May 20, 2008

5/19/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Update on A SACRED DUTY

2. Update on Federal Raid at AgriProcessors/JVNA Press Release/Letters

3. Update on the “Veggie Pride Parade”

4. Agribusiness Poses Many Modern Dilemmas/Letters to Editors

5. Foie Gras Ban in Chicago Overturned

6. Jewish Educator Seeking Financial support to Help Travel and Promote Jewish Vegetarianism/Suggestions Welcome

7. New Book on Animal Rights Receiving Wide Praise

8. Animal Law Lecture Series Scheduled

9. Global Warming Having Major Effects on Wildlife

10. Resolution on Global Warming/Suggestions Welcome

11. SPNI Report: One Quarter of Israeli Nesting Birds are in Danger

12. Petition Drive to Stop European Union Subsidies to “Livestock Agriculture'

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

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

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

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.



1. Update on A SACRED DUTY

I am planning to send out a strategy message soon re A SACRED DUTY and how to get our issues onto the Jewish agenda later this week. Meanwhile, please continue helping spread the word on the movie. Please note again and let others know that at, you and others can view the entire movie, request DVDs to share, and find much background information, including blurbs, reviews and questions and answers. Suggestions always welcome. Thanks.

b. Lionel Friedberg, Multi-award-winning producer of A SACRED DUTY to be Interviewed
Forwarded message:
The producer of Supreme Master TV indicated that Lionel's interview _will be shown May 22 and 29 on a program Cinema Series. Looks like it is _only available on the net.
Supreme Master Television is at Galaxy 25 in the US. It may be easiest to _watch the internet streaming at Check at that web site for times when the interview will be shown on these two dates.
c. Article about A SACRED DUTY in Israeli media outlet YNET

Rough translation by my daughter Susan Kleid (I expect to get a better translation later).

Love thy Animal as Thyself

What is the connection between the mitzvah of “Do Not Stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor” and melting icebergs near the North Pole?

How is eating meat going against Torah commandments?

The Documentary - A SACRED DUTY demonstrates the strong connection between Judaism and the environment.

In the beginning of creation, humans are commanded to work the land and protect it. [Genesis 2:15] Despite this, while people have been fruitful and multiplied for thousands of years, as technology advanced, the mandate to protect the world was somewhat forgotten. Global warming and other environmental threats put the world in a real danger, and many people are convinced that immediate and drastic steps must be taken to avoid catastrophe.

The film, produced by JVNA attempts to show the way Jewish principles guide us in dealing with the present environmental crisis. The film was shown in a movie festival on May 17 [after Shabbat at the Cinematheque, in Jerusalem]. and will be shown in Tel Aviv , Jerusalem, Haifa, Rosh Pina and Sderot. {I hope the movie will be shown so widely, but I have to check into this.]

While the film deals with environmental protection, a significant portion deals with vegetarianism. It shows that if an amount of land used to grow soy can feed 60 people, that same amt of land can feed only 2 people when used to raise cattle.

The movie also considers the mitzva of Tzaar Baalei Chaim {The Torah mandate not to harm animals]. Some scenes are difficult to watch-showing kosher slaughter houses with violent and inhumane treatment of animals. The mitzvah of guarding our health is given a wider meaning, including factors related to nutrition and food additives.

A light onto the nations

Prof R Schwartz, president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America claims that on ecological issues Jews must be a light onto the nations and work to save the environment.

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb says the Torah teaches us how to behave in the world. He stresses that man is part of G-d's creations and must care for G-d's earth. We are all obligated to care for the world - each person's actions can influence the whole. We are all responsible-for each other, for the animals and for future generations.
d. Great news from South Africa

Forwarded message from JVNA's South Africa representative Marcia Schlesinger:

Great news , I must tell you... there has been such a brilliant response from that event organized by Louise Van de Mere of Animal Voice. Some very big and influential people are coming back to her asking for copies of the DVD...

Louise called me today and she was so excited and will be sending us both an email with all these details.

I haven't yet received my allocated hundred DVDs [from Louise]. I have promised out about 60.... a lot of interest and they are going fast.

Once again thank you Richard for caring so much that you have created this incredible piece of work and in doing so affecting so many people lives and ultimately this world.

Blessings to you

Fondest regards


Another message from Marcia:

I don't need you to send me any DVDs as we have produced 1000 ourselves in Cape Town to distribute.

All cost have been paid by ourselves..

If anyone wants I have enough and can supply all those in South Africa.

e. Another example of how A SACRED DUTY is making a difference

Hi Richard,

Thought you'd be interested in knowing that one of our b'nei mitzvah students is doing her research project on Animal Rights, and the film is one of her references. After her bat mitzvah (6/14) I should be able to send you her paper.

Also, our Teen Coordinator and Rabbi (Ben Biber, who is vegan) will be using this with our teen group for a program.

Thanks and regards,

Roz Seidenstein
Executive Director
Machar, The Washington Congregation for
Secular Humanistic Judaism

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2. Update on Federal Raid at AgriProcessors/JVNA Press Release/Letters

a. Article at

Fri. May 16, 2008

Raid on Kosher Slaughterhouse Sparks Fears of Meat Shortage
Immigration Bust Leaves Plant With Skeleton Staff

By Marissa Brostoff

Thu. May 15, 2008

In a development with potential repercussions for consumers of kosher meat worldwide, the country's largest kosher slaughterhouse greatly curtailed production this past week after a raid by federal agents led to the arrest of hundreds of undocumented workers.

On May 12, The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement stormed the AgriProcessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, detaining nearly 400 of the slaughterhouse's 968 employees and prompting others to go into hiding. According to The Des Moines Register, 154 of those arrested in the raid have been charged with criminal offenses relating to identity theft. Most of those taken into custody come from Guatemala or Mexico; a few are from Eastern Europe or Israel.

Though the plant reopened on May 13, it is operating with a skeleton crew. According to Rabbi Menachem Weissmandl, the head rabbi at AgriProcessors, as of May 14 it was producing perhaps 40% of its usual daily output.

Because of increases in the prices of corn, which is used to feed cattle, the price of meat in general is already high. Kosher meat prices, which always skew higher than nonkosher prices, are likely to climb even higher if production at AgriProcessors continues at diminished levels.

“Should they not get the plant up and running, it will have an enormous impact on the consumer,” said Menachem Lubinsky, head of the kosher industry consulting and marketing firm Lubicom. “There's been a little bit of hoarding going on,” he added.

Mass arrests of suspected undocumented workers at slaughterhouses have been common in recent years and have temporarily shut down or drastically slowed production at major nonkosher plants. But the raid on AgriProcessors may have an unusually severe ripple effect for consumers, as the company produces an enormous share of the kosher meat on the market.

Rabbi Seth Mandel, the Orthodox Union's head of kosher slaughter, estimated that AgriProcessors produces around 55% of glatt kosher beef sold in the United States and that the plant in Postvillle produces 85% of AgriProcessors beef. The company also produces the greatest share of glatt kosher poultry on the market.

According to Mandel, the impact of a production crisis at AgriProcessors would be most acutely felt in regions that have relatively small numbers of people who keep kosher. In those areas, AgriProcessors meat - sold under brand names including Aaron's Best, Supreme Kosher and Rubashkin - is usually the only kosher meat available.

To fill the void in labor, AgriProcessors is busing in workers from a smaller plant that it runs in Gordon, Neb., according to a spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers, which is the union that represents slaughterhouse workers. And, Weissmandl said, 15 or 20 yeshiva students have flown out to Iowa from Brooklyn to help out with the slaughter.

Sources say that the company is also trying to attract documented workers by offering wages higher than what the undocumented employees had received.

But replacing a work force of hundreds could take months, experts on slaughterhouse labor say.

“There is no channel to provide legal labor for these kinds of operations,” said Lourdes Gouveia, a professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska who studies immigrant labor in the meatpacking industry.

Because wages are generally so low and conditions in the plants so difficult, meatpacking companies that have been raided by immigration enforcement agencies often hire undocumented workers all over again. In other cases, slaughterhouses have recruited workers from inner-city slums, or refugees who are in the United States legally but lack work permits.

According to Lubinsky, who has consulted for AgriProcessors, the company maintains that the raid will not significantly affect its output. (AgriProcessors representatives declined to comment.)

Gouveia was skeptical. “It took Swift about a year to recover,” she said, referring to the Colorado slaughterhouse Swift & Co, which was raided by ICE in 2006.

The raid on AgriProcessors hit the company especially hard, sources say, as management was the last to see it coming. Weeks ago, ICE leased a fairground in the town of Waterloo, near Postville, as a temporary detention center for the workers whom the agency planned to arrest. But while some union representatives - and possibly some workers - suspected that a raid was in the works, AgriProcessors was apparently in the dark.

That AgriProcessors likely employs undocumented workers is no secret, both because the practice is so common among slaughterhouses nationwide and because the company has been the target of frequent media attention due to accusations of labor and animal-rights abuses. Indeed, lawyers for the company tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade a federal appeals court last year that workers in its Brooklyn distribution center did not have the right to unionize, because many of them were illegal aliens.

“The big issue wasn't whether this would happen, but when it would happen,” said Stephen Bloom, a professor of journalism at the University of Iowa who in 2001 published a book about the impact that AgriProcessors had on the once homogenously white and Christian town of Postville. “It was the worst-kept secret in Iowa.”

Among the allegations in an affidavit released by ICE was that some AgriProcessors workers bought and sold weapons at work.
The affidavit also included allegations from sources at the plant that employees were running a methamphetamine lab on AgriProcessors premises, that a supervisor struck an employee with a meat hook and that undocumented workers were receiving significantly less than minimum wage.

Since the raid, the small town's immigrant infrastructure, like the slaughterhouse, has been operating on the brink of collapse. Over half the children in a Postville school were absent the day after the raid, the editor of the town's newspaper told the Forward, and Mexican and Guatemalan restaurants have closed down. Families of those arrested, and others afraid they might be detained, have taken refuge in the town's Catholic church, according to The Des Moines Register.

For Jewish activists who advocate tying ethics standards to the requirements of kashrut, the latest incident at AgriProcessors is more fuel for the fire.

“For too long, we've ignored that production of kosher food has taken place in a world where we're concerned about the ritual aspects of food preparation and not the ethical considerations,” said Rabbi Morris Allen, director of the Hechsher Tzedek Commission, which is affiliated with the Conservative movement.

Other kosher consumers simply wish for less controversy mixed in with their meat.

“I think the general sense is that they wish Rubashkin would do what it has to so that it does not wind up in the news all the time,” Mandel said.

Copyright © 2007 Forward Association, inc. |
b. Possible JVNA Responses

My approach is to argue that these events should be wake-up calls to try to get people to reconsider the realities behind the production and consumption of meat and other animal products. To that end, I have already sent out a press release (see below) and letters to editors (also see below). I know of 4 papers that have published my letter.

Someone has suggested a demonstration in front of the Orthodox Union (OU) headquarters. That would take a lot of planning, and I am already actively involved in a number of projects. Unless there was a large, vocal turnout, it might not be effective.

Perhaps a campaign of using articles, letters to editors, contacts with rabbis might be worthwhile. To me the bottom line is that the world is heading toward an unprecedented catastrophe, and animal-based diets and agriculture are major contributors. So, we must get that message out.

The current AgriProcessors scandal is not directly vegetarian-related.
Hi John,

Certainly the OU has, to say the least, not acted properly, re AgriProcessors.

But, I think if they had acted differently, and pressured AgriProcessors, the company would probably have made minimal changes necessary to keep the OU's approval. This would certainly be positive, but probably the same number of animals would be killed.

I see this, to some extent, like the current battle between animal welfare advocates and animal rights advocates.

If conditions at AgriProcessors were improved, it might only result in people continuing to eat meat, and perhaps even more, because now animals and workers are treated better, and people might feel they can now eat meat with a clear conscience.

Also, the raid on AgriProcessors should continue to focus attention on the kosher slaughterhous and that will hopefully lead to positive results. Perhaps our best strategy is to work on areas where there is little attention in the Jewish community.

It will not be easy, but I think we have to challenge the whole system, perhaps eventually demonstrating against rabbinic groups for not stressing that Jewish mandates are violated in the production and consumption of meat, and medical groups for not stressing the health benefits of plant-based diets.

So, I plan to continue and expand efforts to get A SACRED DUTY widely seen and to more directly challenge rabbis and other Jewish leaders and to urge all JVNA newsletter readers to do likewise. Major changes are necessary to avoid the disaster the world is rapidly approaching, and I think we should focus on working to try to get these changes.

Also, I remember spending a lot of time organizing a protest against the OU in L.A., and only a handful of people came and the press coverage was relatively weak.

I think if we try to do too many things, we may lose effectiveness.

More on strategy ideas to follow soon.
Suggestions very welcome.

c. NY Times article on the raid on AgriProcessors
May 13, 2008, NYTimes
Hundreds Are Arrested in U.S. Sweep of Meat Plant

In the biggest workplace immigration raid this year, federal agents swept into a kosher meat plant on Monday in Postville, Iowa, and arrested more than 300 workers.

The authorities said the workers were suspected of being in the United States illegally or of having participated in identity theft and the fraudulent use of Social Security numbers.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement would not say how many people had been rounded up beyond the initial 300 or whether the management and owners of the plant, AgriProcessors, would face criminal charges.

The plant has 800 to 900 people and is the country's largest producer of meat that is glatt kosher, widely regarded as the highest standard of cleanliness.

The plant shut temporarily.

The agents set up a perimeter around the 60-acre plant, in northeastern Iowa, and entered on the morning shift, carrying out two search warrants, federal authorities said. An affidavit filed in court before the raid by the Homeland Security Department cited “the issuance of 697 criminal complaints and arrest warrants against persons believed to be current employees” and to have acted criminally.

The affidavit said a former plant supervisor had told investigators that a methamphetamine laboratory had operated at the plant and that some employees had carried weapons to the plant. The former supervisor, the affidavit said, estimated that 80 percent of the employees were in the United States illegally.

A spokesman for Representative Bruce Braley, Democrat of Iowa, said the number of arrests was expected to increase, perhaps even double, as the investigation continued.

Federal officials leased an expansive fairground area in nearby Waterloo to process and house the arrested workers. Among people at the fairgrounds and in Postville, “there is a lot of fear,” said Prof. Mark A. Grey, who focuses on immigration at the University of Northern Iowa.

“It's absolutely devastating to the local economy,” Professor Grey said.

In a news release, Matt M. Dummermuth, the United States attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, called the sweep “the largest operation of its type ever in Iowa.”

d. JVNA Press Release


For Immediate Release:

May 13, 2008
Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Phone: (718) 761-5876

Jewish Vegetarians of North America issued the following statement today:

Monday's raid on Agriprocessors by agents from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, with hundreds of slughterhouse workers arrested, should be the latest wake-up call to the need for a major reconsideration of the production and consumption of meat and other animal products. AgriProcessors glatt kosher slaughterhouse, the largest in the United States (owned by the Rubashkin family), has a history of heinous animal cruelty, environmental law infractions, employee abuse, and corruption.

[This may seem strong, but not compared to material on AgriProcessors at other blogs.]

The Agriprocessors slaughterhouse is making a mockery of what kashruth should represent - the humane treatment of animals, not just at the moment of slaughter, but for the entire period during which they are in the care of humans. Clearly this particular slaughterhouse must be shut down until major changes occur and inspection processes are improved. But, far more needs to be done overall to eradicate the paradoxical contradiction between immutable Jewish ethics and the inherent cruelty of factory farming.

The Jewish community must face the fact that producing and consuming meat and other animal products represents an unequivocal violation of basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and avoid a chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d's Name).

It is time that we recognize that the raising of over 50 billion animals worldwide for meat, eggs and milk is contributing to global warming, widening water shortages, rapid species extinction and many more environmental problems that threaten humanity and all of creation.

It is time that we realize that we can reduce the current epidemic of diseases afflicting Jews and others through a switch toward plant-based diets.

It is time that the many moral issues related to our diets be put on the Jewish agenda.

This is extremely important for Jews today because Israel is especially threatened by global warming. A report by the Israel Union for Environmental Defense in 2007 indicates that global warming could cause: (1) a rise in average temperature of 3 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit; (2) a significant increase in the Mediterranean Sea level, which would threaten the narrow coastal strip of land where 60% of Israel's population lives and where major infrastructure, such as ports and power plants, would be destroyed; and (3) a significant decrease in rainfall, estimated at 20-30%, which would disrupt agricultural production and worsen the chronic water scarcity problem in Israel and the region.

We urge that tikkun olam-the healing and repair of the world -- be a central issue in synagogues, Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions. Judaism has marvelous teachings on environmental conservation and sustainability, and it is essential that they be applied to respond to today's many current environmental threats..

In view of the many threats to humanity, it is scandalous that the world is not only trying to feed 6.5 billion people, but also over 50 billion farmed animals; that 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and over a third produced worldwide are fed to animals raised for slaughter; that the standard American diet (SAD) requires up to 14 times as much water as a vegan diet. A 2006 UN FAO report indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (18 percent in CO2 equivalents) than all the world's cars and other means of transportation combined (13.5 percent), and that the number of farmed animals is projected to double in 50 years. Therefore, what we eat is more important than what we drive and consciousness about both are ethical imperatives.

Further information about these issues can be found at our JVNA web site We will provide complimentary copies of our new, highly-acclaimed documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD and related materials to rabbis and others who will contact us and indicate how they will use them to involve their congregations, schools or other groups on the issues. The entire documentary can be seen at, and there is much background material about the film at that web site.

e. My Letter (sent to many publications)

Dear Editor:

The recent raid on Agriprocessors by agents from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, with hundreds of slughterhouse workers arrested, should be the latest wake-up call to the need for a major reconsideration of the production and consumption of meat and other animal products. AgriProcessors glatt kosher slaughterhouse, the largest in the United States, has a history of heinous animal cruelty, environmental law infractions and employee abuse.

The Agriprocessors slaughterhouse is making a mockery of what kashruth should represent - the humane treatment of animals, not just at the moment of slaughter, but for the entire period during which they are in the care of humans. Clearly this particular slaughterhouse must be shut down until major changes occur and inspection processes are improved. But, far more needs to be done overall to eradicate the paradoxical contradiction between immutable Jewish ethics and the inherent cruelty of producing meat and other animal products.

The Jewish community must face the fact that animal-based diets and agriculture represent an unequivocal violation of basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and avoid a chillul Hashem (desecration of God's Name).

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz
President, Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)

f. Shorter Version of My Letter

Dear Editor:

The recent raid on Agriprocessors by federal immigration agents. with hundreds of slughterhouse workers arrested, should be the latest wake-up call to the need for a major reconsideration of the realities of animal-based diets. Clearly this slaughterhouse must be shut down until major changes occur and inspection processes are improved. But, far more needs to be done to eradicate the contradictions between Jewish ethics and the inherent cruelty of producing meat and other animal products.

The Jewish community must face the fact that animal-based diets violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people.

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz
President, Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)
g. Another Letter Re AgriProcessors

Dear Editor,

The recent immigration raid at Agriprocessors kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa reportedly has many kosher consumers bracing for meat shortages. I'm not worried-I'm a vegetarian. I adhere to Tsa'ar ba'alei hayim, the Jewish commandment mandating that animals be treated with compassion-something that has not happened at Agriprocessors, where workers were caught shocking animals with electric prods, slitting their throats, ripping out their tracheas, and leaving them to die slowly.

After all of the negative publicity that Agriprocessors has received for abusing animals and people, it's sad that some members of my faith are only concerned about whether or not they will be able to have meat. As God's chosen people, we can surely do better than this. We can live according to our religious principles by choosing plant-based foods, which are naturally kosher. Vegetarian foods are plentiful, delicious, healthy, and humane. Check out for vegan recipes and product picks, as well as information on the horrific animal abuse at AgriProcessors.


Jayn Brotman
Cincinnati, Ohio 45206

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3. Update on the “Veggie Pride Parade”

As indicated in a special message to the JVNA readership, the parade was very successful and received much media coverage. Much of that coverage can be found at:


Supreme Master TV took many pictures at the parade. I am in at least 4 of the photos (#7, 8, 49, 76).

Almost 100 photos can be found at:

Below is one article re the event (in the NY Daily News).

Vegetables on march against meat biz

By Erin Einhorn

Monday, May 19th 2008, 4:00 AM

Vegetables walked in the first-ever Veggie Pride Parade.

It was New York's first-ever Veggie Pride Parade - and people in giant carrot costumes sprouted across the Meatpacking District.

"We're putting the meat business on notice," said parade organizer Pamela Rice. "We're watching them now."

She was one of several hundred vegetarian and vegan activists who assembled on a plaza down the street from the Hog Pit BBQ restaurant for a march to Washington Square Park to promote the environmental, ethical and health advantages of a meat-free diet.

After the walking carrot and pea pod at the front of the procession came a couple in banana costumes, holding hands as they marched, and then a man in a "Super Vegan" costume with a blazing "V" on his chest and a woman waving a hot pink tinfoil pig with a plaintive sign reading, "Save me."

Bringing up the rear of the march were the ecofarmers with a long tube of pink netting representing a meat-eater's colon. It had signs pointing to "butt cancer," "polyps" and a large plastic "colostomy bag" filled with plastic poop.

"Protect your poop chute," said Jenny Brown of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary as marchers handed pamphlets to the Sunday brunchers at sidewalk cafes.

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4. Agribusiness Poses Many Modern Dilemmas/Letters to Editors

To Market, to Market: Farmers Face Modern Dilemmas

Is agribusiness forgetting its humanity when treating animals destined for dinner?
May 15, 2008

Frank Rosci
Jewish Exponent Feature

In the generally accepted scheme of things, farm animals are viewed in this country as food -- and little else -- by most people and civil authorities, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Animal lives have value to today's modern mega-farms only as products that will yield the highest profit at market value.

That mindset is as wrong as it gets, contends Gene Baur, author of Farm Sanctuary, an indictment of the evils of so-called factory or industrial farming, a highly refined, assembly-line-like corporate system that subjects billions of farm animals to shockingly harsh conditions and ultimate slaughter annually

May 16, 2008

Editor, Jewish Exponent

Dear Editor:

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I was pleased to read Frank Rosci’s May 16 article, “To Market, To Market: Farmers face Modern Dilemmas,” which questioned whether “agribusiness [is] forgetting its humanity when treating animals destined for dinner.”

Perhaps we should also consider if Jews are deviating from Jewish values when eating foods from modern, intensive factory farms.

What does it say about Judaism today when we fail to address that the production and consumption of meat violate basic Jewish teachings on preserving our health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment , conserving resources and helping hungry people? Are we playing our mandated role as a “kingdom of priests” and a “light unto the nations,” if we partake in diets that contribute to the current epidemic of diseases and to global warming and environmental problems that threaten all of humanity ?

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz

Comment from JVNA advisor Steve Schuster:

Richard - might be worth reminding those who believe that kashruth is sufficient - that the prohibition against tza'ar baalei chaim is not fulfilled by rabbinically supervised ritual slaughter alone. As humans, we are responsible for the welfare of animals in our care for every moment of their lives. By eating factory-farmed meat, we are fully-culpable participants in the factory farming ecosystem. Thus eating factory farmed meat is an act as impactful as if we ourselves were directly mistreating animals and violating tza'ar baalei chaim.

Shabbat shalom,



Letter submitted by JVNA advisor Rina Deych

In light of the recent video expose done by the Humane Society of the United States, which depicted sick and injured cattle (called "downers") brutally tortured in an attempt to force them on their feet so they would appear healthy, the China Study, which took place over a 25-year period, which showed that people abstaining from animal products developed far less cardiovascular, neoplastic, and auto-immune diseases, and the 400-page 2006 UN report entitled "Livestock's Long Shadow," which stated that animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined, it's clear that we, as a species, need to transcend our carnivorous gluttony. Meat is wasteful of resources, pollutive, unhealthy, and cruel. Switching to a plant-based diet is better for our bodies, the environment, and, of course, the animals.

An incredible new documentary entitled "A Sacred Duty" addresses this issue from the Jewish perspective.
A synopsis and the film in its entirety can be accessed at

Rina Deych, RN
Brooklyn, NY

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5. Foie Gras Ban in Chicago Overturned

Forwarded article:

Chicago overturns ban on foie gras in restaurants

By CARYN ROUSSEAU, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO - Dining on foie gras — a delicacy made of duck and goose liver — will soon be legal again in Chicago.

The City Council on Wednesday repealed its two-year-old ban on the gourmet dish, drawing dissent from animal rights activists who consider foie gras cruel because the birds are force-fed to make their livers bigger.

But there were no worries in chef Didier Durand's restaurant, Cyrano's Bistrot.

"All of us are so excited," Durand told reporters as he held his pet duck, Nicolai, named after French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "People miss it. They used to go to the suburbs to get foie gras and stopped going to specifically French restaurants."

Durand was one of a coalition of restaurateurs who started Chicago Chefs for Choice, a movement to overturn the ban, which went into effect in August 2006. He said Wednesday that he would begin serving foie gras again as soon as the repeal goes into effect later this month.

"You might disagree with serving foie gras, but you don't do a ban and forbid everybody to have foie gras," Durand said. His restaurant was one of many across the city that held foie gras dinners in the days before the ban took effect.

The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called the repeal a political maneuver benefiting the restaurant industry. The Virginia-based organization said the council's first "compassionate decision was reversed in a secretive, rushed bow to special interests that benefit from the cruel treatment of animals."

Wednesday's vote was led by Mayor Richard M. Daley, who called the ban the silliest ordinance the council had ever passed. The repeal measure passed by a vote of 37-6 with no debate, an about-face from the original ban, which passed in April 2006 by a vote of 48-1.

During Wednesday's vote, the ban's original sponsor, Alderman Joe Moore, shouted his objections.

"It was a statement against animal cruelty, pure and simple," Moore said about his original intent, after Wednesday's vote.

Of the council's decision to repeal, he said: "They used a little parliamentary procedure avoiding any public hearing and debate on the measure. I don't think that's very healthy for a democracy or very healthy for the city."

Alderman Thomas Tunney, who brought the issue to vote, said the sentiments of most Chicagoans were served.

"Supporters of this legislation have accomplished their goal by raising awareness of this issue," Tunney said in a statement. "And while I respect their viewpoint, this is clearly a matter the council should stay out of and let the educated consumer and chefs make their own menu choices."

Doug Sohn, owner of Hot Doug's on the North Side, was fined $250 in March 2007 for a first-time offense of serving foie gras. While taking and serving orders at the self-titled "sausage superstore and encased meat emporium," Sohn said the repeal was the right decision.

"I certainly think it was a foolish decision in the first place," Sohn said. "I truly hope this ends it. There are real important issues in this city. This is certainly not one of them. I hope we're done with this nonsense."

The Illinois Restaurant Association, along with a local restaurant, had sued in federal court seeking to have the ban overturned, but a U.S. district judge dismissed the effort in June.

"As an industry, we think that menu offerings are best left to the individual restaurant operators, rather than being dictated by government," the association said in a statement Wednesday.

More than a dozen countries, mostly in Europe, have banned production of the delicacy. Similar measures have been considered in California, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

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6. Jewish Educator Seeking Financial support to Help Travel and Promote Jewish Vegetarianism/Suggestions Welcome

Forwarded message:

I'd love to create a program where I would travel around to day schools, religious schools, and youth groups promoting vegetarianism through humane and environmental education. I think it would be a great way to also promote the film, as I could distribute copies to the audiences, as
well as show it, when time permits.

Thanks for anything you can come up with.

Judith Gottesman, MSW
If you have suggestions for helping Judith find the necessary funding, please let me know, or let Judith know at She would show A SACRED DUTY whenever possible, as part of her efforts. Thanks.

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7. New Book on Animal Rights Receiving Wide Praise

Reviews of “Thanking the Monkey” are below:

Library Journal Reviews - January 15, 2008

BYLINE: Melody Ballard

SECTION: REVIEWS; Science and Technology; Pg. 128

Los Angeles-based animal-rights activist Dawn's opinion pieces have been published in the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times; she is presently the author of the daily e-newsletter DawnWatch ( Sensitive and informative, her first book, while encompassing all aspects of animal rights, focuses on animal exploitation. Dawn's view is not only uniquely free of overt sensationalism but factual. She covers cultural differences, historical practices, and a balance of divergent views on the ways animals are raised and used. Sections include "Slaves to Love-Pets," "All the World's a Cage-Animal Entertainment," "Zoos-It's No Jungle in There," "Fashion Victims," "Deconstructing Dinner," and "Animal Anonymous-On Animal Testing." Dawn manages, despite the seriousness of the subject matter, to intersperse bits of humor throughout, primarily through cartoons. A riveting text you'll be sure to want to read; highly recommended for public libraries and other libraries with collections focusing on animal rights.-Melody Ballard, Pima Cty. P.L., Tucson, AZ


BYLINE: Nancy Bent

A fun book about the animal-rights movement? Dawn, an activist and author (online and print), has produced an easily digested, sound-bite-laden primer to all sides and gradations of the crusade for animal rights. In short, easy sections, Dawn works through all of the arenas in which animals are used or exploited as well as the differences in philosophy within the movement itself. She covers essential topics, such as the owning of pets (in the chapter “Slaves to Love”), and doesn’t stop with the more numerous dogs and cats but also questions keeping birds, fish, and reptiles in cages. She also acknowledges the positive sides of pet keeping, using the abandonment of pets by aid workers and the consequent stress on their owners as an example. The author takes a similarly nuanced look at zoos and circuses, the fashion industry, animals as food, and animal testing, finishing with a look at the similarities and differences between
environmentalists and animal activists with examples of animal activism in action. Well illustrated with numerous drawings and cartoons. An excellent introduction.

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8. Animal Law Lecture Series Scheduled

Dear Richard

I am pleased to provide you with additional information regarding the 2008UNSW/Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series, which begins next week. As you may have already noted, this year, our international guest lecturer is Raj Panjwani, one of India’s leading animal protection lawyers.

Mr Panjwani will be delivering the keynote public lecture for the Series at
the University of New South Wales Law School from 6.30pm on Thursday 22 May . The lecture will include a panel discussion by Professor David Weisbrot AM (President of the Australian Law Reform Commission), Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan (Specialist in Animal Welfare Public Policy based at the University of Melbourne) and Tara Ward (Lecturer in Animal Law at UNSW).

An online registration form for the event is available at: and the full schedule for the speaking tour can be viewed at

Attached is a copy of our flyer for the occasion and our press release. You may also like to visit the Lecture Series webpages at:

Thanks for your support in promoting this event - I greatly appreciate it.

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9. Global Warming Having Major Effects on Wildlife

World's wildlife and environment already hit by climate change, major study shows

• 90% of damage caused by rising temperatures
• Conclusions based on reports going back to 1970

This article appeared in the Guardian on Thursday May 15 2008

Global warming is disrupting wildlife and the environment on every continent, according to an unprecedented study that reveals the extent to which climate change is already affecting the world's ecosystems.

Scientists examined published reports dating back to 1970 and found that at least 90% of environmental damage and disruption around the world could be explained by rising temperatures driven by human activity.

Big falls in Antarctic penguin populations, fewer fish in African lakes, shifts in American river flows and earlier flowering and bird migrations in Europe are all likely to be driven by global warming, the study found.

The team of experts, including members of the UN's intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) from America, Europe, Australia and China, is the first to formally link some of the most dramatic changes to the world's wildlife and habitats with human-induced climate change.

In the study, which appears in the journal Nature, researchers analysed reports highlighting changes in populations or behaviour of 28,800 animal and plant species. They examined a further 829 reports that focused on different environmental effects, including surging rivers, retreating glaciers and shifting forests, across the seven continents.

To work out how much - or if at all - global warming played a role, the scientists next checked historical records to see what impact natural variations in local climate, deforestation and changes in land use might have on the ecosystems and species that live there.

In 90% of cases the shifts in wildlife behaviour and populations could only be explained by global warming, while 95% of environmental changes, such as melting permafrost, retreating glaciers and changes in river flows were consistent with rising temperatures.

"When we look at all these impacts together, it is clear they are across continents and endemic. We're getting a sense that climate change is already changing the way the world works," said lead author Cynthia Rosenzweig, head of the climate impacts group at Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

Most of the reports examined by the team were published between 1970 and 2004, during which time global average temperatures rose by around 0.6C. The latest report from the IPCC suggests the world is likely to warm between 2C and 6C by the end of the century.

"When you look at a map of the world and see where these changes are already happening, and how many species and systems are already responding to climate change after only a 0.6C rise, it just heightens our concerns for the future," Rosenzweig said. "It's clear we have to adapt to climate change as well as try to mitigate it. It's real and it's happening now."


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10. Resolution on Global Warming/Suggestions Welcome


Documented Drafted by Vegetarian Union of North America for Consideration at the 2008 World Vegetarian Conference

Whereas global warming is arguably the biggest social, political economic, moral, and environmental problem facing our planet and its inhabitants; and

Whereas there are almost daily reports regarding record heat, wildfires, an increase in the number and severity of storms, droughts, the melting of glaciers, permafrost, and polar ice caps, rising sea levels, flooding, endangered species, spreading diseases, shrinking lakes, submerged islands, and environmental refugees; and

Whereas, while a small number of individuals argue against global warming, there is a scientific and environmental consensus - among all major scientific and environmental organizations, journals, and magazines, and all peer-reviewed scholarly articles - that global warming is real, serious, worsening, and caused by human activity; and

Whereas the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its Fourth Assessment Report in February 2007, which was researched and written by about 2,500 climate scientists over the past six years and vetted by over 130 governments, carefully delineates clear trends and potentially catastrophic consequences associated with climate change, warning of the possibility of irreversible change, unless we make concerted efforts to counter global warming; and

Whereas several leading experts, including James Hansen of NASA and physicist Stephen Hawking, perhaps the most famous living scientist, as well as Al Gore, warn that global climate change may reach a 'tipping point' and spiral out of control within a decade, with disastrous consequences, if current conditions continue; and

Whereas a recent 700-page British government report, authored by a former chief economist for the World Bank, projects losses of up to 20% of world gross domestic product by 2050, unless 1% of current world domestic product is devoted to combating global climate change; and

Whereas the US Pentagon states that global warming is a larger threat than even terrorism, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has said that climate change needs to be taken as seriously as war and, further, that “changes in our environment and the resulting upheavals from droughts to inundated coastal areas to loss of arable land are likely to become a major driver of war and conflict,” and a 2007 report by eleven retired US admirals and generals indicated that refugees fleeing droughts, floods, storms and wildfires caused by global warming make instability, violence , terrorism and war more likely; and

Whereas the November 2006 390-page report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), entitled “Livestock's Long Shadow” []. states that animal-based agriculture causes approximately 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to all of the cars, trucks, planes, ships and other means of transportation combined (!3.5%); and

Whereas that UN report projects that the number of farmed animals will double in the next 50 years, and that increase would result in increased greenhouse gas emissions that will negate the effects of many positive changes, making it impossible to reach the reductions in overall greenhouse gas emissions that experts feel is necessary to avoid the worse effects of global climate change; and

Whereas animal based-diets also contribute to an epidemic of diseases, the mistreatment of billions of animals on factory farms, water shortages, many environmental threats and other negative effects;

The International Vegetarian Congress resolves:

To urge its member societies and individuals to make it a priority to work to increase awareness of the severe threats of global warming and other environmental problems, and the urgency of a major switch toward vegetarian, and preferably vegan, diets to reduce these threats.

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11. SPNI Report: One Quarter of Israeli Nesting Birds are in Danger

By Zafrir Rinat, HaAretz


The situation of over 20 species of birds in Israel has worsened considerably in recent years, and one-quarter of local nesting species are facing various levels of threats - and possibly extinction.

These are the conclusions of a report released ahead of the Jerusalem Environment and Nature Conference, sponsored by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) and opening today in the capital. The report, prepared by Dan Alon and Yoav Perlman of the SPNI's Israel Ornithological Center, cites changes that have affected the status of birds since publication six years ago of "The Red Book" (the list of endangered fauna in Israel).

Since publication of the book, the report states, the situation of 21 bird species has worsened, while that of only two has improved, and 13 species that were not in danger before are defined as such today. Particularly noticeable is the worsening plight of desert birds such as the hoopoe lark and the pin-tailed sandgrouse, which are affected by the development of agriculture in various parts of the Negev. In total, there are currently 18 species in Israel facing a serious threat of extinction, and there is a high probability that they will disappear completely within a few years, if no measures to save them are implemented.

The report further notes that several of the larger local birds of prey are under serious threat: There are only a few remaining pairs of golden eagles, which have been severely affected by poisonings, electrocution and nest robbing in areas of the Palestinian Authority.

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Full story:


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12. Petition Drive to Stop European Union Subsidies to “Livestock Agriculture'

Stop EU subsidies to livestock industry

In the last fifty years, in Europe and elsewhere in the developed countries, there has been an exponential growth in the consumption of animal products (meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products). These foods are consumed at each meal in every household; quite unlike 50 years ago, when these were rare food items. Today these items cost extremely little, with respect to production costs, often even less than vegetable products, which inevitably require far less raw materials, energy and labor.

This is because farmers and fishermen receive direct and indirect funding both from the state and the European Union; in effect, what we do not pay for at the cash register we pay for in taxes. It is also paid for by those who choose not to buy animal products.

This is all the more serious as the consequences of the high consumption of meat, food and other animal products are greater on the environment, on human health and on the development of poorer countries. It would be justifiable and positive if individual states and the European Community supported and promoted only the consumption of foods that are healthy and have little environmental impact. Instead they do so with foods whose production has a devastating impact... and this is neither acceptable nor justifiable. It is up to us citizens to put an end to this situation and press for a more farsighted, sensible and sustainable policy in this matter, which will protect the environment and human health rather than harm them as it does now.

What we propose is to reverse this self-destructive trend, resulting in the following steps.

1. Put an end to every kind of subsidy for breeding, fishing, crop cultivations intended for farmed animals feed;

2. Charge for the purchase of farmed animals feed;

3. Ensure that the animal products the final consumer buys show their real price, not distorted by subsidies and other facilities granted to the producers and that also includes the environmental cost for the enormous negative impact of breeding (internalization of costs).

4. Put an end to campaigns for the promotion of animal products consumption financed by public money;

5. To support, with subsidies and information campaigns, the consumption of healthy plant-based food, to be less expensive for the final consumer, an easily obtainable result after the withdrawal of the enourmous costs of subsidies to farming and fishing.

We propose in the meantime a petition in support of Point 1 of this series of proposals.

The petition has the purpose to both bring forward this issue with the European Parliament and to raise the matter in various areas, because not enough attention is ever put to how damaging the practice of farming is and how therefore unacceptable it is to finace it with public funding.

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