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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