November 30, 2007

11/28/2007 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. A SACRED DUTY Is Getting a Very Favorable Response/Update/Please Help

2. Chanukah and Vegetarianism

3. Hazon Plans to Slaughter Goats at Its Food-Related Conference/Three Letters to the Editor in Response/Please Write

4. JVNA Press Release Condemns Slaughter of Goats at Hazon Food-Related Conference/Followed by Statements From Movie Producer Lionel Friedberg and Rabbi Hillel Norry

5. Hazon Web Site Has Conversations that We Should Consider Joining

6. (removed)

7. Latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report Sees a Very Dire Future for Humanity

8. JVNA Advisor Seeks Help for Child With Cancer

9. Recent Book has essays By Richard Schwartz, Roberta Kalechofsky and Nina Natelson

10. Seeking Volunteers to Create Web Material to Supplement A SACRED DUTY

11. Hanukah Environmental Expo in Manhattan Scheduled/Can You Help?

12. Conservative Jews Plan to Adopt Kosher Certification Certificate For Kosher Food

13. JVNA Press Release on Conservative Movement’s ‘Hechsher Tzedek’

14. Article on Jewish Teachings re Compassion to Animals/based on Talk at Unveiling of ‘Best Friends’ Proclamation on Animal Welfare

15. You Can Get Back Issues of Printed JVNA Newsletters

16. Action Alert: Responding to Jerusalem Post Article on Trapping

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. A SACRED DUTY Is Getting a Very Favorable Response/Update/Please Help

I am really thrilled with the favorable response that A SACRED DUTY is getting. We are getting many requests for DVDs and positive responses to the movie every day. In addition to the complimentary statements in the recent special JVNA newsletter, four additional very positive statements are below.
B"H [with G-d’s help]
November 26, 2007

Dear Richard,

I watched "A Sacred Duty" yesterday. "Watched" is too passive a word to describe the experience I had engaging with this documentary, which galvanized me to become a more outspoken and more effective environmental and animal rights activist - and, of equal importance, brought me closer to Judaism. The interviews in the film with Jewish leaders were a balm to my soul and gave me greater hope than I have felt in a very long time not only about the future of creation, but about the future of Judaism.

I shall share the copies I received of the DVD as widely as I possibly can, and with the greatest of passion.

Thank you so much for producing this film. G-d bless you.

-Jampa Napthali Williams

I want to compliment you on a phenomenal documentary. It is extremely powerful and I was so thrilled to see you covered everything that Al Gore did not. It flows so well from the global warming problem to livestock to the health aspects and finishing up with the brutal and horrific treatment of the animals for what ... a meal? I am so sensitive to the feelings of animals that I shook uncontrollably for about a half an hour after I had managed to stop crying - it is quite unbelievable to me that anyone can treat anything in such a manner - the cow's tears will never leave me - as all the shocking atrocities committed against all these sentient beings. How can we possibly call our society civilized? I keep copies of many of the documentaries made about animal suffering such as Earthlings, Meet your Meat, If this is Kosher, Delicacy of Despair and others, which I either give to people or loan out but to be honest with you I cannot watch as I become immobilized - I did watch yours and it is inconceivable what is done to these innocent beings. Anyone with an ounce of morality will change their life after watching your documentary for the sake of the animals, the earth and their health.

I plan to ask some people I know who belong to synagogues here to set up appointments with several rabbis and give them a copy of the documentary and ask whether they would share this with their congregation - actually the way I feel right now I just want to put up huge screens everywhere and make sure the public see the indescribable suffering these animals endure and the treatment of them for nothing more than an unhealthy meal. I have found that a powerful tool I use for those people insensitive to animal suffering is giving them a copy of The China Study to read, and everyone I have given the book to (my daughter finds that her friends have become vegan after she has given them Skinny Bitch) has gone vegan (one gentleman in South Africa aged 88 and one in Florida aged 83) and from there have begun to explore the books available on food and animals such as your book, Richard, and John Robbins’ and Howard Lyman's books - many have written to me and said that they cannot believe they once ate animals after reading about the treatment of the animals and the illness that can be avoided by going vegan.

Thank you for making such a powerful, powerful and truthful documentary that I believe will educate the public about the urgency of changing our habits if they are wise enough to do so, and will help the precious animals and our planet.

Thank you so much!!!

Melanie Blake


I would appreciate receiving 5 extra copies of A SACRED DUTY, as soon
as possible, which I plan to distribute to several groups to be
followed with a discussion.

I have already shown it to one of my friends, and they were really
impressed with it. They said they never knew how cruel the animals
were treated, and they asked me for some veggie recipes. ..... I have
had many requests for copies of VEGETARIAN STARTER KITS, which I have
been handing out.

Richard, remember the letter you sent out to all the Rabbis in 1998.
It seems like a good introduction to the DVD. I am planning to
enclose a copy (removing the old date) with the DVD when I present the
DVD to the two Rabbis here in Century Village.

Do you have any copies for a VCR? Many people do not have a DVD.

Wishing you all the good luck that you deserve.

Judy Lipman

Hi Richard,

I just received my copy of Sacred Duty. This movie is an outstanding achievement and is an historic achievement for the Jewish community. I will share my review of the particulars. I believe one of the strengths of the movie are the variety of the interviews. Another is the Torah readings in both English and Hebrew. What I really like is the case we make that Kosher is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for food production and consumption because there are also mandates to be kind to animals, to care for our health, and not to waste environmental resources.

I hope that we will follow up this landmark film with efforts to help those motivated by Sacred Duty to take steps in the direction of vegetarianism once people are motivated with a Sacred Duty website. Your books, Judaism and Vegetarianism and Judaism and Global survival should be promoted for those who want to understand the case and the imperative more fully. Roberta Kalechofsky's books should also be promoted, especially her cookbooks which show how easy and delicious following a vegetarian diet can be.

Please accept my continued appreciation for the significant difference you and so many others are making.

Stewart Rose

I am overwhelmed with the very positive response that A SACRED DUTY is getting and the willingness of so many people to have the movie widely viewed. The great response is a well-deserved tribute to our producer Lionel Friedberg and his professional editor wife Diana, who have devoted endless hours to making the movie as good as possible, while accepting no personal fee, and with a very limited budget.

While we are making great progress, much more needs to be done. Please help us make people aware of the movie and our related campaign and try to arrange screenings at your local synagogues, Jewish schools, and other Jewish institutions and also general places where people will be interested in the movie’s universal message. You can get one or more free DVDs that can be used to increase awareness of the movie and perhaps promote it in other ways, by sending your mailing address to John Diamond at Suggestions very welcome.

Also, please consider making a tax deductible contribution to JVNA, as we would be able to do so much more to have a very successful campaign with greater financial resources. We could get DVDs to many more key people, travel to more events, enter more film festivals, possibly take out ads in leading Jewish publications, etc.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many thanks for your continued cooperation and support,


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2. Chanukah and Vegetarianism

With Chanukah starting this year at sundown on December 4, I am including my article on “Chanukah and Vegetarianism.” Please feel free to share it with others, use it as the basis of letters to editors and for talking points. Happy Chanukah to all!
Article below arrived at last minute before this newsletter was sent out:

Vegetarian approach suits Hanukkah

By Sarah Fritschner
Special to The Courier-Journal

Though Hanukkah commemorates the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple following Jews' victory over their oppressors, these days, it's all about edible oil.

SNIP – Possibly more re this in the next JVNA newsletter.

Chanukah and Vegetarianism
by Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Many connections can be made between vegetarianism and the beautiful and spiritually meaningful Jewish festival of Chanukah:

1. According to the Book of Maccabees, some Maccabees lived on plant foods since they were unable to get kosher meat when they hid in the mountains to avoid capture.

2. The foods associated with Channukah, latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (fried donuts) are vegetarian foods, and the oils that are used in their preparation are a reminder of the oil used in the lighting of the Menorah in the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabean victory.

3. Chanukah represents the triumph of non-conformity. The Maccabees stuck to their inner beliefs, rather than conforming to external pressure. They were willing to say: This I believe, this I stand for, this I am willing to struggle for. Today, vegetarians represent non-conformity. At a time when most people in the wealthier countries think of animal products as the main part of their meals, when the number of McDonald's and similar fast food establishments are growing rapidly, when almost all celebrations involve an abundance of animal products, vegetarians are resisting and insisting that there is a better, healthier, more humane diet.

4. Chanukah represents the victory of the few, who practiced God's teachings, over the many, who acted according to the values of the surrounding society. Today vegetarians are a very small minority in most countries, but they believe that, consistent with God's original diet (Genesis 1:29), and religious mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, preserve natural resources, and share with hungry people, vegetarianism is the dietary approach most consistent with Jewish values.

5. Chanukah commemorates the miracle of the oil that was enough for only one day, but miraculously lasted for eight days. A switch to vegetarianism on the part of the world's people could help cause an even greater miracle: the end of the scandal of world hunger which results in the death of an estimated 20 million people annually, while over a third of the world's grain is fed to animals destined for slaughter.

6. It is interesting that the ratio of eight days that the oil burned compared to the one day of burning capacity that the oil had is the same ratio (8 to 1) that is often given for the pounds of grain that are necessary to add a pound to a cow in a feed lot (a ratio of 16 to 1 is often given for the amount of edible beef produced). The miracle of the oil brings the use of fuel and other resources into focus, and vegetarian diets make resources go much further, since far less water, fuel, land, pesticides, fertilizer, and other agricultural resources are required for plant-based diets than for animal-centered diets.

7. Chanukah also commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after it was defiled by the Syrian-Greeks. The Hebrew root of the word Chanukah means dedication. Today, a shift to vegetarianism can be a major factor in the rededication and renewal of Judaism, because it would show that Jewish values are relevant to everyday Jewish life and to addressing current problems, such as hunger, pollution, resource scarcity, global climate change, and huge health care expenditures.

8. Candles are lit during each night of Chanukah, symbolizing a turning from darkness to light, from despair to hope. According to the prophet Isaiah, the role of Jews is to be a "light unto the nations" (Isaiah 42:6). Vegetarianism can be a way of adding light to the darkness of a world with slaughterhouses, factory farms, and vivisection laboratories, as well as other symbols of oppression.

9. Chanukah commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from the Syrian Greeks. So, today, vegetarianism can be a step toward deliverance from modern problems such as hunger, pollution, and resource scarcities.

10. On the Sabbath during Chanukah, the prophetic portion indicates that difficulties can best be overcome "not by might and not by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). Today, Jewish vegetarians are arguing that the way to a better, less violent world is not by exercising our power over animals, but by applying the spirit of God, "whose tender mercies are over all of His creatures" (Psalm 145:9).

11. The Hebrew root of the word Chanukah also means education, Jewish vegetarians believe that if Jews were educated about the horrible realities of factory farming and the powerful Jewish mandates about taking care of our health, showing compassion to animals, protecting the environment, conserving resources, and helping hungry people, they would seriously consider switching to vegetarian diets.

12. At the morning services during each day of Chanukah, there is a recitation of Hallel, the psalms of praise from Psalm 113 to 118. During the Sabbath of Chanukah and every other Sabbath during the year, the morning service has a prayer that begins, "The soul of all living creatures shall praise God's name". Yet, it is hard for animals to join in the praise of God when in the United States alone almost 10 billion animals are killed annually for their flesh after suffering from cruel treatment on factory farms.

In view of these and other connections, I hope that Jews will enhance their celebrations of the beautiful and spiritually meaningful holiday of Chanukah by making it a time to begin striving even harder to live up to Judaism’s highest moral values and teachings by moving toward a vegetarian diet.

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3. Hazon Plans to Slaughter Goats at Its Food-Related Conference/Three Letters to the Editor in Response/Please Write

Kosher Activists Strive To Slaughter With a Conscience

Nathaniel Popper Forward (for 11/23 publication)

After 18 months of planning, New York’s new kosher meat cooperative slaughtered its first animals this week, just in time for Thanksgiving.

It took the founder of Kosher Conscience, Simon Feil, many months to find a shochet, or Jewish ritual slaughterer, who could do the job, and then Feil needed to find a flock of free-range heirloom breed turkeys. But he was not content to deal only with the logistics. When the first turkey went under the knife, Feil was there to cradle it in his arms — feeling the “solemn experience,” as he put it, of life leaving a body.

“It was an emotional day, and I’m still trying to process all the reactions I had to it,” Feil said a few hours after the first turkeys were slaughtered. “You really watch something that is a living creature turn into meat.”

Feil is part of an emerging movement of people attempting to deepen the connection between Jews and what they eat. Judaism has always put a spiritual value on food, but controversies at the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse — along with the publication of several best-selling books on the safety and humanity of food processing in general — have led to a push to infuse kosher food with the values of organic and free-range products. During the past year alone, innumerable seminars and committees have been dedicated to the topic. One such committee created the Heckscher Tzedek, or Justice Certification, which aims to certify the environmental and labor conditions behind kosher food.

Now, in the midst of harvest season, the first groups have progressed to actually slaughtering their own meat. For many of the idealists concerned, the personal involvement in slaughter is raising questions more thorny than all the talk that preceded it.

“‘Meat’ is a euphemism,” said Nigel Savage, a recipient of one of Feil’s 24 Thanksgiving turkeys. “‘Meat’ is a word we use to partially shield ourselves from the fact that we are eating a dead animal. I say that while noting that I am not a vegetarian.”

Savage is the founder of Hazon, an organization dedicated to exploring Judaism and food. Hazon has been at the center of some of the difficult recent questions. A few months back, Savage announced that the organization would publicly slaughter a goat at its food conference in December so that all the attendees could see where meat came from. The organization would then serve it at the conference’s Sabbath meal.

The announcement was made on Hazon’s blog, The Jew and the Carrot, and it drew a quick barrage of comments. A number of Hazon supporters were effusive in their praise for the idea.

“I would hope that many vegetarians would be excited that so many meat eaters want to know where their meat comes from and want to be a part of the process rather than naively purchasing something packaged from the store,” wrote Jeffrey Yoskowitz, a commenter.

But some suggested that Savage and the city-dwelling staff of Hazon had a rather shallow grasp of animal husbandry — noting that a picture of a sheep accompanied the blog post about the goat. There was also a vigorous debate about what Jewish law says about eating meat.

Michael Croland, author of the blog HeebNVegan, has written about the goat slaughter extensively and told the Forward: “Clearly, the Jewish community is not just blindly accepting the public slaughter of a terrified animal. Slaughtering a goat in front of a gawking crowd is a textbook case of causing tzaar baalei chayim,” the Hebrew term for unnecessary animal suffering.

Savage said that he understands all sides of the debate. Until a few years ago, he said, he believed that eating meat in any form was wrong. But like many in the food world, Savage has been influenced by the work of Michael Pollan, a journalist who has written about developing a personal relationship with food. That writing, along with experiences at a Jewish retreat center, convinced Savage that raising and eating meat could be part of a natural cycle.

Hazon’s role in the discussion over the ethics of food precedes the December conference. The organization was founded in 2000, and in 2004 it helped create the first Jewish Community Supported Agriculture program. At that time, a synagogue in Manhattan paired up with a farm on Long Island to purchase organic produce. Synagogue members were also offered visits to the farm. Nine more communities have created similar Hazon agriculture programs since then, and another eight communities will be added next year from 27 that expressed interest.

But until this year, these agriculture groups were dealing only in vegetables, which have few formal kosher components. Meat is an entirely different undertaking, requiring a dedicated staff. The first one to enter this fray was a Hazon agricultural group connected to a conservative synagogue in Washington. Kosher Organic Local Foods, as it is known, killed two cows in July, producing 400 pounds of meat.

The founder of Kosher Organic Local Foods, Devora Kimelman-Block, a mother of two, scouted out the local farmer who provides the cows and a kosher slaughterer who has done the slaughtering. After seeing her farmer’s children, Kimelman-Block decided to bring out her own children to the farm to take part in the slaughter. Last week they were there for the preparation of 60 Thanksgiving chickens.

“They were aware that it was a big deal,” Kimelman-Block said. “They really wanted to see it, and they were not traumatized.”

Kimelman-Block tried to re-create this experience for the other members of her synagogue by organizing a Sabbath meat event over the summer: a chicken dinner during which diners heard lectures from the farmer, slaughterer, kosher certifier and butcher behind their meal.

“In this day and age, where food travels 1,500 miles to get to your plate,” Kimelman-Block said, “it’s amazing that all these people were there in the same room.”

The Hazon conference in a few weeks will be about more than just meat slaughter. There will be a session on urban worm composting and another on Jewish body-image issues, the latter led by the daughter of the former owner of the Second Avenue Deli.

But the Hazon organizers are taking care to deal with the tense back and forth about the slaughter of animals. All the participants who want to attend the goat slaughter will have to be present at a session the previous night with the goatherd that raised the goats, the slaughterer, the kosher certifier, or mashgiach, and the butcher. Only participants older than bar or bat mitzvah age will be allowed to participate.

The current plan is to slaughter three goats on the morning of December 7 in a barn near the conference in Connecticut. The next day, the goat will be served in a Sabbath stew at lunchtime. Savage, the man who kicked off all this, is approaching the event with some uncertainty about what it will mean to him personally.

“I’ve never in my life been given the opportunity or responsibility of eating an animal that I have killed,” Savage said. “I don’t know what that feels like — and I don’t know whether I’m capable of doing it.”
Wed. Nov 21, 2007

Copyright © 2007 Forward Association, inc.
Letter to the editor from Maida Genser, JVNA advisor and helper re the JVNA web site

Re: “Kosher Activists Strive To Slaughter With a Conscience,” by Nathaniel Popper, 11/21/07.

I found this story about personal ritual slaughter disturbing. Why would people need to see animals killed right before their eyes? Do they need to know how they would react to being there at the time of death? Do they hope it would make them better appreciate the animals they destroy, or do they want to pass some kind of toughness test?

Before the time of supermarkets and shrink-wrapped meats that hide the horrors of what is being eaten, people did slaughter their own animals on family farms. There was a rite of passage for children to learn the crude realities of farm life and then grow up to be farmers.

Do we need to go back in time to connect with the realities of how most people get their food? Do we really need to see up close and personal what we are eating, or can we be smart enough to know that eating this way is not what a loving G-d would want of us? Why do we have to have these experiments in barbarism when there are so many wonderful alternatives available today that we no longer have to eat this way?

Maida W. Genser
Tamarac, FL
Letter to the editor by editor and JVNA advisor Syd Baumel:

People like those at Kosher Conscience who wish for the animals they eat to have lived a decent life and to have died a comparatively non-brutal death have taken a big step up ethically from those who still eat with selfish complacency ("Kosher Activists Strive To Slaughter With a Conscience," November 23) . But are these the limits of Jewish compassion and the moral leadership to which we aspire? Surely no amount of rationalization about "connecting to one's food" or "respecting the cycle of life" can erase the sordid, heartbreaking truth of innocent blood spilled "for our dining pleasure."

Any human need for meat or other animal products can usually, if not always,be overcome with a nutritional supplement or two (or three) - and to the advantage of our health, not to mention the planet's. I will soon be 55, and with every passing year the conviction grows stronger in me that the best relationship a real mensch can have with the kind of food that feels pleasure and pain is a thoroughly nonviolent, loving and protective one. This, I believe, is humanity's spiritual and moral destiny - it is one of
the indispensable ingredients that puts the "humane" in humanity.

Syd Baumel
Publisher and Editor,
Another letter to the editor:

Re: Kosher Activists Strive To Slaughter With a Conscience by Nathaniel Popper 11/21/07

Thank you to Nathaniel Popper for the article about the Kosher Conscience event in which a flock of turkeys was slaughtered before gawking onlookers. Sadly, observing this private slaughter-fest would not be an accurate way of putting people in touch with the animals they eat. That is because most animals slaughtered for food live a bleak, miserable, painful existence in filthy, crowded, concrete factory farms, and suffer from the moment they are born until the moment they die. It would have been more accurate to show the undercover footage shot at AgriProcessors, the largest kosher slaughter establishment in the world, where heinous atrocities have been documented. My only hope is that as people view the new Jewish Vegetarians of North America documentary film called A Sacred Duty, many more people will develop a truly "Kosher Conscience" and switch to a plant-based diet.

Rina Deych
Brooklyn, NY

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4. JVNA Press Release Condemns Slaughter of Goats at Hazon Food-Related Conference/Followed by Statements From Movie Producer Lionel Friedberg and Rabbi Hillel Norry

For Immediate Release:

November 27, 2007
Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Phone: (718) 761-5876

Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) today announced that it sharply condemns plans by Hazon to slaughter goats at its upcoming food conference on December 6-9 at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, Connecticut.

JVNA has long supported Hazon’s environmental bike rides and its efforts to increase awareness of environmental and food-related issues in the Jewish community and has often placed announcements of Hazon events in its newsletter. JVNA also appreciates Hazon’s objective of increasing awareness of the slaughter process, but feels that its objective can far better be carried out by showing videos of slaughterhouse practices.

“In addition to violating tsa’ar ba’alei chaim, the Torah mandate to avoid causing unnecessary cruelty to animals, Hazon is ignoring the very negative effects that animal-based diets are having on human health and the environment;” stated JVNA president Richard Schwartz. “They are also ignoring the fact that the production and consumption of meat and other animal products is inconsistent with basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and pursue peace. Hazon would do far more good by a thorough consideration of these issues at its conference than by slaughtering some of G-d’s defenseless creatures. We challenge Hazon to engage with us in a respectful dialogue/debate on ‘Should Jews Be Vegetarians?’”

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

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

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

Statement to Hazon from Lionel Friedberg:

Dear Nigel,
Forgive me for butting in like this but, frankly, as admirable and well-intentioned as your plans may be I find your reasoning and your argument downright pathetic, shortsighted and unacceptable. One swallow does not a summer make. Ever heard that? Well, the shechting of one goat does not constitute what the entire meat industry — including the kosher side of it — is all about either. Do you really think that people will be permanently dissuaded from eating meat purely because they witnessed the slaughter of one animal, distinct and in isolation and far removed from the huge industry that churns out mountains of flesh because of the economic engine and the human gluttony that drives it? The impact of your planned shechting act may linger for a while but, under the pressure of constant advertising on TV, bus shelters, billboards, magazines and the press, deeply ingrained societal habits, the widespread presence of animal parts wrapped up in plastic containers in supermarket freezers and deli counters, obiquitous restaurant and fast-food menus everywhere, and a host of other influences, 99% of the people who witness or participate in your goat murder will, I predict, eventually drift back to carnivorous behavior. Want to make a stronger impact? Take folks on a visit to a factory farm. Take them into the hellhole of those immense flesh factories. Let them witness debeaking, declawing, castration, dehorning, tail docking, veal crates, gestation crates. Show them unwanted babies being discarded like so much trash. Show them the ‘dead piles’ and the ‘downer piles.’ Let them smell the insides of those dreadful places. Let them experience the stifling heat or the numbing cold, the crowding, the crying, the screaming, the misery of it all. And then let them witness the way creatures are traumatically transported to slaughterhouses, often resulting in severe injury and — for the lucky ones — death, before they get to those terrifyingly mechanized assembly lines of killing and suffering. Let them see chickens going into scalding tanks while fully conscious. Let them see cows having their skins ripped from their bodies while still alive. Let them see the brutality and indignity and filth of the whole nasty process, on an unimaginably vast scale. One or two goats will not do it, I’m afraid. You are sacrificing them in vain. Their deaths will have little meaning in the long run, but their blood and their lives and their souls will be upon your hands. Think again. Please cancel this abomination.
Lionel Friedberg

Statement from Rabbi Hillel Norry:

Friends -

i also want to add my voice to the deliberation.


As you know i think this is wrong and misguided. if the goal is to increase awareness, i am afraid this is mitzvah haba'ah al y'dei aveirah , a good deed that comes by means of a sin. i hope you will reconsider.

Iam sure that you will take every care to see that the animal is treated well before and during the slaughter, but that is precisely the point. such care is not taken [generally in the raising and slaughtering of animals].

If you really want people to know what is involved, then bring them to an actual an slaughterhouse, where cows are processed through like a commodity. This is where people get their meat, and you are MIS informing to show a more humane kind of slaughter.

What if people conclude: "well, that was not so bad".

How will you mitigate against this misunderstanding.

Will you also show live castration? de-horning? sewage pollution? cattle prods?

if not, why not? lets really show people all that is involved in putting flesh on the plate.

Otherwise it feels like a stunt, like a whitewashed tour.



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5. Hazon Web Site Has Conversations that We Should Consider Joining

Forwarded statement:

Here is a very interesting website, and one that every Jewish animal advocate and vegetarian/vegan should consider joining. We have much to contribute to the conversation re food choices.

[Yes, this is a great site to continue the dialogue that we have started with Hazon. Just yesterday, I posted two responses there.]

Here is their statement about themselves:

The Jew and the Carrot features the intersection between Jews, food and contemporary life.

The Jewish community has an amazingly complex relationship to food. As the rest of the world is waking up to the notion of sustainable agriculture, local foods, and healthy eating, so is the Jewish community in the States and in Israel.

We want to:

Raise the quality of discussion about contemporary food issues in the Jewish community.

Convey a sense of importance and joy around food.

Challenge and inspire participants to think deeply and broadly about their own food choices.

The Jew and the Carrot is a project of Hazon, an organization working to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community — as a step towards a healthier and more sustainable world for all.

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7. Latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report Sees a Very Dire Future for Humanity

'Final Warning To Humanity'


"[T]he world's scientists have spoken, clearly and in one voice," said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, on the most recent report of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). After a rigorous multi-stage review process that includes 2,500 scientific expert reviewers, 800 contributing authors, and 450 lead authors representing 130 countries, the IPCC warns that "all countries" will be affected by climate change if carbon emissions continue to spiral. By 2100, global average surface temperatures could rise by between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees celsius, and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could lead to an eventual rise in sea levels of up to 1.40 meters. With "strikingly" blunt language, the report reads like "a final warning to humanity," notes Time magazine. "What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment," declared IPCC chairman Dr. Rajendra Pachauri.

DEBATING WAYS TO BATTLE WARMING: This weekend, Grist and Living on Earth sponsored a presidential candidate forum to discuss ways to tackle climate change, in partnership with the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, California LCVEF, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, and the Presidential Forum on Renewable Energy. The event was attended by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), former senator John Edwards, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). "[R]educing oil dependence and global warming is the second most important issue among independent voters," states Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress. With "little disagreement among them" on the urgency of climate change, Clinton and Edwards emphasized the need to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050, consistent with the goals of the IPCC, along with a mandatory cap on greenhouse emissions. Such plans to combat global warming can be undertaken with a very modest reduction in global annual GDP growth of 0.12 percent, notes Pachauri.

AN UNEQUIVOCAL FACT: Earlier this year, the IPCC said it was "more than 90 percent likely" that global-warming was man-made. It now reports "increased confidence in climate science," leading to the conclusion that "the time for doubt has passed. The IPCC has unequivocally affirmed the warming of our climate system, and linked it directly to human activity." This increased consensus pours water on right-wing insistence that there is still debate on climate change science. "The scientific definition of that [climate change] is lacking," maintains White House environmental adviser Jim Connaughton. The traditional media are also at fault in going against the scientific consensus. For example, ABC and CNN regularly air segments claiming global warming is not human-induced.

EFFECTS ALREADY HERE: The IPCC report notes that the effects of climate change are "becoming evident already," and without due action, will be "abrupt or irreversible." The United States is seeing these ramifications today. The normally wet southeastern United States is currently suffering from the worst drought of the past 100 years. Recently, the IPCC reported that the last three decades have seen "a spring/summer warming of 0.87 degrees celsius," caused by global warming, and "earlier spring snowmelt has led to longer growing seasons and drought." Furthermore, Arizona is currently entering into its second decade of extensive drought. The intensity of hurricanes the recent California wildfires has also been linked to the warming earth.

IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED: The IPCC concluded that "reductions in greenhouse gases had to start immediately to avert a global climate disaster," calling on the United States and China to play "a more constructive role." "If there's no action before 2012, that's too late," said Pachauri. The White House cites the need for "the technology that will make a lasting solution possible" but pushes only "voluntary" emissions reductions. The upcoming Bali conference, which the United States will attend, "is tasked with launching a two-year round of negotiations for intensifying cuts in carbon emissions beyond 2012, when current pledges run out under the Kyoto Protocol." "We cannot afford to leave Bali without such a breakthrough," Ban said. Furthermore, the White House and EPA should cease their "unprecedented obstructionism" and allow California's request that the federal government allow the state to regulate automobile greenhouse emissions under the Clean Air Act. Finally, Congress can reduce greenhouse gases 20 percent by 2030 compared to business as usual by passing a comprehensive energy bill after Thanksgiving recess.

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8. JVNA Advisor Seeks Help for Child With Cancer

Forwarded message from JVNA advisor Steve Schuster

Help Needed For Israeli Child With Cancer

An effort is underway to raise money for the family of 15-year-old Chen Shamir of Abirim, Israel who is undergoing a costly treatment for cancer.

Details on the situation are available at

As a friend of the Shamir family, I very much appreciate anything you can do, including forwarding this email to others.

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9. Recent Book has essays By Richard Schwartz, Roberta Kalechofsky and Nina Natelson

Edited with an Introduction by Murray Polner and Merken, Stefan, "Peace, Justice, And Jews: Reclaiming Our Tradition." (N.Y.: Bunim & Bannigan, 2007)

The ancient Jewish tradition of peace and justice, further nourished during two millennia of the Diaspora, has found Jews at the forefront of struggles for civil rights, labor rights, anti-militarism, and compassion for the most vulnerable among us: the poor, hungry, and the oppressed. Proponents of this affirmative tradition today recognize that only when human rights are respected for all can Jews find true security and equality. In this landmark collection of contemporary Jewish thought, editor Murray Polner and Stefan Merken have drawn together the work of a wide variety of thinkers and activists in Israel, the U.K. and the U.S.

"Unabashedly left-leaning, but by no means homogenous, this literate, thought-provoking collection examines from all angles the ideas 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 introduction for libraries and classrooms....There is much to learn here for anyone, Jew or Gentle, interested in global issues of peace and justice."

--Publishers Weekly

Books available from Amazon, Barnes & Boble, etc., plus Bunim & Bannigan, PMB 157, 111 East 14th Street, N.Y. 10003-4104;

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10. Seeking Volunteers to Create Web Material to Supplement A SACRED DUTY

Forwarded message fron JVNA advisor Steve (Shaya) Kelter:

I was thinking that perhaps it makes sense to greatly upgrade our website in line with Lionel's son's suggestions [to provide much background material re what people can do in response to global warming and other environmental threats, as a supplement to A SACRED DUTY]. Perhaps we can apply for a grant from a sympathetic family foundation for such purposes. Do we have a grantwriter among our members who would volunteer her or his services? We can put the idea out in the next newsletter if you think this idea has merit.


[If you would like to volunteer to help re gathering information for this important project or to help get a grant or in any related way, please let me know. Thanks.]

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11. Hanukah Environmental Expo in Manhattan Scheduled/Can You Help?

Forwarded message from event coordinator Les Judd:

We have over 20 organizations confirmed to exhibit at the B'nai Jeshurun Hanukah Environmental Expo on Monday, December 10! The expo starts at 7 pm in the synagogue at 257 West 88th Street. Exhibitors should arrive between 6 and 6:30 to set up. We will provide you with a table and chair. You should bring a banner or sign to attach to the table. You will not be able to attach signs to the walls.
JVNA advisor Roberta Schiff will be distributing JVNA-related material including some copies of A SACRED DUTY at this event. If you can help, please attend the event. Thanks.

*** If you can help at similar events in your area, please let me know. We can provide you with fliers, booklets, CDs, DVDs, etc.

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12. Conservative Jews Plan to Adopt Kosher Certification Certificate For Kosher Food


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Conservatives set to approve ethical certification system for kosher food
By Sue Fishkoff
Published: 11/27/2007

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) -- The Conservative movement is poised to take a major step toward establishing a system for using ethical standards to certify the practices of kosher food production.

This weekend, delegates to the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism’s biennial conferencein Orlando, Fla., will consider a resolution supporting a "hekhsher tzedek," or certificate of social justice, to be given to food produced in a manner that meets certain environmental and labor standards, including worker safety and fair wages. The resolution is expected to pass easily.

The proposed certificate will appear alongside already existing kosher certification rather than replace it, say members of the Hekhsher Tzedek Committee, a joint commission of the United Synagogue and the Rabbinical Assembly, the Conservative movement’s rabbinical arm. It will be an additional way for Jewish consumers to evaluate the food they buy.

The initiative, under development for a year, is the latest illustration of growing Jewish interest in social justice issues. It is the first concrete effort of any major stream to expand the definition of what makes food “fit to eat,” the literal meaning of the word kosher.

A second goal of the initiative is to make kashrut appealing to Jews interested in social justice concerns by demonstrating that the Conservative movement takes both values seriously.

It makes sense that the Conservative movement has taken the lead on the issue, said the director of the project, Rabbi Morris Allen of Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights, Minn.

“Conservative Judaism is uniquely positioned,” he said. “We are committed to kashrut, which some other movements might not be, and also committed to social justice. The hekhsher tzedek is that point where halachic intensity meets ethical imperative.”

A similar initiative within the Reform movement to develop Reform standards for ethical food production lost impetus this year, according to Reform sources, while the general attitude within Orthodox circles is that existing, conventional kashrut standards are sufficient.

Rabbi Menachem Genack, head of the Orthodox Union’s kashrut division, noted that concern for the environment, workers’ rights and animal welfare are all part of biblical and rabbinic law, and it is correct for Jews to be concerned about them. But, he added, it’s not something the religious movements should regulate.

“We believe these issues are more properly and effectively handled by existing federal and state agencies,” he said. “They have the resources, the legal mandate and the expertise to handle it.”

Nigel Savage, executive director of Hazon, a nonprofit dedicated to Jewish environmentalism and social justice issues involving food, applauded the hekhsher tzedek initiative, which he said is a beautiful example of taking existing Jewish law to a higher level.

“In our generation, a growing number of Jews keep kosher and care about ethics, about treating workers fairly, about respecting the land,” he said.

Richard Lederman, the professional at the United Synagogue who is working on the hekhsher tzedek project, said the initiative came about in reaction to last year’s controversy over Agriprocessors, the nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa.

Critics have accused the slaughterhouse of mistreating workers and animals, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited the plant for safety and sanitary violations. A commission of inquiry established by the Conservative movement visited the plant, and developed a set of environmental and labor standards by which to judge kosher food producers.

Lederman hopes the hekhsher tzedek initiative will spur other movements to launch similar efforts.

“We’re obviously looking for allies,” he said.

Lederman also views it as a way for the Conservative movement to find a new sense of mission.

“We have focused for years on halacha, on ritual and mitzvot. That’s important to our constituents," he said. "But Conservative Jews are really looking for this social justice lens. This is where the Conservative movement needs to be.”

The hekhsher tzedek will consider issues of workers’ rights and safety, and issues of animal welfare, including how animals are raised and slaughtered. Organic food issues are not yet part of the effort, Lederman said.

The first trial for the new certificate is a yearlong pilot program in Minneapolis-St. Paul. A $50,000 grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation will be used for outreach in the Conservative community and among kosher food manufacturers in the Midwest, said Lederman. The goal is to get three of those manufacturers certified by the end of 2008.

“We want to be fair, not punish anyone,” he said, adding that the commission is seeking input from workers, consumers and the manufacturers as it develops the certification process. “It won’t be black and white, ‘you fail, you don’t get a hekhsher tzedek.’ ”

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13. JVNA Press Release on Conservative Movement’s ‘Hechsher Tzedek’

PRESS RELEASE (For immediate release)


For Immediate Release:

November 27, 2007

Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Phone: (718) 761-5876

Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) today announced that it strongly commends the Conservative Movement for instituting a ‘hechsher tzedek’ to ensure that workers at kosher slaughterhouses and other food producing facilities are treated properly. However, JVNA feels that far more must be done to address other diet-related moral issues, because the mass production and widespread consumption of meat conflict with Judaism in at least six important areas:

1. While Judaism mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives, numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease, stroke, many forms of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases.

2. While Judaism forbids tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, inflicting unnecessary pain on animals, most farm animals -- including those raised for kosher consumers -- are raised on "factory farms" where they live in cramped, confined spaces, and are often drugged, mutilated, and denied fresh air, sunlight, exercise, and any enjoyment of life, before they are slaughtered and eaten.

[Actually, the hechsher tzedek does consider better conditions for animals, but I am concerned that they should not only consider conditions at slaughterhouses. Will they condemn overcrowding, debeaking, the killing of male chicks at egg laying hatcheries and the many other abuses at factory farms?]

3. While Judaism teaches that "the earth is the Lord’s" (Psalm 24:1) and that we are to be God's partners and co-workers in preserving the world, modern intensive livestock agriculture contributes substantially to soil erosion and depletion, air and water pollution, overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats, global warming, and other environmental damage.

4. While Judaism mandates bal tashchit, that we are not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value, and that we are not to use more than is needed to accomplish a purpose, animal agriculture requires the wasteful use of grain, land, water, energy, and other resources.

5. While Judaism stresses that we are to assist the poor and share our bread with hungry people, over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, while an estimated 20 million people worldwide die because of hunger and its effects each year.

6. While Judaism stresses that we must seek and pursue peace and that violence results from unjust conditions, animal-centered diets, by wasting valuable resources, help to perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty that eventually lead to instability and war.

In view of these important Jewish mandates to preserve human health, attend to the welfare of animals, protect the environment, conserve resources, help feed hungry people, and pursue peace, and since animal-centered diets violate and contradict each of these responsibilities, JVNA believes that committed Jews (and others) should sharply reduce or eliminate their consumption of animal products.

“One could say "dayenu" (it would be enough) after any of the arguments above,” stated JVNA president Richard Schwartz, “ because each one constitutes by itself a serious conflict between Jewish values and current practice that should impel Jews to seriously consider a plant-based diet. Combined, they make an urgently compelling case for the Jewish community to address these issues.”

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

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

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14. Article on Jewish Teachings re Compassion to Animals/based on Talk at Unveiling of ‘Best Friends’ Proclamation on Animal Welfare

Loving-kindness toward animals

Rabbi Robin Nafshi
Director of Rimon, Collaborative Jewish Learning in MetroWest

In parashat Chayei Sarah, which we read just a few weeks ago, Abraham sends his servant Eliezar to find a wife for his son, Isaac. Eliezar, overwhelmed by the task ahead of him, sets his sights high. He is traveling with 10 camels and declares in advance that the right woman will be the one who not only gives him water but also provides water for all of his animals.

Eliezar meets Rebecca at a well. He asks her for water and she says, "Drink, my lord." And when he is done, she says, "I will also draw for your camels, until they finish drinking."

Rebecca's providing water for the camels is considered an act of tremendous kindness and generosity, and sets the standard for how Jews are to treat animals.

This is not the only story in the Torah that teaches us how we are to act with animals. In Exodus, we read of the prohibition against boiling a kid in its mother's milk. This law is a part of a larger body of Jewish law developed by the rabbis known as tsa'ar ba'alei chayim — avoiding causing pain to animals.

The pain with which the rabbis are concerned is toward the mother animal, who birthed the kid, and then would watch it die as it was boiled in her own milk, the milk that sustained the kid when it was first born. The rabbis liken this commandment to the one that requires shooing away a mother bird before taking her eggs. Again, the rabbis fear the pain, the broken heart, that the mother bird would feel in watching her young taken away.

The Talmud contains several other teachings for those of us who have animals in our care: First, we must feed our animals before feeding ourselves. This law is meant to assure that our animals are not neglected. Second, we are prohibited from keeping animals if we cannot properly care for them. If we lack the time, resources, or interest, we must find a more appropriate home.

If animals work for us, we must allow them, like humans, to rest on Shabbat. And we are forbidden to muzzle an ox while it is working in the field, just as we must allow human workers to eat from the produce they are harvesting.

Throughout Judaism we find halakhot, midrashim, and parables that emphasize how we are to value the nonhumans who are a part of God's creation.

This past summer, I was invited by Best Friends Animal Society to join with religious leaders representing more than 20 religious traditions at the Best Friends' sanctuary in Utah to begin drafting A Religious Proclamation for Animal Compassion. We continued our work through phone calls and over e-mail. On Nov. 7 we unveiled the proclamation in Washington, DC. I was one of the three religious leaders who spoke. I talked about Judaism's commitment to animal compassion and why it was important for Jews to be involved in the drafting (and signing) of the proclamation.

But I also issued a challenge to the Jewish community — for while our tradition is clear regarding our obligation toward animals, many Jews are unaware of these teachings or have creatively come up with ways to work around them. Thus, we must do the following:

* Call on all owners of kosher slaughterhouses to immediately put an end to the inhumane conditions in which animals are kept, transported, and hoisted.

* Support the work of the Conservative movement to create new standards of kashrut — standards that would consider not only how the animal is slaughtered, but also the conditions under which the animals are kept, transported, and hoisted.

* Call for the universal adoption of alternatives to kaparot, the cruel treatment of a chicken in a pre-Yom Kippur ritual.

* Encourage manufacturers of ritual products made from animals, such as shofarot and parchment, to use only those animals raised without cruelty and that died a natural death.

* Join with our Israeli brothers and sisters in banning the production — and therefore the consumption — of foie gras.

* Call upon clergy to provide pastoral counseling to congregants whose animals are ill or have died, and to take seriously all questions asked about animals and animal well-being.

* Call upon clergy to provide adoption and end-of-life rituals for individuals and families who bring animals into their lives or suffer the loss of a pet.

In Proverbs (12:10) we read, yodei-ah tzadik nefesh b'hemto, "a righteous person knows the soul of his animal." I implore the Jewish community to go forward using that knowledge in ways that will put an end to animal suffering, cruelty, and exploitation.

©2007 New Jersey Jewish News
All rights reserved

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15. You Can Get Back Issues of Printed JVNA Newsletters

Message from JVNA advisor and former JVNA Secretary/Treasurer Israel Mossman:

Hi Richard, can you put into the e-mail newsletter, and/or website,
that the reader can receive up to 2 pounds of assorted back issue JVNA newsletters for $2.50, or 1 pound of assorted newsletters for $2.25. The problem is that I have no room to keep them, and I cannot bear to recycle them. Also, JVNA fliers will be sent out media mail at once [to people who request them].

Many thanks. Israel

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16. Action Alert: Responding to Jerusalem Post Article on Trapping

Forwarded message from PETA:

The article below provide an opportunity to send letters explaining
why trapping and killing animals for fur is cruel.

"I, trapper"

By Lauren Walker

Jerusalem Post

November 26, 2007

For information, please go to

You can send letters at

Please limit your letter to 150 words or less.

Be sure to include the title and date of the piece, and your name,
address, and phone numbers for verification.

For a complete list of PETA factsheets, go to These factsheets are not copyrighted
and you are welcome to use any of the text.

For PETA's Guide to Letter-Writing, please go to

Thank you for all your efforts to help animals!

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