December 30, 2007

12/25/2007 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Let Us Make 2008 a Very Successful Year for Vegetarianism

2. Still Time To Make a MUCH-NEEDED Year-End Tax-Deductible Contribution to JVNA

3. Update on Our New Documentary A SACRED DUTY

4. Important New Jewish Vegetarian Web Site/Please Visit

5. Eyewitness Account of Slaughtering of Three Goats at the Hazon Conference

6. Roberta Schiff’s Talk at the Recent Hazon Conference

7. Does Judaism Require More Than That Our Food Be Kosher?/Important Comment in Article by a Lubavitch Rabbi

8. Reflections from Bali re Global Warming Conference

9. Jews Obligated To Preserve the Environment

10. Forward Article: Being an Environmentalist is Our Sacred Duty

11. New Web Site Provides Vegetarian and Animal Rights News

12. Israeli Cats Need Speedy Help

13. Story Shows Importance of Every Act To Improve The World

14. Article re the Israeli Vegetarian Community Amirim in Jerusalem Post

15. Correction

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 the kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observances, 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. Also, JVNA does not necessarily agree with all positions of groups whose views are included or whose events are announced in this newsletter.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.



1. Let Us Make 2008 a Very Successful Year for Vegetarianism

As we look back on the year that is about to end, we can take great pride on a major achievement, the completion of A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD, thanks largely to the superb efforts of Emmy-award-winning producer/director/writer/cinematographer Lionel Friedberg and his wife Diana, a professional editor. As indicated in previous messages and in the next item, the movie is being very well received, by Jews and non-Jews. And thanks to the Herculean efforts of our dedicated secretary/treasurer John Diamond and his wife Donna, DVDs have been sent to many people throughout the U.S. and many more countries, and we have started a grassroots campaign that is building momentum daily as many screenings have already taken place or are scheduled and more and more people are hearing about the movie.

We are planning to build on A SACRED DUTY to respectfully challenge the Jewish community and other communities, largely based on the three main points brought out in the documentary:

* The world is heading toward an unprecedented catastrophe due to global warming and other environmental threats;

* It is essential that everything possible be done to respond to these threats. To paraphrase Al Gore, the saving of the planetary environment must become a “central organizing principle for society today.” Tikkun olam, the healing and repair of the world must become a central focus for Judaism and other religions.

* among the many necessary steps to respond to global warming and other environmental threats is a major shift to plant-centered diets.

More details re the major campaign we will be mounting will be in future JVNA newsletters.

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2. Still Time To Make a MUCH-NEEDED Year-End Tax-Deductible Contribution to JVNA

As indicated above, the response to A SACRED DUTY has been outstanding and we have great potential to really make a difference in getting vegetarianism, animal rights, environmental activism and related issues on society’s agenda. We have already given out many complimentary DVDs to a wide variety of people, many of whom are arranging screenings or promoting the documentary in some other way. And we plan to continue to do so. We have also hired a publicist who is trying to get celebrity support for A SACRED DUTY, to arrange major screenings and to get media coverage and interviews for me and Lionel.

However, our money supply is rapidly being depleted. In order to continue our major campaign we desperately need additional funds.

As indicated previously, in view of the unprecedented threats to humanity from global warming and other environmental threats, and the significant contributions from animal-based agriculture to these threats, I believe the most important contribution we can make for future generations is to support efforts like ours to try to produce a major shift toward vegetarianism.

To make a tax deductible contribution, please go to (bottom of the page) or send a check made out to Jewish Vegetarians of North America (or JVNA) to our secretary/treasurer John Diamond at:

John Diamond
49 Patton Drive
Newport News, VA 23606-1744

MANY Thanks!

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3. Update on Our New Documentary A SACRED DUTY

A Sacred Duty: Film Explores Jewish Values to Heal World, Help Animals

The environmental crisis of global warming is addressed by A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World, which makes the case that it is "our responsibility to apply Jewish teachings to how we obtain our food, use natural resources, and live among other creatures whom God created." Presented by Jewish Vegetarians of North America. Read an >(interview with Richard Schwartz, president of JVNA.

Watch a film clip from A SACRED DUTY.


b. Strong statement of support from South Africa

I have just watched your video A SACRED DUTY and I am totally overwhelmed. I honestly never knew that the Jews (i am Jewish) had this deep understanding of the world and the crises we are in. From Global warming to the horrors of our tortured animals. some in my family are vegetarians. I am to become one. I would like to see this video shown at every synagogue in South Africa. It should also be viewed on TV. perhaps Carte Blance, have you heard of it? It must be put out in the world right away....

I am willing to assist in any way I can. My son is an ecologist and has his own website called He is very involved in trying to save our forests... as well as all other areas of ecology, animal farming etc. He would also love to get involved in this project. I want to
congratulate all of you who put this video together. It was absolutely brilliant, although I could not watch the animals torture. I hope to hear from you soon. Love and Blessing. You are an amazing bunch of human beings.

Message 2 from Marcia:

I have started circulating it already and showed it to some of my family and friends. All were deeply moved and want copies to circulate.

Will make enquiries how to have it screened on television. Your approval would have to be given on this I am sure.

Also Jewish schools and Learning centres.

I am the leader of a Kabbalah study group in Cape Town and will be showing it at our next meeting.

After watching ‘Sacred Duty’ I suddenly feel very proud to be a Jew.

Love & Blessings

Marcia Schlesinger
Cape Town, South Africa.

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4. Important New Jewish Vegetarian Web Site/Please Visit

Forwarded message from Boris Dolin, the web coordinator:

[Boris helped set up a screening of A SACRED DUTY at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem, where he is continuing his studies toward being a rabbi. I think it is great for the Jewish vegetarian cause that he has set up this web site. I wish Boris much success and I urge you to visit and participate in its development. Many thanks.]

Last week officially went online, and already a small group of people have registered and begun to use the site. I am finishing up the final touches on the site, and making sure that everything works properly. The main goal right now is to get more people to join, so that the networking and other features will be most useful to users. As mentioned in last week's JVNA newsletter, users can register and then create a profile (like a simple version of Facebook) where you can add information about yourself, your "story", a picture, activist goals etc.--or keep it simple and just have your name. Hopefully this will be a convenient way for people from different groups and places to meet each other--to work on projects together, learn and share information, network in your own community, become friends, or even find a partner. My hope is that as more people register, this part of the site will become more interesting and useful. When registered, members can also make their own personal blog to share with the community.

There is also a forum section where users can ask questions, and have "conversations" with other members of the community. This is especially useful for continued discussions about current events and other issues.

All articles on the site can be commented on, so if you read an article, you can easily share your thoughts, or even ask a question of your own for other readers. You can also easily add your own articles or essays to the site.

In the recipes section, you can add or search for recipes and review and rate ones you have tried.

The site also contains a links section, and a classified ads feature where you can post ads to buy, sell, share a skill, make an announcement or post events. There is also a main blog for the site, which will hopefully have a few different authors writing on news and other issues relevant to the Jewish veggie community. Anyone interested in becoming a blogger for ShalomVeg, please let me know.

I will soon be adding a "chat" feature to the site, and possibly organizing a weekly or biweekly "community chats", where users can join a chat room and talk with other members of the community. This could also be used for moderated discussions with guests, or for anything else the community might want.

Thanks to those of you who have already registered on ShalomVeg. Since the site is still growing I would appreciate any and all comments about what you would like to see on the site, or any other thoughts you might have. I look forward to meeting you on ShalomVeg!

-Boris Dolin

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5. Eyewitness Account of Slaughtering of Three Goats at the Hazon Conference

Thanks to JVNA advisor and long-time vegetarian activist Roberta Schiff for this very thoughtful and sensitive report:

Richard, here is my eyewitness account of the shecting (ritual slaughtering) of the goats at the Hazon Conference, I read the JTA account in the last JVNA newsletter and hope you will put mine in next week,
About The Slaughter

Hazon Jewish Food Conference - Camp Isabella Friedman, Falls Village CT Dec 6-9 2007

On Friday December 7, at 7 AM about 40% of the 240 people attending the conference went a mile down the road to a farm (where the Adamah farm project happens). The first sight was a makeshift pen where three goats, two white, one black and brown, were being fondled by their handlers as they ate some plants. They seemed happy and to use a goat stereotype, frisky.

Further along was a bench and some plastic tarps. The mashiach (ritual supervisor) was wearing a yellow plastic raincoat, while the shochet) ritual slaughterer) was in shirt sleeves (even though it was a very cold morning) and a green plastic apron. Seeing the goats, I was motivated to call my daughter Andrea who is a veterinarian in Puerto Rico and sometimes treats goats, especially if they need a Cesarean delivery for twins. She said she would return my call on her other line, so I was holding my phone. Nothing had as yet taken place. One of the staff came up to me and said no pictures, which they had made quite clear. I told her I was waiting for a call, but she seemed not to believe me. She said the staff was all very concerned. A few moments later, Simon, who would moderate the panel called "Can We Eat meat Ethically - Or Not" on Saturday, came up and said all the same things. I told him also that I was not using the phone as a camera and put it away. He asked for "my word" that I was not taking pictures. Meanwhile the official photographer began snapping away.

The mashgiach gave an extensive talk about the killing process saying the animal does not feel pain, just faint, and that the kicking that comes after the killing; is just a reflex and that this is "a good way to die." Both the trachea and the esophagus must be cleanly cut, without any tearing. The knives, which must be twice as long as the animal's neck, are square. Special steel and an Arkansas sharpening stone insure that there are no nicks. The shochet bears down with the knife, without any sawing motion. Any mistakes and the animal will not be considered kosher.

Two people carried the goat in and stood it up on the bench. The goat looked puzzled but did not start to struggle until it was laid down. Then he began to kick. He was held down - the shochet said a prayer, slit the goat’s throat, and immediately a copious amount of blood flowed onto the ground. Then the goat did start kicking. He was placed on a tarp on the ground and covered. The he was carried into the next area, a shed where there were three sets of hooks, he was hung on one set and two people began skinning him. The mashgiach told us what conditions must be met for the carcas to be considered kosher. The shochet must examine the lungs. This was, to me, as disturbing as the actual killing. As he held up the heart and lungs, it was most obvious that these organs were from a young, healthy animal in the prime of his life.

The Torah says we must not eat the fat that is found on the kidneys; this is why the hindquarters of the animals killed for food can not be eaten. So this part is sold to non-Jews.

The goat's head was severed and carried to the bench along with the skin and fur from his back. These were placed on the bench. This sight, with the blood on the ground, is etched in my mind -- no photo necessary.
Back in the shed, the intestines were emptied into a wheelbarrow and the spinal cord was severed into the kosher half and the treyf half.
The misgiha again told us that this is a good way to die rather than to get sick and old.

The other two goats were killed in the same manner.

Although many of the people present were visibly upset, it was hard to know what people really felt. The night before, at a session that was required for all who planned to attend the slaughter, we were adamantly told to be quiet, respectful and not to do anything to turn this event into a spectacle. Still someone dared to take out her cellphone, causing the aforementioned consternation.

The killing took place on what had been a field of collard greens. There were the remnants of the plants, still green.

When it was time to leave, I realized that I had been standing in the cold for two hours and had not looked at my watch even once. Obviously, I was in an altered state.

Although this thought goes against Jewish tradition, I do not believe that wrapping killing in piety and saying a prayer before taking a life makes it holy. Or right. I believe in the Reconstructionist Jewish philosophy, that tradition has a vote, but not a veto. Now if only more Reconstructionists would use that to change their outlook on eating meat. But that is for another day. Actually, that is the purpose of our DVD "A Sacred Duty."

I also will not use the term "humane slaughter." I will concede that what we have been taught about traditional, small scale, kosher slaughter is true. It is somewhat less inhumane that what we have learned about the conditions in large scale slaughterhouses. Both the shochet and the mashgiach told us that they eat meat once a week, only on Shabbat. Yet the mashgiach says he supervises kosher slaughter all over the USA for The Orthodox Union. So although he eats only a little animal flesh, he makes it possible for thousands to have a lot of meat for little money. This small scale killing that I witnessed, although not as gory, is, I feel, very elitist. Few people could afford the cost or find it available.

Why did I attend? After all, I have eaten no animal flesh since 1993. But I felt that I should atone for all the years that I did eat it with very little thought and no action. And I did want to see how others reacted, and knew it would be highly discussed during the rest of the conference. As it was.

At the Friday night dinner, the platter with the roasted goat meat was not put on the buffet table, but on its own table in the corner, presumably not to offend. I did not go look at it, but to me it was no more offensive than the platter of chicken breasts, which came from animals that had a hard time carrying their weight. Or the whole fish at the next day's "dairy meal" still wearing their heads and eyes and their mouths open, as they had been when they drowned in the open air. Yes, there were good vegan selections too; we did not have to suffer the oft offered steamed zucchini, but I would have enjoyed it more without having to see others consume animal flesh and fluids.

On Shabbat morning I attended the traditional egalitarian service, done in Hebrew by very competent women and men. The D'Var Torah talk was given by a young man who had attended the shecting with his wife and six-months old baby. He spoke enthusiastically about what a wonderful and moving experience this had been, keeping the baby warm and away from the smoke of the fire, remembering her birth, seeing death, knowing death is part of life and it is all holy. This is when my tears came. I would rather hear the often repeated "But I like Meat," that I think is more honest.

Who can answer this? If, as Torah teaches, we are forbidden to consume blood as it is the life force, why then, should we desire to eat the muscle tissue that was nourished by that blood?

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6. Roberta Schiff’s Talk at the Recent Hazon Conference

What is below is actually an outline that Roberta presented to the moderator before her talk.

"Simon, Can You Eat Meat Ethically?" This is the title of the panel at the upcoming Hazon Jewish Food Conference, December 6-9. As moderator, you have asked those of us on the panel to let you know what we want to say.

My position is that the answer is no, for reasons of health, cruelty to animals and damage to the environment.

Heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer are all more prevalent in countries where animal flesh and fluids are regularly consumed. Obesity is an increasing problem, especially among children. Our anatomy and physiology are constructed and function in a way best suited to a plant based diet.

Ten billion animals are slaughtered every year in the USA. One million two hundred and fifty thousand, in the time we will be holding the panel. This does not include fish, which are now also raised in confinement which causes pollution. Factory-farmed animals are confined, fed, bred and manipulated to produce the most "product" in the shortest growth time. They are transported long distances in all extremes of weather, crammed together w/o food or water. Conditions at slaughterhouses, both kosher and non-kosher, are appalling. Not only do the animals suffer greatly; it is the most dangerous occupation of all.

I believe that there is no such thing as "humane meat" or "humane slaughter." Some methods of raising and killing are somewhat less inhumane than others. From what I have read, there will be presenters and attendees discussing "humane" and "sustainable" ways of turning animal flesh into food. This, I feel, is an elitist position. There is no way that everyone who eats meat could be supplied with this product, nor could it be made affordable.

70 percent of the grain grown is fed to animals (a very inefficient way to produce food) and one-third of all arable land used for cattle grazing or growing grain for cattle feed. If this was not done, we could feed all the world's people, including the twenty thousand of the world’s children who die of starvation every day.

Animal agriculture contributes more to global warming than transportation does; the Food And Agricultural Organization of the United Nations in their report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” validated this earlier this year [2007]. Yet most discussions of global warming do not include this topic. Huge amounts of water, electricity, fuel and transportation are used in animal agriculture. If everyone in the world ate as we do, three planet earths would be necessary to produce enough food. Factory farming pollutes the water and destroys the productivity of the soil.

If we are truly desirous of healing and repairing the world, we can chose to do so every time we purchase and consume food.

For the Jew there is no commandment to eat meat. A challah is a lovely sight on a Friday night Shabbat table. But hidden inside, almost always, is the egg, laid by a chicken who spent her whole life crammed into a cage with no room to even stretch her wings. The cream cheese so eagerly slathered on bagels in preparation for Torah study on Shabbat morning comes with much cruelty to the cow, who is manipulated to give ten times as much milk as her ancestors did fifty years ago. Her calf is taken away at birth so that her milk can consumed by humans. The cries of mother and baby are horrific. Some people think it is important to discern if animals have souls. We don't know this, but what we do know is that animals feel pain and fear, they care for their young, and they enjoy their lives. Does dominion mean that we can become blind to this? Many people love their dogs and cats and are horrified that these animals are raised for food in other cultures. Yet cows and chickens will interact with humans if given the chance. Yes, a chicken will jump in your lap and demand a hug. Choose life, we are emphatically taught. All living creatures ought to live as nature intended. I do not believe that God put animals here for us to eat. Some Jews believe that when the messiah comes, we will all be vegetarian. I would think that those with that point of view would want to give up meat to hasten that day. I don't think anyone here at this conference would deny that Judaism is a religion that teaches love, kindness and compassion. How we treat the animals and our earth does not meet any of these tests.

Our panel will take place after the goat has been killed with many attended watching and many having consumed the flesh. I wonder what varied reaction will be expressed.

I do not believe that separating meat from milk causes reverence for life. Rather I think it has eliminated serious consideration of the practical, economic, health and humane reasons for choosing meals that contain neither flesh nor fluid.
We are forbidden to consume blood, as it is the life force. Why then, would we want to eat the muscle tissue that was nourished by that blood?

Please feel free to ask me about any or all of this. I will be bringing many supporting materials, including copies of the new DVD made by Richard Schwartz, head of Jewish Vegetarians of North America and Lionel Friedberg Called "A Sacred Duty - Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World. A copy is available to any attendee who requests it. I have also worked with Roberta Kalechofsky, owner of Micah Publications and author of "Vegetarian Judaism" and have a handout she has written about kosher slaughter.

The original title of the panel was "How To Eat Meat". I am glad that it was changed to make a place for those of us who advocate a vegan lifestyle as an enhancement to Jewish practice and values.

Roberta Schiff, President
Mid-Hudson Vegetarian Society

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7. Does Judaism Require More Than That Our Food Be Kosher?/Important Comment in Article by a Lubavitch Rabbi

The article below by a very well respected Lubavitch Rabbi is very significant because it indicates that for Judaism, it is not enough that our food be kosher. It also must be produced in a way that is consistent with Jewish law. Hence, my long time claim that the production and consumption of animal products violate at least six basic Jewish teachings and Rabbi David Rosen’s claim that meat eating is halachically unjustified because of health considerations and the mistreatment of farmed animals should be carefully considered.

Please read the following question and responsa (rabbinic response)and let me know what you think. Thanks.

Thanks to vegetarian writer Jampa Williams for forwarding the article to us.

Why Do We Keep Kosher?
By Tzvi Freeman


I have two questions regarding kashrut (the Torah's dietary laws). I understand that the sages explain that non-kosher animals have negative characteristics that we would absorb by eating their flesh. But many kosher animals consume non-kosher animals (i.e. kosher fish that eat non-kosher fish and sea creatures). If "we are what we eat," don't we indirectly absorb those negative elements when we eat those animals?

My second question: Many Jews insist that kashrut is mostly based on objections to cruelty (i.e., flesh torn from a living animal is not kosher, the rigorous requirements of the shechita procedure ensure that an animal is killed painlessly, etc.). Yet I understand that veal is kosher. And any animal rights activist will tell you that veal is the most cruel meat that is available: tortured calves who stand in a small pen for life being fed only milk. How can veal be kosher if Kashrut is about compassion towards animals?


Before I deal with your specific questions, it is important to understand that we didn't make up the kashrut laws. Just like we didn't create the fish. We never claimed to have conceived them, nor to fully understand them. When Nachmanides and others provide reasons for these laws, they also make it clear that they are not getting to the bottom of it. It would be absurd to think that G-d gave us the Torah as a sort of bandage for His mistakes. "Oops! I didn't mean to put those nasty animals there! People might eat them! What do I do now?"

Rather, the Torah came first, and the world was designed to follow. Something like this: The Creator desired a world where we creatures would have a choice to connect with Him or go on our own messy way. He conceived of us as creatures who consume food, and that would be one of the areas where we would have this choice. If so, there are going to have to be animals that He doesn't want us to eat and animals that we may eat.

Whenever we eat something with mindfulness of our Creator and Divine purpose, our act of eating acts as a connection to Above. The energy we receive from that food itself becomes elevated into that higher purpose.

On the other hand, if we just eat that food because we are hungry, with no inner intent, we and the food remain just another chunk of this fragmented world.

That's how it works with kosher food. If it is of the sort of food that the Creator doesn't want us to eat, then the nature of that food is such that it can never be elevated by eating. No matter what we do, it remains stuck within this world, and shleps us down with it.

Some of these animals reflect this spiritual negativity in their actual nature and behavior. So Nachmanides speaks of the negative character traits imbibed with the flesh of non-kosher species. In many cases, what is not healthy for the soul is also clearly not healthy for the body, as well. So we have nutritionists confirming that a kosher diet is more healthy. Nice dividends, but not the underlying factor.

As for cruelty to animals, the Torah expressly forbids this. We are permitted to take the life of an animal only when it is necessary for direct human benefit -- and even then it must be done as compassionately as possible. The prohibition of cruelty towards animals exists independently of the prohibition to consume non-kosher foods -- an animal that was killed in a humane way can still be not kosher, and the fact that a certain procedure does not render an animal unfit for consumption does not imply that the procedure is not forbidden for reasons of cruelty to animals. This latter kind of cruelty is an area that needs correction today, as many have already realized. [Our emphasis.]

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8. Reflections from Bali re Global Warming Conference

Green Course Director, Gil Ya'acov Returns from Global Summit on Climate Change

Think globally act locally

, this was the underlying message taken from the Global Conference on Climate Change which took place in Bali last week. World leaders agreed to craft a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol by 2009. While the United States led a hard line throughout discussions, trying to step away from future responsibilities, calls from organizations from across the world to commit to a long lasting agreement increased public pressure on developed countries. Green Course too, had a share in the historic process by representing the Israeli delegation in discussions and assisting various organizations to keep track on developments.

While developed countries, headed by the E.U, the U.S and China were swamped in political scrimmage, hundreds of mayors from across the globe convened to discuss ways of taking responsibility and adopting practical methods of energy consumption, public transport and decreasing emissions.

…and Israel? Israel is at a cross-road. The coming years are due to bring with them increasing commitments to adhere to international conventions and apply policy for gas-emission reduction. Alongside the obligations, Israel has tremendous potential to ride the rising wave of environmental awareness and push for local green-technology development and promotion. It has the potential of playing a critical role as a leader and as a role-model.

That said, no doubt we have much to do in order to promote local awareness and decision making for these changes to take place!

We at Green Course look forward to proactively facing the upcoming challenges; to promoting the next generation of environmental leadership in Israel for cleaner air, public transportation and sustainable energy. It is our privilege to take part in what we believe to be the essential processes of change that are so vitally needed: to act locally on this global call.


Gil Ya'acov,
Green Course
December 2007

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9. Jews Obligated To Preserve the Environment

December 24, 2007 Jewish Chronicle

Torah commands conservation, says Becher
By Susan Jacobs
Associate Editor

Although environmentalism has been at the forefront of the agenda for much of the organized Jewish community in recent years, issues of conservation, recycling and waste reduction have not been as prominent within the Orthodox community.

"Our priority has been on survival," said Rabbi Mordechai Becher, a senior
lecturer for Gateways, a Jewish education organization. "We have to start with survival and then work on other things."

But, he said, that is beginning to change.

"Now that so many people live in Israel, they're a little closer to the
land," he said.

The Torah's numerous agricultural commandments - most of which are directly tied to Israel - are intrinsic to this connection, Becher explained.

"It's very difficult not to be aware of the nature around you if you are thinking of these commandments," he said.

Becher, the author of the book "Gateway to Judaism" and an advisor to Canfei Nesharim, an Orthodox environmental group, spoke on Sunday, Dec. 16, at Poale Zedeck Congregation.

Becher's talk, which was part of a contemporary issues lecture series jointly sponsored by the Kollel Jewish Learning Center, touched on a variety of environmental issues and their relationship to Judaism.

Becher detailed some of the specific ways in which traditional Judaism is tuned into the natural world, beginning with the daily prayer service, which includes a blessing for being able to distinguish between night and day.

"The first manifestation of the connection between humans and all the rest of creation is when we hear the rooster crowing," he said, attributing that sentiment to Rabbi Abraham Kook, the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of pre-state Israel. "In a spiritual sense, we're all part of one reality."

That spiritual reality is reflected in the physical world, said Becher, such as when chemicals produced in one part of the world cause environmental damage in faraway lands.

He gave several examples from the Torah related to the environment, including:

. The prohibition to kill any living thing on Shabbat, even an insect;

. The prohibition to cut down fruit trees in time of war, which is
understood as a broader precept forbidding any type of wanton destruction
(baal taschit);

. The commandment for farmers to let their land lie fallow every seventh
year; and

. The commandment to surround Levite cities with uninhabited green space.

"There is a recognition that everything in creation has a purpose, a spark
of spirituality," said Becher. "Nothing is without a place and a purpose. It
gives you a certain level of respect."

In spite of these indications of Judaism's perspective on the environment,
Becher said the approaches of some conservationists have been in conflict with Orthodox beliefs.

"We are concerned with ecology, very often for totally different reasons,"
he said.

The strategies of some environmental groups may be partly responsible for the slowness to embrace environmentalism in some parts of the Orthodox spectrum, said Evonne Marzouk, executive director of Canfei Nesharim.

"Sometimes the environmental movement has been in conflict with Torah values," she said. "But whatever you think of environmentalism, that doesn't mean there are not serious environmental problems."

"We're trying to put it in a halachic and hashkafic (philosophical)
framework - that it's part of our responsibility as Torah observant Jews."

Becher used the story of Adam and Eve to illustrate humanity's
responsibility to be stewards of the earth.

"God showed the world to Adam and Eve.

He said, 'Is it not beautiful? ... Take care, do not destroy it,' " said

"If God tells us don't destroy, we have the ability to destroy. It's clear that we have an impact on the environment."

(Susan Jacobs can be reached at

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10. Forward Article: Being an Environmentalist is Our Sacred Duty

Mon. Dec 24, 2007

Thinking Green: It’s Not Just A Virtue — It’s Your Jewish Duty
The Polymath
By Jay Michaelson
Mon. Dec 24, 2007

The rhetoric of Jewish environmentalism has long been kind and gentle. Like much of American environmentalist talk, it accentuates the positive: what we can do, how you can help. This is Left-Wing Activism 101: Fight despair, and don’t alienate anyone. And it’s abetted, in both secular and Jewish contexts, by the propensity of tree-hugging liberals to be, well, tree-hugging liberals — nice people who, when not urging recycling and conservation, are also practicing nonviolent communication and advocating for pacifist politics.

But does touchy-feely rhetoric work? And is it really the Jewish way? No on both counts.

First, “accentuating the positive” allows corporations to greenwash their way out of accountability, and individuals to view environmentalism as a virtue and not a responsibility. When going green is a matter of symbolism (“beyond petroleum”) rather than substance, anyone can buy it, as long as he’s got a good publicist. We may be afraid of pointing fingers, but fingers need to be pointed: At the Republican Party, for blocking the Kyoto climate treaty; at the fossil fuels industries, for creating doubt where there isn’t any; and at every politician who blocks commonsense solutions like better mass transit.

I submit that this sternness of vision, rather than the soft stuff, is what our Jewish tradition demands. The Ten Commandments are not suggestions. The Golden Rule is not a “guideline.” If Judaism means anything, it means taking seriously our ethical responsibilities and not waffling on the details. It’s also good politics; last I checked, the fear-mongering over the “War on Terror” and “threats to the American family” has done pretty well. But even if it were political suicide, it would be the Jewish way. Were Moses, Isaiah and Rabbi Akiva worried about “not alienating anybody”? No. Jewish law is famously human, accommodating and livable; but the values are crystal clear.

Of course, there’s no environmentalism in the Torah. Environmental stewardship only makes sense when you have an alternative, and we’ve only been able to destroy large swaths of the planet in the past two centuries or so. Searching the Torah for evidence of recycling is like expecting our laws today to govern life on Mars. Sure, there are important norms that can easily be extended to today — the prohibition on waste, the Talmud’s rules about controlling pollution and God’s

much-contested injunction to rule over/take care of the earth. But they’re not enough. They miss the heart of the problem, and they seem peripheral to “real” Jewish concerns, like antisemitism (also not mentioned in the Torah).

If we get real about what climate change means for future generations, suddenly it’s not so peripheral. It’s bad form to trot out doomsday scenarios, and since they’re all based on projections, they really are uncertain. But if even one of them comes to pass, then there is a direct causal nexus between our actions today and our children’s suffering tomorrow. We are causing millions of people to suffer, struggle and possibly even die — it’s just that many of them haven’t been born yet. (If I seed my yard with landmines, can I really escape Jewish ethical responsibility for injuring the people who just happen to step on them? After all, no one can predict the future….)

Add to the mix that, as Israeli environmentalist Alon Tal reported in Zeek magazine recently, the local effects on Israel of global climate change could be quite severe: decreased agricultural productivity, increased drought (as if Israel’s water crisis weren’t severe enough), increased “severe weather events” and loss of valuable beaches. Even if you’re not too concerned about your responsibilities to your grandchildren, if you care about Israel, you must care about climate change.

Preventing climate catastrophe is an ethical responsibility rooted in the fundamental values of our religious tradition. Like not doing unto others as we wouldn’t want them to do unto us. Like not stealing the resources of the future for our wasteful enjoyment today. Like not destroying God’s creation without regard to others who may want to use it. This isn’t tree hugging; it’s Torah.

And that has consequences. First, synagogues should take a stand on the issue — not merely hortatory sermons from rabbis, or committees made up of a few eco-Jews, but real policies. Non-hybrid SUVs should not be allowed in synagogue parking lots. Buildings should be built responsibly, from fluorescent light bulbs to improved insulation and efficient climate-control systems. And while people should of course remain wholly free to be as wholly unethical as they want, within the law, communities should be as disapproving of carbon-hogging behavior as they once were (and in some cases still are) of intermarriage.

Second, ignorance is no excuse. If you still think there’s real debate, pore over the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. Read between the lines of such mass-media products as the 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth” to appreciate the subtleties and complexities of the problem. But don’t claim that because you don’t know enough about climate change, nobody else does, either. The truth is that, just as every scientist except those in the pocket of Big Tobacco knew that smoking was bad for you, so, today, every scientist without a political or financial tie to certain industries knows the truth about climate change. If you don’t want to do the research yourself, then you have a responsibility to be sure you’re acting ethically, and err on the side of caution.

Finally, for religious Jews, this matters to God. Just as it’s hypocritical to be ritually pious but never give tzedakah, so, too, it’s fundamentally inconsistent to pray three times a day but still lead a wasteful, Styrofoam-laden lifestyle. We’re not talking here about political correctness or being a vegetarian. This is about waking up to the way our society transgresses ethical norms, defaces the Divine creation, and pretends that it isn’t to blame or that it doesn’t know any better.

American Jews have often risen to the challenge of our prophetic tradition. Abraham Joshua Heschel, Jewish labor unionists and, more recently, the Jewish leadership on the Darfur issue are all examples of Jews realizing that their commitment to Jewishness required them to act. To be sure, there have always been opponents: For every Heschel, there were other rabbis condemning his “agitation.” But — and as a Jewish Buddhist I’m not one to advocate for more righteous indignation — at least there was a tone of seriousness to the debate. I’d even prefer the rancor of the left/right name-calling over Israeli politics to the moral minimization of environmental issues. Disagree if you want. Learn the facts if you want. But don’t yawn and call yourself a Jew.
Mon. Dec 24, 2007

Copyright © 2007 Forward Association, inc.

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11. New Web Site Provides Vegetarian and Animal Rights News

Forwarded message from

Tech savvy vegetarians launch VegBang, the first veggie news sharing site, to fight the Digg mafia, the first vegetarian and vegan news sharing network, was launched today. VegBang is a veggie oriented clone of Digg, and was born as a response to the systematic link rejection suffered by vegetarians in that popular site.
Dec 20, 2007 10:17:58

(PRLog.Org) – Dec 20, 2007 –, the first vegetarian and vegan news sharing network, was launched today. VegBang is a veggie oriented clone of Digg, and was born as a response to the systematic link rejection suffered by vegetarians in that popular site.

VegBang started as a way to fight back the Internet gang called the Digg mafia (also known as the bury brigade), who blatantly bans every pro-vegetarianism submission to Digg. Being vegetarianism one of Digg's taboo topics, a couple of vegans joined together and decided to develop a whole new site to spread the news and links that were not allowed to share over the Digg network. That was VegBang's kick start. And after one month of succesful Alpha testing, VegBang now reached its Beta status.

Today, with hundreds of registered users and daily links submissions within categories such as Animal Rights, Environment, Events, Health, News and Recipes, VegBang is reaching its main goal: to provide the vegetarian and vegan community with the ultimate social framework for fresh news and substantial links sharing. Vegetarianism is exploding everywhere over the Internet (big media, weblogs, newsletters, forums) and the VegBang team hopes to ignite that vegetarian explosion.

About VegBang:

VegBang is the first social network for people to share the best vegetarian related Internet content. From news to recipes and from health documents to weblog posts, VegBang's users love to crawl the web and share their latest finds. This value content is auto-regulated by members themselves: anyone who joins the community becomes an editor. VegBang's social network technology allows all its users to submit an article that will be reviewed by all and will be promoted, based on popularity, to the main page.

For more information about VegBang please visit or write to

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12. Israeli Cats Need Speedy Help

Forwarded message from vegetarian and animal rights activist Eileen Weintraub

Fw: can you help or forward to your contacts? Fw: Israel: Girgurim cats need roof and repairs fast!

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13. Story Shows Importance of Every Act To Improve The World

Thanks to Animal rights activist Batya Bauman for sharing this story:

This is an old story, but bears repeating now and then. It is good to
be reminded of this whenever we feel that no matter how much we try, our efforts seem to be of little consequence in the enormous scheme of things.

Thanks to "Apesman" for reminding me. bb
Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore.

As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn't dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer he called out, "What are you doing?"

The young man paused, looked up and replied, " Throwing starfish in the ocean." "I guess I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?"

"The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I don't throw them in they'll die."

"But, young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach, and starfish all along it. You can't possibly make a difference!"

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, "It made a difference for that one."

There is something very special in each and every one of us. We have all been gifted with the ability to make a difference, and if we can become aware of that gift, we gain through the strength of our visions the power to shape the future.

We must each find our starfish. And if we throw our stars wisely and well, the world will be blessed.

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14. Article re the Israeli Vegetarian Community Amirim in Jerusalem Post

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15. Correction

The article in item #1 in the last JVNA Newsletter was by Judy Lipman (not Lipson).

We regret the error.

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** Fair Use Notice **

The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of vegetarian, environmental, nutritional, health, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for educational or research purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal, technical or medical advice.

December 20, 2007

12/18/2007 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Update on A SACRED DUTY

2. I am going to be on Bob Linden’s Nationally Broadcast Radio Program on Saturday Night

3. Tu B’Shvat and Vegetarianism

4. Is Fur A Jewish Issue?

5. Latest on CHAI’s Efforts To Stop Horse Racing in Israel

6. Update on Hazon’s Slaughter of Three Goats

7. Rabbi, Inspired by A SACRED DUTY, Plans to Offer Two Related Courses

8. Report From Roberta Kalechosky on Hechsher Tzedek Commision Decision at Conference of Conservative Rabbis

9. Animal Rights Group Seeking Energetic, Motivated Workers

10. New, Comprehensive Jewish Vegetarian Web Site Set Up

11. Why Factory Farming Should Be Abolished

12. Still Another Reason Why Our Efforts Are So Important

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 the kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observances, 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. Also, JVNA does not necessarily agree with all positions of groups whose views are included or whose events are announced in this newsletter.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.



1. Update on A SACRED DUTY

a. Internet Connections

The following message was sent by JVNA advisor Rina Deych. Her efforts on this and many other activities to promote A SACRED DUTY are very valuable and much appreciated.
Our film A Sacred Duty is being met with great enthusiasm around the globe! In preparation for widespread internet promotion, our film not only has its own web site (, which, for now, is being redirected to the JewishVeg site), but also a MySpace page (, a MySpace film page ((( ),
and a Face Book page (( ). If you have personal pages on MySpace or Face Book, please send us friend requests! Let's keep this great momentum going!
b. Los Angeles Jewish Vegetarian Group Schedules Showing of A SACRED DUTY

For further information, contact:

Jewish Vegetarians

Singles - Datebook - Calendar Events

January 6, 2008
2:00 p.m.

The Jewish Vegetarian Society of Los Angeles invites you to join us for an enjoyable and remarkable movie "A SACRED DUTY," an hour-long documentary beautifully put together by Emmy-Award-winning producer/director/writer/cinematographer Lionel Friedberg, which portrays the message that a time for healing is upon us. Further information about A SACRED DUTY may be found at

At Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue (meeting room 1st floor)
15730 Ventura Blvd, Encino Contact: 818-342-5555

c. Lionel and I Were on Go Vegan Texas Radio Program/You Can Hear It

To download the program (

Click on:
Go Vegan Texas,
then December 17, 2007.
then download.

Lionel and I are on after the midpoint of the one hour show.
d. Article to Appear in Florida Newspaper:

Message from Judy Lipson, followed by her article:

Nothing I have read or seen before compares with your amazing documentary A SACRED DUTY. It is a masterpiece. If no other scene
did it, the one scene where the cow' s tears are flowing is heart
rendering and really connects us to the animals.

I have written and submitted my once-a-month column " A VEGETARIAN'S
VIEWPOINT" titled "A SACRED DUTY" which will be distributed to all of
our 8000 residents on January 1st.
[Judy’s article is below.] Many thanks, Judy.
By Judy Lipson

Most of us have seen Al Gore's award winning film "An Inconvenient Truth" which won him an Academy Award and the coveted Nobel Peace Prize. Though Gore's film did an excellent job showing the catastrophic impact GLOBAL WARMING is having on our precious planet, he neglected
to mention one of the main causes of this monumental crisis - the production and consumption of our meat-based diet. He deprived us
of this very important information, which we needed to know, so that we could be part of the solution instead of the problem by just changing to a plant-based diet.

Thanks, however, to award winning cinematographer, Lionel Friedberg's beautifully produced documentary "A SACRED DUTY - Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal The world," we now have all the necessary facts. Not only does this 59 minute DVD documentary address the environmental crisis now facing humanity, the film offers solutions based on the ancient
teachings of the Torah and other Jewish scriptures.

The movie includes numerous references to the sacred texts - read by
acclaimed Broadway and screen actor, Theodore Bikel - and examines
how they have profound relevance today. This film aims to motivate
positive action by applying Jewish teachings as to how we should use
natural resources, take care of our health, obtain our food, and live
in peace with our fellow beings. It offers simple, practical measures
for reducing our impact on the planet, and shows how a plant-based diet
can reduce environmental degradation and improve human health and
welfare. It also addresses fundamental moral and ethical issues related
to our diets, including how animals are reared and mistreated on
factory farms today.

This film has been inspired by the writings of Prof. Richard H.
Schwartz, author of JUDAISM and VEGETARIANISM and JUDAISM and GLOBAL SURVIVAL. It features leading Israeli and American environmentalists, physicians, medical authorities, educators and social activists. In addition to compelling scenes filmed all over the world, it includes statements from Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist rabbis, as well as secular leaders......IT IS A MUST SEE FILM.

Geophysicists Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin from the University of
Chicago stated that changing one's diet eating habits from the Standard
American Diet (SAD) to a vegetarian or vegan diet will do more to
fight global warming than switching from a gas-guzzling SUV to a
fuel-efficient hybrid car. Of course, you can do both.

Shifting away from SUVs and SUV-style animal-based, meat diets, to much more energy efficient alternative is the key to fighting global
warming. LET US ALL DO OUR PART. Helping to save our planet would be
the best gift you can give your children, grandchildren.
great-grandchildren and all future generations.

If you would like to see A SACRED DUTY call me at ____________. I also have more VEGETARIAN STARTER KIT booklets available."

More information about A SACRED DUTY can be found at

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2. I am going to be on Bob Linden’s Nationally Broadcast Radio Program on Saturday Night

I am scheduled to be taped Wednesday night for a ten minute interview re A SACRED DUTY on Bob Linden’s program “Go Vegan Radio” on Air America. The program airs in the NY City area on WWRL (1600 on the AM dial), starting at 10:06 PM. I will be on for about ten minutes, probably after 10:30 PM, but the exact time is subject to change.

The program airs in many cities throughout the US. To find out when it will air in your area, check local listings or visit

This is the only national animal rights/vegan program on the radio. It is essential that it remain on the air. A special fund raising appeal was recently sent to you. Too contribute, please go to Many thanks.

But to do that, it desperately needs funds. Please consider making a contribution, by visiting Many thanks.

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3. Tu B’Shvat and Vegetarianism

With Tu B’Shvat on January 21-22 this year, I am planning to send the article below and the sample letter to the Jewish media. Suggestions for improvements welcome. For more material on connections between Tu B’Shvat and vegetarianism, please vist the holiday section at

Richard H. Schwartz

One of the highlights of the Passover seder is the recitation of the four questions which consider how the night of Passover differs from all the other nights of the year. Similar questions are appropriate for Tu B’Shvat, because of the many ways that this holiday differs from Passover and all other days of the year.

While four cups of red wine (or grape juice) are drunk at the Passover seder, the four cups drunk at the Tu B’shavat seder vary in color from white to pink to ruby to red.

While Passover is a holiday of springtime, Tu B’Shvat considers the changing seasons from winter to autumn, as symbolized by the changing colors of the wine or grape juice, to remind us of God’s promise of renewal and rebirth.

While Passover commemorates the redemption of the Israelites, Tu B’Shvat considers the redemption of humanity. The kabbalists of Safed, who inaugurated the Tu B’Shvat sede,r regarded the eating of the many fruits with appropriate blessings and kavannah (intentions) on Tu B’Shvat as a tikkun (repair) for the original sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

While other Jewish holidays honor or commemorate events and people, Tu B’Shvat honors trees, fruits, and other aspects of nature.

While people generally eat whatever fruits are in season, on Tu B’Shvat people try to eat fruits from Israel, especially fruits mentioned in the Torah.

While people generally take the environment for granted, on Tu B’Shvat there is an emphasis on the proper stewardship of the environment.

While people do not generally think about trees in the winter, there is much interest in trees on Tu B’Shvat, although the spring is still months away.

While people generally think of Israel as the land of the Bible, as the Jewish people’s ancestral home, and as the modern Jewish homeland, on Tu B’Shvat people think of Israel in terms of its orchards, vineyards, and olive groves.

While people generally think of fruit as something to be purchased at a supermarket or produce store, on Tu B’Shvat people think of fruit as tokens of God’s kindness.

While people generally try to approach God through prayer, meditation, and study, on Tu B’Shvat people try to reach God by eating fruit, reciting blessings with the proper feelings, and by considering the wonders of God’s creation.

While many people eat all kinds of food including meat and dairy products during most Jewish holidays and on most other days, the Tu B'Shvat Seder in which fruits and nuts are eaten, along with the singing of songs and the recitation of Biblical verses related to trees and fruits, is the only sacred meal where only vegetarian, actually vegan, foods are eaten as part of the ritual.

While people generally look on the onset of a new year as a time to assess how they have been doing and to consider their hopes for the new year, Tu B’Shvat is the New Year for Trees, when the fate of trees is decided.

While most Jewish holidays have a fixed focus, Tu B’Shvat has changed over the years from a holiday that initially marked the division of the year for tithing purposes to one in which successively the eating of fruits, then the planting of trees in Israel, and most recently responses to modern environmental crises have became major parts of the holiday.

Shlomo Carlebach once quipped that the most important Jewish holidays are the ones that are least celebrated. While there has been increasing interest in Tu B’Shvat recently, this holiday that is so rich in symbolism and important messages for today is still not considered to any great extent by most Jews. Let us hope that this will soon change and that an increased emphasis on Tu B’Shvat and its important lessons will help revitalize Judaism and help shift our precious, but imperiled, planet to a sustainable path.

Letter re Tu B’Shvat and environmental activism

Dear editor,

Many contemporary Jews look on Tu B'Shvat (January 21-22 this year) as a Jewish ‘Earth Day,’ and use Tu B'Shvat seders as occasions to discuss how Jewish values can be applied to reduce many of today's ecological threats. This is now more important than ever in view of the many environmental threats currently facing our planet.

While Judaism teaches that “The Earth is the Lord’s” (Psalms 24:1), and that we are to be partners with God in preserving the environment, there are daily news reports about global warming, water shortages, air and water pollution, the depletion of the ozone layer, soil erosion and depletion, and other environmental threats. Tu B'Shvat is the New Year for Trees, the date on which the fate of trees is decided for the coming year. Hence, it is an ideal time to consider the rapid destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats. While we are already facing many negative effects of rapid global climate change, recent scientific reports have projected that the earth’s average temperature will increase by 3 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit in a century, and this would have catastrophic impacts on ecosystems and humanity. While Israel has made remarkable progress in many areas, it faces chronic droughts, very badly polluted rivers, severe air pollution in its major cities and industrial areas, rapidly declining open space, congested roads, and an inadequate mass transit system.

In view of the above and much more, I urge Jews to use Tu B’Shvat and activities related to this increasingly important holiday, as occasions to start to make tikkun olam, the repair and healing of the planet, a central focus in Jewish life today.

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4. Is Fur A Jewish Issue?

I plan to send the message and article below to the Jewish media. Suggestions for improvements very welcome. Thanks.

Dear editor,

As the weather gets colder and many women consider coming to the synagogue on Shabbat mornings wearing fur coats, I hope that you will publish my article below. Perhaps you might also include an article with another point of view or arrange a respectful dialogue/debate on the issue.

No fee expected and you may edit my article to meet your needs, as long as the basic arguments are not modified.

Many thanks, and best wishes,

Richard (Schwartz)

Is Fur a Jewish Issue?
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Jewish worshipers chant every Sabbath morning, "The soul of every living being shall praise God's name" (Nishmat kol chai tva'rech et shim'chah). Yet, some come to synagogue during the winter months wearing coats that required the cruel treatment of some of those living beings whose souls praise God.

To decide whether the use of fur is a significant Jewish issue,we should consider several related questions:

1. What does the Jewish tradition say about the treatment of animals?

2. How much suffering do animals raised or trapped for their fur experience?

3. Does the wearing of fur coats have redeeming factors that would over ride Jewish teachings related to the proper treatment of animals?


Judaism has beautiful and powerful teachings with regard to showing compassion to animals. The following are a few examples:
Moses and King David were considered worthy to be leaders of the jewish people because of their compassionate treatment of animals,when they were shepherds. Rebecca was judged suitable to be a wife of the patriarch Isaac because of her kindness in watering the ten camels of Eliezer, Abraham's servant. Rabbi Yehuda the Prince, the redactor of the Mishna, was punished for many years at the hand of Heaven for speaking callously to a calf being led to slaughter who sought refuge beside him.

Many Torah laws mandate proper treatment of animals. One may not muzzle an ox while it is working in the field nor yoke a strong and aweak animal together. Animals, as well as their masters, are meant to rest on the Sabbath day. The importance of this concept is indicated by the fact that it is mentioned in the Ten Commandments and on every sabbath morning as part of the kiddush ceremony.

The psalmist indicates G-d's concern for animals, stating that "His compassion is over all of His creatures" (Psalm 145:9). And there is a mitzvah (precept) in the Torah to emulate the Divine compassion, as it is written: "And you shall walk in His ways" (Deuteronomy 28:9). Perhaps the Jewish attitude toward animals is best expressed by Proverbs 12:10: "The righteous person considers the soul (life) of his or her animal." The Torah prohibits Jews from causing tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, any unnecessary pain, including psychological pain, to living creatures.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, an outstanding 19th century philosopher, author, and Torah commentator, eloquently summarizes the jewish view on treatment of animals:
Here you are faced with God's teaching, which obliges you not only to refrain from inflicting unnecessary pain on any animal, but to help and, when you can, to lessen the pain whenever you see an animal suffering, even through no fault of yours. (Horeb, Chapter 60, #416)

Fur is obtained from animals who are either trapped or raised on ranches. Both involve treatment of animals that appears to be far from the Jewish teachings that have been previously discussed:

Animals caught in steel-jaw leg hold traps suffer slow, agonizing deaths. Some are attacked by predators, freeze to death, or chew off their own legs to escape. It has been said that one can get a "feel for fur" by slamming your fingers in a car door. A Canadian Wildlife service report gives an idea of the terror that trapped animals face and their desperate efforts to escape:

The stomachs of [trapped] arctic foxes . . . often contain parts of their own bodies. They may swallow fragments of their teeth broken off in biting the trap, and sometimes part of a mangled foot; almost every stomach contains some fox fur, and a considerable number contain pieces of skin, claws, or bits of bone.

Over 100 million wild animals are killed for their pelts every year. Many species of animals killed for their furs have become endangered or have disappeared completely from some localities.Millions of animals not wanted by trappers, including dogs, cats, and birds, die in traps annually and are discarded as "trash animals." Many trapped animals leave behind dependent offspring who are doomed to starvation.

Treatment of animals raised on "fur ranches" is also extremely cruel. Confined to lifelong confinement, millions of foxes, beavers, minks, ocelots, rabbits, chinchillas, and other animals await extinction nothing to do, little room to move, and all their natural instincts thwarted. The animals are simply a means to the maximizing of production and profit, and there is no regard for their physical, mental, or emotional well being. Because of the enforced confinement and lack of privacy, naturally wild animals often exhibit neurotic behaviors such as compulsive movements and self mutilation. The animals finally suffer hideous deaths by electrocution by rods thrust up their anuses, by suffocation, by poisoning, which causes painful muscle cramping, or by having their necks broken.

According to the International Society for Animal Rights, Inc.,to make one fur garment requires 400 squirrels; 240 ermine; 200 chinchillas; 120 muskrats; 80 sables; 50 martens; 30 raccoons; 22 bobcats; 12 lynx; or 5 wolves.


Judaism puts human beings on a higher level than animals and indicates that animals may be harmed and even killed if an essential human need is met. However, is the wearing of fur truly necessary for people to stay warm during wintry weather? There are many non-fur coats and hats, available in a variety of styles, that provide much warmth. Imitation fur is produced at such a high level of quality that even among Chasidim there is a small but growing trend to wear synthetic "shtreimlach" (fur-trimmed hats).

Based on the prohibition of tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Halevy, Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv issued a p'sak (rabbinic ruling) in March, 1992, indicating that Jews should not wear fur. Rabbi Halevy asked: "Why should people be allowed to kill animals if it is not necessary, simply because they desire the pleasure of having the beauty and warmth of fur coats? Is it not possible to achieve the same degree of warmth without fur?"

In his book, The Jewish Encyclopedia of Moral and Ethical Issues, Rabbi Nachum Amsel, a modern Israeli educator, states: "If the only reason a person wears the fur coat is to "show off" one's wealth or to be a mere fashion statement, that would be considered to be a frivolous and not a legitimate need. Rabbi Amsel also points out that hunting for sport is prohibited because it is not considered a legitimate need (Avodah Zarah 18b).


The Talmud teaches that Jews are "rachamanim b'nei rachamanim," compassionate children of compassionate ancestors (Beitza 32b). One has to wonder if the wearing of fur is consistent with that challenging mandate.

Are the words of Isaiah valid today if we fail to show compassion to animals?

Even though you make many prayers,I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood. (Isaiah 1:12-15)

What kind of lesson in Jewish values are young people getting when they see worshippers coming to synagogue in fur coats on the Sabbath day?

Not only do animals benefit from our compassion and concern -- we, too, benefit by becoming more sensitive and more humane, as Jews and civilized human beings.

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5. Latest on CHAI’s Efforts To Stop Horse Racing in Israel

Forwarded message from CHAI:

To read this alert with photos on the CHAI website, see:

December 11, 2007


The bill that will legalize gambling on horse racing in Israel is about to be introduced in the Knesset. It is urgent that we have strong lobbying and media efforts to educate Knesset members and the public about the cruelties inherent in the racing industry in order to block passage of this bill.

Cruelty to horses is already a very significant problem in Israel, and there is no infrastructure to deal with it. Municipal vets admit they don't take abused horses away from their abusers because they have no place to put them. Multiply this problem by thousands — the plan calls for importing 2,000 horses for racing in the first year.

Lobbying and public relations are expensive. Please read about what is at stake, and please give generously to CHAI's campaign to prevent this industry from becoming established in Israel.

The racing industry presents an image of glamour, but in reality, it is filled with cruelty, corruption, and death.

Death: Thousands of racehorses die in training or on the track every year. This year in England, for example, a racehorse died nearly every other day on the track. An average of 375 horses are raced to death every year in that country alone. One-third die on racecourses, while the others are destroyed as a result of training injuries, or are killed because they are no longer fast enough to earn money. In all countries, most racehorses suffer from bleeding in the lungs, which can be fatal, and chronic stomach ulcers. Some have heart attacks from the unnatural exertion.

Corruption: This cruel industry is filled with corruption in every country where it exists. Widespread drugging of horses to enhance performance or dull pain so they can race even while injured was the subject of a New York Times front page article. Insurance fraud — killing slow horses to collect insurance money — has been repeatedly exposed in the U.S. media. In one case, for example, a horse's legs were tied to a truck and broken as the truck drove away.

The end of the line: Every year, the same number of horses leave racing as enter it. Like all countries where there is racing, Israel will either have to go into the horse slaughter business or into the cruel live-export trade, transporting horses abroad to end up on dinner plates.

Horse slaughter:

If this industry is so ruthless, why would it now be allowed to enter Israel, a country where racing never existed before except on a tiny scale? Because now money is at stake: gambling, on which the racing industry depends, generates huge sums of money. It also generates social welfare problems, including crime and the breakup of families. The Chief Rabbi of Israel has issued a ruling stating that the racing industry violates Jewish law, which prohibits gambling and cruelty to animals.

Chief Rabbi's ruling:

We have amassed a great deal of factual information about racing, all of which is available on our website. Experts from around the world have offered their testimony, confirming the inherent cruelty of horseracing. See our Horse Racing Q and A page for answers to some frequently asked questions.



CHAI has fought against bringing racing into Israel for nearly three years. The campaign has been extremely expensive, and most people have assumed the horses can't possibly win against such powerful money interests.

PLEASE help us show that compassion can be stronger than greed. This is our only chance to stop this grotesque industry from entering Israel.

To make a contribution to support CHAI’s work, please visit:

Yours for a more compassionate world,

Nina Natelson, Director
CHAI - Concern for Helping Animals in Israel
PO Box 3341, Alexandria, VA 22302

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6. Update on Hazon’s Slaughter of Three Goats

a. JTA Article:
This food conscious conference was no place for kids

By Natasha Rosenstock

FALLS VILLAGE, Conn. (JTA) -- I was torn between my professional responsibility to attend the most experiential learning moment of the conference and my personal squeamishness.

Certainly it was noble that Hazon, the environmental group, wanted to connect participants to their food and halachically slaughter organically, pasture-raised goats and feed them to the participants. But would I be able to watch the killing of not one but three goats?

Then I learned that like me, the ritual slaughterer and the kashrut supervisor who had been brought in to kill the goats generally do not eat meat except on Shabbat, when many say it is a mitzvah to do so. Although I am no longer officially a vegetarian, I don't eat meat very much outside of Shabbat. I can't even eat chicken on the bone because it seems too close to a real animal to me.

Rabbi Yehuda ben Chemhoun, a prominent shochet of 27 years, and Rabbi Seth Mandel, the senior mashgiach at the Orthodox Union, made their revelation at a panel discussion the evening before the Dec. 7 ritual slaughter, or schechting. I was surprised to learn that these bearded, black-hatted, serious rabbis order the veggie option.

The organizers of the Hazon conference, "Planting Seeds for the New Jewish Food Movement, " made the session mandatory for anyone planning to attend the ritual slaughter the next morning.

Simon Feil, the conference co-chair and creator of Kosher Conscience, an organization that provided Jews with kosher organic turkeys this Thanksgiving, said, "For those of us who eat meat, this is an opportunity to get more in touch with that. And if that's uncomfortable for you, maybe that's a good thing."

Mandel said that Jews have eaten meat throughout history and are commanded to eat the pascal lamb on Passover. We can't get away from that reality. This is where moderation comes in.

The participants challenged Mandel on the slaughterhouse system. He responded, "Maimonides said we should eat meat, at most, two times per week. Judaism is a religion of moderation. If people did that, we wouldn't have to have slaughterhouses and could go back to pastures."

While it was a huge step to engage the Orthodox Union in this discussion, and shocking to hear its head mashgiach call the system of mass slaughter inhumane, many participants did not understand why the O.U. didn't simply use its power to change the system.

Mandel explained the laws of what makes meat kosher and how studies have shown the animals do not feel pain. He said the current system may not satisfy the participants, but one cannot claim it isn't kosher.

I decided I would attend the schechting in the morning. It was the least I could do as a sometimes carnivore.

I wasn't prepared for how upset it made me feel simply watching the goat lifted into position on the wooden bench. A green tarp lay to the side. I turned away and only saw it after it was dead. I looked back and saw them carry the green tarp to the tent off to the side. I heard banging and only later realized it was the goat hitting its hooves on the table after being slaughtered, as the rabbi had warned us in advance. But by the second shechting, I felt surprisingly at peace with the process.

Then I accidentally saw the first goat's head peeking out from the side of the tent. Judging from the movement and angle, it must have been hanging. It looked like it was sleeping, but just with a few drops of blood on its face. Again, although I felt upset, I still thought the animal looked like it was sleeping peacefully and was not mistreated.

I didn't eat the goats' meat on Friday night, or the chicken. The meat was placed on a platter in the center of the room, separate from the general buffet table. It was announced that there was a limited amount, so participants should ration what they take and note all the efforts that went into the few trays of meat.

"When we were eating the goat on Friday, we had a different intent around eating it," said participant Dassee Berkowitz, a Jewish educator in New York. "I specifically did not also eat the chicken. I'm now considering how we eat meat and how often we eat meat."

At last year's Hazon conference, Nigel Savage, the group's founder, asked meat eaters if they would eat meat if they had to raise and kill the animal themselves. He also asked vegetarians if they would eat meat if they raised and killed the animal themselves. There were takers on both sides.

After Shabbat dinner this year, Savage asked of the crowd, "Stand up if you do eat meat and didn't eat the goat." Then, "Stand up if you are a vegetarian and ate the goat." The numbers appeared to be even.

Aaron Philmus, a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, contrasted his experience here with an earlier shechting of lambs he had witnessed in Israel at a Lag B'Omer celebration. The earlier experience, he said, felt unholy to him. People were talking and taking pictures, children were watching. One of the lambs watched another being slaughtered.

At the Hazon event, cameras were forbidden, and each goat was protected from seeing the others. Philmus lauded the Hazon environment, compared to the modern slaughterhouse, which he called "the least holy place I can think of."

He said, "I talked to the shochet about the levels of his holy intentions. It was clear to me he considered what he was doing God's will, God's work. It deepened my belief in and respect for the way Jews do this."

While the conference included more than the schechting, it was clearly the most talked-about moment. The common theme of connecting to where your food comes from, eating and living seasonally and organically, and concern for public and private health, was espoused from different angles by a series of high-profile speakers.

The wide spectrum of Jews here agreed that it is a very Jewish thing to want to know where our meat comes from and how the animal lived and died.

While I may not be able to commit to eating only seasonal, local produce from my farmer's market, I think I will definitely quit the fake foods, such as 10-calorie frozen "yogurt." And I certainly don't see myself looking at another piece of beef in the same way anytime soon.

(Natasha Rosenstock is a writer living in Washington, D.C.)

b. My Article On the Hazon Slaughter of Goats Sent to the Jewish Media/Chicago Jewish News to Publish It

Hazon Lacks Vision About Animal-Based Diets

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), I strongly condemn the slaughter of three goats at Hazon’s food-related conference on December 7 at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, Connecticut.

JVNA has long supported Hazon’s environmental bike rides and its efforts to increase awareness of environmental and food-related issues in the Jewish community and has often placed announcements of Hazon events in its newsletter. We also appreciate Hazon’s objective of increasing awareness of the slaughter process, but its objective could have been far better and more humanely been carried out if they had shown videos of slaughterhouse practices, rather than destroying innocent life.

Hazon is ignoring the very negative effects that animal-based diets are having on human health and the environment. They are also ignoring the fact that the production and consumption of meat and other animal products is inconsistent with basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and pursue peace. Hazon would have done far more good by a thorough consideration of these issues at its conference than by slaughtering some of G-d’s defenseless creatures. On behalf of JVNA, I respectfully challenge Hazon and other leaders in the Jewish community to engage with us in a dialogue/debate on ‘Should Jews Be Vegetarians?’”

At a time when the world is so imperiled by global warming and other environmental threats, dietary concerns should be considered in terms of environmental impacts. In view of the many current environmental threats to humanity, it is scandalous that the world is not only trying to feed 6.6 billion people, but also over 50 billion farmed animals; that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the world’s forms of transportation; that 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and over a third produced worldwide are fed to animals raised for slaughter; and that the standard American diet (SAD) requires up to 14 times as much water as a vegan diet.

To increase consideration of such issues in the Jewish community and other communities, JVNA has just released a one-hour documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD ( They will send a free DVD to anyone who contacts them ( and indicates plans to consider using the movie to help increase awareness of environmental and food-related issues. Further information about the movie can be found at a

Further information about these issues can be found at JVNA welcomes opportunities to dialogue and work with others to increase awareness of Jewish teachings on dietary concerns.

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7. Rabbi, Inspired by A SACRED DUTY, Plans to Offer Two Related Courses

Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg’s Message for January Bulletin

Dear Friends,

January is the time for New Year’s Resolutions. How many times have we resolved to eat less and exercise more? What happened? At least we annually acknowledged the need to clean up our act.

This year I have a New Year’s Resolution for us all: “Go Green!” Huh? It is one thing for individuals to neglect their health, but quite another when we collectively abuse Mother Earth. I am reminded of the Midrash: “The Holy Blessed One took the first human and passing before all the trees of the Garden of Eden, said, ‘See My works, how fine and excellent they are. All that I created, I created for you. Consider that, and do not desolate My world, for if you do, there will be no one to set it right.’”

There may be some deniers who question Global Warming, Greenhouse Gasses, the ramifications of denuding forests, or polluting land, water and air. Perhaps, these ostriches feel if they ignore the facts, they will go away. Or do they doubt that the little bit of damage they personally cause can do much harm. Or maybe they just don’t want to turn down the thermostat, drive more fuel efficient cars, recycle, etc. etc. Kermit the Frog was right. “It’s not easy being green.”

In a rabbinic story 2 people were in the midst of a vast sea, when one took out a drill and began boring a hole in the bottom of the rowboat. The other exclaimed in horror, “Stop before we drown.” The driller responded, “What’s it to you? The hole is under my seat.” It matters when polar ice caps melt, warmer oceans cause extreme storms or people toss litter out a car window. I don’t mean to be alarmist, but we are all in the same boat, and our family, the human family, is at risk.

Recently, I viewed a film entitled, A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World. That along with Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth have motivated me to resolve to “Go Green.” For both the Institute of Adult Jewish Studies and the Jewish Community High School I will be teaching “Tikun Olam, a Jewish Course in Healing Our World.” In addition to exploring Jewish wisdom for this crisis, we will seek practical solutions for our planet, our synagogue and ourselves. I welcome any suggestions you may have.

Coincidentally, Jan. 21st is both Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the beginning of Tu B’Shvat, our New Year for Trees. In that spirit, I too have a dream: I have a dream that one day humankind will live out the mission charged to Adam and Eve to diligently tend this garden we call Earth.

I have a dream that land blighted with contaminants will be transformed into an oasis of vegetation producing so much food that no one goes hungry.

I have a dream that rivers and streams, lakes and oceans will never experience drought or pollution. They they will once more be mayim chaim, living waters.

I have a dream that the air we breathe will be pure, and that an ambience of safety and security will exist for all God’s people, and the animals as well.

Happy New Year! Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg

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8. Report From Roberta Kalechosky on Hechsher Tzedek Commision Decision at Conference of Conservative Rabbis

A New Heksher Symbol is Born

Roberta Kalechofsky, Ph.D.

An historic event took place at the USJC Biennial in Orlando, FL, Dec.
1. After years of planning, a panel of rabbis, Rabbis Morris Allen,
Michael Siegel, Jill Borodin, Avram Israel Reisner, chair of the
commission, Scott Kapan and Project Manager, Dr. Richard Lederman,
members of the Heksher Tzedek Commission, presented a new symbol for
kashrut, the Heksher Tzedek---Connecting Halacha to Social Justice.
This was a joint project of the Rabbinical Assembly and the United
Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

Five benchmarks were defined to indicate that "a kosher product was
made in compliance with a set of social justice criteria in keeping with
the teachings of the Jewish faith." Though the Commission has had such a project in mind for years, it is no secret that the recent scandals at
the Agriprocessor slaughtering plant in Iowa made the creation of the
new symbol urgent. But in spite of its roots in Jewish concerns, the
commission eloquently stated that "The ethical treatment of workers is
an issue that transcends religious affiliation."

The Heksher Tzedek is a response to the changing nature and complexity
of modern food production and the need to implement a standard of just
wages, working conditions and animal welfare concerns. It expands the
meaning of the traditional kashrut symbols, but does not replace them.
It recognizes the fact that food in the modern world has become a
complex political problem. The historic kashrut symbols, which guided
traditional Jewish households for centuries, were developed in a rural
economy and society. Food production in an industrial society is far
more complicated, and the Heksher Tzedek Commission felt that a new
symbol was required to recognize the complexity of modern food

The major concern of the commission was to develop a symbol that would
indicate fair working conditions, particularly for those in slaughter
houses. Food stamped with the Heksher Tzedek symbol would indicate that this food was produced in an industry that recognized proper minimum worker pay, health insurance for workers, retirement benefits, vacation, sick leave, maternity leave and the right to organize. If such concerns sound modern, a booklet explains how each of these issues is rooted in historic halacha. Other employee issues concerned health and safety in the working condition, proper employee training, safety inspection, and employee turnover.

The Commission also stipulated that animal welfare policies must be in
place, that foods must be marketed responsibly, that there must be
corporate social responsibility, and transparency in accounting
practices. The Commission also addressed itself to the problem of
environmental impact in the working environment, which would attend to
such concerns as hazardous waste, toxic emissions, regulatory reporting,
and environmental initatives.

The new seal is voluntary and is meant to be added to the traditional
kashrut symbol. Why then is it necessary? The Commission believes that
the Heksher Tzedek justice certification deepens the meaning of kashrut
and "will appeal to socially conscious consumers within and beyond the
Jewish community." It will reach out to Jews for whom the traditional
Kashrut symbols have become inert and in this way, it is hoped that Jews
will once again find themselves bound together by common standards of
concern about the food they eat.

The members of the Biennial voted to adopt the Heksher Tzedek symbol with an almost unanimous vote. At the conclusion of the often
passionate presentation of the need and meaning of the Heksher Tzedek I
presented each member of the panel with a DVD of the new documentary, A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World (to Environmental and Global Problems), inspired by Richard Schwartz. It was received with great appreciation. We all understood the historic moment: the Jewish people who have one of the oldest meditations on the ethics and ritual of food, must apply their historic consciousness to the new conditions of food production and consumption.

Copyright (c) Roberta Kalechofsky, 2007

Roberta Kalechofsky, Ph.D., fiction writer, speaker, essayist,
Micah Publications ( is the source for Jewish
vegetarian and animal rights books. See website for these and other

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9. Animal Rights Group Seeking Energetic, Motivated Workers

Forwarded message:

PETA, an international nonprofit organization, is looking for energetic, motivated, like-minded people to help support and continue our mission. PETA is hiring for a variety of positions, and we encourage everyone to apply. To view all our current openings and to apply for a position, please visit It would be nice to have some people with the JVNA philosophy working at PETA. We have much common ground with them, although we disagree with some of their statements and methods.

Samuel Puccini
The PETA Foundation

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10. New, Comprehensive Jewish Vegetarian Web Site Set Up

Forwarded message from web coordinator Boris Dolgin: is a new online Jewish vegetarian and animal rights
community, with the goal of connecting members, and providing
resources for learning and activism. Users of the site can join the
forums, catch up on updated veggie, animal rights, and Jewish news,
read the blog, add to and review recipes in the growing recipe
database, and explore the learning section. Registering on the site
allows access to the following additional features:

-Create your own blog space to share your thoughts with others in the
Jewish veggie community.
-Create an online profile and meet other people who share your
interests and passions. Add others to your friends list, send
messages and create your own mini-community.
-Use the classified ads pages to buy, sell, share a skill, make an
announcement, or even meet that special someone through the personals
-Submit your own articles, essays and stories to share with ShalomVeg

ShalomVeg is a free service made for the the Jewish vegetarian
community. With so many organizations and people in so many
different places, can be a "virtual meeting place" to
help strengthen our community, and provide the resources to help us
make more of a difference in the world.

The site can be found at:

For more info, email:

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11. Why Factory Farming Should Be Abolished

The following article, very slightly edited, is by Christian Vegetarian Association director Steve Kaufman.

Why Factory Farming Should Be Abolished

Should We Hope for God’s Mercy?

I contend that contemporary factory farming is among the most egregious offenses against God and God’s Creation ever perpetrated by humanity, for the following reasons:

1) Factory farming is unnecessary. We have access to healthy non-animal foods, and those who insist on eating animals and animal products could obtain them from far less abusive systems. In fact, the article below shows that factory-farmed foods cost less than other methods largely because of federal price supports.

2) Factory farming is cruel. Only those who close their eyes to standard practices of factory farms – including intensive confinement, mutilations without anesthetics, and prohibition of virtually all behaviors God created animals to do – can believe that factory farming doesn’t constitute animal abuse.

3) The victims are innocent. Animals have done nothing to deserve the unrelenting abuse they experience. Even “humane” farms typically kill animals in adolescence or young adulthood. It is human arrogance to believe that animals belong to us, not God, and it is human callousness and hardness of heart that accounts for the massive abuse of about 10 billion land animals in the U.S. (50 billion in the world) each year. The number of fish killed is far higher. At no time in history have human beings tortured more animals, and tortured them more exquisitely, than our current times.

4) Modern animal agriculture causes suffering to humans. As the CVA [Christian Vegetarian Association] booklet "Are We Good Stewards of God’s Creation?" discusses, modern animal agriculture contributes substantially to world poverty and hunger, global warming, environmental degradation, disease propagation, antibiotic resistance, and human diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.

Factory farming is a choice – a choice that is having disastrous consequences for animals right now and threatens to contribute heavily to the collapse of human civilization. Will God save humanity from its own violence, cruelty, destructiveness? Should God save humanity from its own violence, cruelty, and destructiveness?

What can we do? For starters, we can stop consuming the products of cruelty. But we can do much more. Organizations like the Jewish Vegetarians of North America, Christian Vegetarian Association, Vegan Outreach, and PETA have excellent resources to help all of us make visible the hidden, invisible victims of factory farming. Our being a witness to the abuse, and compassionately and respectfully showing people ways that they can avoid contributing to the abuse, we can serve God and God’s creatures. In addition, I encourage those people of compassion who are able to offer financial support for these or other organizations that strive to prevent the massive crimes against God’s creatures.

Steve Kaufman, M.D., CVA chair

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12. Still Another Reason Why Our Efforts Are So Important

Thanks to Lionel Friedberg (Producer/Director/Writer/Cinematographer), the splendid produce of our DVD/film, A Sacred Duty, for forwarding the following item:

** Rising seas 'to beat predictions' **

The world's sea levels could rise twice as high this century as UN climate scientists have previously predicted, according to a study.

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