December 21, 2008

12/21/2008 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy Chanukah!

2. Shift to Vegetarianism Can Help Reduce World Hunger

3. Debate at Yeshiva University on Kashrut and Ethics Posted on the Internet

4. My New Position and Initiative

5. Getting Vegetarianism Onto Barack Obama's Agenda

6. Environmental Initiatives in Israel

7. Israeli Animal Rights Group Protests Against Horse Carriage Trade

8. Podcast Relates Animal Rights to Environmental Sustainability

9. Petition to Change Bidens' Choice of a Dog

10. My Latest Radio Interview on “Judaism and Vegetarianism”

11. Do we Need a Secretary of Food?

12. Relating Biodiversity to Global Warming

13. Getting Animal Rights Issues onto Barack Obama's Agenda

14. Message From One Vegetarian Activist/A Good Model

15. Recent Items on Religion and Environmental Issues

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. Happy Chanukah!

With Chanukah beginning at sundown tonight, on behalf of JVNA, I want to wish everyone a happy, meaningful Chanukah. My article “Chanukah and Vegetarianism” (and articles relating all of the Jewish holidays to vegetarianism) can be found in the holidays section of

Below is an article I co-authored with author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook. Please use the material in these articles to compose letters to editors, for talks and articles and for talking points. Thanks.
Another Miracle of Chanukah
Daniel Brook, Ph.D. & Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Hope springs eternal. Indeed, it's always been an integral part of Jewish history, spirituality, and politics. Without hope, there wouldn't be a Chanukah; without hope, there might not even be a Jewish community. That's the power of radical hope!

Jewish survival is a miracle of hope. Increasing light at the darkest time of the year to celebrate Chanukah and Jewish survival is also a miracle. This year (2008/5769), Chanukah begins on Sunday night, December 21st, which is also the Winter Solstice. Each year, we should work and hope for further miracles.

We sincerely hope that Jews will enhance their celebrations of this ancient, beautiful, and spiritually-meaningful holiday of Chanukah by making it a time to strive even harder to live up to Judaism's highest moral values and teachings. For most of us, we certainly don't need more “things” in our homes; instead, we need more meaning, purpose, and spirit in our lives. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this. One significant way we can do this, on a daily basis, is by moving towards vegetarianism.

Chanukah commemorates the single small container of pure olive oil - expected to be enough for only one day - which, according to the Talmud (Shabbat 21b), miraculously lasted for eight days in the rededicated Temple on the 25th of Kislev 165 BCE, exactly two years after it was defiled by the Syrian-Greeks, who were ruled by the tyrannical King Antiochus IV. In kabalistic (Jewish mystical) thought, according to Avi Lazerson, “oil is symbolic of chochmah (wisdom), the highest aspect of the intellect from which inspirational thought is derived”.

A switch to vegetarianism would be using our wisdom and compassion to help inspire another great miracle: the end of the tragedy of world hunger, therefore ensuring the survival of tens of millions of people annually. Currently, from one-third to one-half of the world's grain, and about three-quarters of major food crops in the U.S. (e.g., corn, wheat, soybeans, oats), is fed to animals destined for slaughter, while about one billion poor people chronically suffer from malnutrition and its debilitating effects, tens of thousands of them consequently dying each day, one every few seconds.

Maimonides, the great rabbi, physician, and scholar known as the Rambam, who wrote that the pain of people is the same as the pain of other animals (Guide for the Perplexed), ruled that one must literally sell the clothes one is wearing, if necessary, to fulfill the mitzvah of lighting the menorah and celebrating the miracle (Hil. Chanukah 4:12). Uniting physical needs and spiritual needs is vitally important for the body, the mind, and the spirit. In the joyous process of celebrating our festival of freedom and light, other beings shouldn't have to be enslaved and killed by our tyranny over them. No one should ever have to die on our account.

Chanukah represents the victory of the idealistic and courageous few, over the seemingly invincible power and dominant values of the surrounding society. We learn through both our religious studies and history that might does not make right, even if it sometimes rules the moment. Therefore, quality is more important than quantity; spirituality is more vital than materialism, though each is necessary. “Not by might and not by power, but by spirit”, says Zechariah 4:6, part of the prophetic reading for Shabbat Chanukah. Today, vegetarians are relatively few in number, though growing, and billions of captive factory farm animals are powerless to defend themselves, but the highest ideals and spirit of Judaism are on their side.

Still believing in brute force, materialism, and greed, the world presently spends a staggering and nearly unimaginable $1 trillion on total military might annually (over half of that amount is by the U.S. alone), while half the world's population barely survives on $2 a day or less and, as noted, some don't even survive. Security does not come from superior physical forces or from authoritarian political conditions, as the Chanukah story and contemporary events remind us. Collective security lies in a just and sustainable society, what Martin Luther King, Jr. described as “positive peace”, just as personal security lies in a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. These are deeply and intimately related.

The Jewish anti-imperialist insurgency, led by the Macabees, was sparked when a pig was killed and Rabbi Eleazar and other Jews were ordered to eat it. Those who refused, including nonagenarian Rabbi Eleazar, were summarily killed. According to the Book of Macabees, some Macabees lived on plant foods - to “avoid being polluted” - when they hid in caves and in the mountains to escape capture. Further, the major foods associated with Chanukah, latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts), are vegetarian foods - as is chocolate gelt! - and the vegetable oils that are used in their preparation are a reminder of the pure vegetable oil (olive) used in the lighting of the Temple's Menorah.

The miracle of the oil brings the use of fuel and other resources into focus. One day's oil was able to last for eight days in the Temple, a miracle of resource conservation. Conservation and energy-efficiency are sacred acts and vegetarianism allows resources to go much further, since far less oil, water, land, topsoil, chemicals, labor, and other agricultural resources are required for plant-based diets than for animal-centered diets, while far less waste, pollution, and greenhouse gases are produced. For example, it can require up to 78 calories of non-renewable fossil fuel for each calorie of protein obtained from factory-farmed beef, whether kosher or otherwise, but only 2 calories of fossil fuel to produce a calorie of protein from soybeans.

Reducing our use of oil by shifting away from the mass production and consumption of meat - thereby making supplies last longer, freeing us from our dangerous dependence on oil as well as oily authoritarian governments, and diminishing the availability of petro-dollar funds for terrorists and others - would surely be a fitting way to celebrate the miracles of Chanukah. By conserving oil, commemorating how one's day's worth of oil lasted for eight, and by reducing our dependence on it, we can create what Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center calls a “green menorah” and a green Chanukah. In this way, we support ethical lifestyles and holy communities on this festival and throughout the year.

In addition to resource conservation and economic efficiency, a switch toward vegetarianism would greatly benefit the health of individuals, the condition of our environment, and would sharply reduce the suffering and death of billions of animals. Further, the social, psychological, and spiritual benefits should not be underestimated. Many people who switch to a vegetarian diet report feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually better. And more and more Jews and others are doing just that!

Chanukah also represents the triumph of idealistic non-conformity. Like the Hebrew prophets, the Macabees fought for their inner beliefs, rather than conforming to external pressure. They were willing to proudly exclaim: this we believe, this we stand for, this we are willing to struggle for. Like the great Prophets and the celebrated Macabees, vegetarians represent this type of progressive non-conformity by an inspired minority. At a time when most people, especially in wealthier countries, think of animal products as the main part of their meals, vegetarians are resisting and insisting that there is a better, healthier, more compassionate, more environmentally sustainable, and ethical choice, one that better fits with our religious values and philosophical beliefs.

Jewish sages compared candles to our souls and the light to the Torah (Proverbs 20:27), noting that the fire of a candle always strives to go upward. In this way, we kindle souls with the ethical light of our tradition. Candles are lit for each of the eight nights of Chanukah, symbolizing a turning from darkness to light, from despair to hope, from oppression to miracles. According to the prophet Isaiah, the role of Jews is to be a “light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:6). “Light is sown for the righteous” (Psalm 97:11) and, as our sages have said, it only takes a little light to dispel much darkness. Vegetarian activists are like the shamesh, the servant candle, which helps to spread light without itself being diminished. We do not lose anything by helping ourselves and others; indeed, we gain in righteousness. Vegetarianism can be an effective way of adding light and hope to the darkness of a world still suffering with factory farms and slaughterhouses - and their attendant negative consequences - as well as with other systems and symbols of violence and oppression.

The word Chanukah means dedication, while the Hebrew root of the word means education. Each year, we should re-educate ourselves about the horrible realities of factory farming and slaughterhouses, as well as re-dedicate and beautify our inner temples. We can do this by practicing the powerful Jewish teachings and highest values of Judaism, as another way to “proclaim the miracle” of Chanukah and Jewish renewal. These sacred values and holy deeds (mitzvot) include compassion for others, including animals (tsa'ar ba'alei chayim), preserving one's health (pekuach nefesh), conservation of resources (bal tashchit), proper spiritual intention (kavanah), righteousness and charity (tzedakah), peace and justice (shalom v'tzedek), being partners in creation (shomrei adamah), healing our world (tikun olam), and increasing in matters of holiness (ma'alin bakodesh v'ayn moridim, going from strength to strength, just as Hillel successfully argued that we should light the menorah for the eight days in ascending order).

Chanukah commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from the Syrian-Greeks. In our time, vegetarianism can be a step toward deliverance of society from various modern plagues and tragedies, including global warming, world hunger, deforestation, air and water pollution, species extinction, resource depletion, heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, obesity, rising health care costs, and lost productivity, among others.

One way to achieve the wonderful aspirations of Judaism is by switching to a vegetarian diet. A shift toward vegetarianism can also be a major factor in the rededication and renewal of Judaism, as it would further demonstrate that Jewish values are not only relevant but essential to everyday personal life and global survival.

The letters on a diaspora dreidel are an acronym for nes gadol hayah sham, a great miracle happened there. May the celebration of this joyous holiday inspire another miracle within each of us.

May we all have a happy, healthy, and miraculous Chanukah!

For more information, please visit the Jewish Vegetarians of North America web site at and The Vegetarian Mitzvah site at

Daniel Brook, Ph.D., is the author of Modern Revolution (2005), Understanding Sociology (2007), and dozens of articles. He maintains The Vegetarian Mitzvah at, is a member of the Advisory Committee of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, and can be contacted via

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D., is the author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival, and over 150 articles located at . He is President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) (, Coordinator of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV) (, and can be contacted via

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2. Shift to Vegetarianism Can Help Reduce World Hunger

Common Press Release:

More hunger in the world calls for more ethical living

FAO: Number of hungry people rises to 963 million (9 December 2008)

17 December 2008

For people with compassion and a sense of responsibility, the FAO warning that another '40 million people have been pushed into hunger this year' came as a shock.

How could that happen given that our international leaders are so committed to universal values: In December 2008, the UN celebrated the 60thanniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, and also a "UN Climate Change Conference" took place in Poland. Only in September 2008, world leaders discussed the Millennium Development Goals with the aim of reversing "the grinding poverty, hunger and disease affecting billions of people." Last year the World Food Programme (WFP) gave assistance to 86.1 million people in 80 countries.

Yet the world hunger problem is exploding. Almost one billion people are now affected, even though the veg protein given to the beef herd alone would feed them all, and many more.

A grim scenario

Without a radical change of course, the future is looking dark: The FAO expects that the demand for feed will double by 2050 because of growing meat and dairy consumption, WWF warns that "two planets" would be required to sustain current lifestyles within a generation", and only very few countries do remain within their "biocapacity". So there will be more suffering if we don't stop living beyond our means. Even a new kind of colonialism may develop when affluent countries satisfy their meat and biofuel needs by buying up and exploiting poor far-away regions, pushing local populations into poverty and starvation and polluting their soil, water and air.

Vegetarianism against eco-crunch

The problem of world hunger is not a natural disaster because, right now ,Mother Earth is still able to provide for us all. A wisely managed agriculture must at least secure this status-quo. But that's not enough! Jazzed-up and questionable old FAO concepts (cloning, genetical engineering, more fertilizers etc) are obviously not suitable to overcome new challenges.We need a fresh outlook, based on affordability, sustainability and fairness. Environmental destruction by the meat industry must be addressed and stopped.

IPCC chief: "Don't eat meat"

In a press conference in Paris last January, the Indian scientist Rajendra Pachauri highlighted "the importance of lifestyle changes". It's now high time for FAO's Dr. Diouf and his scientists to listen to their UN colleague and Nobel Prize-winner Pachauri! Vegetarianism is a beneficial gate into a more humane future: It helps the hungry. It helps the environment. It helps us all.


Acção Animal, Portugal
AgireOra Network, Italy
Association Végétarienne de France, France
Bunny Huggers, Edinburgh, UK
Centro Vegetariano, Portugal
EVA vzw - Ethisch Vegetarisch Alternatief, Belgium
European Vegetarian and Animal News Alliance (EVANA),International
MATP - Movimento Anti-Touradas de Portugal, Portugal
Oriente no Porto - Alternativa Multicultural, Portugal
Romanian Vegetarian Society, Romania
Swiss Union for Vegetarianism, Switzerland
The Nutrition Ecology International Center - NEIC, Italy


Please sign also the petition 'FOOD vs FEED' to the UN

Important Note: If you are interested in exchanging ideas about all aspects_of vegetarianism, in planning and organising campaigns, please contact us.
EVANA, e-mail:

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3. Debate at Yeshiva University on Kashrut and Ethics Posted on the Internet

Very interesting discussion re Postville and how Jews should respond. The final speaker asks several times, “Where is our moral courage,” but, as usual, the option of vegetarianism is not considered at all.

Thanks to JVNA's very dedicated and capable secretary/treasurer John Diamond for sending this link to us.

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4. My New Position and Initiative

As indicated, I have become director of a new group “Veg Climate Alliance,” a group that will try to get support from many groups and influential and knowledgeable individuals for press releases and other statements designed to greatly increase awareness of the absolute necessity of a major shift to plant-based diets to avoid an unprecedented catastrophe due to global warming and other environmental threats.

Please check out the web site below, and let me know what you think. Suggestions very welcome:

More planned on this for the next year-end JVNA newsletter.

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5. Getting Vegetarianism Onto Barack Obama's Agenda

Forwarded message from author and JVNA activist Dan Brook:
I'm not sure if you've heard, but there's a movement of citizens inspired by the
presidential campaign who are now submitting ideas for how they think the
Obama Administration should change America . It's called "Ideas for Change
in America ."

One idea is titled: Go vegan! Go vegan as a FAMILY!.

I thought you might be interested in getting involved. You can read more and vote for the idea by clicking the following link:

The top 10 ideas are going to be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day and will be supported by a national lobbying campaign run by, MySpace, and more than a dozen leading nonprofits after the Inauguration. So each idea has a real chance at becoming policy.

pass it on....

Eco-Eating-Eating as if the Earth Matters -
Paul McCartney - Devour the Earth -
A Sacred Duty -
most constructive -

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6. Environmental Initiatives in Israel

Forwarded message:

Dear Green Zionist,

The recent municipal elections and the upcoming national elections in Israel, has provided great opportunities for the Israeli environmental movement. Read below about Naomi Tsur, the former head of the Sustainable Jerusalem Coalition who is now Jerusalem's Deputy Mayor, and about Israel's leading environmental advocates, including the founders of the Green Zionist Alliance (GZA), who have formed a new Israeli environmental party, the Green Movement Party, to compete in February's Knesset elections.

We at the GZA applaud these leaders for working within the system to accomplish real results, and wish them the best of luck in the months ahead. We look forward to working with both the Municipality of Jerusalem and the Green Movement Party to help them accomplish the goal of a sustainable Israel.

Additionally, campaigns for the World Zionist Congress elections are now gearing up. In less than 12 months the Green Zionist Alliance will once again compete to represent American vision at the Congress. See below for how you can help us in this important campaign.

Naomi Tsur Named Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem

"The Municipality of Jerusalem is now a partnership with the Green Zionist Alliance. Together we will make a difference." Naomi Tsur, Nov 27th, 2008

[I have worked with Naomi several times in Israel and I am delighted at the news that she will be deputy mayor of Jerusalem.

Barkat's top environmentalist vows to green the capital

By Ehud Zion Waldoks
Jerusalem Post
Nov 13th, 2008

Naomi Tsur understands the environmental challenges facing Jerusalem. For 10 years, she has led the nongovernmental efforts to rehabilitate the capital as the head of SPNI's Jerusalem office and as founder of the Sustainable Jerusalem coalition of 60 environmental groups. Now, she's going to tackle those same issues for the next five years - but this time from the other side.

As the No. 3 spot on Mayor-elect Nir Barkat's winning list, she's going to be spearheading any changes the city makes to beautify the city in the near future.

Tsur, who made aliya from England in 1966 and lives in the capital's Kiryat Moshe neighborhood, rattled off with easy authority on Thursday a slew of environmental issues the Barkat administration would be facing. At the same time, she readily admitted that she did not yet know where plans and projects stood in the municipality, which would dictate in part how they tackled the situation.

One immediate change, however, came through clearly - the municipality could not rule from on high, but rather in a "synergy" with the city's residents and civil society.

"What is really lacking is public participation in planning processes. We need a process to get wisdom from neighborhood residents, so we can solve problems, but in a way that makes sense [for local residents]. There hasn't been enough done in the last two decades," Tsur told The Jerusalem Post.

"It comes down to a valley here and a bus stop there. We have to deal with the details and not just general plans. We will establish general forums for public participation. People in the neighborhoods know what they need and need to develop local leadership," she said.

Israel Green Movement Running a Slate in Upcoming Knesset Elections

Imageby Daniella Cheslow
Green Prophet
Dec 1st, 2008

Eight months ago, Israeli environmental veterans founded Tnua Yeruka, or the Green Movement. Led by Eran Ben-Yemini, the founder of the student environmental movement Megama Yeruka, and by veteran Israeli environmentalist Alon Tal, Tnua Yeruka aims to marry the values of the green worldview with those of traditional left-wing parties, such as reducing the gaps between the rich and poor and negotiating with the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon. The full party platform is here.

Green Prophet sat with Green Movement spokesperson Rami Livni last week in a café on Tel Aviv's King George Street. Currently the Media Project Coordinator at the Heschel Center, Livni has an MA in literature from Tel Aviv University and was foreign editor at Haaretz. In jeans and a light green t-shirt bearing the Green Movement logo, Livni explained the history and vision of his party.

There is already one green party, Hayerukim (The Greens) in Israel. Why a new environmental party?

The green political option is a part of any normal, Western political system, as the third strongest one, in countries like France and Germany. Israel doesn't have to be different. Of course as long as it is not a narrow, niche party, but green in its broad meaning - including social, political, civic and humanist principles.

GZA Gearing up for next Zionist Congress Elections, Calling all Volunteers

Thanks to the work, financial support and votes of hundreds of dedicated individuals such as yourself, The Green Zionist Alliance played an important role in the 35th World Zionist Congress in 2006. [I was on the last Green Zionist Alliance slate, and I hope to be on it again.]Through our representation, we accomplished real policy and vision change that is now making a difference in the activities of organizations such as the Karen Kayemet L`Yisrael (KKL-JNF). Believe it or not, it is time to begin organizing again, as the next Congress election is less than 12 months away.

Our previous campaign is proof that a small group of dedicated volunteers and supporters can accomplish real change. In this election more than any other, where every 500 votes wins a seat at the table, a small group like ours can make a huge difference! Join us now as we mobilize and grow, amplifying our voice for Israel`s environment at the next Congress.

Contact Noam Dolgin,

Sign up online here

For more information on the work of the Green Zionist Alliance, please visit

For information on our partners at the Israeli Green Movement visit and their English language blog,
Green Zionist Alliance
2685 Victoria Drive
Vancouver, BC V5N 4L3

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7. Israeli Animal Rights Group Protests Against Horse Carriage Trade

Message forwarded from CHAI (Concern for Helping Animals in Israel):

View as web page:

Please distribute widely: click Forward email at bottom of page

December 18, 2008


On Sunday, December 7, approximately 350 people crowded into a popular Tel Aviv venue to show their support for Hakol Chai's campaign to ban the practice of horses pulling heavy loads through busy city traffic. Hakol Chai representative, Ikey Green, showed video footage and photos of the routine abuse of these animals, and spoke to the crowd about the daily horror of the lives. These gentle animals are underfed, overworked, beaten, not provided with veterinary care, forced to stand in the hot sun without shade or water for long hours, and made to wear ill-fitting harnesses that scrape away their skin and cause constant pain. When the summer open-air market season has ended, they are abandoned to starve.

Israeli singers Asaf Amdurski, Ram Orion, and Billy Levi volunteered to perform at the well-attended event, which was part of Horses Without Carriages International, an international coalition of groups working to end the practice of using horses to pull vehicles. Similar protests were held in New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Dublin, Rome, Florence, and Victoria, British Columbia. In Israel, Hakol Chai's event was featured in the country's major newspapers, Ma'ariv and Ha'aretz (both Hebrew and

English editions), in the Tel Aviv newspaper Ha'ir, on popular websites connected with newspapers, in the magazine Timeout, and on several popular radio stations.

The crowd expressed strong support for Hakol Chai's initiative and agreed to press the Mayor and the Transportation Ministry for a ban. Three political parties in Tel Aviv now list a ban on cart horses in their platforms. Hakol Chai's representative also explained the cruelties of gambling on horse racing to the assembled supporters, and that race horses who were no longer fast enough could be sold into a downward spiral of abuse, ending up as cart horses. Supporters at the event signed a petition against gambling on horse racing coming to Israel.

Hakol Chai was the first organization in Israel to expose the problem of horse abuse in Jaffa and to press the City Council to hold a hearing on the issue. At the hearing, the city's own municipal vet spoke in favor of Hakol Chai's requested ban, saying the city lacks the facilities, funds, and staff to investigate complaints, seize abused horses from their abusers, and care and house them over the long term. Most often, when a complaint results in an abused horse being seized, the horse is returned to his or her abuser the very next day.

Following the event, Hakol Chai wrote an open letter to Tel Aviv Mayor, Ron Huldai:

Dear Mr. Mayor:

On Sunday, December 7th, 350 supporters joined Hakol Chai's rally to protest the use of donkeys and horses to pull heavy carts through busy Tel Aviv traffic. The event was publicized in Ma'ariv, Ha'aretz, Ha'ir, Timeout, on radio stations, and on various popular websites, including nrg and Nana.

As you well know, city regulations have been ineffective in curtailing the daily abuse and neglect of these unfortunate animals. At the City Council meeting held on this subject at Hakol Chai's request, Tel Aviv's own municipal veterinarian admitted that the city lacks the staff, budget, and facilities to monitor the animals' condition and to seize, house, and treat those abused. It is common knowledge that even when a severely abused horse is seized, city officials return the animal to his or her abuser the very next day.

In the 21st Century, this antiquated, cruel practice has no place In a modern city like Tel Aviv, which sets an example for other cities around the country. A ban on the use of these animals to pull carts in Tel Aviv would quickly be copied in other cities.

This matter is of great importance not only to residents of Tel Aviv but to all those who feel compassion for animals worldwide. We urge you to acknowledge the increasing calls for a ban on horse- and donkey-drawn carts on city streets and would be happy to meet with you to discuss the specifics of implementing such a plan.


Ikey Green

Representative of Hakol Chai

Hakol Chai will continue to press the Mayor and the City Council until this abuse is stopped. Other cities in Israel will follow the lead of Tel Aviv. Please support our efforts to end the abuse of these gentle animals.

You can help by writing to officials in Israel to press for a ban.

Read a selection of the Israeli media coverage (translated into English)

See the flyer for the event (in Hebrew).

Please support our efforts to end the abuse of these gentle animals. Other cities in Israel will follow the lead of Tel Aviv.

Send your tax-deductible contributions to CHAI at
POB 3341, Alexandria, VA 22302, USA, or
donate through our website.

Yours for a more compassionate world,

Nina Natelson

CHAI - Concern for Helping Animals in Israel
PO Box 3341, Alexandria, VA 22302

Phone: 703-658-9650

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8. Podcast Relates Animal Rights to Environmental Sustainability

Forwarded mssage:

A fabulous new presentation is now available on the VSSE podcast. Lee Hall the Legal Director of Friends of Animals has crystallized the message relating Animals Rights to Environmental Sustainability. Have a listen to this newest podcast which is a great way to bring 2008 to an end:


The podcast is located at: The audio can be listened to by simply clicking on the links or the audio can be downloaded for later listening by "right clicking" on the links and saving to your computer. But by far the best way to listen is to subscribe to the free podcast by downloading a free copy of iTunes ( and then inserting the podcasts RSS feed ( into iTunes to complete the free subscription process. If you are iTunes savy search around on the podcast directory for the podcast (key words: Vegan, Vegetarian, Environment, etc.) and click on the podcast. If you wouldn't mind giving your evaluation of the podcast that would be much appreciated. Here is the direct link to the podcast on iTunes:


Please pass the message on about the "Vegan - Vegetarian Solutions for a Sustainable Environment" podcast: project. This is a great way to get your meat eating "environmentalist" friends out on a branch. If environmentalist care about the planet they need to at the very least reduce the amount of meat they eat AND say so. Imagine how much suffering will be eliminated if a significant part of the developed world reduced their meat consumption by 25% and that would be a wonderful step toward 100%. Pass the word on. Invite a meat eater over for lunch and play the 16 minute presentation by Lee Hall, "Veganism: It's Good for the Earth -- But Is It a Realistic Goal?"


The podcast project still is in very much need for podcast volunteers. If you have a good reading voice then you can fill in an important gap and help get this message out to a needy world. Here is something to read about ways to participate:


The International Languages Vegetarian Podcast ( has many gaps that need to be filled. If you know of someone that speaks another language I very much need their help. If a podcast in their language on Vegetarianism in general already exists then I'll not re-invent the wheel, but if it doesn't then this is a very important area of need. There, no doubt, is plenty of written material that already exists in other languages so the goal is to just get some simple messages put into audio format as a podcast. I just need help from speakers of other languages to help me search for existing podcasts and then to read material in their language.

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9. Petition to Change Bidens' Choice of a Dog

[NOTE - since this article was originally posted, it has been reported that the Bidens will adopt pound puppy, too. See]

Forwarded message:
December 18, 2008
Urgent -- Please sign petition at bottom!

Joe Biden is undoubtedly regretting his decision to buy a dog from a puppy mill. Yes, the breeder he selected churns out hundreds of dogs a year and the press revealed they have been cited for many violations and were even ousted from the AKC, which means they must be really bad (there are some other shocking things that will come out soon enough; hopefully, by then the Bidens will have come to their senses).
Since Barack and Michelle Obama have pledged to adopt, we were stunned when the Bidens chose to buy from a breeder. After Baby's cross-country tour and Oprah's shows, doesn't everyone know about puppy mills?

The petition below is a great way to convince the Bidens do the right thing -- adopt. Right now millions of shelter dogs are sitting in cages, waiting in vain for loving homes they will never have. Most of them will be gassed thanks to dog breeders who flood the market with new puppies, creating a pet ovepopulation epidemic that costs taxpayers $2 billion a year (that's the tab to round up, shelter, and euthanize 4-5 million dogs). In this economy, that's an obscene waste of taxpayer money. Please sign the petition to the Bidens and urge them to adopt -- it's better for the economy, his karma, his grandkids will learn the value of mercy and kindness, and he should also follow his boss' lead. After you sign, please pass it on to everyone you know. We hope to get 10,000 signatures in the next few days. Thanks for speaking out for those who can't.

Yes, we can! ...xo, Jana Kohl, and Baby too

Click Here:

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10. My Latest Radio Interview on “Judaism and Vegetarianism”

Forwarded message: [Also, please see the last section at for other recent interviews of me.]

Thanks again, Richard! What a powerful message you shared with the KPFT audience today. Good luck with your many projects. I'll pop a few CDs of the show in the mail to you in a few days. In the meantime, here is a link where you can download the program (it's 13 MB): feed:// The way to get to this link is via Once you enter the site, there's a "visit our podcast directory" just under the "how to listen" section.

Kind regards and Happy Hanukkah next week! --- Pamela

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11. Do we Need a Secretary of Food?

Kristof: Obama's 'secretary of food'?

Opinion by Nicholas D. Kristof, Dec. 12, 2008
International Herald Tribune

As Barack Obama ponders whom to pick as agriculture secretary, he should reframe the question. What he needs is actually a bold reformer in a position renamed "secretary of food."

[An agricultural secretary has been chosen, but I think this article is still worth reading.]

A Department of Agriculture made sense 100 years ago when 35 percent of Americans engaged in farming. But today, fewer than 2 percent are farmers. In contrast, 100 percent of Americans eat.

Renaming the department would signal that Obama seeks to move away from a bankrupt structure of factory farming that squanders energy, exacerbates climate change and makes Americans unhealthy - all while costing taxpayers billions of dollars.

"We're subsidizing the least healthy calories in the supermarket - high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soy oil, and we're doing very little for farmers trying to grow real food," notes Michael Pollan, author of such books as "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food."

The Agriculture Department - and the agriculture committees in Congress - have traditionally been handed over to industrial farming interests by Democrats and Republicans alike. The farm lobby uses that perch to inflict unhealthy food on American children in school lunch programs, exacerbating America's national crisis with diabetes and obesity.

Full story:

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12. Relating Biodiversity to Global Warming

Forwarded by JVNA advisor Ron Landskroner:

Transition Team Hears NCSE Conference Recommendations

On December 11, NCSE presented the recommendations of its just concluded National Conference: Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World to the Energy and Environment Transition Team of the incoming Obama Administration. NCSE Executive Director Peter Saundry and Senior Scientist David Blockstein were accompanied by colleagues from the Society for Conservation Biology, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Heinz Center for Science, Economics and Environment, and Obama campaign advisor Dan Martin - all members of the conference planning committee, as well as a staff member of the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Transition team participants included David Hayes, head of the Energy and Environment team, and co-leads for EPA, USDA and Interior.

NCSE's main points were:

1. The Obama Administration must recognize the interconnections between global climatic disruption and biodiversity loss.
2. Biodiversity research and conservation can be an important part of the Obama Administration's effort to re-engage US leadership in the rest of the world.
3. Biodiversity is a fundamental basis for the wealth of America. The United States should engage in short-term and long-term actions to preserve that fundamental wealth.
4. Biodiversity is essential to national security and international stability.
5. Proper information is essential to realize the benefits of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

NCSE then provided the nearly 200 draft recommendations developed by the conference participants, including:
The President should issue an Executive Order directing agencies to conserve biological diversity, with particular emphasis on public lands and water and incentives for private land conservation.
Overall each agency should review its authorities, regulations, initiatives, waivers, spending, and related international agreements and report to the President, CEQ, and domestic advisory bodies on things that need to be changed to better conserve biodiversity.

Because of the inevitable climate change that will only worsen, there must be a concerted effort to develop and implement a Biodiversity Adaptation Strategy.

The U.S. should re-engage in existing international environmental endeavors including requesting that the Senate ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on Migratory Species and the Law of the Sea, participating in international efforts to combat global climate change, and developing multi-agency plans for their implementation.

The federal government should use land trust organizations and other mechanisms to purchase lands to help to complete a national conservation landscape that provides resistance and resilience to climate change and protects ecosystem services, as well as assisting the recovery of the real estate market.

The United States must recognize that many social, environment, and security problems are rooted in rapid population growth.

Because environmental problems are caused by a dysfunctional relationship between people and the environment, the government should support research on coupled human-natural systems, including links between population dynamics and biodiversity.

The full set of recommendations are available on the conference website:

NCSE also presented summaries of recommendations from previous national conferences, including Energy, Climate Change: Science and Solutions, Integrating Environmental and Human Health, Water, Forestry, Monitoring and Forecasting, Environmental Education, International and Institutional Changes. Along with our colleagues, we emphasized the importance of support for science and for maintaining the integrity of scientific information in decisionmaking.
NCSE's memo to the transition team can be found at website:

The transition team members were very positive, understood the connections among the issues and were very appreciative of our one-hour presentation. They informed us that they are in consultation with the science transition team. They encouraged future involvement from the scientific community. David Hayes concluded by stating “you will be even more relevant” during the Obama Administration.

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13. Getting Animal Rights Issues onto Barack Obama's Agenda

Forwarded message from animal rights activist Marjorie Siegel:


I want to ask if you will take 1 minute to help farm animals and the environment.

… there's a movement of citizens inspired by the presidential campaign who are now submitting ideas for how they think the Obama Administration should change America. It's called "Ideas for Change in America."

On behalf of IDEA, I've submitted an idea and wanted to see if you could quickly vote for it. The title is: Reform of Animal Agriculture Policies and Legislation. You can read and vote for the idea by clicking on the following link:

The top 10 ideas are going to be presented to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day and will be supported by a national lobbying campaign run by, MySpace, and more than a dozen leading nonprofits after the Inauguration. So each idea has a real chance at becoming policy.

ooo Please forward this email to your email list, and help spread the word! ooo

Thanks for your support,


Marjorie Spiegel
Executive Director
The Institute for the Development of Earth Awareness
PO Box 124 / Prince Street Station / New York, NY 10012
tel: 212-741-0338

please visit: for information about IDEA's farm animal campaign!

Reform of Animal Agriculture Policies and Legislation

Current industrial-scale animal agricultural policies are rife with loopholes for polluters, passing the costs of cleanup and environmental damage to the taxpayers; and do very little to address much-needed animal welfare concerns, as current legislation consists of a few slender laws that are rarely enforced. For example, we need laws to protect local communities from agricultural pollution, and to eliminate the exemption from humane enforcement for cruel "standard" or "accepted" animal agricultural practices.

A clear-headed overhaul and modernization of legislation is needed to bring our system into environmental and humane compliance, and to parallel the humane reforms that continue to be enacted in the European Union. An active committee of policy experts-- without financial interests in agriculture-- with forums for input from local communities, would be an effective structure.

- Marjorie Spiegel (Author, Co-founder of IDEA (nonprofit)), New York, NY

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14. Message From One Vegetarian Activist/A Good Model

Hi Richard,

Just an update to tell you that I joined the Sierra Club a few months ago and I think you'll love working with the enviro people. I am a "one-man" committee, the Rochester arm of the Biodiversity / Vegetarian committee, and as such I didn't know how well I would be received. I was in for a pleasant surprise! EVERYONE in the meeting - probably 14 people - was supportive. A few people even sought me out after the meeting to say how glad they were that someone was finally addressing the animal agriculture/diet piece of global warming. I'm pretty sure most or all of them are vegetarians, although probably not vegans. But to talk about promoting the "go veg" message to a room of 14 non-animal people and have no defensiveness, no resistance, nothing but encouragement and support........could this be heaven?????? :) And of course you can mention the horrific suffering endured by animals on factory farms along with the environmental damage.

The Sierra Club is well-respected and pretty well-funded, so they have LOTS of tabling events and educational forums. Although I'm always put off by them at the national level because they are very pro hunting, I don't get such a sense of that at the local level. (I'm not sure how things would be at the state level.)

So I hope you have similarly good experiences working on your new project. It IS refreshing to not hit roadblocks and defensiveness at every turn!

Many blessings as you proceed,

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15. Recent Items on Religion and Environmental Issues

UNEP News Clippings

Dear Forum Colleagues:

Greetings! We hope that this email finds you well. Below you will find News Clippings from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). We would like to draw your attention to two news items in particular: one from November 12 about Saudi Arabia leading the U.N. Faith Forum, and one from November 30 about the Interfaith Climate Summit. For your convenience, we only include short introductions to each story and include URL's for the full story.

For the archive of past UNEP News Clippings, visit:

We hope you will find these news items informative and useful in your work.


The Forum

October 30, 2008

Climate Change Is Changing Theology
Theologians Consider the Shifts Needed in Thinking and Action

GENEVA (LWI) - “Climate change is opening up horizons that are deeply spiritual, theological and cosmic in scope. may literally be melting icebergs but it also exposes metaphorical icebergs of how God, human beings and the rest of creation have been conceptualized in ways that contribute to the injustices that have only increased under climate change.” This observation from a background paper prepared by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Department for Theology and Studies (DTS) set the stage for a consultation of biblical scholars, theologians and ethicists working in this area, 2-4 October, in Geneva. […]

Dr Sigurd Bergmann who teaches at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway, emphasized the need for a “spatial turn” in theology, taking Earth seriously as “our home where the Holy Spirit takes place.”

Such a spatial turn resonates with how indigenous people view the sacred manifesting itself in space, added Rev. Tore Johnsen from his own Sami perspective as a pastor in the Church of Norway. He noted that indigenous people worldwide were the most vulnerable to climate changes, and they do not separate nature and human beings as in much of Western theology. Johnsen advocated pursuing theology within a “circle of life” that includes God, human beings and the rest of creation, proposing how this both relates to and revises traditional Christian understandings.

For full story, visit:

November 2, 2008

Spiritual environmentalism

Steven G. Vegh
The Virginian-Pilot
McClatchy-Tribune Regional News delivered by Newstex

THERE'S NO LACK of parish get-togethers at Williamsburg United Methodist Church this fall. There's a lunch for the "50-plus" crowd and a state-fair youth jaunt, a church barbecue and a middle school retreat.

And who'd want to miss this month's excursion to the Tidewater Fib re Corp. recycling plant in Chesapeake?

The green movement is percolating into Hampton Roads' faith community, where advocates say environmentalism is a newfound but natural fit with spirituality.

At Williamsburg United Methodist, the recycling field trip is hosted by the church's year-old Green Initiative Committee, which promotes conservation by Christians.

For full story, visit:

November 7, 2008

Do You Know a 2009 Champion of the Earth?
UNEP Evolves its Annual Awards to Spotlight Transformational Leaders in Environmental Policy, Business, Civil Society and Science & Technology

Nairobi/World -- Whether it be combating climate change or stemming the accelerating loss of biodiversity or promoting sustainable agriculture and recycling -- some people and organizations are making a real and landscape-shifting difference.

They may be Presidents, politicians, economists, scientists or philosophers or perhaps musicians, artists, actors, religious or civic figures operating on the global, national or local stage.

They may be community leaders, business leaders or youth leaders who are triggering a transformation aimed at bringing forward tomorrow's world today by turning their societies into beacons of fundamental and sustainable change.

Whomever and wherever they are UNEP wants to know and looks forward to award the brightest and the best as a 2009 Champion of the Earth.

For full story, visit:

November 7, 2008

Climate tops meeting of religious leaders

By Lennart Simonsson, DPA

Stockholm - Climate issues including how to tackle global warming were to top discussions at a gathering of some 30 religious leaders and policy-makers from various faiths of the world, Swedish Archbishop Anders Wejryd said Friday. The two-day meeting was to adopt a manifesto that contains "demands and commitments," Wejryd said of the envisaged document to be signed November 28 in Uppsala, north of Stockholm. […]

The Interfaith Climate Manifesto was scheduled to be presented to various governments and at international gatherings in the run-up to a United Nations climate conference to be hosted in Denmark in 2009 for a post-Kyoto agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

For full story, visit:,climate-tops-meeting-of-religious-leaders--feature.html#

November 10, 2008

Green, meet God
The secular environmental movement sees an opportunity in the world of religion. Is this a marriage made in heaven?

By Henry G. Brinton
USA Today

The greening of religion, although long overdue, is really a quite natural phenomenon. The texts of many faiths, indeed most, at some point reference the stewardship of this earth. More surprising is that today, secular environmental groups are seizing the opportunity to reach out to faith communities.

A Sierra Club report highlights faith-based environmental initiatives in all 50 states - "spiritually motivated grassroots efforts to protect the planet." One line leaps off the page: "Lasting social change rarely takes place without the active engagement of communities of faith." Indeed. Think of the U.S. civil rights movement, Solidarity in Poland and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. Social change does not stick without the glue of religion.

But as these two movements - one based on the love of God, the other on the love of the earth - intersect, we should celebrate the initiative while remaining aware of the challenges and inevitable spats that await this quite remarkable marriage.

For full story, visit:

November 28, 2008

Faith leaders urge climate curbs

By Christopher Landau
BBC religious affairs correspondent

Leaders from the world's religious traditions have signed a manifesto urging tough action on climate change.

Around 1,000 delegates are meeting at the Interfaith Climate Summit in Uppsala, Sweden, at the invitation of the Swedish church.

The manifesto, signed by 30 religious leaders, calls for "rapid and large emission cuts in the rich world".

It argues in favour of a reduction in carbon emissions of at least 40% by the year 2020.

For full story, visit:

November 30, 2008

Interfaith Leaders Sign Climate Change Manifesto of Hope

Uppsala, Sweden (ENS) - Faith leaders concluded their two-day Interfaith Summit on Climate Change in Uppsala on Saturday by signing a manifesto demanding quick and extensive reduction of carbon dioxide emission in the wealthy parts of the world.

Christian, Buddhist, Daoist, Sikh, Muslim, Jewish and Native American leaders signed the declaration that states, "We all share the responsibility of being conscious caretakers of our home, planet Earth. We have reflected on the concerns of scientists and political leaders regarding the alarming climate crisis. We share their concerns."

"The situation is critical," the manifesto states. "Glaciers and the permafrost are melting. Devastating drought and flooding strike people and ecosystems, especially in the South. Can planet Earth be healed? We are convinced that the answer is yes."

For full story, visit:

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