November 10, 2008

11/9/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Working to Get Vegetarian/Animal-Friendly People As Obama's Cabinet Appointees

1a. Interested in Playing a Leadership or Advisory Role For the Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society?

2. I Am Scheduled To Speak on Vegetarianism in Brooklyn Next Sunday

3. JVNA Web Site and Book Getting Recognition

4. Superb Short DVD on Meat Consumption and Global Warming

5. California Animal Welfare Proposition Passes

6. Environmental Issues and the New Administration

7. Hazon Food Conference Scheduled

8. Annual Fur-Free Friday Scheduled

9. President-Elect Obama on Dietary Connections to Global Warming

10. “Tree of Life Institute” Schedules Two Training Programs

11. JVNA Advisor Publishes a Book

12. Prodding President-Elect Obama On Global Warming

13. Update on Postville/Slaughterhouse Shut Down!/An Important Opportunity for Us?

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. Working to Get Vegetarian/Animal-Friendly People As Obama's Cabinet Appointees

With a new administration soon in Washington, let us hope that there will be positive new beginnings re the production and consumption of food, the treatment of animals, environmental sustainability and related issues.

Please consider writing letters to president-elect Barack Obama and your local newspapers promoting people for cabinet positions who are friendly to our cause.

Here is contact information for Obama's Transition Office. Let's flood it with letters and phone calls beginning today.



while Obama is still a US Senator, one could contact his office:

713 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
(202) 224-2854
(202) 228-4260 fax
(202 228-1404 TDD

a. Statement from the Audubon Society

Election Results Bring Conservation Opportunity and Need for Action -

Statement of Audubon President and CEO John Flicker following the election of President-elect Obama and the new Congress

"Voters in this historic election cast their ballots not only for change, but for a new era of hope for our environment, and the people, birds, and other wildlife that depend on it. Washington has been ignoring critical environmental issues for too long. President-elect Barack Obama and a more environmentally aware Congress offer the promise of leadership and fundamental change that could usher in new protections for America's great natural heritage, and a new lease on life for species in decline.
"Despite real reason for optimism, we cannot take conservation gains for granted. Audubon is committed to helping the new Administration and Congress to live up to their great promise; and to make conservation, clean energy and green jobs part of America's path to a brighter tomorrow.

"Through our local Chapters, state offices and national grass roots efforts, Audubon will join with others in the environmental community to ensure that our newly elected leaders lead the way on issues vital to our environment, our economy and diversity of life on Earth."

Issues demanding prompt attention include -

Presidential Appointments:

1. President-elect Obama should start by appointing to key environmental positions within his Administration qualified leaders who will defend our clean air and water, protect habitat and endangered species, aggressively address global warming, and steward our great natural heritage for future generations.

Scientific Integrity:

a. The Department of the Interior should systematically review and reverse decisions made by the past Administration under the Endangered Species Act that were influenced by political considerations and not based on sound science.
b. President-elect Obama should send a clear signal to everyone in his administration to restore and respect scientific integrity in all environmental decisions.

Global Warming and Renewable Energy:

1. President-elect Obama has said that: "We cannot afford more of the same timid politics when the future of our planet is at stake." He's right. We welcome the opportunity to help him deliver his promised $150 billion plan for clean energy technologies that would protect our environment and stimulate the economy, creating up 5 million new green jobs.
2. The Congress should pass legislation providing significant incentives for development of renewable energy such as a strong Renewables Portfolio Standard and a long-term extension of the Production Tax Credit, and pass significant legislation to address global warming with a comprehensive cap-and-trade program.
3. The new Administration and Congress must lead a transformation in American energy production and use through investments in energy efficiency and clean energy technologies. This can minimize the fluctuation of gas prices while protecting our beaches, coastal ecosystems and the Alaskan landscape from the threats of oil and gas drilling.

Endangered Species Conservation:

1) We'll work with the Administration to secure reversal of the Bush administration's weakening of the Endangered Species Act, such as the controversial decision to allow agencies to self-consult regarding the impacts of federally-approved projects on endangered species.
2) Congress should pass new tax incentives to encourage private landowners to work toward recovery of endangered species.

Bird and Habitat Conservation:

1. The Administration and the Congress should reinvest in the National Wildlife Refuge System and address the unacceptable $3.5 billion maintenance backlog crippling this critical tool for conservation.
2. The Congress should pass legislation to conserve neotropical migratory birds and address the steep declines in America's common birds that are disappearing from parks, farms, and backyards across the country.

Ecosystem Restoration:

The Administration and the Congress should fund significant new restoration projects to improve the status of America's great natural ecosystems: The Mississippi River, the Everglades, Long Island Sound, and the Great Lakes.
Your support, along with Audubon's unique chapter, state, and national presence, will enable us to seize this rare opportunity for real conservation progress in the weeks and months ahead. Please continue your grassroots advocacy to hold our leaders accountable to their conservation promises. And consider making a special gift to support this vital work. If you're not already a full-fledged Audubon member, sign up while you're there. Benefits such as our acclaimed Audubon magazine and participation in local Chapters and Center events will expand you awareness of conservation issues and offer new opportunities to make a difference.
Though economic times are hard, there's is no time like the present to shape the future of our world for birds, other wildlife, and for people too.
Help us to spread the word! Don't forward this Advisory, use the Tell-A-Friend link instead!_ Tell-a-friend!
= = =
b. One writer's suggestions for cabinet appointees are below:

Another thing you could do is to poll your group for potential candidates. My list would include:

T. Colin Campbell -

Dr. Dean Ornish - Preventive Medicine Research Institute

Dr. John McDougall

Dr. Michael Klaper

Dr. William Harris

Dr. Charles Attwood

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr, MD, Cleveland Clinic

Dr. Neal Pinckney; Dr. Neil Pinckney, etc.,

Dr. Michael Greger, MD

Dr. Hans Diehl, DrHSc, MPH, FACN, CNS, CHIP (Coronary Health Improvement Project)

Dr. Frank Sabatino, health director at Regency Health Spa,
= = =
c) A message from author and JVNA advisor Arthur Poletti follows -

Dear Richard:

They say if you can imagine something wonderful, that is within the realm of possibility, it could happen.

As you know, Senator Obama was endorsed by the United States Humane Society.

Tomorrow Senator Barack Obama will probably realize the most lop sided victory in the history of United States Presidential elections. [Not quite, but it was a solid victory, and Obama arguably has a mandate on many issues.]

For this reason I hope that you will seriously consider using your prominent position and highly respected opinions and influence to test
the water with the following recommendation which you were originally responsible for asking me to check out.

This was your idea has now become a real possibility!!

The timing could not be better.

With all the bad news about everything that is wrong about the livestock industry including being the number one cause of global warming [or at least one of the major causes, more than the entire transport industry worldwide], the timing could not be better for a vegetarian
or a vegan to become the Secretary of Agriculture.

Is there a well known vegan qualified and capable of being a great Secretary of Agriculture? Especially with the support of President Barack Obama?

Please take a close look at the following publication and especially the *attached letter* to Congressman Dennis Kucinich which you
asked me to write.

Richard, as you requested and as you know, I also mailed a supply of the one hour DVD version of the monumental masterpiece *A Sacred Duty* to Congressman Kucinich which can be ordered for free at:

Richard, I wonder how many of the people you know would agree and be willing to recommend and seriously promote Congressman Kucinich
to the position of Secretary of Agriculture?

Please check out the following publication and my attached letter to Kucinich.

Richard, unlike Al Gore and Oprah Winfrey, you and Congressman Kucinich could play a huge role in making an impossible dream come true, against all odds.

Thank you.

For the sake of all animals, all humans, the earth
and the earth's atmosphere.

Arthur Poletti
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1a. Interested in Playing a Leadership or Advisory Role For the Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society?

We are trying to reestablish and revitalize the Israeli JVS and make it a significant factor in Israeli life. If you would like to help, please let me know and please indicate a little about yourself and how you might like to help. Many thanks.

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2. I Am Scheduled To Speak on Vegetarianism in Brooklyn Next Sunday

Forwarded message:

The Flatbush Jewish Center, in Kensington Brooklyn, has invited Dr. Richard Schwartz to speak at their shul. The Rabbi of the congregation is Rabbi Shlomo Segal. Rabbi Segal felt that it would be timely to have Dr. Schwartz speak to his congregation in light of all the controversy surrounding agriprocessors and other unethical activity which has taken place in the meat industry over the last few of years. Here is information about the event:

Jewish Vegetarianism: Forbidden, Mandated or Optional?
Talk by: Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Sunday, November 16, 2008
11: 30 AM

Followed by a vegetarian lunch and questions and answers.

Location:The Flatbush Jewish Center located at 327 East 5th Street (corner of Church Avenue) in Kensington, Brooklyn, 11218

Please Note: It is wheelchair accessible.

This is a free event, in service to community.

For more information call the center at (718) - 871-5200 or visit us at

A complimentary DVD of the one-hour, highly-acclaimed documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World” will be given to the first 15 people who attend and ask for one. The complete movie may be seen at
Issues considered:

Jewish Vegetarianism: forbidden, mandated, or optional?
Should vegetarianism be on the Jewish agenda today?
Can a shift to vegetarianism reduce:
*the current epidemic of diseases in the Jewish and other

* global climate change and other environmental threats that imperil
all of humanity?

* current shortages of food, water and energy?

* the current mistreatment of farmed animals?

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3. JVNA Web Site and Book Getting Recognition

Forwarded message from Kelly Sonora

Hi Richard,

We just posted an article, "100 Must-Have Sites for Vegans, Vegetarians and Locavores"

I thought I'd bring it to your attention in case you think your readers would find it interesting.

I am happy to let you know that your site has been included in this list.

Kelly Sonora

Someone is including my book “Judaism and Vegetarianism” in a compilation of material about the 40 most influential books on animal rights.

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4. Superb Short DVD on Meat Consumption and Global Warming

VERY highly recommended! VERY powerful!

Thanks to JVNA advisor Catherine Manna for calling this excellent video to our attention.

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5. California Animal Welfare Proposition Passes

Farm Sanctuary Releases Statement on Passage of California's
Proposition 2: "Monumental Victory for Farm Animals"

Nation's Leading Farm Animal Protection Organization Celebrates Precedent-setting Phase-out of Factory Farming Confinement Systems in Largest Agricultural State

Last update: 1:12 a.m. EST Nov. 5, 2008

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. & ORLAND, Calif., Nov 05, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) --

This evening, Farm Sanctuary, the nation's leading farm animal protection organization, celebrates a landmark victory for farm animals: the passage of Proposition 2 in California. The YES on Prop 2 campaign was run by Californians for Humane Farms, a coalition headed by Farm Sanctuary and the Humane Society of the United States.

This law phases out some of the most restrictive confinement systems used by factory farms -- gestation crates for breeding pigs, veal crates for calves and battery cages for egg laying hens -- affecting 20 million farm animals in the state by simply granting them space to stand up, stretch their limbs, turn around and lie down comfortably.

This evening, Farm Sanctuary's President and Co-Founder Gene Baur released a statement on the Prop 2 victory:

"The passage of Prop 2 in the country's largest agricultural state marks a monumental victory for farm animals. This campaign did an amazing job of raising public awareness about the cruel treatment farm animals endure at the hands of an industry that has consistently fought meaningful change for animals. Farm Sanctuary supporters and campaign volunteers have seen California voters respond with reason
and compassion agreeing that all animals deserve humane treatment.

Today marks a significant change in the way we view and treat farm animals and falls closer in line with public sentiments and values of compassion. We look forward to seeing these confinement systems phased out nationwide."

The YES! on Prop 2 campaign has been the greatest undertaking on behalf of farm animals in U.S. history, raising enough public awareness and support to end three of the cruelest confinement systems with one ballot measure in spite of massive funding from the industry--backed opposition. Media outlets throughout the state and
nationwide have covered Prop 2 and thousands of campaign volunteers have hit the streets consistently during the past several months to raise public awareness about farm animal protection issues.

- - -

Full story:

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6. Environmental Issues and the New Administration

Forwarded message from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)

Dear Richard,

Read our post-election campaign memo.

I would like to congratulate President-elect Obama on his historic victory yesterday.

Elections are about change and this election offers us the greatest opportunity we have ever had to change course on global warming.

We must do everything we can to pass climate legislation here at home and to craft a global compact that unites the world against the common enemy of rising temperatures, melting ice caps, erratic weather and the spread of disease.

Here is our post-election campaign memo, which details the steps our scientists, economists and policy experts are taking to seize this historic opportunity.

As the plan makes clear, reducing global warming pollution, transforming our energy economy and unleashing green energy innovation must be at the top of the list of urgent national priorities for the new administration and the new Congress.

Simply put, passing effective climate legislation is not just an environmental priority. It is vital step in fixing America's very real economic and energy concerns.

The best way forward is to pass a national cap on all major sources of global warming pollution and reward businesses for cutting pollution below the limits set by the cap.

By creating market incentives to reduce global warming emissions, we can:

* Launch the new green economy;
* Liberate ourselves from our addiction to foreign oil and promote America's energy independence;
* Create thousands of new green industries and millions of new green energy jobs here at home;
* Improve America's economic competitiveness; and
*Slow, stop and reverse the catastrophic effects of run-away global warming.

Please review our Campaign Memo detailing our strategy for success both nationally and internationally.

Also, please remember-as with all Environmental Defense Fund initiatives of such size and scope-this campaign cannot go forward without a significant response from the members of our online supporters and activists.

The best way you can help right now is to pass this email on to five friends and family members to enlist them in our campaign to win historic global warming action next year.

Thanks for your support and activism. With your continued support, we will make history in our campaign against global warming.


Fred Krupp

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7. Hazon Food Conference Scheduled

[JVNA advisor Roberta Schiff will be attending and showing our documentary A SACRED DUTY at the conference. If you would like to attend and help get DVDs to some of the attendees and help spread the JVNA message, in general, please register. Thanks.]

December 25-28, 2008
Shabbat Chanukah

Asilomar Conference & Retreat Center On the Monterey Coast, California

Register Today

Don't miss Rabbi Morris Allen, founder of Hekhsher Tzedek, and Rabbi Seth Mandel, the head mashgiach at the OU, discussing the Future of Kosher Meat in America

Learn about The Labor Behind our Food from Rachel Biale at Progressive Jewish Alliance

Build a worm bin, make pickles, or raw vegan latkes and much, much more…

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

For more highlights or to register, visit

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8. Annual Fur-Free Friday Scheduled

Caring Activists Against Fur and NYC Animal Rights join forces Fur Free Friday march & protest at Lord & Taylor and Macy's (NYC)

The largest shopping day of the year we will reach thousands of people. We need to make this protest HUGE. We have large screen videos and many other cool visuals. Please come out for the Animals! Just a few hours of your time.

1:00pm - Gather at Lord & Taylor holiday windows (5th Ave., near 38th St.) - shopper outreach.

1:20pm March to Macy's; Protest at Macy's (1:45 - 3:00) 151 W 34th St (34th btwn 7th & Broadway)

** We will have a bullhorn at this event if you are looking for a quiet event this is not the one :D

Check out Fur Free Friday 2007


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9. President-Elect Obama on Dietary Connections to Global Warming

Good News! I came across an interview TIME did with Obama when I was digging around, trying to figure out how to get our message to Obama and how to get Michael Pollen on the short list for Secretary of Agriculture. The interview was done before the election (10/23). Since the pundits all agreed that talking about going meatless (or reducing meat consumption) would be suicidal during an election campaign, Obama did not use words like 'meat' or 'animal agriculture'. However, judging from what he said during the interview, I think it's safe to assume that he actually read Pollen's article and got the message.

Here's what he said:

“I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael Pollen about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it's creating monocultures that are vulnerable to national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because they're contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in healthcare costs. That's just one sector of the economy. You think about the same thing is true on transportation. The same thing is true on how we construct our buildings. The same is true across the board. For us to say we are just going to completely revamp how we use energy in a way that deals with climate change, deals with national security and drives our economy, that's going to be my number one priority when I get into office, assuming, obviously, that we have done enough to just stabilize the immediate economic situation.”

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10. “Tree of Life Institute” Schedules Two Training Programs


Based on the teachings of Integral Kabbalah and Integral Judaism

Gather for a Week Under the Tent of the Renowned Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center
One Mountain-Two Simultaneous Programs:

1. International Jewish Liberation School

2. Journeys Into Oblivion

The International Jewish Liberation School celebrates offering a training course in Liberation (Deveikut, God-Merging) based on the principles and practices of Integral Jewish Wisdom! IJLS is a reactivation of the great Hebrew Liberation wisdom of the Democratization of Enlightenment. Deveikut is a genuine option for every person, and is the very purpose and invitation of our lives. IJLS develops an in-depth, liberated understanding that goes to the depths unique to the indigenous, shamanic, soul way of Torah, while simultaneously expanding and incorporating the universal aspects of the Abrahamic Liberation message to the world. Why is this so overwhelmingly important to us? Because we subscribe to the hidden corollary of Hebrew Liberation teaching…that all ethical failure is ultimately rooted in a failure of realization. The International Jewish Liberation School is taught by Rebbe Gabriel Cousens, MD, and Rebbe Marc Gafni, Ph.D, and is the most important spiritual gift recently offered by Gabriel, who urges all people resonating with Jewish energy on a spiritual path to seriously consider attending, as a must.

Journeys Into Oblivion: Ancient Jewish Wisdom for the End of Times
Experience illuminating wisdom, spirited chant, deep belly-humor, and entrancing movement. What does Integral Jewish Tradition say about the quickening of events that we are experiencing in this era? What exactly is the concept of mo'shee'ach (Messiah) really about? (And is there really a Really?) "End" presupposes a Beginning; but was there really a Beginning, to begin with? Join Rabbi Gershon Winkler and Rabbi Miriam Maron, R.N., M.A., two brazen mavericks of contemporary Judaism, for a wild ride across the open-ended plains of Midrash, the slippery slopes of Talmud, the rocky ridges of Torah, the deep canyons of Tanakh and the endless labyrinth of Kabbalah. Explore teachings of old that address the new and help us to better cope with the ups and downs of everyday life in these unusual times...and beyond.

Two Unique Programs of Integral Hebrew
Liberation Energy that Will Merge
As One for Teachings and Ceremonies!

December 24-30, 2008
Learn More -
The Tree of Life is an all-kosher spiritual culinary-health retreat center on 174 acres of pristine wilderness (60 miles southwest of Tucson). Seven days and six nights at rate specially offered for Hebrew Integral Wisdom Week by the Tree of Life, $1018.11!
Please dial to register, 520-394-2520 x201

Hebrew Integral Wisdom Program
Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center
686 Harshaw Rd.
PO Box 778
Patagonia, AZ 85624

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11. JVNA Advisor Publishes a Book

Publishers Weekly Review

We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now

Edited by Murray Polner and Thomas E. Woods. Basic, $16.95 paper (368p) ISBN 9781568583853

This history of America in anti-war writing, "[co]edited by a man of the left (Polner) and a man of the right (Woods)," is an insightful, relevant and varied collection that mines a strong tradition of American protest and principle. Covering the War of 1812 through "Iraq and the War on Terror," the editors provide a brief background essay for each before ceding the page to essays, interviews, letters, poems and photos from the past 200 years. Contributors include Daniel Webster, Stephen Crane, Eugene V. Debs, Helen Keller and Howard Zinn, as well as presidents and other government officials, mothers, social justice activists, poets and songwriters. Parallels among wars and the present moment are easy to find, and the many warnings hang heavy, given the ambiguous aftermath of America's conflicts. Eisenhower's 1961 warning against the abuses of "the military-industrial complex" is a standby centerpiece worthy of another look, but much of the material is just as interesting, informative and impassioned. Foregoing any dry lessons, this history-in-protest is a valuable read for study and conversation in advance of the 2008 presidential election, and should be of interest to a wide audience not limited to history buffs, antiwar activists, and those seeking perspective on today's war.

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12. Prodding President-Elect Obama On Global Warming

Forwarded message;

Dear friend,

Global warming is the moral and scientific challenge of our time. It threatens every nation on earth, but especially those with high levels of poverty. To meet this grave challenge, the U.S. must lead.

Eight years ago, the U.S. decision to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol stalled the momentum in the fight against global warming. We can't afford another setback like that.

The United Nations will hold the next climate conference in December in Poznan, Poland, where work will begin to forge the next international climate agreement. The U.S. presence there must be strong.

Please click below to urge President-elect Obama to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Creating the next global climate agreement will not be easy, but it cannot be done without a strong commitment at the highest levels of U.S. government.

Science demands that, to avoid disaster, we must cut CO2 levels significantly, Even at current levels, climate change is already hurting people and damaging ecosystems around the world.

In Poland, President-elect Obama can commit to helping developing countries with adaptation, mitigation, and the transfer of clean technology. We can help them reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and build more sustainable economies.

Take action today. Ask Barack Obama to attend -- and play an active role at -- the upcoming climate change conference in Poznan, Poland.

Thank You!

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13. Update on Postville/Slaughterhouse Shut Down!/An Important Opportunity for Us?

Below are several articles on the current Postville situation, as well as 2 JVNA press releases on the subject. JVNA has long argued that the many problems at the Agriprocessors' largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa should be wake-up calls to the need for a major reconsideration of the realities of the production and consumption of meat and other animal products.

Please use the material below to compose letters to editors and for talking points. Also, please let us know if you have suggestions on this issue.
Agriprocessors Meltdown: On the Ground in Postville

Tue. Nov 04, 2008

Our [Forward's] Nathaniel Popper is on the ground in Postville, Iowa, reporting on the meltdown of kosher meat producer Agriprocessors.

He reports on the precarious situation of the company's animals (with exclusive video), the plight of its diverse workforce and the country's looming kosher meat shortage. These reports follow news that a bank is trying to foreclose on the troubled kosher meat company's assets, the arrest of its former CEO and a $10 million fine imposed by the state of Iowa.

For Immediate Release:
_November 7, 2008_
Contact: _Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Phone: (718) 761-5876__

Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) issued the following statement today:
__While many Jews are experiencing shortages of kosher meat and higher prices when they can find it, we see many benefits from the recent closings of three kosher slaughterhouse, including the nation's largest facility in Postville, Iowa, especially if meat production and consumption are reduced for a significant time.
These benefits will result from reduced production and consumption of meat, which is known to cause or contribute to a variety of human ailments and major environmental problems.

__* There will be a reduction in the epidemic of heart disease, several types of cancer and other diseases afflicting many Jews and others;__
* There will be a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases. While the world is increasingly threatened by global warming, a 2006 UN report indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars and other means of transportation worldwide combined (18 percent vs. 13.5 percent). And, the consumption of animal products is projected to double in 50 years. If this happens, it will make it very difficult, if not impossible, to reduce greenhouse emissions enough to avoid very severe effects from global climate change.__
* Resources will be used more efficiently In an increasingly thirsty and energy-dependent world, animal-based diets require up to 14 times as much water and 10 times as much energy as vegan (all plants) diets. __
* There will be a reduction in the number of animals who suffer greatly from cruel treatment on factory farms. __
* There will potentially be a reduction in the number of hungry people. At a time when food prices are skyrocketing, food riots are occurring in many areas and an estimated 20 million people are dying annually worldwide from hunger and its effects, over 70 percent of the grain produced in the United States and over 40 percent produced worldwide are fed to farmed animals.

__It is essential that our rabbis and other Jewish leaders recognize that a major shift toward plant-based diets is essential to avoid the unprecedented catastrophe that the world is rapidly approaching and to move our precious, but imperiled, planet to a sustainable path.__

When we read daily reports of the effects of global climate change, such as record heat waves, severe storms, widespread droughts, and the melting of glaciers and polar icecaps; when some climate scientists are warning that global climate change may spin out of control with disastrous consequences unless major changes are soon made; when a recent report indicated that our oceans may be virtually free of fish by 2050; when species of plants and animals are disappearing at the fastest rate in history; when it is projected that half of the world's people will live in areas chronically short of water by 2050; it is essential that the Jewish community fulfill our mandate to be a “light unto the nations” and lead efforts to address these critical issues.__It is urgent that tikkun olam-the healing and repair of the world -- be a central issue in synagogues, Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions.

Judaism has splendid teachings on environmental conservation and sustainability, and it is essential that they be applied to respond to the many current environmental threats.__JVNA urges rabbis and other Jewish leaders to make Jews aware of how animal-based diets and agriculture violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals compassionately, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people.

__Further information about these issues can be found at We will provide complimentary copies of its new documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD rabbis and other Jewish leaders who will contact us ( and indicate how they will use them to involve their congregations on the issues. The entire movie can be seen and further information about it can be found at (
Second press release:


For Immediate Release:
November 4, 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:

The reports of the shutdown of Agriprocessors' Postville, Iowa glatt kosher slaughterhouse and two other major kosher slaughterhouses and the resulting shortages of kosher meat (see links to two articles below) should be wake-up calls to the Jewish community to the urgent need for a major reassessment of how the current production and consumption of meat and other animal products violate basic Jewish teachings and harm people, animals and the entire planet.

Kosher meat consumers might use this unexpected major interruption to the kosher meat supply to question whether eating large amounts of meat is damaging their health and that of their children, polluting and despoiling the environment of God's green earth, causing suffering to millions of innocent animals raised through cruel factory farming practices, using up food and land which is needed to feed the world's hungry people, and linking them to unethical practices of many kinds.

The Agriprocessors' slaughterhouse in Iowa, which produced the majority of kosher meat in North America, has been convicted or persuasively accused and indicted for massive crimes and violations of law, for exploiting immigrant workers and child labor, for torturing animals, for widespread maiming of workers and OSHA violations, for extensive sexual harassment and abuse, for large-scale meth labs on their premises, and for numerous economic and tax violations. They have already been assessed millions of dollars in fines, several top managers have been indicted, hundreds of their workers have been imprisoned and deported-- and more fines, arrests. convictions, and revelations are certainly yet to come.

Evidently, the whole enterprise of the kosher killing of animals can't be easily separated from cruelty, exploitation and environmental degradation, and perhaps from illegality, and immorality.

Kosher vegetarianism is a better choice!

JVNA strongly supports efforts by many groups to improve conditions at kosher slaughterhouses. But, even if these conditions become far better, we believe that it is still urgent that Jews shift away from animal-based diets because they have many negative effects and involve many inconsistencies with Jewish law and values:

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

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

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

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

* A 2006 UN FAO report indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (18 percent in CO2 equivalents) than all the world's cars and other means of transportation combined (13.5 percent), and that the number of farmed animals is projected to double in 50 years. Therefore, what we eat is more important than what we drive and consciousness about both are ethical imperatives.

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

We urge that tikkun olam-the healing and repair of the world -- be a central issue in synagogues, Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions. Judaism has marvelous teachings on environmental conservation and sustainability, and it is essential that they be applied to respond to today's many current environmental threats.

Further information about these issues can be found at our JVNA web site http://www. 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 and a complimentary copy requested at, and there is much background material about the film at that web site.


Support for our argument that the mass production and widespread consumption of meat conflict with Judaism in at least six important areas:

1. While Judaism mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives, numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease, stroke, many forms of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases.

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

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

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

5. While Judaism stresses that we are to assist the poor and share our bread with hungry people, over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, while an estimated 20 million people worldwide die because of hunger and its effects each year.

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

In view of these important Jewish mandates to preserve human health, attend to the welfare of animals, protect the environment, conserve resources, help feed hungry people, and pursue peace, and since animal-centered diets violate and contradict each of these responsibilities, JVNA believes that committed Jews (and others) should sharply reduce or eliminate their consumption of animal products.

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

November 4, 2008

Dear Editor:

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), I believe that the reports of the shutdown of Agriprocessors' Postville, Iowa glatt kosher slaughterhouse and the resulting shortages of kosher meat should be wake-up calls to the Jewish community to the urgent need for a major reassessment of how the current production and consumption of meat and other animal products violate basic Jewish teachings and harm people, animals and the entire planet.

Even if conditions at the slaughterhouse are greatly improved, we should still consider that the production and consumption of meat and other animal products: (1) violate basic Jewish teachings to protect human health, treat animals properly, preserve the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people; (2) contribute to heart disease, many types of cancer and other chronic, degenerative diseases; and (3) contribute to global warming and other environmental problems that threaten humanity.

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz

Below are recent articles re the situation from (1) JTA and (2) the Forward

Possible collapse of Agri prompts fears of kosher meat shortage

By Ben Harris · November 3, 2008 JTA

NEW YORK (JTA) -- With the kosher meat producer Agriprocessors facing mounting financial problems, including the possibility of foreclosure, industry insiders say the company is finished and that kosher consumers should brace themselves for some rough times.

Agriprocessors in the past week or so has endured a cascade of awful news. First, Iowa's labor commissioner hit the company with nearly $10 million in fines for alleged wage violations. Then, the son of the company's founder was arrested on charges that he helped purchase fake identification for the company's illegal workers. And on Oct. 31, news broke that a St. Louis bank had initiated foreclosure proceedings after Agriprocessors and its owners defaulted on a $35 million loan.
Kosher industry insiders are predicting that the company will not pull through. Company officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Short-term disruptions in the supply of kosher meat, particularly kosher and glatt kosher beef, are now widely expected. Rabbi Menachem Genack, the head of kosher supervision for the Orthodox Union, said he already has heard from communities that have no supply.

“There is going to be a sharp decline in availability immediately,” said Genack, adding that the company is trying to survive but that the situation is grim.
Agriprocessors representatives have had virtually nothing to say publicly over the past week as they faced a succession of ominous developments. But Bernard Feldman, the New York tax attorney hired in September as the company's new chief executive officer, offered one stark prediction to the Des Moines Register.

“I don't believe we're going to have substantial production of any kind in the near future,” Feldman said in Monday's edition.

Agriprocessors has been reeling since May 12, when federal authorities conducted what at the time was the largest immigration raid in U.S. history in Postville, arresting nearly half the company's workforce. The company's troubles have only intensified in the last week.

In addition to the foreclosure by First Bank of St. Louis and the arrest of Sholom Rubashkin, the staffing company responsible for approximately half of the labor at the Postville plant suspended its contract. Beef production has been shut down for several days. And reports out of Postville suggest that the company lacks the resources to slaughter and process the chickens in its possession, though some chicken slaughtering reportedly is taking place.

A federal judge placed the company in temporary receivership after First Bank filed a lawsuit alleging that Agriprocessors and its owners defaulted on a $35 million loan. The lawsuit demands the return of the bank's collateral-a category that includes “virtually all” of the owners' personal property as well as the company's accounts receivable, inventory and proceeds.

Agriprocessors also has received a power disconnect notice, the Des Moines Register reported. The company's electric utility, Alliant Energy, reportedly is working with the company to work out a payment plan. Meanwhile, a relative of the company's owners has issued a call for the Jewish community to donate funds to help save the company.

Kosher industry insiders, including Agriprocessors' competitors, uniformly believe that the company's collapse would be a disaster for the country's kosher meat supply. Agriprocessors has been a pioneer in the industrial-scale production of kosher beef, and in many smaller Jewish communities its products are the only kosher ones available.

“For the kosher marketplace, there's no question there's going to be short-term shortages of kosher and glatt kosher meat and poultry,” said Elie Rosenfeld, a spokesman for Empire Kosher, a poultry producer. “The industry overnight cannot pick up the decreased level of volume that Agriprocessors has been doing over the last couple of months.”

Rosenfeld said his client continues to see growing demand for its product, but he would not comment on reports that Empire has been exploring opportunities to begin producing kosher beef.

Third Kosher Slaughterhouse Halts Production, Heightening Worries About Meat Shortage

Fire at Minnesota Plant Follows Shutdowns of Two Agriprocessors Facilities
By Nathaniel Popper
Mon. Nov 03, 2008 The Forward

POSTVILLE, Iowa - In developments that are likely to cripple the availability of kosher beef in large parts of America, three of the five largest slaughterhouses producing kosher beef have halted production this week.

All eyes have been on the nation's largest kosher slaughterhouse, in Postville, Iowa, which stopped producing beef last week due to a series of legal problems and arrests at its parent company, Agriprocessors. That company also owns a slaughterhouse in Gordon, Neb., which is thought to be the nation's fifth-largest plant producing kosher meat. While little attention has been paid to the Gordon plant, local officials told the Forward that it stopped operating in October.
Now, in unrelated developments, executives at America's third-largest kosher beef slaughterhouse, located in Minnesota, told the Forward that production there has been brought to a complete halt due to a fire.

“We're not killing anything right now,” said Bill Gilger, CEO of North Star Beef, which is located in Buffalo Lake, Minn. “We're adding to the shortage of kosher beef, having nothing to do with what is going on Postville, but just to do with our own situation here.”

“Whatever it is, there's going to be a tremendous void in the market,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, head of O.U. Kosher, the largest certifying agency for kosher meat.
The largest player in the kosher beef industry has been Agriprocessors. Last week, the company's former CEO was arrested on the same day that a bank initiated foreclosure proceedings against the meat producer. The company had been killing more than 500 head of cattle each day in kosher production, but that number has grown smaller and smaller since an immigration raid in May took away nearly 400 of the company's workers.

Last week, the plant stopped all production of beef, and on Monday the company's new CEO said that the company would not be producing meat again anytime soon. In Postville this weekend, operations at the plant were being shut down, and employees were making plans to leave the city.

In Gordon, Neb., Agriprocessors had been producing nearly 150 cattle each day, according to the Gordon city manager, Fred Hlava. Hlava said that production ceased before the Jewish High Holy Days in October and has not started again. Hlava said he has had trouble getting any good information from Agriprocessors.

“I'm not sure what's transpiring,” Hlava told the Forward.

Before the raid, Agriprocessors did a significant amount of beef slaughtering at a plant in South America. Those operations have also stopped.

Beef production at the North Star Beef facility in Minnesota had been sold under the label of Alle, a kosher meat company based in the New York City borough of Queens. Alle slaughters its kosher beef at two slaughterhouses owned by other companies. The largest slaughterhouse that Alle uses, Aurora Packing Company in Illinois, is still operating. Marvin Fagel, Aurora's CEO, told the Forward that he is aware of the shortages.

“We can't just make more products,” Fagle said. “We can't work longer.”
North Star was Alle's second-largest slaughter facility, where 330 cattle a day were in kosher production as recently as last week, according to Gilger, the North Star Beef CEO. Alle representatives at the Queens headquarters on Monday could not be reached for comment.

Gilger said that a contractor had started a fire in the slaughterhouse in June that affected the area where kosher meat was soaked and salted. Slaughtering had stopped for two weeks immediately after the fire in June but had begun again. Recently, though, Gilger said the insurance company had failed to cover the costs of the fire.
“We've got a $3 million business interruption claim, and they haven't paid a dime,” Gilger said.

Gilger said that production will be down on Monday and Tuesday but that the company is hoping to begin slaughtering again on Wednesday.
“There's a definite shortage of kosher beef right now,” Gilger said.
NY Times article:
November 6, 2008, NYTimes

Large Iowa Meatpacker in Illegal Immigrant Raid Files for Bankruptcy

The kosher meatpacking company in Iowa that has been struggling with criminal charges and huge fines for labor violations, a dwindling work force and declining demand among Jewish consumers since an immigration raid at its main plant, has filed for bankruptcy.

The filing late Tuesday by Agriprocessors Inc. signaled the demise of a company that has been operated by a single family: the owner, Aaron Rubashkin, and his son Sholom, who built the company into the country's dominant supplier of kosher meat.
The company began to founder after 389 illegal immigrants, about half its work force, were arrested on May 12 in a raid at its plant in Postville, Iowa. The immigrants reported under-age employees and what they said were abusive work conditions to the authorities.

Although demand for Agriprocessors' products declined after the raid, supermarkets and butcher shops nationwide supplying Jews who observe strict dietary laws reported shortages of kosher meat this week, after the plant stopped slaughtering cattle a week ago. Agriprocessors sells meat under the Rubashkin's, Aaron's Best and Shor Harbor labels, among others.

“It's chaos out there; the shortage is all over the country,” said Menachem Lubinsky, the editor of, which monitors kosher food markets. “Everybody has begun to scramble.”

In documents filed in bankruptcy court in the Eastern District of New York, Agriprocessors, whose headquarters is in Brooklyn, reported annual earnings of $300 million before the raid, the first revenue figures made public for the privately owned company. It reported debt of $50 million to $100 million.

Blaming “difficult circumstances involving a raid” for its financial woes, Agriprocessors, which filed under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code, said it was seeking new financing to restructure its business. It opted to declare bankruptcy after its major creditor, First Bank Business Capital of Missouri, foreclosed last week on a $35 million loan. The foreclosure is suspended while the bankruptcy proceeds.

“We are filing this to reinvigorate the company,” said Agriprocessors's lawyer in the bankruptcy, Kevin J. Nash.

In Postville, a town of 2,200 in northeastern Iowa, residents said there was an unfamiliar calm on Wednesday as activity at the big plant at the edge of town fell to a low. Long before the raid, the Rubashkins had clashed with residents in Postville, where low pay, unpaid overtime and safety violations at the plant were a frequent subject of local gossip. But residents were deeply worried at the prospect that their largest employer by far would close.

“I think that people would prefer a different owner,” said the Rev. Paul Ouderkirk, the priest at St. Bridget's Catholic Church in Postville, which has been supporting the families of dozens of immigrants arrested in the raid. “But it would be very, very tragic if the plant shut down.”

While Agriprocessors blamed the raid for its bankruptcy filing, Iowa labor experts said the company created many of its own troubles by hiring large numbers of illegal immigrants and paying them wages far below the industry standard, and by maintaining contentious relations with state labor authorities and fiercely resisting unions.

“They left themselves exposed by their utter refusal to play by the rules,” said Mark Grey, a sociology professor at the University of Northern Iowa who studies recent immigration to Iowa.

Union officials said the Postville plant stood out from other Iowa packinghouses for the frequency of its labor violations.

“If there was a hall of shame for employers in this industry, Agriprocessors would have its own wing,” said Mark Lauritsen, international vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers, a union that has long tried to gain a foothold at the plant.

Demand for Agriprocessors's brands began to decline after the company's labor practices were criticized by a movement of Conservative and Reform Jews, who are seeking to add a new seal, known as Hekhsher Tzedek, to kosher-certified food. It would signify it was produced according to Jewish ethics.

Religious authorities at the Orthodox Union, the country's major certifier of kosher food, said they were working with the top manager at Agriprocessors, Bernard S. Feldman, to find new owners or managers for the company. Mr. Feldman took charge of the company in late September.

If the Postville plant closes, it would leave “a significant void in the market that cannot easily be reproduced,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, the chief executive of the kosher-certifying arm of the Orthodox Union.

Sholom Rubashkin, the former chief executive of Agriprocessors, was arrested last week by federal authorities on charges of conspiracy to harbor illegal immigrants. Sholom and Aaron Rubashkin were also facing state criminal charges in Iowa for employing more than 30 under-age workers at the plant, and Iowa labor authorities have levied $10 million in fines for wage violations.

In Postville, residents were dismayed by a report posted on a Jewish Web site,, saying that Sholom Rubashkin held a celebration in Postville last week after he was released from detention on $1 million bail.

About 300 illegal immigrant workers, most of them from Guatemala, were convicted on federal charges after the raid. Most served five months in prison and were deported

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