August 19, 2007

7/18/07 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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


1. Best Wishes for a Meaningful Tisha B’Av

2. Important Article To Help Respond to Skeptics Re Global Warming

3. Latest on the Rubashkin Kosher Slaughterhouse Scandal

4. Excerpts From the European Vegetarian Union (EVU) Newsletter

5. Challenge to Al Gore Re Eating Meat

6. Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus – Membership Drive Results

7. Major Fast Food Company Shifts Policies on Animals

8. Global Warming Effects in New York

9. JVNA Advisor and Israeli Vegetarian Activist Seeks Support For His Charity Bike Ride

10. Shalom Center Analysis of Global Warming

11. Screenings of New Global Warming Movie Scheduled

12. Israeli Group Provides “Kosher” Certificate for Proper Treatment of Workers

13. Responsible Policies for Animals Receives Grant to Promote Better Treatment of Animals

14. New Book Considers Jewish Teachings On Peace, Justice, Animal Rights

15. Veggie Pride Parade Being Planned

Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[Materials in brackets like this [ ] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA, unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, material re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsement by JVNA or endorsement of kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observance, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event that you are interested in. Also, JVNA does not necessarily agree with all positions of groups whose views are included or whose events are announced in this newsletter.

All emphases (in bold font) are mine.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.



* As we mention from time to time, if you would like to be removed from this list for any reason (no questions asked), just let me know. If, on the other hand, you know of people who might appreciate receiving these newsletters, please contact them and ask them t email me with their desire to be added to the JVNA newsletter list. Thanks.

* In this time of growing peril, when a shift toward vegetarianism/veganism is increasingly a societal imperative, I am planning a special JVNA newsletter, or possibly a series of newsletters on increasing our effectiveness in promoting vegetarianism, including a respectful challenge to rabbis and other Jewish leaders. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks.

* I have received much valuable material lately. So, I apologize to those whose material I was not able to fit in or I had to significantly shorten or I moved to next week’s newsletter.

1. Best Wishes for a Meaningful Tisha B’Av

Tisha B’Av begigs at sunset this coming Monday, July 23, 2007. Please see my article “Tisha B’Av and Vegetarianism” at the holidays section of, and consider using the points made in the article to help spread our message. Thanks.

My letter to the editor (below) is in the current issue of American Israelite. [My article on relating Tisha B’Av to current environmental crises (which appeared in the last JVNA newsletter (and also can be found in the holidays section at appeared in a Florida Jewish weekly. Please let me know if you see my letters or articles in your local publications, and please consider responding and/or sending your own messages. Thanks.]
Dear Editor:

Tisha B'Av (the 9th day of the month of Av) which we commemorate this year on July 24, reminds us that over 2,000 years ago Jews failed to heed the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah, which resulted in the destruction of the first Temple in Jerusalem.

Now the entire world, not just Jerusalem, faces destruction according to many climate scientists and environmentalists -- modern day “Jeremiahs.” Some noted climate experts, including James Hansen of NASA, are warning that global warming could reach a tipping point and spin out of control within a decade, with catastrophic consequences, unless major changes are soon made.

Israel is also endangered since global climate change could reduce the rainfall that Israel is so dependent on and could cause the Mediterranean Sea to rise, threatening the 60 percent of Israelis who live in its coastal plain. Israel also has other major environmental problems. More Israelis die from air pollution than from terrorism and automobile accidents combined and Israeli rivers are badly polluted.

This Tisha B'Av, we should heed the holiday's basic lesson that failure to respond to proper admonitions can lead to catastrophe. The Jewish people must make tikkun olam (the repair and healing of the planet) a major focus in Jewish life today, and consider personal and societal changes that will start to move our precious, but imperiled, planet to a sustainable path. By doing this, we would be performing a great kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God's Name).

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

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2. Important Article To Help Respond to Skeptics Re Global Warming

By Andrea Thompson, LiveScience Staff Writer
Posted: 16 July 2007 09:34 am ET
Thanks to JVNA Secretary/Treasurer and advisor John Diamond for forwarding this article to us:

From catastrophic sea level rise to jarring changes in local weather, humanity faces a potentially dangerous threat from the changes our own pollution has wrought on Earth’s climate. But since nothing in science can ever be proven with 100 percent certainty, how is it that scientists can be so sure that we are the cause of global warming?

For years, there has been clear scientific consensus that Earth’s climate is heating up and that humans are the culprits behind the trend, says Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at the University of California, San Diego.

A few years ago, she evaluated 928 scientific papers that dealt with global climate change and found that none disagreed about human-generated global warming. The results of her analysis were published in a 2004 essay in the journal Science.

And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the National Academy of Sciences and numerous other noted scientific organizations have issued statements that unequivocally endorse the idea of global warming and attribute it to human activities.

“We’re confident about what’s going on,” said climate scientist Gavin Schmidt of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Science in New York.

But even if there is a consensus, how can scientists be so confident about a trend playing out over dozens of years in the grand scheme of the Earth's existence? How do they know they didn’t miss something, or that there is not some other explanation for the world’s warming? After all, there was once a scientific consensus that the Earth was flat. How can scientists prove their position?

Best predictor wins

Contrary to popular parlance, science can never truly “prove” a theory. Science simply arrives at the best explanation of how the world works. Global warming can no more be “proven” than the theory of continental drift, the theory of evolution or the concept that germs carry diseases.

“All science is fallible,” Oreskes told LiveScience. “Climate science shouldn’t be expected to stand up to some fantasy standard that no science can live up to.”
Instead, a variety of methods and standards are used to evaluate the viability of different scientific explanations and theories. One such standard is how well a theory predicts the outcome of an event, and climate change theory has proven to be a strong predictor.

The effects of putting massive amounts of carbon dioxide in the air were predicted as long ago as the early 20th century by Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius.
Noted oceanographer Roger Revelle’s 1957 predictions that carbon dioxide would build up in the atmosphere and cause noticeable changes by the year 2000 have been borne out by numerous studies, as has Princeton climatologist Suki Manabe’s 1980 prediction that the Earth’s poles would be first to see the effects of global warming.

Also in the 1980s, NASA climatologist James Hansen predicted with high accuracy what the global average temperature would be in 30 years time (now the present day).
Hansen's model predictions are “a shining example of a successful prediction in climate science,” said climatologist Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University.

Schmidt says that predictions by those who doubted global warming have failed to come true.

“Why don’t you trust a psychic? Because their predictions are wrong,” he told LiveScience. “The credibility goes to the side that gets these predictions right.”

Mounting evidence

Besides their successful predictions, climate scientists have been assembling a “body of evidence that has been growing significantly with each year,” Mann said.

Data from tree rings, ice cores and coral reefs taken with instrumental observations of air and ocean temperatures, sea ice melt and greenhouse gas concentrations have all emerged in support of climate change theory.

“There are 20 different lines of evidence that the planet is warming,” and the same goes for evidence that greenhouse gases are increasing in the atmosphere, Schmidt said. “All of these things are very incontrovertible.”

But skeptics have often raised the question of whether these observations and effects attributed to global warming may in fact be explained by natural variation or changes in solar radiation hitting the Earth.

Hurricane expert William Gray, of Colorado State University, told Discover magazine in a 2005 interview, "I'm not disputing that there has been global warming. There was a lot of global warming in the 1930s and '40s, and then there was a slight global cooling from the middle '40s to the early '70s. And there has been warming since the middle '70s, especially in the last 10 years. But this is natural, due to ocean circulation changes and other factors. It is not human induced.”

Isaac Newton had something to say about all this: In his seminal “Principia Mathematica,” he noted that if separate data sets are best explained by one theory or idea, that explanation is most likely the true explanation.

And studies have overwhelmingly shown that climate change scenarios in which greenhouse gases emitted from human activities cause global warming best explain the observed changes in Earth’s climate, Mann said—models that use only natural variation can’t account for the significant warming that has occurred in the last few decades.

Mythic ice age

One argument commonly used to cast doubt on the idea of global warming is the supposed predictions of an impending ice age by scientists in the 1970s. One might say: First the Earth was supposed to be getting colder; now scientists say it’s getting hotter—how can we trust scientists if they’re predictions are so wishy-washy?

Because the first prediction was never actually made. Rather, it’s something of an urban climate myth.

Mann says that this myth started from a “tiny grain of truth around which so much distortion and misinformation has been placed.”

Scientists were well aware of the warming that could be caused by increasing greenhouse gases, both Mann and Schmidt explained, but in the decades preceding the 1970s, aerosols, or air pollution, had been steadily increasing. These tiny particles tended to have a cooling effect in the atmosphere, and at the time, scientists were unsure who would win the climate-changing battle, aerosols or greenhouse gases.

“It was unclear what direction the climate was going,” Mann said.

But several popular media, such as Newsweek, ran articles that exaggerated what scientists had said about the potential of aerosols to cool the Earth.

But the battle is now over, and greenhouse gases have won.

“Human society has made a clear decision as to which direction [the climate] is going to go,” Mann said.

Future predictions

One of the remaining skeptics, is MIT meteorologist Richard Lindzen. While he acknowledges the trends of rising temperatures and greenhouse gases, Lindzen expressed his doubt on man’s culpability in the case and casts doubt on the dire predictions made by some climate models, in an April 2006 editorial for The Wall Street Journal.

“What the public fails to grasp is that the claims neither constitute support for alarm nor establish man's responsibility for the small amount of warming that has occurred,” Lindzen wrote.

To be sure, there is a certain degree of uncertainty involved in modeling and predicting future changes in the climate, but “you don’t need to have a climate model to know that climate change is a problem,” Oreskes said.

Climate scientists have clearly met the burden of proof with the mounting evidence they’ve assembled and the strong predictive power of global warming theory, Oreskes said -- global warming is something to pay attention to.

Schmidt agrees. “All of these little things just reinforce the big picture,” he said. “And the big picture is very worrying.”

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3. Latest on the Rubashkin Kosher Slaughterhouse Scandal

a. Forwarded article from a blog

Media Coverage of the Kosher Meat Scandal

I've talked about I've talked about the new undercover investigation of a Rubashkin-owned kosher slaughterhouse and the attention it's received in the Jewish blogosphere. This post will focus on coverage in the conventional media.

PETA issued a press release about the investigation on Monday, and the Associated Press put out an article that afternoon. As can be expected from the short turn-around time, the AP article didn't dig very deep. This excerpt is the best the article does to make people realize that something is wrong at Rubashkin's Local Pride slaughterhouse:

The alleged violations of state, federal and kosher laws cited in the complaint include: the animals were allowed to writhe in pain for up to two minutes after their throats were cut; and staff tear the animals' necks with a meat hook and cut tags from their ears while they are still conscious.

"The intentional infliction of cruelty at [Rubashkin's] Gordon, Nebraska, facility is ... part of a continued pattern of disregard for the welfare of animals - and the cruelty-to-animal statutes - in the locales where [Rubashkin] operates," PETA said in the complaint.

The Forward's article is certainly the most probing so far. It includes telling quotes from Menachem Genack, the CEO of the Orthodox Union's kosher division, and Nathan Lewin, a lawyer who has defended AgriProcessors previously, indicating that both parties are dismissing the criticism out of hand and not taking the issue seriously. The article also does a nice job of explaining what the investigation found:

[PETA] alleges that the video provides proof of the Rubashkins’ failure to follow through on reforms that they agreed to make after the previous video was released, including a promise to use a gun to immediately kill any animal that is not rendered insensate after the kosher cut is administered. . . .

In the new video, the cattle appear be moving their eyes, necks and tongues long after their throats have been slit. In one case, PETA says the movement went on for two minutes. In testimony gathered by PETA, a number of veterinarians hold that cows are still conscious until their eyes roll back. ...

The video appears to corroborate PETA’s allegation that factory workers cut off the ears of cows while the cows are still moving. Other footage appears to show a worker using a metal device — a hook, according to PETA — to reach into the throats of the animals after the cut but before the animals stopped moving.

The most controversial scenes from the 2004 video showed a worker using a hook to pull out a moving cow’s trachea. AgriProcessors had promised to stop the practice.

Among the critics of the new footage is animal [welfare] expert Temple Grandin, who was also a prominent critic of AgriProcessors after the release of the 2004 video. She visited the Iowa plant last year, after a series of reforms had been implemented, and gave it a clean bill of health. Now, in response to the new footage, she is again criticizing the company.

“They’re not working on fixing the details of their procedure,” Grandin told the Forward. “Now, it’s nowhere near as bad as the other AgriProcessors thing. I would label that atrocious. This I would label poor.”

The JTA (a newswire for Jewish publications) had a brief that didn't identify any of the alleged abuses at Local Pride. It did, at least, include a quote from a PETA representative and this worthwhile snippet:

An animal rights group says America's largest kosher meat company still isn't treating its animals humanely.

People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals released a new video showing that AgriProcessors, which produces the Aaron's Best line of kosher meats, has not followed through on its pledge to shoot with a gun any cow that appeared to be alive after it had been through the kosher slaughtering process.

AgriProcessors came under fire in 2004 when PETA released a video it had shot surreptitiously at the slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, showing gruesome footage of cows flailing after they had had their throats slit in accordance with the practice in kosher ritual slaughter.

After the video's release, the slaughterhouse agreed to reform its work practices, but PETA now says AgriProcessors has broken that agreement.

I don't think anyone is likely to be appalled by what's going on at Local Pride after reading either newswire article, but at least the news is hopefully getting out there, providing an excellent opportunity to submit letters to the editor and/or guest op-eds to Jewish weeklies. The coverage in the Forward and the blogosphere have been much better at explaining the situation.

posted by heebnvegan @ 7/14/2007 06:07:00 PM

b. Report in Kosher Today

BREAKING NEWS: New PETA Video Against Schechita Irks the Indians
Gordon, NE...

When Agriprocessors agreed to operate a shuttered meat plant two years ago, it was hailed as an act of extreme kindness by the Oglala Sioux Tribe living on the Prime Ridge Reservation. The plant had closed in 1996 leaving many of the Tribe's members unemployed. In fact, President Bill Clinton in a visit to the reservation cited the area's 75% unemployment, which led to the creation of The Oglala Oyate Woitancan Empowerment Zone. When it reopened as Local Pride, owned by the Rubashkin family of Postville, IA, the plant employed 80 of the Tribe's members.

A new illegal video by the People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals (PETA) alleging inhumane treatment of animals at the plant was immediately dismissed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Officials as well as rabbis confirmed that all procedures at the plant were in full compliance with halacha (Jewish law) as well as US law. PETA has continued to target Agriprocessors as part of what many rabbis believe is an attempt to discredit and possibly ban schechita in the US. But the sharpest words for PETA came from John W. Steele, the President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe: "A year ago, we celebrated Local Pride's one-year anniversary with Governor Heineman and over 500 of our neighbors.

Now, on Local Pride's second anniversary, we find our success under attack by political extremists who care nothing for our area, our people or the community we are trying to build." Mr. Steele continued: "despite the fact that PETA's political operatives lied and trespassed to gain access to the plant, the USDA investigated PETA's allegations and found no violations of the Humane Slaughter Act. If PETA's real concern was the treatment of animals at Local Pride, instead of their radical agenda to end the eating of meat and the owning of animals, it should have dropped the matter. Instead, dissatisfied with the USDA's conclusion, PETA has asked the Sheridan County Attorney to investigate and has launched a national media campaign with a bull's-eye painted on Local Pride and Gordon."

KosherToday in an exclusive report has learned that the PETA Web site doctored a photo of a box used in the kosher slaughter of animals. The box in the photo was never used at the plant. Attorney Nathan Lewin, who has defended AgriProcessors in the past, told the Forward, that the new video "proves that PETA is out to destroy or make unlawful" kosher slaughter.

c. JVNA Press Release

July 16. 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact person: Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) (; Phone (718) 761-5876; web site:; articles at (


The Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) today expressed shock and sadness at the violations of Jewish teachings at the Rubashkin-owned slaughterhouse in Gordon, Nebraska, as revealed in a new video and reported by the JTA last week. JVNA believes that the abuses are especially shameful since Rubashkin had agreed to improve conditions in its plants after PETA released a video it had shot surreptitiously in 2004 showing gruesome footage of cows being slaughtered at Rubashkin’s glatt kosher slaughterhouse at Postville, Iowa, under conditions that were condemned by many rabbis, veterinarians and others, such as Temple Grandin, an internationally acknowledged expert on slaughterhouse conditions.

While opposed to all methods of slaughter, JVNA believes that properly carried out ritual slaughter is a relatively “humane” method of slaughter, which aims to minimize animal pain, and that Jews who continue to eat meat should eat kosher, organic, humane-certified meat. JVNA has also consistently opposed efforts to single out shechita for criticism. However, JVNA believes that the graphic depictions of the horrifying mistreatment of the animals at the Nebraska slaughterhouse should cause the entire Jewish community to examine the ways animals are currently being raised, treated, prepared, and slaughtered, to see if the laws and principles of the Torah are actually being properly practiced. And we hope that closer study of the values in Jewish tradition-- concern for the pain of fellow creatures, maintaining health, protecting God's world, conserving resources, feeding the hungry-- will ultimately lead Jews and others to adopt a diet that is more humane, healthy, environmentally sustainable, and capable of feeding hungry people -- vegetarianism.

JVNA president Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. stated, “These horrific slaughterhouse scenes completely contradict our mandate to be 'rachmanim b'nei rachmanim' (compassionate children of compassionate ancestors). Even if ritual slaughter is performed flawlessly, consistent with halacha, we should not ignore the severe violations of Jewish law occurring daily on factory farms. We should fulfill our charge to be 'a light unto the nations' by helping to lead the world away from a diet that is so harmful to people, the environment, and animals, to one that is far more consistent with basic religious values, especially at a time when anima-based diets are causing an epidemic of disease in the Jewish community and other community and when animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to global warming and many other environmental threats.”

For a long time, JVNA has argued that Jews should consider how animal-based diets and agriculture violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, preserve the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people.. Putting these issues squarely on the Jewish agenda would save many lives, move our imperiled planet to a more sustainable path, and show the relevance of Judaism in addressing current critical issues, and thus help revitalize Judaism.

JVNA is anxious to engage in respectful dialogues on these issues.

Further information about the JVNA and its campaign to get vegetarianism onto the Jewish and other agendas may be obtained by contacting Dr. Schwartz or the JVNA (; The web site also has many Jewish vegetarian recipes. A complimentary copy of Richard Schwartz's book “Judaism and Vegetarianism” and a related CD will be sent to members of the media who request them as background for a potential article and to others who indicate how they would use the material to help get vegetarianism and related issues onto the Jewish agenda.

d. Letter from JVNA advisor Rina Deych to the Forward:

Kudos to Nathanial Popper for his 7/11/07 article on Rubashkin's current infractions of kashrus. In November of 2006 I attended a debate between PETA's Bruce Friedrich and Nathan Lewin, attorney for AgriProcessors. During the debate, which took place in an orthodox synagogue in Manhattan, Mr. Lewin became enraged when Mr. Friedrich (who remained composed and eloquent throughout the event) attempted to show footage of AgriProcessors' Iowa plant obtained in 2004. He repeatedly interrupted Mr. Friedrich and, generally behaved in an inappropriate and obstructive manner. During the debate, Mr. Friedrich, along with members of the audience, asked for AgriProcessors to agree to unannounced inspections, which, to date, it has not done. After the debate, Mr. Lewin could not answer my question about how (even if the procedure was meticulous) the meat could be considered kosher if it came (which it does) from animals who are confined in cold concrete their entire lives and never, even on the Sabbath, get to graze or spread their wings. My grandfather, who was an orthodox kosher butcher, would roll over in his grave if he saw this horrific footage. While some might talk about the "lesser" issues with this new footage, I contend that there should be NO issues. Kosher slaughter, when done as per the Torah, is supposed to be humane, period. AgriProcessors has clearly chosen to ignore the tenets of the Torah. The only way to assure that one is eating kosher food is to switch to a plant based diet, which is better for human health, the environment, and, of course, the animals.

Rina Deych, RN
Brooklyn, NY 11219

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4. Excerpts From the European Vegetarian Union (EVU) Newsletter

Newsletter July 2007

The climate-event: Live Earth 2007

Live Earth - Join the global movement and take action against the climate crisis
Important question: Why is the problem 'meat' completely ignored?

Moby has hit out at organisers of the Live Earth concerts for selling meat at the shows. Speaking through his blog, the vegan dance veteran quoted the UN statistic that livestock breeding and the gases the animals emit is a huge contributor to worldwide the greenhouse gases in the environment.

USA: Al Gore warned about the dangers of climate change
Questions from the public had been invited for this interview and in case you were among those who obliged, wanting to hear Al Gore's opinion regarding the issue 'meat and heat', you'll be disappointed that he did not talk about the bloody stuff at all.

Arthur Poletti : Al Gore, you should be ashamed of yourself
Mr. Global warming expert, stop gor-ging yourself with dead animal flesh!

Why not ask former Vice President Al Gore about meat and the environment?
Al Gore wants to hear from you!
Global warming and vegetarianism

Paul McCartney wants the world to turn veggie to halt global warming
The former Beatle: "Livestock farming is one of the biggest destroyers of the planet...."

Open letter to the vegetarian community
by Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D., President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)

UN issues desertification warning
Desertification could displace up to 50m people over the next decade

The small band of veggies who are saving the planet
Want to help the environment? Then all you have to do is become a vegan, says a report. But what does this lifestyle really entail?
New DVD: «Devour the Earth»


If you have not done so, why not become member of the European Vegetarian Union now. It is so easy

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5. Challenge to Al Gore Re Eating Meat

Forwarded message: (This was also in the EVU newsletter)

FW: Al Gore, You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourself (European Vegetarian Union)

Posted by: "Pete Cohon" rbtr8or

Mon Jul 16, 2007 3:40 pm (PST)

From: DTanze

To: AR-news

Date: July 15, 2007

Subject: Al Gore, You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourself (European Vegetarian

Arthur Poletti : Al Gore, you should be ashamed of yourself



Dear Vice President Al Gore:

Why do you, of all people, continue to participate and support the number
one cause of global warming?

You were given the opportunity during your worldwide live earth program to tell the whole truth about global warming.

Instead you elected, because you lack real character, to disregard and not
mention the number one cause of global warming.

You did this because you are a meat eater and you are also worried about
the personal repercussions and liability you might face if you told the world the real truth about the number one cause of global warming which the livestock industry is responsible for.

How long are you going to continue vacillating and how long will you avoid
telling the whole truth about the number one cause of global warming?

When will you reveal why a worldwide endorsement and change from meat
Eating to vegetarianism made by billions of people is the very best and most immediate cure for global warming?

Because you are a meat eater you and your family think it is perfectly okay to torture and murder millions of vulnerable animals every day so that people like you can use your stomachs as graveyards for the dead flesh.

Together, billions of meat eaters like you throughout the world contribute
to the escalation and number one cause of global warming.

Vice President Gore, (Global Warming Expert) save face and let the world
know you will begin a new live earth program immediately.

Here is a NEW 7 point pledge designed especially for you to endorse,
participate in, and recommend to the world as the best way to reduce global warming.









Vice President Gore, you may want to tell the world that you were inspired to make this new revolutionary pledge for many reasons. Most of all you were inspired by the following quotation made by the genius Albert Einstein who once said:



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6. Congressional Friends of Animals Caucus – Membership Drive Results

Forwarded message from Jerry Simonelli:

The Results

As a result of the cooperative effort of many individuals and organizations, as well as the hard work by Congressman Christopher Shays and his staff, our effort to invigorate the caucus has been a huge grass roots success. The caucus membership has been doubled (we now have 41 members) and Republican membership on the caucus has been increased to 40% (up from 19% when we started).

Thanks to Individuals & Organizations

The success of this effort is due to many of you contacting your Congressional offices and spreading the word through your personal contact lists. In addition, the following organizations played a large part in this effort through their membership alerts and their direct contacting of legislators:

American Anti-Vivisection Society
Animal Legal Defense Fund
Animal Protection Institute
Animals & Society Institute
Farm Sanctuary
League of Humane Voters – CA
League of Humane Voters – NYC
International Fund for Animal Welfare
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Student ALDF – GWU Law School

Future Caucus Agenda

Now that we have achieved the important goal of caucus invigoration through increased membership and greater bipartisanship, Congressman Shays and his caucus co-chair will be evaluating future caucus activities, hearings and projects to enable the caucus to play a more significant role in animal protection legislation and efforts.

Jerry Simonelli
July 16, 2007

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7. Major Fast Food Company Shifts Policies on Animals

Thanks to JVNA advisor Rina Deych for forwarding the following article.]

[Perhaps Jewish meat producers will follow Burger King’s example!]

March 28, 2007
Burger King Shifts Policy on Animals

In what animal welfare advocates are describing as a “historic advance,” Burger King, the world’s second-largest hamburger chain, said yesterday that it would begin buying eggs and pork from suppliers that did not confine their animals in cages and crates.

The company said that it would also favor suppliers of chickens that use gas, or “controlled-atmospheric stunning,” rather than electric shocks to knock birds unconscious before slaughter. It is considered a more humane method, though only a handful of slaughterhouses use it.

The goal for the next few months, Burger King said is for 2 percent of its eggs to be “cage free,” and for 10 percent of its pork to come from farms that allow sows to move around inside pens, rather than being confined to crates. The company said those percentages would rise as more farmers shift to these methods and more competitively priced supplies become available.

The cage-free eggs and crate-free pork will cost more, although it is not clear how much because Burger King is still negotiating prices, Steven Grover, vice president for food safety, quality assurance and regulatory compliance, said. Prices of food at the chain’s restaurants will not be increased as a result.

While Burger King’s initial goals may be modest, food marketing experts and animal welfare advocates said yesterday that the shift would put pressure on other restaurant and food companies to adopt similar practices.

“I think the whole area of social responsibility, social consciousness, is becoming much more important to the consumer,” said Bob Goldin, executive vice president of Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm. “I think that the industry is going to see that it’s an increasing imperative to get on that bandwagon.”


Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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8. Global Warming Effects in New York

NY Times editorial:

About eight years ago, Environmental Defense, in collaboration with Columbia University, issued a sobering report about the consequences of unchecked global warming on New York City.

The report painted an alarming picture — vanishing beaches, flooded subways, 90-degree days and nights all summer long. Michael Oppenheimer, one of the report’s authors (and now a professor at Princeton) noted ruefully to a reporter that unless steps were taken to begin reducing manmade emissions of carbon dioxide, the main global warming gas, his home in Greenwich Village would inevitably become “waterfront property.”

The report soon disappeared from public view, largely because there were too few people outside the scientific and environmental communities who took the issue seriously. President Clinton could count on the fingers of one hand the Senators who were willing to support the 1997 Kyoto agreement on climate change, Americans were snapping up SUV’s at a rapid clip, and propaganda underwritten by Exxon, Big Coal and some of the major power companies had people wondering whether the whole thing wasn’t some sort of gigantic hoax.


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9. JVNA Advisor and Israeli Vegetarian Activist Seeks Support For His Charity Bike Ride

Message from Steve “Shaya” kilter. Steve has conducted Tu B’Shvat seders at the Jerusalem Jewish Vegetarian Society headquarters for many years.
Dear family and friends,

Thank you very, very much to those who have already given their sponsorship for 2007.

Following is the rider info on me for the Alyn Hospital Wheels of Love International Charity Bike Ride. You can sponsor me on-line by credit card at or mail checks made out to Alyn Hospital or for U.S. tax purposes to American Friends of Alyn Hospital and mail to:
Steven "Shaya" Kelter
9 Diskin St. Villa 11A
96440 Jerusalem Israel

Thanks a lot, Shaya

Occupation: Insurance Agent
Contact email:

Dear fellow lover,

Wheels of Love 2007 will be my 4th Alyn Ride and the second on the Challenge Route. The Alyn Ride has helped teach me that giving is love. The Alyn Ride is dedication to giving and to loving courageous boys and girls at a very special hospital. The more you give the more love you show and, paradoxically, the more you get. I invite you to join me in love by giving as much as you think you can and then some. You will feel the reward in your heart. With all my heart I thank you very much.

Love, Shaya

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10. Shalom Center Analysis of Global Warming

Calming our Planet from Global Climate Crisis:
What Policy Choices Can We Make?

Dear Friends,

On June 18, The Shalom Center held an extraordinarily rich, informative, and action-oriented meeting on Public Policy Choices and Advocacy Alternatives for the Jewish Community to Mitigate Global Scorching.

Twenty-one leaders of various branches of the Jewish community took part, responding to presentations by two energy-policy experts -- Charles Komanoff, Carbon Tax Center, and Rob Socolow, Carbon Mitigation Initiative, Princeton University.

The Jewish-community leaders and activists included key members of the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Renewal rabbinates; the executive director, staff, and a lay leader of the Jewish Council on Public Affairs; the vice-president of the Jewish Funds for Justice; members of the Board of The Shalom Center; key staff of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal; and members of two local Green Tikkun groups with which The Shalom Center has been working.

The full report is available at

as the lead article on the Home page.

[This group is doing great work, but, like so many other groups, it is generally not linking animal-based agriculture to global warming.]

Though the meeting focused on the Jewish community, we think its explorations will be useful to everyone who is concerned with the climate-crisis dangers now facing the earth as well as human "earthlings."

1. Why the meeting?

Over the last 15-20 years, the US Jewish community (through such institutions as Shomrei Adamah, The Shalom Center, and COEJL (Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life) has been educated/led into limited recognition of Judaism's connection with environmental concerns. This has had some limited effect in two areas:

A. There has emerged an elementary readiness to see some Jewish festivals and some aspects of Torah as energy-concerned. (Not yet life-cycle events and not yet such areas of Jewish law as business ethics.)

B) There have been a few elementary steps toward congregational involvement in hands-on energy conservation.

C. Next necessary step in the evolution is advocacy for policy change at local, state, national, corporate, and labor-union levels AS WELL AS PERSONAL AND CONGREGATIONAL CHANGE. What policy changes would be most effective, and how can Jewish community help bring them about?

2. Expert presentation: Rob Socolow, ethical choices and technological possibilities

Rob Socolow offered a detailed and fascinating overview of the scope of the problem of atmospheric carbon, an approach to breaking down the problem into comprehensible pieces, and policy options for slowing, stabilizing, and eventually reducing the human-generated atmospheric carbon that is heating the earth. You can download a .pdf of his PowerPoint presentation at

Rob began with ethical and philosophical issues - concerns likely to be important for discussion and change by a religious community.

What is certain, what is not? -- Certain that global heating is real, has a major component of human causality, and will create severe damage if unchecked. Not certain: how quickly the damage is coming, how huge it will be. Rob argued this calls for an "insurance" model, not statements of absolute certainty of immediate doom.

Morally problematic issues:

Root cause: Consumer values and ethical concerns meet a small planet that we are just getting to know.

The good life is very widely defined as exuberance, variety of experience, acquisition of material goods. These values call for high use of fossil fuels.

Inequality and emulation: half of the world's emissions come from the richest 10% of the people (500 million people, 85% in OECD today). The poorest will have far less ability to defend themselves and will suffer more from such impacts as sea-level change, desertification, droughts, intensification of hurricanes, etc. For those in the middle, the prestige of the rich brings emulation of their lifestyle; so the inequities tend to make matters worse.


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11. Shalom Center Analysis of Global Warming

Forwarded message from Mara:

I want to alert you to free advance screenings of the upcoming film ARCTIC TALE, a heartwarming film (think March of the Penguins) with a message about the effects of climate change. It's a great film for families. Check out the trailer at, then please share this invitation with the organization in your area. There are hundreds of free screenings across the country throughout July and August. Details below. We could also possibly organize special screenings.

You can check on the website to see the next screening near you. We appreciate you spreading the word. Let me know if you have any questions - 917-449-6356 or

Best, Scott Tillitt

Paramount Classics and National Geographic Films
invite you to Free ADVANCE SCREENINGS in theaters
in the U.S. and Canada


Sign up for a free screening near you --
(On the home page, click on "Go to a Free Screening")

A terrific film for community, religious, environmental and youth organizations. Share this invitation with family, friends and colleagues.
ARCTIC TALE opens to the public in the U.S. and Canada late July and August.

"Children will be mesmerized by the animal footage, and adults will glory in the landscapes and respond to the sobering reminders of climate change." -- Hollywood Reporter

National Geographic Films, who brought you MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, and Paramount Classics who brought you AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, now present ARCTIC TALE, an epic live action / wild-life adventure film that explores the vast world of the Great North and the threat it now faces from climate change.

The film follows the walrus, Seela, and the polar bear, Nanu, on their journey from birth to parenthood in the frozen Arctic wilderness. As the planet warms, the Arctic is changing -- slowly disrupting the ancient rhythms of life that the walrus and polar bear rely on to survive. Perfect for all ages, ARCTIC TALE showcases spectacular footage that took years to capture and is being released at a time when the world is deeply concerned about the impact global warming is having on many threatened species, especially polar bears. Queen Latifah is the film's storyteller. Rated G. 83 minutes.

Group Sales: Jackie Papier - 866-397-6339 (

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12. Israeli Group Provides “Kosher” Certificate for Proper Treatment of Workers

"Kosher" Certification of a Different Kind
By Arutz-7 Staff

Thanks to author Dovid Sears for forwarding the following message:

An Israeli social justice movement has established a certification system to award restaurants for “kosher” treatment of employees and the disabled.

Bema’aglei Tzedek, a Jerusalem based non-profit organization, has established a system for altering consumers to positive employment practices and accessibility for the disabled through a system resembling that with which Kosher certification is displayed.

Called the Social Seal (Tav Chevrati in Hebrew), the certificate is now being prominently displayed in over 300 Israeli eateries from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and various other locales. It was introduced by Bema’aglei Tzedek activists to combat what the organization’s director Asaf Banner calls “an all-too-often ignored, yet deeply troubling aspect of Israeli society.”

Banner, who was among the organization’s founders in 2004, says, “The way that tens of thousands of workers all over Israel are being treated - without regard to their most basic human rights - was a situation that demanded to be addressed. We saw that the social seal was a great way of bringing attention to this issue.”

While the campaign began locally in Jerusalem with organization representatives using the seal as a means to promote the good labor practices of shop owners, it has quickly spread across the country.

Roee Zisman, who manages the popular Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf CafĂ© on Jaffa Road in downtown Jerusalem, believes that the seal is something many of his customers greatly value, as well as acting as a motivating factor for employers to improve worker conditions. “The Social Seal is very important in our relationship with our workers,” says Zisman. “I hear many people coming in and asking about it and we feel that there is a large clientele that comes to eat with us because of it.”

In order for an eatery to receive the seal, representatives of the organization will visit the restaurant and observe overall conditions as well as speak with the workers. According to Banner, several seals have been revoked after it was reported that workers’ rights were being repeatedly violated. Violations include cases where workers are being denied breaks or being paid below the legal minimum wage or where the restaurant is lacking appropriate access for the handicapped.

On Tuesday, July 3, Bema’aglei Tzedek held a conference at Jerusalem’s Rose Garden across from the Knesset entitled “Fighting the Exploitation of Custodial Workers.”

The conference in the Rose Garden

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Chief Rabbi of Efrat, addressed the conference, which attracted over 1,000 people. He said that despite often being pushed to the side of the social agenda, workers rights is something which is deeply entrenched in Jewish values, as well as the nation of Israel’s retention of the Land of Israel. “The Torah teaches again and again that our ability to stay on this holy soil of Israel depends on our being a holy people specifically in the realm of human relations,” he said. “This is including those between employer and employee.”

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13. Responsible Policies for Animals Receives Grant to Promote Better Treatment of Animals

Forwarded message from David Cantor, Executive Director of “Responsible Policies for Animals”


In Responsible Policies for Animals’ June update just weeks ago, I said I’d soon tell about “a unique, targeted booklet that promises to improve attitudes and policies regarding animals as nothing else has ever done before!”

I’m delighted to say in recent days the Animal Welfare Trust (AWT) awarded RPA a $3,500 grant toward creating and mailing our guidebook to assist the news industry in reporting on animals completely and truthfully!

Your gift to RPA at this time is crucial! The grant is definite, but before sending the check AWT prefers to know that we have an additional $7,000 to put the booklet in the hands of 2,500 news editors.

Thanks to your generosity and desire to prevent needless suffering, RPA can already put into this project $2,000 besides the grant without threatening existing programs or operations. And we’re already applying for more grants – they’re very likely thanks to the importance of the project, the just-announced grant, and whatever support you provide to show you are behind this unique effort for animals, people, and ecosystems – your support helps our case for foundation support.

Donations beyond the $5,000 we need at the moment to put this project into high gear will fund equally important mailings of the guidebook. Our research shows we could mail the guidebook to 100,000 people without reaching everyone just in the United States who affects attitudes about animals via the news industry. It is crucial that we receive enough support to get the ball rolling soon, but 2,500 news editors is only the beginning!

I hope you’ll generously & enthusiastically support this project! And I would guess you’d like to know more about RPA’s news-industry guidebook. What is the problem with existing news coverage of animals? How can RPA tell anyone else what to say or how to run their business?

Below are many details right out of the grant proposal. I think you’ll agree we know what we’re about! And why I believe a better future will not be possible for people or the other animals without careful attention to nonhumans by those with so much impact on what people think and what they think about.

See what you think! Let me know of any questions you might have. And please donate today – at the address below or quickly & easily by credit card at!

Thank you for everything you’ve already done to make Responsible Policies for Animals an effective voice, and thank you for considering this urgent request! I look forward to hearing from you – and being able to show you the “final product”!

Best wishes,

David Cantor
Executive Director
Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc.
P.O. Box 891
Glenside, PA 19038

Responsible Policies for Animals' Guidebook for Reporting on Animals

Responsible Policies for Animals (RPA) is preparing a 32-page 8.5” x 5.5” booklet for and about the news industry explaining how to report and comment on nonhuman animals fully, accurately, and truthfully. The purpose is to diminish significant obstacles to humane treatment of animals presented by the omission of nonhuman animals from almost every area of public discourse on matters that involve them or their interests.

A small part of RPA’s booklet will reinforce the long-standing pattern of urging the news industry to report on documented instances of extreme animal suffering and abuse, on animals’ endearing traits, emotions or intelligence, or on surprising occurrences involving animals.

But its main purpose is to be an important step toward the far-reaching goal of completely reforming, through education and persuasion, the way the “Fourth Estate” – the industry understood as “gatekeepers” to what is publicly discussed and how it is discussed – treats nonhuman animals.

The Need: Nonhuman Animals’ Plight

Human rights and the capabilities produced through exercise of those rights make inhumane treatment of nonhuman beings nearly universal
regardless of individual people’s intentions. The vast majority of nonhuman animals are severely harmed or subject to harm by human beings due to an enormous human population ranging far from original human habitat; powerful human technologies injurious to animals; systematic domination and exploitation of tens of billions of animals each year by the food, clothing, biomedical, personal-care, entertainment, and
other industries, including maximizing reproduction in some species; and other factors.

Nonhuman animals lack legal rights that could protect them by limiting human practices and restoring and establishing appropriate boundaries
between humans and other animals. A common adage goes, “Your rights end where my nose begins.” Human beings with basic legal rights and
enforcement of laws based on those rights enjoy meaningful protection against what would otherwise by tyranny and abuse on a massive
scale, as experienced before rights were established and in places where they are either not established or not enforced today.

The Need: The News Industry

The vast majority of people believe human beings should treat nonhuman animals humanely. But the social movement that promotes the basic legal rights nonhuman animals will need for humane treatment to prevail is never fully, accurately, and truthfully described by the news industry. Neither is the full extent of nonhuman animals’ plight, as described above, nonhuman animals’ true natures, ecological disruptions by humans and their impacts on nonhuman animals, or other matters that, if explained could help the news industry’s audience make informed decisions about practices that affect nonhuman animals.


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14. New Book Considers Jewish Teachings On Peace, Justice, Animal Rights

Publishers Weekly Web Exclusive Review

[I have an article on Jewish teachings on Justice in this book. There are also articles by JVNA advisors and activists Roberta Kalechofsky and Nina Natelson, and much more of interest.]

PEACE, JUSTICE AND JEWS: Reclaiming Our Tradition
Edited by Murray Polner and Stefan Merken. Bunim & Bannigan, $25 (372p) ISBN 9781933480152

Unabashedly left-leaning, but by no means homogenous, this literate, thought-provoking collection examines from all angles, in some four dozen essays, the idea that editors Polner and Merken believe “reflects the most basic attitude in our Jewish heritage”: Shalom, “much more than the absence of war… [it encompasses] wholeness, grace, and truth.” Covering everything from scriptural imperative to Israel to Arab-Jewish relations to animal rights, this is an excellent addition for libraries and classrooms. Standouts include Kenny Freeman’s Middle East dispatches, in which friendships with Arabs illustrate how “Jews and Arabs could live together… if their primary allegiance was to a unified Holy Land, rather than to their own nationalist needs.” Claudia Dreifus contributes a remarkable elegy, recalling trips to Germany on which she pieced together the story of 14 family members killed by the Nazis. Helen Fein’s vital essay addresses the false “Articles of Faith” that form part of the Holocaust’s legacy, such as the lingering myths that “our existence is always in peril,” and that Jewish victims “went dumbly… to their deaths, ‘like sheep to the slaughter.’ ” Calls to action include Richard Schwartz admonishing readers “not to wait for the right opportunity to come along... [but] to actively seek opportunities to practice justice.” Though some essays feel slight—especially in the opening section, “What We Believe”—there is much to learn here for anyone, Jew or Gentile, interested in global issues of peace and justice. (July)

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15. Veggie Pride Parade Being Planned

Forwarded message from author and vegetarian activist Pamela Rice:

That darling of the Food Channel/Network Tony Bourdain
( once declared, "Vegetarians are
the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an
affront to all I stand for."

In his book Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain wrote, "Vegetarians, and
their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent
irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock,
pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demiglace, or even stinky cheese is a
life not worth living."

Indeed, as Bourdain travels the globe giving talks he rarely neglects
to make similar jabs at vegans and vegetarians.

You just don't get it, do you?

I'm afraid, Mr. Bourdain, our veggie diet is a lot more than just
another peculiar dietary lifestyle designed to irk you. There are
profound reasons why we eat the way we do. And at least where the
environment is concerned, these reasons affect us all, vegan and meat
eater alike.

Indeed, the world needs to know this, now.

It's time for us vegans and vegetarians to stand up to all the Tony
Bourdains of the world and declare VEGGIE PRIDE, veggie empowerment,
and a celebration of our delicious, healthy, and animal-caring,
environment-aware lifestyle.

And now's our chance to do it, right here in New York City.

Veggie Pride Parade, NYC, 2008:
Steering committee members sought

The Parisians did it. They launched the Veggie Pride Parade in 2001
and have been holding it annually ever since.

Go to:
for more information.

New York City hopes to follow in their footsteps.

A steering committee has formed to plan and organize this event in
The Big Apple. Eventually, it will need everyone's help.

For now, the group is seeking passionate, hard-working, and dedicated
individuals to direct the ultimate outcome of this historic event.

If you possess leadership qualities, have good interpersonal skills,
and have a lot of stick-to-it-iveness, you are welcome to join our
meetings, which are now taking place monthly on the Upper West Side.

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