November 6, 2008

11/3/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Please Vote, Taking Our Issues Into Account

2. Israeli Rabbi Challenges Other Rabbis Re Vegetarianism

3. Revitalizing the Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society

4. My Trip to Israel

5. Update on Rubashkins' Postville Iowa Glatt Kosher Slaughterhouse Situation

6. Is an Animal-Based Diet a Chillul Hashem, a Desecrtion of G-d's Name?

7. Seeking to Get Vegetarian Films (Including “ Sacred Duty” Screened at Environmental Film Festivals

8. Documentary Considers Effects of Climate Change on Women

9. Campaign Started to Improve Conditions for Hens in Israel

10. Vegetarian Activist Seeking Supporters To Raise Money for His Marathon Run To Support Vegetarian Outreach

11. Update On Campaign To Get Environmental Podcasts Onto the Internet

12. Effort to get Al Gore To Promote Vegetarianism as Part of Response to Global Climate Change

13. International “Jewish liberation School” Will Consider Vegetarianism

14. Supporting California Animal Welfare Initiative

15. Short Video Discusses “Should Jews Be Vegetarians?”

16. Promoting a Vegetarian-Friendly Secretary of Agriculture

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. Please Vote, Taking Our Issues Into Account

Clearly this is a very important election and it comes at a very critical time.

JVNA can't and won't endorse any candidates, but we urge you to consider candidates' positions on vegetarian, animal rights, environmental issues, as well as other national and international issues when making choices.

Below is an excerpt from a statement from the League of Conservation Voters:

For the last year, your support has helped us fight for clean water, clean air and clean energy in Congress and to support candidates who will make conservation and clean energy a top priority. Thanks to you, many of our candidates are poised to win. Because of your support, we are now in a position to make history, electing a President and a Congress who will finally break this country's addiction to oil and lead us to a clean, renewable energy future.

There's one more job to do: vote.

The League of Conservation Voters and our state leagues spend countless hours looking at the records of political candidates, talking to them about their plans for the future, and weighing them against one another. We are confident that the candidates we support are the best candidates for the future of this country and this planet.


For the recommendations of the League of Conservation Voters, please visit:

Also, please visit the web site of the Humane Society of the US Legislative Fund for their presidential endorsement, the first time they have ever endorsed a presidential candidate, although they have often endorsed congressional candidates.

Return to Top

2. Israeli Rabbi Challenges Other Rabbis Re Vegetarianism

Forwarded message from Rabbi Simcha Roth, a Conservative rabbi with a congregation in Herzilia, Israel:

Dear Richard,

Please feel free to use this in any way that you please. It is a slightly re-worked version of something that I wrote in a rabbinic forum in response to a vegetarian rabbi who advised his congregants to eat kosher meat.


Those who read the long message to his congregants which Rabbi O. shared with us must have been struck by the sincerity of his attempt to encourage the reader to eat meat which has been slaughtered according to the laws of shechitah [Jewish ritual slaughter] by God-fearing people who care for their employees no less than they care for the animals that they are going to kill. The pathos was evident throughout the message.

I have long since discovered that it is often foolish even to try to get Jewish meat-eaters to think outside the box. They are convinced that it is a religious duty to eat meat; that shechitah is humane slaughter; and that anyone who seriously suggests otherwise must either be wanting in intelligence or a non-observant Jew. Since I do not think that I am more wanting in intelligence than others nor less observant than others I shall not try here to refute those assumptions - something which others have done and will do with greater clarity than I can ever hope to achieve.

Rabbi O. is a vegetarian Jew. I am a vegan. So we will both agree that in this day and age there is no religious requirement to eat meat of any kind at any time and that modern 'conveyor-belt' shechitah is not and cannot be humane even under the best of circumstances. So I am at a loss to understand why he is arguing with such sincere pathos that is is a good thing to eat meat.

The Torah calls the meat we eat 'besar ta'avah' [meat of lust] and rather grudgingly permits us to eat it if we really want to - provided the laws of shechitah and kashrut are observed. Shechitah is a reasonably humane way of killing an animal when I take my sheep or my chicken to the local shochet and have him slaughter it. That is not what happens even in the best run of modern slaughterhouses. Decades ago, when I lived in Arad, I was present when a woman brought a chicken to the local rav, who was also a shochet. She asked him to slaughter it for her - and he did so, expertly and swiftly, on the landing outside his apartment over sawdust that he had handy. That is the kind of shechitah our ancestors knew. He told me that sometimes he would work part-time in the Beesheva slaughter-house, but he would never eat any meat that came from there. My wife and I once took him a frozen chicken (long ago, before we became vegan) because we found the leg broken. He told us that it was more than likely that the bird's leg had been broken before shechitah: "You should see the way they throw the birds around."

We hear a lot in modern Conservatism about the mitzvah of tikkun olam [the Jewish mandate to heal and repair the world]. To eat meat - any meat - however much sanctity and humanity was involved in its slaughter is the height of selfishness and unconcern for the plight of our fellow man. The amount of grain that it takes to create one kilo of beef would be sufficient to feed thousands of starving people in the third world [This would be a correct statement if the words “ one kilo of” were removed, as indicated by Rabbi Roth's following statement.] : it takes nearly 16 kilos of grain to create 1 kilo of beef! The gasses emitted from the digestive system of millions - billions! - of herd animals are among the greatest contributors to global warming. Meat-centered diets require up to 21 times more land area per person than would be required for a vegan diet. Throughout the world more than 30,000 children die every day as a direct or indirect result of malnutrition, which could easily be solved by decimating the amount of meat eaten in the west. I could really bore you with more facts about the dangers to our eco-system of modern animal husbandry - without ever mentioning tza'ar ba'alei chayyim. [the mandate not to cause pain to an animal] In a very real sense the modern meat-production industry is tza'ar bnei enosh [sorrow for human beings] and the very opposite of gemilut chasadim [kind acts].

Those rabbis who really believe in tikkun olam should actively discourage their congregants from eating meat of any kind at any time for any reason. That is possibly the greatest tikkun [healing] that we can try to do at this time in our history. How can you worry about what is happening in Darfur while blithely eating meat? They are tartei de-satrei (mutually contradictory)! How can you enjoy your Shabbat roast and bewail the poor starving children in India? It's hypocrisy!

Rabbis, if you really believe in tikkun olam - stop eating meat and start pushing a vegetarian diet among your congregants. We might then effect a tikkun that could speed up moshiachzeit (the messianic age). And, by the way, there were and are great rabbis who teach that in the Messianic Age we shall all be vegetarian or vegan.

Simchah Roth

[Please let me know what you think of this article. Is it too strong? Too direct? Or, is this the type of respectful challenge that we should be using?]

Return to Top

3. Revitalizing the Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society

An important meeting of the Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society (IJVS or just JVS) took place on October 26, 2008 at the Society's headquarters 8 Balfour Street in Jerusalem. The program for the event is below in Supplement 1.

The meeting was very successful. It was attended by about 75 people, many of them people of college age or slightly older. There was much enthusiasm, and many valuable suggestions made.

Comments by two of the attendees is below in Supplement 2:

The purpose of the meeting was to help revitalize the JVS, after it has been inactive for over 2 years due to some legal difficulties for failure to keep records up to date.

There were three main talks, followed by a discussion of steps to help revitalize the JVS and enable it to play an effective role iun promoting vegetarianism in Israel.

The first talk was by the JVS lawyer Joseph Tamir. He indicated steps that his law firm has been taken to get the JVS headquarters at 8 Balfour Street out of receivership, and indicated that prospects for that happening in the next few months were good.

The second talk was by Dan Arbel, a leader of the JVS for many years. Dan gave a brief summary of the JVS and indicated that the establishment of the headquarters at 8 Balfour Street in Jerusalem was the fulfillment of a dream by Philip Pick, founder of the international Jewish Vegetarian Society, centered in London since the mid 1960s. Dan presented a case for Jewish vegetarianism and discussed several Israeli vegetarian chief rabbis. Dan's talk is below in supplement #3.

Finally, I discussed my view that it is essential that there be an active Israeli Jewish vegetarian society, for the following reasons:

* Animal-based diets are causing an epidemic of diseases in the Jewish and other communities;

* Animal-centered agriculture contributes significantly to global warming and other environmental problems that threaten all of humanity.

* Plant-based diets are most consistent with Jewish teachings on taking care of our health, treating animals compassionately, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, helping hungry people and seeking and pursuing peace;

* Israel is a wonderful place to spread the Jewish vegetarian message due to its small size and the location of the chief rabbis, Israeli parliament, and many rabbis and yeshivas in Jerusalem and many environmental groups in and around Tel Aviv.

* “From Zion shall go out the Torah and the word of G-d from Jerusalem.” Hence, since a switch to vegetarianism is so essential today, it is important that there be an active vegetarian group centered in Jerusalem.

It is planned that there be a follow up on the meeting to build momentum toward a revitalized and active Israeli JVS.

Kudos to Dan Arbel and Israeli vegetarian activist Peter Singer for their dedicated work in organizing the event and in getting the balfour Street headquarters into good condition. Without their very valuable efforts, the event would never have occurred.
Supplement 1:


Program at the JVS Headquarters 8 Balfour Street, Jerusalem

Please come to this free event to help revitalize the JVS. And please share this message with others who might be interested.

Sunday, October 26, 2008 7:00 - 9:45 PM

7:00 Free entrance; refreshments

7:15 Talk on the revitalization of the Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS)
Joseph Tamir, Lawyer for the JVS

7:30 PM Talk on the Future of the Jewish Vegetarian Society
Dan Arbel, Chairman of the JVS

7:45 PM “Why It is Essential that the Israeli JVS Be Revitalized”
Talk by Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Author of "Judaism and Vegetarianism and over 130 articles at
President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)
Associate Producer of A SACRED DUTY (

8 PM "Campaign to Improve Conditions for Laying Hens in Israel"
Talk by Uri Lorber, Campaigner, "Anonymous" for Animal rights, Israeli animal rights group [talk not given, but an article on this by Uri is in a later item.]

8:15 PM Discussion of steps to revitalize JVS and plans for activities in the new year.

8:45 PM Screening of the highly acclaimed documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World.”

The movie presents a very strong case for vegetarianism, based on Jewish teachings on health, the proper treatment of animals, the environment and other issues. It considers environmental threats to Israel and the inconvenient truth that even Al Gore is generally ignoring: animal-based agriculture is a major cause of global warming and other environmental problems that threaten Israel and the entire world.

A complimentary DVD of “A Sacred Duty” will be presented to the first 15 people who attend and ask for one. There will also be door prizes.

[Unfortunately, Uri Lorber had to leave early in response to a personal problem, so he did not speak. Due to technical difficulties, A SACRED DUTY was not shown, but many attendees got complimentary copies of the documentary.

Supplement 2

One attendee Doug Greener emailed me after the meeting:

Dear Richard,

It was a pleasure to meet you at the Jewish Vegetarian Society meeting on October 26.

As I mentioned to you then, I have never seen such a large contingent of
students and young people at any IJVS meeting in the past. I strongly
suggest that we get them involved in some tangible projects as soon as
possible or else I fear that they will be lost to us. Richard, if I can
help you in any way, please let me know.

Shabbat Shalom,

Doug Greener
MediawiSe Direct Marketing & Advertising
Jerusalem, Israel

Message from Steve “Shaya” Kelter, a long-time Israeli vegetarian activist:

Thank you so much for all that you have done to revitalize the IJVS and
organize yesterday's public meeting. As I said to you last night on my
way out, I believe that there were considerable energies in the room.
There was a good turn-out including many young people and many are eager topromote vegetarianism in Israel. It is important to engage people in activity while the enthusiasm from yesterday's meeting is still felt. 2 young people and one middle-aged person approached me and said they would like to be involved. One of the young men is Yossi Wolfson, and attorney, who spoke during the comments part of the discussion. The middle-aged man is Dr. Shmuel Lux, a chiropractor, who offered to speak as one of our programs. I am sure there are others who would give of themselves if we let them know what they can do.

If you recall I suggested in my comment in front of the group that a
sheet be passed around in which people can indicate in which activity they
would be willing to contribute. I don't believe that was done. However, it
is not too late. We can email an invitation to people to contribute their
talents. In order to maximize the number of returns I suggest the
email be very short, a brief summary of the meeting and a few questions.

{An attendance sheet was passed around and I plan to use the email address listed to contact attendees and start a communication process that should lead to positive results.]

Here are some suggested questions:

You can make a difference! We need your help in following areas. Please
indicate in which you are interested in taking part.

1. __Presenting a program, a talk, demonstration such as a cooking
demonstration or any other creative idea.

2. __Being a contact person with other organizations including
environmental, religious, olim, health care, professional or other

3. __Public relations and publicity including writing press releases,
contact with press, internet publicity

4. __Program committee - to locate speakers and other programs

5. __Fundraising

6. __Organization - finance, setting up the hall for meetings

7. __Any other area where you would like to contribute

All those who respond as well as all we have on our email list should be
invited to a planning meeting. This is a work meeting, without
speeches or films. Committees would be established and responsibilities assigned.

Each committee needs a chairperson who would report to the board. I suggest that each of the chairpersons be advised by a member of the board. I realize that in the beginning many of the chairpersons will probably be members of the board themselves.

I would be happy to be of assistance in the re-organization of IJVS as a
vital organization and to serve as a member of the board of directors. I
also would be pleased to do the Tu Bishvat Seder. However, we will need
help to purchase the food and grape juice and the cups, plates, napkins
and tablecloths. The night of Tu Bishvat is Sunday Feb. 8. I suggest 7pm.

Much success!

Steven "Shaya" Kelter, M.S.W., Insurance Agent

Great suggestions from Shaya, and we plan to follow up on them.

Supplement 3:

Talk by Dan Arbel - 26 October 2008 - The Israeli Vegetarian Society, Jerusalem

First, I want to tell you a little about what we are doing in our Jewish Vegetarian Society here in Jerusalem

1) Why an International Jewish Vegetarian Society

The International Jewish Vegetarian Society was founded to promote the vegetarian ideal and its relation to Jewish Sources. (A vegetarian abstains from eating animal flesh, including meat, fowl and fish). Our activities are focused on topical areas in Judaism that relate to vegetarianism. These include health issues (proper nutrition and health implications of meat eating, the environment, pollution, and compassion to animals).

We are planning an educational campaign about the benefits of a vegetarian diet as well as the idea of Jewish Vegetarianism, to various sub-groups, within the Israeli society, including the medical community, nutritionists, doctors, dieticians, etc.

We run monthly lectures, food demonstrations and other activities at our headquarter, here at Balfour Street 8. We have had lectures about the macrobiotic way of life, reversing heart disease using vegetarianism, the status of animals in Israel and natural healing through food therapy. We also host an annual Seder for Tu B'shvat.

2) Secondly. But not least, I want to thank our lawyer, Joseph Tamir for his help to bring

About that we could keep these premises. He has made great efforts on our behalf and I am convinced that without his help, we would not have been here tonight.

And also thanks to Richard Schwartz for everything that he has done and all the time he has spent in order to revitalize our Society. I also have to mention Peter Singer. He not only participated in the cost of the repairs and painting but also worked physically for many hours to clean up the garden by himself.

Philip Pick is the founder of our Society. I met Philip over 40 years ago, and I am happy that we can continue in Jerusalem. It was Philip's dream to have a Center in this great city.

3) In the Parasha of that we read yesterday in the Beit Knesset it says,
Behold I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face
of all the earth and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed.

To you it shall be for food. Nowhere in the Bible is the promise of meat made as reward for keeping commandments, only the promise of fruits of the vine, gardens and fields. Biblical sources not only forbid cruelty, but demand compassion and mercy towards animals. In the 5 books of Moses there are a number of specific laws dealing with proper treatment of animals, for instance, you may not muzzle an ox as it threshes the grain. It must not be subjected to the frustration of facing food, while it works and is itself muzzled. This was extended by rabbinic interpretation to other animals, even birds, working within sight of food. Animal owners are required to rest their animals, as they rest themselves, on Sabbath.

Many rabbi's and scholars are vegetarians and believe that the Jewish Communities should consider how cruelty to animals can be minimized or eliminated while meeting Halachic requirements. Why is it that many Jewish religious leaders advocate vegetarianism, including the Chief Rabbi of the UK, Jonathan Sacks, late Chief Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Goren and the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, Abraham Kook. (He was a vegetarian from the age of 10 [although reportedly not a complete vegetarian, although he strongly supported vegetarianism).

Why is it that former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, David Rosen, considers “the consumption of meat is halachically unacceptable. (Rabbi Rosen is on our board).?

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin stated that the kosher laws are designed to teach us compassion and to lead us gently to vegetarianism. Nobel price winner Shai Agnon and Mossad Chief Meir Dagan, Mordechai Ben Porat (ex member of the Knesset, the late Shmuel Jacobson (former secretary of the Knesset) and the late Isaac Bashevis Singer (author).

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is a strong advocate of animal rights and has favored banning the production of foie gras in Israel. The law took effect in April 2006.

The Torah is full of commandments demanding humane treatment of animals, yet the modern factory farms that produce over 90% of the animal products we consume today, raise their animals in unconscionable conditions of abject misery. Jewish vegetarians argue, eating factory-farmed meat contravenes the precepts of the Torah, twice. Once by harming the animals and once by not taking care of your own health.

There are 2500 Black Hebrews living in Dimona and all the members of this community follow a strict vegan diet and smoking and drinking is forbidden. They have lived in Israel for over 4o years and have only had 2 cases of cancer.

We have in Israel a completely vegetarian village Amirim in the Galillee, near Zefad.

Close to 10% of the population in Israel are vegetarians. It includes [Kadima leader] Zippi Livni (she was sorry that she could not join us tonight), Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Shaar Yeshuv Hacohen, who also was unable to come tonight, but he sent us a letter of support. (He was born a vegetarian). Rabbi David Rosen had a wedding abroad and could also not make it here tonight.

Rabbi Rosen, Rabbi Shaar Yeshuv Cohen and Members of the Black Hebrews will all be among the lecturers in the coming month.

Return to Top

4. My Trip to Israel

During my trip to Israel from October 13-28 to visit family and celebrate Sukkot, in addition to the vent discussed in the item above, I organized and spoke at the following event:

“How Global Warming and Other Environmental Problems Threaten Israel: Potential Responses.” Root and Branch Association Ecology Lecture Series” Israel Center, 22 Kerem HaYesod Street, Jerusalem, October 22, 7:45 PM. Speakers: Alon Tal, Ph.D., author of "Pollution in the Promised Land" and founder of te Israel Union for Environmental Defense, and Richard Schwartz, Ph.D, author of "Judaism and GlobalSurvival" and "Judaism and Vegetarianism." English;
NIS 10 Students;; NIS 25 Israel Center Members; NIS 30 Israel Center Non-Members
Further Information about the event:



Israel Center 22 Kerem HaYesod Street Jerusalem
(02) 561-7432

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 7:45 - 9:45 P.M.

7:45 P.M. “Israel and Climate Change: Policy a Shande for the Goyim

Alon Tal, Ph.D.: Israel's Leading Environmentalist; Founder of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense (Adam, Tecva v'Din); author of “Pollution in the Promised Land,” the most comprehensive analysis of the environmental history of Israel; teacher of several courses on global warming and other environmental problems in Israel.

8:45 “Applying Jewish Values To Respond to Global Warming and Other Environmental Threats”

Richad H. Schwartz, Ph.D.: Author, "Judaism and Global Survival," "Judaism and Global Survival," "Mathematics and Global Survival" and over 130 articles at; president of JewishVegetarians of North America.

- All in English --
Israel Center Life Members Free; NIS 10 Students;
NIS 25 Israel Center Members; NIS 30 Israel Center Non-Members
I also used recording equipment provided by Joseph Puentes to record interviews by many Israeli environmentalists for future podcasts that Joseph will put on the internet to increase awareness of and involvement with Israeli environmental problems.

Return to Top

5. Update on Rubashkins' Postville Iowa Glatt Kosher Slaughterhouse Situation

{As indicated many times in previous newsletters and press releases, JVNA believes that the accusations against Agribusinees's Postville facility should be wake-up calls to the need for a complete reevaluation of the production and consumption of meat and other animal products. It is not enough that there be punishments for violations and even that the proper changes be made for people and animals at the slaughterhouse. It is essential that the question “Should Jews Be Vegetarians?” be put on the Jewish agendaa.]

a. “Meatpacker is fined nearly $10 million”
By Julia Preston
New York Times
October 30, 2008

You can send letters at
Please limit your letter to 150 words or less.
For writers' guidelines, see
Be sure to include the title and date of the piece, and your name, address, and phone numbers for verification.

b. “Agriprocessors hit with nearly $10 million in fines”
By Maris Brostoff
Jewish Daily Forward
October 29, 2008

You can send letters to:

c. NEWS RELEASE For Regional Distribution
For Immediate Release
Date: October 29, 2008
Contacts: Kerry Koonce
Telephone: (515) 281-9646
Nearly $10 Million Civil Penalty Levied Against Agriprocessors, Inc. for Wage Violations

DES MOINES - Iowa's Labor Commissioner assessed civil penalties against Agriprocessors,
Inc. for repeated violations of Iowa's wage laws from January 1, 2006 to June 30, 2008.

“Once again, Agriprocessors has demonstrated a complete disregard for Iowa Law,” stated Iowa Labor Commissioner Dave Neil. “This continued course of violations is a black mark on Iowa's business community.”

Agriprocessors, Inc., was assessed a penalty of $339,700 for illegally deducting “sales tax/miscellaneous” costs 3,397 times. 1,073 employees were affected by the unauthorized deductions reducing their pay by $72,189.09. A separate civil penalty, of $100 per incidence, exists for illegally deducting a charge for frocks. This deduction occurred in 96,436 separate incidences resulting in a $9,643,600 penalty. 2,001 employees had their wages illegally reduced by $192,597.36.

Additionally, Aggriprocessors, Inc. failed to pay 42 employees their last paychecks on May 16th and May 23rd following the Immigration & Customs Enforcement raid. Due to the overlapping nature of pay periods, seven individuals were shorted two paychecks. The company has been assessed a penalty of $4,900 for this violation. In total, $9,988,200 in civil penalties was assessed and Agriprocessors, Inc. owes $264,786.45 in back wages.

Agriprocessors, Inc. has 30 days to contest the proposed penalties in writing. If a hearing is not requested within 30 days, all proposed penalties become the final action of the department. An additional wage investigation is still pending with the company that could potentially lead to additional civil penalties.
An Equal Opportunity Employer/Program
Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request for individuals with disabilities. o o

d. Breaking: Rubashkin arrested, will appear in federal court today
The Iowa independent October 30, 2008

By LYNDA WADDINGTON 10/30/08 11:19 AM

Federal prosecutors have arrested Sholom Rubashkin, former chief executive officer and vice president at Agriprocessors and son of company founder Aaron Rubashkin, on a criminal complaint that alleges the man conspired in immigration-related offenses.
The criminal complaint is the first against any high-level member of Agriprocessors management and comes in the wake of a massive May 12 immigration raid at the plant. In all, 389 workers - nearly half the plant's workforce - was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

According to documents filed with the court, Rubashkin “did knowingly conspire, confederate and agree with others, for the purpose of commercial advantage and private financial gain, to harbor one or more aliens at his place of employment in Postville, Iowa, knowing and in reckless disregard of the fact that such aliens had come to, entered and remained in the United States and aided and abetted the possession and use of fraudulent identification documents and aided and abetted aggravated identity theft.”

According to Michael Fischels, a special agent with the Dept. of Homeland Security, dozens of fraudulent permanent resident alien cards were discovered and seized from offices within the human resources department at Agriprocessors during the May 12 raid.

“Most of the cards were attached to application paperwork dated May 11 or May 12, 2008,” Fischels wrote in the affidavit filed with the court. “Additional resident alien cards were groups in stacks and not attached to any paperwork. Based upon common features, ICE agents determined that the vast majority of the fraudulent resident alien cards came from the same manufacturer. Out of approximately 96 fraudulent resident alien cards, approximately 90 exhibited alien registration numbers which were then assigned to other actual persons.”

Fischels added that approximately 13 of the cards taken from the offices had photographs of people known to be working at the plant prior to May 11. All but two of the cards, however, “exhibited names which were different than the names the employees had been working under.”

The fraudulent resident alien cards are crucial to the case the government is making against Rubashkin because they are a physical link to claims made by former employees that Rubashkin provided $4,500 in cash as a loan to employees who could not afford to update their falsified documents.

The former plant supervisors, who remain unidentified in the affidavit, allegedly met with Rubashkin near the barn area on the Agriprocessors' grounds on May 8 and asked for $4,500 to help employees slated for termination purchase new fraudulent documents. According to court documents, Rubashkin provided the supervisors the money in cash the following morning.

The unidentified supervisor, who worked in the beef-kill area, in turn presented employees in that department with $200 each as a loan so the employees could purchase the new documents from a different plant foreman, who was arranging for the purchase of the falsified documents. The documents for 39 or 40 employees were brought to the plant on May 11 by the foreman and distributed by the foreman and the unnamed supervisor.

An unidentified human resources employee is quoted in the affidavit as saying that s/he was personally asked by Sholom Rubashkin to process a large number of new employee applications on May 11. This same employee suspected that the new applicants were the employees slated for termination the previous Friday, and also identified at least one of the applicants as such.

Rubashkin will make an initial appearance in federal court for the Northern District of Iowa this afternoon. Requests for comment from Agriprocessors spokespersons have not yet garnered a response.

e. Post by Michael Croland in his HeebnVegan blog:

(Read the original post, which includes working links, at Could Be the End of AgriProcessors__

As I've noted again and again and again and again (and in other posts!), AgriProcessors has been in bad shape since a May 12 raid by more than a dozen federal agencies. The events of the last four days likely spelled the end of what was, until May 12, the world's largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse:__* It seems that cattle are no longer being slaughtered at AgriProcessors. According to the Forward, "Jeff Abbas, who runs Postville's community radio station, said that he saw live cattle being trucked away from the slaughterhouse on the morning of October 29."_* AgriProcessors is killing and disposing of thousands of baby chickens because it can no longer process them._* The temp agency that filled AgriProcessors' jobs in the wake of the May 12 raid has suspended its contract with the company, leaving the slaughterhouse without half of its workforce._* A bank is "seeking to seize and auction all of Agriprocessors' assets, claiming the slaughterhouse defaulted on a $35 million loan," according to the Associated Press._* Former AgriProcessors CEO Sholom Rubashkin was arrested and appeared in court. According to The Des Moines Register, he is accused of "knowingly conspiring with others, for his own financial gain, to harbor undocumented workers in Postville" and "aiding and abetting workers in stealing the identities of other people." The paper adds, "If convicted on all of the charges, Rubashkin faces up to 22 years in prison and $750,000 in fines."_* Iowa's Labor Commissioner announced nearly $10 million in civil penalties against AgriProcessors for "repeated violations of Iowa's wage laws."_* An AgriProcessors HR employee pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor undocumented aliens and aggravated identity theft. She faces up to 12 years in prison, among other charges._* Failed Messiah reported that Menachem Lubinsky (of Lubicom and Kosher Today) no longer represents AgriProcessors. __The story of AgriProcessors' fall is one of embarrassment and shame. It's a story of how a major kosher company disregarded Jewish teachings and values with regard to animals, workers, and so many other issues. The only saving grace is that this story appears to be coming to a close.__Failed Messiah was the secondary or primary source for numerous items in the bulleted list.__posted by heebnvegan @ 11/01/2008 07:03:00 PM

f. For further information:

Return to Top

6. Is an Animal-Based Diet a Chillul Hashem, a Desecrtion of G-d's Name?

Thanks to JVNA Secretary/treasurer John Diamond for forwarding the link below to an article by rabbi Schwab which discusses whether the many violations at the Postville, Iowa slaughterhouse might be a Chillul Hashem.

My article below tries to broaden the discussion into an area generally being overlooked by rabbis and other Jewish leaders:


It seems to be a Jewish trait to put numbers on concepts. For example, there are 613 mitzvot in the Torah according to Jewish sages. It also seems to be a Jewish trait to try to reduce concepts to a reduced number of basics. Hence the prophet Micah stated that what God wants from us are three basic things: "To do justly, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God." I would like to build on these concepts by arguing that the Jewish case for vegetarianism can be built on just one Jewish concept, that we should strive to make our actions a kiddush HaShem, a sanctification of God's name, and avoid causing a "chillul HaShem", a desecration of God's Name. This idea was connected to vegetarianism by Rabbi Dr. David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, and present Honorary President for Israel of the International Jewish Vegetarian Society, who wrote, "Perhaps the most powerful argument in favor of vegetarianism today more than ever before . . . is the prohibition against 'chillul HaShem', the desecration of God's name. surely it is precisely such a desecration when observant Jews eat animals produced under conditions of cruelty that flagrantly violate Jewish teachings and prohibitions . . . " (Rabbis and Vegetarianism: An Evolving Tradition, edited by Roberta Kalechofsky, p. 58). Our purpose in life is to enhance God's Name through mitzvot, that is to perform acts that will result in a "kiddush HaShem", a sanctification of God's name; hence great care should be taken to avoid acts of chillul HaShem. However, in expanding on Rabbi Rosen's insightful comments:

* Since Judaism stresses that we should avoid tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, causing any unnecessary pain to an animal, isn't it a chillul HaShem that chickens are raised in confined spaces so small that they can't raise their wings and that they are painfully debeaked to prevent them from pecking each other due to the very unnatural conditions under which they are raised, that male chicks at egg-laying hatcheries are immediately killed because they cannot lay eggs and they have not been bred to provide much meat, that veal calves are taken away from their mothers shortly after birth to be raised in cramped conditions where they are denied exercise and essential nutrients in their diets, that geese are raised for pate de fois gras by having huge amounts of grain forced down their throats, and that other animals suffer from the many horrors of modern intensive animal agriculture?

* Since Judaism mandates that people be very careful about preserving their health and their lives, isn't it a chillul HaShem that typical animal-centered diets (according to many scientific studies) are major contributors to heart disease, stroke, several forms of cancer, and other degenerative diseases, as well as the rapid rise of antibiotic-resistant, disease-causing bacteria?

* Since Judaism stresses that we are to share our bread with hungry people, isn't it a chillul HaShem that over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as an estimated 20 million people worldwide die annually because of hunger and its effects?

* Since Judaism teaches that "the earth is the Lord`s" and that we are to be partners with God in preserving the world, isn't it a chillul HaShem that animal-centered diets result in soil erosion and depletion, extensive air and water pollution related to chemical fertilizer and pesticides, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats, and many threats related to global warming.

* Since Judaism mandates bal tashchit, that we are not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value, isn't it a chillul HaShem that livestock agriculture requires the wasteful use of food, land, water, energy, and other resources?

* Since Judaism stresses that we must seek and pursue peace and that violence results from unjust conditions, isn't it a chillul HaShem that animal-based diets, by wasting valuable resources, help to perpetuate the widespread hunger and poverty that eventually lead to instability and war.

The concepts of kiddush HaShem and chillul HaShem are very important in Judaism, and throughout Jewish history there have been examples of pious Jews sacrificing their lives rather than performing acts that would desecrate God's Name. Hence, in view of the strong Jewish mandates to be kind to animals, preserve human health, help feed the hungry, protect the environment, conserve resources, and seek and pursue peace, and the very negative effects animal-centered diets have in each of these areas, I believe that concerned Jews should respectfully ask the Jewish community to consider the many ways that vegetarian diets can avoid a chillul HaShem.

Return to Top

7. Seeking to Get Vegetarian Films (Including “ Sacred Duty” Screened at Environmental Film Festivals

Forwarded message;

Dear Richard,

A good Yom Tov I trust you had, and a powerful year to you!

I invite you to join my new facebook group with the following description, and please spread to Lionel and others to join:

Group Name:
Advocacy for Vegan Films in Environmental Film Festivals

Group Description:

Vegan and vegetarian films have been made, and are being made today at an even faster pace, and this is a great thing for the environment, as science shows. However organizers of the environmental film festivals, which are powerful public showcases for environmental issues, don't always focus on veganism to the full proportional degree that is befitting, if at all. We see a majority of the films being about wildlife, energy, scenery, transportation, planning, economics, industry, and more. Yet based on statistical studies of what impacts the ecology, a meat diet causes the majority of the degradation and pollution, and therefore a shift to veganism promises the most comprehensive and rapid healing of the ecology as well as the humans. Therefore, this Facebook Group unites people, and especially people involved in vegan media, to urge both established and new environmental film festivals to put vegan and plant-source lifestyle films, which can inspire real, impactful human choice for the planet through our dietary actions, into prevalence as the heart and majority of films at environmental film festivals.

The Group's Explicit Objectives:

1) Draft a letter to be sent to the heads of environmental film festivals, representing all members of this Group.

2) Gather from each member of this Group your name, organization, and credits who appear as signers of the letter.

3) Identify environmental film festivals to receive the letter, including:
The Siskiyou Environmental Film Festival
The Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival
The Santa Cruz Int'l Environmental Film Festival
...and literally dozens more.

4) Plan additional support for inclusion of vegan-message media into environmental film festivals, and into pro-environment public media events.

Thank you very much,

Michael A. Bedar, the Culture of Life Community, Social Network i-TV Coordinator,
Assistant to Gabriel Cousens, MD, MD(H)
Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center:
phone: 520-394-2520 x209
fax: 415-598-2409

Return to Top

8. Documentary Considers Effects of Climate Change on Women

Forwarded message from Environmental activist Jennifer Kefer:

First, thanks so much to those who have already responded. As I mentioned in a note last week, Oxfam has created an inspiring and moving documentary on the effects that climate change will have on women. The movie, “Sisters on the Planet,” is available for screenings in our communities and congregations. While the movie focuses in
particular on the role of women in fighting climate change, it is certainly appropriate for a broader audience. Liz Carty at Oxfam has generously offered to distribute free copies of the movie and background materials to us. After copies are distributed, we can arrange for a private screening and discussion for DC-based staff at the Oxfam office or a national conference call with Oxfam to discuss
programming opportunities. If you are interested in reviewing the DVD, please send me a note today (do not reply to all!) with your mailing address. I'll determine next steps based on your response.

(BTW You can learn more about the documentary at:

Jennifer Kefer
Climate and Energy Program Coordinator
Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)
1775 K St. NW Suite 320
Washington, D.C. 20006
202-212-6034 (ph)
202-212-6002 (fax)

Return to Top

9. Campaign Started to Improve Conditions for Hens in Israel

Forward message from Israeli animal rights activist Uri Lorber:

Dear Richard and Dan,

Following is a brief summary about the Campaign.

Hag Sameah,

Reduce the number of hens held in battery cages in Israel.

The campaign is intended to take advantage of the preparations for a major change in the Israeli eggs industry to improve holding conditions for hens. A government decision requires all egg coups to obtain licenses as of 2012. Licensing will depend on meeting hygiene and safety standards that many current day coops do not meet (such as not using asbestos). Therefore, many of the existing coops are expected to stop operating by 2012.

The official reasons for the reform include disease prevention, 'egg quality', and environmental and touristic considerations: coops are to be taken away from populated areas. A conspiracy theory has it that it is hoped to move much of the industry to the Galilee region.

Instead of the old coops, new ones are to be built according to new minimum standards set by the ministry of agriculture. The ministry offers subsidies for starting large-scale egg farms of at least 6000 hens and involving 3 quota-holding partners.

Farmers in the Galilee are offered state aid covering 50% of the investment, whereas in the center of the country, the support will cover 20% of the initial expenses. The state will invest in the necessary infrastructure (water, electricity) and might also offer

The need to raise funds and the forced partnerships are likely to tempt many quota-holders to sell their quotas to oligarchs who will confine the hens to cages in industrial mega-coops, while others will form partnerships and build new large-scale battery coops.

We are facing an opportunity to convince farmers, who now must invest money and planning in changing their businesses, to switch to free-range keeping methods.

Planned activities
The campaign is planned to operate in 3 channels simultaneously:

- Legal channel: our lawyers have demanded that welfare standard be put
in place as part of the reform plan, or that meeting welfare standards
be part of the conditions for receiving subsidies. If talks with
officials in the ministry of agriculture are not fruitful, legal action
might be taken on grounds of illegality of animal abuse. In addition,
meetings with lawmakers are planned.

- Education and Lobbyism: educating egg farmers on the free-range
alternatives via professional and regional publications (local press,
community message boards)

- Public campaign: a planned public campaign will put pressure on decision makers and egg farmers. The campaign will include coverage in the press, calling on rabbis to issue rulings in favor of preferring free-range eggs, calling on veterinarians to join a statement opposing the use of cages in the egg industry, calling on restaurant owners to avoid using eggs from battery cages, calling on food columnists to mention the issue in their writing, and distributing information leaflets.

[Note: JVNA prefers that there be a shift to egg substitutes, since there are generally also problems with free-range eggs.]

Return to Top

10. Vegetarian Activist Seeking Supporters To Raise Money for His Marathon Run To Support Vegetarian Outreach

Message from Boris Dolin, founder and coordinator of and a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College:

I am currently training for my third marathon running on Team Vegan Philadelphia. I have a goal of raising $500 to go to veg education causes before the race in December, and was wondering if you could send out a blurb in the next JVNA newsletter.

The more I can raise the better.

Here's a blurb you can use:

Rabbinical Student Running on Team Vegan to Raise Awareness about Veg Issues

I am training for my third marathon in November, and this time around am running on Team Vegan Philadelphia. The group is out to show that vegans are healthy and strong, and also is raising money for local and national veg outreach. I need to raise $500 by race day, and am looking for supporters. Now is your chance to help a vegan rabbinical student finish a marathon and work for justice in the process. Even a few dollars will help do important outreach work, and if I raise $1000, I will try to beat three hours :) Go to to make a pledge. Thank you for your help!

Return to Top

11. Update On Campaign To Get Environmental Podcasts Onto the Internet

Forwarded message from podcast-coordinator Joseph Puentes:

[I am working closely with Joseph in producing podcass. He has already interviewed me once.]

I just wanted you to know that new audio has been released for October on the "Vegan - Vegetarian Solutions for a Sustainable Environment" podcast: project. Have a listen to a news article by the Chair of the IPCC, Dr Rajendra Pachauri who
recommends that the world needs to "Eat Less Meat To Curb Global Warming":

also of news is the birth of the podcast RSS feed. This RSS feed will allow you to subscribe to the podcast and automatically download audio as it is released. The most popular aggragator software is iTunes so just download a free copy of iTunes and insert this RSS feed into it so you can subscribe to the podcast:

I'm continually looking for more participants. I guess I won't be happy until a point is reached where the podcast will be able to release new audio on this critically important topic each and every week. So please consider participating. Even if you don't have something original to say there are a multitude of news items that can be read for the podcast. Also there is the need for people to be in the part of "interviewer" with the understanding that the questions to be asked will be supplied (if necessary) ahead of time.

Will you help make this project as strong as it can be?


Return to Top

12. Effort to get Al Gore To Promote Vegetarianism as Part of Response to Global Climate Change

Forwarded message:

Dear Mr. Gore:

You have earned the appreciation and admiration of millions over the world due to your efforts in educating about and advocating for a sustainable climate change policy. However, with all due respect, by shying away from taking a position on a shift away from a meat-based diet, only part of the story is being told. Major reports by the mainstream UN FAO Livestock Information and Policy Branch and Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production (see links below) have documented in detail abuses of this system and concluded that it is completely unsustainable. To ignore such a significant component of our global lifestyle is, in essence, to weaken your arguments and short-change the intended audience. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to incorporate this information into your message. Inclusion of these facts will help people everywhere lighten their impact on our planet, improve their health and save the lives of literally tens of billions of our non-human brethren. That would be the hallmark of true sustainability in all its dimensions.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Ron Landskroner

Oakland, CA

Return to Top

13. International “Jewish liberation School” Will Consider Vegetarianism

Forwarded message from the Tree of Life Institute:


Our appreciation for you is as profound as your own experiences at and ongoing connection with the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center; Gabriel would now like to offer you a distinct new program, the International Jewish Liberation School.

The International Jewish Liberation School (IJLS) specifically is about the experience of the Jewish way and lineage of the past 4000 years as a great Path of Liberation in itself. It is about developing an in-depth, liberated understanding that goes into the depths of the uniqueness of the indigenous Jewish soul way of the Torah, while simultaneously expanding and incorporating the universal aspects of Avraham's message to the world. It starts with "Lech lecha," given to Avraham 4000 years ago. The IJLS is reactivating this ancient path, "Go to the Self," in the context of the Jewish Path of Liberation that includes historical-prophetic and ethical aspects. We feel this adds to the path that one may be already on, and deepens it by adding an in-depth experience of one's blood roots.

And so,

Under the auspices of the Tree of Life Foundation, A 501(c)3 religious not-for-profit corporation, as a division of the Human School of Living Arts, we celebrate the founding of the International Jewish Liberation School

Winter Program 2008 + Summer Program 2009

The International Jewish Liberation School is grateful and delighted to offer a training course in Liberation (Deveikut, God-Merging) based on the principles and practices of Hebrew Wisdom.

Our school is a reactivation of this great and lost Hebrew Liberation wisdom. This school is dedicated to sharing the great mission of Hebrew wisdom: the Democratization of Enlightenment (which is called in Hebrew wisdom sources Deveikut or He'arah). In this teaching Deveikut (Liberation) is not the province of the great masters, but a genuine option for every person. The potential for realizing one's true nature is the birthright of every human being. Every human being has the potential and possibility to realize their true nature as part of the God field and to act - compassionately and courageously - from the integrity of that realization.

SNIP (due to space limitations)


The International Jewish Liberation School is co-led by Rebbe Gabriel Cousens, M.D and Rebbe Marc Gafni, Ph.D.


Opening Week

The opening week of the Jewish Liberation School will be six nights, seven days, between Dec. 24-30, 2008. This week will be our first annual "open for all" study/ practice/ meditation intensive focused on touching into the eternal joy and internal glimpse of Jewish Liberation.

Annual Summer Course

The annual IJLS One-Year Course will start every summer, approximately in the middle two weeks of August. The length will be 13 nights and 14 days, and continue throughout the year via live video telecasts. In 2009 it will be August 9-23.

For registration and information, please contact the Tree of Life at 520-394-2520 x201.


The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center on the land in the pristine and spiritually inspiring Patagonia Mountains

Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center
686 Harshaw Rd.
POB 778
Patagonia, AZ 85624 U.S.A.

For Further and Deeper Information on the International Jewish Liberation School (IJLS)

Please read more, including "Why Are We Co-Founding the IJLS," written by both course leaders, Rebbe Gabriel Cousens, MD, and Rebbe Marc Gafni, Ph.D., as well as the four Course Components. To read on please continue to:

For Registration

Please contact the Tree of Life at 520-394-2520 x201.

With gratitude and blessings to the joy of your inner spirit,

Rebbe Gabriel Cousens, MD, MD(H)
520-394-2520 x201

Return to Top

14. Supporting California Animal Welfare Initiative

Dear Dr. Schwartz,

Do you have friends, coworkers, or family members in California? If so, please ask them to vote YES on Proposition 2 (PDF) next Tuesday. This a great opportunity to help animals and people. Don't wait to take action: Call or e-mail anyone you know in California TODAY, if you can.

Why is a “YES” vote on Proposition 2 so important? Because this California ballot initiative would end one of the most atrocious abuses of farm animals-the practice of cramming animals into cages so small that they can't even turn around or extend their limbs.

PCRM has supported Proposition 2 from the start-from gathering thousands of signatures to help get Proposition 2 on the ballot to working with our member doctors to publish op-eds and letters to the editor supporting the initiative to our ongoing get-out-the-vote efforts. We continue to work hard to encourage all Californians to vote YES on Proposition 2, and we hope you will join us by alerting your friends and family in California to this important initiative.

Proposition 2 would mandate that animals who are subjected to intensive confinement be given at least enough room to turn around and extend their limbs. Specifically, Proposition 2 would help breeding pigs, calves confined for veal, and egg-laying hens confined to battery cages.

In an effort to produce massive amounts of cheap meat and eggs, the livestock industry often mistreats animals. Breeding pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens are confined in cages so restrictive they can barely move. In these unhygienic, crowded factory farms, animals can become infected with pathogens, leading to an increased chance for a strain to emerge and spread among humans. Avian flu is a well-known and recent example. Strains of this virus led to pandemics in 1918, 1957, and 1968-and the 1918 avian flu pandemic caused 40 million human deaths. Crowding animals in unhealthy conditions also increases the risk of foodborne diseases. For example, intensively confining egg-laying hens can significantly increase the risk of Salmonella infection.

Proposition 2 would set a positive precedent for the rest of the country and could lead to a similar ballot initiative in your state. Cruelty on factory farms must stop, and human safety must be a priority. Please ask your friends and family in California to vote YES on Proposition 2 (PDF) when they go to the polls next Tuesday.

Best regards,

Kyle Ash
Government Affairs Manager

Return to Top

15. Short Video Discusses “Should Jews Be Vegetarians?”

Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg on “Judaism and Vegetarianism.”

Many thanks to Rabbi Rachamim Pauli for sending this link to us.
Return to Top

16. Promoting a Vegetarian-Friendly Secretary of Agriculture

Dear Richard and Lionel,

I am not sure if either of you are back in the USA. In case you don't know yet, Michael Pollan wrote an open letter to the next President 3 weeks ago in which he calls for the White House to “observe one meatless day a week”, among other important suggestions.

One of the candidates' camps approached Pollan and asked him to summarize what he wrote in a page or 2. Instead of explaining that food policy is a complicated issue which can't be summed up in 1 or 2 pages, Pollan probably took offence and refused to shorten his letter. An NPR reporter jokingly said that Pollan might have blown his chance of becoming the next Secretary of Agriculture. I treated the idea of Pollan being the next Secretary of Agriculture as a fantasy until Clinton's Secretary of Agriculture wrote a letter in response to Pollan's article. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we have a Secretary of Agriculture that insists the White House set the example by going meatless one day a week? Pollan has also framed food policy perfectly - it's a national security issue - it's serious and it's urgent.

I gave up on approaching legislators after I saw what happened to the Farm Bill earlier this year. The next President will have to put his cabinet together soon after the election. Most of the people I know (including the group that I am associated with) are not politically savvy. Do you think FARM or HSUS know how to get Pollan (or someone else who's as knowledgeable) on the short list for Secretary of Agriculture? What can we do as individuals to make that happen? I searched my preferred candidate's website, but didn't find a way to have my voice heard (I probably should concentrate on getting him elected first).

Any thought on this?

Thank you,

A vegetarian activist who chooses to remain anonymous

Return to Top

** Fair Use Notice **

The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of vegetarian, environmental, nutritional, health, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for educational or research purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal, technical or medical advice.