November 19, 2008

11/16/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Chanukah and Vegetarianism

2. Will Shortages of Kosher Meat Turn Jews Toward Vegetarianism?

3. Israeli Green Political Party Forming For Next Election

4. Forward Editorial Re the Situation at Agriprocessors' Postville, Iowa Slaughterhouse

5. Open Letter On US Agricultural Policies to the President-Elect by Michael Pollan: Farmer in Chief

6. Arctic is Melting Even in Winter

7. Al Gore on How To Reduce Global Warming

8. Jewish Vegetarian Outreach Ideas

9. Global Warming Threats to Israel

10. My Letter to Blog Re Postville Slaughterhouse Problems

11. Nation Concerned About Being Flooded Out Of Its Homeland

12. Veggie Pride Parade Chosen by VegNews as Veggie Event of the Year

13. Gentle Thanksgiving Celebrations Promoted

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. Chanukah and Vegetarianism

With Chanukah about 5 weeks away, I am planning to send the article below to the Jewish media and to the rabbis and Jewish groups and schools on my lists. Before doing so, I would welcome any suggestions you might have for improving the article.

I have similar articles on each of the Jewish holidays and on the Sabbath (showing vegetarian connections), as part of my collection of over 130 articles and book reviews at If you have any suggestions re using these articles and/or building on them or writing additional articles to further the vegetarian cause, please let me know.

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

Many connections can be made between vegetarianism and the Jewish festival of Chanukah:
1. According to the Book of Maccabees, some Maccabees lived on plant foods since they were unable to get kosher meat when they hid in the mountains to avoid capture.
2. The foods associated with Channukah, latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (fried donuts) are vegetarian foods, and the oils that are used in their preparation are a reminder of the oil used in the lighting of the Menorah in the rededication of the Temple after the Maccabean victory.
3. Chanukah represents the triumph of non-conformity. The Maccabees stuck to their inner beliefs, rather than conforming to external pressure. They were willing to say: This I believe, this I stand for, this I am willing to struggle for. Today, vegetarians represent non-conformity. At a time when most people in the wealthier countries think of animal products as the main part of their meals, when the number of fast food establishments is growing rapidly, when almost all celebrations involve an abundance of animal products, vegetarians are resisting and insisting that there is a better, healthier, more humane diet.
4. Chanukah represents the victory of the few, who practiced God's teachings, over the many, who acted according to the values of the surrounding society. Today vegetarians are a very small minority in most countries, but they believe that vegetarianism is the dietary approach most consistent with Jewish values, since it is consistent with God's original diet (Genesis 1:29) and with religious mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, preserve natural resources, and share with hungry people.
5. Chanukah commemorates the miracle of the oil that was enough for only one day, but miraculously lasted for eight days. A switch to vegetarianism on the part of the world's people could help cause an even greater miracle: the end of the scandal of world hunger which results in the death of an estimated 20 million people annually, while over a third of the world's grain is fed to animals destined for slaughter.
6. Similar to the ratio of eight days that the oil burned compared to the one day of burning capacity that the oil had is the same ratio (8 to 1) that is often given for the pounds of grain that are necessary to produce a pound of beef in a feed lot (a ratio of 16 to 1 is sometimes given for the amount of edible beef produced). The miracle of the oil brings the use of fuel and other resources into focus, and vegetarian diets make resources go much further, since far less water, fuel, land, pesticides, fertilizer, and other agricultural resources are required for plant-based diets than for animal-centered diets.
7. Chanukah also commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after it was defiled by the Syrian-Greeks. The Hebrew root of the word Chanukah means dedication. Today, a shift to vegetarianism can be a major factor in the rededication and renewal of Judaism, because it would show that Jewish values are relevant to everyday Jewish life and to addressing current problems, such as hunger, pollution, resource scarcity, global climate change, and huge health care expenditures.
8. Candles are lit during each night of Chanukah, symbolizing a turning from darkness to light, from despair to hope. According to the prophet Isaiah, the role of Jews is to be a "light unto the nations" (Isaiah 42:6). For many Jews, vegetarianism is a way of adding light to the darkness of a world with slaughterhouses, factory farms, and vivisection laboratories, as well as other symbols of oppression.
9. Chanukah commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from the Syrian Greeks. So, today, vegetarianism can be a step toward deliverance from modern problems such as hunger, pollution, and resource scarcities.
10. On the Sabbath during Chanukah, the prophetic portion indicates that difficulties can best be overcome "not by might and not by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). Today, Jewish vegetarians are arguing that the way to a better world is not by exercising our power over animals, but by applying the spirit of God, "whose tender mercies are over all of His creatures" (Psalm 145:9).
11. The Hebrew root of the word Chanukah also means education, Jewish vegetarians believe that if all Jews were educated about the horrible realities of factory farming and the powerful Jewish mandates about taking care of our health, showing compassion to animals, protecting the environment, conserving resources, and helping hungry people, they would feel compelled to switch to vegetarian diets.
12. At the morning services during each day of Chanukah, there is a recitation of Hallel, the psalms of praise from Psalm 113 to 118. During the Sabbath of Chanukah and every other Sabbath during the year, the morning service has a prayer that begins, "The soul of all living creatures shall praise God's name". Yet, it is hard for animals to join in the praise of God when almost10 billion animals are killed annually in the U. S. for their flesh after suffering from cruel treatment.

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

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2. Will Shortages of Kosher Meat Turn Jews Toward Vegetarianism?
Arutz Sheva - November 12, 2008
Kosher Meat Shortage in US Turning Jews into Vegetarians
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

The bankruptcy of the kosher meatpacking plant Agriprocessors, the largest American kosher meat operation, has forced many Jews to go vegetarian amid kosher-food shortages and soaring prices.

The Postville, Iowa plant had supplied more than half of the kosher meat for millions of Jews as well as non-Jews who prefer buying meat processed according to Jewish law. Federal investigators raided the plant in May and charged officials with violating immigration laws and hiring 389 illegal workers.

Agriprocessors filed for bankruptcy this week after the resulting labor
shortage left it unable to meet customer demand and forced a shutdown of its beef department, according to the Des Moines, Iowa Register. Charges that could result in multi-million dollar fines have been placed against the company's owners.

Nationwide shortages have forced many people to eat vegetarian meals on the Sabbath, when meat and chicken are a long-standing tradition. Many stores throughout the U.S. reported their meat cases were empty.

One rabbi told the KosherToday website, "This past Sabbath was the first in a long time that my wife made a pareve [non-meat] cholent," a stew usually consisting of meat or chicken, grains and potatoes. The rabbi added that he was hoping to haul home several boxes of meat when he goes on a trip to Brooklyn.

The large Empire Kosher Poultry company is trying to make up for the meat shortages and meet increasing demand for chicken but does not have a beef plant.

Agriprocessors, operating under bankruptcy laws, still is producing at a limited rate. This too may cease, however, because hundreds of the plant's workers are unable to pay their electricity bills and may have to leave their homes soon. The local energy company has agreed to a week's delay before cutting off power to the workers' homes but employees will not be able to stay in their houses without power as the winter approaches.
“Raid takes bite out of kosher-meat supply”

By Grant Schulte and Tony Leys
USA Today

November 13, 2008

By Grant Schulte and Tony Leys, USA TODAY
POSTVILLE, Iowa - Financial problems at the company that was the target of one of the largest immigration raids in U.S. history have triggered a shortage of kosher meat and raised prices nationwide.

Six months have passed since U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided Agriprocessors kosher-meat plant here on May 12 and detained 389 illegal immigrant workers. The company's beef operation has ceased operating and the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this past week.

The aftermath, observers say, has disrupted the kosher-meat supply and threatened the town's future.

"This town would be in a world of hurt if that plant closed," said Jeff Mott, owner of a local hardware store.

Agriprocessors, which revealed in its bankruptcy filing that it owes between $50 million and $100 million to creditors, provided about 60% of the nation's kosher meat, according to Joe Regenstein, a food-science professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Prices, as a result, have risen, he said.

The filing shows the largest debt to a single creditor is the $845,000 owed to Jacobson Staffing Co. of Des Moines, which initially helped provided replacement staffing, but withdrew its workers for lack of payment.

The plant's financial problems started before the raid, said Republican state Sen. Mark Zieman. "I haven't understood why they didn't" file for bankruptcy before, he said.

A spokesman for Agriprocessors, which produces the Aaron's Best line of kosher meats, did not respond to requests for comment.

"Stores like mine are struggling all over," said Rabbi Yossi Jacobson, the owner of Maccabee's Glatt Kosher Deli in Des Moines. "

Michael Choukroun, owner of Bar-B-Kosher restaurant in Los Angeles, says he has taken kosher-beef items off the menu.

Choukroun says kosher-meat prices have increased by more than 30% recently, though he says it's unclear how much of that is specifically due to Agriprocessors' problems.

CHILD LABOR: Iowa files charges against execs of raided plant

Former Agriprocessors plant executive Sholom Rubashkin faces federal charges that he conspired to hire illegal immigrants and aided in identity theft. In September, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced 9,311 misdemeanor child-labor violations against Rubashkin, his father Aaron Rubashkin and three plant human resources employees.

Nearly 300 of the workers were charged with federal identity-theft and false-document crimes and served five-month prison sentences, according to federal court records.

Schulte and Leys report for The Des Moines Register

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3. Israeli Green Political Party Forming For Next Election

Forwarded message:

We need your help in spreading the word about the Israel Green Movement. Join us and start now building a just and sustainable Israel.

The Green Movement, and it founders environmentalist Alon Tal and Eran Ben-Yemini will be running for the Knesset. They have filed the papers for registering the new Party. Under today's election rules, the threshold is 2.5 percent which means that either a Party has at least 3 seats or none at all!

The Party has a huge challenge - and it is now trying to register members. If you want, you can do this on-line via the web-site: There you can find our positions on any number of topics.

Also, donations can be done from there or via the secured web site:

Election laws say that 2000 shekels can be donated as a maxium donation to a political party. We don't have the millions that the big parties get via the law. But we are inspired by Barack Obama and believe that with a grassroots campaign we can indeed raise the funds we need to be this
election's surprise.

Message from Israeli environmentalist Uri Shanas:

Thank you for posting this message. We haven't been in contact for some time. I am deeply involved in this new party. We really need all possible help. I think for the first time, we bring a real good alternative for many concerned citizens. I myself do not plan to run for the parliament, but I am heading the Expert Committee. This is too a new initiative that we bring into the political arena. The party will have an Expert Committee that will provide professional support for the political body in all matters of life. We already have in our committee experts in ecology, hydrology, psychology, policy, education, economy and more. There is much enthusiasm and I hope we will be good enough to translate it into a political success.

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4. Forward Editorial Re the Situation at Agriprocessors' Postville, Iowa Slaughterhouse
Fri. Nov 14, 2008

The Ethics of the Rabbis

Nov 14, 2008 Forward

On the surface, the crisis besetting America's largest kosher meatpacker looks a lot like the larger infection that is crippling the nation's economy and undoing so many iconic brands, from Lehman Brothers to AIG to Circuit City. Like other firms, Agriprocessors fell victim to the arrogance of its owners and the dereliction of outside regulators. Like others, the crippling of Agriprocessors hits hard in thousands of households where daily life was dependent on the smooth operations of a trusted company.

Unlike the others, however, Agriprocessors' downfall is not simply an economic crisis, but also a spiritual and moral one. Kosher food is not meant to be a mere foodstuff, but rather a vehicle for bringing sanctity into one of the most basic activities of daily life. Those who choose to live by that discipline rely on kosher certification to guarantee that the food they eat has been produced in a manner worthy of its spiritual mission. The behavior attributed to Agriprocessors and its owners - abusing employees, illegally hiring and endangering children, befouling the environment, overlooking sanitation rules - ought to disqualify the company's products from receiving religious certification by any standard worthy of the name. That the products continue to be accepted as kosher, even as the company's owners face massive fines and jail time on suspicion of misdeeds that have shocked a nation, is a scandal nearly as great as the owners' actions themselves.

Ever since the Forward published its first reports two years ago on working conditions at the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, Orthodox rabbinic authorities have insisted that the violations attributed to the company are not directly related to the rules of kosher slaughter, and therefore are outside the certifying rabbis' jurisdiction. Kosher certification, they have explained, follows time-honored biblical and talmudic principles that cannot be altered by modern rabbinic fiat. Many have derided and even ridiculed the Conservative rabbinate for seeking to develop a new form of certification, Hekhsher Tzedek, that would consider a company's ethical behavior alongside its slaughtering techniques.

Besides, Orthodox rabbis told us, protecting workers and safeguarding the environment are the job of government, not the clergy. If the government with all its lawyers has not acted against the Postville plant, why should rabbis presume to?

The arguments were specious from the outset, as we have argued before. Kosher certification standards have been altered repeatedly over the years in response to behavior unrelated to the slaughter itself. A generation ago, kosher restaurants in New York were commonly open on Saturdays. Today the practice has all but disappeared, shut down by kosher certifiers. Kosher hotels in Israel used to offer New Year's Eve parties, mixed dancing and even belly dancers. Nowadays such activities lead to loss of certification.

Rabbis routinely use their certification power to regulate activities that have nothing to do with knives. It's one of the only enforcement powers they have in the modern world. Qualified rabbinic authorities could have used that power in response to growing evidence of Agriprocessors' abuses. They did not. Instead, they crossed their fingers, hoped for the best and waited for the government to act.

Why did the kosher authorities not take action? Part of the reason was fear for the integrity of the community's food supply. Agriprocessors had managed, by cutting costs and beating back the competition - in ways that deserve their own examination - to dominate the nationwide market for kosher beef. Rabbis feared that if the company were to stonewall in the face of a rabbinic threat of decertification they might be forced to ban much of the country's kosher meat supply, leaving their public without a food staple.

In part, too, rabbis were deterred by mistrust of the labor, animal rights and other liberal groups that led the protests against the company. There was a widespread suspicion in the Orthodox community that the protesters were motivated by concerns other than simple ethics. Acknowledging the abuses, many thought, would have put traditional Judaism and the Jewish community in a bad light. In the choice between siding with critics and circling the wagons of their community, most Orthodox leaders chose the latter. Only a handful of mostly young activists chose to speak out against the abuse. Their protests were mostly ignored by the kosher consuming public.

In the end, events took their own course. Government authorities acted far more harshly than anyone had anticipated, with terrible results for both the kosher marketplace and the reputation of traditional Judaism. Agriprocessors was forced to shut down production amid a circus of theatrical law enforcement and front-page media coverage. News media across the country have responded gleefully to images of a company run by devout Jews, its primary mission to enable the observance of Jewish religious rules, acting in ways that violate the ethical and moral standards of everyone else. And the bottom fell out of the kosher meat supply.

For all that, it must not be forgotten that the real victims in this saga are the Agriprocessors' employees whose mistreatment sparked the controversy in the first place. During the long months that Jewish community leaders debated the ethics of Agriprocessors and its certification, the mostly immigrant workers toiled on in largely unchanged conditions. The same long hours, short pay, dangerous conditions and on-the-job harassment that they had endured unseen for years continued in daylight while outsiders discussed whether and how to act.

And when the government finally did step in, as the rabbis had said it should, it did not act to protect workers' legal rights and public safety standards - but rather to punish the workers for being on the job. In one of the largest workplace law-enforcement raids in American history, close to 400 Agriprocessors employees were arrested for immigration violations and taken without notice from their homes and families. In a move of astonishing callousness, authorities did not simply deport the detainees to their home countries, but first jailed them on charges of stealing identity documents - papers whose illegality the workers themselves had no way of knowing about.

Now, five months later, as our Nathaniel Popper reports, dozens of them are out of prison, their sentences completed, but they are not free. In a Kafkaesque turn of events, they are being held in Iowa so that they can testify against their former employers on charges of child labor and employing illegal immigrants. They cannot leave, they cannot see their families, they cannot yet work and the government will not provide them with the wherewithal to live while they wait. They live day to day on the charity of a Catholic church as they prepare to help the government prosecute their former abusers for the suffering that they continue to endure, now at the government's hands.

The rules of kashruth are a legacy of the Jewish spiritual tradition, preserved by the courage of countless generations as a gift to the present. Dishonoring them and violating their spirit shames all Jews. Those who honor the laws must stand up to their abuse.
Thu. Nov 13, 2008

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Related Letter From JVNA advisor Rina Deych:

AgriProcessors should have been shut down four years ago, after horrific abuses of animals were uncovered by PETA. The fact that they have also taken part in unscrupulous business practices and abused their human workers should come as no surprise. Frankly, I don't understand what all the commotion is about. Oh my, the meat supply will be reduced. Maybe it will force people to eat a healthier, kinder, and eco-friendly diet.

Rina Deych, RN
Brooklyn, NY

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5. Open Letter On US Agricultural Policies to the President-Elect by Michael Pollan: Farmer in Chief

This is a very important article that advocates major changes in the entire US farm system, including a major reduction in factory farming.

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6. Arctic is Melting Even in Winter

* The polar icecap is retreating and thinning at a record rate
The Times, London, October 26, 2008

Organic consumers association

The Arctic icecap is now shrinking at record rates in the winter as well as summer, adding to evidence of disastrous melting near the North Pole, according to research by British scientists.

They have found that the widely reported summer shrinkage, which this year resulted in the opening of the Northwest Passage, is continuing in the winter months with the thickness of sea ice decreasing by a record 19% last winter.

Usually the Arctic icecap recedes in summer and then grows back in winter. These findings suggest the period in which the ice renews itself has become much shorter.

Dr Katharine Giles, who led the study and is based at the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at University College London (UCL), said the thickness of Arctic sea ice had shown a slow downward trend during the previous five winters but then accelerated.

She said: "After the summer 2007 record melting, the thickness of the winter ice also nose-dived. What is concerning is that sea ice is not just receding but it is also thinning."

The cause of the thinning is, however, potentially even more alarming. Giles found that the winter air temperatures in 2007 were cold enough that they could not have been the cause.

This suggests some other, longer-term change, such as a rise in water temperature or a change in ocean circulation that has brought warmer water under the ice.

Full Story:

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7. Al Gore on How To Reduce Global Warming

The Climate for Change
Sunday 09 November 2008
by: Al Gore, The New York Times

[No mention of the importance of a shift toward vegetarianism.]

The inspiring and transformative choice by the American people to elect Barack Obama as our 44th president lays the foundation for another fateful choice that he - and we - must make this January to begin an emergency rescue of human civilization from the imminent and rapidly growing threat posed by the climate crisis.

The electrifying redemption of America's revolutionary declaration that all human beings are born equal sets the stage for the renewal of United States leadership in a world that desperately needs to protect its primary endowment: the integrity and livability of the planet.

The world authority on the climate crisis, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, after 20 years of detailed study and four unanimous reports, now says that the evidence is "unequivocal." To those who are still tempted to dismiss the increasingly urgent alarms from scientists around the world, ignore the melting of the north polar ice cap and all of the other apocalyptic warnings from the planet itself, and who roll their eyes at the very mention of this existential threat to the future of the human species, please wake up. Our children and grandchildren need you to hear and recognize the truth of our situation, before it is too late.

Here is the good news: the bold steps that are needed to solve the climate crisis are exactly the same steps that ought to be taken in order to solve the economic crisis and the energy security crisis.

Economists across the spectrum - including Martin Feldstein and Lawrence Summers - agree that large and rapid investments in a jobs-intensive infrastructure initiative is the best way to revive our economy in a quick and sustainable way. Many also agree that our economy will fall behind if we continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars on foreign oil every year. Moreover, national security experts in both parties agree that we face a dangerous strategic vulnerability if the world suddenly loses access to Middle Eastern oil.

As Abraham Lincoln said during America's darkest hour, "The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew." In our present case, thinking anew requires discarding an outdated and fatally flawed definition of the problem we face.

Thirty-five years ago this past week, President Richard Nixon created Project Independence, which set a national goal that, within seven years, the United States would develop "the potential to meet our own energy needs without depending on any foreign energy sources." His statement came three weeks after the Arab oil embargo had sent prices skyrocketing and woke America to the dangers of dependence on foreign oil. And - not coincidentally - it came only three years after United States domestic oil production had peaked.

At the time, the United States imported less than a third of its oil from foreign countries. Yet today, after all six of the presidents succeeding Nixon repeated some version of his goal, our dependence has doubled from one-third to nearly two-thirds - and many feel that global oil production is at or near its peak.

Some still see this as a problem of domestic production. If we could only increase oil and coal production at home, they argue, then we wouldn't have to rely on imports from the Middle East. Some have come up with even dirtier and more expensive new ways to extract the same old fuels, like coal liquids, oil shale, tar sands and "clean coal" technology.

But in every case, the resources in question are much too expensive or polluting, or, in the case of "clean coal," too imaginary to make a difference in protecting either our national security or the global climate. Indeed, those who spend hundreds of millions promoting "clean coal" technology consistently omit the fact that there is little investment and not a single large-scale demonstration project in the United States for capturing and safely burying all of this pollution. If the coal industry can make good on this promise, then I'm all for it. But until that day comes, we simply cannot any longer base the strategy for human survival on a cynical and self-interested illusion.

Here's what we can do - now: we can make an immediate and large strategic investment to put people to work replacing 19th-century energy technologies that depend on dangerous and expensive carbon-based fuels with 21st-century technologies that use fuel that is free forever: the sun, the wind and the natural heat of the earth.

What follows is a five-part plan to repower America with a commitment to producing 100 percent of our electricity from carbon-free sources within 10 years. It is a plan that would simultaneously move us toward solutions to the climate crisis and the economic crisis - and create millions of new jobs that cannot be outsourced.

First, the new president and the new Congress should offer large-scale investment in incentives for the construction of concentrated solar thermal plants in the Southwestern deserts, wind farms in the corridor stretching from Texas to the Dakotas and advanced plants in geothermal hot spots that could produce large amounts of electricity.

Second, we should begin the planning and construction of a unified national smart grid for the transport of renewable electricity from the rural places where it is mostly generated to the cities where it is mostly used. New high-voltage, low-loss underground lines can be designed with "smart" features that provide consumers with sophisticated information and easy-to-use tools for conserving electricity, eliminating inefficiency and reducing their energy bills. The cost of this modern grid - $400 billion over 10 years - pales in comparison with the annual loss to American business of $120 billion due to the cascading failures that are endemic to our current balkanized and antiquated electricity lines.

Third, we should help America's automobile industry (not only the Big Three but the innovative new startup companies as well) to convert quickly to plug-in hybrids that can run on the renewable electricity that will be available as the rest of this plan matures. In combination with the unified grid, a nationwide fleet of plug-in hybrids would also help to solve the problem of electricity storage. Think about it: with this sort of grid, cars could be charged during off-peak energy-use hours; during peak hours, when fewer cars are on the road, they could contribute their electricity back into the national grid.

Fourth, we should embark on a nationwide effort to retrofit buildings with better insulation and energy-efficient windows and lighting. Approximately 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States come from buildings - and stopping that pollution saves money for homeowners and businesses. This initiative should be coupled with the proposal in Congress to help Americans who are burdened by mortgages that exceed the value of their homes.

Fifth, the United States should lead the way by putting a price on carbon here at home, and by leading the world's efforts to replace the Kyoto treaty next year in Copenhagen with a more effective treaty that caps global carbon dioxide emissions and encourages nations to invest together in efficient ways to reduce global warming pollution quickly, including by sharply reducing deforestation.

Of course, the best way - indeed the only way - to secure a global agreement to safeguard our future is by re-establishing the United States as the country with the moral and political authority to lead the world toward a solution.

Looking ahead, I have great hope that we will have the courage to embrace the changes necessary to save our economy, our planet and ultimately ourselves.

In an earlier transformative era in American history, President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to land a man on the moon within 10 years. Eight years and two months later, Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface. The average age of the systems engineers cheering on Apollo 11 from the Houston control room that day was 26, which means that their average age when President Kennedy announced the challenge was 18.

This year similarly saw the rise of young Americans, whose enthusiasm electrified Barack Obama's campaign. There is little doubt that this same group of energized youth will play an essential role in this project to secure our national future, once again turning seemingly impossible goals into inspiring success.
Al Gore, the vice president from 1993 to 2001, was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He founded the Alliance for Climate Protection and, as a businessman, invests in alternative energy companies.

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8. Jewish Vegetarian Outreach Ideas


Richard H. Schwartz

There is a widely accepted aspect of modern life that contradicts many Jewish teachings and harms people, communities, and the planet -- the mass production and widespread consumption of meat. Yet, this issue is generally ignored by the Jewish community. Here are some reasons why it is very important that this issue be put on the Jewish agenda, and other agendas:

1. The world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe from global warming and other environmental threats, and a shift toward plant-based diets is an essential part of the necessary response to avoid disaster.

Several leading experts, including James Hansen of NASA and physicist Stephen Hawking, perhaps the most famous living scientist, as well as Al Gore and others, warn that global climate change may reach a 'tipping point' and spiral out of control, with disastrous consequences, if current conditions continue. A recent 700-page British government report, authored by a former chief economist for the World Bank, projects losses of up to 20% of world gross domestic product by 2050 unless 1% of current world domestic product is devoted to combating global climate change. Other economic studies have projected even worse scenarios. It therefore should not be surprising that the Pentagon states that global warming is a larger threat than even terrorism.

While the world is increasingly threatened by global warming, animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars and other means of transportation worldwide combined (18 percent vs. 13.5 percent), according to a 2006 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report. Making the situation even worse, that same report indicates that the consumption of animal products is projected to double in 50 years. If this happens, it will make it very difficult, if not impossible, to reduce greenhouse emissions enough to avoid very severe effects from global climate

Israel is especially threatened by global warming. A 2007 report by the Israel Union for Environmental Defense indicated that global warming may cause an average temperature increase of 3 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, a decrease in rainfall of up to 30 percent, many severe storms and a rising Mediterranean Sea that would cause major flooding and damage ports, power plants and other infrastructure.

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

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

4. There is an epidemic of heart disease, several types of cancer and other chronic, degenerative diseases afflicting Jews and others, and a shift toward vegetarian diets would sharply reduce these diseases.

5. Meat consumption and the ways in which meat is produced today conflict with Judaism in at least six important areas:

* While Judaism mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives, numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to the many diseases indicated above

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

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

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

* While Judaism stresses that we are to assist the poor and share our bread with hungry people, animal-based agriculture, as indicated above, is very wasteful of grain and other resources that could be uded to sharply reduce hunger and malnutrition.

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

Since the production and consumption of meat and other animal products contradict these important Jewish mandates to preserve human health, attend to the welfare of animals, protect the environment, conserve resources, help feed hungry people, and pursue peace, it is certainly arguable that committed Jews (and others) should sharply reduce or eliminate their consumption of animal products.

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

Having a respectful dialogue/debate on “Should Jews Be Vegetarians” would be a kddush Hashem (a sanctification of God's name) in helping revitalize Judaism by showing the relevance of Jewish eternal teachings to current crises, improving the health of Jews and helping shift our imperiled plane to a sustainable path.

Further information about these issues can be found at the web site of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA): Because they believe the issues are extremely urgent, JVNA will provide a complimentary copy of their new documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD to people who contact them ( and indicate that they will consider using it as part of an effort to educate others about the issues. The entire movie can be seen and further information about it can be found at

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9. Global Warming Threats to Israel


Richard H. Schwartz

The greatest threat to Israel's survival may not be terrorism or Iran, as serious as these threats are, but a variety of environmental problems, most of all, global warming.

Jews are properly concerned about the well-being of Israel and wish her to be secure and prosperous. But what about security, wealth, and comfort of another kind -- the quality of Israel's air, water, and ecosystems? What about the physical condition of the eternal Holy Land? While not discussed frequently enough, these and other environmental dangers and degradations have increasingly become serious issues that will greatly affect Israel's future.

The State of Israel has accomplished amazing things in its few decades - in agriculture, education, law, social integration, technology, Torah study, human services, and academics. But simultaneous (and sometimes related) neglect and ruthless exploitation of its land, water, air, and resources have left Israel ecologically impoverished and endangered.

Like other countries, Israel is increasingly threatened by climate change, arguably the greatest current threat to humanity. There are almost daily reports about present and future effects of global climate change, including severe droughts, storms and floods, wildfires, endangered polar bears, melting glaciers and polar ice caps and much more. While this has occurred due to an average temperature change of little more than one degree Fahrenheit in the past 100 years, climate scientists are projecting an increase of from three to eleven degrees Fahrenheit in the next 100 years. Some climatologists are warning that global warming could spin out of control, with catastrophic consequences, within a decade, if major changes do not soon occur.

Israel is especially threatened by global warming, as indicated by a 2007 report from the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (IUED; Adam Teva V'Din). According to the report, “The Forecast is in Our Hands,” unless major changes are soon made in Israel and globally, global warming could have catastrophic consequences for Israel, including:

* Temperatures will rise an average of 5 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit, and there will be an increase in the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves. In the spring of 2008 there were several major heat waves, with temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Tel Aviv on at least three days.

* The number of rainy days will drop and annual rainfall will decrease by up to 30 percent. Since Israel is already a semi-arid area with limited rainfall, this decrease will be very serious at a time of population growth and increased demands for water from industry and agriculture. Uri Shani, the director of the Israel Water Authority, said in July, 2008 that Israel's water situation is facing "the worst crisis in 80 years." The Water Authority plans to cut the allocation of fresh water to
agriculture from 450 million to 300 million cubic meters a year. Shani notes that this step will lead to the drying out of large cultivated areas, especially the Hula Valley, the Golan and the Galilee that depend on fresh-water irrigation. Prices of fruit and vegetables will
continue to rise as a result,

* There will be an increase in the number and severity of storms, causing major flooding and other disruptions.

* In the worst-case scenario, global warming could cause the Mediterranean Sea level to rise by 5 meters (about 16 feet), causing major flooding of low-lying areas. In such a case, Haifa's coastal highway could be inundated, and Tel Aviv's shore could reach as far as Ibn Gvirol Street, a main thoroughfare. Even an increase of half a meter (about 20 inches) in the Mediterranean Sea could flood residential areas and damage ports and power plants and other coastal infrastructure.

* Israel's water resources would be threatened by a decline in groundwater replenishment, an increase in groundwater salinity due to rising sea levels, pollutants penetrating drinking water reservoirs and a decrease in the quality of water in the Sea of Galillee and other water resources due to reduced rainfall and increased evaporation caused by higher temperatures.

* Israel's agriculture will suffer due to decreased rainfall, intensive heat waves and an increase in other extreme weather conditions.

* Israel's flora and fauna, already widely affected by human activities, are especially vulnerable to the effects of major climate changes. Some species may disappear, while others that are sensitive to lower temperatures may proliferate, resulting in changes in Israel's flora and fauna beyond recognition.

* Increased erosion of gravel cliffs in coastal cities, including Hadera, Netanya, Herzliya, Tel Aviv, Rishon le Zion and Ashkelon, and other coastal cities will put nearby buildings at risk of collapsing.

* The southern desert would expand significantly northward from Beersheba where it is today, potentially reducing land necessary to grow food and meet other human needs.

* The warming and rise in heat waves could cause wider distribution of disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes and ticks.

* The economic cost to Israel due to global warming effects could be as high as $33 billion annually, a major price in a country striving to reduce poverty and improve its health, education and other societal programs while maintaining its security in the face of many threats.

According to Friends of the Earth Middle East's report, “Climate Change: A New Threat to Middle East Security, “climate change is likely to act as a “threat multiplier” in the Middle East - exacerbating water scarcity and tensions over water within and between nations linked by hydrological resources, geography, and shared political boundaries. Poor and vulnerable populations, which exist in significant numbers throughout the region, will likely face the greatest risk. Water shortages and rising sea levels could lead to mass migration in the Region. Economic unrest across the region, due to a decline in agricultural production from climate impacts on water resources, also could lead to greater political unrest, which could threaten current regimes, thereby affecting internal and cross-border relations. These factors place greater pressure on the entire region and on already-strained, cross-border relations, and potentially foster more widespread heightened tensions and/or conflicts. However, addressing the projected climate impacts provides opportunities for local, cross-border and international cooperation to ameliorate the problems that are already occurring and that are projected to intensify. Improving local demand- and supply-side water and energy management policies is essential. Israel as a developed economy must join OECD country commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Israel could play a leadership role in developing technological solutions domestically to help mitigate and adapt to projected climate impacts. Technologies, such as dry toilets, compost toilets, and household rainwater harvesting systems already are being used in other parts of the world.

The Israeli and Jordanian governments should play leadership roles in providing pricing reforms and reducing the subsidies for agriculture. More recycled wastewater should be used for agriculture throughout the region, rather than fresh water, and less water-intensive crops must be produced. The governments also should provide incentives to households for household harvesting systems that collect rainwater that can be used for flushing toilets and other purposes, or for other water-conserving technologies. In addition, far greater public awareness is needed. The governments could facilitate media campaigns on a range of possible individual water conservation efforts.

Friends of the Earth/Middle East (FoEME) is a group that operates in Jordan, Palestine and Israel to implement cross-border water-related projects in an effort to facilitate environmental problem solving and peace building. Through one of its projects, “Good Water Neighbors,” the group is implementing rainwater harvesting systems at schools in Palestine and Jordan. The collected water is used for bathrooms that particularly enable girls to attend school, because without operational bathrooms, they cannot attend school at all. FoEME also is implementing reconstructed wetlands to provide a "low-technology" method to treat sewage and return it to rivers to extend water supplies in these bodies. These cross border efforts will help address water resource impacts that could result from climate change as well as facilitate peace building efforts.

Israel also suffers from other environmental threats. According to the IUED, 1,100 people die annually from air pollution in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area alone, and about 20 percent of Israeli children suffers from asthma or other breathing difficulties due to air pollution. Most of Israel's rivers are badly polluted and the country lacks sufficient open spaces and areas for garbage disposal.

In addition to alerting Israelis to the great threats they face from global warming and other environmental problems, IUED and other Israeli environmental groups, including the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), Friends of the Earth Middle East and Green Course, a university-based group, are initiating campaigns to respond to the threats. They are calling on the government of Israel to generate a national response to global warming without further delay.

IUED believes that there are compelling moral, environmental, economic and national security justifications for Israel to join the global effort. “IUED believes that Israel has a moral duty to join the ranks of responsible nations rising to the global challenge,” notes Tzipi Izer Itzik. Executive Director of IUED. “Israel had led the field in innovations in irrigation technologies, desert agriculture, forestation in arid regions, and solar energy. We should be using this expertise to advance global solutions instead of behaving as if the global climate crisis is nothing to do with us.”

IUED is calling on the State of Israel to take steps to develop a national response to climate change that consider all aspects of Israeli life. Among their many recommendations are: steps towards energy independence, energy efficiency and reduced consumption in public and private sectors; a switch to an efficient mass transportation system and the use of cleaner fuels; an advanced waste management policy that promotes reduction, reuse and recycling of resources; sustainable agriculture and water use geared towards energy saving and re-use of water resources; and development of economic incentives for technologies to reduce emissions and aid carbon capture and storage (CCS).

“Israel needs to respond to the challenge of climate change by providing a legislative framework and economic incentives that will put Israel at the forefront of the global struggle,” says Iser Itzik. “IUED believes that a timely national Israeli response will provide new business opportunities, encourage new technologies, and provide new jobs. In parallel, a concerted program will improve local environmental conditions.”

IUED's report recommends that Israel should adopt the European Union's approach and commit to reducing carbon emissions by 20% by 2020, using 2000 as a baseline, and by 60% by 2050, taking into account the anticipated growth in population, rising standard of living and the steps required to adapt to projected warming. She also stresses that speedy responses are essential: “There are a few short years in which we can work with the global community for the benefit of all. We need to start tackling climate change right now.”

There is one important response to global warming that is generally being ignored. A 2006 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (18 percent, in CO2 equivalents) than the entire transportation sector (13.5 percent), and that the number of farmed animals is projected to double by mid-century. Therefore, what we eat is actually more important than what we drive and the most important personal change we could make for the environment, as well as for our health and the lives of animals, is to switch to vegetarianism. Such a change would also improve the health of Jews and others, and be more consistent with Jewish teachings on preserving human health, treating animals with compassion, preserving the environment, conserving natural resources and helping hungry people.

As the above factors indicate, Israel, the U.S. and, indeed, the entire world is endangered today, as perhaps never before by global warming and other environmental threats. Hence, it is essential that tikkun olam, the healing and repair of the world become a major focus in Jewish life today and that Jews play our mandated role as “a light unto the nations” in helping the world's people know about the seriousness of the threats and the need for speedy actions in response. This would help revitalize Judaism by showing the relevance of eternal Jewish teachings to current threats and help move our precious, but imperiled, planet to a sustainable path.

Friends of the Earth/Middle East contributed material for this article.

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10. My Letter to Blog Re Postville Slaughterhouse Problems

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), I think this provides a great opportunity for people to consider how the production and consumption of meat and other animal products violate basic Jewish mandates to treat animals with compassion, preserve human health, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and seek and pursue peace.

For further information, please visit the JVNA web site, see my over 130 related articles at and see our movie A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD at

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11. Nation Concerned About Being Flooded Out Of Its Homeland

Paradise almost lost: Maldives seek to buy a new homeland,
Randeep Ramesh in Male,,
Monday November 10 2008 00.01 GMT

The Maldives will begin to divert a portion of the country's billion-dollar annual tourist revenue into buying a new homeland - as an insurance policy against climate change that threatens to turn the 300,000 islanders into environmental refugees, the country's first democratically elected president has told the Guardian.

Mohamed Nasheed, who takes power officially tomorrow in the island's capital, Male, said the chain of 1,200 island and coral atolls dotted 500 miles from the tip of India is likely to disappear under the waves if the current pace of climate change continues to raise sea levels.

The UN forecasts that the seas are likely to rise by up to 59cm by 2100, due to global warming. Most parts of the Maldives are just 1.5m above water. The president said even a "small rise" in sea levels would inundate large parts of the archipelago.

"We can do nothing to stop climate change on our own and so we have to buy land elsewhere. It's an insurance policy for the worst possible outcome. After all, the Israelis [began by buying] land in Palestine," said Nasheed, also known as Anni.

The president, a human rights activist who swept to power in elections last month after ousting Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the man who once imprisoned him, said he had already broached the idea with a number of countries and found them to be "receptive".

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12. Veggie Pride Parade Chosen by VegNews as Veggie Event of the Year

November 14, 2008__
VivaVegie Society
_One Union Sq. W._Rm. 512_
New York, NY 10003__
Contact:_ VivaVegie Society_Pamela Rice_ 212-242-0011 <>
VegNews Magazine_
Colleen Holland_
cholland@vegnews.com_ (6397)__

VivaVegie Society's VEGGIE PRIDE PARADE_ Wins 2008 Veggie Award__

[New York City, November 14, 2008] -

VegNews, America's premier vegetarian lifestyle magazine, announces VivaVegie Society's VEGGIE PRIDE PARADE as the 2008 Veggie Award Winner for EVENT OF THE YEAR. With 30,000 readers voting for their favorite veg people, places, and products in nearly 50 categories, this annual survey is the largest of its kind in the world.

The awards showcase the "best of vegetarian" in categories ranging from soymilk, veggie burger, and restaurant to celebrity, website, and even most veg-friendly city. "VivaVegie Society is a leader in the vegetarian community and continues to develop high-quality publications and events. We are pleased to honor your accomplishments with a Veggie Award," said Publisher Joseph Connelly.

The Veggie Pride Parade, the first in North America that took place May 18, 2008, brought 600-800 vegans and vegetarians out into New York City streets, chanting, many carrying sign boards and wearing costumes. Plenty of media were there to cover the event, and a new sense of veg-empowerment was had by all. The procession culminated in Washington Square Park, where marchers could hear speakers (keynote: Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns), see exhibitors with tables, experience a costume contest, enjoy a rock concert (the Cheryl Hill Band), and be greatly amused by a mock wedding (conducted by Dave Warwak) between a giant human peapod (Penelo Pea Pod) and a giant human carrot (PETA's Chris P).

The VegNews Veggie Awards recognize excellence throughout the vegetarian scene. VegNews' readers submit their ballots during the month of August, and winners are announced in the holiday edition of the magazine. The annual celebration of the best that veg living has to offer has become the most popular feature in the publication. The issue is now available on newsstands everywhere (Whole Foods Market, here in New York City, has issues on stands now) and through the magazine's website,

VivaVegie Society is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that has since the early 1990s engaged in vegetarian street advocacy. It has sponsored the Vegetarian Center of New York City since 1999. And it is the home of "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian," the popular 16-page pamphlet by Pamela Rice. In general, the group has with creativity and verve been an exemplary advocate for the vegetarian lifestyle.

VegNews, America's premier vegetarian lifestyle magazine, has a readership of 195,000 and is read around the world. Each issue is filled with the latest in vegetarian news, global events, tantalizing recipes, nutrition updates, hot new veg products, must-read books, celebrity buzz, and even vegetarian weddings (people, not vegetables). For a full run-down of all the winners go directly to:;jsessionid=93EAD616A61073AEAC76932B81EC8FB0

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13. Gentle Thanksgiving Celebrations Promoted

Read original here:

What is Gentle Thanksgiving?. Gentle Thanksgiving is an opportunity to encourage friends, family and neighbors to adopt compassionate alternatives to unnecessarily cruel turkey dinners. We accomplish this by demonstrating the great taste and superior nutrition of gourmet vegan recipes and a variety of festive plant-based foods.

Millions of other caring folks across the U.S. are celebrating this Thanksgiving with a rich selection of delicious vegetables, fruits, baked goods, and mock meats replacing the carcass on their dinner table. The vegan bill of fare may include a 'Tofurky,' lentil or nut roast, stuffed squash, corn chowder or chestnut soup, candied yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin or pecan pie, and carrot cake.

Sound good? Need some recipes? Click Find out more by requesting a FREE Veg Starter Kit ( and weekly e-mail recipes. No Turkey?! Why Not?. For the Animals. Abusing and killing an innocent bird betrays the life-affirming spirit of giving thanks for our life, health, and happiness. The nearly 300 million turkeys killed each year in the U.S. spend their entire lives crammed in large sheds with little room to move.

Artificially inseminated and selectively bred to gain enormous amounts of weight, they... :: Click to continue reading ::To learn more about atrocious factory farm practices, check out these undercover investigations:.

* Click for PETA's undercover investigation of Butterball.

* Click to find out about Compassion Over Killing's investigation of a North Carolina Turkey Hatchery that Supplies Butterball. Find out the Top Ten Reasons to drop turkey from your holiday menu!. For Your Health. The birds get even... their flesh is replete with cholesterol and saturated fats, which have been linked with an elevated risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases that kill 1.3 million Americans annually. Turkey flesh is also contaminated with... :

Click to continue reading ::. What About Free-range Turkeys?. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the single condition for the term "free-range" is that birds have access to the outdoors. All other facets of a free-range turkey's life can be indistinguishable from the living conditions of a conventionally raised bird. Like all other turkeys raised for food... ::

Click to continue reading ::

Want Help?. For help in transitioning to a compassionate plant-based diet, sign up for a Free Veg Starter Kit ( and Meatout Mondays weekly e-mail recipes, product suggestions, and inspiration. Gentle Thanksgiving is a program of FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement).

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