October 3, 2008

10/3/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Asking for Forgiveness Before Yom Kippur

2. Best Wishes For a Meaningful Yom Kippur and an Easy Fast

3. Relating Sukkot to Vegetarianism

4. I am on a Podcast, Interviewed on “ Responding to Environmental Crises”

5. Setting Up a Curriculum on “Judaism and Vegetarianism”

6. My Radio Interview Discussing A SACRED DUTY and Jewish Vegetarianism

7. Major Review of A SACRED DUTY in the Latest Jewish Vegetarian Magazine

8. Rabbi Challenges Orthodox Jewry Re Agriprocessors

9. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Increasing MORE Rapidly

10. Orthodox Rabbis Initiative To Improve Jewish Business Ethics

11. Marvelous Israeli Short Video With a Powerful Vegan Message/With English Subtitles

12. Climate Change Report Calls for Mandatory Meat Rationing

13. HeebnVegan Blog on Recent Events Re Agriprocessprs Postville Slaughterhouses

14. Chance to Have A SACRED DUTY More Widely Seen/Volunteers Sought

15. Jewish Environmental Group Seeks Support

16. Jewish Environmental Teachings Related to Rosh Hashanah

17. A Vegetarian-Friendly Retreat Center

18. Internationally Acclaimed Book Published in Many Languages

19. Israeli Animal Rights Group Starts Campaign to Improve Conditions for Laying Hens

20. Severe Israeli Drought (Worst in Its History) Continues

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. Asking for Forgiveness Before Yom Kippur

An anonymous message from a High Holiday package of material:

“On Yom Kippur, God will pardon everyone who has sinned against Him. But He will not forgive a person who has sinned against another human being, unless that person has appeased the person who was wronged.”
Mishnah Yoma 8:9

“I hereby forgive whoever has hurt me,
whoever has done me any wrong,
whether deliberately or by accident,
whether by word or by deed.
May no one be punished on my account.”

“As I forgive and pardon fully
those who have done me wrong,
may those whom I have harmed
forgive and pardon me
whether I acted deliberately or by accident
whether by word or by deed,”

[Forgiveness of people who have done wrong does not imply acceptance of evil acts - we must continue to work diligently to eradicate evil and to strive for a better world.]
If I have offended anyone by anything I have written or done during the past year, it was unintentional, and I ask your forgiveness. I plan to try to continue to be sensitive to the wide variety of people receiving these newsletters, while promoting vegetarianism as a necessary part of a healthier, more just, humane, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world. Your suggestions are always welcome, as we continue and expand our efforts to get vegetarianism and related issues onto the Jewish agenda.


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2. Best Wishes For a Meaningful Yom Kippur and an Easy Fast

and may we be written and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.

If you have the time and inclination, please see my article “Vegetarianism and Yom Kippur” in the holiday section of JewishVeg.com/schwartz.
Suggestions always welcome. Please consider using the material in that article and in other material at JewishVeg.com/schwartz for letters to the editor and talking points. Thanks.

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3. Relating Sukkot to Vegetarianism

Since Sukkot, starting the evening of Monday, October 13 this year, follows quickly after Yom Kippur, I am including (below) a letter that I have sent to the Jewish media re Sukkot. Please consider using that letter and the material in my article on “Sukkot, Simchat Torah and Vegetarianism,” in the holiday section at JewishVeg.com/schwartz, to compose your own letters and for talking points. Thanks.

Dear Editor:

On Sukkot, the Jewish festival devoted to our offering thanksgiving for the abundance of life, we are reminded that humans are only privileged caretakers of this precious, but imperiled, planet. Like the wilderness sukkot of our Israelite ancestors, this Earth is no more than our temporary dwelling, and it is our important responsibility to cherish and care for our planet and all its creatures, as co-workers with God. The fragile shelter of the sukkah should remind us that we can't rely on technological advances to save us and we must find a way to live in harmony with nature.

As we decorate our sukkahs with pictures and replicas of fruits and vegetables on our harvest festival, we should consider how future harvests are endangered by global warming, widening water shortages and soil erosion and depletion. As our Israelite ancestors were sustained with manna, a vegetarian food “like coriander seed,” while they dwelt in sukkahs for 40 years in the wilderness, we should sustain ourselves with tofu, the modern-day manna, and a wide variety of other plant foods, to improve our health and to help move our endangered planet to a sustainable path.

Very truly yours,

Steven Schuster
Richard H. Schwartz

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4. I am on a Podcast, Interviewed on “ Responding to Environmental Crises”

Thanks to Jpseph Puentes for expertly producing this important podcast. You can hear the entire interview at:


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5. Setting Up a Curriculum on “Judaism and Vegetarianism”

I am working with some people on this. If you have suggestions or would like to volunteer to help, please let me know. Many thanks.

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6. My Radio Interview Discussing A SACRED DUTY and Jewish Vegetarianism

It can be heard at:


Thanks to Melody Paris for interviewing me and to Joseph Puentes for making it into a podcast.

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7. Major Review of A SACRED DUTY in the Latest Jewish Vegetarian Magazine

A SACRED DUTY: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World

DVD Review by Julie Rosenfield

These days, we can scarcely open our newspapers, watch the TV or surf the internet without seeing the words “climate change” and “global warming.” We read articles every day exhorting us to cut our carbon footprint, recycle our waste and go green to save the planet.

But is environmental disaster really inevitable? What action can we take and where should we look for guidance?

A beautiful, intelligent and thoughtful new DVD: A Sacred Duty, Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World, produced by multi-award-winning producer, director, writer, cinematographer, Lionel Friedberg, under the sponsorship of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America, addresses these very questions and, through an inspirational hour-long documentary, gives us both hope and some of the answers we need.

The need to look after the earth, as we are reminded in the DVD, is actually nothing new. In fact, as Rabbi Yonassan Gershom reflects, the Torah is like an “operation manual” which contains instructions on how to care for the planet. Although we have faithfully heeded the commandment to be fruitful and multiply - hence the current world population of over 6.5 billion people - we have heeded less well the commandment to take care of the earth. By applying Jewish values at this crucial time, however, we can help redress this balance and start to heal the world.

Judaism has built into it core values such as reverence for G-d, respect for life, a code of compassion and justice and the importance of acting as responsible custodians, both for ourselves and those creatures with whom we share our planet.

Professor Richard Schwartz, who helped to produce the DVD, reminds us of the ancient rabbinic teaching of how when G-d created the world, He said to Adam, “Do not corrupt or destroy this world, for if you do there is nobody after you to set it aright.”

Looking at global warming, water shortages and rapid species extinction, it appears that we have not taken heed of this commandment.

However, as Jews, Professor Schwartz reminds us, we have a historic mission, to be a light unto the nations and to act as shomrei adamah, guardians of the earth, working towards tikkun olam, the repair of the world.

The DVD contains beautifully-photographed shots of Israel, whether of the desert, lakes such as the Galilee, the beaches of Tel-Aviv or the Dead Sea. Jonathan Wolf, another contributor, points out that Israel is really a microcosm of the earth. Despite its small size, with its variety of landscape and scenery, it contains examples of almost every ecosystem in the world. He thinks that this is not accidental and that we can visualize the whole world when we look at Israel.

However, Israel today is suffering severe environmental damage, both from its burgeoning population and its increase in industrialisation. Manufacturing industries, pharmaceuticals and heavy equipment production all play their part in damaging the environment. Israel is suffering from an air pollution crisis which has led to a disturbing figure of 17% of Israeli children suffering from asthma, an increase from 5% in 1980. Also of concern, reports Professor Alon Tal, is the fact that 1 in 7 women in Haifa suffer from breast cancer, a figure higher than the national average, again as a result of ambient air quality.

The Yarkon River in Tel Aviv, with its toxic slime, is a casualty of environmental pollution. Indeed, none of the 16 rivers of Israel, warns the DVD, is safe to swim in or to provide drinking water. Even the Dead Sea is actually dying, decreasing by 1 metre per year. Given the shortage of rainwater, and a study which predicts a future decrease in rainfall of up to 30%, this is a cause for alarm.

An important message of the DVD is that global warming does not respect boundaries. And, with climate scientists predicting an increase of 3 to 11 degrees F in the next 100 years, there is a great fear that such change could lead to droughts and famine and, in turn, increase unrest, violence, terrorism and war.

Global warming however, is not just about car emissions, as many think.

In 2006, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations published a report showing that a staggering 18% of greenhouse gases come from livestock agriculture. Farm animals, the report showed, produce more greenhouse gases (in C02 equivalents) than emissions from trucks, cars, trains, aircraft and ships of all nations combined. This is a little-known fact which is seldom discussed.

There are also other environmental ramifications of Western agricultural methods. In the US, 200 million tons of cereals, grains and soya beans are produced every year. If these were fed directly to people, they would provide a valuable source of healthy protein. However, most are fed to animals to provide meat. It takes 10 lbs of grains to produce only 1 lb of beef. Ten acres of soya beans could feed 60 people. However, using the same amount of land to raise cattle would only feed 2 people. Water is again a huge issue as it takes 2500-5000 gallons of water to produce 1lb of beef.

In a world where 900 million people are undernourished, 15% of the world, and where 30,000 children die from hunger every day, using land to produce meat and animal feed is nothing less than scandalous.

However, there is hope for the future. Important projects discussed in the film like those carried out at the learning and research centre of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Southern Israel, where Arabs and Jews come together to face the challenges of environment in cooperative ways, surely give hope for the future. Here students learn that environmental problems are not restricted to countries but are the concern of everyone. Projects such as these offer real hope as students on the course take away the knowledge gleaned back to their own countries to put into practice.

Equally inspirational are rabbis such as Rabbi Warren Stone of the Temple Emmanuel in Kensington, Greater Washington DC who is spreading the environmental message in his own synagogue. In the DVD, we see his beautiful, solar-panel fuelled temple, which features a bimah depicting a Banyan Tree, as a strong message to stop cutting down forests. Likewise, the Torah coverings show roots to symbolise how the roots of Judaism are passed from generation to generation.

With interviews from leading Rabbis, medical professionals and many luminaries of the Jewish Vegetarian movement on important subjects such as environmental concerns, livestock production, health and Jewish values, A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World offers real hope and inspiration for anyone who cares enough to save the planet.

For further information, please visit the website of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America at www.jewishveg.com.

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8. Rabbi Challenges Orthodox Jewry Re Agriprocessors

Orthodoxy's Kosher Crisis
By Eric Yoffie
Thu. Sep 25, 2008

Over the course of the past five months, the American Jewish community has observed with dismay the gradual unfolding of the Agriprocessors scandal. Agriprocessors may be a private corporation, but as the nation's leading producer of kosher meat, it is one that operates under the Jewish communal banner. Its actions have been followed closely, not only by Jews such as myself who observe kashrut, but by all Jews - not to mention many in the broader American public.

Thus far, however, our communal response to this crisis has been decidedly mixed.

The Conservative movement deserves praise for its strong stance in favor of strengthening the bond between social justice and Jewish law. Its new Hekhsher Tzedek initiative is working to create an additional certification for kosher products that would take into account ethical considerations. We in the Reform movement have expressed our sympathy and support for this effort. The Union for Reform Judaism recently adopted resolutions endorsing Hekhsher Tzedek and stressing the need for better treatment of workers and immigrants.

Yet it is Orthodox Judaism that is primarily responsible for our system of kosher supervision. And Orthodox Jews represent the largest single consumer base for the kosher meats produced by Agriprocessors. Therefore, the Orthodox community and its leaders have a particular responsibility for addressing the troubling questions that have been raised and for working to repair the damage that has been done.

I expect nothing from the owners of Agriprocessors, the Rubashkins. Rapacious businessmen are hardly unique to the Jewish world. But I do expect something from Jewish leadership, and in particular from rabbinic leadership. The question that I keep asking myself is: Where is the voice of the Orthodox rabbinate? Why are we not hearing from the great Torah sages who are the ultimate authorities in all matters of consequence in the Orthodox world?

In talking with some of my Orthodox friends, they endlessly repeat the mantras of “due process” and “innocent until proven guilty.” But this is entirely beside the point. While there is, of course, a presumption of innocence, it could be years before the judicial proceedings are concluded.

In the meantime, the Jewish community faces a public crisis of major proportions. The scandal has raised basic questions about the ethical foundations of our religious tradition, about undue deference to the wealthy and about Jewish indifference to injustice in our midst.

Jewish tradition has a great deal to say about proper treatment of the laborer and the stranger, and throughout history our greatest rabbinic figures have not hesitated to address these matters. Let us imagine that in the early stages of the most recent scandal, the Torah authorities of the Orthodox world had emphatically proclaimed the obligation of Jews to meet the requirements of Torah and treat workers with justice, immigrants with compassion, and animals with care and consideration. To this they could have added that they had no intention of prejudging any cases currently being adjudicated in the secular courts but only to make clear the Torah principles that must guide us all. Had this happened, the scandal would have played out in a very different way, and the unease now felt throughout much of the Jewish community would have been mitigated considerably.

And where is the voice of Chabad? Since the Rubashkins' ties to Chabad are well known, it has a special responsibility to speak to the ethical issues of the scandal. Chabad-Lubavitch is a ubiquitous presence in North America, doing much to strengthen Jewish life. I know many young Jews who have studied Torah and Jewish ethics with Chabad teachers. But ethics in the abstract are meaningless if they are not applied to the real ethical challenges that we face as Jews.

It is strange that many of those most insistent on “due process” for the Rubashkins have felt no need to offer Torah opinions that are completely objective and unbiased. Rabbis who “investigate” abuses against workers from Agriprocessors while putting their expenses on the company tab are violating both accepted ethical canons and common sense. And attorneys and communal leaders who argue points of Torah to rebut company critics while remaining on the company payroll dishonor the tradition they profess to serve. Torah that is bought and paid for is not Torah at all.

Some Orthodox rabbinic voices have been heard, to be sure, and frequently they have been younger voices. Sadly, these younger rabbis have been dismissed with utter contempt by some establishment Orthodox leaders.

One very encouraging development was the recent action of O.U. Kosher, which threatened to withdraw its kashrut certification unless Agriprocessors changed its management. As a result, the company named a new CEO. Nonetheless, two caveats are in order: First, a company with a record of wiliness and deception might make management changes that are cosmetic only, and careful follow-up will obviously be required; and second, statements by kashrut officials, no matter how admirable, are no substitute for the words of the gedolim and roshei yeshiva - the great Orthodox rabbinic scholars and yeshiva heads.

This scandal cries out for religious leadership from the Orthodox world, and it is not too late for Orthodox Torah scholars to provide it. My fervent hope is that a resolution of the crisis will come speedily, with those in authority affirming Torah's message of hope - which is that we must obey God, mitigate injustice and assure human dignity for all.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie is president of the Union for Reform Judaism.
Thu. Sep 25, 2008

My response:

The disturbing reports of alleged appalling conditions for animals and workers at the Postville, Iowa slaughterhouse should be a wake-up call to the Jewish community and to consumers of Agriprocessors' meat products to the urgent need for a major reassessment of how the current production and consumption of meat and other animal products violate basic Jewish teachings and harm people, animals and the entire planet.

I strongly support efforts by many groups to improve conditions at the slaughterhouse. But, even if these conditions become far better, we believe that it is still urgent that Jews shift away from animal-based diets because they involve many inconsistencies with Jewish law and values:

* Producing and consuming meat and other animal products represent violations of basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and avoid a chillul Hashem (desecration of God's Name).

* The raising of 60 billion animals worldwide for meat, eggs and milk is contributing to global warming, widening water shortages, rapid species extinction and many more environmental problems that threaten humanity and all of creation.

* We can reduce the current epidemic of diseases afflicting Jews and others through a switch toward plant-based diets.

* In view of the many current threats to humanity, it is scandalous that the world is not only trying to feed 6.7 billion people, but also over 50 billion farmed animals; that 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and 40 percent produced worldwide are fed to animals raised for slaughter; that the standard American diet (SAD) requires up to 14 times as much water as a vegan diet.

* A 2006 UN FAO report indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (18 percent in CO2 equivalents) than all the world's cars and other means of transportation combined (13.5 percent), and that the number of farmed animals is projected to double in 50 years. Therefore, what we eat is more important than what we drive, and a shift to plant-based diets is essential if we are to effectively respond to global warming and other environmental threats..

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

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

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9. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Increasing MORE Rapidly

Last year's world CO2 emissions exceeded most dire IPCC predictions

Grist Ezine

[This report is especially disturbing, because experts have pointed out that it is essential that annual carbon dioxide emissions be sharply reduced.]

The world's carbon dioxide emissions in 2007 exceeded even some of the direst predictions of climate scientists, growing 3 percent from 2006 according to an annual report from the Global Carbon Project. The climb in overall emissions last year was especially surprising given the economic downturn that was expected to help curb emissions. For the first time, developing nations took the lead in overall CO2 emissions, accounting for some 53 percent of the total, according to the report. China was also officially reconfirmed as the world's largest CO2 polluter; it alone accounted for some 60 percent of the rise in worldwide emissions in 2007. The report also found that the world's natural carbon sinks, such as oceans and forests that lock away carbon and keep it out of the atmosphere, have been absorbing some 3 percent less CO2 pollution since 2000 than they did in the first half of the 20th century. "We should be worried, really worried. This is happening in the context of trying to reduce emissions," said Richard Moss of the World Wildlife Fund. "We're already locked into more warming than we thought."

For more information:


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10. Orthodox Rabbis Initiative To Improve Jewish Business Ethics

Orthodox rabbis launch business ethics task force



An Orthodox rabbinical group is formulating a guide to ethical business practices with an eye on the kosher industry.

The Rabbinical Council of America announced Wednesday that the task force, chaired by Jewish business ethics authority Rabbi Asher Meir, would produce a detailed guide to ethical practice in business in general and the kosher industry in particular.

"We believe that the kosher food industry as a whole maintains an exemplary level of ethical practice, thanks in part to the presence of kosher agencies and supervisors," the RCA said. "Nonetheless, we attach importance to having ethical guidelines incorporated as a matter of policy by companies receiving kosher supervision, thereby further raising the level of ethical compliance throughout the industry."

The RCA initiative follows a similar effort begun by Conservative rabbis to establish an ethical certification that kosher food companies could pay to apply to their products, provided they have met certain criteria.

Rabbi Basil Herring, the RCA's executive vice president, told JTA that the new initiative would not "police" businesses, saying that is beyond the scope of his organization's abilities. The guide would require companies to pledge adherence to relevant civil laws and regulations, but would only "encourage" companies to strive for compliance with Jewish ethical principles.

Herring also stipulated that the RCA was not expanding the definition of kosher, as some critics have accused the Conservative initiative, known as Hekhsher Tzedek, of doing. The initiative's organizers deny they are expanding the definition of kosher.

"Kosher is not a catch-all," Herring said. "Kosher has a specific reference when it comes to food, and therefore we don't really want to blur that distinction.

"But having said that, it's not enough just to say I don't care as long as the meat conforms to the laws of slaughtering, nothing else is of significance. We believe that we have a moral responsibility as Jews, and if you will as religious Jews, to say that it is also improtant ... that principles of social responsibility, of social justice, be upheld. And be upheld publicly."

Herring said the organization has set mid-December as a target date for completing its guidelines

My response:

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) I commend the RCA for this initiative, and I wish them much success.

However, in their consideration of the kosher meat industry, I wonder, respectfully, if the RCA will consider that:

* The production and consumption of animal-based diets arguably violate Jewish teachings on preserving human health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources and helping hungry people
* Animal-based diets are causing an epidemic of heart disease, several types of cancer and other diseases in the Jewish and other communities.
* Animal-based agriculture is contributing significantly to global warming and other environmental problems that threaten all of humanity.

The RCA would be doing a great kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G=d's Name) by condiuting a dialogue on “Should Jews Be Vegetarians?”

Further information can be found at JewishVeg.com/Schwartz and by seeing our movie “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal the World” at ASacredDuty.com.

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11. Marvelous Israeli Short Video With a Powerful Vegan Message/With English Subtitles


A Must See. Please do not be put off by the title. It is great satire and a message that everyone should see.

Please pass this message on to others. Thanks.

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12. Climate Change Report Calls for Mandatory Meat Rationing


Calls for government to set consumption targets for meat, dairy, alcohol, and other food products.


The average person eats 21 meals a week. According to a new plan to combat climate change, 17 of those will be government-mandated as meat-free. Targets set by the plan would limit weekly consumption of beef would be limited to 1/4 pound. Chicken and ham would be similarly limited, with four modest servings of meat available throughout a week.

The report, sponsored by the University of Surrey, U.K., called for a return to old-fashioned cooking and shopping habits, such as walking to stores, buying only local produce, eating leftovers, and cooking in bulk, so that several meals can be prepared at once. More controversially, the report suggests people should "accept different notions of quality" in regards to food consumption, so that foods we now discard or use for animal feed can instead be directed to human consumption.

Drastic reductions in consumption of alcohol, dairy products, and sweets were also part of the plan.

The report's author, Tara Garnett, noted that voluntary campaigns were "doomed to fail" and strongly urged governments to mandate compliance through carbon trading and caps on greenhouse gas emissions. Ms. Garnett, who says "we cannot assume [the consumer] will necessarily make the right choice", advocates large-scale government intervention to ensure targets are met.

An investigation in the October edition of the Ecologist magazine advocated the developed world cut its meat consumption in half as a tool to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The head of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, also recently suggested people go at least partially vegetarian.

The report found that a fifth of all emissions were the result of the food sector, a value larger than that from the combined transportation sector. The majority of those emissions were from meat production.

Ms. Garnett is a research fellow at the Center for Environmental Strategy at the University of Surrey.

Very important article. Please also read the posted comments, and note why we are having such a difficult time.

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13. HeebnVegan Blog on Recent Events Re Agriprocessprs Postville Slaughterhouses

Yet Another Post About AgriProcessors
http://heebnvegan.blogspot.com/2008/09/yet-another-post-about-agriprocessors.html [the original site has a number of links for further info]

[Thanks to Michael Croland for his continued important writings in his blog on vegetarian-related issues.]

There's a lot going on related to AgriProcessors, but I'll start out with the big news. Today, the JTA reported that 12 Jewish members of Congress have sent a letter criticizing AgriProcessors on a variety of issues. The letter largely focuses on animal welfare matters:

The allegations about the company's treatment of its workers and the animals raise serious questions about the company's compliance with U.S. law and the highest standards of Jewish law and tradition concerning kashrut-a subject certainly beyond the scope of the U.S. government's concern, but one of considerable importance to the Jewish communities in our districts. . . .

In addition to our alarm over reports of your company's extensive, deplorable and illegal treatment of many of its workers, we have been disgusted by revelations about Agriprocessors' slaughtering practices and the company's treatment of animals. Between January 1, 2006 and January 24, 2007, Agriprocessors was issued five separate citations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for faulty monitoring of mad cow disease and more than a dozen citations for fecal and bile contamination of beef and poultry, which resulted in two separate meat recalls. A 2005 report by the USDA Inspector General also found evidence of inhumane slaughter practices.

After an undercover investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in 2004 showed footage of cattle walking inside the Agriprocessors facility with slit throats ... the company asked Dr. Temple Grandin, a well-respected expert in the fields of animal rights and humane slaughtering practices, to tour the facility and recommend reforms.

More recently, another undercover PETA investigation filmed the use of a practice known as “gouging,” which inflicts deep, agonizing, saw-like wounds onto an animal immediately after the rabbi completed the ritual cut as proscribed by Jewish law. The new report led Dr. Grandin to rescind her earlier support of the slaughtering practices employed by the company and recommend the permanent installment of cameras that would be independently monitored. . . .

We would appreciate a detailed explanation of the steps Agriprocessors will be taking ... to address the company's systemic problems and ensure the humane and ethical treatment of both workers and animals in accordance with both U.S. laws and Jewish standards.

The Forward reported:
“We wanted them to know from whence this came - that they have conducted this offense and that we are particularly offended as Jews,” Rep. Gary Ackerman, a New York Democrat who organized the letter, told the Forward. “As my mother used to say, it's a shande to the goyim.”

Ackerman said that they had deliberately asked only Jewish members of Congress to add their signatures.

I've been following the AgriProcessors saga since 2004, and it's heartening to see more and more that people in power are catching on. In the words of British politician Tony Benn, "It's the same each time with progress. First they ignore you, then they say you're mad, then dangerous, then there's a pause, and then you can't find anyone who disagrees with you." Slowly but surely, we're getting there.

Other AgriProcessors News

1. Last Wednesday, Yeshiva World News posted an interview with Rabbi Menachem Genack, head of kosher supervision for the Orthodox Union. When asked why AgriProcessors rather than any other company has been the focus of so much controversy and attention (from the government, media, activists, consumers, etc.), Rabbi Genack noted that it is in part "because Agri was in the crosshairs after the story with PETA four years ago." That backs up what I've been saying all along: The 2004 animal welfare scandal at AgriProcessors is one of the chief foundations of the current/ongoing saga.
2. Earlier this month, Shmarya Rosenberg from FailedMessiah posted a must-read overview of the ongoing AgriProcessors saga on Jewcy, discussing both animal welfare aspects and other topics. Says Rosenberg, "I'd like to say that the Jewish community deserves better than this - but we don't. We stood by silently as Agriprocessors business practices became exponentially more abusive and exploitative. Having access to kosher meat was more important that how that access was gained or who was hurt as a result."
3. Last week, AgriProcessors hired a new CEO, Bernard Feldman. The Associated Press reported that Feldman "said Agriprocessors has treated its workers fairly," FailedMessiah noted. Click here to read an open letter (courtesy of FailedMessiah) to Feldman from a Postville, Iowa, resident. "As you decide what is 'right for the company,' please try to decide what is right for the community, too," says the letter.
4. I often link to articles from secular media, Jewish papers, and relatively few Jewish blogs, but it's nice to have another perspective from time to time. Here's a thought-provoking piece from a J-blog called Jewneric in which the writer explains why he and his wife have stopped buying "any Kosher butchered red meat." The post says, "Every single shechita should be done the best way possible. Anything less than this means unnecessary tza'ar ba'ale chaim to the animal. While we are permitted to cause the minimal pain necessary to slaughter the animal, we are obligated to ensure that we cause only the minimal pain."
5. A new article in The Jewish Week suggests that AgriProcessors and Hekhsher Tzedek will be common sermon topics for many rabbis during the High Holidays. "The issues of our day include topics like Darfur and the ethical treatment of animals,” says Rabbi Eric Stark, director of the Union for Reform Judaism Greater New York Council.

posted by heebnvegan @ 9/24/2008 09:26:00 PM

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14. Chance to Have A SACRED DUTY More Widely Seen/Volunteers Sought

Forwarded message from: "Filmmaker Opportunities, Withoutabox."
Subject: Distribute your film on Amazon.com and other channels

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What is CreateSpace?

CreateSpace is an on-demand distribution platform, enabling filmmakers to make their products available to potentially millions of customers on
Amazon.com and other channels without requiring an upfront investment. You start making money with your first sale, and again with each subsequent sale. Your films will appear as in-stock DVDs for sale on Amazon.com, as well as be available through other distribution channels. They will also be eligible for possible email and/or online promotion as part of the CreateSpace disc-on-demand program. Other great benefits:

* Membership and title set-up provided at no charge
* A Free UPC will be assigned if you do not already have one
* DVDs are produced when customers order, so there is no need for
inventory and you don't have to hassle with order fulfillment and customer service
* Your title becomes eligible for listing on IMDb.com
* DVDs can be made available as video downloads through Amazon Video On Demand (formerly Unbox)
* Multi-disc set, multi-case collection, and combined DVD and CD set
options are available

How can I distribute through the CreateSpace program?

Just open a free CreateSpace account. With this account, you will be able to select distribution options, track the sales of your film, and receive any
payments you are owed. You will be asked to submit some basic title
information, upload artwork for your DVD, and send in a copy of your film.

What is the relationship of Withoutabox to CreateSpace?

Withoutabox has made CreateSpace our preferred independent distribution partner. Originally founded as CustomFlix Labs in 2002 and acquired by Amazon.com in 2005, CreateSpace shares Withoutabox's mission of connecting filmmakers profitably to their worldwide audience.

How do I get started?
To Create Your Free CreateSpace Account:
To Get More Details:

Or, login to Withoutabox at www.withoutabox.com and look for "Distribute on
DVD and VOD" next to any film title on your Account Home Page....
Username: lionel9@sbcglobal.net
Forgot password? Go to:

Team Withoutabox

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15. Jewish Environmental Group Seeks Support

Forward Message from the TEVA (Nature) Center:

Please Support Teva
Go To:

Teva: Inspirational Jewish Education for an Ecological Age
September 2008

Dear Friend of Teva,

I want to tell you that the 2008 Teva-thon Campaign is underway! At this time, Teva needs your help to get us to our goal of $25,000.

Teva is undertaking a major expansion of its work in Jewish environmental education. Since our founding in 1994, we've primarily focused on working with Jewish day schools. Teva is currently trying to reach an even wider audience through a Congregational Education Initiative that has been growing over the last two years. This effort includes Shabbat Retreat and Educator-in-Residence programs. These programs are far reaching and, with the heightened awareness of ecological concerns, in strong demand.

At Teva we're now reaching 4,000 participants each year through our work with Jewish day schools, camps, congregations and community groups. Teva's students understand the power of experiential Jewish education that brings Jewish practice alive. When they leave a Teva program, they are motivated to implement greening projects in their schools and personal lives.

After leading a training for Temple Educators in Westchester, NY, Laura Bellow's (Teva's New Congregational Coordinator) wrote me:

I am struck by how much hunger there is for this kind of Jewish education. I was reminded that even in a room of very experienced educators; there is still a lot to be learned about experiential, energetic, positive and meaningful Jewish Earth Education.

Yet, Teva Learning Center's educators are still not reaching many Jewish communities. In order to enable the continued growth of our programs, Teva needs support for curriculum development, scholarships and training.

We need your help to move us to the next stage.
Support Teva's work by going to:

Thank you,

Nili Simhai, Director

Exclusive Gifts for Teva-thon 2008

During the Teva-thon 2008 fund drive, we'd like to recognize your generous donations by offering the following exclusive gifts:

$1,000 - Sustainer in name along with all other gifts
$540 - Blessing Art made by one of Teva's talented artists
$360 - Teva Tunes, a brand new two-disc CD set.
$180 - Inspirational greeting cards displaying artwork and quotations.
All Gifts - Certified Organic "Seeds of Change"

Teva Programs at Jewish Summer Camps are Growing!

This summer Teva established a new program at the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds on Long Island. At the newly re-built Rose Nature and Ecology Center, campers experienced the wonders of the natural world through investigation and radical amazement! Veteran Teva Educators worked with over 1,000 campers. Their aim was to help participants develop a more meaningful relationship with nature and their own Jewish practices.

But Teva's impact on Jewish summer camps goes beyond that...

Wendy Rosen, one of 37 counselors trained at this year's Teva Seminar, was inspired to expand Camp Ramah of the Berkshire's environmental education program. She led the charge of large-scale camp programming, which included P'solet Patrol, a composting display, a camp-wide star-gazing event, and green infomercials on the camp radio station. Experiential activities integrated Teva's teaching into group hikes, Tefillah B'Teva, and an Environmental Beit Din.

And... of course, at Surprise Lake Camp, Teva's program continues to reach over 700 campers each year. These campers participate in overnights, nature exploration, caring for animals, gardening, eco-art projects, backpacking and wilderness skills. Also, a committee of counselors led the camp in environmentally responsible actions such as camp-wide recycling challenges and personal environmental pledges.
Teva Learning Center: 307 7th Ave. Suite 900, New York, NY 10001

If you no longer wish to receive these emails, please reply to this message with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line or simply click on the following link: Unsubscribe

Click here to forward this email to a friend

Teva Learning Center
307 7th Avenue
Suite 900
New York, New York 10001

Read the VerticalResponse marketing policy.

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16. Jewish Environmental Teachings Related to Rosh Hashanah

Keepers of the Garden: A Responsive Reading

This piece was written by Alan Elfanbaum, a longtime member of the Jewish Environmental Initiative, St. Louis.

Awaken, awaken to the sacred sounds of the Shofar, Oh Keepers of the Garden

It cries in mourning for the numberless creatures of earth, sea and sky that are no more. It cries for the great forests, meadows and wetlands that are slowly dying. It cries for the earth itself which has been stripped and plundered beyond recognition It cries for its Children who refuse to listen as the sounds of life are slowly being stilled

Awaken, awaken, to the sacred sounds of the Shofar, Oh Keepers of the Garden

And ask forgiveness for what we have done. For the sins that we have committed in spewing noxious pollutants into the air that we breathe
that descend to the pristine lakes and forests beyond that rise to the protective and nurturing layers far above.

And for the sins that we have committed in pouring poisonous wastes into our clear streams and broad rivers that flow into mighty seas and oceans beyond that poison the deep waters where life first began.

For the sins that we have committed in burying the earth under billions of tons of refuse and garbage in destroying the living soil with herbicides and pesticides in creating radioactive wastes that persist for millenniums.

And for the sins that we have committed in cutting down the ancient forests, home to countless unnamed species in culling the oceans empty of whales and dolphins in hunting the earth barren of elephants and lions.

For the sins that we have committed in shackling animals in fetid and overcrowded factory farms in caging them for years in sterile laboratories in displaying them in zoos for our amusement.

And for all of these, O God of forgiveness

Forgive us.
Pardon us.
Grant us atonement.

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17. A Vegetarian-Friendly Retreat Center

Am Kolel Sanctuary & Renewal Center (www.sanctuaryretreatcenter.com) is a Jewish owned and operated ecumenical and vegetarian-friendly retreat center in the Agricultural Reserve of Upper Montgomery County, MD. Enjoy our beautifully maintained 1890s farmhouse with two spacious living rooms, large dining room, sun room, well-equipped kitchen, huge deck, beautiful chapel (seats 75), and guest house. Our28 gorgeous acres of trees, lawns and gardens includes Meditation Garden, labyrinth, screened gazebo, outdoor chapel, campfire ring and woods. Wonderful massage therapist on site. Affordable rates for day, weekend or longer events… A/C and wireless available.

The Sanctuary Committee wishes to make Sanctuary as inclusive as possible and to aspire to a dietary code that honors body, mind and spirit with a particular sensitivity to the Earth and compassion for animals. Our kitchen is a vegetarian/dairy kitchen. Kosher cheeses and cheeses with rennet from non-animal sources are permitted. For private events fish with fins and scales is also permitted. (No meat or shellfish, please.)

The retreat center does not provide food. Guests may bring their own food and prepare their own meals in our fully equipped, kosher kitchen if they observe the guidelines stated above. We are happy to refer prospective clients and guests to three excellent caterers. Two are vegetarian (one strictly vegan), and one is Kosher (with a special menu for Sanctuary customers).

For more information: Contact Gilah at 301-349-2799 or gilah@am-kolel.org

Gilah Rosner, Ph.D.
Retreat Manager
Am Kolel Sanctuary & Renewal Center
To ensure the privacy of our guests, visitation to Am Kolel Sanctuary is by appointment only.

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18. Internationally Acclaimed Book Published in Many Languages

Internationally Acclaimed Book--Eternal Treblinka--Now Published in Spanish

[My review of Eternal Treblinka and my interview with its author can be found in the book reviews section of JewishVeg.com/Schwartz.]


Spain is the latest country to publish "Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust." Its Spanish title is "Por qué maltratamos tanto a los animales?" Many consider Charles Patterson's book--soon to be in 13 languages--the most powerful defense of animals ever written.

New York, NY (PRWEB) September 23, 2008 -- Editorial Milenio in Lerida, Spain announces the publication of "Por qué maltratamos tanto a los animales? Un modelo para la masacre de personas en los campos de exterminio nazis" (ISBN 978-84-9743-254-2). It's the Spanish edition of the highly acclaimed "Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust" (ISBN 1-930051-99-9) by American author Charles Patterson.

Eternal Treblinka has also been published in Israel, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Japan. Russian, Slovenian and Portuguese translations are also underway. In the United States the book is in its third printing.

Important and timely...written with great sensitivity and compassion. I hope that Eternal Treblinka will be widely read.

In January, 2008, several days after Calmann-Lévy published "Un éternel Treblinka" (ISBN 978-2-7021-3845-8) in Paris, France's leading newspaper Le Monde reviewed it favorably. It was the subject of an hour-long discussion about the origins of violence by French intellectuals on national radio.

In February, 2005, a jury of 30 of the Germany's leading scholars and media figures chose "Für die Tiere ist jeden Tag Treblinka" (ISBN 3-6150-649-1), the German edition of Eternal Treblinka, as one of the country's ten most important non-fiction books. It was honored alongside books about Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and World War I.

The book's title comes from the Yiddish writer and Nobel Laureate, Isaac Bashevis Singer, to whom the book is dedicated. He was the first major modern author to describe the exploitation and slaughter of animals in terms of the Holocaust. "In relation to them, all people are Nazis," he wrote, "for animals it is an eternal Treblinka." (Treblinka was the Nazi death camp north of Warsaw.)

Eternal Treblinka examines the common roots of animal and human oppression and the similarities between how the Nazis treated their victims and how modern society treats the animals it slaughters for food.

The first part of the book describes the emergence of humans as the "master species" and how we came to dominate the earth and its other inhabitants. The second part examines the industrialization of slaughter of both animals and humans in modern times, while the last part of the book profiles Jewish and German animal advocates on both sides of the Holocaust, including Isaac Bashevis Singer himself.


Praise From Around The World--

"I urge you to read Eternal Treblinka and think deeply about its important message." --Dr. Jane Goodall, UK

"The moral challenge posed by Eternal Treblinka turns it into a must for anyone who seeks to delve into the universal lesson of the Holocaust." --Maariv (Israeli newspaper)

"A thought-provoking masterpiece meticulously and brilliantly articulated." --Dr. Ndubuisi Eke, Head, Department of Surgery, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria

"Important and timely...written with great sensitivity and compassion. I hope that Eternal Treblinka will be widely read." --Martyrdom and Resistance (Holocaust publication), New York, USA

"Kafka would have applauded Eternal Treblinka. It grips like a thriller." --The Freethinker, UK

"Eternal Treblinka should be on every list of essential reading for an informed citizenry...for the compelling comprehensiveness of the life-and-death story it tells." --National Jewish Post & Opinion, USA

"The book does a perfect and professional job of showing the similarity between the mistreatment of people and of animals. It's written with great sensitivity. Will no doubt be a valuable addition to everyone's collection." --Dr. Vugar Huseynov, Baku, Azerbaijan Republic.

"A very important achievement for animals and humans alike. Most probably your work will only be truly appreciated in years to come, but this is the fate of nearly all original and independent authors." --Christa Blanke, Freiburg, Germany

"It's one of the few books which totally grabs the reader, not only while reading it, but afterwards also, and probably forever...it profoundly disturbs, shocks and destroys." --Croatian philosopher Hrvoje Juric, Zagreb, Croatia

"You must read this carefully documented book." --La Stampa (Italian national newspaper)

"It is seldom that such a comprehensive work of scholarship springs from a heart of compassion in the service of a noble and necessary idea. All the ingredients of your thesis--that the oppression of animals serves as the model for all other forms of oppression--have been available to thinking people for generations, but it remained for you to pull them together." --Helen Weaver, author of The Daisy Sutra, USA

"I believe, along with many others, that your book is one of the most important books of the century." --Tanja Tuma, publisher, Ljubljana, Slovenia

"Very well researched and written with great sensitivity...a compelling, useful and informative book, which I strongly recommend to others in sub-Saharan Africa." --Professor P S Igbigbi, Head, Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine, University of Malawi

"A thorough and thought-provoking book." --Ha'aretz (Israeli newspaper)

"The book that breaks all taboos. The book that fires up controversies all over the world." --Prijatelji Zivotinja (Animal Friends Croatia), Zagreb, Croatia


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19. Israeli Animal Rights Group Starts Campaign to Improve Conditions for Laying Hens

Forwarded message from Uri Lorber, Anonymous for Animal Rights activist:


Yael Shemesh [an Israeli vegetarian activist and teacher at Bar Ilan University] has suggested that we contact you and suggest cooperation in working toward relieving the suffering of animals in the spirit of Jewish law.

These days, Anonymous for Animal Rights is starting a public campaign aimed at minimizing the use of battery cages in the eggs industry. This cruel keeping method is currently in common use in Israel.

Raising hens in battery cages is by any measure a cruel practice. Hens in such cages are unable to move freely or even spread their wings in their cells. Usually, three hens are crammed in a single cell, each on a surface of 20x20cm. The small space raises stress among hens, who then tend to attack each other, and the weaker ones have no way to escape. The cage floor is made of tilted metal mesh, which is painful to stand on, and injures the feet of then hens, and the mesh walls of the cells rub their skin and cause wounds. Under such conditions even the most basic and natural needs of the birds cannot be met.

Battery cages have been banned in the European Union: it is unlawful to build new battery coops, and by 2012 all existing battery coops in the EU are to switch to more humane keeping methods. Some countries have already banned the operation of battery cages.

A year ago, the Israeli government has decided on a reform in the poultry industry, aimed at making production more efficient from various aspects. The planned reform includes retiring almost all existing egg coups, and building new ones instead, with government aid.

Anonymous for Animal Rights is intent on not missing the historic opportunity to prevent suffering from hens. We aim to make the construction of new battery coops a thing of the past.

We regard our action as drawing from the Jewish teaching of tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, and would like to request Jewish law rulings from rabbinical authorities as part of our planned public campaign. We believe that a ruling calling to refrain from consuming eggs originating in battery cages could contribute to minimizing the unnecessary harm, by both influencing choices made by the public and by putting positive pressure on decision makers.

This could strengthen the connection between the traditional values of tsa'ar ba'alei chayim and the daily lives of Jews in Israel.

Therefore we request your help in formulating a joint letter to Rabbis, or your signing a letter we could formulate.

I'd be glad to hear from you,

Uri Lorber Egg industry project coordinator
Anonymous for Animal Rights

Telephone: 052-6719063
E-mail: uri.anon@gmail.com

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20. Severe Israeli Drought (Worst in Its History) Continues

Kinneret drops two meters this year


Jerusalem Post 10/3/08


The water level in Lake Kinneret dropped two meters this year, the Water Authority said Thursday, a steeper annual drop than in any previous year.

The hydrological year ended on September 30 with the Kinneret at 214.05 meters below sea level, down from its height of 212.05 meters below sea level reached on April 3.

The Kinneret's "black line," newly coined this year, is 214.87 meters below sea level. When the black line is reached, the pumps in the lake are exposed to the air, and they can no longer send water into the National Water Carrier.

In July, the lake dropped below the "red line," at which the concentration of pollutants rises to undesirable levels.

Since spring 2004 the Kinneret has lost 5.13 meters, which is equivalent to 850 million cubic meters of water, the authority said. That is roughly equivalent to an entire year's worth of household water use.

This was the fourth consecutive year of dwindling rainfall and the forecast for the next couple of years is just as bleak.

The Water Authority has focused its efforts on two main goals. In the short term, a massive water conservation PR campaign has been launched. "Going from red to black" - a reference to the lake's dropping water levels - has appeared on billboards, on the Internet and on TV.

The Water Authority has also produced a series of commercials which depict a woman and her house drying up and cracking to hammer home the point. The authority says the campaign has achieved significant results since its launch over the summer.

In the medium to long-term, funds have been allocated to expand desalination efforts from the current level of 130 million cubic meters per year to 750 million cubic meters per year by the middle to end of the next decade. Plants in Ashkelon and Palmahim will soon be joined by one in Hadera next year and two more by 2012.

Desalination represents Israel's best hope for drinking water as rainfall has been diminishing. Environmentalists have raised concerns because desalination plants require a fair amount of electricity.

However, as more and more of Israel's electricity comes from renewable sources like solar power, that concern might be mitigated. Moreover, the desalination plants in Ashkelon and Palmahim employ reverse osmosis - the most efficient and least intrusive desalination method in the world. The plant in Hadera and likely all future plants will also use this method.

Additional efforts include reclaiming almost all of the country's sewage for agricultural purposes. Right now, 75 percent of sewage water is treated and the authority aims to bring that to close to 100%.

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