June 13, 2008

6/11/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Update for A SACRED DUTY

2. My Letter on Shavuot and Vegetarianism in the June 8 Jerusalem Post

3. Supreme Master TV Interview of A SACRED DUTY Producer Lionel Friedberg and Editor Diana Friedberg on You Tube

4. My Interview by Supreme Master TV Now On You Tube in Four Parts

5. A Number of Videos Produced by JVNA Advisor Catherine Manna Now on You Tube

6. Update Re Situation at Agriprocessors

7. Update on Proposed Vegetarian Shabbat

8. JVNA Press Release Claims Rabbis, Others in Denial

9. Non-Vegetarians in Greater Risk for Health Problems

10. One Million Taiwanese People Vow to Become Vegetarian to Reduce Global Warming Threats/Can This be Extended to Other Countries?

11. Orthodox Rabbinic Group Advocates Climate Change Education

12. Two Important New Animal Rights Books

13. Good source for Important Links to “Judaism and Vegetarianism” Material

14. Vegetarianism As a Solution to World Food Crisis

15. Update on Recent Media Articles Re Vegetarianism and Animal Rights

16. Excerpts From Canfei Nesharim Newsletter “On Eagles' Wings”

17. Jerusalem Post Article on Jewish Environmental Activism

18. Challenging Oprah re Global Warming

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 for A SACRED DUTY

a. Getting DVDs to Vegetarian and Animal Rights Activists at Summer onferences

We are still very anxious to get A SACRED DUTY seen by key vegetarians, animal rights activists, rabbis, environmentalists, media representatives and other influential people. To further this aim, we will be distributing DVDs at the AR2008 conference, SUMMERFEST, the World Vegetarian Congress in Dresden and other conferences this summer. While we have some great volunteers helping, we can always use additional help. So, if you are planning to be at any of these conferences and would like to help, please let me know. Also, if you know of any upcoming conferences that we may not be aware of, also please let me know.
b. Please let people on your email lists, friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, etc. know that at ASacredDuty.com, they can:

* see the entire A SACRED DUTY;
* request a complimentary copy of the documentary;
* get much background information about the movie, including reviews, blurbs and questions and answers.
c. Review of A SACRED DUTY at Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) Website

Reviewed by Reuven Birnbaum

This one hour documentary, funded by the Jewish Vegetarians of North America, was produced, directed, and written by Lionel Friedberg. The movie focuses on raising awareness on environmental problems, the Jewish responsibility to respond to environmental threats, and how a vegetarian diet is an extremely beneficial response to these threats. Although this movie contained many Jewish texts and sources and is essentially meant for Jewish institutions, many people have found that it is very appropriate for both secular and other religious peoples.

The movie addresses common ecological problems and why Jews (as well as all humans) have a responsibility and a law binding obligation to take care of the earth and everything that dwells within it. Furthermore, it explains the negative ecological and health related impacts of the meat industry, and reminds us of the ethical demands that the meat industry should meet. It then further relates biblical quotes and factual information as to how we should treat the world and its inhabitants. This documentary is like the missing link in Al Gore's, An Inconvenient Truth; proving that actions that we once might of thought as acceptable, such as the rampant consumption of meat, as simply an irresponsible and unethical behavior.

Though the movie includes a lot of correct explanations of biblical quotes, their were certain times where the documentary left out different interpretations of quotes that could cause some misleading thoughts. For instance, the movie, quoting Genesis 9-10, where it tells of God's allowance for Noah and his offspring to eat meat, states that it was singularly because of mankind's descent that God would allow people to eat meat. As with many quotes from the bible, there are many different interpretations of the meanings. In this case, there is an argument as to whether God's allowance of mankind's consumption of meat was because of the immoral nature of humans before the flood, or because of the superiority of humans over the animal kingdom after the flood. Though these simple misconceptions were very scarce throughout the movie, they might give people misleading thoughts.

The film interviewed people with a wide range of professions and backgrounds, including many chief rabbis, other well known rabbis, prominent activists, and Israeli environmentalists. All addressed the current status of the environment and related Torah scripture and science into a uniformed response to these threats.

This is an incredibly well thought out movie. And as global climate change, and other environmental threats are looming over our heads, it is important that we have such documentaries that clearly point out the responsibility we all have to our environment which belongs to all people and all faiths.

To obtain a free DVD to show at religious groups, educational institutions, environmental organizations, cultural clubs, Jewish Film Festivals, and other showings, contact Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) at www.asacredduty.com.
Reuven Birnbaum is a vegetarian, and an intern who writes and works for The Vegetarian Resource Group. He is also a practicing Orthodox Jew.


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2. My Letter on Shavuot and Vegetarianism in the June 8 Jerusalem Post


Guardians of the earth

Sir, - Shavuot commemorates the Jewish people receiving the Torah, and many religious Jews stay up the entire night studying Torah. Hence this important holiday provides a wonderful opportunity to consider if we are properly applying Torah values:

o Since the Torah teaches that we are to be shomrei adama - guardians of the earth - (Genesis 2:15), why are we not sufficiently addressing the many current severe environmental threats?

o Since the Torah stresses that we should very diligently guard our health, shouldn't we consider the many negative health effects of animal-based diets?

o Since the Torah mandates the avoidance of tsa'ar ba'alei haim - causing unnecessary pain to animals - shouldn't there be far greater concern about the horrible treatment of animals (10 billion annually in the US alone) on factory farms?

o Since the Torah mandates that we are to share with hungry people, shouldn't we address the fact that 70 percent of the grain produced in the US is being fed to farmed animals, while an estimated 20 million people die from malnutrition annually?

Let us make this Shavuot a time to begin applying Torah values in order to produce a more humane, healthy, environmentally sustainable, just and compassionate world.

New York

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3. Supreme Master TV Interview of A SACRED DUTY Producer Lionel Friedberg and Editor Diana Friedberg on You Tube

[Lionel and Diana do a splendid job of explaining their experiences in making films and why and how A SACRED DUTY was produced.]


Part 2 is also viewable at:

The videos are available on yahoo video:

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4. My Interview by Supreme Master TV Now On You Tube in Four Parts

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCgd2YNzusk
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kf07o8jxPY
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDcRTU12xo4
Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOkwwYlFoBU

Here is where you may be able to download them from SMTV's archives:

Part 1 of "Richard Schwartz: Author of Judaism & Vegetarianism"

Part 2 of "Richard Schwartz: Author of Judaism & Vegetarianism"

Part 3 of "Richard Schwartz: Author of Judaism & Vegetarianism"

Part 4 of "Richard Schwartz: Author of Judaism & Vegetarianism"

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5. A Number of Videos Produced by JVNA Advisor Catherine Manna Now on You Tube

Catherine has been doing a great job in helping promote A SACRED DUTY, vegetarianism and the need to preserve the natural world through her videos:

"Celebrate Life"!

Universal Sovereign!

"Cities of the sea" Coral reefs and sea creatures

Psalm 92:5 "How great are Your Works"

"Shavuot" Z'man Matan Toratenu

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6. Update Re Situation at Agriprocessors

a. JTA article: Prominent Jews join boycott threat

Jwish Telegraphic Agency

Published: 06/04/2008


Several prominent Jews signed on to a boycott threat against the kosher meatpacker Agriprocessors.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Ruth Messinger and Rabbi Avi Weiss are among the 1,000 signers of a petition organized by Uri L'tzedek, according to its co-director, Shmuly Yanklowitz.

"We believe we have the right as consumers to be assured that Agriprocessors, a company that controls 60 percent of the kosher beef market, is committed to protecting its workers by upholding the law," Yanklowitz said in a statement.

Uri L'tzedek, a group founded by students at the liberal Orthodox seminary Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York, says the company must set up a transparent and accountable department to ensure compliance with the labor requirements of both Jewish and secular law.

If Agriprocessors does not, the group will begin to boycott the company and businesses that purchase from it on June 15.

Agriprocessors announced Wednesday that it is seeking to hire a chief compliance officer in addition to a new chief executive officer. The announcement was issued through a public relations person.

"We are fully dedicated and take full responsibility for ensuring that our company complies with all applicable immigration and state and federal laws," said Heshy Rubashkin, the vice president of Agriprocessors.

Last week, Rubashkin's father, Aaron, announced that he was replacing another son, Sholom, as manager of the Postville plant.

Heshy Rubashkin said Agriprocessors is cooperating with the government on the worksite enforcement action. "However," he said, "we cannot respond to specific allegations until the investigation is completed and pending legal issues are resolved."

The largest kosher slaughterhouse in the United States, Agriprocessors has been under a hail of criticism since federal authorities arrested 389 of its workers in a May 12 raid at the company plant in Postville, Iowa.

Among the allegations leveled since the raid are that workers were underpaid, sexually harassed and forced to work long overtime shifts.

Agriprocessors owner Aaron Rubashkin denied the allegations last week in an exclusive interview with JTA.

b. Jewish Standard (of NJ) article: OU weighs in on Agriprocessors scandal

By Josh Lipowsky | Published 05/30/2008

[Article re talk by OU Kashrut Director Rabbi Menachem genack i8n Teaneck, New Jersey]

The problems at Agriprocessors that resulted in a federal raid at its Postville, Iowa, plant earlier this month highlight larger issues in America, rather than in just the kosher industry, according to the administrator of the Orthodox Union's kashrut division.

"This issue of undocumented workers in plants is not a Rubashkins' story, it's an American story," said Rabbi Menachem Genack, who spoke Tuesday night at the Jewish Center of Teaneck to some 80 listeners. "It is standard in many manufacturing facilities that workers have documentation but are not legal."

Rabbi Menachem Genack tells a Teaneck audience that if Agriprocessors, the largest kosher meat producer in the country, is found to be criminally liable, the Orthodox Union will withdraw its certification. photo by josh lipowsky

Genack, of Cong. Shomrei Emunah in Englewood, said that a faulty American immigration policy was creating these problems, which, he added, are widespread in factories across the country. He said that he did not know if the Rubashkins, the Brooklyn-based Lubavitcher family that owns Agriprocessors, were aware of workers' falsified documents, but he urged members of the audience to be patient as the investigations continue.

"We have to see where the facts take us," he said. "If [the Rubashkins] are found to be criminally liable, then we would have no choice but withdraw the supervision."

Laws guaranteeing workers' rights have their basis in the Torah, Genack said. Still, he defended the OU's position of not monitoring working conditions at the factory. Jewish companies should "just be conforming, not better, not worse" in their compliance with labor laws.

If the charges against Agriprocessors are accurate, he said, that signifies that dozens of federal inspectors already in the plant have failed at their jobs. Allegations include violations such as paying below minimum wage and physical abuse.

"The United States government has rules and laws that monitor these activities," Genack said, citing the Environmental Protection Agency, OSHA, and USDA. "The OU position is these are important issues, but we don't have the expertise to develop standards in these areas. It's not an easy thing to determine or define."

Because of the number of federal agencies responsible for overseeing the plant, Genack said that the most serious charges involving physical abuse of workers are unlikely to be true. Likewise, he dismissed allegations that workers ran a methamphetamine lab on the premises.

Still, the government has the resources to quickly recognize and address problems as they appear, he said.

"Issue after issue, they should have been handling this," Genack said of federal inspection agencies.

U.S. Attorney Matt Dummermuth said last week that 297 of 389 people detained at the Agriprocessors plant pleaded guilty and were sentenced on felony charges. Criminal charges brought against the detainees all related to the use of false information to gain employment. Of those sentenced, the vast majority received five-month prison sentences followed by three years of supervised release. All those sentenced face deportation. Genack said he told the Rubashkin family that as a first step to fixing the problems in Postville, they should get "independent, professional management and the family should step down [from running the plant]."

Sholom Rubashkin, the company's CEO who oversaw the Postville plant, announced his resignation earlier this week. "The best course of action for the company, its employees, the local community and our customers is to bring new leadership to Agriprocessors," Aaron Rubashkin, the owner of Agriprocessors Inc., and the father of Sholom Rubashkin, said in a statement. A company statement further said that Agriprocessors is conducting an independent investigation of the immigration issues and is cooperating with the government. The Brooklyn butcher, who founded the company in 1987, added, "The company has begun the search for a new permanent chief executive officer. We have engaged a team of industry experts to help us identify and secure a new leader who can help us meet the needs of Agriprocessors today and in the future. We will make more information on the search process available by the end of next week."

The statement reiterated that "due to pending legal issues," the company would not respond to specific allegations. These include charges of hiring underage workers, sexual harassment, and withholding of overtime pay. If the company hires independent management, then the OU is unlikely to withdraw its supervision, even if the Rubashkins are found liable, Genack said.

According to Eli Rosenfeld, a spokesman for Empire Poultry who was at Tuesday night's gathering, that company has increased its production and seen "a noticeable increase" in orders in the past two weeks. Despite fears of shortages or price gouging, Rosenfeld said Empire does not anticipate a price hike. Genack said Agriprocessors has enough inventory to avoid a "dramatic change" in prices but calls for a boycott - which have come from a number of Jewish organizations - could change that.

Uri L'tzedek, a project started by students at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a liberal Orthodox rabbinical school in Manhattan, began circulating a petition this week asking Agriprocessors to pay its workers at least the federal minimum wage, abide by laws pertaining to workers' rights, and treat employees according to Torah standards.

According to a statement on its Website, the Jewish Labor Committee calls on Agriprocessors "to live up to the responsibilities of corporate citizenship, end its campaign of worker abuse, and respect the rights of its employees including their legal right to union representation. Until Agriprocessors establishes its commitment to these responsibilities, we urge consumers of kosher meat products to seek alternatives to the Rubashkin labels."

In its statement, the JLC asserted that the company had displayed "a clear pattern of employer negligence and even lawlessness," including violating child labor laws and tolerating various forms of worker abuse.

Similarly the Conservative movement's top bodies have asked that kosher consumers "evaluate whether it is appropriate to buy and eat meat products" from Agriprocessors.

Meat and poultry produced by Agriprocessors is sold under the following kosher and non-kosher labels: Aaron's Best, Aaron's Choice, David's, European Glatt, Iowa Best Beef, Nevel, Rubashkin's, Shor Habor, and Supreme Kosher.

JTA contributed to this report.

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7. Update on Proposed Vegetarian Shabbat

Vegetarian group urges a meatless Shabbat

Friday, June 06, 2008
ADVANCE STAFF WRITER (Staten Island Advance)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The Jewish Vegetarians of North America is urging synagogues and Jewish institutions to plan vegetarian-related events next weekend, which the organization has designated as the annual Vegetarian Shabbat.

"At a time when there is an epidemic of diseases in the Jewish community and when animal-based agriculture contributes significantly to global warming, widening water scarcities, rapid extinction of species, destruction of tropical rain forests, coral reefs and other valuable habitats and many other environmental threats, it is essential that vegetarianism be on the Jewish agenda," said Dr. Richard Schwartz, a Willowbrook resident who is president of the Jewish Vegetarians.

"A shift to plant-based diets would also best apply fundamental Jewish mandates to take care of our health, treat animals compassionately, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people, thereby helping to revitalize Judaism," he said.

For information about the connection between Judaism and vegetarianism, visit www.JewishVeg.com. To read Schwartz's extensive writings on the links between Judaism and vegetarianism, click on JewishVeg.com/schwartz.

Please contact local rabbis and ask if they are willing to have any vegetarian-related activities this coming Shabbat as part of a “Vegetarian Shabbat.” We got off to a late start this year, but plan to start earlier next year and do more,

At least we got the coverage above, and that way copies in a Yiddish publication, which generated many posted comments.

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8. JVNA Press Release Claims Rabbis, Others in Denial

[Please help spread the word re this press release and its message. Also, if you have suggestions re other ways of challenging rabbis and the Jewish establishment in general, please let me know. Many thanks.]


For Immediate Release:

June 6, 2008
Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)
President@JewishVeg.com Phone: (718) 761-5876

Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) issued the following statement today:

Kol hakavod (kudos) to leading rabbis and other Jewish leaders, including Rabbis Shloma Riskin, Avi Weiss and Shmuel Herzfeld and Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service, for supporting efforts to boycott meat from Rubashkin's kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, until major improvements are made at the facility.

However, as Al Gore quips. “Denial is not just a river in Egypt.” While the efforts of these leaders are highly commendable, they and most other Jewish leaders, the media and the general public seem to be ignoring important realities related to the production and consumption of meat and other animal products, that are doing immense harm to society and our planet:

* Animal-centered diets are contributing to an epidemic of heart disease, several types of cancer and other diseases in the Jewish and other communities;

* At a time when food prices are skyrocketing, food riots are occurring in many areas and an estimated 20 million people are dying annually worldwide from hunger and its effects, over 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and over 40 percent produced worldwide are fed to farmed animals.

* In an increasingly thirsty and energy-dependent world, animal-based diets require up to 14 times as much water and 10 times as much energy as vegan (all plants) diets.

* While the world is increasingly threatened by global warming, animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars and other means of transportation worldwide combined (18 percent vs. 13.5 percent).

* Even if animals are slaughtered strictly according to Jewish law, with minimum pain, billions of animals still suffer greatly from cruel treatment on factory farms.

* Making all of the above points more serious, the consumption of animal products is projected to double in 50 years. If this happens, it will make it very difficult, if not impossible, to reduce greenhouse emissions enough to avoid very severe effects from global climate change.

It is essential that our rabbis and other Jewish leaders recognize that a major shift toward plant-based diets is essential to avoid the unprecedented catastrophe that the world is rapidly approaching and to move our precious, but imperiled, planet to a sustainable path.

When we read daily reports of the effects of global climate change, such as record heat waves, severe storms, widespread droughts, and the melting of glaciers and polar icecaps; when some climate scientists are warning that global climate change may spin out of control with disastrous consequences unless major changes are soon made; when a recent report indicated that our oceans may be virtually free of fish by 2050; when species of plants and animals are disappearing at the fastest rate in history; when it is projected that half of the world's people will live in areas chronically short of water by 2050; it is essential that the Jewish community fulfill our mandate to be a “light unto the nations” and lead efforts to address these critical issues.

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

JVNA urges rabbis and other Jewish leaders to make Jews aware of how animal-based diets and agriculture violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals compassionately, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people.

Further information about these issues can be found at JewishVeg.com. We will provide complimentary copies of its new documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD rabbis and other Jewish leaders who will contact us (president@JewishVeg.com) and indicate how they will use them to involve their congregations on the issues. The entire movie can be seen and further information about it can be found at ASacredDuty.com.

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9. Non-Vegetarians in Greater Risk for Health Problems

(IN) Non-vegetarians run a greater risk from chronic diseases
Posted by: AnimalConcerns.org animalconcerns@gmail.com
Wed Jun 4, 2008 8:37 am (PDT)

Lucknow: Non-vegetarian families run a greater risk of suffering from chronic diseases than their vegetarian counterparts, suggests a survey conducted by Lucknow University (LU) students.

"The survey covered 1,000 upper-middle class families of Lucknow in which it was observed that the non-vegetarians are more prone to diabetes, cancer, asthma, arthritis and other chronic diseases," said LU's Institute for Public Health and Affairs (IPHA) director Manoj Dixit on Tuesday.

full story:

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10. One Million Taiwanese People Vow to Become Vegetarian to Reduce Global Warming Threats/Can This be Extended to Other Countries?

Forwarded message:

[I am trying to get the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) to promote this action on the poart of people in other countries.]

(TW) One million vow to reduce carbon by being vegetarian
Posted by: "AnimalConcerns.org" animalconcerns@gmail.com
Wed Jun 4, 2008 8:26 am (PDT)
Radio Taiwan International]

More than one million people in Taiwan have pledged to help cut carbon emissions by being a vegetarian. Taiwan's population is about 23 million, and the one million vegetarians would reduce at least 1.5 million tons of carbon emissions in Taiwan in one year.

The Union of NoMeatNoHeat made the announcement during its anti-global warming drive. Many prominent politicians, such as the legislative speaker, the environment minister, and Taipei and Kaohsiung Mayors all pledged to become vegetarians.

full story:

The material below was translated from a Taiwanese website by a D.C. area animal rights activist who is a native speaker of Chinese and who also speaks flawless English. You will note that the petition has been signed by over a million people and endorsed by over 500 organizations. I think this is really encouraging.


I translated some excerpts from the nomeatnoheat:

"Meat is one of the main reasons for global warming which is worsening at a high speed...

"Animal agriculture and meat consumption habits have already brought long term harmful effects on earth's environment. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Association states that animal agriculture is "one of the top three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems." Currently, animal agriculture occupies 30% of the land on earth. In addition to causing global warming and environmental crisis, it also causes global food shortage and food price hikes."

Petition Pledge:

I will do my best to:

* Eat less meat or no meat - eat more vegetarian food and local food.
* Walk more drive less - replace short distance drives with walking
and biking; encourage public transportation; reduce unnecessary
* Treasure resources - reduce unnecessary consumption, avoid (one time
use only) disposable products; and support low carbon emissions policies.
* Spread this important message to friends and families.

At the same time I hope: President Ma and government officials will join us in our effort to love the earth by eating a vegetarian diet, promote a vegetarian-friendly environment in government facilities, and join forces with the rest of the world to reduce global warming.

I offer good wishes to all small and weak... including our brothers and sisters who share the same earth with us--animals

paper petitions individual: 1171414 organization: 142

total individual: 1189427 total organization: 501

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11. Orthodox Rabbinic Group Advocates Climate Change Education


RCA [Rabbinical Council of America] Advocates Climate Change Education

May 20, 2008 -- Whereas in its 2006 resolution, "On The Importance of Preserving the Environment", the RCA committed that its members should "educate themselves and their constituents both scientifically and halakhically on issues connected to the environment and its protection"

The RCA hereby resolves to establish a committee of its members to learn about the full range of scientific evidence relating to climate change, and to report its findings back to the membership at large; and, calls upon all rabbis to

Promote programs and shiurim in synagogues and schools to learn about the possible challenges posed by climate change and actions that will make a difference; and

Take personal actions, and advocate for communal action, to save energy and reduce carbon emissions, such as by purchasing energy- efficient lights, appliances, and vehicles, and reducing driving through public transport and carpooling; and

Advocate for targets that will reduce U.S. carbon emissions, and support efforts to transition America to a clean energy economy; and

Actively support and partner with organizations that are committed to a meaningful response to the environmental crisis from a Torah perspective; and

Encourage their congregants and congregations to do the same.

[This is, of course, a positive step forward, and we should use it to challenge rabbis and other rabbinic groups to do more to reduce global warming.]

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12. Two Important New Animal Rights Books

Struggles & Strategies for Animal Rights: Two Books

Review by Karen Davis, PhD

The Longest Struggle: Animal Advocacy From Pythagoras to PETA
By Norm Phelps
Published by Lantern Books 2007
To order: (800) 856-8664, visit www.lanternbooks.com

Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism
By Mark Hawthorne
Published by O Books 2008
To order: (800) 462 6420, visit www.o-books.net or www.strikingattheroots.com

People who are interested in the progress, philosophies and practical
activism of the animal advocacy movement in America and around the world
will be rewarded by reading both of these books. Two highly respected
animal activist authors - Norm Phelps and Mark Hawthorne - illuminate
the struggle and strategies of people toiling to bring compassion and
justice to the animals who share our world.

The Longest Struggle by Norm Phelps is dedicated to "the millions of
animal advocates and caregivers around the world who labor in anonymity
to relieve the suffering of the most defenseless of those who live at
the mercy of our merciless societies." Striking at the Roots by Mark
Hawthorne - written in memory of "a certain cow in India, who showed me
a kinder way of living" - brings together activists who explain, in
their own compelling words, why their chosen models of activism have
succeeded, and how others can sharpen their own activist skills.

Invoking Ralph Ellison's aphorism of racism - "I am an invisible man . .
. I am invisible, understand, because people simply refuse to see me" -
The Longest Struggle traces through history the evil of "invisibility"
as it applies to animals: "we do not see the animals as they are:
sensitive, intelligent, living beings who suffer and die at our hands
with no hope of relief." Yet the challenge of animal activism - books
written, organizations formed, arguments made, protests held, rescues
undertaken, jail time served - is precisely to bring hope of relief and,
beyond just hope of relief, Relief.

The Longest Struggle presents the historical struggle for animal
protection and liberation through stages that are vividly evoked,
starting with a philosophical or theological position held by a cluster
of ancient thinkers - Pythagoras, Buddha, Hosea, and others - and moving
towards a social consensus that "enforces compliance by custom and law."
Western societies are now more or less in the consensus stage, though in
most of the world, including ours, animals are as invisible - serving as
mere reflectors of human appetites, desires and fears - as ever. Yet
there is progress, despite the long, long road to go.

- - -

Full story:




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13. Good source for Important Links to “Judaism and Vegetarianism” Material

Many valuable Jewish vegetarian links are at:

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14. Vegetarianism As a Solution to World Food Crisis

Forwarded message:


"The best solution would be for us all to become vegetarians".

So suggested the head of the UN climate agency, Yvo de Boer, who is attending UN-led climate talks in Germany this week. He was responding to criticism that measures to tackle climate change are partly to blame for the rise in food and energy costs. Carbon-cutting biofuels, for example, use food crops to make alternatives to gasoline.

Meanwhile, Patrick Wall, chairman of the European Food Safety Authority, has questioned whether it is "morally or ethically correct" to be feeding grain to animals while people starve. Speaking to the Times, he argued that it's time to end the EU ban on the use of animal remains to feed pigs and chickens. Lifting the ban would allow grain to be diverted to millions of starving people.

And the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, hosting a much publicized summit in Rome this week, has warned of global catastrophe unless food reaches parts of the world where it is needed most.

So, does the global food crisis demand a radical rethink about how we distribute food? Should we worry less about feeding our animals and prioritise getting grain to people suffering food shortages - even if that affects the availability of meat?

Is it time for us all to become vegetarian? Click here to comment:

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15. Update on Recent Media Articles Re Vegetarianism and Animal Rights

Forwarded message (excerpts) from Karen Dawn of DawnWatch:

With the LA Thanking the Monkey book launch at the end of April, and the NY book launch at the end of May, and then weeks of recovering (drinking) afterwards, May turned out to be a wash for DawnWatch. I am sorry I did not give prior warning of that -- I probably should have known it was going to happen.

I have spent the last few days catching up on thousands of emails and news articles. In ways, I disappeared at the worst possible time -- the animal coverage in the last month has been phenomenal. But maybe that's partly why I allowed myself to kick back. DawnWatch was launched eight years ago with the aim of encouraging the major media to cover animal issues. Coverage at the time was sparse, so we responded to any animal friendly news story we could find anywhere. This month, animal news, and veggie news, were absolutely everywhere!

I am going to go over the highlights below. They include Oprah and Ellen both exploring veganism, Access Hollywood coverage of vegetarianism and animal abuse, the Simpsons and the New York Times slamming factory farming, a KFC Canada announcement that it will carry vegan chicken -- while ball parks increasingly stock veggie dogs, and puppy mill coverage that has moved from Oprah onto Good Morning America.


Could there be bigger news for the animals? Oprah takes a vegan plunge. You can read about it on her blog, and even follow her daily journey, at http://www2.oprah.com/foodhome/food/cleanse/blog/blog_1.jhtml
It tells us: "In her book Quantum Wellness, best-selling author and spiritual counselor Kathy Freston suggests trying a 21-day cleanse as a way to jump-start an inner makeover. Oprah has decided to give it a try! The plan is to eliminate caffeine, sugar, alcohol, gluten and animal products from your diet for up to 21 days. Read along as Oprah blogs for three weeks about the highs and lows of her experience."

And this is from Oprah's first day:
"How can you say you're trying to spiritually evolve, without even a thought about what happens to the animals whose lives are sacrificed in the name of gluttony?"


Actually, I am going to admit to having a little trepidation about the likely lack of woohoos in Oprah's 21 days of veganism. Those who know me, or who read the Veg News magazine profile (now on line at http://www.thankingthemonkey.com/vegnews.php) from which my repeated quote is "Why can't animal rights be fun? For heaven's sake, gin is vegan!" know that I hate to see veganism associated with puritanism. Nevertheless, Oprah will surely feel physically fabulous, and this is a wonderful thing for the animals. Please send her some encouragement at

Please also check out the terrific op-ed on Oprah's new diet by Susan Levin, a staff dietitian with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (www.pcrm.org) from the Salt Lake Tribune at http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/ci_9385451. And please take a moment to give it a nice thumbs up rating on that page.

On Friday, May 23, Skinny Bitch authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin were on Ellen, showing her some wonderful vegan recipes. At http://ellen.warnerbros.com/2008/05/how_about_some_delicious_skinn.php you can get free copies of their books from Ellen, and also leave a positive comment. Please do! And ask Ellen to keep up the coverage of animal and veggie issues. Send her a comment at http://ellen.warnerbros.com/show/respond/?PlugID=10 Rory promises she will let us know when the Ellen segment is on line for us to watch.

I had the most fun twenty-something minutes of my catch-up days watching the Simpsons episode, Apocalypse Chow, which originally aired on April 27 and can now be seen on line at:


Here is the description:

"Bart joins the 4-H Club and unexpectedly falls in love with a cow named Lou. When Bart finds out that Lou has been sold to a slaughterhouse, he becomes determined to save him."

No, Bart isn't joining his smart sister Lisa and going vegan just yet. But the episode provided, hilariously, a good view into factory farms and slaughterhouses. Prepare to sit back and chuckle.

A more serious take on that serious subject came in the form of a May 31 New York Times editorial headed, "The Worst Way of Farming." It discussed reports from the Pew Charitable Trusts and from the Union of Concerned Scientists and commented:

"No matter what you call it, it adds up to the same thing. Millions of animals are crowded together in inhumane conditions, causing significant environmental threats and unacceptable health risks for workers, their neighbors and all the rest of us....

In short, animal husbandry has been turned into animal abuse. Manure traditionally a source of fertilizer has been turned into toxic waste that fouls the air and adjacent water bodies. Crowding creates health problems, resulting in the chronic overuse of antibiotics."

The Times supported the Pew report's call for "new laws regulating pollution from industrial farms as rigorously as pollution from other industries, a phasing-out of confinement systems that restricts natural movement and normal behavior, a ban on antibiotics used only to promote animal growth and the application of antitrust laws to encourage more competition and less concentration."

You'll find the whole wonderful article on line at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/31/opinion/31sat4.html

Many of us work to encourage a move away from meat-based diets, which is something not mentioned in the editorial, but which might be brought up in letters to the editor, sent to letters@nytimes.com. But as this is an editorial in the New York Times, one of the world's leading newspapers, not in the Vegetarian Times, the strong stance by the editors against institutionalized animal abuse should be noted with appreciation as a huge step forward.


It's good to be back!

Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free.)

Please go to www.ThankingtheMonkey.com to read reviews of Karen Dawn's new book, "Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way we Treat Animals” and watch the fun celebrity-studded promo video.

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16. Excerpts From Canfei Nesharim Newsletter “On Eagles' Wings”

You're receiving this email as part of Canfei Nesharim's monthly Torah and environment e-newsletter, On Eagles' Wings.

Events of Interest
Canfei Nesharim would like to share the following upcoming opportunities which may be of interest:

Environmental Workshops in San Francisco
w/c August 18, 2008

Canfei Nesharim and the Bay Area Bureau of Jewish Education will offer a second series of free workshops about Jewish environmental education the week of Aug. 18, to be taught by Rabbi Yosef Leibowitz and sponsored by the San Francisco-based Gaia Fund. Specific dates and times to be announced. The workshops are for educators and community activists. To sign up, contact Sara Nesson at snesson@bjesf.org or (415) 751-6983 ext. 129.

Eco-Israel: Live the Land

Hava & Adam is an ecological farm in Modi'in central Israel. After a successful pilot project last year they are now opening their 5-month Eco-Israel: Live the Land program, under the auspices of MASA. The program is open to English-speaking young Jewish adults (age 20 -30). See our website for more information.

Eco-Activist Beit Midrash Programs

Summer: July 25th - Aug 23rd

The EABM is a part of Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo- a new Torah learning center in the heart of Jerusalem. In the Torah Ecology program, three days a week they focus on text-based learning (with an option to intern with local environmental groups) and two days are spent on community service projects and tiyulim (field trips). See our website for more information.

Derech Hateva

Derech Hateva offers single and multi-day Sabbath observant, kosher, nature-based programs that challenge participants to explore and engage with the people and Land of Israel. Their programs include the month-long summer program, the Israel Trail Teen Adventure for teens (ITTA) and the week-long Trek Israel for college/post-college-aged young adults and Birthright alumni. See our website for more information.

Hazon's 2008 Jewish Environmental Bike Ride
August 29 - September 1, 2008

Highlights of this year's ride include three days at the beautiful Camp Kinder Ring, on the majestic Sylvan Lake, inclusive Shabbat retreat with friends and family, Shabbos programming highlighting the work of Hazon and its partners, crew opportunities for non-riders to support their friends and family, and a ride along the Hudson River. Hazon's events are kosher and Shabbos-friendly. Be a part of Canfei Nesharim's team. Learn more about the ride.

If you know of any event that might interest our members, please let us know and we'll consider adding it to this list.

Many thanks to Yaakov Lehman, our newsletter editor, John Schlackman, our webmaster, and the rest of our steering committee and volunteers who contributed to the development of this newsletter. If you would like to contribute materials or ideas to the newsletter, please contact us.

Canfei Nesharim is an organization of Orthodox Jews who are dedicated to educating the Orthodox community about environmental issues and their connection to Torah and halacha. Visit our website to learn more!

Note: All materials published herein are Copyright 2008 by their authors. Reproduction of this material is encouraged so long as the footer and header information remains intact.


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17. Jerusalem Post Article on Jewish Environmental Activism

JPost.com » Local Israel » In Jerusalem » Article
Jun 5, 2008 15:59 | Updated Jun 8, 2008 9:16
Cityfront: Echoes of the past


What on earth has a donkey falling into a pit got to do with stopping global warming? A lot, according to Shaul David Judelman, a former anti-globalization activist turned observant Jew. In the intimate study room at Jerusalem's Simchat Shlomo Yeshiva, Judelman sits arched over the pages of a heavily bound book of Rashi's commentary to the Torah, explaining how ancient religious texts can help solve the environmental problems of the modern age.

"Our belief is that the Torah is a guide to how to fix the world. Since the Seventies and Eighties, there has been a great environmental crisis, and we are asking what the Torah says about this, how does it help us to respond?" says Judelman, before illuminating a passage from the Book of Exodus: "If a man uncovers a pit or if a man digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit must pay. He must compensate its owner with money..." (Book 21, Verses 32-33).

The biblical passage might be thousands of years older, but there's a clear parallel between it and the modern "polluter pays principle," a policy to punish businesses that pollute which has been adopted by many governments, including Israel's. The person responsible for the (environmental) crime, does the time.

The environmental movement in Israel has traditionally been part of secular society, but Judelman believes that environmental responsibility is "latent" in Jewish religious tradition: "If your eyes are not open, you don't see it," he says, noting that the connection between Judaism and ecology is not widely made in Israel.

Making that connection is the mission Judelman has been on since he and other religious Jews set up the Torah and Ecology program at Simchat Shlomo in 2006. The eco-activist Beit Midrash starts its fifth cycle this week - coinciding with Shavuot, a holiday with a particularly environmental focus, marking the start of the harvest in the Land of Israel. A stone's throw from the shouts of the traders at the nearby Mahaneh Yehuda market, the Carlebach-inspired yeshiva is based in a quiet cul-de-sac in the colorful Nahlaot neighborhood.

Its curriculum consists of three days a week of text-based study, with the rest of the week spent putting theory into practice through field trips across Israel and hands-on volunteer work with green groups in Jerusalem, including Lev Ha'Ir, Garin Dvash and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI).

Before coming to Israel, Judelman was an activist of another stripe, involved in the anti-globalization movement in America and protests against the World Trade Organization during the late 1990s. "It was a simple transition, when I look back. One of the main threats of globalization is the monoculturalization of traditions which contain deep wisdom but are rapidly being lost," he observes. One of the Beit Midrash's aims is to spark Jewish environmental leanings and activism in its students.

"I really hope... that people walk away with a sense of empowerment, as an eyes-open member of the Jewish people, to help the Torah grow. The Torah has to come alive; it's not enough just to learn about what the great tradition says about the great tradition," says Judelman. "Young people growing up in the world and in progressive movements often have a tenuous relationship with Israel. This is a way they can be part of Israel that's in tune with their values. [They can] learn what it means to build a holy place," he says.

It's a process that has already begun to bear fruit, with a number of the yeshiva's graduates staffing the SPNI's Derech Hateva environmental education program, as well as the New York-based eco-NGO Hazon ("Vision").

The current program runs for four weeks, but the yeshiva is aiming to operate 10-week programs if the center can secure funding. Like the yeshiva itself, the ecological Beit Midrash draws young English-speaking Jews in the 20 to 35 age range.

Judelman explains that the Torah includes guidance against urban sprawl, encouraging the maintenance of green belts around cities. Instead of being given a portion of the Land of Israel, the Levites were apportioned 42 cities scattered across the land. "It's a peculiar thing: On the outskirts of the town there must be a migrash, a green space separate from the city," he says. "It [the Torah] deals with the issue of urban spaces, development and the need for green spaces like parks and the standard of living."

The only exception to this halachic rule is Jerusalem, which is not required to have a green belt, or migrash, because when Jerusalem expands, its holiness is believed to expand as well.

"The truth is that we didn't have to deal with this - how Jews should build cities - for so long," Judelman says.

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18. Challenging Oprah re Global Warming

Forwarded Message from vegetarian activist Batya Bauman

Oprah is on the right track with her 21-day vegan diet. Let's hope she
continues after the 21 days.

In the meantime, please go to the website below to see what the 11 Things are that Oprah lists in her magazine "O" to do to help the environment. Not eating meat is NOT one of them. Please enlighten her and follow the instructions re contacting the magazine via "email" to ask her to add a vegan diet as the most important thing people can do to save the planet.


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