September 13, 2007

9/12/2007 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Shana Tova – Best Wishes for a Wonderful New Year

2. Please Order FREE DVDs of A SACRED TRUTH and Use Them to Schedule Showings of This Important Documentary

3. Latest re Campaign to Reduce Kapparot Abuses of Chickens

4. Challenge to Environmentalists Re Dietary Connections to Global Warming

5. Low-Carbon Choices for Dinner

6. “Responsible Policies For Animals” Challenges Agricultural College Leaders re Treatment of Farmed Animals

7. New Al Gore Book To Consider Solutions to Global Climate Change

8. Articles Linking Global Warming to Animal-Based Diets

9. Rosh Hashanah Environmental Message

10. Undercover Video Shows Abuses at Kosher Deer Slaughterhouse

11. Animal Rights Activists Challenge Al Gore on His Diet

12. Challenging Letter Re Need For Dietary Changes to Save Planet/Please Also Write

13. Israeli Supreme Court Justices to Participate in Panel Discussion re Legal Aspects of Factory Farming

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. Shana Tova – Best Wishes for a Wonderful New Year

Once again, on behalf of the JVNA and all of our leaders, I wish everyone a very happy, healthy, prosperous, peaceful, environmentally sustainable New Year.

As indicated, this can be a very important year for the JVNA, for the Jewish community and the entire world, as our documentary A SACRED DUTY will be released this Fall and we are mounting a major campaign around it. More re what we all can do to make it a successful year in a separate message. Please stay tuned. I look forward to continuing to work with you in furthering our objectives.

My article on “Vegetarianism and Rosh Hashanah was published in Baltimore Jewish Times

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2. Please Order FREE DVDs of A SACRED TRUTH and Use Them to Schedule Showings of This Important Documentary

Repeat of previous message: {Please forward to others who might be interested. Thanks.}


Here is “an offer you can’t refuse.” If you would like to get TWO FREE copies of the DVD once it is ready (hopefully by late October), simply send your name and mailing address to our very capable and dedicated JVNA Secretary/treasurer John Diamond (

Why TWO copies? A SACRED DUTY and the many activities we are planning around it have the potential to help move the world toward a sustainable path. But only if the movie is widely viewed and discussed.

So, please view the movie. Have viewings for family, neighbors and friends. Try to schedule showings at local schools, synagogues and other houses of worship, JCCs and other communal sites, etc. Share the DVDs with local rabbis and other religious leaders, teachers, politicians and other local influential people. If you feel that you can profitably use more than two DVDs, just let John know, with a brief description of how you plan to use them. Or, if you think one will be enough, please let John know that.

We will follow up by email to check that you received the DVDs and to see if we might help you in your efforts in getting the DVDs shown. We will be happy to list any event that you schedule in a JVNA newsletter.

[Offer available while quantities last.]

[As a special bonus, John has also offered to send anyone who requests it, completely at his expense, complimentary copy of CDs (in mp3 format) with Bach music. So, please let John know when you request DVDs if you would like him to also send you the Bach music.

Please pass this message on to others who might be interested. Thanks.]

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3. Latest re Campaign to Reduce Kapparot Abuses of Chickens

a. Announcement in “Kosher Today”

Thanks to JVNA advisor Prof. Joe Regenstein for forwarding this information to his list:

New York... A cross section of rabbis from across the spectrum of Orthodox Judaism has issued a Kol Koreh (Proclamation) calling for stricter kashrus and humane standards at Kapporos (the act of asking for forgiveness before Yom Kippur, using a chicken as a stead for life). The proclamation calls on all public Kapporos centers to be under the exacting Hashgacha of a competent Rav Hamachshir (Supervising Rabbi) to ensure that all aspects of this "minhag vasikin" (ancient ritual) are done properly in accordance with halacha. The proclamation followed a complaint by PETA, the extremist animal rights group, to New York State authorities of the "inhumane" treatment of the chickens. Sources confirmed that while most kapporos centers observed high standards, a few were guilty of abuses.

For Further Information
please contact Rabbi Avi Shafran
(212) 797-9000
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 4, 2007


BROOKLYN, NY – An historic rabbinic declaration to the public about participation in the mass “Kapporos” ceremonies that have become popular in some communities over recent years is about to be released, according to sources close to several of the rabbis who have been involved in drafting the document.

The declaration is expected to focus on a number of problems that have become apparent in the public fulfillment of the custom of Kapporos before Yom Kippur.

Several weeks ago, a group of esteemed rabbinic leaders from across the Orthodox Jewish spectrum met in the study-hall of the Novominsker Rebbe in Brooklyn to discuss the issue. Concerns voiced at the meeting included the performance of the slaughtering of chickens after the ceremony, the possibility of infections from improper handling of the chickens, and the possible compromising of the Torah’s prohibition against causing unnecessary discomfort or pain to animals that might result from the volume of birds being processed over short periods of time in an unregulated public venue.

According to the sources, the declaration will call for reliable rabbinic oversight of “Kapporos centers” and call on all members of the Orthodox Jewish community to patronize only those centers that have accepted ----such oversight.

c. JVNA Press Release

September7. 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact person: Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) (; Phone (718) 761-5876;
Web sites: and


The Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) announced today that it
commends the group of distinguished Orthodox rabbis who are working to see that the annual pre-Yom Kippur ritual of kapparot is properly supervised, so that abuses of chickens that occurred in previous years will not occur this year. However, because Jews are to be rachmanim b'nei rachmanim (compassionate children of compassionate ancestors), G-d's mercies are over all His creatures (Psalms 145:9), and 'the righteous individual considers the life of his animal” (Proverbs 12:10), JVNA reaffirmed its belief that the ritual should be carried out by the approved method of using money, rather than chickens. JVNA believes that even under the best of conditions there will be some mistreatment of chickens, and that being twirled over a person's head is a frightening experience for them, thereby violating the Jewish prohibition of causing tsa'ar ba'alei chayim (sorrow to living creatures). A fuller discussion of the ritual and JVNA's views on it can be found at the JVNA web site

JVNA also urges the learned rabbis to extend their concern to all of the chickens raised for food on factory farms. Over 9 billion chickens are slaughtered annually in the U.S. alone, after being raised under cruel, very crowded conditions, in which all of their natural instincts are thwarted. Over 250 million male chicks born at egg-laying hatcheries in the U.S. are killed each year immediately after birth, because they can't lay eggs and they have not been genetically programmed to gain much weight, as “broiler” chickens are. Hens are confined in such small spaces that they can't raise even one wing. Because of the very unnatural conditions, frustrated hens peck at each other, sometimes causing injury or death. To prevent this, the birds are debeaked, without the benefit of anesthetics, causing great pain. Other farmed animals are also mistreated under modern intensive conditions.

JVNA is planning a major campaign to respectfully urge Jews to apply Jewish values to the foods that we eat. The group argues that the harsh realities of animal-based diets and agriculture contradict fundamental Jewish teachings and laws. These include mandates to take care of our health, treat animals compassionately, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people. Also, the group asserts, rabbis (and other religious leaders) should make their congregations and students aware of the many benefits of a shift toward plant-based diets. These include:

o reducing the epidemic of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases currently afflicting the Jewish community and other communities;

o reducing current environmental threats, including global climate change; species extinction; pollution of land, air, and water; destruction of tropical rain forests, coral reefs, and other valuable habitats; and shortages of water and other resources; a 2006 UN FAO report indicated that animal-based agriculture releases more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the world's cars and other transportation vehicles;

o demonstrating the relevance of Judaism to some of the most critical issues of our time, helping to revitalize our ancient faith;

“There is an epidemic of diseases and ailments related to animal-based diets in the Jewish community and other communities, and the world is imperiled as perhaps never before by global warming and many other environmental threats that are greatly worsened by animal-based agriculture,” asserted Richard Schwartz, president of JVNA, “and our rabbis would do a tremendous kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God's name) by helping to put the many benefits of plant-based diets on the Jewish agenda.”

Much additional information can be obtained at JVNA's web site ( or by contacting them at mail@JewishVeg,com.

The group is eager to engage with rabbis and other Jewish leaders in respectful discussions of the issue, "Should Jews Be Vegetarians Today?"


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4. Challenge to Environmentalists Re Dietary Connections to Global Warming

Memo to Environmentalists: It's Time to Seriously Address the Number One Cause of Global Warming

Posted September 6, 2007

In the August 27 New Yorker, there is a cartoon showing two men on a private plane. Off to the side is a recycling bin; as one man tosses a piece of paper into the bin, he explains, "I try to do my part." This cartoon made me think of environmentalists who urge people to drive less, switch to hybrid cars, use energy-efficient light bulbs, and make other similar changes, while they ignore the global warming, waste, and pollution that is produced by funneling crops through chickens, pigs, and other farmed animals.

Last week, The New York Times ran an article <
> about the animal protection community's efforts to convince the environmental community to break its silence on the critical fact that almost 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are the product of our national addiction to chicken nuggets and other animal products. That's more than all the cars, trucks, and planes in the world combined, according to the 2006 U.N.
report, "Livestock's Long Shadow."

And the environmental problems with eating animals <> transcend global warming: The U.N. report concluded that the meat industry is "one of the ... most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." The U.N., in its 408-page indictment of the meat industry, specifically addressed the contribution of eating meat to "problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity."

Since the best thing you as an individual can do for the environment is to adopt a vegetarian diet <> , wouldn't you think that the environmental community would be addressing the issue in a significant way? Sadly, Al Gore doesn't discuss the issue at all. According to Mr. Gore's deputy press secretary, however, the suggestion
to "modify your diet to include less meat" appears on Page 317 of An Inconvenient Truth (though it's not in the movie at all). And the Sierra Club, when listing "10 things you can do to help curb global warming
<> ," ignores this number one issue completely.

There are signs of change, fortunately. Although Environmental Defense neglects the issue in its main global warming brochure <>, it does address it on its global warming Web page,
noting that "If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains, for example, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads... Having one meat-free day per week would be the same as taking 8 million cars off American roads." So imagine the impact of adopting a fully vegetarian diet!

Greenpeace has done just that. The group both walks the walk and talks the talk, serving only vegetarian food at all the organization's events. And they call attention to the connection between meat and environmental degradation on their Web site < o-vegetarian> , noting that a vegetarian diet means "saving vital chunks of rainforest, consuming less raw materials, saving water and generating less pollution." Greenpeace has also targeted KFC for the destruction of the rainforests because the Amazon is being razed to grow feed for KFC's chickens.

Don't get me wrong: I have a deep respect and admiration for Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carl Pope, and all the others who selflessly trying to make the world a better place. I know that they genuinely care about ending global warming and all environmental issues.

But evidence shows that eating animals is the number one individual cause of global warming and that it's in the top three causes of every significant environmental problem, from the smallest to the largest. So it's past time for the environmental movement to tell people the truth--that adopting a vegetarian diet is the most important action any of us can take, both to decrease our support for global warming and also to address our support for all the rest of the "most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global" (to quote the United Nations).

Get started right away with recipes, menu plans, cookbook recommendations and more at

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5. Low-Carbon Choices for Dinner

Thanks to JVNA Vice President and web site coordinator Noam Mohr for forwarding the following item:

Fighting Global Warming with Food

Posted: 24-Jul-2007; Updated: 27-Aug-2007

There are lots of ways Americans can help fight climate change and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Buying a car or truck with better gas mileage. Using compact fluorescent bulbs. For those who choose it, even eating just a little less meat can help.

Why food choices affect climate change

Farmers are a critical part of our economy. They not only feed us, they’re also at the frontline of conserving America’s environmental resources and fighting global warming.

Just as with any other business, farming requires burning fossil fuels to make fertilizer, run tractors and process and transport food. It takes many calories of grains to make one calorie of meat, and animals and manure produce greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide. As a result, producing meat emits more greenhouse gases than growing crops.

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to make a difference

Even small dietary changes can make a big difference.


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6. “Responsible Policies For Animals” Challenges Agricultural College Leaders re Treatment of Farmed Animals

Forwarded message from RPA Director David Cantor:

Cross-Post Freely


I hope you had an enjoyable and productive summer and a fine Labor Day weekend!

I'm sure our friends at our land-grant universities were glad to receive Responsible Policies for Animals' latest letter in the 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign demanding an end to their inhumane "animal science" programs.

Below is today's AR-News item on the newest campaign mailing. It includes the letter -- as always, sent to the main LGUs (Land Grant Universities) in all 50 states!

Many thanks for your generosity in response to RPA's news-industry guidebook! Expect updates on that in the near future, when we've heard from foundations we queried after the first grant was announced.

Enjoy! And, as always, thank you for the opportunity!

Best wishes,

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



University Heads Start Fall Semester with New Letter in Hand from Responsible Policies for Animals

By David Cantor,

Vegan education will never suffice to wean the vast majority from flesh, milk & eggs. Popular consumer choices do not begin with consumers but with industries, institutions and professions that support the industries, and subtly powerful, intricate dynamics, of public relations and advertising.

So it isn't realistic to believe flesh, milk & egg industry momentum - built over many decades by thousands of skilled professionals, trillions of dollars, desperately embraced popular mis- conceptions, wishful thinking, and conspiracies of silence - can be reversed in the foreseeable future by a much smaller number of people with rudimentary P.R. skills and comparably minuscule budgets and claims to public trust and favor. While animal advocates count on their digits numbers of friends & relatives who "go vegan," the increase in "meat eaters" each
year probably exceeds the total number of humans on Earth at the time agriculture began.

That's because the human population continues to grow; most newborns are not vegan; and the flesh, milk & egg industries, with their promotion apparatus, have descended on large countries, where less affluence used to dictate a nearly-all-plant diet, to suck up as much as they can of people's increasing affluence.

Among the mainstays of the inhumane flesh, milk, egg & feed-crop industries, even inter- nationally, are our land-grant universities' "animal science" programs - training students to work for, manage, and promote the flesh, milk & egg industries; enabling instructors to build salaried careers teaching students to serve the industries and serving the industries themselves through research and advice; and giving the industries an academic stamp of approval - though doing so contradicts humane treatment of animals and expert warnings, some from the very same LGUs, of harm to ecosystems and human health & wellbeing from the flesh, milk, egg & feed-crop industries.

"Animal science" is an untruthful name. Zoology is the study of Earth's million-plus animal species; "animal science" teaches how to exploit a very small number of species humans have enslaved for thousands of years. Selectively applying the scientific method to that task, it ignores science and ideas that challenge the acceptability of the task itself. "Animal science" violates our LGUs' congressional mandate to serve the public interest.

Accordingly, Responsible Policies for Animals (RPA) in 2003 began its 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign to educate people in positions to end "animal science": LGU presidents and trustees; state governors and legislators; government agriculture, education, environment, and other committees; news writers, editors & producers; LGU newspaper personnel; and others.

The sixth letter RPA sent to the heads of the largest LGUs in all 50 states - in recent days, as the fall semester was about to begin - appears at the end of this article. Past letters to the same 50 were accompanied by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson's groundbreaking book The Pig Who Sang to the Moon: The Emotional World of Farm Animals, factsheets designed for the campaign, and text of the special webpage
linked to the ad RPA ran in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

RPA has received replies from 20 LGUs, some of them multiple times. No one has been able to refute any of RPA's reasons for ending "animal science" or any fact on which those reasons are based. Details of the 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign are available at

RPA sent the letter that appears below to the president of Cornell University, the only Ivy League LGU. RPA recommends writing to him if you live in New York State or have another affiliation with Cornell and do not want tax & tuition dollars used to bolster the inhumane flesh, milk, egg & feed-crop industries. (See for the list of all 50 LGUs to which RPA has now sent six informative mailings.

RPA also offers the free brochure Vegetarianism: Why Plants-Only Eating Is ecessary and How Political Vegetarianism Can Make It Happen. It explains how political vegetarianism – organized activity to end public institutions' support of the flesh, milk & egg industries - might succeed where ethical and health vegetarianism, popular approaches of recent decades, cannot by themselves bring the needed changes.

RPA's 6th mailing to all 50 states' largest land-grant universities demanding an end to "animal science":

Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc.
P.O. Box 891, Glenside, PA 19038, USA
215-886-RPA1 -

August 23, 2007
Dr. David J. Skorton
Day Hall #300
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853

Dear Dr. Skorton:

Responsible Policies for Animals' (RPA's) five previous mailings to you and your predecessor about the need to end Cornell University's service to the flesh, milk & egg industries documented the industries' enormous harm to human health & quality of life, waste and contamination of water & topsoil, nonhuman animals' moral right not to be used by human beings, and other public interests. Also crucial to consider: harm to instructors and students from "animal science."

The industries use "animal science" instructors, students & graduates as pawns for profit. Cornell uses them for tuition and for industry, government, and alumni support. It's expected that industry will exploit whom it can. It's shocking for an institution whose fundamental responsibility is truth-seeking to turn its back on the truth at instructors' & students' expense.

Most instructors & students probably want their work and their university to serve the public interest. Sadly, "animal science" mocks that sincere desire, substituting destructive popular interests: hamburgers, cheese pizza, scrambled eggs, and the rest. And endorsing flesh, milk & egg production - contradicting established facts - puts "animal science" instructors & students in the position of deceiving rather than educating or serving others.

When you think of "animal science," think of farmers in Tanzania attacking each other with machetes. "Animal science" is a significant cause of global climate change, which is melting the snow atop Mt. Kilimanjaro. Farmers near the mountain now fight over the reduced water available for crops. Surely that is not the kind of thing a Cornell University education should foster? Unfortunately, that is just one of many tragedies attributable in part to "animal science."

The European Union will soon begin paying owners to reduce the number of sheep and other animals causing desertification and rapid water loss. RPA and other organizations are working hard for such constructive change. Phasing out "animal science" is an important opportunity for you to lead in the right direction as a land-grant university (LGU) president - the sooner, the better. Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to receive your reply soon.


David Cantor
Executive Director

P.S. Having a graduate degree and extensive teaching experience myself, I'm troubled by the lack of intellectual integrity reflected in our LGUs' stonewalling this urgent & important matter. Won't you help move our LGUs and our country in the right direction?

David Cantor is executive director of
Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc.

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7. New Al Gore Book To Consider Solutions to Global Climate Change

Al Gore is working on a new environmental book entitled The Path to Survival, a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth that offers a blueprint on what can be done to fight global warming. The book will be released on Earth Day, April 22, 2008.

Let us hope that he will finally relate animal-based diets to global warming.

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8. Articles Linking Global Warming to Animal-Based Diets

Additional articles by Dan Brook and me on the topic:

The Warming Globe and Us. It's More Than CO2.
by Dan Brook and Richard H. Schwartz / Dissident Voice, May 1st, 2007

'Go veg' to fight global warming: To help our planet, don't have a cow

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9. Rosh Hashanah Environmental Message

Thanks to author and Torah educator Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen for the following message:

The Owner of the Earth: An Environmental Message


At the dawn of human history, Hashem Elokim – the Compassionate and Just One – gave to the human being the following mandate which serves as a reminder that the human being is the custodian, and not the owner, of the earth:

“Hashem Elokim took the human being and placed him in the Garden of Eden to serve it and to protect it.” (Genesis, Chapter 2:15)

Dear Friends,

Our Torah study program, “Hazon – Our Universal Vision,” has discussed the universal homecoming of all humankind to the Garden of Eden at the dawn of the messianic age. One of the roadblocks on this journey, however, is the view that the human being is the owner of the earth. It is this view which caused the loss of the Garden in the first place, when the first human couple began to forget that the earth belongs to Hashem – the Compassionate One. They therefore began to view themselves as the owners of the earth, with the freedom to exploit everything on earth for their own selfish gratification. They felt that nothing was to be forbidden to the human being; thus, they ate the “forbidden fruit” – an act which led to the loss of the Garden. (Genesis, Chapter 3)

At Mount Sinai, we were given mitzvos – Divine mandates – which help us to realize that human beings are just the custodians and not the owners of the earth and its resources. Among the mitzvos which specifically remind us that the earth belongs to the Creator is the following land-related mitzvah regarding Shmittah – the Sabbatical Year:

“Six years shall you sow your land and gather in its produce. But in the seventh year, you shall let it go and abandon it, and the needy of your people shall eat, and the wildlife of the field shall eat what is left; so shall you do to your vineyard and your olive grove.” (Exodus 23:10,11)

Maimonides, in his classical work, “The Book of the Mitzvos,” discusses the above mitzvah, and he writes:

“By this injunction, we are given a mandate to renounce as ownerless all produce of the land in the Shmittah Year, and to permit anybody to take what grows in our fields.” (Mitzvah 134)

A related mitzvah, writes Maimonides, is the mandate to desist from cultivating the land during the Shmittah Year (Mitzvah 135). The source for this second mitzvah is found in the following verses:

“Hashem spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them: When you come into the land that I will give you, the land shall observe a Sabbath for Hashem. For six years you may sow your field and for six years you may prune your vineyard; and you may gather in its crop. But the seventh year shall be a complete rest for the land, a Sabbath for Hashem; your field you shall not sow and your vineyard you shall not prune.” (Leviticus 25:1-4)

Through this mitzvah, states the Talmud, Hashem is telling Israel: “Sow for six years and let go of the land in the seventh year in order that you know that the land is Mine” (Sanhedrin 39a).

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains that the mitzvah of the Shmittah Year is the great act by which an entire nation proclaims Hashem as the true Owner and Master of the land. Rabbi Hirsch adds:

“By doing so, the people acknowledge that they are strangers and sojourners on their own land, dwelling on it only by the grace of the Owner. Then the arrogance that causes men, secure in their own land, to become callous and harsh in dealing with the unpropertied, melts away, yielding place to love and kindness toward the stranger and the poor. Even the wild animals, as God’s creatures, are considered endowed with rights on God’s earth, on which all are to dwell together.” (Commentary to Exodus 23:10,11)

It is written, “The land is Mine, for you are strangers and sojourners with Me” (Leviticus 25:23). With these words, say our sages, Hashem is conveying the following paradoxical message: “When it is Mine, then it will be yours” (Sifra). When we acknowledge that the land belongs to the Compassionate One, then the Compassionate One gives us the right to live in the land and to serve as its custodians.

Today, a growing number of farmers in the Land of Israel are fervently fulfilling the sacred principles and laws of the Shmittah Year. Through their observance of this mitzvah which causes them to give up their control over the land, they are proclaiming, “To Hashem belongs the earth and its fullness, the inhabited land and those who dwell in it” (Psalm 24:1). These farmers desire to gain the full spiritual benefits of the Shmittah Year; thus, they have decided not to follow the practice of other farmers who sell their land to non-Jews for the duration of the Shmittah Year so that they can farm the land and sell its produce for commercial gain. The practice of selling the land stems from the early 20th century, when a couple of leading sages, including Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, temporarily permitted this procedure as an emergency measure, as it was felt that observing the strict requirements of the Shmittah Year would endanger the survival of the struggling Jewish community in the Land of Zion. It was feared that, given the poverty and limited economic resources of that pioneering period, Jewish farmers would not be able to economically survive. Their ruling, however, was opposed by other leading sages, including “the Chazon Ish.” They argued that this ruling was a violation of both the letter and the spirit of the “halacha” – the steps on our spiritual path.

Most of the Religious Zionist communities followed the ruling of those sages that permitted the sale. The Chareidi (fervently Orthodox) communities – including older communities which preceded the secular Zionist movement – followed the ruling of those sages that would not rely on the sale. As a result, Chareidi farmers would not farm the land during the Shmittah Year. Today, a growing number of farmers and consumers from the Religious Zionist communities are joining their Chareidi brethren in the full observance of the Shmittah. They point out that Rabbi Kook’s original ruling permitting the sale was meant to be a temporary emergency measure during an earlier period of very limited economic resources; thus, they feel that this “hetter” – legal dispensation – is no longer applicable today in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel). In this spirit, Rabbi Hershel Schachter, a noted Talmudic scholar at Yeshiva University, writes:

“Even those gedolim (leading sages) who allowed the sale of the land for the purpose of canceling the laws of shmittah, did so only because of the unusually difficult economic circumstances then prevailing in Israel. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l (a leading sage who guided Religious Zionists in America) was of the opinion that for those living in America it is improper to use products that rely on the hetter. (This quote is an excerpt from an article which appeared on the Orthodox Union website during the previous Shmittah Year.)

On this Rosh Hashana, we begin the “Shmittah” – the Sabbatical Year! During this year, we are to allow the Land of Israel to experience its “Shabbos” – Sabbath. In the spirit of the approaching Shabbos of the Land, I would like to share with you the following story:

During the early days of the State of Israel, there was a beloved sage, Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, who was the founder and head of the Ponivez Yeshiva in Bnei Brak. Rabbi Kahaneman was aware of the difficulties facing those farmers who were striving to fully observe the Shmittah. On the eve of the Sabbatical Year, this sage traveled to Kibbutz Chafetz Chaim, a Chareidi kibbutz which was keeping the Shmittah laws, for he desired to strengthen the spirit of the farmers. He spoke to them about the holiness of this “Shabbos for Hashem” – a holiness which permeates each plant and each “boimelah” (an affectionate Yiddish term for a tree). As the Shmittah year was about to begin, he suggested that every farmer go over and wish a tree, “Good Shabbos, boimelah.” He himself then kissed the earth and wished it a “Good Shabbos”!

In honor of the approaching Shabbos of the land, this letter should be shared with others. May we be blessed with a Shabbos of life and shalom.

Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

Related Comments:

1. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel is one of the leading Israeli environmental organizations, and a number of years ago, they sponsored an ad in Israeli newspapers with the following heading: “The land shall not be sold permanently, as the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me” (Leviticus 25:23). Their use of this verse from the Torah is an indication that some Israeli environmentalists are beginning to recognize that the ultimate solution to the environmental crisis facing Israel and the world is a spiritual one. They recognize that the root cause of the destruction of the environment is the view that the human being is the owner and sovereign of the earth. They therefore cited a verse which reminds us that the Compassionate One is the Owner and Sovereign of the earth. This concept is also a major theme of the prayers which we chant on Rosh Hashana, the New Year.

2. During the Shmittah Year, the produce that grows naturally in the fields is considered to be ownerless. According to our tradition, the rabbinical courts can hire workers to gather this produce and distribute it to the public. For example, there are rabbinical courts in Israel today which hire workers – the farmers themselves – to gather the produce, and it is then distributed to the public for a low fee which covers the costs of the gathering and distribution. This not-for-profit procedure has been used by Chareidi communities, and it is now also being used by some Religious Zionists.

3. The story about Rabbi Kahaneman appears in the book “Builders” by Chanoch Teller. This book is distributed by Feldheim Publishers: .

Hazon - Our Universal Vision:

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10. Undercover Video Shows Abuses at Kosher Deer Slaughterhouse

a. Letter from Bruce Friedrich
To: Rabbi Menachem Genack
Cc: Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

September 7, 2007

Rabbis Yisroel Belsky and Menachem Genack
Orthodox Union

Dear Rabbis Belsky and Genack:

After receiving a complaint, PETA dispatched people to view and document the kosher slaughter methods that are being used at the Musicon Deer Farm in Goshen, New York. Please view the footage that they took on August 26, 2007—while you were present, Rabbi Belsky—here:

What our investigators recorded was appalling. As you may know, deer are high-strung, nervous animals. The deer killed by Musicon panicked when they entered the building. They were then wrestled into position in the restraining pen. In the “drop floor crush” restraint box, an assistant climbed on the back of the deer and knelt on the struggling animals’ shoulders to try to immobilize them. Another assistant then grabbed the deer by the ears or antlers and pulled their bodies forward to expose their necks.

Deer panic easily. Any handling—especially this type of cruel handling—causes them extreme fear and pain.

In a September 1, 2007, letter to PETA (attached), Dr. Temple Grandin confirmed that deer should not be knelt on or pulled by their ears during handling. Dr. Grandin also noted that at Musicon, there is not enough room to make a proper cut.

Immediately after shechita, the assistant would slam the pen door shut to keep the deer from thrashing; some dying animals had their heads squeezed between the frame and the door. The deer were conscious for up to a minute and a half after shechita and one was dragged away while still conscious, as confirmed by Dr. Grandin.

As venison is not a staple of the kosher diet but rather a novelty meat, and because handling and slaughtering deer in these ways violates the fundamental principle of tsa’ar ba’alei chayim (and cannot be done humanely given the nervous, frightened nature of the animals), I hope that the Orthodox Union will not certify any deer slaughter operation. Please remove your hechsher from the Musicon Deer Farm.


Bruce Friedrich
Vice President
b. Letter from Matt Prescott:

September 6, 2007

Norman Schlaff
Musicon, Inc.

2 pages via fax: 516-239-8915

Dear Mr. Schlaff:

After receiving a complaint, PETA dispatched people to view and document your slaughter methods. You can view the footage they took on August 26, 2007, here:

As you know, deer—including those Musicon slaughters—are high-strung, nervous animals. The deer killed by Musicon panic when they enter the building. They are then wrestled into position in the restraining pen. In the “drop floor crush” restraint box, an assistant actually climbs on the back of the deer and kneels on the struggling animal’s shoulders to try to immobilize them. Another assistant then grabs the deer by the ears or antlers and pulls the body forward to expose the neck.

Deer panic easily. Any type of handling—especially this type of cruel handling—causes them extreme fear and pain.

In a September 1, 2007, letter to PETA (attached), Dr. Temple Grandin—a meat industry consultant, a slaughterhouse designer, and the world’s foremost expert on animal welfare, including kosher slaughter—confirmed that deer should not be knelt on or pulled by their ears during handling.

Immediately after shechita, the assistant would slam the pen door shut to keep the deer from thrashing; some dying animals had their heads squeezed between the frame and the door. The deer were conscious for up to a minute and a half after shechita, and one was dragged away while still conscious, as confirmed by Dr. Grandin.

As a Jew, I find that what is being done is abhorrent and in clear violation of tsa’ar ba’alei chayim. As venison is not a staple of the kosher diet but rather a novelty meat—and because deer cannot be handled or slaughtered humanely if they are restrained—I hope that you get out of the deer slaughtering business and switch to a different pursuit that does not involve abusing animals in egregious ways that are contrary to the fundamental principles of Judaism.

You may reach me at 757-962-8264 or via e-mail at


Matt Prescott
Manager, Factory Farming Campaigns

Attachment: Letter from Temple Grandin to PETA

c. Blog entry:
Investigation of Kosher Deer Slaughterhouse

Another kosher slaughterhouse is under fire for animal welfare abuses based on a PETA investigation. (Surely you'll remember AgriProcessors and Local Pride.) This time, it's Musicon, a kosher deer slaughterhouse in Goshen, N.Y. "Immediately after shechita, the assistant would slam the pen door shut to keep the deer from thrashing; some dying animals had their heads squeezed between the frame and the door. The deer were conscious for up to a minute and a half after shechita and one was dragged away while still conscious, as confirmed by Dr. [Temple] Grandin," says PETA VP Bruce Friedrich. Click here to watch the disturbing video from the undercover investigation.

Dr. Grandin, a leading expert on farmed animal welfare and humane slaughter systems (including for kosher slaughter), was quoted in a Failed Messiah post as saying, "[T]here are some definite problems with the restrainer and procedures. The collapse time was really slow due to a poor cut. ... There is not enough space for a good cut. ... The third deer was definitely not fully insensible when it was pulled out of the restrainer by its ears." Dr. Grandin advises that Musicon should do all the following in order to ensure humane treatment of animals:

Better clearance for the rabbi’s knife.

A neck and back holder so a person does not have to kneel on the back of the animals.

Do not hold the head in position by holding the ears.

Never use the ears to move a sensible animal.

Design change may be needed to reduce struggling in the box. I could not see how the restrainer and leading chute was constructed in the rear.

The deer must be fully insensible before it is dragged out of the box.

Making these changes will improve the rapid collapse time.

All this is, of course, pretty upsetting, but there are three things here that seem particularly troubling:

1. Because deer are wild animals, they are not protected under the Humane Slaughter Act. No matter how abusive their treatment is, it's not illegal under federal law.

2. In a recent period prior to the investigation, 18 out of 25 (72 percent) deer slaughtered at Musicon were apparently deemed traif. This means that, for that period at least, the vast majority of deer shechted then can't even be served to kosher consumers, which seems to defeat the purpose of subjecting them to shechita. (One heebnvegan reader recently showed me commentary by Rabbi Eliezer Eidlitz that says that about 70 percent of shechted animals aren't deemed kosher and up to 95 percent of shechted animals aren't deemed glatt kosher.)

3. In the big picture, this investigation reveals the unwillingness or inability of kosher certification agencies (e.g., the Orthodox Union) to prevent tza'ar ba'alei chayim (unnecessary animal suffering) in kosher slaughterhouses. "Here we have another example of animal abuse and rabbis stand by and apparently do nothing," noted Failed Messiah's Shmarya Rosenberg in a comment following his blog post. In response to a criticism of this issue because it was brought to light by PETA, another commenter wrote, "[S]how me a Jewish group that is doing the same job exposing the chillul haShem than is regularly occurring at kosher slaughter houses." Unfortunately, there apparently is no group within the Jewish community that goes inside slaughterhouses and exposes the abuses done in the name of kosher slaughter. And there certainly doesn't seem to be much being done by the authorities in the kosher meat industry to fix the problem either.

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11. Animal Rights Activists Challenge Al Gore on His Diet

Activists take Al Gore to task on his diet

By Philip Sherwell
Last Updated: 1:38am BST 09/09/2007

He may be the hero of the environmental movement for his crusade against global warming but Al Gore is about to be targeted by animal rights activists over his carnivorous contribution to greenhouse gases.

Citing United Nations research that the meat industry is worse for the environment than driving and flying, animal rights groups are directing a campaign at the former American vice-president's diet.

When he delivers a lecture on global warming in Denver next month, protesters will display billboards bearing a cartoon image of Mr Gore eating a drumstick and the message: "Too chicken to go vegetarian? Meat is the No 1 cause of global warming".

The campaign is being organized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) and is backed by other animal rights groups. "For Al Gore, the fact that his diet is a leading contributor to global warming is a highly inconvenient truth - pun intended," said Matt Prescott, a spokesman for Peta.

Mr Gore won an Oscar this year for An Inconvenient Truth, the documentary based on his lecture-circuit presentation detailing how man is allegedly destroying the environment.

But he is now under fire for failing to highlight the impact of meat-eating.

According to recent UN Food and Agriculture Organisation research, animal agriculture generates 18 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions - more than the 13.5 per cent produced by all forms of transport combined.

Mr Gore's eating habits have previously drawn attention only because of his dramatic weight fluctuations.

He cut a far slimmer figure in the run-up to the 2000 election than since - and observers would regard a reduction in his waistline as a...
full story:

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12. Challenging Letter Re Need For Dietary Changes to Save Planet/Please Also Write

Dear Dr. Hansen,

[Dr. James Hansen is a NASA scientist who has argued that climate change may sin out of control with disastrous consequences within a decade, unless major changes are soon made.]

Forgive the unsolicited contact. I live in New Hampshire and attended the Mount Washington Observatory Symposium on Climate Change at the Mount Washington Hotel. Mark Bowen's presentation offered that you are coming out with a book about how our own government is controlling much of the information today regarding climate change. I think it does not stop there.

This only compounds my distress at what I hear from renowned scientists regarding climate change. I video tape for a small community access station and in that capacity, am not allowed to ask questions or comment, although I try to sneak some in after sessions are over. The one huge issue, troubling, moral, philosophical, and yes, spiritual issue to me, not even on the radar, is our idea that humans own this earth and can reduce every other species and every other habitat, oceans, forests, a "resource center" for the benefit of humans. We have mistreated our earth and it's inhabitants for thousands of years, and we are now facing the cost of that arrogance.

Human society took a wrong turn, I think, when we went from gathering, scavenging, hunting, to herding. This diversion from our connectedness to nature, becoming the "dominant species," or so we think, gave rise to much of what this modern culture was born of, ruthlessness and cruelty to animals. Making animals our property has been a thorn in the heart of humankind for centuries. Considering all of nature for the sole benefit of humanity, has cost us in ways we dare not calculate.

To attend a series on the urgency of changing our thoughts and behaviors, while the dinner consisted of dead birds and dead cows (that to me, is what they ate) hosted by a mogul who makes his fortune on the unnatural confinement, feeding, forced impregnation of female cows, to then force he young from her so humans can take her milk, is in my view, obscene. To attend a series on climate change in which the food served came from factory farmed animals who lived, and died in absolute horror, was unconscionable and showed little initiative to be the change we need to be to change this horrible path we have created.

SO much evidence is out there regarding the benefits of a vegan diet. So many books are coming out about how to reverse and prevent heart disease, diabetes, obesity, many cancers, using organic plant based foods. Like the censorship of science, there is also a media blackout regarding the information that would ultimately put drug and medical device manufacturers out of business. It leads me to view this nations domestic policies as perverse, predatory, cruel, and unethical if in fact, children are being sickened because the USDA and FDA work for the benefit of animal agribusiness and the massive drug manufacturers who sell , what I hear, about 50% or more drugs to the livestock industry. The rain forests are being torn down and replaced with grazing cows. American animals, all genetically turned into freaks of nature, are replacing indigenous species that are threatened with extinction. The UN FAO report, "Livestock's Long Shadow," puts the carbon footprint from meat consumption at about 17%, higher than transportation. Why no discussion of agriculture if food is the one thing that would help change the face of global insecurity and violence? Why no comparative graphs depicting the carbon footprint of the global livestock industry compared with what it would be if we adopted a far healthier, moral, non-violent plant based diet, the diet many cultures existed on, and were free from the many degenerative diseases Dr. T. Colin Campbell writes about in his book, The China Study?"

I got involved with this because I opened my eyes to the plight of animals humans have reduced to food. One article in the Washington Post in 2001, made me a born again vegan. Looking squarely in the eyes of the animals being tortured by the BILLION, compels me to try and save their lives, consequently saving ours. In my view, there is NOTHING more powerful or holistic we can do, then urgently, unceasingly, promote plant based agriculture.

I feel strongly that it would cure most of what ails our species. Dr. Charles Patterson wrote a book called, "Eternal Treblinka, Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust," which examines what happened when herding began, reducing animals to slaves, property. Dr. Will Tuttle wrote, "The World Peace Diet," which is eloquent, thoughtful, and reveals that in human social structures, everything we have done to the animals, manifests itself back like a boomerang. I am working with Dr. Richard Schwartz, on getting out a new documentary called, "Our Sacred Duty."

Dr. Schwartz, author of three books and Professor Emeritus in Mathematics at Staten Island College, is working tirelessly on tying diet to climate issues, cruelty issues, food security issues, and more. I believe that if we are to transcend the current geo-political plagues of corporations ruling our laws and military, we should work as a team to promote alternatives to the rhetoric abounding using concrete steps that perhaps, looking at the big picture, we should have been practicing all along.

With groups like Richard Bermans, "Center For Consumer Freedom," demonizing anyone who dare challenge the status quo, and media complicity, we need very outside the box thinking to get others to use the power of their $$$ differently.

Stonyfield Farm was a major sponsor of this event. Mr. Gary Hirschberg stood in front of hundreds of people and lied. He lied in ways that result in animals being tortured, children becoming sick, (Don't Drink Your Milk, by Dr. Frank Oski, John's Hopkins Pediatric University), and the vicious cycle of attitude over animals continuing.

We need to change our diets, and fast. Why do scientists refuse to take on the cruel, violent, unsustainable, destructive system of food production that is killing us, as it is killing animals and causing unfathomable suffering and environmental suicide?

If you read my entire email, I thank you. I am just so distraught when I hear so little about what will save our planet and the many miracles of other species we share it with. How dare we not consider their right to life.

Thank You,

Laura Slitt

Pythagoras said," For as long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of other living beings, he will not know peace or health. As long as man massacres animals, he will kill other men. Indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder and pain, cannot reap joy or love."

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13. Israeli Supreme Court Justices to Participate in Panel Discussion re Legal Aspects of Factory Farming

Thanks to animal rights activis Batya bauman for forwarding this message to us:

Israel Supreme Court Justices to Discuss Historic Decision: Cruel Farming Practices and the Law

In 2003, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled that the force feeding of geese was illegally cruel, thereby putting an end to the Israeli foie gras industry, which was, at the time, producing up to 500 tons of foie gras per year.

This important decision was a significant victory for animal advocates, who have targeted foie gras production as a particularly cruel farming practice. Such advocates have also had some legislative successes in this country, prospectively banning production and sale in California and, most recently, banning sale in Chicago, as well asin Europe, but have been completely unsuccessful in attempts to banproduction in New York, currently the only state, other thanCalifornia, in which force feeding for foie gras is practiced.

The implications of the Israeli decision go far beyond the issue of force feeding and implicate numerous farming practices which are currently in use in both Israel and the United States that are considered cruel by animal advocates. Could this principled decision, if taken to its logical extreme, lead to a revamping of animal agriculture?

On Tuesday, September 25th, at Columbia Law School, Israeli Supreme Court Justices Tova Strasberg-Cohen and Eliezer Rivlin, the two justices in the majority, will speak about the Supreme Court's historic decision and its consequences.

Following a presentation by each Justice, they will participate in a panel discussion on the implications of this decision, and the interaction between law, farmed animals and our increasing awareness of some of the troubling practices used on factory farms.

Participants in the panel will be Jonathan R. Lovvorn, Vice President for Animal Protection Litigation, The Humane Society of the United States, and adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center; Mariann Sullivan, deputy chief court attorney at the New York State Appellate Division, First Department, adjunct professor, Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School; and David J. Wolfson, Partner, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, who teaches animal law at Columbia Law School, and is an adjunct professor at NYU Law School. Mariann Sullivan and David Wolfson co-authored an article, entitled "What's Good For The Goose... The Israeli Supreme Court, Foie Gras, and the Future of Farmed Animals in the United States," published in the most recent volume of the Law and Contemporary Problems Journal of Duke University Law School. The article can be found at this link:

The program will begin at 6 p.m. in Room 103 of Jerome Greene Hall. A reception will follow.

If you would like to attend this event or have further questions, please contact Kathleen Janson at

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