June 2, 2008

6/2/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy Shavuot

2. Update on A SACRED DUTY

3. Update on Petition To Get Changes at Agriprocessors

4. Correction

5. Proposal for a Vegetarian Shabbat

6. New Video Considers Religious Teachings and Actions on the Environment

7. Jerusalem Post Article Considers Compassion to Animals

8. Recent Article on the Tremendous Threats From Global Warming

9. Summary Article Re Agriprocessors

10. Considerations and Quotations for Animal Rights Activists

11. Progress Toward Improving Israel's Environment

12. Update Re the “Veggie Pride Parade”

13. Why Our Efforts Are SO Important

14. Suggestions From “VeggieJews” Re Promoting Vegetarianism

15. New Documentary "Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days" At Film Festivals

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. Happy Shavuot

Best wishes to all for a happy, meaningful Shavuot. It starts on Sunday evening and is celebrated for 2 days by Orthodox and traditional Jews and one day by Reform Jews.

My article on “Shavuot and Vegetarianism” and other articles relating the Jewish festivals to vegetarianism can be found at the holiday section at JewishVeg.com/Schwartz.

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2. Update on A SACRED DUTY

a. A SACRED DUTY being seen widely worldwide

The latest example is in the message below from Kenya:

Shalom my brother,it is my best wishes to share my idea with you .my idea to introduce your A SACRED DUTY DVD here in Kenya am willing to go country wide to share and supply your dvds .if you are interested with my idea please respond.. thank you.

b. A SACRED DUTY producing many positive results

One example in the message below from author, editor, publisher, JVNA advisor Roberta Kalechofsky:

Here's a good piece of news. I called back a cantor whom I had given A SACRED DUTY to months ago to find out if she ever showed it---she did to her daughter's confirmation class and there was quite a to-do about it. It stimulated a lot of conversation and, consequently, her daughter-, and several others in her class-refused to dissect a frog in their science classrooms.

They are planning to create a living and learning Institute at her temple and may have me back to show A SACRED DUTY and to discuss it.

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3. Update on Petition To Get Changes at Agriprocessors

A message from Uri L'tzedek to signers of its petition is below. I think this is the best petition to support, because it is from an Orthodox group, it is from meat consumers, and it is respectful. Because it is from meat consumers, vegetarians can't be signers, but I think we should encourage meat consumers to sign. The petition is below. I tried to get Uri L'tzedek to modify the petition so that vegetarians would also be able to sign the petition, but I was informed that it was too late for changes to be made.

Thank you for adding your name to the rapidly growing list of kosher consumers demanding changes in the Agriprocessors corporation. In the past few days, we've received signatures from about 600 Jewish leaders, rabbis, educators and heads of Jewish schools, Hillel Directors, and concerned consumers from Washington DC to Brazil, Los Angeles to Jerusalem. The letter we signed contains a list of requirements to be met by June 15 in order that we may continue to purchase Agriprocessor's products. In that letter, we asked Agriprocessors to:

1. Pay all of its workers at least the federal minimum wage.

2. Recommit the company to abide by all federal, state and local laws including those pertaining to worker safety, sexual harassment, physical abuse, rights of its employees to collective bargaining, and health and sanitation standards.

3. Treat its workers according to the standards that Torah and halakha places on protecting workers--standards which include the spirit of lifnim meshurat hadin, going beyond the bare minimum requirements of the law.

Our efforts are have been noticed by the Jewish Forward, the Jerusalem Post, The Jewish Week, Iowa Independent, JTA and others. See the links below:

Today's editorial in the Jewish Week

Jerusalem post
The Jewish Week
The Forward
The Jewish Press
Iowa Independent

In order to continue the tremendous success and momentum of this movement, we are looking for kosher meat consumers across the country that are committed to holding Agriprocessors accountable for its lapses by raising awareness in their local communities about our three demands.

The first way to do that is by encouraging others who purchase kosher meat to sign on to the petition. We have set up an online petition on our website. Please direct them to uriltzedek.webnode.com to fill it out.

Second, we are looking for point people across the country who will take this action into their local communities. If you would be interested in being one of these local leaders, please email uri.ltzedek@gmail.com with your name, city, phone number, and brief explanation of why this issue is important to you. We are working to create lists of kosher meat establishments that we are sure do not sell or provide Agriprocessor's meat; we need your help in this area. There have been many requests for a list of such options in cities throughout America.

We would like to inform friends and businesses of some alternative kosher meat sources: Alle Packaging, Meal Mart, Kiryath Joel chicken, Marvid chicken, Chai Chicken, International Glatt, Wise Organic, Solomon's Natural, 999, Empire, Chai, Marvad, David Elliot, and Vineland. Do you know of others?

Using our power as consumers, we are called to make the moral voice of our Jewish tradition heard by our fellow Jews, those perpetuating injustice, and all Americans concerned with an emerging ethical marketplace.

Thank you for all you've done so far. We look forward to working with you in the future!

Tizku l'mitzvot,

The Uri L'Tzedek team
Petition to Agriprocessors From a Modern Orthodox Group “Uri L'Tzedek” (Awaken to Justice)

Lag b'Omer 5768
May 23, 2008

Mr. Sholom Rubashkin
220 N West St
Postville, IA 52162

Dear Mr. Rubashkin,

We write to you out of a deep sense of ahavat Torah and ahavat Yisrael, [love of Torah and love of Israel] with both great respect and great concern.

Your company produces 60 percent of the beef and 40 percent of the chicken provided to the kosher marketplace in America. You employ 968 factory employees and serve as a pillar of the food economy. Your generous philanthropy supports moral and significant causes and is a great source of pride for Israel and Jewish institutions around the world. You are an important and respected leader of the Jewish community.

Therefore it is with great frustration and sadness that we write this letter. We are the kosher meat consumers of America. We are mothers and fathers raising our children in a kosher home. We are rabbis, teachers, and Jewish professionals who use your products in our work. We are Jews who care deeply about kashrut as well as about the treatment of the people and animals that enable us to truly live in kashrut. Since you control much of the kosher meat market in America, we rely on you to uphold the halakhic requirements, both ritual and ethical, of the food we eat. We believe you have failed, and we are deeply troubled.

We are deeply troubled that you have demonstrated a pattern of knowingly exploiting undocumented workers, of paying them less than market wages and treating them poorly.

We are deeply troubled that according to many experts, the wages you pay your workers are the lowest of any slaughterhouse in the nation.[1]

We are deeply troubled that, despite years of public inquiry and concern over worker conditions at your plant, AgriProcessors was cited for 39 new health and safety violations in March 2008. It pains us to hear that examinations of Agriprocessor's OSHA logs reveal amputations, broken bones, eye injuries and hearing loss that occurred at your plant.[2]

We are deeply troubled that animals have been abused in prohibition of the laws of tzaar baalei chaim, causing needless pain to animals [3] and may even raise questions of kashrut.

We are deeply troubled that among the hundreds of workers who were arrested by federal officials on May 12, eighteen were children between ages 13 and 17.[4]

We are deeply troubled to read reports of various criminal operations taking place at the Postville plant, including the account of a Jewish floor supervisor who severely abused a Guatemalan worker in the most reprehensible conditions, and allegations of sexual assault and verbal abuse.[5]

On your website, you state as your values that “as a producer of kosher meat products, we approach our business in the context of a deep religious tradition.” Undoubtedly you agree that our shared deep religious tradition does not approve of these practices, and we therefore write this letter in the spirit of the mitzvah of hocheiach tochiach et amitecha, to give rebuke where it is needed so that a fellow Jew can make right what is wrong.

We ask the following:

1. Pay all of your workers at least the federal minimum wage.
2. Recommit your company to abide by all federal, state and local laws including those pertaining to worker safety, sexual harassment, physical abuse, rights of your employees to collective bargaining, and health and sanitation standards.
3. Treat those who work for you according to the standards that Torah and halakha places on protecting workers--standards which include the spirit of lifnim meshurat hadin, going beyond the bare minimum requirements of the law.

In order to ensure that you meet these modest requests, we ask that you establish a department and staff with external transparency to a reputable, objective third party to deal exclusively with these three concerns. We ask that you maintain this office on an ongoing basis to ensure the basic ethical standards demanded by Torah, the U.S. government, and the American Jewish community.

Until these changes are made, we feel compelled to refrain from purchasing or consuming meat produced by your company, and will urge every establishment with which we do business to cease purchase of your meat. Effective June 15, 2008 we will stop patronizing any restaurant that sells your meat.

Mr. Rubashkin, you have been a leader in the kosher meat industry, and we look forward to seeing you lead the way for all American meat processors, not only in the kashrut of your products, but in the yashrut of every aspect of your business.

____ ____ ___ _____ _____ ____
I will give thanks to You with upright heart, when I study Your ordinances that are righteous.
_____ __"_:_ Psalms 119:7


Uri L'Tzedek ( uri.ltzedek@gmail.com , http://uriltzedek.webnode.com/ )

(Institutional affiliations are listed for identification purposes only.)

1 In Iowa Meat Plant, Kosher 'Jungle' Breeds Fear, Injury, Short Pay, The Forward. May 26, 2006
2 Agriprocessor's Safety Problems, Des Moines Register, May 14, 2008
3 AgriProcessors In. Inhumane Slaughter, Conflict of Interest, Bribery. United States Department of Agriculture, 2005
4 Detainees moved from NCC grounds, Waterloo Courier, Thursday may 15, 2008
5 Application and affidavit for search warrant, Case Number: 08-MJ-110, Court of the Northern District of Iowa

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4. Correction

The correct URL for “Vegetarianism and 20th Century Jews” (mentioned in the last newsletter) is:

The video shows statements connecting Judaism to vegetarians by many 20th century important Jews, including Rav Kook and Isaac Bashevis Singer. I am honored to be included, as is Rabbi Dovid Sears.

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5. Proposal for a Vegetarian Shabbat

The following press release was sent to the Jewish media last week. Unfortunately, I thought of this idea, something we had tried some years ago, just recently. I hope that we can get an earlier start next year and do some important preparatory work. An excellent suggestion from Steve Schuster, re setting up a booklet (perhaps a web site), with much background material re a “Vegetarian Shabbat,” follows the press release.


May 28, 2008
For Immediate Release
Contact person: Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) (president@JewishVeg.com; Phone (718) 761-5876; web site: jewishveg.com).


The Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) announced today that their annual "Vegetarian Shabbat" will take place this year on Shabbat Parshat Be'Ha'alotkha (June 13-14, 2008).

The Torah portion read on that Shabbat relates that the Israelites cried out for flesh after they had been sustained by manna in the wilderness, following the exodus from Egypt. God and Moses were very displeased, but God reluctantly provided flesh in the form of quail. A great plague broke out as the Israelites were chewing on the quail, and many Israelites died. The place where this occurred was therefore called Kivrot Hata'avah, or "the Graves of Lust."

JVNA is urging synagogues and other Jewish institutions to have vegetarian-related events during the Vegetarian Shabbat, including sermons, divrei Torah, debates, panel discussions, and vegetarian kiddushes and meals.

JVNA President Richard H. Schwartz stated: “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. 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.”

Much background information about the strong connections between Judaism and vegetarianism can be found at the JVNA web site JewishVeg.com and at JewishVeg.com/schwartz, where there are over 130 articles by Richard Schwartz on all aspects of vegetarianism from Jewish perspectives. JVNA has also produced a one-hour documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLUING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP SAVE THE WORLD, which discusses how the world is imperiled by global warming and other environmental threats, and why applying Jewish values and shifting toward vegetarianism is essential to move our imperiled planet to a sustainable path. The entire movie can be seen at ASacredDuty.com, and much background information about the movie, including reviews, blurbs and questions and answers, can also be found at that web site.

JVNA is always pleased to engage with rabbis and other Jewish leaders in a respectful public or private discussion of the issue, "Should Jews Be
Vegetarians Today?" "Many Jews are surprised to learn how much in the spirit of our religion vegetarianism is," explained Dr. Schwartz.
Suggestion from Steve Schuster re a “Vegetaian Shabbat”:

This press release got me thinking that JVNA should produce some turn-key programs in the form of pamphlets or booklets. “Vegetarian Shabbat” is a good example where we could publish a booklet that would make it virtually effortless for a synagogue community to implement a Vegetarian Shabbat observance. The urgings in the press release are wonderful, but to many rabbis, cantors, program directors, etc., the implementation of such an event sounds like a lot of work (and it probably is!), all of which would need to occur in just two weeks time. If we had a downloadable document that provided a truly useful set of tools to implement a Vegetarian Shabbat, we would accomplish two things - 1) More Jews would actively engage in the activities we are promoting in the press release, and 2) we would enhance the JVNA brand and its connection to Jews and Jewish institutions. The latter could mean incremental funding sources over time.

The content for the program guide could be easily contributed from numerous sources and edited/compiled by JVNA. This program guide model could be used to develop numerous programs throughout the year, and could be a powerful engine for behavioral action since it would facilitate raising our messages to a more actively vocal level among a greater population of Jews. Essentially what I'm saying is that we can not count on the Jewish community to be galvanized into action by our press materials alone - we need to spoon feed this stuff to them. I believe that if we do provide compelling programs, many synagogues will excitedly take advantage of this kind of content (every shul I know is hungry for creative ways to bring more people into the shul on Shabbat).

Obviously my suggestion is not a simple one, and I recognize that we can not build Rome in a day. But a journey of 1000 steps….

Best regards,

Steve [Schuster]

[Thanks, Steve. It is probably too late for this year, but if anyone would like to volunteer to help carry out Steve's idea, please let me know.]

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6. New Video Considers Religious Teachings and Actions on the Environment

Message from Interfaith Power and Light:
Dear Richard H.,

We are pleased to offer RENEWAL, the first feature-length documentary to capture the breadth and vitality of America's religious-environmental movement.

This "Best-of-Fest" award-winning 90-minute documentary is designed for congregational screenings, each of the eight stories - about 10 mins. long - can be shown independently, making it perfect for weekly discussions.

Click here to order

o Produced by two PBS veteran filmmakers who crossed the country and lovingly crafted this spiritually deep and informative work.

o Screened at the Academy of American Religion, Yale University, the Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival, and at the UN on June 5.

o Discussion guide and "get involved" materials will be available.

Two of the interfaith segments focus on our work - Evangelicals + Buddhists, Muslims + Jews - RENEWAL provides hope (and ideas) for a better planet.

Because of the reputation of our Interfaith Power and Light members (you!) in using media to reach out to your communities, the producers have cut their price by 75%. The sustainably-packaged DVDs are available at just $5 each for congregational/community viewing only.

Click here to watch a few short segments and order the film.


Keep the faith,
The Rev. Sally Bingham

P.S. Send your friends this link: www.interfaithpowerandlight.org
and tell them to order it for their congregation/community too!

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7. Jerusalem Post Article Considers Compassion to Animals

Thanks to Jordanna Gittleman for sending this message to us:

May 1, 2008 12:29

Ask the Rabbi: Compassion for creatures


Q What is the kashrut status of meat from animals that are treated harshly, like foie gras? - Ben K, Dallas, Texas

The controversial balance of benefiting from animals while treating them humanely arises in many areas of life. After returning recently from an enjoyable trip with my family to the zoo, which advocates animal preservation and protection, I found on the animal rights group PETA Web site, "Never patronize zoos," since these creatures belong in the wild, not "locked up in captivity."

Through many different mitzvot, Jewish law clearly condemns cruelty to animals. The Torah, for example, forbids muzzling an ox while it works so that it can eat freely (Deuteronomy 25:4), while the Seven Noahide Laws prohibit eating a limb severed from a living animal.

The rabbis further decreed that a person must provide food to his animal before he partakes in his own meal (Brachot 41a). Many commentators cite the obligation to remove an overloading burden from a donkey and the supplementary requirement to assist a fallen animal (Exodus 23:5, Deuteronomy 22:4) as prohibiting pain to animals, tza'ar ba'alei haim (Bava Metzia 32b).

A major dispute exists whether this law ensures the welfare of the animal, or guides the moral development of humans. While these commandments protect the creature's health, they might primarily stem from a concern for the financial welfare of their owners. Rabbi Moses Sofer (Hungary, 19th century) alternatively suggested that preventing tza'ar ba'alei haim emulates divine conduct. Following the argument that these mitzvot build good character, he cited the verse, "His mercies are over all His works" (Psalms 145:9), as obligating compassion to all creatures. Nonetheless, as evidenced by the laws regulating slaughter, the Torah clearly allows for harming animals for legitimate human needs, such as food.

Permissible consumption of animals seemingly exemplifies human dominion over other creatures, as it states, "And the fear of you... shall be upon every beast of the earth... Into your hand they are delivered" (Genesis 9:2). Based on this principle, R. Israel Isserlein (Germany, 15th century) allowed plucking feathers from live chickens, ruling that Halacha allows tza'ar ba'alei haim if it benefits humans. Rabbi Moshe Isserles approved this opinion, applying it to financial gain as well (EH 5:14).

One strong opponent was Rabbi Yitzhak Bamburger (Wurzburg, Germany, 19th century), who permitted tza'ar ba'alei haim only to advance human health conditions, as with medical experimentation (Yad Halevi, YD 196). A middle position was taken by Bamburger's German colleague, R. Ya'acov Etlinger, who ordained painful actions only in cases of "great benefit" with "minimal pain," although these terms remain difficult to define.

While the majority of decisors followed Isserlein and Isserles, one should note that they urged people to refrain from plucking feathers since it leads to cruelty. Moreover, the vast majority of poskim forbid activities like cockfighting in which the intended benefit stems directly from the animal's pain (Igrot Moshe EH 4:92). The financial benefit of operating such competitions cannot justify sadistic activity in which the desired goal includes hurting animals.

Meat producers generate foie gras by fattening the liver of a duck or goose through gavage, a process of force-feeding animals before slaughtering. While this process originated in ancient Egypt, it was particularly popular historically among certain Eastern European Jews, who used it as a rare source for fat (schmaltz). Many Jews, however, refused to consume this food for fear of inhumane treatment, or because they thought the overstuffed animals became so incapacitated that they were no longer kosher. Today, foie gras is industrially produced by restraining birds while food is poured down their throats held open by a metal pipe, a process repeated over a period of several days or weeks. Some decisors, such as Rabbi Yosef Elyashiv, allow producing foie gras, contending that the force-feeding ultimately provides sustenance to humans, as it did in previous generations. A number of leading rabbis, including Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer YD 9:3), banned the practice because the process of production causes unacceptable pain, especially in an age when meat is readily available through more delicate means. They further contended that gavage might fatally wound the esophagus, raising questions about the kashrut of the animal.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein separately prohibited producing veal, since the animals are fattened up through severe limitations on their movements (Igrot Moshe EH 4:92). This ruling has received less attention, although it was endorsed by the Masorti movement's Rabbi David Golinkin. In contrast, the prohibition of foie gras has gained much support from both Orthodox and non-Orthodox followers, including the Israeli High Court of Justice, which cited tza'ar ba'alei haim in its 2003 ban of foie gras production, a position I personally support.

The writer, editor of TraditionOnline.org, teaches in Yeshivat Hakotel and is pursuing a doctorate in Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University.

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8. Recent Article on the Tremendous Threats From Global Warming

Under Pressure, White House Issues Climate Change Report

Published: May 30, 2008

NY Times


The Bush administration, bowing to a court order, has released a fresh summary of federal and independent research pointing to large, and mainly harmful, impact of human-caused global warming in the United States.
Skip to next paragraph
Dot Earth: Poor Face Health Risks from Warming

The report, released Thursday, is online at climatescience.gov, along with a new report updating the administration's priorities for climate research.

Most of the findings, like the spread of warmth-loving pests and the inevitable loss of low-lying lands to rising seas, are not new. But the report included new projections of how the poor, elderly and communities with lagging public-health and public-works systems will face outsize health risks from warming.

Among the report's new conclusions on health: “An increased frequency and severity of heat waves is expected, leading to more illness and death, particularly among the young, elderly, frail and poor.” It added that deaths from cold would decline, but said uncertainties on both projections made it impossible to characterize the overall risk.

It gave high odds (essentially a two out of three chance) that Lyme disease and West Nile virus would have expanded ranges because of warming. The report gave the same odds that some food- and water-borne diseases would also increase among susceptible populations, but said “major human epidemics” were unlikely as long as public-health systems remained effective.

Under a 1990 law, presidents must submit a report to Congress every four years summarizing what is known about impacts of climate change and other global environmental problems on the United States.

The last such assessment, undertaken in the Clinton administration and published in 2000 in the early days of the Bush presidency, was attacked by groups and industries opposing restrictions on greenhouse gases. References to it were deleted from some government reports by political appointees in the White House.

Environmental groups sued to force the completion of a new study. In court, the White House contended that a series of more than 20 studies requested by President Bush in 2003 satisfied the 1990 law, but Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong of Federal District Court for the Northern District of California rejected that assertion last August and ordered a comprehensive assessment to be published by the end of May.

“This assessment is an example of what federal scientists can and should be doing when they are freed from political interference and allowed to actually do their jobs,” said Kassie Siegel, climate program director for the Center for Biological Diversity, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who was the lead author of the 1990 law, strongly criticized the White House.

“The three-year delay of this report is sadly fitting for an administration that has wasted seven years denying the real threat of global climate change,” Mr. Kerry said in a statement. “In these lost years, we could have slowed global warming and advanced clean energy solutions, but instead America's climate change strategy has been at best rhetorical, not real.”

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9. Summary Article Re Agriprocessors

[There have been many recent articles on these issues in the Jewish Week, the Forward and many other Jewish and secular publications. Please be on the lookout and consider sending a letter to the editor.]

Agriprocessors announces new CEO




Two weeks after federal agents arrested close to 400 workers at the largest Kosher slaughterhouse in the United States, the family run business is seeking to replace its CEO.

Aaron Rubashkin, the founder of Agriprocessors, announced Friday, that he intends to replace his son Sholom as company CEO.

"The best course of action for the company, its employees, the local community and our customers is to bring new leadership to Agriprocessors," Aaron said in a statement.

The Chabad-Lubavitcher who founded the company in 1987, said "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 company would not respond to specific allegations which include underpaying workers, employee abuse and sexual harassment, due to "pending legal issues."

The company 's announcement comes in the wake of growing pressure from Jewish groups and threats of possible boycotts. The Jewish Labor Committee issued a statement last week calling for a boycott of Agriprocessors and the Conservative Movement cautioned people to evaluate for themselves whether it is "appropriate" to purchase Rubashkin meat products.

At the same time, Uri L'tzedek, a project begun by students at the liberal Orthodox Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in Manhattan, began circulating a petition asking Agriprocessors to pay its workers at least the federal minimum wage, and comply with workers' rights provisions. The petition also calls for the company to establish a department and staff to report to a third party that would deal with these concerns.

"Until these changes are made, we feel compelled to refrain from purchasing or consuming meat produced by your company, and will pressure every establishment with which we do business to cease purchase of your meat," the petition reads. "Effective June 15, 2008 we will stop patronizing any restaurant that sells your meat." Early this week, over 450 people had signed the petition.

But criticism of the company has been largely limited to non-Orthodox and liberal Jewish voices, which do not make up the core of kosher food consumers. Menachem Lubinsky, head of Lubicom, the kosher food industry's trade and marketing group who also consults for the Rubashkins, welcomed the announcement, but said he doesn't think pressure from these groups accounts for the company's recent announcement to replace its CEO.

"Pressure (from non-Orthodox) didn't seem to deter them in the past," said Lubinsky. "These calls were not from the core consumer, and in the past sales kept going up. This might be a factor in the overall picture, but I don't think if that's only thing they would have made this decision."

Lubinsky said legal issues and winning the confidence of the Postville community prompted the company's decision to replace the CEO.

But in recent days some Orthodox organizations and individual rabbis have begun to join the fray.

Orthodox Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, spiritual leader of Ohev Sholom of Washington, D.C., the National Synagogue, called for the Vaad Harabonim of Washington to take appropriate action.

In a letter to the Vaad, Herzfeld urged the Vaad to "temporarily suspend Rubashkin's meat in the stores and caterers that it supervises."

Herzfeld said aside from the alleged ethical violations, he is concerned whether the meat at the plant was kosher in light of recent allegations which include production of the drug crystal meth at the plant, and is calling for an independent investigation.

"I would like someone to go down there, that is not directly involved, someone independent, who has stature, courage and the authority to verify for us what is going on," said Herzfeld. Though other Orthodox rabbis have been slow to react publicly, Herzfeld said that several have voiced their concern in private conversations.

The Vaad did not respond to calls from The Jerusalem Post.

Avrom Pollak, president of Star-K, a Baltimore based kosher certification agency, said the recent allegations into Agriprocessors is having a widespread effect, that extends beyond the Jewish world.

"Kosher food has enjoyed a reputation for enhanced value, and the general public believes food with a kosher certificate does have certain qualities, and non-Jews buy that food when given a choice," said Pollak. "It is extremely unfortunate that this whole incident has done a great deal to diminish the reputation of kosher food. We think kosher food processors need to be scrupulous in obeying all laws, including civil and animal welfare."

In the past, the Orthodox world has been hesitant to speak up. Following the recent raid, the Orthodox Union, which certifies Rubashkin meat products, said it will follow the lead of the government.

"They (Rubashkin) are an extremely important part of the kosher food industry, and the hard core consumer doesn't want to damage the potential of supply," said Lubinsky. "They feel Rubashkin has been more a victim than anything else, and that this is a left wing gang up."

The recent raid is the latest trouble to befall the Rubashkin family, the Chabad-affiliated owners of the country's largest kosher slaughtering plant. Earlier this year, the company was fined $182,000 for violations at the plant. And in the past few years the company has been the target of an undercover investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animals' rights group, which criticized the company for certain slaughter practices.

Rubashkin has called previous allegations against the company anti-Semitic.

"I don't know whether the Rubashkins are guilty, but this has been going on for years, and certainly these issues should have been cleared up long time ago," said Pollak. "To claim it is anti-Semitism is ridiculous actually."

The May 12th federal raid on Agriprocessors is said to be the largest immigration raid in US history. Of the 389 illegal immigrants apprehended, 297 pleaded guilty and were sentenced to short prison term, or probation followed by deportation.

It remains unclear whether prosecutors will be investigating the company itself. But some members of Congress have called on the government to target employers alongside their employees. US Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) who represents the area where the Agriprocessors plant in located, has called for an investigation of the company.

"Until we enforce our immigration laws equally against both employers and employees who break the law, we will continue to have a problem with illegal immigration," Braley said in a statement.

My letter (please write):
All that is happening at Agriprocessors should be a wake up call to get the Jewish community to address that the production and consumption of meat and other animal products violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people. We should also consider that the consumption of animal products is causing an epidemic of diseases in the Jewish and other communities and the production of animal products contributes very significantly to global warming, widening water and energy shortages, rapidly vanishing species, destruction of tropical rain forests and many more environmental threats that imperil all of humanity.

For more information, please see our documentary A SACRED DUTY: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World at ASacredDuty.com and visit JewishVeg.com/schwartz.

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10. Considerations and Quotations for Animal Rights Activists


Do get involved in animal rights/welfare, YES... BUT: pace yourself! Don't assume you will end these atrocities tomorrow! Lots of people with lots of more knowledge before have been working over hundred years to end this obscenity. Do take time to play! Celebrate frequently the beauty that does exist despite the world's brutality. Do unite with others who share your views. Every individual who gets involved takes a single stone from the enslaving wall until one day the wall must inevitably crumble and fall! While many animals and many of us will not live to see that day, we are working to help build the foundation for the activists of tomorrow who'll continue our work. Our torch must not be allowed to fall to the ground, but passed from generation to generation without a stop until that glorious day of animal liberation arrives! Tomorrow's activists will remember the early animal soldiers with respect and affection.
Mary McDonald-Lewis, Dir. (Last Chance for Animals)

So keep at it [animal rights fight] and keep cool. We are not trying to achieve the impossible. We are trying to accelerate the inevitable.
Steven Tiger, Physician Assistant-Certified (The Anti-Vivisection Society)




Ruth Gelhert - The Humane Crusade


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11. Progress Toward Improving Israel's Environment

Thanks to author Rabbi Dovid Sears for forwarding this article to us:

Cities to Gain Environment Protection Authorities
by Hillel Fendel, Israel National News

A newly-proposed bill stipulates that cities in Israel will be obligated to enforce environmental laws and levy fines upon violators, as of next year. The Knesset Interior and Environmental Committee passed the bill paving the way for its final Knesset reading in the coming weeks. The name of the bill: "Environmental Enforcement and Inspectors' Authority."

Cities with a population of 20,000 or more - of which there are about 70 in Israel - will be obligated to operate a system of environmental inspectors and fines. Smaller cities will be permitted, but not obligated, to have such networks. The fines will be paid to the cities themselves, thus providing the incentive to operate the new system.

The new bill was proposed by MK Dov Hanin of the mainly Israeli-Arab party Hadash. It specifies that within a year after its passage in the Knesset, every city must train inspectors for the enforcement of environmental laws. "The State Comptroller's report stated that enforcement of such laws is the bottleneck in the country's environmental laws, and this law is designed to bring about a revolutionary change."

The inspectors will be granted broad authorities to locate and investigate violations. They will actually form local chapters of the Environment Ministry's Green Police, which is charged on a national level with enforcing environmental laws. MK Ophir Pines (Labor), who chairs the Knesset committee that helped prepare the legislation, said, "We are gambling on the city governments and believe in their ability to enforce the environmental laws. The ball is now in their court."

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12. Update Re the “Veggie Pride Parade”

Forwarded message from parade organizer Pamela Rice:

If you missed the Veggie Pride Parade, this video is the next best
thing to have been there.

Here's a video, just the parade, thank you, Santos Lopez.


What a wonderful record of the first leg of our great event.

We've also embedded the video to the home page of the Veggie Pride
Parade Web site:
(scroll down)

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13. Why Our Efforts Are SO Important

Farewell, Fair Weather

Published: May 31, 2008 NY Times

We are now firmly ensconced in the Age of Extreme Weather.


According to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, there have been more than four times as many weather-related disasters in the last 30 years than in the previous 75 years. The United States has experienced more of those disasters than any other country.

Just this month, a swarm of tornadoes shredded the central states. California and Florida have been scorched by wildfires, and a crippling drought in the Southeast has forced Georgia to authorize plans for new reservoirs.

Who do we have to thank for all this? Probably ourselves.

Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued reports concluding that “human influences” (read greenhouse-gas emissions) have “more likely than not” contributed to this increase. The United States is one of the biggest producers of greenhouse-gas emissions.

Furthermore, a White House report about the effect of global climate change on the United States issued Thursday (years late and under court order) reaffirmed that the situation will probably get worse: In addition to temperature extremes, “precipitation is likely to be less frequent but more intense. It is also likely that future hurricanes will become more intense, with higher peak speeds and more heavy precipitation ... .”

This increase is deadly and disruptive - and could become economically unbearable.

According to the National Hurricane Center, 10 of the 30 costliest American hurricanes have struck since 2000, even after adjusting the figures for inflation and the cost of construction.

In 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina, the estimated damage from storms in the United States was $121 billion. That is $39 billion more than the 2005 supplemental spending bill to fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

About $3 billion has been allocated to assist farmers who suffer losses because of droughts, floods and tornadoes among other things.

And, a recent report in The Denver Post said the Forest Service plans to spend 45 percent, or $1.9 billion, of its budget this year fighting forest fires.

This surge in disasters and attendant costs is yet another reason we need to declare a coordinated war on climate change akin to the wars on drugs and terror. It's a matter of national security.

By the way, hurricane season begins Sunday.

Charles Blow's column will appear on alternate Saturdays. E-mail: chblow@nytimes.com.

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14. Suggestions From “VeggieJews” Re Promoting Vegetarianism

The following message is from “VeggieJew,” a group that has been promoting vegetarianism for some time:


This is a monthly reminder that VeggieJews offers several ways for YOU to put “tsedakah” (good deeds, charity) into action.

1. THE VEGGIE JEWS' SPEAKERS BUREAU is a way of projecting vegan, vegetarian and animal rights consciousness into the Jewish community to groups (like Hadassah, B'nai B'rith, Jewish community centers and temples) that would like a guest speaker. If you'd like to speak on the issue of Jewish vegetarianism, just let me know that you're available, the names of a group or groups in your community to whom you would like to speak and group contact information. I'll make the contact for you and work with you to arrange the details. In order to do this, you need to be well versed in Judaism, animal rights issues and vegetarian issues, and, especially, the art of diplomacy.

2. THE VEGGIE JEWS' TSEDAKAH BRIGADE is animal rights activism with a Jewish flavor. Tsedakah Brigade activists join together for an hour or so to leaflet businesses that profit from animal abuse or gather over a potluck or restaurant meal to write letters to those in power on animal rights issues. If you're old and healthy enough to write and/or pass out a leaflet, you're qualified for the Veggie Jews' Tsedakah Brigade. Just contact me to get involved in your community.

3. THE VEGGIE JEWS' COOKING DEMONSTRATION PANEL is a way for those who love veggie and vegan cooking, especially those blessed with the gift of gab, to project veggie and vegan consciousness into the Jewish community by demonstrating the art of veggie/vegan cooking to the same groups mentioned above as possible audiences for speakers. As with the Speakers' Bureau, you need to let me know what group or groups in your community might be interested in your services and how to contact them. I'll make the contact for you and work with you to arrange the details. Since this is all about promoting vegetarian and vegan lifestyles as consistent with Jewish values, you need to be well versed in not only veggie/vegan cooking but also Judaism as well as
animal rights and veggie/vegan issues.

There's no financial compensation offered for tsedakah in action, but the pay- off in personal fulfillment is immense. In fact, with a pay-off that
rewarding, we shouldn't even call it tsedakah.

To get involved, write to me, Pete Cohon, at veggiejews-owner@yahoogroups.com.

*Those who host or attend VeggieJews events do so at their own risk and, by attending or hosting an event, they expressly release from any liability the VeggieJews group, its owners, moderators and volunteers.

[If you'd like to receive a "Summary of Scriptural and Rabbinical Support for a Vegetarian Diet," "Pete's Program for an Easy Ten Week Transition to a Veg*n Diet," or "Let's Talk Fish," just click on the link to "files" in the yellow box on our Yahoo Group Web site or write to me at the above e-mail address and ask.]

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15. New Documentary "Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days" At Film Festivals

Forwarded message from Michael Bedar of the Tree of Life Institute:

From June 2-8, Michael Bedar [of the Tree of Life Institute] is celebrating at the Newport Film Festival where the feature documentary, "Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days," is showing twice, with a special showing and dinner on Thursday, June 5, at the Newport International Film Festival. You can get tickets at www.newportfilmfestival.com.

Continuing, on June 7-8, Michael is presenting Simply Raw" and speaking at the New York Raw Foods and Yoga Expo at the Hotel New Yorker, along with Michael Collins, a person from New York who is a healee of his diabetes with the Tree of Life 21-Day+ Program. We will also be taking questions and signing copies of the DVD Raw For Life, and showing footage from Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days.

I thank Gabriel Cousens, MD, director of the Tree of Life and author of There Is a Cure For Diabetes for the opportunities to make these appearances with you.

At GabrielCousens.com, the Culture of Life Community is launching very soon after June 5, for you to experience Alive People, Alive Relationships, Alive Food, and Alive Spirituality and great a heart-centered culture-shift in each soul and on the planet.

My return to regular email checking is June 13.

Michael Bedar
Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center
Culture of Life Community
email: michael@treeoflife.nu
phone: 520-394-2520 x209
fax: 415-598-2409
web: www.treeoflife.nu

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