November 28, 2008

11/23/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. JVNA In Desperate Need of Funds

2. My Future and that of JVNA

3. Vegetarian Outreach Related to Chanukah

4. Key Points for Promoting Judaism and Vegetarianism

5. JVNA Press Release Supports Humanitarian Efforts in Postville, Iowa

5a. Appeal From the Shalom Center to Help Reduce the Suffering in Postville, Iowa

6. Obama's Climate Change Goals

7. More on Current Kosher Meat Shortages/JTA Article

8. Statins or Dietary Changes to Reduce Heart Disease?

9. 2009 Calendar Features Jewish Teachings and Tips on Kindness, Charity and Tikkun Olam

10. Annual Hazon Food Conference to Include Showing of A SACRED DUTY, Many Food-Related Discussions

11. 10th Anniversary Event for the Forum on Religion and Ecology

12. A Challenging Quotation From Maimonides

13. Top 10 Reasons to Pardon a Turkey this Thanksgiving

14. Newsweek Article Considers “the Rights of Animals”

15. New Book Considers Animal Exploitation

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. JVNA In Desperate Need of Funds

As previously indicated, one of the most important contributions you can make to your children, grandchildren and future generations, in general, is to support groups like JVNA that are trying to alert people to the current extremely serious threats to all of humanity and are urging changes to avert the potential disaster.

Please consider:
How many groups are:
o Trying to alert the world to the unprecedented catastrophe the planet is rapidly approaching;
o Stressing the “inconvenient truth” that animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to global warming and other environmental threats;
o Respectfully challenging the Jewish establishment to engage in a dialogue/debate on “Should Jews Be Vegetarians?”
o Challenging the Jewish community by asserting that the production and consumption of meat and other animal products violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and seek and pursue peace;
o Giving out complimentary copies of a documentary (A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD);
o Working to build coalitions with vegetarian, animal rights, environmental and other groups to get vegetarianism onto society's agenda.

We have been doing all of the above and much more for many years. But, of course, there is much more to do, and additional funding would help us to continue and expand our efforts.

We have now given out almost 20,000 DVDS of A SACRED DUTY, and we are almost out of our 2nd production of DVDS and in need of funds to produce enough additional DVDs. Plus, as the time to respond before global warming reaches a critical tipping point decreases, we could use additional funds to spread our essential messages through ads and other means.

We recognize that these are very difficult times and many people are experiencing great financial difficulties. But, if you can possibly contribute, it would be most welcome and greatly appreciated.

Please go to (bottom of the page) to find out various ways you can contribute.

Many thanks!

Warning: If you do not contribute, I may use my private jet to visit you and discuss our major need for funds.

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2. My Future and that of JVNA

As indicated in a separate message sent out to this list last week, as I approach my 75th birthday, with several projects I hope to complete soon, I am planning to start turning over responsibilities to new leaders, with the hope this process will be complete by the end of 2009. If you would like to consider helping in any capacity, including becoming editor of the JVNA newsletter, please let me know. We have already received responses from several wonderful volunteers, but much more needs to be done. Together, we can help save the world.


So, please contact me with your ideas, suggestions and/or offers to help.

Many thanks!

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3. Vegetarian Outreach Related to Chanukah

With Chanukah less than a month away, I think we should consider relating this important holiday to our vegetarian outreach efforts.

Please see my article on Chanukah and Vegetarianism in the holidays section at, and please use some of the points in the article for your own articles and for letters and talking points.

Here are just a few related ideas.

o The Maccabees adopted vegetarian diets when they hid in the mountains;
o The special Chanukah foods are all vegetarian;
o Just as the Maccabees were non-conformists, challenging the commonly accepted conditions of their time, so can we be today;
o Just as Chanukah represents a victory of the few against the many, so can we obtain such a victory today.

Suggestions welcome, as always.

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4. Key Points for Promoting Judaism and Vegetarianism

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

It is very easy to be discouraged by the failure of the Jewish community (and other communities) to respond to our powerful vegetarian arguments. But, as the evidence of the very negative effects of animal-based diets and agriculture become increasingly apparent, it is essential that we continue and increase our efforts. I would like to suggest ten key points and approaches that we should focus on in presenting our case. Please use these and related points in your efforts to help increase awareness of vegetarianism. Thanks.

I welcome suggestions for additional important points and arguments.

1) A switch toward vegetarianism is a spiritual imperative today because of the many inconsistencies between basic Jewish values and the realities of animal-based agriculture and diets.

2) A key question we should address to meat eaters is: In view of strong Jewish mandates to take care of our health, treat animals compassionately, preserve the environment, conserve resources, help hungry people, and pursue peace and non-violence, and the very negative effects that animal-based diets and agriculture have in each of these areas, shouldn't Jews eliminate or sharply reduce their consumption of animal products?

3) Vegetarianism is not only an important individual choice today -- it is a societal imperative because of the enormous economic and environmental costs of animal-based diets and agriculture.

4) A shift to vegetarianism is arguably the most effective way to:

a) reduce disease rates sharply;
b) halt soaring medical costs;
c) reduce the mistreatment of animals;
d) protect the environment;
e) conserve resources;
f) help hungry people;
g) reduce violence.

5) It is essential to make people aware of the insanity of a diet that is inflicting an epidemic of disease on millions of people and contributing substantially to serious environmental crises, global warming, scarcity of water and other resources, and widespread
hunger, while mistreating billions of farm animals.

6) While there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, there are about 60 billion farmed animals and raising them contributes significantly to soil erosion and depletion, water pollution, destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats, scarcities of water and other resources, global climate change, and other environmental threats. To make matters worse, livestock agribusiness, along with the World Bank and other international groups are planning to double the number of farmed animals by 2020.

7) It is urgent that vegetarianism be put squarely on the Jewish agenda, and on other agendas, because the revitalization of Judaism and the sustainability of the global environment depend on a shift to plant-based diets.

8) At a time when there are daily news reports related to such issues as mad cow disease, foot and mouth disease, a variety of degenerative diseases, soaring health care costs, a multitude of environmental threats, increasingly severe effects of global climate change, and widening scarcities of water, and energy, it is essential that vegetarianism be on the Jewish and other agendas.

9) We are trying to get the issue of vegetarianism onto the Jewish agenda (and other agendas). We are willing, ready, and able to discuss or respectfully debate "Should Jews (and everyone else) Be Vegetarians?"

10) We are also calling for the formation of a commission of rabbis, other Jewish scholars, health experts. nutritionists, environmentalists, and other objective experts to investigate the realities of the production and consumption of animal products and how they impinge on basic Jewish values.

We should also point out that additional information may be obtained at, from my book Judaism and Vegetarianism, from my over 139 articles at and from books by Roberta Kalechofsky, including Vegetarian Judaism.

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5. JVNA Press Release Supports Humanitarian Efforts in Postville, Iowa


[Please use this press release and other material in this newsletter to create your own articles, letters to editors and talking points.

For Immediate Release:
November 17, 2008
Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Phone: (718) 761-5876

Jewish Vegetarians of North America issued the following statement today:

We strongly endorse efforts in the Jewish community to aid workers and others in the Postville community who are being so negatively affected by the closing down of the Agriprocessors slaughterhouse. We believe that after all the negative publicity for the Jewish community related to events at the facility, it would be a Kiddush Hashem for the Jewish community to play an active role in responding to the current humanitarian crisis by helping Postville workers and residents.

We are urging JVNA members and our other contacts to send checks marked “Food and Disaster Relief” to special funds that will help mitigate the severe conditions facing people in Postville. One example is:

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
Postville Relief Fund

We also want to stress that, while the closing of the Postville plant is unfortunately hurting many people, there are some benefits, as the reduced production and consumption of animal products will reduce many other humanitarian crises, including:

* a health crisis, since animal-based diets have been strongly linked to an epidemic of heart disease, several types of cancer, strokes and other chronic, degenerative diseases;

* a hunger crisis, since the world is not only trying to feed 6.7 billion people, but also 56 billion farmed animals; while an estimated 20 million people die annually from hunger and its effects and close to a billion people lack adequate food, 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and 40 percent produced worldwide are fed to animals raised for slaughter;

* an energy crisis, since an animal-based diet require about ten times the energy used for a plant-based diet;

* a global warming crisis, since, as a 2006 UN FAO report indicated, 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 the number of farmed animals is projected to double in 50 years. If that increase occurs, the rise in greenhouse gases would negate the effects of many positive changes and make slowing global warming very difficult, if not impossible

* an environmental crisis, since the raising of 56 billion animals worldwide annually for meat, eggs and milk is contributing to rapid species extinction, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats, oil erosion and depletion, air and water pollution and many more environmental problems that threaten humanity and all of creation;

* a water supply crisis, since the standard American diet (SAD) requires up to 14 times as much water as a vegan diet;

* a financial crisis, since medical costs have been soaring in response to the epidemic of diseases caused by animal-based diets, and about one of every six dollars now spent in the US is for health care;

* a crisis in Jewish values, since all of the above crises are due to a failure to apply Jewish teachings, and the Jewish community is generally ignoring that the production and consumption of meat and other animal products represent serious violations of basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and seek and pursue peace.

Another important factor is that, contrary to strong Jewish teachings on the proper treatment of animals, the production of meat and other animal products involves great cruelty to farmed animals before they are slaughtered.

Although we deeply regret the effects on workers and the local communities, we welcome reports that the recent shortages of kosher meat due to the closings of the Agriprocessors' largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa and other slaughterhouses have caused many Jews to switch toward vegetarian diets. We hope that the recent attention to conditions at the Postville facility will result in 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.

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

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5a. Appeal From the Shalom Center to Help Reduce the Suffering in Postville, Iowa

Forwarded message:

A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life

Suffering & Food Emergency in Postville, Iowa

The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA, Chicago) has informed us that the food pantry serving hungry people in Postville, Iowa, has run out of food. The Shalom Center asks YOU to help the people of Postville.

Please forward this message and bring this need to the attention of your neighbors and fellow congregants in mosques, synagogues, and churches, this weekend- as Thanksgiving looms, and beyond.

What is special about Postville (there's hunger in many places these days, in and out of America), and why are hundreds going hungry in Postville? The town's economy was built on the allegedly "kosher" meatpacking plant which is now out of business. The rapacious behavior of its owners and managers toward the workers and the animals being slaughtered finally caught up with them. Some are now charged with Federal crimes, and these arrests, plus boycotts of their meat by many observant Jews, have closed the plant. So it seems to me (and to JCUA and other midwestern Jewish groups) that the Jewish community and the broader religious community have a special responsibility in this case.

As often in such cases, acts of justice aimed at rich criminals harm not only them but also the poor and desperate. As the Bible reports, when Pharaoh brought disaster on the land of Egypt, YHWH, the Breath of Life, responded - as a hurricane of change. But it was not only Pharaoh's own household that suffered - but even the poorest Egyptian women, whose excruciating task was to push the millstones to grind grain, suffered the death of their firstborn children.

In Postville, the owners violated both Jewish and American law concerning both workers and the treatment of animals. They ignored and perverted the rules of kosher slaughter and of humane slaughter, in effect putting the cattle through torture. They cheated workers of their wages and violated child labor laws. They broke immigration laws and conspired to forge legal documents for immigrants.

As a result of all this, the Federal government raided the plant, arrested and imprisoned hundreds of immigrant workers and deported hundreds more. Their families have been left destitute.

Since the federal immigration raid May 12, hundreds of families have lined up each Wednesday in front of the food pantry at St. Bridget's Catholic Church, grateful for supplies to get them through the week.

But the pantry has run out of food.

The situation is dire. Meatpacking workers who haven't been paid for weeks now have no hope of receiving paychecks. Landlords continue to evict tenants unable to afford their rent. And people trying to leave Postville can't even afford to do so.

This coming Wednesday, Thanksgiving eve, hundreds of families will be waiting in line at the food pantry. We must make sure the pantry is stocked by the time they show up.

Help us fill the pantry by donating on-line through The Shalom Center's donation page at --

And be sure to write POSTVILLE on the upper right-hand side of the page, in the box called "Name" under "In honor of." (Your own name goes on the left-hand side.) ALL that money will go to tzedakah for Postville.

In Hebrew, such help is called tzedakah, from the root for justice: tzedek. Tzedakah might be accurately translated "socially responsible giving for the sake of justice" - not mere voluntary charity.

Although our software provider charges us a 3% fee for collecting all credit-card donations, The Shalom Center will absorb this cost ourselves as our own tzedakah to help the desperate families of Postville.

Of course there are more basic changes that need to be made for justice' sake, and The Shalom Center has been doing and during the next Administration will be doing more to urge a sane and sensible immigration policy and more protection for workers.

But people need food now. So for the sake of justice, tzedek and tzedakah, please give now:

and write POSTVILLE in the "honor of" box on the right-hand side of the page.

Thanks and blessings -

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6. Obama's Climate Change Goals

Published: November 18, 2008 NY Times

[Great goals! But impossible to reach without a major change to vegetarianism, and preferably veganism.]

President-elect Barack Obama, in strongly-worded remarks to a gathering of governors and foreign officials on Tuesday, said he had no intention of softening or delaying his aggressive targets for reducing emissions that cause the warming of the planet.
Speaking by video to a climate conference in Los Angeles, Mr. Obama repeated his campaign vow to reduce climate-altering carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and invest $150 billion in new energy-saving technologies.

“Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all,” Mr. Obama said. “Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.”
Some industry leaders and members of Congress have suggested that Mr. Obama's climate proposal would impose too great a cost on an already-stressed economy - having the same effects as a tax on coal, oil and natural gas - and should await the end of the current downturn. A bill similar to Mr. Obama's plan failed to clear the Senate earlier this year, largely because of concerns about its impact on the economy.

Mr. Obama rejected that view, saying that his plan would reduce oil imports, create jobs in energy conservation and renewable sources of energy, and reverse the warming of the atmosphere.

“My presidency will mark a new chapter in America's leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process,” Mr. Obama said.

State officials and environmental advocates were cheered that Mr. Obama choose to address climate change as only the second major policy area he has discussed as president-elect. In a press conference and television interview last week he said that his first priority as president will be to revitalize the economy.

The bipartisan summit meeting was convened by Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican governor of California, who has been a leader in state efforts to regulate greenhouse gases, even when it meant confronting the Bush administration over its more hesitant approach. Attendees included the governors of Illinois, Florida, Wisconsin and Kansas, who have also been in the forefront of actions at the state level to act in the absence of a national climate change plan. Officials from 22 other states, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Brazil, China, India and Indonesia, as well as United Nations aides and environmentalists, also are taking part in the two-day meeting.

Mr. Schwarzenegger announced the meeting in September in part to signal to Washington and the two presidential candidates that the states were serious about moving forward with climate legislation with or without Washington's blessing.
California enacted a sweeping climate bill in 2007 that would have, among other things, imposed strict mileage and emissions standards on all cars and trucks sold in the state. More than a dozen other states adopted the standards, but they were struck down by the Bush administration last December on the ground that the states did not have the legal authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

“When California passed its global warming law two years ago, we were out there on an island,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said in opening the conference, “so we started forming partnerships everywhere we could.”

Mr. Obama said that although he would not attend a U.N.-sponsored meeting on climate change next month, he has asked members of Congress who are going to report back to him on what the United States can do to reassert leadership on global climate policy.
He also told the state officials: “When I am president, any governor who's willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that's willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that's willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States of America.”

Governor Jim Doyle, Democrat of Wisconsin, said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles that he had been frustrated by what he said was the Bush administration's timid approach to climate issues. And he said that despite the current economic crisis, it was important to begin long-term efforts to address global warming.
“I think we all wish the economy was a lot better, but I feel very strongly that we can't back away from progress we've made on really important things like climate change,” Mr. Doyle said. “I'm looking forward to having a federal government and a president who will provide real leadership and bring the United States into the world on this issue.”

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7. More on Current Kosher Meat Shortages/JTA Article

With Agri suspending production, the beef is no kosher meat
By Ben Harris · November 18, 2008


At a New Jersey Shop-Rite, empty shelves tell the story of a nationwide kosher meat shortage. (Ben Harris)

NEW YORK (JTA)-A supermarket in New Jersey with a large kosher section has shelves nearly empty of kosher beef. In New York, a kosher steakhouse says its customers are canceling reservations because choice cuts aren't always available. And the nation's largest kosher meat producer, reportedly besieged by new orders, is turning away new customers.

The kosher meat market is in a tailspin as production at the Agriprocessors' meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, which had been operating at a fraction of its normal capacity since May, finally ground to a halt this week. The company, whose meat was sold under the labels Rubashkin's and Aaron's Best, among others, filed for bankruptcy Nov. 4.

“What I'm hearing all over the country is that one day you can get poultry in some places, one day you can get brisket, the next day you can't get pastrami,” said Menachem Lubinsky, the publisher of Kosher Today and a former consultant to Agriprocessors. “People are being very innovative in how they're getting their products.”

Though Agriprocessors officials say they hope to reopen the plant later this week, trouble has long been brewing in Postville and savvy industry folks began looking for alternatives months ago.

In the wake of a federal immigration raid in Postville on May 12, meat buyers began shifting their purchases to other companies, which have struggled to meet the increased demand. Alle Processing, a New York City kosher meat supplier that has become the largest in the United States with the collapse of Agriprocessors, has had to place a moratorium on new customers, according to several industry insiders.
Retailers and restaurants who already had relationships with other suppliers have fared the best, though many report only a portion of their orders are being filled. Those who were more dependent on Agriprocessors are finding themselves in real trouble.

At Heinin's, a specialty foods supermarket in the greater Cleveland area, the shelves have been without kosher meat for months. A buyer for the company told JTA his efforts to locate an alternative are not going well. An Albertson's supermarket in the Dallas area also was bereft of beef on Monday.

“I just got back from the supermarket and there was absolutely none,” said kosher consumer Shalom Abrams. “Normally they have an 8-foot section of kosher meat.”

At the ShopRite in Livingston, N.J., on Sunday, the shelves were teeming with glatt kosher beef and lamb from Solomon's and chicken from Empire Kosher Poultry, which announced this week it would be increasing production by 50 percent beginning Nov. 24. One town over, in West Orange, the situation was vastly different: The most plentiful item in the kosher beef display was the Rubashkin's signage.

“Overall, it's a lot less selection,” said Michelle Amin, shopping at the West Orange ShopRite. “For the community who's here to have this kind of empty shelf, it's crazy.”

Even large retailers with multiple supply options say their orders are not being fully filled.

Yakov Yarmove, who purchases kosher meat for the Supervalu chain, which operates more than 2,400 stores across the country, estimates he's getting about 90 percent of what he needs. Several other large supermarket chains with reported supply disruptions did not respond to requests for comment.

Michael Schreiber, the owner of East Side Kosher Deli in Denver and a supplier of kosher meat to customers in seven Rocky Mountain states, told JTA he would have been “in deep trouble” if he had relied solely on Agriprocessors. As it is, he is struggling to keep up his stocks.

“I may order 500 pounds of a certain primal cut for my guys to then break and I may only get 300 pounds, but I am getting the product,” Schreiber said. “Are my stocks as deep as normal? No, not hardly. But I can keep customers in product.”

The decline of Agriprocessors placed fish and poultry center stage last week at Kosherfest, the annual kosher food trade show held Nov. 11-12 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in New Jersey. While purveyors of kosher poultry and fish were abundant, including many first-time exhibitors from North America and abroad, there were only a handful of meat producers, and those few were besieged by buyers desperate for supplies. None of the major kosher meat producers were there: no Agriprocessors, no International Glatt, no Alle.

With their finances in ruins, Agriprocessors has been courting outside investors and rumors were rife at the show as to who might buy the company's facility in Postville. Names floated most often were Empire and Alle, as well as the non-kosher giant ConAgra. Costco and Sam's Club have both reportedly expressed interest.

Empire representatives say the company has investigated the possibility of entering the kosher beef market but has made no decisions. But Empire's announcement that it plans to expand production of chicken is widely hoped to alleviate pressure on the kosher poultry supply at a crucial moment-the week of Thanksgiving.

“Empire is proud to be able to step up to the plate and be sure that consumers throughout the United States have easy access to kosher poultry at their local supermarkets and butcher shops,” Greg Rosenbaum, Empire's chairman and CEO, said in a news release. “We are extremely grateful for the cooperation of our kosher certifying agencies, the OU, KAJ and Star-K, as well as the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, to make this rapid expansion possible.”

On Monday, Agriprocessors executives appeared in bankruptcy court in New York where they met their lender, First Bank Business Capital of St. Louis. First Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings against the company for defaulting on a $35 million loan.

According to a report in the Des Moines Register, First Bank had sought a total freeze on spending until Agriprocessors cleared up its debts. The company responded that a freeze would force it to cease all operations. A judge appointed a trustee to oversee the case, and a company spokesperson told the Register that the details would be worked out this week. The company hopes to resume poultry production on Thursday.

In an unrelated legal setback for Agriprocessors, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear its case against the National Labor Relations Board, according to a report in the industry publication Meatingplace. A lower court had rejected the company's argument that a union vote at its Brooklyn warehouse was invalid because its workers were illegal immigrants and therefore not entitled to organize.
Agriprocessors did not respond to requests for comment.

For kosher beef, problems are likely to remain-a fact that has sparked interest from companies as far afield as Australia. Ephraim Nagar, the owner of Talia's Steakhouse on Manhattan's Upper West Side, told JTA he had received an e-mail from a company gauging interest in kosher meat exports from Down Under.

For Nagar, who used to get all his supply from Agriprocessors, any new product would be an enormous relief. Other suppliers have declined to deal with him because he was not a regular customer. To acquire beef, he has had to send drivers to outer borough warehouses, driving up his costs. Some customers are calling in advance to find out if the restaurant has the specialty items for which it is known.

“Assuming they made a reservation of, let's say a table of 10,” Nagar said, “two or three people are eager to eat these bison buffalo or the baby lamb rack, and if we do not have that, they cancel the reservation.”

(JTA correspondent Sue Fishkoff contributed to this report.)__

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8. Statins or Dietary Changes to Reduce Heart Disease?

Letter by Dr. Dean Ornish in NY Times:

To the Editor:

Cholesterol-Fighting Drugs Show Wider Benefit (November 10, 2008)

Re “Cholesterol-Fighting Drugs Show Wider Benefit” (front page, Nov. 10):

Researchers reported that statin drugs cut the risk of a heart attack by 50 percent by reducing inflammation as measured by elevated levels of C-reactive protein. Chronic inflammation may be an important cause of coronary heart disease. What many people don't realize is that comprehensive lifestyle changes also reduce both inflammation and cholesterol levels as effectively as cholesterol-lowering drugs, but without the costs and side effects of these medications.

Your article about this study did not mention changes in diet and lifestyle as a viable alternative to a lifetime of cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Last year, more than $20 billion was spent in this country on cholesterol-lowering drugs like Lipitor, most of which could be avoided by changing diet and lifestyle. If millions more people are prescribed these drugs as a result of this new study, then the resulting costs will be billions of dollars more per year.

This is coming at a time when health care costs - really, disease care costs - are reaching a tipping point. President-elect Barack Obama has made it a priority to provide health care to the 45 million Americans who do not have health insurance.

At a time when the economy is melting down, wouldn't it make more sense to emphasize lifestyle interventions that are both medically effective and cost-effective than only cholesterol-lowering drugs? And the only side effects are good ones.

Dean Ornish
Sausalito, Calif.,
Nov. 12, 2008
The writer, a medical doctor, is founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute.

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9. 2009 Calendar Features Jewish Teachings and Tips on Kindness, Charity and Tikkun Olam

Forwarded message from Daniel Rothner, Director of Areyvut:

As you may know, Areyvut's 2009 "A Kindness a Day" Calendar will be released on November 24th. We are excited to include new kindness suggestions that were submitted throughout the year. As a past recipient of Areyvut's "A Kindness a Day" Calendar, you no doubt are aware of the positive impact a resource such as this can have yourself and those around you.

Areyvut staff and supporters are also still buzzing about our newly revamped website: It is now user-friendly, up to date and offers many new features. Because we believe that you and those you surround yourself with are committed to making a difference in the world, we would like to extend a special limited time offer to you, your friends, colleagues, etc. From now until Dec. 15th you and they can purchase the calendar at a 10% discount in two easy steps.

1. Click on this link:
2. Enter promotional code: support

We hope that you and those who are close to you take advantage of this opportunity. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (201) 244-6702 or

Daniel Rothner
Areyvut Founder & Director
147 South Washington Avenue
Bergenfield, NJ 07621
P: 201-244-6702
F: 201-338-2427

Be a part of 5 Years Running...Make a Difference Day 2009 - March 20-22!

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10. Annual Hazon Food Conference to Include Showing of A SACRED DUTY, Many Food-Related Discussions

JVNA advisor and long-time JVNA activist Roberta Schiff will be representing JVNA at this conference. Please consider helping her get our message out and distribute DVDs of A SACRED DUTY. Thanks.

Hazon Food Conference
December 25-28 - Shabbat Chanukah 2008

Asilomar Conference & Retreat Center
On the Monterey Coast, California

Register Today! Sold out in '06 & '07

Featured presenters include:

* Michael Abelman, farmer and founder of the Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens
* Rabbi Morris Allen, founder of Hekhsher Tzedek
* Rachel Biale, Bay Area Regional Director of the Progressive Jewish Alliance
* Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety
* Kathy Ozer, Executive Director of the National Family Farm Coalition

and many others...

Don't miss four days of expert thought-provoking lectures and discussions, cooking sessions, kids and family activities, joyous Chanukah & Shabbat celebrations, and of course, delicious, consciously prepared food.

For more info or to register, visit

Isabella Freedman is looking for a new Executive Director. Click here for details.
Jewish Farm School is hiring Program Leaders for its 2009 Alternative Breaks. Click here for details.

45 West 36th Street | 8th Floor | New York, NY 10018 | | 212 644 2332

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11. 10th Anniversary Event for the Forum on Religion and Ecology

Forwarded message:

Dear Forum Colleagues,

We are pleased to inform you about an upcoming symposium celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Forum on Religion and Ecology. While attendance for this symposium is closed, we hope you take a look at the press release below to learn more about this momentous occasion.

The Forum

Facing Environmental Crisis, Forum on Religion and Ecology
Seeks Transformation through Language and Action

Can the religions of the world cultivate a transformative ethical language to spark a sustainable ecological culture? The Forum on Religion and Ecology thinks so - and not a moment too soon.

The Forum on Religion and Ecology (FORE), based at Yale University, has become the world's leading source of information and action on the emergent field of religion and ecology, and a dynamic force for religious environmentalism. As it marks its tenth anniversary on November 18 in New York City, Forum organizers say the deep values, historical perspectives, and aesthetic sensibilities of spirituality an
d religious traditions are the key to broaden discourse and create a new alignment of nature and humans, interlinking self-interest with common interest to provide the traction to motivate humanity.

That focus is spurred in part by the fact that constant warnings from scientists, policymakers, and environmentalists that the Earth is heading toward ecological disaster have produced only minimal transformation of human consciousness and behavior.

Created in 1998 following a series of ten landmark conferences covering each of the world's major religions and its current and historical relation to ecology, the Forum is under the guidance of founders Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim.

“The environmental crisis is the catalyst for religious traditions to awaken to their ecological roles, and an opportunity to transcend their differences,” said Mary Evelyn Tucker. “The common ground for all humanity is the Earth itself and a shared sense of the interdependence of all life.”

The Forum's anniversary event, held in conjunction with four departments at Yale where Professors Tucker and Grim hold joint appointments - the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, the Divinity School, the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, and the Religious Studies Department - includes a symposium and dinner.

“The religions of the world have a key role to play in helping to moderate values and inspire action for environmental protection, restoration, and renewal,” said James Gustave Speth, dean of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, who will keynote the November 18th dinner. “Our environmental discourse has thus far been dominated by lawyers, scientists, and economists. Now, we need to hear a lot more from the poets, preachers, philosophers, and psychologists.”

Speth, author of The Bridge at the End of the World (Yale University Press, 2008), will urge religious communities to become partners with scientists and policymakers in creating a sustainable future.

“The work of the Forum on Religion and Ecology underscores how much common ground exists between the faith and environmental communities,” said Harold Attridge, dean of Yale Divinity School. “These synergies have tremendous potential toward realizing proper stewardship of God's creation.”

The November 18th symposium will look at recent religion and ecology developments in China, Africa, and the Middle East, and sacred sites worldwide. "The 'Guidel
ines' on sacred natural sites released at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona in October,” said John Grim, “provide one of the most forceful summaries of the close relationship and mutual presence of indigenous cultural diversity, traditional knowledge, and biodiversity around the planet.”

The symposium will also preview “Journey of the Universe,” a new film on the evolutionary coherence of the universe, Earth, and humans, created by Tucker and cosmologist Brian Swimme (

FORE's web site at contains enormous detail on the religious traditions of the world and their ecological contributions, including introductory essays, annotated bibliographies, selections from sacred texts, environmental statements from religious communities, and projects of religious grassroots environmental movements. To facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue, the site also addresses environmental issues related to ethics, economics, policy, gender, and evolutionary and ecological sciences.

To enhance teaching, the website includes syllabi, lists of educational videos and CD-ROMs, links to programs and institutions related to environmental education, and a variety of other resources. The website also provides current information on news, publications, and events, and a sophisticated search engine.

Religion and ecology courses are now taught in dozens of religious studies departments, divinity schools, and seminaries. A joint Master's degree program is offered at the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Divinity School at Yale. Further, many environmental studies programs, long dominated by science- and policy-oriented approaches, now encourage the participation of religious studies and humanities departments.

Recent conferences created by the Forum include “Renewing Hope: Pathways of Religious Environmentalism” at Yale in March, and organization of a major panel in the sustainable dialogue series at the IUCN congress in October. The Forum is currently working with the Parliament of the World's Religions to organize sessions on environmental issues as informed by religious perspectives for the Parliament's meeting in Melbourne, Australia in December 2009.

The November 18th symposium's focus on China reflects a significant growth of interest in religion and ecology in East Asia. The Forum participated in a conference featuring Confucianism and ecology at the Academy of Korean Studies in May and will be part of a conference focusing on Chinese religious traditions and ecology at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan in January 2009. Upcoming plans include a multi-year series on “Traditional Religion, Culture and the Environment in China” in conjunction with the Institute for the Study of World Religions in the Chinese Academy of Social Science, the Chinese Ministry of the Environment, and several universities.

The Forum's 1996-98 series at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University and culminating conferences at the United Nations and the American Museum of Natural History in New York are recognized as having jump-started the religion and ecology field. The conferences involved more than 800 scholars, resulting in ten volumes that demonstrate how perspectives and values regarding nature are shaped, in frequently contested ways, by religions, cultures, and geographies. Translations include the Islamic volume into Arabic, Urdu, and Turkish, the volumes on Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism into Chinese, and publication in India of the Hinduism and Jainism volumes. Information on the Religions of the World Ecology book series is at:


Donald Lehr

The Nolan/Lehr Group

(212) 967-8200 /

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12. A Challenging Quotation From Maimonides

“It should not be believed that all beings exist for the sake of the existence of man. On the contrary, all the other beings too have been intended for their own sakes and not for the sake of anything else.”


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13. Top 10 Reasons to Pardon a Turkey this Thanksgiving

Top 10 Reasons to Pardon a Turkey this Thanksgiving

By Bruce Friedrich

Did Sarah Palin's recent interview <> in front of a turkey slaughter operation cause you to almost lose your lunch? If so, you're not alone. Even conservative pundit Joe Scarborough says he may well skip the bird this year. With Thanksgiving upon us, here without further ado are PETA's top ten reasons to pardon a turkey this Holiday season:

10. If you wouldn't eat your cat, you shouldn't eat a turkey.

As poultry scientist Tom Savage says, "I've always viewed turkeys as smart animals with personality and character, and keen awareness of their surroundings. The 'dumb' tag simply doesn't fit." They're as interesting and have personalities every bit as developed as any dog or cat.

When they're not forced to live on filthy factory farms, turkeys spend their days caring for their young, building nests, foraging for food, taking dustbaths, preening themselves, and roosting high in trees. These social, playful birds relish having their feathers stroked and like to chirp, cluck, and gobble along to their favorite tunes.

9. Factory farms deny turkeys everything natural to them.

Ben Franklin called turkeys "true American originals." He had tremendous respect for their resourcefulness, agility, and beauty. In nature, turkeys can fly 55 miles an hour, run 25 miles an hour, and live up to four years. Yet turkeys raised for food are killed when they are only 5 or 6 months old, and during their short lives, they will be denied even the simplest pleasures, like running, building nests, and raising their young.

8. Turkey consumption may kill you.

Turkey flesh is brimming with fat and cholesterol. Just one homemade patty of ground, cooked turkey meat contains a whopping 244 mg of cholesterol, and half of its calories come from fat. Turkey flesh is also frequently tainted with salmonella, campylobacter bacteria, and other contaminants <>. And a vegan meal won't leave you sprawled on the couch, belt buckle undone, barely able to move.

7. You may stave off bird flue apocalypse.

Current factory-farm conditions, in which turkeys are drugged and bred to grow so quickly that many become crippled and die from dehydration, are breeding grounds for disease. Cooking meat should kill the bird flu virus, but it can be left behind on cutting boards and utensils and spread through something else you're eating
<> .

6. Don't support their crack habit.

Dosing turkeys with antibiotics to stimulate their growth and to keep them alive in filthy, disease-ridden conditions that would otherwise kill them poses even more risks for people who eat them. Leading health organizations--including the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association--have warned that the farmed-animal industry is creating possible long-term risks to human health and will spread antibiotic-resistant supergerms.
That's why the use of drugs to promote growth in animals used for food has been banned for many years in Europe.

5. There are healthy, humane alternatives.

Everyone can give thanks for Tofurky, Celebration Roast, Garden Protein's new Veggie Turkey Breast With Wild Rice and Cranberry Stuffing, and other animal-friendly holiday meals. PETA's scrumptious holiday recipes> will please every palate and make it easier to give up the giblets.

4. Eating birds supports cruelty to animals

When the time comes for slaughter, turkeys are thrown into transport trucks, and at the slaughterhouse, they are hung upside-down and their heads are dragged through an electrified "stunning tank," which immobilizes them but does not kill them. Many birds dodge the tank and are still conscious when their throats are slit. If the knife fails to properly slit the birds' throats, the birds are scalded to death in the defeathering tanks.

3. Turkey consumption is bad for the environment

Turkeys and other animals raised for food produce 130 times as much excrement as the entire human population--all without the benefit of waste treatment systems. There are no federal guidelines to regulate how factory farms treat, store, and dispose of the trillions of pounds of concentrated, untreated animal excrement that they produce each year.

2. Which contributes to human starvation.

You have to feed a turkey grains, soy, oats, and corn that could otherwise be fed to human beings. Only a fraction of the calories fed to a turkey are turned into meat calories. While there is ample and justified moral indignation about the diversion of 100 million tons of grain for biofuels, more than seven times as much (760 million tons) is fed to farmed animals <> so that
people can eat meat. Is the diversion of crops to our cars a moral issue? Yes, but it's about one-eighth the issue that meat-eating is.

1. And the number one reason to give the birds a break:

Factory-farmed turkeys have nothing to be thankful for

On factory farms, turkeys live for months in sheds where they are packed so tightly that flapping a wing or stretching a leg is nearly impossible. They stand mired in waste, and urine and ammonia fumes burn their eyes and lungs. To keep the birds from killing one another in such crowded conditions, parts of the turkeys' toes and beaks are cut off, as are the males' snoods (the flap of skin under the chin). All this is
done without any pain relievers.

A PETA investigator recently went undercover at a massive turkey breeding facility - In West Virginia and documented workers stomping on turkeys, punching them, beating them with pipes and boards, and twisting their necks repeatedly. One worker even bragged about shoving a broomstick down a turkey's throat because the bird had pecked at him. Our previous investigations show that such gratuitous abuse is the norm on turkey farms.

Check out for tasty alternatives that will allow the turkeys to give thanks this Holiday season along with you and your family.

Happy eating! HealthAnimals <>

* Eating Matters

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14. Newsweek Article Considers “the Rights of Animals”

The Rights Of Animals

California voters have put the animal-rights movement squarely in the mainstream. Will we all soon be vegans?
Peter Singer

[While we disagree with some aspects of Peter Singer's philosophy, we think this article well worth considering now. Traditional Judaism considers this issue more in terms of human responsibilities toward animals, rather than animal rights.]

The notion that animals should have rights was widely ridiculed when it was first advocated in the 1970s. Now it is getting more respect. The movement has gained tens of millions of adherents and has already persuaded the European Union to require that all hens have room to stretch their wings, perch and lay their eggs in a nest box, and to phase out keeping pigs and veal calves in individual crates too narrow for them to walk or turn around. And earlier this month Californians voted 63 percent to 37 percent for a measure that, beginning in 2015, gives all farm animals the right to stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs. The state's 45 major egg producers will have to rip out the cages that now hold 19 million hens, and either put in new and larger cages with fewer birds or, more likely, keep the birds on the floor in large sheds. California's sole large-scale pig-factory farm will also have to give all its pigs room to turn around.

Pressure on other states to grant the same basic freedoms may prove irresistible. Many people see this movement as a logical continuation of the fight against racism and sexism, and believe that the concept of animal rights will soon be as commonplace as equal pay and opportunities for women and minorities. If that happens-and I believe it will-the effects on the food we eat, how we produce it and the place of animals in our society will be profound.

If this sounds radical, so did suffrage and civil rights a few decades ago. The notion that we should recognize the rights of animals living among us rests on a firm ethical foundation. A sentient being is sentient regardless of which species it happens to belong to. Pain is pain, whether it is the pain of a cat, a dog, a pig or a child.

Consider how widely humans differ in their mental abilities. A typical adult can reason, make moral choices and do many things (like voting) that animals obviously cannot do. But not all human beings are capable of reason, not all are morally responsible and not all are capable of voting. And yet we go out of our way to claim that all humans have rights. What, then, justifies our withholding at least some rights from nonhuman animals? Defenders of the status quo have found that a difficult question to answer.

If animals do have rights, what rights would those be? The most basic right any sentient being can have is for his or her interests to be given equal consideration. After that, things get more complicated. Some advocates think that all animals have a right to life. Others give more weight to the lives of beings such as chimpanzees, which are capable of understanding that they have a life, and of having hopes and desires directed toward the future. The movement's supporters agree that the way we treat animals now, as test subjects and factory-farm products, is flagrantly wrong.

If society were gradually to accept animal rights, it would spell dramatic changes. Some people might accept humanely raised meat, eggs and dairy products, if the animals had good lives, living outdoors in social groups of a size natural to the particular species. But this would most likely prove to be an interim stage. As the demand for animal products dwindles, the meat industry would breed fewer chickens, turkeys, pigs and cattle. Eventually the only remaining beef cattle, sheep and pigs would be small herds preserved so that we can take the grandchildren to see what these once abundant animals look like. Factory farming-for meat, eggs or milk-would disappear. If we are to continue to eat meat, we'll have to rely on scientists who are now trying to grow meat in vats. When they succeed, it will be the real thing, grown from animal cells, not a soy-based substitute, and it might even be indistinguishable from the meat we eat now. But since it would involve no animals, and hence no suffering or killing, there will be no ethical objections.

Milk and cheese are no easier than meat to reconcile. Cows will not give milk unless they are made pregnant each year, and if the calves are left with their mothers, there won't be much milk for humans. The separation of the cow and her calf causes distress to both. Hens are not so concerned about the removal of their eggs, and genuinely free-range hens appear to have a good life, but male chicks have to be disposed of, and no commercial egg producer allows hens to live beyond the point at which their rate of laying declines. That's why animal-rights advocates today tend to be vegans.

Where animals are now used for research, we must find alternatives. In Europe, cell and tissue cultures have already replaced some product testing of live animals, and that will increase dramatically once harmful research on animals is put ethically out of bounds. Research using animals may not cease entirely, but in a nonspeciesist world it could continue only under the same strict ethical safeguards that we use for research on human subjects who can't give their consent.

Our greatest difficulty in respecting other species may lie in our quest for land. The animal movement forces us to consider that land we do not use is the habitat of other sentient beings, and we must do what we can to allow them to continue to live on it, including limiting our own population growth. Even wilderness presents a problem. Are humans ethically bound to prevent animals from killing other animals? To contemplate interfering with the workings of ecosystems would be presumptuous, at least for now. We will do better to concentrate, first, on lessening our own harmful impact on our domestic animals.

Singer is professor of bioethics at Princeton. His latest book, "The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty," will be published in March.


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15. New Book Considers Animal Exploitation

Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation

Gary L. Francione

May, 2008
Cloth, 256 pages,
ISBN: 978-0-231-13950-2
$40.00 / £23.50

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