts that date back some 3,500 years. Great writings spring to life in stark and vivid reminder that we have a special role to play to safeguard the health and stability of the world entrusted to us.

This video is about maintaining our environment, about conserving our health, about practicing peace and compassion towards one another, and about respecting life in all its forms. The Torah teaches that all life is God's creation. We want to show how that factors into our everyday activities

The video will shed light on so much that we take for granted... on how we can nurture our own well-being in a world filled with pesticides, poison and pollution, in a world rapidly decaying because of human apathy, ignorance or irresponsibility, and in a world where the source of our food is a total mystery to those of us who live in modern, urban conditions.

To focus specifically on Israel once again, environmental problems in the region are a far greater threat than political, ideological or religious differences. The Middle East suffers from atmospheric pollution, water shortages, land degradation and out-of-control urban sprawl. Those are the real threats to the future stability of the region. And we need to get that message out... BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE. Already, the Jordan River is drying up, the Dead Sea is rapidly shrinking, and the Mediterranean is severely polluted. Israel and all its neighbors need to work together to solve these issues. We hope our video will lead to an even better, healthier Israel, and thus a place where even more people will come to live and visit.

In summary, we have some very good material (already about 34 hours of videotape – mostly of interviews) which, along with the material we plan to obtain in the US and on a possible return visit to Israel, gives us the potential, given the proper funding, for a very powerful and important video. Lionel believes it has the potential of being an Emmy contender.

Three ways that you can help now:

1) suggest alternate titles for the video; at this time, we are considering the following possible titles:

a. “So It Is Written: Applying Jewish Values to Heal a Fractured World”

b. “So It is Written: Applying Jewish Values to Save an Imperiled World.”

2) suggest how we might get footage that we are still seeking, including the following:

*hospitals, including wards and surgery
* road accidents
* harvesting, reaping
* aftermath of terrorist attack,
* demonstrations in Israel
* Palestinians
* the Israeli Knesset in session.

2) Contribute financially or suggest sources that might provide us with funds. To complete the video, we still will need $20,000 to $30,000. We would need far more if Lionel and his wife, a professional film editor, were taking professional fees. They are only being reimbursed for their expenses. So, please contribute and help us complete this project that has so much potential. Many thanks.

Tax deductible contributions can be made by checks made out to Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and sent to
Israel Mossman
6938 Reliance Road
Federalsburg, MD 21632

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2. Update on Earth Day 2006 as an "Environmental Shabbat"

a. Below is an article that mentions JVNA. It is really a product of our efforts.

Shuls Find That It's Easy Being Green
Jordana M. Jacobs

To honor the fact that the 36th annual Earth Day falls on Saturday this year, Jewish organizations around the country are encouraging the observance of an environmental Shabbat.

The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, the Teva Environmental Learning Center and Jewish Vegetarians of North America, along with a number of other groups, have teamed up to encourage rabbis to engage their congregants on April 22 in environmental issues, utilizing environmentally related sermons, lectures, discussions, debates or nature walks.

Locally, Congregation Beth Am Israel in Penn Valley has planned to have Mike Weilbacher, director of the Lower Merion Conservancy, deliver a guest sermon on that Saturday morning about his four major concerns - global warming, water scarcity, overpopulation and species loss - and how they relate to Judaism.

"The parashah for the week talks about the strange fire that consumes Aaron's sons. The fire is symbolic of the increased temperature we experience because of global warming," explained Weilbacher. "So many of the prayers of Judaism revolve around the celebration of creation, but with species loss, we're losing creation right before our eyes."

Other local synagogues believe that environmental themes are weaved into Shabbat prayers almost all the time, and therefore aren't really treating the day any differently.

"If you look at our Siddur, our brachot stress environmental awareness," said Rabbi Marcia Prager of P'nai Or Religious Fellowship of Philadelphia. "We pause at that juncture in our davening to reinforce the lesson. As a community, while it is lovely to have a unique and special environmental Shabbat, we want every Shabbat to be a peaceful, just and environmentally aware experience."

Copyright © Jewish Publishing Group - All rights reserved
b. Message from Union of Reform Judaism representative:

Good Morning, Richard. I assume that you are aware that yours was the lead article in a new on-line publication which is a joint endeavor of the URJ and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency - the first edition appeared late last week, just before Earth Day. [He is referring to my article which advocated that synagogues celebrate Earth Day 2006, which occurred on Shabbat, Saturday, April 22, as an “Environmental Shabbat.” This article was sent out by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) to Jewish weeklies in the U.S. and other countries.] Regarding Earth Day, I don't know how many temples had significant observances of Earth Day Shabbat;

I do know that Temple Sholom in Scotch Plains, NJ invited an environmental speaker to address the congregation on Friday night. I myself spoke at a Reconstructionist congregation in nearby Maywood on the theme, "Why Earth Day is a Jewish Holiday;" then I spent part of Saturday engaged in an environmental cleanup at a park in Bergen County.

I'm sure that our consciousness of Earth Day was raised, largely through your consistent efforts. Best regards,

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3. An Earth Day-Vegetarian Connection

Forwarded article:

The Earth Day observance this Saturday should spur each of us to make sure that there will be adequate natural resources left for our children and grandchildren. Earth Day provides a perfect opportunity to make the needed changes in our shopping, our driving and our diet.

Yes, our diet. Production of meat and other animal products dumps more debris, pesticides and animal waste into our waterways than all other human activities combined. It turns lush forests to pastures, feed cropland, then arid wasteland, denying habitats to uncounted animal species. It consumes 15 percent of our fossil fuels and emits an even greater share of greenhouse gases. Animal feed crop irrigation is causing global shortages of drinking water.

This Saturday, let's celebrate Earth Day and every day by replacing meat and other animal products in our diet with a wholesome, environment-friendly spread of vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains.

Dale Innis, Gary

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4. Update on the New Video “If This Is Kosher …”

a. Another article on the Jonathan Foer video:

Author Foer '99 blasts kosher meat industry
By Sophia Ahern Dwosh
Princetonian Senior Writer
Friday, April 14, 2006

Jonathan Safran Foer '99, the bestselling author of "Everything is Illuminated" and winner of the National Jewish Book Award, now has another title to add to his already impressive resume: animal rights activist.

Foer has teamed with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to create a documentary video, "If This Is Kosher...," which exposes the treatment of animals in kosher slaughterhouses, what he calls some of the "worst abuses of factory farming."

While traditional Jewish law does not explicitly call for a vegetarian diet, for meat to be deemed kosher it must be derived from animals that have been treated humanely throughout processing.

"The appalling truth is that over the past few decades, the kosher industry has become fully complicit in the worst abuses of factory farming," Foer narrates in the documentary. "Virtually all of the animals who become kosher meat are raised in the same cruel conditions as all other farmed animals."

"If This Is Kosher..." was released last week as the centerpiece of humanekosher.com, the PETA-funded website for the Humane Kosher campaign, to raise awareness about abuses in slaughterhouses supposedly operating within the confines of Jewish law.

The often graphic documentary features footage of fully conscious cows having their throats slit and tracheas pulled out.

"Really I hope [the website] will be a place where the Jewish community can come to learn about the abuses in the kosher industry," said Ben Goldsmith, a campaign coordinator for PETA.

Goldsmith said that Foer approached PETA with the idea for the film and later wrote the script and co-produced the effort. The video features narration by Foer and graphic undercover footage of kosher slaughterhouse practices, particularly those in AgriProcessors, the world's largest Glatt Kosher slaughterhouse.

Though Foer said he did not believe his literary achievements have given him a celebrity status, he hoped his contributions to "If This Is Kosher..." would help raise awareness for the Humane Kosher project.

"I think that being a writer and being a Jewish writer has helped and will help bring attention," Foer said in an interview.

Goldsmith said the author has helped generate discussion about the issue of animal rights abuses in the kosher industry. "Someone like Jonathan, who is so bright and so articulate ... of course this is going to make it easier to bring these issues into the public dialogue."

Though the website and film have been public for just over a week, the response has been largely positive. "We're receiving fabulous feedback," Goldsmith said.

Despite his advocacy on this issue, Foer has not always promoted or adhered to a vegetarian diet.

He said that while the ethics of eating meat is something that he has thought about for most of his life — from the time he "learned that chicken was chicken and lamb was lamb" — he grew up eating kosher meat and has, as an adult, occasionally strayed from a strict vegetarian diet.

"I'm still inconsistent in a lot of ways," Foer said. While he now avoids meat in his daily diet, he consumes dairy products and said that he ate a hamburger about two years ago.

"What we eat has something to do with who we are and the culture in which we live," he said. "Meat, a lot of people think, symbolizes Americanism, virility."

Foer, who is currently working on a nonfiction book about vegetarianism, said he views a vegetarian diet as a "series of choices" about food.

"I wanted to write something that exposes a lot of the choices that we make ... that was not aggressive or in-your-face [and] that doesn't make anyone feel defensive," he said.

"If This Is Kosher..." is not the first time Foer's writing has appeared on screen. His debut novel, "Everything Is Illuminated," which began as a creative writing senior thesis, was made into a 2005 film starring Elijah Wood.

Foer said that he has been more involved with this kosher food project and has felt a more personal connection to it than with the film adaptation of "Everything Is Illuminated."

"There are millions of people in America that are kosher and are very proud of being kosher and should be proud of being kosher, but I think these are people who will be very surprised [about kosher slaughterhouse practices]," he said.

Foer said that Jewish organizations, including those on college campuses, could play a role in promoting discussion about this issue and help to push kosher slaughterhouses to reform their practices.

"Jews have been at the forefront of so many progressive movements in the last century. This is another progressive movement," he said. "Eighteen percent of college students describe themselves as vegetarian ... in 10 or 20 years I think the conversation will be different."

[My letter to the editor in response to the article was published.]

b. Letter from Orthodox Union (OU) claiming that the situation at the Postville, Iowa slaughterhouse has been corrected/responses

Situation Addressed [letter from OU representative]

The March 31 letter from Benjamin Goldsmith, a PETA spokesman, totally misrepresents the current situation at AgriProcessors. By cleverly confusing the past with the present, Mr. Goldsmith gives the impression that nothing has changed since the practices he describes were brought to light more than a year ago.

In fact, this is the situation now:

No animals are released from the pen until they have completely expired. The practice of removing the trachea has been eliminated. The USDA has stated that the Postville plant is in full compliance with its standards regarding humane practices. Over the past year, AgriProcessors has undergone four independent audits by experts in the field of humane slaughter and has passed each one. AgriProcessors has hired an animal welfare and handling specialist recommended by Dr. Temple Grandin and the National Meat Association. This expert determined that the process in the plant is performed “swiftly and correctly.”

The OU historically has been concerned with issues of animal welfare — indeed, Jewish law mandates that we are. We perform our own unannounced audit of plant procedures and can state categorically that none of the allegations made in the PETA letter are true.

It is easy for PETA, whose agenda seeks to ban not only shechita (ritual slaughter) but all slaughter of animals — to stir public emotion and anger because what goes on in a slaughterhouse is never pretty, however humane the conditions may be. Deliberately misleading the public through falsehood and innuendo does not have to be part of this debate.

Rabbi Seth Mandel
New York, N.Y.

Response from JVNA advisor John Diamond:

Regarding the OU letter, I don't believe that anyone should fully believe that things are all right now at Postville. Until, independent experts, such as Dr. Temple Grandin are permitted to make random unannounced inspections and report their findings to the public, what the OU says must be taken with a grain of salt. In addition, the OU must make Rubashkin install the upright pen as recommended by Dr. Grandin and requested by the Conservative Branch of Jewry.

Furthermore, the OU must phase out, in a reasonable time interval, accepting animals for slaughter from the cruel factory farms, and should utilize, in their place, the growing number of humane and sustainable farms for these animals. The OU must publicly make this commitment, and indicate exactly how much time is needed for the phase out of the cruel sources of animals currently used.

All this is doable and necessary if we are to have truly “humane and Kosher” meat.
[My approach is to indicate that even if conditions at the Postville, Iowa slaughterhouse are completely approved, this still leaves many Jewish teachings that are violated by animal-based diets and agriculture.]

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5. Article by a Rabbi on Judaism and Vegetarianism

"The First Hamburger"
By Rabbi Marc Gellman
April 20, 2006
You can send e-mails to WebEditors@newsweek.com

April 20, 2006 - Reflecting on the Earth Day to come and on the lamb-besotted Easter and brisket-baked Passover that has passed, and still being emotionally tender from the death of my dog, I need to confess my steak-loving sins. Sins because there is simply no spiritual defense in either the Western or Eastern religious traditions for eating meat. The reason is not that meat is murder as some of my vegan friends claim. To say that is to also say that there is no moral distinction between cannibalism and dinner at The Palm. Eating animals may be right or wrong, but it is not wrong for the same reasons it is wrong to eat people. This is morally absurd and trivializes what is on its face an already daunting problem. The problem is that animals, though obviously not people, are also obviously not things. Animals are sentient beings and their deaths, particularly in the grotesquery of what is euphemistically called food processing causes them great pain and suffering. That is the nub of the spiritual problem. Animals are God's creations that, unlike plants, suffer when they die just to become food for us.

I have long believed that the Torah was not just given by God, but given by God on different levels simultaneously. There is a low Torah and a high Torah in the same Holy Writ. For example, the high Torah teaches us that there should be no war, “Nation shall not lift up sword against nation neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Micah 4:3). The low Torah, on the other hand, teaches that if you must make war, you must allow besieged people to go free, never cut down your enemy's fruit trees, and treat captives of war with respect. (Deuteronomy 20:19-20 and also Maimonides “Laws of Kings 6:8). The same is true for eating meat. As Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi of the State of Israel taught, in Genesis 1:29 God clearly limits the diet of the first people to fruits and vegetables. Only after ten generations of corruption from Adam to Noah, at the end of the flood God offers a low Torah carnivorous concession to Noah and his descendants, “Every living thing that moves shall now also be yours for food.” (Genesis 9:3) However, God quickly adds the limitation of not eating meat with its blood in it (v.4) and the caution that there will be a reckoning for all blood we shed (v.5). The end result is a clear though subtle spiritual message that we can eat meat if we must, but we should work toward the high Torah goal of not wanting to.

Gandhi wrote that “There is no transcendence without renunciation.” This means to me that we, natural or habitual or meat-imprinted-from-childhood, carnivores should constantly try to overcome our baser instincts and rise to the level where we eat as low down on the sentience food chain as we can. It just makes sense to cause the least suffering possible to get through lunch or dinner.

As for me, I consider my love of meat a morally corrosive habit. I went eight years once as a vegetarian, but I ended up chiefly a dessert-atarian. I know however, that God is not finished with me, and I keep trying to love lettuce, humbled in the knowledge that when I die and am judged, a long line of chickens and cows will be clucking and mooing when I pass, “That's the man!! He's the guy who ate me!” Hey, if you want a teacher who knows what is true, stick with me. If you want a perfect teacher you'd better go somewhere else…I have burgers on the grill.

The first children's story about the Bible I ever wrote is a tribute to Rav Kook, and all the vegetarians living the high Torah in a broken world. And it goes something like this…

The First Hamburger
Once animals talked just like people. Once every living creature ate only grass and nuts and a few berries when they could find them. No living thing ever thought about killing another living thing to eat it, until the day Noah wanted a hamburger.

One night Noah dreamed of a hamburger, and when he woke up, he wanted one really badly. But Noah wasn't exactly sure how to get a hamburger, so he asked his friend the cow, “I dreamed about a hamburger last night. Do you know where I can get one?”

The cow gave Noah a puzzled look and asked, “What's a hamburger?”

“I don't know exactly,” Noah replied. “All I know is that in my dream the hamburger was something delicious between two buns with lettuce, onions, pickles and some special sauce.”

“Have some more grass and forget about it,” said the cow.

Noah asked the snake, who was the smartest of all the animals, “What's a hamburger and how can I get one?”

The snake whispered in Noah's ear, “To get one you have to make one.”

“I don't know how to make one.” Noah sputtered.

The snake laughed, pointed at the cow who was peacefully munching some grass, and said to Noah, “To make a hamburger, you have to kill that cow, chop up her meat, and fry it in a pan--or flame broil it!”

Noah's mouth opened wide, “But...but...the cow is my friend! She is a living thing just like me! I can't kill her, chop up her meat and fry it in a pan! And what is flame broiling anyway?”

By now the snake was rolling around on the ground laughing, “Kid, if you want a hamburger, that's what you gotta do.”

Well...Noah really wanted a hamburger and so that's what he really did! The first hamburger tasted delicious. But when Noah came again to the fields everything was different. When he walked towards the birds, they flew away. When Noah went over to say hello to the cows and the sheep and the buffalo, they ran away from him. Even the fish swam away when they heard Noah coming.

Noah could not understand what had happened to his friends the animals, and he could not find one single animal that would explain it to him. In fact, since the day Noah ate the first hamburger, no animal has ever talked to a person. They are still too angry.

© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.

April 25, 2006

Editor, MSNBC.com

Dear editor,

As president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America and author of the book, “Judaism and Vegetarianism,” I was very pleased to see Rabbi Marc Gellman’s thought provoking April 20, 2006 article “The First Hamburger.” It is an example of the increased interest in vegetarianism among Jews and other religious groups. This is not surprising, since animal-based diets and agriculture violate basic religious teachings about taking care of our health, treating animals with compassion, preserving the environment, conserving natural resources, and helping hungry people. For the sake of the health of individuals and that of our imperiled planet, it is essential that religious groups and others make people aware that a shift toward vegetarianism is a religious imperative and a societal imperative.

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

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6. Global Warming and How Animal-Based Diets Contribute to It

a. Animal rights groups starting to connect animal-based diets to global warming

Forwarded message from Alex Hershaft, president of the Farm Animal Reform Movement:

Richard, you will be pleased to know that FARM and IDA [In Defense of Animals] have voted to spend $6,000 on advertisements promoting vegism as a solution to global warming. We would welcome any images or suggestions for images. We plan to focus on environmental publications such as E Magazine. Best, Alex [Hershaft]

[This is wonderful news about a project with great potential. If you have any suggestions re images, please let me know. Also, once the ads come out, please help to reinforce the messages in the ads. Thanks.]

b. Earth Day Network (EDN) making global warming its main issue

Forwarded message from the EDN:

[Please contact the EDN and commend them and please help reinforce their important message below. Thanks.]

Dear Friend,

Today we are at the crossroads in confronting one of the most potentially devastating environmental problems in human history - global climate change. Almost daily scientific and media reports are documenting the dramatic changes in our natural environment. This week's Time Magazine's special report on climate change sums up the situation: "Be Worried. Be Very Worried."

On this Earth Day, Earth Day Network is launching in intensive three year Climate Solutions Campaign. Our goal is to build public support and political will in the United States and around the globe for immediate action on global climate change. We are uniquely focused on creating a new generation of green consumers and energetic environmental voters who will topple the oil regime that has a stranglehold on our future and on our democracy. The campaign will leverage EDN's unique global network of 12,000 organizations, 100,000 k-12 teachers, and a web site that receives more than 40-50 million hits per month to mobilize action at all levels, including students, governments, businesses, individuals, low income community groups, and religious institutions. Our message is that solutions to climate change are feasible and good for individuals, business, the U.S. and global economies, and for the planet.

EDN has the organizational network and the credibility to reach people on Earth Day and every day to urge them to integrate the issue of climate change into their daily lives and to activate broad segments of the American public to take personal and civic action.

This year we have several unprecedented opportunities on Earth Day to reach new audiences:

EDN's partners and thousands of concerned citizens [hosted] more than 20,000 climate change events in the United States alone on Earth Day.

We will launch our National Climate and Civics Education Project which is focused on educating middle and upper school students about climate change and providing strategic opportunities for those students to becoming civicly engaged. We know that civic action is the key ingredient to creating active, involved, voting citizens. Close to 80% of our nation's more than 100,000 K-12 schools will be holding Earth Day events and activities.

EDN will help organize more than 2,000 Earth Day sermons to be delivered on Earth Day Sunday on climate change-in African American churches, conservative Christian churches, synagogues, and mosques.

EDN will launch Earth Day IPTV (www.earthday.tv), a 24/7 television network which will include interviews, documentaries, film clips and compelling visual and interactive information about climate change and related events and activities. Earth Day TV Network will be available worldwide to anyone with high speed internet, and will look much like a regular television broadcast. EDN is partnering with Google Video as part of this IPTV launch.

Earth Day IPTV offers a live, streaming feed of its Climate Change Discussion on Friday, April 21st, in Washington, D.C. Renowned climate change experts will talk about the science of climate change and the solutions via the internet from students in universities and high schools across the country. This two-hour event will be followed by a live IPTV feed of a religious leaders' discussion on climate change. This event will be followed by a discussion among interfaith leaders on climate change.

In China, we are planning ten community events in key cities around the country on climate, an energy saving light bulb switch targeting 2008 schools, 2008 communities, and 2008 rural villages as a part of the 2008 Olympic campaign, and a 30 minute television special on climate change expected to reach hundreds of millions of households. The special will shine the light on China's enormous contribution to the problem of climate change and provide practical measures for demand side management of the energy crisis that can be taken or demanded by individuals.

In Kiev, Ukaine EDN is co-sponsoring an international summit on nuclear energy and nuclear proliferation as well as a march with the victims of Chernobyl on the 20th anniversary of the world worst nuclear power disaster. EDN Chairman Denis Hayes will speak at this event on the roadmap to a sustainable energy future.

Your support is urgently needed to make our work to solve climate change reach the critical tipping point. Together we can mobilize governments, businesses and individuals in diverse communities across the nation and around the globe to take responsibility and act now on climate change.

Future generations will look back at 2006 either as the year when the human race allowed apathy and disinterest to condemn our children or as the year when public demand change the course of climate change. The choice is yours.

To make an on-line donation today, please visit our website at www.earthday.net.

Thank you for shared concern and support.

Denis Hayes
Chairman of the Board

c. Study looks at diet and global warming

Forwarded message:

The food that people eat is just as important as what kind of cars they drive when it comes to creating the greenhouse-gas emissions that many scientists have linked to global warming, according to a report accepted for publication in the journal Earth Interactions.

Both the burning of fossil fuels during food production and non-carbon dioxide emissions associated with livestock and animal waste contribute to the problem, the University of Chicago's Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin wrote in the report.

The average American diet requires the production of an extra ton and a half of carbon dioxide-equivalent, in the form of actual carbon dioxide as well as methane and other greenhouse gases compared to a strictly vegetarian diet, according to Eshel and Martin. And with Earth Day approaching on April 22, cutting down on just a few eggs or hamburgers each week is an easy way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, they said. "We neither make a value judgment nor do we make a categorical statement," said Eshel, an Assistant Professor in Geophysical Sciences.

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7. Environmental Education Opportunity in Israel

Forwarded message from: eabm@shlomoyeshiva.org:

Dear Director,

I am a student and a volunteer of Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo in Jerusalem and I wanted to inform you of a new program that i think is in line with Jewish Vegetarians of North America's goals.

We are excited to invite you to the Eco-Activist Beit Midrash (EABM) Spring Session, May 21- June 22. This past fall we held our first session, and we hope to continue this spring before starting a full-fledged three-month program next fall.

The EABM is a part of Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo- a new Torah learning center in the middle of Jerusalem. A special dynamic learning environment with Jews of all backgrounds join together to pursue deep learning into our tradition, while the Eco-Program runs side by side. Our program involves three days a week of textual study, partly in the yeshiva courses, partly in our own curriculum, and then two days of hands-on community service and tiyulim (field trips). The goal of EABM is to open up our vast spiritual inheritance of Talmud, Midrash, Chasidut & Civil Law, to interacting with the issues that pertain to today's environmental dilemmas. Whether looking at lawmaking regulating urban life, or gaining perspectives on the value of open space & bio-diversity, our tradition has many untapped insights into the core issues we face today. The goal of the community service aspects of the program let us immediately impact our local community with the "green values" and strategies that the participants bring to the table.

The program is designed for Jewish environmental activists with experience and passion for the natural world and with an interest in exploring our spiritual and religious traditions. We are open to all Jewish backgrounds, coming to participate in the Torah-based community life of the yeshiva.

Please feel free to contact me, via email or phone, for more information, or to get in touch with a past participant. I would also like to discuss ways to publicize the EABM through JVNA. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you,
Batel Meshel

Student Volunteer,
Eco-Activist Beit Midrash, Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo
USA: 972 2 622 1456
IS: 02 622 1456

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8. The 6th Veggie Pride Parade on May 20h in Paris

Forwarded message:

Are you vegetarian or vegan for the animals?

*Come to the Veggie Pride!*

Website: http://www.veggiepride.org/en/

Meeting in Paris, Saturday the 20th of May 2006 at 2 pm, in front of the Beaubourg Centre (Centre G. Pompidou, Paris 4th city district; subway station Rambuteau, Line 11). [The event is on Shabbat, but is mentioned here FYI.]

Details on the course of this day are at the end of this message.
The Veggie Pride Manifesto

The Veggie Pride: festival of vegetarian and vegan pride

** Our aims:

* To declare our pride at refusing to have animals killed for our consumption

To refuse to rob sentient beings of their sole possessions, of their very flesh, of their very lives; to refuse to take part in a concentration camp system which turns their short lives into perpetual torment; to refuse to do all of this for the mere pleasure of the palate, for the satisfaction of a habit, of a tradition: To refuse to do such things should be just plain decency.

However, history does show how difficult it is, when barbarity is the social norm, to simply say No.

We wish to declare our pride at saying No.

* To denounce vegephobia

Instead, they want us to feel ashamed. Vegetarianism is concealed, ignored, mocked, marginalized and even defamed.

Vegetarianism challenges the legitimacy of the confinement and slaughter of billions of animals. Just by existing it breaks the law of silence. This is the reason behind vegephobic mockery and hatred.

Of course vegetarianism is tolerated when it is the harmless sort that claims to be no more than a private choice, a matter of distaste for meat or of concern for personal health or the environment. But woe betides us if we openly challenge the barbarous order!

At first we are laughed at. Caring about chickens and cows is supposed to be ridiculous. Laughing at a disturbing idea is a way to get rid of it without having to find logical arguments against it.

But if we do not give in, the laughter turns sour. At first they found us funny, now they call us monsters. We are traitors to the human species since we would limit its rights. We are unworthy parents for not teaching our children the joys of dead flesh. If we care for animals we must be Nazi sympathizers since Hitler too loved dogs. Our ideas are those of an intolerant cult since they are different from what others believe.

We are called terrorists; accused of worshipping nature or of breaking its laws. No argument is too farfetched when it comes to misrepresenting our ideas, putting us to shame and symbolically rejecting us from society.

We refuse to apologize for our compassion. We are proud to declare that we are vegetarians. We are no longer willing to feel shame for refusing to kill. We are here; we are well alive and thinking and will speak out.

* To proclaim our existence

All over the world we are millions of humans saying No to this carnage. Few civilizations have actually taken for granted that eating animals is justified. But when do you hear about those debates? Mentions of vegetarianism are systematically missing in textbooks and biographies.

"The man who eats meat or the hunter who agrees with the cruelties of Nature, upholds with every bite of meat or fish that might is right." - Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nobel prize [winner] in Literature.

By stepping forth we also prove that it is possible to live without meat. We live without eating cows or pigs, chicken or fish or prawns. And we are as alive and healthy as anyone else, despite those media-promoted "specialists" whose science consists of denying the facts. Neither vegetarianism nor Veganism (which rejects all animal products, including milk and eggs) has any particular negative effects on health - indeed; current studies tend to show the opposite!

There is no [rule] that says that to live one must kill. We are not obliged to do so, neither individually nor collectively. Animal husbandry does not provide food, since farm animals eat much more than their dead flesh can render. Despite this, massive public funding supports animal farming and fishing.

* To defend our rights

No rights are granted to the animals that are raised and killed for food; but we who stand on their side do have rights, in principle. We are determined to exercise our rights in full, because they are our rights, and because they are theirs - the only rights that they may today, indirectly, enjoy.

We have the right to receive decent meals at school, at work and wherever meals are served to groups of people. We have the right to raise our children without forcing upon them the products of the slaughterhouse.

We are not willing to have our taxes used to support the raising and killing and the fishing for the tastes of others.

We are no longer willing for our actions and our ideas to be systematically silenced. We no longer accept that the only public voices should be those of the corporations and intellectuals who defend the consumption of flesh.

We demand an open debate.

"We are the mirror of your guilty consciences and this mirror will no longer hide"

Faced with images of heaps upon heaps of animals "destroyed" for BSE or foot-and-mouth disease, we alone felt no shame. We were not shameful for ourselves. But we felt shame for all others.

Above all, we were sad. However much we insist on asserting our pride in saying No to barbarity, this brings us no satisfaction. The animals are slaughtered by the billions. They are held to be dumb, their cries do not count. We shall speak out for them until the massacre halts.

We are animals and stand in solidarity with all animals! [However, Judaism teaches that only human beings are created in God’s image, while also teaching that God’s mercies are extended to all creatures and that the righteous individual considers the life of his or her animals.
Practical details and other information

The Veggie Pride is a demonstration open to all people who do not eat the animals. Concerning this restriction, check out the Frequently Asked Questions section on the website: http://www.veggiepride.org/en/faq.php#23

2.30pm: Start of the demonstration.

We ask for all slogans, signs and streamers to be exclusively centered on vegetarianism or veganism for the animals. The Veggie Pride being a demonstration of individuals expressing their pride to be vegetarians or vegans for the animals, we ask that no initials or names of organizations be reproduced on the streamers and signs.

4pm: Arrival at the "Fontaine des Innocents" (fountain of the innocent). End of the procession and preparation of a "happening" symbolizing the ocean of suffering and death imposed daily on the animals.

4.30 - 5pm: Happening. The demonstration and the happening will be declared in prefecture in accordance with the law.

After 5.30pm: Various activities.

7.30pm: Start of the after-pride. A party will take place, further details will be given subsequently on our website. Possibility of accommodation or housing amongst inhabitants of Paris.
How to get to the Veggie Pride

The SNCF (the French Railway company) proposes worthwhile tariffs for the tickets taken two months in advance.

To know if a grouped departure is planned from your area, you can contact our regional delegates.

A small ads service is also at your disposal for your requests of car sharing, accommodation, etc. Do not hesitate to use it.
Sign the Manifesto!

Even if you cannot come to the demonstration, we invite you to read the text of the Manifesto (above) and, if you agree with it, to declare that by signing it.

You can sign it on the Web: http://www.veggiepride.org/en/signer.php.

You will also be able to sign it during the demonstration.

You can make a donation to the Veggie Pride: http://www.veggiepride.org/en/dons.php.

Any donation, even small, will be very welcome.

You can also subscribe to the circulation list by sending a blank email to vp-fr-subscribe@yahoogroupes.fr or on the list's website: http://fr.groups.yahoo.com/group/vp-fr.
Help us make known the Veggie Pride by broadcasting this message to your contacts!

Wishing to see many of you with us on May the 20th,

The organizers of the Veggie Pride

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10. Historic Vote Bans Foie Gras in Chicago!

HSUS: Chicago won’t swallow foie gras

Forwarded message from Farm Sanctuary:

Today, in a historic move, the Chicago City Council banned the sale of cruel foie gras within city limits! The passing of this humane proposal, introduced by Alderman Joe Moore, makes Chicago the first city in America to enact such a measure. The vote relays the humane concerns of Illinois citizens who were recently polled by Zogby, revealing an overwhelming 79 percent of whom agree that foie gras production should be banned in the state. This legislation will have repercussions across the country.

[Bills to ban foie gras production are currently pending in Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York. For more info, visit nofoiegras.com]

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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.

April 9, 2006

4/9/06 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy Passover

2. “Environmental Shabbat” Update

3. Green Zionist Alliance (GZA) Update

4. New Video on Jewish Teachings on Compassion for Animals, Factory Farming, and the Postville Slaughterhouse/Article in The Forward

5. How Should We Respond to Claims that Conditions at the Postville Slaughterhouse Are Now OK

6. Article on Vegetarianism as a Peace and Justice Issue/My Letter

7. “Super Vegan” Web Site

8. A Monologue on Foie Gras

9. An Environmental Agenda for the New Israeli Government

10. Should JVNA Support Shifts Toward Raw Food Diets?

11. Religious Responses to Global Warming

12. New Jewish Vegetarian Web Site

13. Interested in Helping Organize a Jewish Vegetarian Conference in New York City?

15. Seeking Volunteer Translators

16. Seminar for Jewish Environmental Education Scheduled

17. A Veggie Pride Parade in 2007?

18. Delaware Action Alert: Improving Conditions for Laying Hens

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. Happy Passover

Once again, best wishes to everyone for a chag kasher v’samayach, a kosher and joyous Passover. For articles relating Passover to vegetarianism and environmental issues, please see JewishVeg.com. For vegetarian Passover recipes, please visit JewishVeg.com/recipes#Passover.

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2. “Environmental Shabbat” Update

Once again, if you see my article on celebrating Earth Day 2006 as an “Environmental Shabbat,” in your local Jewish weekly, please consider writing a letter to the editor, and please let me know, along with the article’s title, date of publication, and email address of the publication. Thanks.
Repeat of message from Rabbi Marla J. Feldman
Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism
633 Third Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10017

This year, Earth Day falls on Shabbat! Consider planning an environmental-themed Shabbat service at your temple [or synagogue] for the weekend of April 22nd. Materials to help you prepare for an Earth Day Shabbat-Jewish texts, activities, and resources for greening your synagogue-are available on the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life's (COEJL) website, www.coejl.org.

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3. Green Zionist Alliance (GZA) Update

Forwarded message from Rabbi Michael Cohen, Leader of the Green Zionist Alliance:

Dear GZA Slate,

In the shadow of the recent Israeli elections, I wanted to give you an update regarding the Green Zionist Alliance and the [other] elections.

First of all, let me thank you sincerely for your support and work. This was truly a collective effort on behalf of Israel's environment, and I appreciate your commitment to being politically engage, and for supporting GZA efforts to improve environmental policy and education in Israel and in the Jewish community. Due to your support, we garnered 30% more votes than we did at the 2002 elections, even as the total number of people voting for the World Zionist Congress fell.

We won 2 out of the 140 congress seats, doubling our previous representation. We were one of only three organizations to see their numbers go up. Four years ago at the Congress we had no alternates attend, only our one delegate. With our two delegates, myself and Noam Dolgin, and our four alternates (Becca Weaver, Ben Cook, Jonah Schein, and Lee Wallach) we have six people at the Congress. [Because of other commitments and the fact that at best I would be an alternate rather than a delegate, I informed the GZA leaders that I would not be a candidate for attending the conference.] We are in the process of joining with MERCAZ OLAMI as we did four years ago. They gave us two of their three seats on the Board of the KKL (JNF in Israel) then and will be doing the same now as well.

I'm also happy to report that our first major campaign will be to install Dr. Alon Tal – professor, environmental activist, and winner of the 2006 Bronfman award for Humanitarian Contribution – as director of the Jewish National Fund in Israel. For years, the director of this organization has been a political appointment and we are proud to be proposing the first professional appointment to directorship in the history of the organization. Dr. Tal is uniquely qualified to lead this organization that actively manages a large percentage of Israel's open spaces and has a tremendous impact on the physical face of Israel.

Here is the link to an op-ed piece published in the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz endorsing Dr. Tal's candidacy and explaining the importance of the Green Zionist Alliance victory (www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/698440.html).

Thank you again for your support – we at the GZA will see to it that the goals expressed in our platform are realized over the next four years.

Rabbi Michael M. Cohen

[There seems to be increasing concern in Israel about environmental issues, and I believe that the GZA slate with allies from other slates will help continue the momentum.]

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4. New Video on Jewish Teachings on Compassion for Animals, Factory Farming, and the Postville Slaughterhouse/Forward Article

As a follow-up to the special JVNA newsletter on the issues that was sent out last week, please:

* see the video at HumaneKosher.com;
* tell others about the video;
* write letters to editor about the video;
* use the video as a means of promoting vegetarianism and related issues.

Below are two media articles about the video and a my letter to the editor:

Novelist Sharpens His Knife For Those Who Eat Animals
Foer Recruits Key Rabbis for PETA Video
April 7, 2006 edition of the Jewish Forward

Jonathan Safran Foer, author of the bestselling novel "Everything is Illuminated," this week released a video in which he argues that the slaughtering practices employed by modern factory farms are out of step with the spirit of the kosher laws. The film ultimately calls upon viewers to consider vegetarianism.

The video, which features interviews with noted rabbis David Wolpe and Irving "Yitz" Greenberg, was written by Foer and produced under the auspices of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or Peta. Both a 25-minute version of the film and an abbreviated version were posted Tuesday at the Peta-sponsored Web site www.HumaneKosher.com.

The video, titled "If this is Kosher...," is likely to reignite the debate begun at the end of 2004, when PETA released a stomach-turning video clandestinely shot at AgriProcessors, the world's largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse, in Postville, Iowa. The undercover video, which recorded seemingly conscious cows limping and stumbling across a blood-soaked slaughterhouse floor often more than a minute after their throats had been slit, sparked an investigation by the United States Department of Agriculture. Last month, the USDA released a report calling a number of the practices caught on the tape inhumane. By the time of the report's release, the offending practices had been stopped.

Though it employs some footage from Peta's 2004 video, Foer's film is free of the overheated rhetoric and gimmickry often associated with the animal rights group, including a controversial 2003 campaign comparing contemporary slaughterhouses to Nazi concentration camps. The author's call to action, which he makes seated before a bookcase full of what appear to be law books, is offered in cool, measured and often personal tones.

"To be Jewish," he says, "is to strive to make the world less cruel and more just — not only for oneself and not only for one's people, but for everyone. One doesn't have to consider animals as equal to humans — I don't — to give them a place in this inspiring idea."

To help buttress his argument that the Jewish conception of life is an exalted one and that ideally it should inform the way in which the laws of kashrut are observed, Foer introduces testimony from Wolpe, the religious leader of the largest Conservative synagogue in Los Angeles, Temple Sinai, and Greenberg, a liberal Orthodox rabbi and renowned theologian who once served as chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

"The Torah makes clear that the very permission to eat meat is an exemption, it's a compromise," says Greenberg, now the president of the Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation, in the video. "Kosher is not just a technicality. It's based on reverence for life, and therefore a kosher process that is cruel is truly a violation."

In his testimony, Wolpe argues: "Kashrut is an attempt to moderate, to make more gentle, our savagery toward the natural world."

"Kashrut is saying that if you must eat meat, then you must do it in the most empathetic, kind, gentle way possible," he says, adding, "to call something kosher when at the same time you're subverting the very purpose of kashrut is a powerful violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the law."

The film has two sets of goals: one narrow, one broad. It seeks on the one hand to take to task those responsible for Postville's failings. Here Foer singles out the family that owns the plant, the Rubashkins, and the Orthodox Union, the country's leading certifier of kosher products. But the film also offers a broader call to action, one rooted in vegetarianism. In the film, Greenberg, Wolpe and Foer all discuss their decision to become vegetarians.

"Like most people, I grew up thinking that meat eating was not only normal but healthy," Foer says early in the film. "[But] as I was exposed to information and arguments about animal suffering and human responsibility, I became a vegetarian. It's been more than 15 years, and I consider this dietary choice — which I make anew with each meal, and often against my cravings — to be one of the cornerstones of my ethical life."

The film has not been without its early critics.

Rabbi Menachem Genack, rabbinic administrator of the Orthodox Union's Kashrus Division, said that though he was moved by Foer's conviction, the film was unfair in its treatment of the O.U.'s role in the Postville affair. The film, he said, did not capture the nuance of the O.U.'s position, which was not one of simple allegiance to the Iowa plant. Genack also argued that the film failed to note that all of the concerns voiced about the plant by the USDA have been addressed.

"Video taken at any slaughterhouse would be gruesome," Genack told the Forward. "It's inherent to the process. There's no method of sanitizing it." Genack maintained that he must strike a very delicate balance — among USDA regulations, rabbinic law and the economics of the meat industry. "We'd be failing our constituency if we didn't provide affordable kosher meat," he said.

Foer, for his part, sees grounds for optimism. "For some reason," he says in an interview posted on the HumaneKosher Web site, "I hold in the back of my mind that everybody I know is going to be a vegetarian in 20 years. That's something I really believe."
My letter:

April 6, 2006

Editor, the Forward

Dear Editor:

Re “Novelist Sharpens His Knife For Those Who Eat Animals” (April 7, 2006 article):

As president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I applaud the new video that respectfully discusses Judaism’s splendid teachings on compassion to animals and contrasts them with the major abuses of animals on factory farms and at the Postville slaughterhouse. I hope that it will be a wake-up call that will result in a consideration of the many ways that the production and consumption of animal products violate basic Jewish teachings.

Rabbi Menachem Genack, rabbinic administrator of the Orthodox Union's Kashrus Division, correctly states that "Video taken at any slaughterhouse would be gruesome." We should consider that this gruesome process creates a product that contributes to heart disease, cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases, and that animal-centered agriculture is contributing significantly to global warming, deforestation, widening water shortages, and many additional threats.

It is time for the Jewish community to address a fundamental question: Since Judaism mandates that we take care of our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people, and since the production and consumption of animal products seriously violate each of these mandates, shouldn’t Jews shift toward plant-based diets?

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz
Jonathan Safran Foer Bedfellows with Pamela Anderson, Michael Bolton, Moby, k.d. lang; Takes on Kosher-Meat Industry in New Video
April 05, 2006 THE BOOK STANDARD
By Jerome Kramer

Jonathan Safran Foer, the Magical Judaism wunderkind author of 2002's Everything Is Illuminated and its 2005 follow-up, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, has apparently traded in his word processor for a muckraking videocam. Foer serves as host for a "video exposé" of the kosher meat industry, entitled "If This Is Kosher …," in which he walks viewers through the investigation at AgriProcessors, described by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as the world’s largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse. Foer makes the case that modern animal farms violate Jewish law (halacha), which requires humane treatment of animals, and concludes that Jews should reject violence to animals and adopt a vegetarian diet.

“The video shows completely conscious cows who are writhing in agony in pools of their own blood,” says PETA’s Ben Goldsmith. “Workers jab cows in the face with electric prods, rip their tracheas out of their throats while the animals are still conscious, and dump them onto a concrete floor, where they stumble and try to get up as blood pours from their throats. Many can be seen standing and walking around as their tracheas dangle from their necks.”

“Not at all surprisingly, veterinary and animal welfare experts unanimously condemned AgriProcessors. Very surprisingly, though, both the plant and kosher certification agencies actually defended these cruel practices,” explains Foer. Referring to plant owner Sholom Rubashkin’s claim that PETA’s video represents kosher slaughter “in its full glory,” Foer asks, “Do you agree? Are these the highest standards of Jewish law and tradition? Or is this activity a perversion of our tradition, on the part of a massive corporation, whose interest in profits is all-consuming enough to allow such blatant cruelty to happen?”

Rabbis Irving “Yitz” Greenberg (Orthodox), president of the Jewish Life Network, and David Wolpe (Conservative), of the Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, also appear in the video in support of Foer and PETA’s suggestion that the best way for Jews to take a stand against cruelty is to adopt a vegetarian diet.

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5. How Should We Respond to Claims that Conditions at the Postville Slaughterhouse Are Now OK

When the conditions at the Postville slaughterhouse were first revealed by an undercover video, I was concerned that after conditions were improved, people would feel that they could continue their meat-eating habits with a clear conscience. Hence I stated that we should argue that the Postville expose should be treated as a wake-up call to the need to address the many ways that animal-based diets and agriculture violate basic Jewish values and to consider the devastating effects that the widespread production and consumption of animal products is having on human health and the environment. Now that apparently conditions have improved at Postville, I think it is even more important to make these arguments. Hence, my letter below. Comments and suggestions are very welcome, as always.

April 9, 2006

Editor, the Jewish Week

Dear Editor:

As president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I was very pleased to read the letter (“Situation Addressed,” April 7, 2006 issue) from Rabbi Seth Mandel, Rabbinic Coordinator in Charge of Meat Production for the Orthodox Union, indicating that the Postville slaughterhouse is now in full compliance with USDA standards. I commend the USDA for its efforts.

However, I hope that the Orthodox Union and our other rabbis and leaders will consider the situations that are not yet addressed, including: the cruelly that farmed animals , including most raised for kosher slaughter, suffer from daily on factory farms (especially since Rabbi Mandel indicates that “the OU historically has been concerned with issues of animal welfare”); the devastating effects that the widespread production and consumption of animal products is having on human health and the environment; and the fact that the widespread production and consumption of animal products violate basic Jewish mandates that we take care of our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people.

Very truly yours,
Richard H. Schwartz

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6. Article on Vegetarianism as a Peace and Justice Issue/My Letter

Perhaps because they eat animal body parts themselves, few theologians go near the issue. One exception is the Rev. Andrew Linzey, an Anglican priest who has taught at the University of Essex in England and is the author of Animal Rights: A Christian Assessment. In one of his many books, Animal Theology, he debunks the notion of Thomas Aquinas that animals lack moral status: "A major weakness in Aquinas stems from what appears to be most derived in his thought from Hellenistic sources. Two axioms from Aristotle are taken over almost without question. The first is that humans alone have a rational capacity. ... The second is that animals have no other purpose save that of serving human beings." The utilitarian argument was debunked also by Alice Walker: "The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites, or women created for men."

Most of the world's 10,200 religions endorse the 2,500-year-old Confucian Golden Rule -- "Do unto others ..." What does "others" mean? Only two-legged upright primates -- that is, humans? Or all sentient beings, with none having greater value in the creational mysteries of life? As the dominating species, humans easily con themselves into believing they are superior to those who are conveniently labeled "the lower species." Overlooked is the essential sameness: Animals may not think or reason as humans, but they feel pain as humans do. What kind of morality allows the thinking and reasoning species to inflict suffering on another species?

Occasionally a member of the progressive clergy celebrates the Oct. 4 feast day of St. Francis of Assisi with a liturgical blessing of the animals. But how often are the faithful called on to stop eating animals slaughtered in factory farms that are not on hand to be blessed? Think of how much suffering would end if America's Catholic bishops would condemn the killing of animals for food, clothing, hunting or testing. Think, too, if that were extended globally with a papal appeal.

It won't be happening anytime soon. Objections to animal rights are routinely and predictably voiced. Animals eat each other; why can't we? Animal rights means giving them the right to vote? Plants have feelings; should we not eat them? Should we stop swatting flies? Can you prove that animals feel pain? Why don't animal rights people stop being so sentimental and focus on bigger problems like war and racism?

With those rationalizations well in place, right-thinking people can go on working for a world of peace and justice -- while at mealtime merrily dining on creatures who are given neither.

Colman McCarthy teaches peace studies at four universities and three high schools in the Washington area.
April 2, 2006

Editor, National Catholic Review

Dear editor,

Kudos to Colman McCarthy for his thoughtful article, "Cruelty-free eating is the only way to go" (March 17, 2006 issue), in which he shows the inconsistency of "dine[ing] on other creatures while working for peace and justice." It’s no coincidence that the peace movement and the vegetarian movement have the same slogan: "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 derived from the word locham, which means both "to feed" and "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 produced worldwide, is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as an estimated 20 million people die of hunger and its effects annually.

In addition, 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 NCR would make a major contribution toward a more healthy, just, humane, compassionate, environmentally sustainable, and peaceful world by expanding your efforts to get the moral issues related to our diets onto our nation’s agenda.

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

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7. “Super Vegan” Web Site

Message from Pamela Rice, Director of VivaVegie:

Lantern Books' Super Vegan - fresh, fun, and edgy

Hey folks, have you seen Lantern Books' Super Vegan: http://supervegan.com/

For all you super vegans out there, it's surely worthy of browser home-page status. At the very least, it needs a big fat bookmark.

What a great contribution to the vegan scene.

It offers a light, airy, very appealing place to find out the best and the latest of the vegan vanguard. You'll get news of events, cutting-edge topics, vegan news, and shopping hints.

It sports a kick-ass restaurant finder. How did they do that?

A beautifully designed Web site awaits you.

- Pamela R.
Following is promotional copy from the site itself:

SuperVegan is made for vegans, by vegans.

We've been frustrated time and again by sites catering to "vegetarians" - full of cheese recipes and "I eat fish, but..." We wanted to make a website we would actually use. There are a lot of wonderful vegan sites on the web but many are very specialized, or part-time labors of love. No one site had it all.

With the resources and braintrust of Lantern Books behind us, we set out to make the missing super vegan website.

SuperVegan is based in New York City, and there is a big local bias to our coverage and listings. This will hopefully change over time, but for now, our goal is to do New York City right rather than risk spreading ourselves too thin.

We made this site for us, but we also made it for you, and we'd love to hear from you- what do you like and dislike? What did we screw up? What did we get right? What new features would you like to see on the site?
This E-mail newsletter is a service of the VivaVegie Society, an all-volunteer-run nonprofit, 501(c)3, educational organization. http://www.vivavegie.org

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8. A Monologue on Foie Gras

Thanks to JVNA newsletter reader Luiza CAROL (Lluizac@012.net.il) for submitting the following article. Her web site is http://www.GeoCities.com/poemusicart

I apologize to Luiza for giving her name as Aliza in the last JVNA newsletter for her article on Judaism, Vegetarianism, and Esperanto.
Luiza CAROL : Monolog for man
copyright © Luiza CAROL 2005

- Crystal glasses, golden plates, silverware, embroidered napkins… nothing is too much, I deserve everything, I've paid for that… I've worked for my money, it's my right. I want to get as much as possible from life, as soon as possible, as good as possible, as expensive as possible… I relish this very moment, I relish this wine which is as stunning as music… and this portion of "foie gras" in front of me, which is a delicacy meant for connoisseurs… I want music, I want big strong loudspeakers, I want to feel the drums in my brain and in my blood, to prevent me hearing the throb of my heart… Yes, yes… To prevent me hearing this live metronome that beats in my breast and reminds me that time passes…

Let a dancer come, and a clown, and a sward-eater, and a juggler, and a singer!... I want entertainment, I've paid cash money! That's my money, so hardly won… laboring nine hours a day… nine hours a day in neon light, in air-conditioned room, with my stiffed back, with my eyes fixed on a computer screen! Nine hours a day without skylight, when life is so short… I've paid for everything in cash money! I want a dancer, I want a clown…

Look, here he is, a clown! He has a duck mask, with a tear painted on his cheek! He wears a feather costume with sleeves as soft as wings… Ha, ha! He's funny! Ha, ha! He's fat! What does he say? What does he say? Please play the music a little weaker, because the clown tells us a comic monolog!

What's that? Why is the light put out? What's the matter with me? What happens t me? Perhaps I've drunk too much… Perhaps I've eaten too much… I don't want any more, I don't want any more… Let me alone… I'm a poor worried duck, I didn't hurt anybody… Why are you torturing me? Why are you keeping me so long between walls? Nine hours a day without skylight, stuffed with computerized worries… Then home… in my computerized pen… And what a crowded place my home is! There rush into it tens of TV channels, three phones, hundreds of radio stations and the internet… I feel something like… tubes with huge funnels at their end… and through them I'm continuously stuffed with semi processed ideas… I have no time to hear the throbs of my heart… this live metronome that keeps beating… beating… The time of my life is a stuffed stomach that is being filled until it over brims, it is torn away because of too much computerized food… I'm stuffed, I'm fattened, I'm smothered… I have no time to take my newly hatched children to a walk, to teach them to swim, I have to time to be myself… I'm swallowing my own time… I'M SWALLOWING MYSELF… My blood tension grows higher, my liver grows larger… my liver grows out of shape… Look, look at this stuffed-duck liver! This is what they call "foie gras". This is what you have now in your plate, man. Look at me, man. Find out a moment of quietness to listen to the throbs of your heart… that intimate throbbing which we both know so well… because we are brothers, we're a man and a duck made out of the same clay…

What does he say? What does he say? What kind of a joke is this? I've paid for entertainment! I want entertainment! I've paid cash money… Out with this clown!
Look: the clown is taking off his mask. Behind the duck mask there is a duck head. And the duck is looking in the mirror. And it's I in the mirror.

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9. An Environmental Agenda for the New Israeli Government

Thanks to JVNA founder Jonathan Wolf for forwarding the following article to us.

The riverbeds are waiting
HaAretz April 2, 2006
By Zafrir Rinat

The soon-to-be-formed government will need to grapple not only with political and social goals. In every corner, under every tree, on the banks of most rivers and at almost all the beaches, hazards and pollution await. Solving these environmental problems would significantly improve the quality of life of the citizens of Israel and would save irreplaceable natural treasures.

Three years ago, the Government of Israel approved a decision stating: "The government's policy will be based on the principles of sustainable development, a dynamic economy, intelligent use of natural resources, protection of ecological systems and equal opportunities for all. This is intended to answer the needs of the current generation, as well as the needs of the coming generations."

Here is a partial and very selective list, not in order of importance, of several environmental goals that the government should set for itself - assuming that it is interested in implementing the decision it made three years ago.

Establishing large parks for residents of the large metropolises, including Park Ayalon, Park Hayarkon (the eastern part,) Park Hasharon, Park Ramat Menashe and two parks near Jerusalem. In addition, the government should finish declaring nature reserves and national parks throughout Israel in order to grant them a protected status finally.

Rapid and decisive implementation of government decisions to reduce air pollution. This mainly entails implementing plans to use natural gas at all power plants and to prevent polluting vehicles from entering city centers, and transitioning to cleaner fuels for transportation.

Implementation of plans to expand public transportation and reassessment of new roads that are already in the approval process. This refers mainly to roads cutting across the length and breadth of Ramat Menashe, the hills of Jerusalem, the lower Galilee and the Sharon region. These roads would destroy the green lungs of Israel and further encourage the dependence on private vehicles. The government will have to cancel some of these planned roads.

Dealing with the unrecognized villages in the Negev. This is a social, political and environmental problem. The residents of these villages are exposed to many environmental hazards and also generate considerable environmental damage due to unplanned construction and uncontrolled exploitation of open space. Without a comprehensive planning process, the allocation of resources and the resolution of land ownership disputes between the state and the Bedouins, increasingly large sections of the northern Negev will become pockets of human distress and environmental desolation.

Extensive investment in energy and water conservation. The government has a master plan for the energy economy stating that it is possible to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent, and the Water Commission has a master plan for water conservation that would lead to a 10-percent reduction in water consumption. These plans should be implemented; the waste of natural resources and the emission of pollution in electricity generation should be prevented.

The war against littering is a central objective in improving the quality of life. The government will have to provide incentives and encourage recycling, to teach why it is wrong to litter and, especially, tackle the difficult plague of building waste. There is a government plan in this area, and resources must be allocated to enable better enforcement, and the creation of organized dumping sites and facilities for recycling waste.

For those who doubt Israel's ability to tackle such serious environmental problems, here is an encouraging, albeit partial, reminder from the past 15 years. During this period, most of the urban waste sites that could not prevent pollution were closed, and waste-treatment facilities were built in most cities. The emission of heavy pollutants from power plants and factories was reduced (mainly sulfuric oxides). The land of craters in the Negev, a large center of mining and quarrying sites, was slated for preservation and many of the quarrying sites there have been rehabilitated. This is not such a bad balance sheet at all for a state with so many problems.

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10. Should JVNA Support Shifts Toward Raw Food Diets?

A message from Dr. Douglas Graham, a VUNA (Vegetarian Union of North America) Councilor. Comments/suggestions very welcome.

It has become very clear to me over the past 20+ years that the amount of fuel burned to cook food is far more than most folks give it credit for. While I have not yet been able to access the definitive quantity of fuel usage, per person, for this purpose, I have uncovered several bits of information that lead me to believe that we actually use more fuel, on average, for cooking our food than we do for driving our cars.

Think about it. Whether you drive on any given day or not, you will still likely heat, and eat, three meals per day, or more. The low specific gravity of water makes cooking many foods an extremely energy inefficient process. Many foods are cooked two and even three times.

In many homes, especially those with gas burners, the pilot light is burning continuously. Restaurant griddles, fryers, grills, heat lamps, and many other cooking devices are also often left on 24/7. Most people in our [vegetarian] movement seem to concern themselves primarily with the amount of fuel that is used to transport our food, and the production issues concerning meat. They neglect the fact that there would essentially be no grain industry if not for the meat industry, for there would be very little reason to produce grains. They neglect the fact that grain production is also extremely fuel-demanding. But I digress.

The bottom line is that the cooking of food, vegan or otherwise, is definitely an unacceptable option when it comes to any of the issues related to global warming. It is my view, and I hope will become the view and official position of VUNA, that the world-wide consumption of a low-fat raw foods diet is the most environmentally friendly option that we can choose. It must be viewed as the preferred option over any and all cooked diets. Nature rules absolutely, and does not accept compromise well. Every creature eats raw food by nature. I hope that VUNA (Vegetarian Union of North America) can be brave enough to promote what must be viewed as our only viable option...

Sincerely, and looking forward to everyone's comments about this issue.

President, OrganicAthlete
PO Box 33
Graton, CA 95444
Toll-free 866-258-6179

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11. Religious Responses to Global Warming

Thanks to JVNA advisor and author Lewis Regenstein for forwarding the message below:

Earth Day Network Hosting Religious Web-Cast

The following comes from the National Catholice Rural Life Council. If you will be at your computer on April 21, you may want to log in.


On April 21, the Earth Day Network (EDN) will host an interactive live chat with world-renowned climate change experts from 1:00-3:00pm eastern time.

Immediately following the chat, there will be a Religious Response to Climate Change web-cast. EDN, in partnership with Interfaith Power and Light will bring a diverse group of religious leaders together for a religious response to the expert panel discussion.

The webcast can be viewed live or downloaded later

Available now, find a Resource Guide with welcome letter, sample newsletter piece, energy saving tips, event registration form (also available online) links and other resources here.

EDN encourages religious congregations to add Earth Day events to the EDN website here.

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12. New Jewish Vegetarian Web Site

Take a look at the new web site HumaneKosher.com. It is the site at which you can watch the new video “If This Is Kosher …” discussed above. There is much valuable material there. However, this is not necessarily an endorsement of everything at the web site.

13. Interested in Helping Organize a Jewish Vegetarian Conference in New York City To Consider Strategies in the Wake of the Postville Expose, the Newly Released Video, the Increasing Evidence of Potentially Catastrophic Global warming Effects, the Current Epidemic of Diseases in the Jewish and Other communities, and Much More?

Forwarded message fron author, editor, publisher,a nd JVNA advisor Roberta Kalechofsky:

I think it is great that Jonathan Foer has become involved, and I think it is now time to hold a conference on the Potsville Scandal, and the problem of kosher meat. Let's see if we can get a synagogue in NY after the Jewish holidays in the fall, lay our plans carefully. We have to open this to a wide Jewish public. We must get on the ball with this. A few possibilities for places to hold the conference might be Anche Hesed, the 92 St. Y, the West End Synagogue. It's just time to move with this, and get all the media attention we can.

[If you would like to volunteer to help set up such a conference, please let me know. Thanks.]

15. JVNA Is Seeking Volunteer Translators

We are looking for volunteers to help expand the Hebrew section of our JVNA web site. If you can help, even if only for only an average of an hour a week, please let me know. Thanks.

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16. Seminar for Jewish Environmental Education Scheduled

Forwarded message from the Teva [Environmental] Learning Center: More complete information is available at www.tevacenter.org/seminar.

Moshe Kornfeld
Seminar Coordinator

Surprise Lake Camp, Cold Spring, NY

June 5-8, 2006

Spend four days learning about the connection between Judaism and the Environment with Jews of all ages and denominations. Learn how to share this knowledge with your camp, synagogue, school, or youth group.


Jewish Ethics: Explore theology and Jewish law with a diverse array of leading scholars.

Organic Agriculture and Educational Gardening: Meet farmers, get dirty, and learn about small scale organic agriculture from a Jewish perspective.

Camp and Wilderness: Experiential education at its best through nature arts & crafts, music, drama, and storytelling.

Congregational Education: Use nature to bring vibrancy and excitement to your classroom and congregation.

For more information, visit our website, www.tevacenter.org/seminar or call our office, 212.807.6376

Cost: $375, Limited need-based scholarships are available.


"I most enjoyed seeing the diversity of methods people use to integrate environmentalism into their lives, institutions and programs. I think many people who would appreciate this program are not aware of it, spread the word!" (Participant, Teva Seminar 2005)

The Teva Learning Center exists to renew the ecological wisdom inherent in Judaism and to renew the Jewish community through connection to God's Creation. It is the only full-time year-round program dedicated to innovative, experiential Jewish education taught through the lens of the natural world.

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17. A Veggie Pride Parade in 2007?

Interested in helping re the interesting project suggested below? If so, please let me now. It could gain veganism/vegetarianism a lot of positive publicity. But, it can only work if we have some volunteers to help it work and we make sure that it is consistent with Jewish values.

Veggie Pride, 2007, or Bust
by Pamela Rice
April 6, 2006

"All over the world millions of people refuse to condone the killing of animals for food. But when do you hear about it?"

And so opens the home page of Veggie Pride, the now-annual parade in Paris.

And more power to the Parisians, I say.

The question remains: Why haven't vegans and vegetarians in the rest of the world jumped on this trend, that is by organizing parades in our own cities?

People who know me know how I lament to the core how veganism in the collective mind of the public is so invisible, so non-viable, and generally so attacked. Other groups would have long established their own anti-defamation league.

I mean, how could a vegetarian-maligner like Tony Bourdain have become such a darling? Known for Kitchen Confidential (the book) and now No Reservations (the Travel Channel), Bourdain fears no one when he says, "Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for."

But his is only the most explicit of the anti-veg sentiment out there. Much of it is a lot more subtle but no less destructive.

So, what to do? I say, start yelling!

Enter Veggie Pride-thank you, you uppity people from France. It's a new idea that hopes to take vegans and vegetarians out of the little ghetto into which we've been placed.

It's a chance for vegans and vegetarians to make some noise for once. It's a chance for us to shout out to the world: Our diet is a lot more than just another peculiar dietary lifestyle. There are profound reasons why we eat the way we do, and they actually concern all of us, vegan and meat eater alike.

Veggie Pride day is May 20th this year, in Paris. Next May, let's have Veggie Pride in New York City.

Or bust. Or shall we continue to walk around with our tails between our legs?

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18. Delaware Action Alert: Improving Conditions for Laying Hens

Humane Society of the United States Action Alert:

Delaware: Improve Conditions for Laying Hens

Each year in the U.S. approximately 300 million egg-laying hens spend their entire lives confined in "battery cages" -- wire mesh enclosures so small that the birds cannot spread their wings or satisfy many of their most basic instinctual needs. Each bird in a battery cage has less space than a single sheet of letter-sized paper. In Delaware, nearly one millions birds are forced to live this way.

You can help change this. New legislation (S.B. 253) has been introduced that will mandate better conditions for laying hens. It would require egg farmers to provide each hen with enough living space to spread her wings without touching the sides of the cage or other birds in the cage. The Senate Committee on Agriculture will be considering S.B. 253 on April 12. Please take action today to support this important humane legislation.

If you live in Delaware, call your state senator and representative and ask them to co-sponsor S.B. 253 to provide Delaware hens with enough space to spread their wings. Look up your legislators and their phone numbers here. (After you type in your zip code or address, click the link for "State" on the right side of the screen.)

After you make your phone calls, visit here and fill in the form at the right to automatically send an email to your state legislators and the members of the committee.

If you are able to, please attend the public hearing on S.B. 253 before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, April 12 in the Senate Chamber at 1:00 p.m.

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