August 31, 2007

8/29/07 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Relating Fall Jewish Holidays to Vegetarianism

2. Latest on Our Documentary A SACRED DUTY

3. Major NY Times Article on Campaigns to Connect Animal-Based Diets to Global Warming/My Letter/Please Write

4. Greening Our Diets/Great Summary Article

5. Israeli Company to Produce Fuel from Algae

6. New Book Relates Religion and Environment

7. Farm Seeks to Connect to Jewish Agricultural Roots and Traditions

8. Three Key Facts to Present to Meat-Eaters

9. 49 Reasons To Be a Vegetarian

10. U.S. and Israel Cooperating on Solar Power Plant

11. Flooding Due to Global Warming May Be Worse Than Previously Thought

12. Global Warming Documentary to Open Nationwide

13. My Judaism and Animal Rights Article in a New Zealand Magazine

14. Jews for Animal Rights is Promoting Bumper Stickers

15. Factoring Meat Into our Carbon Footprint

16. Is Michael Moore to “Sicko” What Al Gore is to “An Inconvenient Truth”?

17. Academic Conference Considers Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence

18. My Newsweek Letter Published

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. Relating Fall Jewish Holidays to Vegetarianism

With Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot rapidly approaching, please take a look at my articles relating vegetarianism to these holidays in the holiday section at Please feel free to forward any of these articles, to build letters to editors from material in them and to use them for talking points. More to follow in the next JVNA newsletter.

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2. Latest on Our Documentary A SACRED DUTY

I recently sent you a special JVNA message outlining our plans for building an unprecedented campaign to awaken the establishment to the great dangers facing the world, the need for the Jewish community and others to actively respond and why it is imperative that there be a major shift toward plant-based diets as part of the necessary responses. Please stay tuned for further developments re the documentary and our campaign.

Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions or are willing to volunteer to help, please let me know. Thanks.

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3. Major NY Times Article on Campaigns to Connect Animal-Based Diets to Global Warming/My Letter/Please Write

August 29, 2007 The NY Times

Trying to Connect the Dinner Plate to Climate Change

EVER since “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore has been the darling of environmentalists, but that movie hardly endeared him to the animal rights folks. According to them, the most inconvenient truth of all is that raising animals for meat contributes more to global warming than all the sport utility vehicles combined.

The biggest animal rights groups do not always overlap in their missions, but now they have coalesced around a message that eating meat is worse for the environment than driving. They and smaller groups have started advertising campaigns that try to equate vegetarianism with curbing greenhouse gases.

Some backlash against this position is inevitable, the groups acknowledge, but they do have scientific ammunition. In late November, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization issued a report stating that the livestock business generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined.

When that report came out, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other groups expected their environmental counterparts to immediately hop on the “Go Veggie!” bandwagon, but that did not happen. “Environmentalists are still pointing their fingers at Hummers and S.U.V.'s when they should be pointing at the dinner plate,” said Matt A. Prescott, manager of vegan campaigns for PETA.

So the animal rights groups are mobilizing on their own. PETA is outfitting a Hummer with a driver in a chicken suit and a vinyl banner proclaiming meat as the top cause of global warming. It will send the vehicle to the start of the climate forum the White House is sponsoring in Washington on Sept. 27, “and to headquarters of environmental groups, if they don't start shaping up,” Mr. Prescott warned.

He said that PETA had written to more than 700 environmental groups, asking them to promote vegetarianism, and that it would soon distribute leaflets that highlight the impact of eating meat on global warming.

“You just cannot be a meat-eating environmentalist,” said Mr. Prescott, whose group also plans to send billboard-toting trucks to the Colorado Convention Center in Denver when Mr. Gore lectures there on Oct. 2. The billboards will feature a cartoon image of Mr. Gore eating a drumstick next to the tagline: “Too Chicken to Go Vegetarian? Meat Is the No. 1 Cause of Global Warming.”

The Humane Society of the United States has taken up the issue as well, running ads in environmental magazines that show a car key and a fork. “Which one of these contributes more to global warming?” the ads ask. They answer the question with “It's not the one that starts a car,” and go on to cite the United Nations report as proof.

On its Web page and in its literature, the Humane Society has also been highlighting other scientific studies - notably, one that recently came out of the University of Chicago - that, in essence, show that “switching to a plant-based diet does more to curb global warming than switching from an S.U.V. to a Camry,” said Paul Shapiro, senior director of the factory farming campaign for the Humane Society.

The society, Mr. Shapiro said, is not only concerned with what happens to domesticated animals, but also with preventing the carnage that global warming could cause to polar bears, seals and other wildlife. “Our mission is to protect animals, and global warming has become an animal welfare issue,” he said.

Even tiny pro-veggie operations are starting to squeeze dollars out of their shoestring budgets to advertise the eating meat/global warming connection. Vegan Outreach, a 14-year-old group in Tucson with just three full-time workers and a $5 million annual budget, is spending about $800 this month to run ads and links to its Web page on about 10 blogs. And, it will give more prominence to the global warming aspect of vegetarianism in the next batch of leaflets it orders.

“We know that vegetarian organizations have sometimes made exaggerated health and environmental claims, but that U.N. report is an impartial, unimpeachable source of statements we can quote,” said Matt Ball, executive director of Vegan Outreach.

Like Mr. Prescott, Mr. Ball is incensed that high-profile people like Al Gore - or environmental groups with deeper pockets than his - have not stepped up to the plate.

“Al Gore calls global warming an existential risk to humanity, yet it hasn't prompted him to change his diet or even mention vegetarianism,” he complained. “And I guess the environmentalists recognize that it's a lot easier to ask people to put in a fluorescent light bulb than to learn to cook with tofu.”

Advertising specialists warn that this new attention to global warming may attract enemies as well as converts.

“Using global warming as a tactic for advancing the cause of vegetarianism feels a bit opportunistic,” said Hank Stewart, senior copywriter at Green Team Advertising, which specializes in environmentally themed ads.

He also questions the logistics. “You want to get the message as close to the meat-purchasing moment as possible,” he said, “but can you imagine a supermarket allowing 'Attention, Planet-Destroying Carnivores' on the in-store radio?”

Environmental groups, meanwhile, readily concede that mobilizing against meat eaters is not their highest priority.

“We try to be strategic about doing the things where each unit of effort has the most impact,” said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. Mr. Pope notes that his group has stopped short of castigating people for driving S.U.V.'s or building overly large homes, too.

“We'll encourage companies to make more efficient S.U.V.'s, and we'll encourage consumers to buy them,” he said, “but we do not find lecturing people about personal consumption choices to be effective.”

Environmental Defense is also “in agreement on the value of eating less meat,” said Melanie Janin, director of marketing communications. But, she added, her group would rather spend its time and money influencing public policy - specifically, getting Congress to regulate greenhouse gases.

Mr. Gore declined to make himself available for comment. Chris Song, his deputy press secretary, simply noted that a suggestion to “modify your diet to include less meat” appears on Page 317 of Mr. Gore's book version of “An Inconvenient Truth.”

He did not address Mr. Gore's personal food choices.

My letter to the Times: [Please also write. Thanks.]

August 29, 2007

Editor, NY Times

To the editor:

Re: "Trying to Connect the Dinner Plate to Climate Change" (August 29 issue)

The recent reports of widespread, severe floods, storms, droughts and wildfires, along with projections from a consensus of climate scientists of major temperature increases, are making it increasingly apparent that the world is rapidly heading toward an unprecedented catastrophe. And the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's conclusion in its November 2006 report "Livestock's Long Shadow" that livestock agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the world's transportation sources combined (18 percent vs. 13.5 percent) makes it clear that a major shift away from animal-based diets is essential to reduce the effects of global warming and other environmental threats. However, the world seems to be going in just the opposite direction, as the FAO report also projects that the number of farmed animals is expected to double in the next 50 years. If this happens, the increased greenhouse emissions from livestock agriculture would negate decreases from other actions, thwarting efforts to move our imperiled planet to a sustainable path. So, the future of humanity depends on what we put on our forks. I hope we will choose wisely.

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

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4. Greening Our Diets/Great Summary Article

How Green Is My Diet?

by Wendy Priesnitz

Q: A friend recently told me that she has stopped eating meat because it contributes to global warming. That seems a bit far-fetched to me so I'm wondering if you can set the record straight by connecting the dots between environment and diet.

A: Surprisingly, what we choose to eat has one of the biggest impacts on the environment, including the climate, of any human activity.

A 2006 Italian study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated the environmental impact of various dietary patterns combined with different food production systems. Researchers examining the impact of a typical week's eating showed that plant- based diets are better for the environment than those based on meat. An organic vegan diet had the smallest environmental impact and all non-vegetarian diets required significantly greater amounts of environmental resources, such as land and water. But the most damaging food was beef, with up to 100 calories of grain required to produce four calories of beef.

More recent Japanese research assessed the effects of beef production (including the effects of producing and transporting feed) on global warming, water acidification and eutrophication, and energy consumption - in other words, the total environmental load on a portion of beef. Published in Animal Science Journal in August, 2007, research by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science found that producing a kilogram of beef leads to the emission of greenhouse gases with a warming potential equivalent to 36.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide - more than driving for three hours while leaving all the lights on back home. They also found that a kilo of beef releases the equivalent of 340 grams of sulphur dioxide and 59 grams of phosphate, and consumes 169 megajoules of energy.

The calculations, which are based on standard industrial methods of meat production in Japan, did not include the impact of managing farm infrastructure and transporting the meat, so the total environmental load is even higher when they are factored in. Since global beef consumption is rising dramatically, meeting this demand will no doubt require that animals be reared more intensively and cheaply with factory farming, creating further pollution, water and land usage problems.

The environmental load is so high, in fact, that in a 2005 study, University of Chicago researchers suggested that going vegan would reduce one's environmental footprint by more than if they switched to a hybrid vehicle. Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin told a meeting of the American Geophysical Union that they studied the amount of fossil fuel needed to cultivate and process various foods, including running agricultural machinery, providing food for livestock and irrigating crops. They found that the typical American diet, about 28 percent of which comes from animal sources, generates the equivalent of nearly 1.5 tonnes more carbon dioxide per person per year than a vegan diet with the same number of calories. By comparison, the difference in annual emissions between driving a regular car and a hybrid car is just over 1 tonne.

In fact, farmed animals produce more greenhouse gas emissions (18 percent) than the world's entire transportation system (13.5 percent,) according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO.) Most of the greenhouse gas emissions from cattle are in the form of methane released from the animals' digestive systems. According to a 2003 report issued by the EU's Environment and Agriculture Informal Ministerial Councils, along with nitrous oxide, methane is the real threat to global warming from agriculture. Methane has 23 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide and a single cow can produce as much as 500 liters of methane per day.

Cattle manure contains other problematic pollutants like nitrous oxide (which is considered to be almost 300 times as damaging to the climate as carbon dioxide) and ammonia (which contributes to acid rain.) In a 2006 report Livestock's Long Shadow - Environmental Issues and Options, the FAO pointed out that farming animals also generates greenhouse gas emissions through the manufacture of fertilizers to grow feed crops, industrial feed production and the transportation of both live animals and their carcasses across the globe.


Rearing animals for food causes a variety of other environmental issues besides contributing to global warming. Much of the world is running out of fresh water. In an alert issued last March, the FAO estimated that by 2025 there will be 1.8 billion people living with absolute water scarcity and two thirds of the world's population could be living under water-stressed conditions.

Scientists agree that farming accounts for around 70 percent of all fresh water withdrawn from lakes, waterways and aquifers and that meat production, especially the feeding of cattle, is a particularly water-intensive process. The FAO says that livestock production accounts for over eight percent of global human water consumption. Depending on a variety of factors, a kilogram of beef is estimated to require upwards of 13,000 liters of water, compared to the 1,000 to 2,000 liters required to produce a kilo of wheat.

Livestock production also contributes to water pollution, with manure, antibiotics and hormones entering the water cycle alongside chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops. In a 2005 report entitled Facts About Pollution from Livestock Farms, the Natural Resources Defense Council noted that in the Gulf of Mexico, pollutants in animal waste have contributed to a “dead zone” where there is not enough oxygen to support aquatic life. During the summer of 2004, this dead zone extended over 5,800 square miles.

Land Use

According to the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment at the University of Wisconsin, 40 percent of the earth's entire land surface is used for agriculture, and 70 percent of all agricultural land is used for farming animals. Much of this is grazing land that would otherwise host a natural habitat such as rainforest. Livestock production is reportedly responsible for 70 percent of the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. Aside from contributing to the loss of biodiversity, deforestation increases greenhouse gas emissions by releasing carbon previously stored in the trees.

Farmland that could grow grain and other human food crops is also a casualty of the livestock industry. According to the FAO, one third of the land suitable for growing crops globally is used to produce animal feed.

Feeding cattle takes up so much land because they are inefficient converters of feed to meat. Thomas White, a professor in the Department of Economics and Global Studies at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, described just how inefficient in his paper “Diet and the Distribution of Environmental Impact” published in 2000 in Ecological Economics. He says that cattle require approximately seven kilos of grain in order to generate one kilo of beef and pigs require four kilos of grain for one kilo of pork.

When cattle are allowed to overgraze, the result is soil erosion, desertification and deforestation. The FAO says that 20 percent of the world's grazing land has been designated as degraded due to the rearing of animals for meat.


Many people who give up meat end up eating more fish, which is a healthy source of essential fatty acids. [There are several health problems associated with eating fish.] However, eating fish isn't without its environmental problems. Over-fishing is threatening the existence of many fish species, a trend that we've been tracking for many years in Natural Life. Fishing practices like bottom trawling cause untold damage to non-target species and destroy the fragile ecosystem of the seabed. It's been called “underwater strip mining.”

The aquaculture industry has experienced huge growth. However, fish farming can pollute rivers and streams, while harming wild fish. Plus, feeding farmed fish can be problematic, intensifying pressure on the ocean stocks. The Worldwatch Institute says, for example, that it takes five tonnes of wild-caught fish to feed each tonne of farmed salmon.

Then there is the need to fuel the fishing fleets. A paper entitled “Fuelling Global Fishing Fleets” published in the journal Ambio calculates that fisheries account for about 1.2 percent of global oil consumption and directly emit over 130 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

What About Organics?

Generally, small, mixed farms and those operated in a sustainable manner, such as organically or biodynamically, are more environmentally friendly than large-scale factory farms. But the research as to whether or not organically-raised meat generates lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions is uneven. A 2003 Swedish study that was recently cited in the New Scientist, apparently suggested that organic beef, raised on grass rather than concentrated feed, emits 40 percent less greenhouse gases and consumes 85 percent less energy than non-organic beef. But a 2000 Swedish study from the Department of Applied Environmental Sciences at Goteborg University compared organic and conventional dairy production and found a much less dramatic difference. Life Cycle Assessment of Milk Production concluded that the organic system generated slightly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the conventional. Carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide levels were lower, largely due to the absence of energy intensive nitrate fertilizers, but methane emissions were higher in the organic system due to the cattle's higher intake of roughage fodder.

A French study published in Ecosystems and Environment in 2005 compared organic and conventional pork production. It found that per kilogram of pig, climate change emissions were highest for the organic system, but on a per-hectare basis, the lowest emissions were found in the organic system.

There is also a large body of literature focusing on other farming techniques that either require lower energy inputs or that lead to fewer emissions of greenhouse gas emissions. They include harnessing the methane and other animal wastes for biomass energy. One report cited in the New Scientist in 2003 described research from Belgium that indicated switching animals from regular feed to a diet laced with fish oil could cut the amount of methane they emit by nearly half. But then there is the fishery problem….

One prominent ecologist, who says that raising cattle is the most damaging aspect of agriculture, believes that eating lower on the food chain is becoming increasingly important. Dr. Robert Goodland, who was the Environmental Advisor to the World Bank for 25 years and now advises the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, has concluded that diet does, indeed, matter because a diet containing meat requires up to three times as many resources as a vegetarian diet. He has advocated a food conversion efficiency tax. The least efficient converters (pork, beef) would be highly taxed; more efficient converters (poultry, eggs, dairy) would be moderately taxed. Most efficient converters (ocean fish) would be taxed lowest and grain for human consumption would not be taxed at all.

Dr. David Fraser of the University of British Columbia's Animal Welfare Program agrees that economics may be the answer: Higher prices for meat products might allow for better treatment of animals and the environment. Nevertheless, it does appear to be a good practice for the health of people and the ecosystem to feed grain and vegetables directly to people, rather than to livestock. But even vegetarians can decrease their impact on global warming by eating organic, seasonal, locally-grown produce wherever possible.

Learn More

Eating to Save the Earth by Linda Riebel and Ken Jacobsen (Celestial Arts, 2002)

Six Arguments for a Greener Diet by Michael Jacobson (CSPI, 2006)

The Vegan Sourcebook by Joanne Stepaniak (McGraw-Hill, 2000)

Vegetarian Society - UK

University of Surrey's Centre for Environmental Strategy Food Climate Research Network

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Marine Conservation Society

Wendy Priesnitz is the Editor of Natural Life Magazine and a journalist with 30 years of experience. She has also authored nine books. Read her blog.

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5. Israeli Company to Produce Fuel from Algae

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Rabbi Dovid sears for forwarding the following:

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6. New Book Relates Religion and Environment

Ecospirit: Religions and Philosophies for the Earth
Edited by Laurel Kearns and Catherine Keller

"Deconstructive postmodernism does not appear to encourage intense attention to the natural world, and for the most part we have expected little leadership in ecological matters from those who follow it. Perhaps the greatest importance of this book is that in signals a change. The joining of deconstructive analysis of our heritage and the love of our fellow creatures contributes richly to this collection. Those of us who believe that of all the crises we humans face, the ecological one is the most fundamental, can only rejoice at the infusion of new insight and energy into the call for a fundamental re-orientation of our psyches and our societies."
-John B. Cobb, Jr., Professor Emeritus, Claremont School of Theology

"A wide ranging study of the environmental crisis from the perspective of some of the most widely respected scholars of religion and the environment. . .a central resource for myriad readers."-Laura Hobgood-Oster, Southwestern University

"A remarkable volume, given the current debate and eco-crisis."-Larry Rasmussen, Union Theological Seminary

"This wide-ranging set of essay on “ecospirit” is a timely gift to all of us. As the crisis of climate change is finally being acknowledged, we must ready ourselves for major revisionary theological thought and action. This volume provides help for the task, with its many and profound insights on how we can and must re-think “spirit and the earth” for the unprecedented planetary agenda that faces us. "-Sallie McFague, Vancouver School of Theology

"Leading figures from multiple disciplines, cutting-edge essays on now-classic concerns, stimulating reflection on emerging issues, creative struggle to integrate Continental trajectories and ecological consciousness: Ecospirit: Religions and Philosophies for the Earth advances this critical conversation. Timely and important."-William Greenway, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

"Challenging, inspiring, and subversive."-David Barnhill, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

"Ecospirit inspires new converstaions and opens fresh avenues of insight contributing to Creation's healing."-Norman Wirzba, Georgetown College

"This book is a rare combination of intelligence and vision. Its essays deserve to be read-and reread-by scholars of religion, environmentalists, students, and anyone who values the sacredness of the earth."-Roger S. Gottlieb, author of A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and our Planet's Future and A Spirituality of Resistance; Worcester Polytechnic Institute

"Ecospirit probes the possibility of a green shift radical enough to affect the destructiveness of our material world."-Publishers Weekly

The Contributors: Karen Baker-Fletcher, Whitney A. Bauman, Sharon Betcher, Richard R. Bohannon II, Anne Daniell, Heather Elkins, Antonia Gorman, Marion Grau, John Grim, Fletcher Harper, Luke Higgins, Laurel Kearns, Catherine Keller, Seung Gap Lee, Glen Mazis, Barbara Muraca, Jay McDaniel, Jane Ellen Nickell, Kevin J. O'Brien, Anna L. Peterson, Anne Primavesi, Kate Rigby, Nicole A. Roskos, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Daniel T. Spencer, Lawrence Troster, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Mark I. Wallace, David Wood.

544 Pages
978-0-8232-2745-7, Cloth, $85.00
978-0-8232-2746-4, Paper, $32.00

Rabbi Lawrence Troster
Director, GreenFaith Fellowship Program
201- 833-5166

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7. Farm Seeks to Connect to Jewish Agricultural Roots and Traditions

Thanks to David Hildebrand for sending the following:,0,5007233.story

Cultivating knowledge of Jewish culture
Farm in Reisterstown seeks to make connection with faith's agricultural roots and traditions
By Liz F. Kay
Sun reporter
August 22, 2007
In a Reisterstown field, a circular garden connects nature with the months of the Jewish calendar and ties agriculture to Jewish heritage.

The Gan Luach Zman, or calendar garden, is one example of how a Jewish retreat center in Baltimore County is marrying sustainable farming principles with the traditional practices described in Jewish texts to teach children and adults about Jewish culture and the environment.

The Kayam farm at the Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center in Reisterstown strives to reunite Jews with their agrarian roots while drawing connections between people and the planet, social justice and stewardship. Kayam means "firmly established," or "rooted."

"We felt like we had such a wonderful opportunity in this setting to try to recapture some of those links and try to illustrate [them] to all the different kinds of groups that come here," says Carol Pristoop, Pearlstone's executive director.

In recent years, a growing number of Jewish groups are focusing attention not just on whether meals are fit for consumption under the traditional dietary laws, but also expanding the definition to include the sustainability of the food source, a concept some are calling "eco-kosher."


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8. Three Key Facts to Present to Meat-Eaters

1. Animal-based agriculture contributes more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all of the cars, trucks and other forms of transportation worldwide, and the world is heading toward an unprecedented catastrophe from global warming and other environmental threats.
2. Animal-based diets are contributing to an epidemic of diseases in the Jewish and other communities.
3. The production and consumption of animal products violate basic Jewish teachings re preserving human health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources and helping hungry people.

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9. 49 Reasons To Be a Vegetarian

From heeb'n'vegan blog, initially connected to the 49 days of counter the omer between Passover and Shavuot this year.

I hope that can be a reference point about the myriad different reasons to go vegetarian, for people counting the omer and under other circumstances. Please visit for more information about these 49 reasons to go vegetarian:

1. Animals raised for food are killed before they even get a chance to live.
2. Farmed animals are confined to tiny spaces.
3. Eating meat sends an invitation to salmonella and other forms of bacterial contamination.
4. Vegetarians smell better.
5. Being vegetarian makes it easier to keep kosher.
6. Working in a slaughterhouse is a dirty, dangerous job, and so long as people keep eating meat, someone's gotta do it.
7. By and large, laws do not protect farmed animals from hideous abuses.
8. Farmed animals are subjected to various bodily mutilations, all without the use of any painkillers.
9. Thanks to the wide variety of mock meats on the market, you can give up meat without giving up the taste of meat.
10. Animal agriculture is a major contributor to global warming.
11. Unlike natural carnivores, humans physiologically aren't built to handle meat well.
12. A vegan diet is a great defense against cholesterol problems.
13. It's no more morally acceptable to pay other people to commit acts of cruelty to farmed animals than for you than to do them yourself.
14. If you wouldn't inflict acts of cruelty on dogs or cats, it's no more morally acceptable to do the same thing to chickens or other animals.
15. Animals are "subjects-of-a-life" and are, therefore, entitled to rights and equal consideration.
16. Eating meat is not a question of whether it's acceptable to kill one animal for food but a question of supporting a system that kills more than 10,000,000,000 animals.
17. Most chickens in the U.S. consume feed laced with roxarsone, an arsenic-based additive.
18. Thanks to the myraid vegetarian celebrities and historical vegetarians, going vegetarian means you're in good company.
19. Eating meat supports industries that greatly pollute our planet's water.
20. Vegetarianism is thriving in the Jewish homeland.
21. There are many great Buddhist [and Jewish] reasons to go vegetarian.
22. Cured meats can cause lung damage.
23. Vegetarianism is the way of the future.
24. On average, adult vegans are 10 to 20 pounds lighter than adult meat-eaters.
25. Although humans are given dominion over animals, in the words of Rav Kook, "it does not mean the domination of a harsh ruler, who afflicts his people and servants merely to fulfill his personal whim and desire, according to the crookedness of his heart."
26. G-d's original, uncompromised diet for humans was vegetarianism.
27. When G-d first granted humans permission to eat animals' flesh, it was a concession in the wake of less than ideal circumstances.
28. Once the Jews left Egypt and G-d had a chance to start over, he gave them manna, which was vegetarian, and the meat that He later conceded to give them caused a "very severe plague."
29. G-d's eventual permission to eat meat has been called a "barely tolerated dispensation"; it is anything but a commandment to eat meat.
30. Transport conditions for farmed animals headed to slaughter are atrocious.
31. Going vegetarian is a great way to impress a girl (or a boy).
32. Slaughter conditions for animals are inhumane.
33. Drawing from a Lag B'Omer story, Richard Schwartz and Daniel Brook note, "[A] vegetarian diet ... is enough to sustain a person as well as a people."
34. Eating meat is linked to various types of cancer.
35. Huge amounts of land are needed to grow food for farmed animals and for cattle to graze.
36. It's not quite ideal to feed grains to farmed animals and then consume those grains in the animals' flesh.
37. A vegetarian diet is so healthy that it's the chosen diet of quite a few health-conscious athletes.
38. Farmed animals are genetically engineered to weigh more than they would naturally, so much so that they often collapse because they are unable to support their own weight.
39. The smell of factory farms is beyond people's worst nightmares.
40. The animal welfare, health, and environmental reasons to go vegetarian correspond to the Jewish principles of tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, pikuach nefesh, and bal tashchit.
41. The meat industry ignores the universal "honor thy mother" commandment.
42. Because animals can suffer, they deserve to have their interests taken into consideration in any utilitarian equation weighing the pluses and minuses of various ethical issues.
43. Many vegetarians take the opportunity of adopting a new diet to embrace new foods and cuisines and find that their dietary options are far wider now that their meals don't always revolve around a cow, a chicken, or a few other types of animals.
44. It's not economical to let factory-farmed animals mate naturally, so in many cases, semen is taken from the males and forcefully inserted into the females.
45. Animals in factory farms can't enjoy any of the things that are natural and important to them.
46. Going vegetarian is easier now than ever before.
47. Many farmed animals are given hormones in their food (to induce growth) as well as antibiotics (to keep them alive through conditions that would otherwise kill them).
48. Mad cow disease and bird flu pose serious threats to human health.
49. Crops can go a long way to feed the hungry, but they are largely wasted by feeding billions of farmed animals.

posted by heebnvegan @ 5/21/2007 08:49:00 PM

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10. U.S. and Israel Cooperating on Solar Power Plant

Thanks to our multi-award-winning movie producer Lionel Friedberg for forwarding the following article to us:

World's Largest Solar Power Plant to Be Built In California: US-Israel Eco-Technology Development Program Creates a State of Israel and State of California Private Sector Partnership

LOS ANGELES/TEL AVIV (August 22, 2007) -- Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced recently that it has entered into a landmark renewable energy agreement with Solel-MSP-1 to purchase renewable energy from the Mojave Solar Park, which will be constructed in California's Mojave Desert. The project will deliver 553 megawatts of solar power, the equivalent of powering 400,000 homes, to PG&E's customers in Northern and Central California. The Mojave Solar Park project is now the world's largest single solar commitment. The plant utilizes Solel's patented and commercially-proven solar thermal parabolic trough technology. Over the past 20 years, the technology has powered nine operating solar power plants in the Mojave Desert and is currently generating 354 MW of annual electricity. When fully operational in 2011, the Mojave Solar Park plant will cover up to 6,000 acres, or nine square miles in the Mojave Desert. The project will rely on 1.2 million mirrors and 317 miles of vacuum tubing to capture the desert sun's heat.

“We are thrilled to bring 553 MW of clean energy to California,” said Avi Brenmiller, Chief Executive Officer of Solel Solar Systems. “Our proven solar technology means Solel can economically turn the energy of the warm California sun into clean power for the state's homes and businesses.” Solel recently completed the upgrading of more than 100 MW of solar facilities in California. Solel is part of The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish of Southern California's (CoejlSC) US-Israel Eco-Technology Development Program. The program provides environmental technology business development services to Israeli and US environmental technology companies. The Consul General of Israel Ehud Danoch said “It is vital to both our economic future and our national security that we develop clean, sustainable energy alternatives. Our goal is mutual energy independence. Israel and California should continue to work together to make this possible, and I commend CoejlSC's efforts to develop such partnerships.” Through the US-Israel Eco- Technology Development Program, CoejlSC analyzes industry position and maintains best practice knowledge of client markets, associated markets, political climate, and regulatory issues; spearheads technical studies that quantitatively and qualitatively analyze the short-term and long-term issues facing the business; secures venture capital and other sources of funding; and guides business improvement via application of best practices. The program generates widespread support for Israeli environmental technology companies' business goals by (1) leveraging relationships with business leaders, investors, interest groups, governmental agencies, and elected officials; (2) leading economic development missions to Israel for US government officials, venture capitalists, investors, religious leaders, and community leaders; and (3) co-hosting the semi-annual California-Israel Eco-Technology Forum, which fosters discussion of emerging technologies, potential partnerships, and funding opportunities among Israeli environmental companies and the business community. This week's announcement highlights the emerging opportunities across California's environmental technology sector for companies who take advantage of cutting edge advances. Lee


For more information, visit

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11. Flooding Due to Global Warming May Be Worse Than Previously Thought

Thanks to Lionel Friedberg for also forwarding this item:

** Climate flooding risk 'misjudged' **
Climate change may carry a higher risk of flooding than was previously thought, the journal Nature reports.
< >

Climate flooding risk 'misjudged'

The flooding risk may have been underestimated, says the report
Climate change may carry a higher risk of flooding than was previously thought, the journal Nature reports.

Researchers say efforts to calculate flooding risk from climate change do not take into account the effect carbon dioxide (CO2) has on vegetation.

Higher atmospheric levels of this greenhouse gas reduce the ability of plants to suck water out of the ground and "breathe" out the excess.

Plants expel excess water through tiny pores, or stomata, in their leaves.

Their reduced ability to release water back into the atmosphere will result in the ground becoming saturated.

Areas with higher predicted rainfall have a greater risk of flooding. But this effect also reduces the severity of droughts.

The findings suggest computer models of future climate change may need to be revised in order to plan for coming decades.


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12. Global Warming Documentary to Open Nationwide

Forwarded message:

* The 11th Hour, a documentary, at a theater near you

Leonardo DiCaprio's "The 11th Hour" is a feature length documentary concerning the environmental crises caused by human actions and their impact on the planet. This new film documents the cumulative impact of these actions upon the planet's life systems and calls for restorative action through a reshaping of human activity.

The 11th Hour opens nationwide on August 31st. USW International President Leo Gerard is among the leaders interviewed in the film. You are encouraged to see it and bring it to the attention of your friends and

To spread the word, a custom trailer for the film was developed, with links to various environmental organizations. Please preview it at: - United Steelworkers

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13. My Judaism and Animal Rights Article in a New Zealand Magazine

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for calling this to my attention:

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14. Jews for Animal Rights is Promoting Bumper Stickers

Forwarded message from author, editor, publisher, speaker, activist and JVNA advisor Roberta Kalechofsky:


$3.00 with cost of mailing.

Can be ordered from Micah Publications, 255 Humphrey Street, Marblehead, MA 01945


Buy both bumper sticker for $5.00.

Buy four bumper stickers for $10.00 and have one each for each car---or
for friends.

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15. Factoring Meat Into our Carbon Footprint

By Brian Sherman - posted Monday, 30 July 2007

The debate about climate change has been raging for a few years now and it is certainly beginning to heat up. The sceptics are slowly being muffled by the overwhelming scientific evidence. In Australia, television shows such as Eco House Challenge and Carbon Cops have hit the screens and public protests with many thousands of people have hit the streets. Politicians are clamouring to be seen as having a solution to the climate change problem. Business and legal communities are discussing carbon trading and the effects that climate change is going to have on their bottom lines.

In order to combat the dire predictions of climate change, we are being told by the media, the government and NGO's alike that we must all change our lifestyles. We are told to drive less, use less water, turn off the lights, compost, buy new light bulbs, buy locally grown food, plant trees, offset our carbon emissions, and the list goes on.

However, there is one simple thing which isn't being mentioned in the global warming debate. Our diets.

Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory identified agriculture as responsible for almost 20 per cent of net national greenhouse emissions in 2001. On average Australians eat over 70 kilograms of meat per person each year. Cut out beef from your diet and you'll save 1.45 tonnes of greenhouse gas a year.

By way of comparison, if you were to switch from a normal sedan car to a hybrid car you would reduce your annual emissions by only just over 1 tonne. If you reduced your dairy intake by just 2 cups of milk a week, you would save 250kg of greenhouse pollution in a year.

These statistics show that reducing your meat and dairy consumption or, even better, committing to a vegetarian or vegan diet, is the easiest thing every one of us can do to address global warming. The time has come to factor meat into our carbon footprint.

A few years ago, I went to visit a factory farm for pigs and it was one of the saddest experiences of my life. Factory farms are beyond description. I'm not particularly religious but these factory farms seem to me “ungodly”. It's the only word I can use to describe the deprivation enforced by man on these poor beings.

Farming in Australia, and across the world, has changed dramatically. Long gone are the days of the Old McDonalds farm with cows, chickens and pigs grazing happily on green grass in front of a picturesque barn. In factory farms today, billions of animals are suffering in ways that many of us find too horrible to imagine or confront. Voiceless's primary aim is to “lift the veil of secrecy” about what goes on in Australia's factory farms.

More than half a billion animals, mainly pigs, cows and chickens, in Australia each year are raised in conditions in which many cannot exercise their most basic instincts. Approximately 335,000 female pigs are continually impregnated and confined inside sheds. Sixty-two per cent live in “sow crates” in which they can barely take a step forward or a step back, for part of their reproductive cycle.

Their feathered cousins, about 10 million “battery” hens, fare little better, They spend their lives in barren wire cages, with less than an A4 size piece of paper each in which to move. These birds, who are often debeaked without pain relief, spend their life standing on steel bars as if they were mere egg-laying machines.

Are factory farms the way of the future? With the increasing income of many nations today, there is a growing and unprecedented demand for animal products. A United Nations report states that “the global livestock sector is growing faster than any other agricultural sub-sector”. Global meat production is projected to double over the next 40 years. Demand for milk and eggs is also set to increase.

Greater demand leads to further intensification of processes to get the animal from the factory to the plate in the most economical way. The lower the cost to the consumer, the higher the cost to the animal. Ultimately the animal pays the price.

The intensification of farming processes has also resulted in large multinational companies dominating the global meat and dairy trade. Currently, 50 per cent of global pork production and more than 70 per cent of global chicken production comes from industrial systems - from factory farms. Small Australian farmers are being forced out of business, consumed by multi-national agribusinesses with whom they cannot compete on the scales of efficiency.

In terms of environmental impact, it would be of no use to move all the animals in factory farms outdoors to graze. Australia's delicate soil is not able to cope with the pressure of millions of non-native hard-hoofed animals like pigs, sheep and cattle. Grazing animals cause a multitude of problems to the Australian eco-system such as compacted soil, topsoil loss, water pollution to name a few.

In Australia, 58 per cent of the land mass is used for agriculture and principally for grazing animals and the production of crops used in animal feed. This is more than half our country used for the livestock industry.

However, factory farming creates an equivalent environmental disaster. Animals in factory farms are fed on cereals and soya. Some 670 million tonnes of cereals were fed to livestock in 2002. This is projected to increase to 1 billion tonnes of feed in the next 20 years.

Cereals and soya are grown on land which has been converted from natural habitats, forests and grasslands, into croplands and paddocks for grazing. Since the 1960's about 200 million hectares of the world's tropical forest has been destroyed, mostly for cattle grazing and growing crops for animal feed. We need to consider the energy which is consumed by the production and transport of these huge amounts of feed.

While the figures above are sufficient to motivate many people to change their diet, the most important reason to consider our meat-eating habits is the lifetime of suffering inflicted upon the masses of animals rushed down the assembly line of factory farm production every year. The magnitude and extent of their suffering is greater than many of us are prepared to acknowledge.

This is why we need to keep in mind that while environmental arguments can be useful in bringing the issue to people's attention, they can also distract and embroil us in a frustrating debate. Agribusiness is now grinding their PR wheels and trying to convince us that by re-using their waste to generate energy and power towns they are in fact, turning their factory farms ethical and “green”.

I think it is disgraceful. I challenge anyone to argue that a “green” factory farm will not inflict just as much pain and suffering on an animal. At the end of the day, if we are serious about addressing climate change, we need to broaden our focus and consider how our food choices impact upon all beings with whom we share this planet.

Extracted from Brian Sherman's speech delivered at 2nd Annual Vegan Expo, Cool the Planet - Bite by Bite on Sunday July 22, 2007.

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16. Is Michael Moore to “Sicko” What Al Gore is to “An Inconvenient Truth”?

Forwarded article:

Health Care and Michael Moore: Who's the real “SICKO?”

Tuesday, 07 August 2007

Michael Moore's movie, "Sicko," is his attempt at placing blame for the American health care crisis on the shoulders of the pharmaceutical companies and the government. Clearly, governmental agencies that are supposedly looking out for the welfare of the citizens are far from innocent, and pharmaceutical companies are anything but good Samaritans, but Michael couldn't be more wrong on this one and need not look too much further than his own mirror to see the real problem. His denial is problem #2.

The fact is, Michael Moore is just another cog in the big, dysfunctional machine that Americans currently call "health care." It is actually "disease care," and therein lies problem #3. Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

Michael Moore, even just at a cursory glance, is flamboyantly committing at least two of the "seven deadly sins" - gluttony and sloth. And he wants health? Michael Moore wants to engage in a problematic way of life and then make those problems that he's created someone else's problem. That's problem # 4. Where does personal responsibility fit in to Michael Moore's paradigm? Perhaps, it's just one of those annoying little details he's overlooked. Where does self-control fit in to his lifestyle? Another annoying, trivial detail, I suppose.

For those who care to deal in reality, until people take responsibility for their own lives and their own health, there will not be health. Nor can the government fix the problem. It is patently impossible to live a disease-producing lifestyle and then expect someone, or something, else to be able to fix it. The health care system is not about health at all, rather it is all about financing disease. And people such as Michael Moore create disease. What we have in this country is disease care, and I suggest Michael Moore be its poster child.

The truth is, our diet is directly responsible for well over 80 percent of the diseases from which we suffer. Heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, gout, cancer, high cholesterol, acid reflux, constipation, obesity, to name a few, are directly attributable to what we put in our mouths, and it is quite obvious that Michael Moore puts a whole lot into his mouth.

The governmental issue of health care exists simply and totally because of people like Michael Moore, and the "war" being waged against disease is folly. If people began eating the right foods, we wouldn't need to wage a war, we would quite literally eradicate the need for the war. So, what's the real solution?

People who follow the healthiest diet in the world, a vegan diet, don't suffer from many cancers, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, etc., etc., etc. So why don't doctors tell their patients about the enormous benefits of a vegan diet? Not only would diseases vanish, but so, too, would the doctors' incomes. Also, perhaps, many patients simply wouldn't follow the advice, so the doctors simply don't bother. And disease marches on.

And so do most environmental problems, which also stem from a meat and dairy-based diet. To be clear, a meat and dairy-based diet is problematic to our health, our environment, our society and even our spirituality, wheras a vegan diet cures all problems. I suppose Michael Moore would scoff at such a suggestion, and then blame the United States government for the cost of the heart bypass operation (for starters) he's going to need.

Any man who truly wishes to improve his life must stop blaming everyone else for the problems he creates. Otherwise, and by any real definition, he is a Sicko. Michael, put down the burger and listen up.

Jeff Popick, also known as "The Vegan Sage," is a keen visionary and a leading expert on the diverse effects our diet has on our health, environment & even our spirituality. Jeff has worn many hats over the years, from Hollywood stunt man, to radio host ("Vegetarian Lifestyles," KIEV 870AM) to millionaire businessman to passionate author & speaker. His latest book is, The Real Forbidden Fruit: How Meat Destroys Paradise and How Veganism Can Get It Back

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17. Academic Conference Considers Link Between Animal Abuse and Human Violence

Thanks to Sam Calvert for forwarding the following release:



A groundbreaking international conference, aimed at exploring the link between cruelty to animals and person-to-person violence, will attract leading academics to Oxford University's Keble College on 18 September.

The conference, the Relationship between Animal Abuse and Human Violence, will analyse this link and its potentially far-reaching implications for social and legal policy around the world. Eminent speakers at this, the UK's first major international conference on the subject, will present discussion papers for those working in crime prevention, law enforcement, social work, animal welfare, child protection, humane education, veterinary services and spousal and elderly care.

The inaugural event of the newly-founded Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics (OCAE), the conference has a bold aim: to identify links between violence meted out to animals and to people in order to develop social and legal mechanisms to better safeguard the well-being of both.

The Revd Professor Andrew Linzey, director and founder of the OCAE, believes that people concerned for animals have missed something important, saying 'It isn't just that cruelty to animals is unjust to animals -- there is now increasingly solid evidence that animal cruelty harms human beings'.

'Since 1987 the psychiatric profession has acknowledged animal abuse as a significant symptom of current and, potentially, future antisocial behaviour,' explains keynote speaker Frank Ascione, Utah State University's renowned Professor of Psychology. 'It is also clear that animal abuse may occur in families where children are maltreated or women are abused by their intimate partners. The Oxford conference will be a landmark in assessing our current knowledge about these issues and will create an agenda for critical research in the years ahead.'

Another eminent speaker, Eleonora Gullone, Associate Professor of Psychology at Australia's Monash University, points to the increasing recognition of the significance of animal abuse as an indicator of aggressive, violent or abusive behaviour towards humans. `Incorporating this knowledge into policies and procedures is therefore likely to significantly contribute to early intervention efforts aimed at preventing violence from escalating within the family and within society,' she says.

Other speakers include Conor Gearty, Professor of Human Rights and Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics; Jack Levin, Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Northeastern University; Martin Wasik, Professor of Criminal Justice at Keele University, crown court judge and chair of the UK's Sentencing Advisory Panel and Alan C. Brantley, FBI Supervisory Special Agent (retired) with the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, USA.

The conference, which draws speakers and delegates from Europe, America, Australasia and Africa, will be opened by Erin Pizzey, the award winning humanitarian and founder of refuges for battered women and children.

- ENDS -

Note to editors:

Full programme and online registration available at

For media information contact: Julio Romo, Press Office, OCAE - Tel: 020 7089 5210 or email:

For booking information contact: OCAE Conference Helpdesk - tel: 020 7089 5216 or email:
Conference attendance fees from £265. Charity rates and group discounts are available.

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18. My Newsweek Letter Published

Kudos to Sharon Begley for her superb, well-researched and -written, comprehensive, much-needed debunking of those who claim that "Global Warming Is a Hoax." I hope it will provide the breakthrough we need to start effectively responding to global climate change. There is another issue that bears out the quip that denial is not just a river in Egypt: the failure to address the major impact that animal-based agriculture has on global warming. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's November 2006 report "Livestock's Long Shadow," livestock agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the world's transportation sources combined, and the report projects that the number of farmed animals will double in the next 50 years. So among the many steps essential to avoid the potential unprecedented catastrophe from global warming, a major shift toward plant-based diets is essential.
Richard H. Schwartz Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island
Staten Island, N.Y.

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August 22, 2007

8/22/07 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Latest re Our Movie “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World”

2. Letters in L.A. Times re the OU's “Halachic Adventure”

3. Are We Approaching Global Warming Tipping Points

4. New Documentary Considers Global Warming Threats and Possible Responses

5. Getting Cruelty-Free Tefillin

6. Israeli City Starts Grassroots Environmental Project

7. Dead Sea is Dying/Are There Solutions?

8. Several Items Re Kapparot (Kapporos)

9. Vegetarian Rabbi (JVNA Advisor) Blends Faith and Agriculture in Community Program

10. A Challenging NY Times Op-Ed Column on Global Warming

11. Correction

12. Looking for Someone to Translate a Short Article from Yiddish to English

13. Hebrew Month of Cheshvan Declared Social Justice Month

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. Latest re Our Movie “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World”

As indicated in a previous message, our producer Lionel Friedberg is starting the final stages of production of our movie and we expect it to be ready for showings this Fall. We hope to have premieres in Jerusalem on November 12, in Los Angeles the following week and in Staten Island on November 20. After that we hope that you will help in having the movie shown in as many places as possible. We already have volunteers who will help arrange for showings in several cities. But many more are needed.

Please let me know if you can help schedule a showing at a local synagogue, JCC, school or other venue. We will provide you with a fee DVD and background material and we will help publicize your event and get media coverage and a good attendance, and provide you with background material on the issues.

We aim to change the consciousness of Jews and others re vegetarianism, the need to respond to current environmental threats and much more, at a time when our world is speeding toward an unprecedented catastrophe. We have great potential and your help in promoting the movie and our messages will be extremely important.

I am considering hiring media promotion specialist Ben Frank to get me, producer Lionel Friedberg and possibly others interviewed on radio and TV programs in the print media starting possibly on November 1. I engaged him in 2002 after my 2 Judaica books new editions were published and he got me on about 35 radio and TV shows in 3 months. His fee is $1,500 a month fir a minimum of three months. I plan to be very aggressive and controversial in interviews making a strong case for the necessity of far greater involvement in responding to global warming and other environmental threats and the necessity of a major shift toward plant-based diets. Suggestions re this very welcome. Thanks.

Please consider making a tax deductible contribution to JVNA, as we will be able to do so much more to have a very successful campaign with greater financial resources. We need money to produce 10,000 DVDs, promote the movie through ads and in other ways, book some venues to show the movie and, in general, to run a campaign unlike any previously seen in the vegetarian world to effectively get our message out to as many people as possible and to help produce the changes necessary to shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

Reminder: The greatest inheritance that you can leave your children and grandchildren is a healthier, more just, compassionate, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world. If current trends continue, the prospects for future generations is very bleak. A tax-deductible contribution to the completion and effective distribution of “A Sacred Duty” and our related activities is an investment in our children's and grandchildren's future, perhaps the most important contribution that you can make to that future.

Since JVNA is a non-profit, tax-deductible registered charity group, any contribution you make is fully tax deductible.

While every contribution is welcome and much appreciated, contributors of $1,000 or more will be acknowledged in the credits at the end of the movie, if received early enough.

If you wish, you may make a gift to JVNA in honor or in memory of someone. We will gladly send an acknowledgement letter.

Please send a check made out to Jewish Vegetarians of North America or JVNA to our very capable secretary/treasurer:

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

If you prefer, you can donate online via PayPal by clicking the "Make a Donation" button at the bottom of the page at

If you have suggestions re possible grants or other fundraising ideas, please let me know.

Many thanks for your continued cooperation and support,


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2. Letters in L.A. Times re the OU's “Halachic Adventure”

The following two letters appeared in last Saturday's Los Angeles Times:,0,6200896.story?coll=la-news-comment-letters

That's not kosher
August 18, 2007

Re "A chance to sample kosher's diversity," Aug. 11

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America and an organizer of a protest against the Orthodox Union's event, I was disappointed in this article's failure to consider our protest or some of the broader issues involved. At a time when livestock agriculture is a major factor behind the world rapidly heading to an unprecedented catastrophe, when the Jewish community and others are being afflicted by an epidemic of diseases that have been linked to animal-based diets and when billions of animals are being severely mistreated on factory farms, holding a feast that celebrates and encourages meat-eating is sheer insanity.

Rather than hold such an event, the Jewish community should seriously consider the many moral issues related to our diets and do more to apply Jewish values in responding to current threats.

Richard H. Schwartz
My original, unedited letter:

Re "A chance to sample the diversity of kosher foods."

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, author of “Judaism and Vegetarianism” and an organizer of a protest against the Orthodox Union's “halachic Adventure,” I was very disappointed in this article for its failure to consider our protest or some of the broader issues involved in a 15-course dinner celebrating and encouraging the eating of many rare and exotic animals. At a time when 'livestock' agriculture is a major factor behind the world rapidly heading to an unprecedented catastrophe, when the Jewish community and others are being afflicted by an epidemic of diseases that have been linked to animal-based diets, and when billions of animals are being severely mistreated on factory farms, holding such a feast that celebrates and encourages meat-eating is sheer insanity. In this perilous time for all of humanity and God's Creation, major changes are required, including a widespread shift toward plant-based diets. Rather than holding such an event, the Jewish community should seriously consider the many moral issues related to our diets and do more to apply Jewish values in responding to current threats, so that tikkun olam, the repair and healing of our precious, but imperiled, world, becomes a central focus in Jewish life today.
Second letter:
The Orthodox Union's Beverly Hills feast spat in the face of Jewish respect for animals. The Bible espouses a vision of respect for God's creatures. Dominion is a responsibility for compassionate stewardship, not a mandate to seek out and kill partridges, yaks and as many exotic creatures as can be deemed fit. We're better off leaving meat off our plates -- whether it's the flesh of animals abused in factory farms or exotic animals that seem out of place at kosher meals.

Michael Croland

Norfolk, Va.

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3. Are We Approaching Global Warming Tipping Points

Scientists Warn on Climate Tipping Points

By Alok Jha
The Guardian UK

Thursday 16 August 2007

Some tipping points for climate change could be closer than previously thought. Scientists are predicting that the loss of the massive Greenland ice sheet may now be unstoppable and lead to catastrophic sea-level rises around the world.

In drawing together research on tipping points, where damage due to climate change occurs irreversibly and at an increasing rate, the researchers concluded that the risks were much greater than those predicted by the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

If the Greenland ice sheet melted completely, for example, it would raise global sea levels by seven metres. According to the IPCC report, the melting should take about 1,000 years. But the study, by Tim Lenton of the University of East Anglia, showed the break-up could happen more quickly, in 300 years. Professor Lenton said: "We know that ice sheets in the last ice age collapsed faster than any current models can capture, so our models are known to be too sluggish."

His study identified eight tipping points that could be passed by the end of this century. They include the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, the melting of the west Antarctic ice sheet, and a collapse of the global ocean current known as the thermohaline circulation. If that circulation stopped, the Indian monsoons and the gulf stream could be shut down.

Prof Lenton said the IPCC way of working, including multiple reviews, caused it to issue more conservative reports than his team's studies. He added that the inevitable collapse of the Greenland ice sheet was closer than thought because of the latency in the Earth's climate system. "If you could stabilise the greenhouse gas levels to today's level, you'll still get some further warming [by 2100]."

A global average temperature rise of just 1C would be enough to slip the Greenland ice over the edge. The IPCC's prediction for 2100 is a rise of 1.1C-6.4C.

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4. New Documentary Considers Global Warming Threats and Possible Responses


Helpful Hints for Saving the Planet

Published: August 17, 2007 New York Times

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the environment, blah, blah, blah, melting ice caps. To judge from all the gas-guzzlers still fouling the air and the plastic bottles clogging the dumps, it appears that the news that we are killing ourselves and the world with our greed and garbage hasn't sunk in. That's one reason “The 11th Hour,” an unnerving, surprisingly affecting documentary about our environmental calamity, is such essential viewing. It may not change your life, but it may inspire you to recycle that old slogan-button your folks pinned on their dashikis back in the day: If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

The problem looks overwhelming, literally, as demonstrated by the images of overflowing landfills and sickeningly polluted bodies of water that flicker through the movie like damning evidence. Structured in mainstream fiction-film fashion (in other words, like a term paper), it opens with an introduction that presents the case, builds momentum with an absorbing analytical middle section and wraps up with just enough optimism that I didn't want to run home and stick my head in an energy-efficient oven. No matter how well intentioned, political documentaries that present problems without real-life, real-time, real-people solutions - an 800 number, an address, something - just add to the noise (pollution), becoming another title on some filmmaker's résumé as well as a temporary salve for the audience's guilt.

Written and directed by the sisters Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners, and narrated on- and off-camera by Leonardo DiCaprio, who served as one of the producers, “The 11th Hour” attempts to stave off helplessness, and the nihilism that often follows it, mostly by appealing to our reason.

In one interview snippet after another, dozens of scientists, activists, gurus, policy types and even a magical-mushroom guy go through the arguments, present the data and criticize the anti-green faction, putting words to the images that are liberally interspersed between these talking heads like mortar. Every so often, Mr. DiCaprio pops up on screen to interrupt this show and tell, squinting into the camera and pushing the narrative to the next topic.

If your head isn't lodged in the sand, much of what's said in the movie will be agonizing and familiar. Gasping children, disappearing animals, gushing oil, billowing smoke, dying lakes, emptying forests, warming weather - the list of ills is numbingly familiar. In the movie's eye-catching opener, the directors riffle through a veritable catalog of timely snapshots, some obvious (a smoggy skyline), others less so (a human fetus).

Effectively blunt, this sequence provoked a colleague to invoke the name of the avant-garde giant Stan Brakhage, but the truer visual and structural model here is a film like “Koyaanisqatsi,” with its streaming global landscapes. The difference is that the images in “The 11th Hour” are pointedly horrifying, not reassuring, pacific or aestheticized.

That can make it tough to watch, which the directors clearly know. They whip through the pictures and the interviews fast - at times a little too fast - and keep the information flowing as quickly as the visuals. This swift, steady pace means that you receive a lot of bad news from a lot of different sources. The ecologist Brock Dolman explains, “When we started feeding off the fossil fuel cycle, we began living with a death-based cycle.” From there the topic nimbly jumps to climate change, national security (courtesy the former director of the C.I.A., R. James Woolsey), Katrina, asthma and the stunning news from the oceanographer and author Sylvia Earle that “we've lost 90 percent of most of the big fish in the sea.”

Yes, it's bad, but it's not over yet. Many of those same sober talking heads also argue with equal passion that we can save ourselves, along with the sky above us and the earth below. The capacity for human beings to fight, to rise to the occasion, as Mr. Woolsey notes, invoking America's rapid, albeit delayed jump into World War II, gives hope where none might seem possible.

It is our astonishing capacity for hope that distinguishes “The 11th Hour” and that speaks so powerfully, in part because it is this all-too-human quality that may finally force us to fight the good fight against the damage we have done and continue to do. As the saying goes, keep hope alive - and if you're holding this review in your hands, don't forget to recycle the paper.

“The 11th Hour” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested). It has freakily scary environmental images.


Opens today in New York and Los Angeles.

Written and directed by Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners; narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio; directors of photography, Peter Youngblood Hills and Andrew Rowlands; edited by Pietro Scalia and Luis Alvarez y Alvarez; music by Jean-Pascal Beintus and Eric Avery; production designer, Ms. Conners; produced by Mr. DiCaprio, Ms. Petersen, Chuck Castleberry and Brian Gerber; released by Warner Independent Pictures. Running time: 91 minutes.

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5. Getting Cruelty-Free Tefillin

I sometimes get questions re the possibility of getting kosher cruelty-free tefillin, made from the skins of animals who died a natural death after living a cruelty-free life. Until recently, I was not able to refer people to anyone.

However, I have recently found out thar Rabbi Shmuel Rosenberg (Shmuel the Sofer) of Tsfat, Israel makes such tefillin. He is highly recommended by JVNA advisor and author Rabbi Dovid Sears.

If interested, please contact Rabbi Rosenberg at

His web site is: His approach to making sure that specially-ordered tefillin are cruelty free is not yet posted at the site, but e is working on it and it should be posted soon. If you would like information re this before it is posted,, please email the Rabbi Rosenberg.

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6. Israeli City Starts Grassroots Environmental Project

[Thanks to JVNA advisor and author Rabbi Dovid Sears for alerting us to this initiative.]

Forwarded message from Leah Willis
Executive Assistant
5 Penn Plaza, 23rd Floor
New York, NY 10001
Tel: 646-378-2174
Fax: 646-378-2039

For thousands of years the Mystical City of Tsfat in Northern Israel has always been a beacon of light for spiritual searchers, artists and all Jews. Unfortunately, in the past years, her spiritual light has been partially obscured by the neglect of her physical beauty. Tsfat suffers from economic hardship and the funds for physical clean up and environmental education are seriously lacking.

The time is ripe for change.

Nachal Novea Tsfat Fund and Breslev Tsfat have developed a realistic, manageable grassroots program that will physically repair, clean up and beautify the Holy City of Tsfat and incorporate local environmental education of Tsfat's youth into every part of the process.

Please join the Nachal Novea Tsfat Fund and become partners in restoring Tsfat's physical splendor to a level befitting her spiritual magnificence.

To read about the 'A Beautiful Tsfat' project please visit our website and the 'A Beautiful Tsfat' Project page at

For gifting & dedication opportunities, contact:

Pamela Weiner, Director of Development & Special Projects / 516-205-0493

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7. Dead Sea is Dying/Are There Solutions?

Thanks to JVNA advisor and author Rabbi Dovid Sears for forwarding the following article:

Scientists Oppose Peres' Dead Sea Canal Scheme
by Gil Ronen

The World Bank has finished a series of public hearings on a project which will link the Red Sea in the Gulf of Eilat to the depleted and polluted Dead Sea, located between Israel and Jordan. The project, which calls for the digging of a canal between the two bodies of water, has been touted by President Shimon Peres as part of the "Peace Valley" scheme which he believes will bring Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel closer together.

But environmental groups and geologists quoted in an Al-Jazeera feature say the plan could damage three unique local ecosystems: the Gulf of Eilat; the Arava Valley between Eilat and the Dead Sea; and the Dead Sea itself.

The opponents of the project say the political motivation of uniting Israel, Jordan and the PA behind one joint project has produced a climate in which the environmental effects of the endeavor are not being properly considered.

Proponents say it will save the Dead Sea. The water level of the Dead Sea is dropping by an average of 1 meter per year. As a result, the unique ecology and the economic development in the Dead Sea region are in serious danger. Environmentalists have distributed a bumper sticker seen on many Israeli cars that reads "Save the Dead Sea."

The World Bank says the $5 billion construction of a water conveyance system bringing salt water regenerating the flow of the Jordan River to bring water to the Dead Sea will cost just than $800 million from the Red Sea would stabilize the Dead Sea's level and thus preserve tourism, agriculture and mineral extraction in the region.

'The Bank is refusing to listen'

Clive Lipchin, director of research at the Arava institute for environmental studies, said, however, that the Gulf of Eilat "is already overdeveloped with 70 percent coral mortality on the Israeli side." "For the Arava Valley," he said, "the threat emanates from possible earthquakes which could cause a break in the canal and flood the valley with seawater, destroying agriculture and polluting the groundwater used by Israel and Jordan."

"The most serious problem, about which very little is known," said Lipchin, "is the mixing of the waters - the Dead Sea with the Red Sea. This is what is unique to the project and has never before been attempted. We simply cannot predict what the outcome will be," he said.

Gidon Bromberg, Israeli director of Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME), said: "The Bank is simply refusing to listen to real alternatives that have been put on the table."

One alternative to the plan proposed by environmentalists and local geologists includes channeling the flow of water in the north back to the Jordan River which flows into the Dead Sea. Over the past 50 years, the amount of fresh water the Jordan River has carried into the Dead Sea has decreased from 1.3 billion cubic meters annually, to just 70 - 100 million cubic meters. This is because Israel, Jordan and Syria now divert 95% of the flow.

As a result, "the culturally and historically important Jordan River has been turned into little more than an open sewage channel," FoEME said.

FoEME's report on rerouting water back to the Jordan River predicts: "There would be a sizeable net environmental gain from rehabilitating the Jordan River and the Dead Sea with no negative environmental implications. This must be compared to the significant risks associated with the RDC [Red-Dead Canal] project.

Dan Zaslavski, a former Israeli water commissioner, estimated that regenerating the flow of the Jordan River from the north to bring water to the Dead Sea will cost no more than $800 million, less than one-sixth of the estimated financial outlay of the RDC project.

Earlier this year, Israel's President Shimon Peres said the "project of the canal, or the peace conduit ... is vital for the preservation of the Dead Sea, but just as much for peace and prosperity in the area."
The World Bank's feasibility study regarding the planned project is expected to begin in September.

In the 1980's and again in the 1990's, Israel considered a canal channeling water from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea, but eventually shelved the plans due to financial doubts. The Red Sea - Dead Sea alternative now being discussed is considered to be less worthwhile economically.

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8. Several Items Re Kapparot (Kapporos)

a. My article) on kapparot can be found in the section on animals at

Recently there have been at least two meetings of Orthodox rabbis, in response to some of the criticisms indicated below. (See article in Kosher today, item c below.) I have been informed by a good source who attended one of the meetings that “some of the leading figures in the Orthodox community are working on resolving these problems and will be effecting sweeping changes in the handling of chickens for Kapporos in the very near future”. So there should be far less abuses of chickens this year than in recent years. Of course, these are positive developments to be applauded. However, as indicated in my article and the item below, our ideal situation is if people performed the kapparot ritual using money, rather than chickens, so that at a time of year when Jews seek G-d's compassion and a healthy, successful year, they are not involved in any potential mistreatment and killing of chickens.

b. Message from Karen Davis, Director of United Poultry Concerns (UPC)

Contact the Rabbinical Council of America [RCA] About Kapparot Using Chickens

Please Ask Them to Advocate the Use of Money Instead of Chickens

"Kapparot is not consistent with Jewish teachings and law. Repentance and charity can be better accomplished using money instead of a slaughtered chicken." - Former Israeli Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren

To read UPC's letter:

Kapparot or kaparos, using chickens, is a religious slaughter ritual performed by [some Orthodox Jews] in the week before Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. A chicken is held above the practitioner's head and swung three times in a symbolic gesture of exchanging the bird for the human. The bird is then slaughtered and may or may not be given to the poor.

Kapparot using chickens is not mentioned in the Torah or the Talmud, and those who perform the ritual generally use money which is then given to the poor. There is no requirement that chickens be used for kapparot, which means "atonements."

In the days before the slaughter the chickens are typically stacked in crates without food, water or shelter. The slaughter is cruelly performed, and birds have been found abandoned in the crates when the kapparot ceremony was over. [As indicated above, it looks like steps are being taken to improve the treatment of chickens use in the kapparot ritual this year.]

Responding to complaints about the suffering of chickens in kapparot rituals, United Poultry Concerns has produced a brochure entitled "A Wing & A Prayer: The Kapparot Chicken-Swinging Ritual," available for distribution in print form, and also online at order the brochures, please visit our Merchandise Section: Fact Sheets and Handouts at

What Can I Do?

This year, kapparot is scheduled for the week between Monday, September 17 and Friday, September 21. Please write a respectful letter to the Rabbinical Council of America and ask them to advocate that kapparot be performed with money rather than chickens. Contact:

Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg, President
Rabbinical Council of America
305 Seventh Avenue, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: 212-807-7888
Fax: 212-727-8452

In addition, please write letters to your local Jewish newspapers expressing your objection to the use of chickens for kapparot. Ask them to do an article about kapparot that examines the ceremony from the standpoint of Jewish teachings that encourage compassion for animals. Thank you.

Support United Poultry Concerns!
United Poultry Concerns is a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.

Don't just switch from beef to chicken. Go Vegan.
Karen Davis
United Poultry Concerns
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405
Phone: 757-678-7875
Fax: 757-678-5070

c. Report from Kosher Today, a publication generally representing the kosher food industry

Changes in Kapporos Handling Looming for Sidewalk Operators

New York... For the most part, the ancient tradition of using live chickens for "kapporos" on the eve of Yom Kippur is handled with the utmost humane concern for the chickens. But in recent years, a small number of street operations, many tied to charities (who later distribute the processed chickens to the poor for the holidays), were less than meticulous in their care for the welfare of the fowl, which was the essence of a charge by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in a letter sent to New York State and City officials on July 30th. PETA also released a video of some of the alleged unsafe and unhealthy practices. The organization, which generally arouses disdain in the kosher community for its relentless attacks against schechita [Actually PETA has publically stated that shechita, when properly carried out, is a relatively humane method of slaughter, but they have complained against abuses at the Postville Iowa and Gordon, Nevada slaughterhouses]. most notably Agriprocessor, this time did get the attention of a cross-section of community organizations and rabbis. Some said that they were aware of the inappropriate "kapporos" practices, which they claimed existed only "amongst a small group of ad hoc kapporos operations," and were already discussing possible changes. KosherToday indeed found that most Chasidic groups operated kapporos centers with the utmost care for the fowl. The rabbis have been meeting to set internal regulations for all of the kapporos centers in an effort to bring them into compliance with halacha. Amongst the changes to be addressed will be the requirement for each of these centers to have a mashgiach (rabbinic supervisor) that will be responsible for all halachic requirements. One rabbi quipped: "The PETA 'rabbis' are telling us that the kapporos practice can be done with money, as many Jews do, but fortunately in America, we can practice an ancient tradition without having animal rights 'rabbis' tell us what to do." KosherToday has also learned that State and City officials who received the PETA letter are satisfied that the community is taking rapid action to correct any inappropriate practice by the small group of sidewalk operators.

d. Message and letter in response to Kosher Today item above from Rina Deych

This letter illustrates the frustration of some who have observed the mistreatment of chickens used for the kapparot ritual. Based on the meetings of key rabbis that have been going on in the Orthodox community, it is hoped that the conditions described below will not occur this year and in all future years. Once again, JVNA advocates the use of money rather than chickens for the kapparot ritual.

Below is the letter I just emailed to Kosher Today. For anyone who would like to respond to their article, the email address is:

The "changes" that were discussed in the Kapporos article are meaningless. This problem cannot be dealt with until the Kosher authorities and the orthodox community are ready to acknowledge the full magnitude of it. These barbaric, unsanitary, cruel forms of Kapporos are the RULE, not the exception. They are widespread throughout the orthodox communities. Every year, chickens are found in horrendous conditions, starving, cold, plucking each others' eyes out for food. This is unacceptable, since the Torah mandates compassion for animals. Also, the practice of sacrificing chickens for this ritual is not even mentioned in the Torah. This brutal, unnecessary, archaic practice must be abolished. Period.

Rina Deych
1157 - 46th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11219
(The heart of Boro Park, where every year I personally witness these atrocities).
e. Letter sent by PETA in effort to reduce abuses to chickens during kapparot

[It may be that this letter and other complaints helped lead to the meetings of key Orthodox rabbis discussed above and that this will lead to an elimination of the abuses described in the letter.As indicatd above, JVNA advocates that Jews perform the kapparot ritual using money, rather than chickens, so that at a time of year when Jews seek G-d's compassion and a healthy, successful year, they are not involved in any potential mistreatment and killing of chickens.]

July 30, 2007

Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., Commissioner
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
125 Worth St.
New York, NY 10013

RE: Cruelty-to-Animals and Health Violations During the Kapporos Ritual in Brooklyn, N.Y.

A video (9 minutes, 11 seconds) and still photos are enclosed. The footage was taken in October 2005 and September 2006 in Crown Heights, N.Y.

Dear Mr. Frieden:

Kapporos is a religious slaughter ritual performed in the ultra-Orthodox/Hasidic Jewish community [it is also performed to a lesser degree in some other Orthodox communities, but this letter does not refer to these communities] the week before Yom Kippur. Thousands of chickens are roughly handled in the largest kapporos ceremony in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and then sacrificed in a makeshift slaughter area on a public street. The slaughtered chickens are later trucked back to a processing facility to be prepared as food. These massive slaughters have been taking place without any apparent regulation or enforcement.

Because of the mounting incidents of cruelty to animals recorded on video and published in media reports as well as the public health hazards involved in operating a de facto slaughterhouse on a busy urban street, the issuing and conditions of any permits for the kapporos ritual must be examined. It is a serious health concern that children handle live, feces-covered, and possibly diseased chickens and wade through the blood of slaughtered poultry. The risk of communicable avian diseases and bacterial contamination is alarming, and the inhumane treatment and mishandling of animals at every stage of the process must be prevented. Below is a full description of violations and concerns pertaining to sanitation (regarding human health and food safety) as well as cruelty to animals during transportation, handling, and ritual slaughter.

Note: The next kapporos slaughter period is scheduled for the week between Monday, September 17, and Friday, September 21, 2007. The largest kapporos event takes place near the intersection of Eastern Parkway and Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

We are writing to you in advance to request that measures be taken to ensure that any communities or congregations participating in poultry slaughter for kapporos are in full compliance with all municipal, state, and federal laws. We also request that a methodical enforcement plan be developed.

It is important to note that there is no religious requirement for slaughtering chickens on kapporos and that most Modern Orthodox Jewish congregations do not practice this form of the ritual. Even Chabad Lubavitch-the organization behind the largest kapporos street slaughter event-sanctions, on its Web site, alternatives to chicken slaughter for kapporos, including symbolic sacrifices, such as donating money to charity. Although PETA would prefer that chickens not be slaughtered, we do request that authorities insist that basic animal welfare laws be strictly observed and health codes be strictly enforced during the practice of this ritual.

To this end, we urge you to consult with Dr. Joe Regenstein from Cornell University, who is a specialist on kosher and halal foods, and Dr. Temple Grandin, who is a world-renowned expert on animal welfare and slaughter methods in particular. Both have written extensively about kosher slaughter and serve on the Animal Welfare Technical Committee of the Food Marketing Institute and the National Council of Chain Restaurants. Through this process, we hope that clear standards and increased scrutiny and enforcement along with education will minimize the negligence and egregious conduct seen in previous years. We have already been in contact with Dr. Regenstein on this matter, and he is eager to help your departments develop clear guidelines for kapporos that will ensure that organizers are in legal compliance without conflicting with the religious components of this ritual. He commented that, at this point, the practices that he observed in the enclosed video are not even up to the basic standards of the National Chicken Council, the United Egg Producers, and the American Meat Institute.

In 2006, Dr. Regenstein attempted to set up a private discussion with Yossi Fraenkel, the organizer of the large kapporos ceremony in Crown Heights, in an effort to discuss Dr. Regenstein's plan to improve practices and ensure that the event is in full compliance. However, Mr. Fraenkel declined.

Please also note that the Community Council of Brooklyn representative we spoke with cited that, in her long tenure at the office, the only permits required for kapporos organizers (that she is aware of) have been for Dumpster disposal. During the 2005 and 2006 kapporos ceremonies in Crown Heights, there was no visible presence of any enforcement/inspection officials-city, state or federal-to oversee transportation, handling, slaughter, and sanitation, and the only police activity was to block off intersections.

Below is a comprehensive list of health concerns and cruelty violations filmed at the 2005 and 2006 kapporos events in Crown Heights. A videotape of this footage is also enclosed for your review.

Alleged Cruelty Violations
Chickens-while still conscious in the bleeding-out cones, where they are placed immediately following the ritual-cut slaughter-had their heads pulled off by teenagers who were working in the slaughter area.
Bleeding-out cones (i.e., cut-off traffic cones) were too small, and many chickens jumped out of the cones onto the ground following shechita (ritual slaughter). Because of the rapid slaughter rate, many birds were removed from the cones prematurely while they were still conscious and tossed to the ground onto piles of dead and other dying chickens.

Many chickens-while still conscious and struggling following shechita (religious slaughter-were shoved into garbage bags. The bags were then tied up, leaving the chickens to suffocate.

Birds crammed into extremely crowded cages were left exposed to the elements and unattended without any food or water. In other locations in Brooklyn, the ASPCA had to respond to multiple similar incidents of neglect and abandonment, which sometimes continued for days before and after the ceremony. In one highly publicized notorious incident in October 2005, "surplus" birds (chickens who were not slaughtered during the ceremony) were abandoned in a parking lot. The chickens were crammed into crates, stacked on top of one another, and left out in the rain for days. These birds were encrusted with dried feces, urine, and blood. Many suffered from severed toes, plucked-out eyes, and severe dehydration. ASPCA agents had to sift through the pile of discarded chickens in order to rescue the remaining live ones. Volunteers and hired workers crammed injured and sick chickens into reject crates along with chickens who had already perished.

Participants, including children, were given no training or instruction on how to handle birds. Birds were teased and violently handled and exhibited distress as a result. Participants who had no training awkwardly grabbed chickens and swung them over people's heads during the ceremony, causing the chickens to vocalize in pain and fear.

Volunteers and hired workers threw crates containing live chickens several feet to the ground-without any regard for the safety of the animals.

Health Risks and Violations


We respectfully request that all these cruelty and public health issues be resolved before the September 2007 kapporos ceremonies. We have submitted this in advance of the kapporos ceremonies in the hope that positive measures will be taken that will prevent the worst abuses. PETA will again have a presence at the 2007 event to investigate any egregious behavior, but we hope that by addressing this matter now, it will avoid any public exposé that could cause embarrassment to the Hasidic community and the enforcement and administrative agencies responsible. We look forward to your response.

Thank you for your attention to this issue.

cc: Charles J. Hynes, District Attorney, Kings County District Attorney's Office
Pearl R. Miles, District Manager, Community Board No. 9
Patrick J. Brennan, Commissioner, Mayor's Community Assistance Unit
John Huntley, D.V.M., Director, Division of Animal Industry
Rabbi Weiss, Kosher Law Enforcement, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Brooklyn Office
Haroon Mian, District Manager, Food Safety and Inspection Service

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9. Vegetarian Rabbi (JVNA Advisor) Blends Faith and Agriculture in Community Program
Faith meets farming and fuels community supported agriculture movement

For The Associated Press
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On Wednesday evenings, faith and produce mingle at Atlanta's Congregation Shearith Israel synagogue.

As parents gather to collect their children from Hebrew school or attend
lectures, many also pass through the social hall, where they collect boxes
of tomatoes, peaches, spinach and other organic produce.

It's a blending of physical and spiritual sustenance that Rabbi Hillel Norry
calls the best of Jewish values in action, and it's just one of a growing
number of faith-based community supported agriculture (or CSA) programs nationwide.

"We're taking Jewish ideals of justice, economics, health, ecology,
well-being and responsibility and putting them to work in the real world in
a way that makes our lives and the life of the farmer better," Norry says.

Fueled by growing interest in local food, CSAs have gone from just a few
during the 1980s to about 2,000 today. They operate on the simple premise of enlisting community support for area farms, then rewarding that support with food.

In most cases, people buy shares in participating farms, paying a set amount upfront. For the Atlanta group, it's $700, though most CSAs cost between $400 and $600. In exchange, the farmer delivers to them a weekly share of the crops, usually for 20 weeks or more. Consumers get good, local food; farmers get guaranteed income.

Of course, interest is contingent on caring about where one's food comes
from. But for some faiths, that concern is built in. Many Jews and Muslims
follow kosher and halal tenets, which detail how foods can be raised,
processed and stored.

For others, it's a natural extension of existing concerns about the ethics
and values of food and eating, issues important to groups such as the
Iowa-based National Catholic Rural Life Conference.

Under the group's leadership, several organic farms with CSAs have been
established on or are planned for church-owned land in Illinois, Indiana,
Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Ohio, many of them operated by orders of monks and nuns.

"We're still at the beginning of this ethical food system revolution," says
Brother David Andrews, the conference's executive director. "Only a small
percentage of our institutions and dioceses are doing this, but as
consciousness of things like global warming, the obesity epidemic and
diabetes grow, support for this will continue to grow."

Launched this spring, Shearith Israel's program is one of 10 Jewish CSAs
created during the past three years as part of a project called Tuv
Ha'aretz, Hebrew for both "the best of the land" and "good for the land."

Under the auspices of Hazon, a New York-based nonprofit that also runs
Jewish environmental bike rides and a blog on Jews, food and contemporary issues, Tuv Ha'aretz was started at New York's Congregation Ansche Chesed.

"We needed 40 families to start, and we had 80 sign up," says Nigel Savage, Hazon's founder and director.

And interest elsewhere is strong, too. Tuv Ha'aretz coordinator Leah Koenig says she frequently gets e-mails from people around the country asking for information on starting a CSA in their synagogue or Jewish community center.

In Atlanta, Aaron Marks, a law student, said he and his wife joined the CSA
for their 16-month-old son. "We'd heard a lot of scary reports about growth hormones and pesticides and wanted to try to keep his diet as chemical-free as possible," he said. "We're both concerned about the environment, and the fact that we're doing something that might have a direct effect is good."

Frieda Socol, a member of Shearith Israel since before her wedding 57 years ago, says the fresh CSA produce has started to take center stage at her Friday night dinners, when her family comes together to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath.

"I've learned a lot, finding out just exactly what can be done with some of
these sometimes rather strange vegetables we have," she said. "They've made Friday night dinner more interesting."

Tuv Ha'aretz also runs CSA programs in St. Paul, Minn., Houston, Berkeley,
Calif., Philadelphia and Washington, and even provides them with relevant
biblical passages and other Jewish texts for inclusion in weekly CSA

Hazon hopes to share its CSA model with other faiths and is seeking funding to launch joint efforts with the National Catholic Rural Life Conference and Faith In Place, an ecumenical environmental group in Chicago.

Meanwhile, other faiths already are experimenting on their own.

Hisham Moharram, founder and chief executive of a company that promotes small, rural-based agribusiness in developing nations, is seeking community support for a Muslim organic farm in central New Jersey, one that would sell its produce at farmers markets and through CSAs.

In addition to shared environmental and social justice concerns, religious
groups are a good match for CSAs on a practical level, too, says Hazon's

CSA programs not only give farms a well-defined group of investors, they
also help draw in new congregants and strengthen the sense of community, he says.

"Buying your food from a local organic farm is in the deepest sense for
people who have this understanding a religious act," Savage says. "It's not just a good thing: As it says in Psalms, 'The earth is the lord's and the
fullness thereof."' c0c1d2bb814638814.txt

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10. A Challenging NY Times Op-Ed Column on Global Warming

The Big Melt
Published: August 16, 2007

If we learned that Al Qaeda was secretly developing a new terrorist technique that could disrupt water supplies around the globe, force tens of millions from their homes and potentially endanger our entire planet, we would be aroused into a frenzy and deploy every possible asset to neutralize the threat.

Yet that is precisely the threat that we're creating ourselves, with our greenhouse gases. While there is still much uncertainty about the severity of the consequences, a series of new studies indicate that we're cooking our favorite planet more quickly than experts had expected.

The newly published studies haven't received much attention, because they're not in English but in Scientese and hence drier than the Sahara Desert. But they suggest that ice is melting and our seas are rising more quickly than most experts had anticipated.

The latest source of alarm is the news, as reported by my Times colleague Andrew Revkin, that sea ice in the northern polar region just set a new low - and it still has another month of melting ahead of it. At this rate, the “permanent” north polar ice cap may disappear entirely in our lifetimes.

In case you missed the May edition of “Geophysical Research Letters,” an article by five scientists has the backdrop. They analyze the extent of Arctic sea ice each summer since 1953. The computer models anticipated a loss of ice of 2.5 percent per decade, but the actual loss was 7.8 percent per decade - three times greater.
The article notes that the extent of summer ice melting is 30 years ahead of where the models predict.

Three other recent reports underscore that climate change seems to be occurring more quickly than computer models had anticipated:

Science magazine reported in March that Antarctica and Greenland are both losing ice overall, about 125 billion metric tons a year between the two of them - and the amount has accelerated over the last decade. To put that in context, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (the most unstable part of the frosty cloak over the southernmost continent) and Greenland together hold enough ice to raise global sea levels by 40 feet or so, although they would take hundreds of years to melt. We hope.
In January, Science reported that actual rises in sea level in recent years followed the uppermost limit of the range predicted by computer models of climate change - meaning that past studies had understated the rise. As a result, the study found that the sea is likely to rise higher than most previous forecasts - to between 50 centimeters and 1.4 meters by the year 2100 (and then continuing from there).
Science Express, the online edition of Science, reported last month that the world's several hundred thousand glaciers and small ice caps are thinning more quickly than people realized. “At the very least, our projections indicate that future sea-level rise maybe larger than anticipated,” the article declared.

What does all this mean?

“Over and over again, we're finding that models correctly predict the patterns of change but understate their magnitude,” notes Jay Gulledge, a senior scientist at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

This may all sound abstract, but climate change apparently is already causing crop failures in Africa. In countries like Burundi, you can hold children who are starving and dying because of weather changes that many experts believe are driven by our carbon emissions.

There are practical steps we can take to curb carbon emissions, and I'll talk about them in a forthcoming column. But the tragedy is that the U.S. has become a big part of the problem.

“Not only is the U.S. not leading on climate change, we're holding others back,” said Jessica Bailey, who works on climate issues for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. “We're inhibiting progress on climate change globally.”

I ran into Al Gore at a climate/energy conference this month, and he vibrates with passion about this issue - recognizing that we should confront mortal threats even when they don't emanate from Al Qaeda.

“We are now treating the Earth's atmosphere as an open sewer,” he said, and (perhaps because my teenage son was beside me) he encouraged young people to engage in peaceful protests to block major new carbon sources.

“I can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking bulldozers,” Mr. Gore said, “and preventing them from constructing coal-fired power plants.”

Critics scoff that the scientific debate is continuing, that the consequences are uncertain - and they're right. There is natural variability and lots of uncertainty, especially about the magnitude and timing of climate change.

In the same way, terror experts aren't sure about the magnitude and timing of Al Qaeda's next strike. But it would be myopic to shrug that because there's uncertainty about the risks, we shouldn't act vigorously to confront them - yet that's our national policy toward climate change, and it's a disgrace.
You are invited to comment on this column at Mr. Kristof's blog,

My letter to the columnist:
Dear Mr. Kristof,

Kudos on your superb column. I hope it helps awaken people to the unprecedented catastrophe the world is rapidly heading toward.

As you next write about steps people can take to reduce greenhouse emissions, please consider the effects of a shift toward plant-based diets. A November, 2006 UN FAO report indicated that 'livestock' agriculture produces more greenhouse gases (18% in CO2 equivalents) than all the world's transportation vehicles (13.5%). And the number of farmed animals is projected to double in 50 years, according to the same FAO report, and the increased greenhouse gas emissions would cancel the effects of many positive changes that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, it appears that the fate of humanity depends on a major shift toward plant-based diets.


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11. Correction

The link provided in the last JVNA newsletter to the video to see the criticism of Al Gore for not connecting animal-based diets to global warming is incorrect. To watch the video, go to

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12. Looking for Someone to Translate a Short Article from Yiddish to English

Please contact me if you would like to volunteer to do this. The work should not take more than an hour and it would be very helpful. You would be acknowledged in the JVNA newsletter in which the translation occurred.

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13. Hebrew Month of Cheshvan Declared Social Justice Month

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook ( for letting us know about this important initiative:

I read that the Knesset has declared Cheshvan (from Friday evening 10/12 through 11/10) to be Jewish Social Action Month, with worldwide observance.

This is further inspiration for us to get going (after the holidays)!

From the web site indicated above:

Activities in Israel ranged from environmental projects to volunteer fairs on campuses. In Mexico, Jewish school students of all ages began a year-long commitment to a social action project. South African youth groups advocated for better government handling of the AIDS crisis and ran picnics for HIV positive children. In Australia, ways to combat global warming were promoted and practiced.

Recognition by State of Israel

JSAM [Jewish Social Action Month] 2006 was launched at the Knesset with an event facilitated by Rabbi Michael Melchior MK. The proposal for JSAM to be recognized in the official calendar of the State of Israel was described by MK Michael Nudelman as the best he had heard put forward in the current Knesset. Jacob Edery, as Minister in charge of symbols and ceremonies, is helping shepherd the proposal through the political process.
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