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
* 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
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
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
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.]
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.
Chairman of the Board
c. Study looks at diet and global warming
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: firstname.lastname@example.org:
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.
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
Are you vegetarian or vegan for the animals?
*Come to the Veggie Pride!*
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 email@example.com 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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