February 18, 2009

2/9/2009 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy Tu B'Shvat/Report on the Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS) Tu B'Shvat Seder

2. Purim and Vegetarianism

3. Upcoming Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS) Events

4. My Article to be in the Forum on Religion and Ecology Forum Publication Re My Involvements and Activities

5. Seeking Volunteers To Help Promote Jewish Vegetarianism and A SACRED DUTY

6. S.I. Advance Article Re My Tu B'Shvat Seder

7. Article by Israeli Rabbi Simchah Roth Advocating Vegetarianism to His Fellow Rabbis

8. NASA Climatologist James Hansen Stresses Urgency of Responding to Global Warming VERY Soon

9. JVNA Tu B'Shvat Press Release Urges Dietary Changes to Save Planet

10. Israeli and Other Animal Rights Groups Send Aid to Gaza Zoo

11. “VeggieJews” Group Promoting Local Jewish Vegetarian Events

12. New Book on Religious Responses to Environmental Issues Published

13. Videos Relating Global Climate Change to the Potential of Increased Violence Produced

14. World Vegetarian Week Scheduled

15. Registration Open For AR2009

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 Tu B'Shvat/Report on the Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS) Tu B'Shvat Seder

Today is Tu B'Shvat. Please consider the many benefits we get from trees and fruits, and the importance of relating the many environmental and vegetarian messages in this increasingly important holiday. For background information and talking points, please see my article “Tu B'Shvat and Vegetarianism” in the holidays section at JewishVeg.com/Schwartz.

I led a very nice Tu B'Shvat seder last night at my synagogue, with about 60 attendees, and L.A. vegetarian activist Janine Bronson also helped lead a successful one in her area.

Below is a report from Israeli vegetarian activist Steve “Shaya” Kelter on the Tu B'Shvat seder that he led at the JVS Center in Jerusalem. Shaya has been doing this for many years, and I have had the pleasure of attending a couple of them when I was in Israel.

I join Shaya in thanking JVS Chair Yossi Wolfson for his splendid efforts in purchasing and setting up the necessary Tu B'Shvat fruits and drinks and related items.
Dear family and friends,

For those of you who were not privileged to be present following is a description of the Tu B'Shvat Seder that we had last night in Jerusalem. It was so much fun. Maybe some of you would like to try doing your own next year. For any of you who can, here is an early invitation to join us Next Year in Jerusalem!

Last night at the reconstituted Jewish Vegetarian Society in Israel we had a wonderful Tu B'Shvat Seder, with blessings and also Torah learning - we read from the Creation story of God's planting of trees in the garden and of God's commandment "l'ovdah u'l'shomra" - to serve and to preserve the garden, our planet earth. We discussed the importance of trees in nature, the contribution of vegetarianism to the health of our planet. We drank 4 cups of grape juice and ate of all the 7 species with which the Land of Israel has been blessed. We ate fruits in 3 types, as prescribed in the Tu B'Shvat Seder of Rav Chaim Vital from the 1600's in Tzfat, Israel. We sang Happy Birthday to the trees in all the languages we could: Hebrew, English, Spanish, French, German, Russian and Arabic. A lady, originally from Norway, sang and danced Happy Birthday to the trees in Norwegian. We had a pantomime game. People told personal stories connected with trees or with Tu B'Shvat.

For a few minutes we were all trees, from children to a great grandmother, reaching deep down into the soil with our roots, standing tall with our trunks, feeling the flow of our sap going up from our roots to our leaves, reaching out with our branches and up to the sun with our leaves, living with the birds and the bugs, swaying in the wind and, when I led us into feeling the rain, one participant spontaneously sprinkled water on us. We had playlets, some led by children and some by adults, we read poetry and sang many songs accompanied by a gourdjo - a banjo made from a gourd with no products from slain animals: the strings were steel.

I had each person pour each of the 4 cups of grape juice for the person to their right. The atmosphere was one of sharing, openness and fun. During the singing of 2 of the songs we were swaying and doing hand motions to indicate listening, reaching up to the heavens, etc.

Toward the end I explained that as with fruits, some people have an outside shell or skin that is hard. They may feel the need to be well protected, they do not let themselves open to others and do not let others in. Over time they may open up to a considerable extent but still may keep armor around their hearts. But when people feel really secure and at peace they can open up totally, unafraid to expose their vulnerability for fear of being hurt by another. That is true peace. We began eating fruits of those whose skin or shell we can not eat. Then we ate the fruits whose outsides are not protected but whose pit or heart has a hard cover. Finally we ate the fruits which we could eat in their entirety. This is the process which we would like to go in, in the direction of true security and peace. I believe that in our Seder we went through that process. We began as strangers and we ended opening and relaxed and helping each other.

When it was over many people stayed to help clean up without being asked. To me, this was a sign of the spirit that was created at the Seder. At the beginning people did not know each other. There were about 40 participants of all ages. I suspect most attendants were not vegetarian. The Tu B'Shvat Seder was childlike fun. Thank God.

Tu B'Shvat Sameach! May you and your loved ones, all your trees and all nature be blessed with a good year, a year of kindness and givingness, of health and fruitfulness!


Steven "Shaya" Kelter

Steven "Shaya" Kelter, M.S.W.
email: kelter@netvision.net.il

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2. Purim and Vegetarianism

Yes, today is Tu B'Shvat, but Purim is about a month away. And we must always look forward seeking creative ways to increase awareness of vegetarianism and the importance of a societal shift to vegetarianism. I plan to send my article and letter below to the Jewish media. So, suggestions for changes are very welcome. Below the article and letter is also a Purim shpiel. Please consider using this material as background for your own letters and talking points. Thanks.

Purim and Vegetarianism

Richard H. Schwartz

There are many connections between vegetarianism and the Jewish festival of Purim:

1. According to the Talmud, Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, was a vegetarian while she lived in the palace of King Achashverus. She was thus able to avoid violating the kosher dietary laws while keeping her Jewish identity secret.

2. During Purim it is a mitzvah to give "mat'not evyonim" (added charity to poor and hungry people). In contrast to these acts of sharing and compassion, animal-based diets involve the feeding of over 70 percent of the grain in the United States to animals, while an estimated 20 million people die of hunger and its effects annually.

3. During the afternoon of Purim, Jews have a "seudah" (special festive meal), when family and friends gather to rejoice in the Purim spirit. Serving only vegetarian food at this occasion would enable all who partake to be consistent with Jewish mandates to preserve health, protect the environment, share with hungry people, conserve resources, and treat animals with compassion (as well as the vegetarian practices of Queen Esther).

4. Jews make noise with "groggers" and other noisemakers, to drown out the infamous name of Haman when it appears during the reading of the Megillah (Book of Esther). Today, vegetarians are "making noise" in attempting to educate people and drown out the very well-funded propaganda of the beef and dairy industries.

5. On Purim, Jews emphasize unity and friendship by sending gifts of food ("shalach manot") to friends. Vegetarians act in the spirit of unity and concern for humanity by having a diet that best shares the earth's abundant resources.

6. Because Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people, it is the most joyous Jewish holiday. By contrast, animals on factory farms never have a pleasant day, and millions of people throughout the world are too involved in trying to obtain their next meal to be able to experience many joyous moments.

7. Mordecai, one of the heroes of the Purim story, was a nonconformist. As the book of Esther states, ". . . And all of the king's servants . . . bowed down and prostrated themselves before Haman . . . But Mordecai would not bow down nor prostrate himself before him" (Esther 3:2). Today, vegetarians represent non-conformity. At a time when most people in the wealthier countries think of animal products as the main part of their meals, when McDonald's and similar fast food establishments are still popular, vegetarians are resisting and insisting that there is a better, healthier, more humane diet.

8. Purim commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from the wicked Haman. Today, vegetarianism can be a step toward deliverance from modern problems such as hunger, pollution, and resource scarcities.

9. Purim commemorates the time when conditions for the Jews changed from sorrow to gladness and from mourning to festival. Today, a switch to vegetarianism could result in similar changes for many people, since plant- based diets would reduce health problems, pollution, water scarcities, and hunger.

10. Jews hear the reading of the Megillah twice during Purim, in order to reeducate themselves about the terrible threats to the Jewish people and their deliverance. Jewish vegetarians believe that if Jews were educated about the horrible realities of factory farming and the powerful Jewish mandates about taking care of our health, showing compassion to animals, protecting the environment, conserving resources, and helping hungry people, they would seriously consider switching to vegetarian diets.

11. Hamantashen, the primary food associated with Purim, is a vegetarian food.

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

Dear editor,

According to the Talmud, Queen Esther, the heroine of the Purim story, was a vegetarian while she lived in the palace of King Achashverus, to avoid violating the kosher dietary laws while keeping her Jewish identity secret. Therefore, Purim is an ideal time for Jews to shift toward vegetarian diets.

This dietary change would be consistent with important Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and pursue a more peaceful, less violent world.

While Purim commemorates the triumph of the Jews in ancient Persia over an oppressor who threatened them, a shift to plant-based diets would enable contemporary Jews to reverse current threats from an epidemic of disease, global warming and the many environmental problems related to modern intensive animal-based agriculture.

In November, 2006, a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report indicated that animal-based agriculture causes 18% of all greenhouse emissions, more than all forms of transportation worldwide combined, and that this is projected to increase greatly as the consumption of meat and other animal products doubles in 50 years. Hence, today a shift by Jews (and others) toward vegetarianism can help save the entire world from the projected catastrophic effects of global warning.

Very truly yours,

Richard Schwartz

My Purim Shpiel:

Reb Henna taught: "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Clearly, the chicken. How do we know this? We learn from the Book of Esther that when Mordecai asked Esther to go before King Ahashveros to plead for the Jewish people, she was 'chicken,' fearing for her life. Only when Mordecai 'egged' her on, telling her that perhaps she was enabled to be queen for just this EGGcelent purpose, did she muster the courage and 'scrambled' to appear before the king".

Reb Roosta stated, "Speaking of birds, I heard that a Heavenly
voice once announced: 'A Robin Redbreast in a cage puts all Heaven in a rage'". (William Blake, Auguries of Innocence) Reb Chicka responded, "Not to EGGaggerate, but - If a robin redbreast in a cage puts all heaven in a rage, how feels heaven when, dies the billionth battery [caged] hen?" (Spike Mulligan, British comedian) Reb Poultrie stated, "Since Queen Esther was a vegetarian to avoid violating the dietary laws while hiding her Jewish identity, and since our esteemed editor, Rabbi Judah, the Prince was stricken with pain for many years because he callously treated a frightened calf, perhaps we should egg on Jews to protest against current horrible treatment of chickens.

[Once again, comments and suggestions on all of the above are very welcome.]

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3. Upcoming Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS) Events

Forwarded message from JVS Chairman Yossi Wolfson

“My 40 Years Out Of The Wilderness” with Rabbi Noach Valley -
Thursday February 12th, 8pm
The Vegetarian Community Center, 8 Balfur Street, Jerusalem

Rabbi Noach Valley from New York is a magician, grandfather and devoted vegetarian. Meet him in the Vegetarian Community Center, where he will give a talk entitled "My 40 Years Out Of The Wilderness."

[Rabbi Valley was also president of JVNA for many years and he contributed many articles to the JVNA newsletter when it was mailed to members.]

The presentation will be in English.

Admission: free

And the next events (for people who plan well ahead):

Thursday February 19th, 5pm: Traditional Japanese Cooking Workshop for Beginners

In this workshop we will learn to cook with traditional Japanese ingredients, such as seaweed and miso. We will study sea and land plants, emphasizing their particular nutritional value. Finally we will enjoy a meal comprised of the dishes that we create. The workshop will be in Hebrew with English translation if necessary.
Admission: NIS 25 or individual donation.

Tuesday February 24th, 7pm: Communal meal (pot luck)

Join our monthly vegan pot-luck dinner. Bring a vegan dish (no meat, no fish, no eggs, no milk, no honey please) or just yourself and your friends for an evening of eating and socializing.

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4. My Article to be in the Forum on Religion and Ecology Forum Publication Re My Involvements and Activities

Reaching Out To the Jewish Community

I want to commend the Forum on Religion and Ecology for your splendid work in increasing awareness of religious teachings about current environmental issues.
[The above sentence will not be in their publication.]

I appreciate this opportunity to discuss my environmental and vegetarian activities and my thoughts about increasing the awareness and involvement of religious communities in environmental issues. I hope this will provide some insights that will be helpful to others.

In 1975, I began teaching a course, "Mathematics and the Environment" at the College of Staten Island. The course was designed to motivate liberal arts/non-science students by using basic mathematical concepts, including ratios, percents, graphs, sequences and elementary statistics and probability, to explore current critical issues, such as pollution, resource scarcities, hunger, energy, and the health. As there was no text for such a course, I wrote Mathematics and Global Survival, which was published in 1979 and is now in its fourth edition. (Now that I am retired, I am looking for someone interested in revising and updating this book, as I think it would be very valuable at this time of many environmental crises to have courses relating mathematics to environmental issues in many schools.)

While reviewing material related to world hunger, I became aware of the tremendous waste of grain associated with the production of beef. (Over 70% of the grain produced in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, while an estimated 20 million of the world's people die annually due to hunger and its effects.) In spite of my own eating habits, I often led class discussions on the possibility of reducing meat consumption as a way of helping hungry people. After several semesters of this, I took my own advice and gave up eating red meat, while continuing to eat chicken and fish.

I then began to read about the many health benefits of vegetarianism and about the horrible conditions for animals raised on factory farms. I was increasingly attracted to vegetarianism, and on January 1, 1978, I became a vegetarian and to join the International Jewish Vegetarian Society.

Since that decision, I have learned much about vegetarianism's connections to health, nutrition, ecology, resource usage, hunger, and the treatment of animals. I also investigated connections between vegetarianism and Judaism. I was greatly influenced by a course on “Judaism and Vegetarianism” given by Jewish vegetarian pioneer and activist Jonathan Wolf that I took at Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan and by Jonathan's writings and vegetarian-related activities. I learned that the first Biblical dietary regimen (Genesis 1:29) was strictly vegetarian, and I became convinced that important Jewish (and other religions') mandates to preserve our health, be kind to animals, protect the environment, conserve resources, share with hungry people, and seek and pursue peace all pointed to vegetarianism as the best diet for Jews and everyone else. To get this message to a wider audience, I wrote a book, Judaism and Vegetarianism, which was published in 1982. (Expanded editions were published in 1988 and 2001.) Of course, all of my reasons for becoming a vegetarian are also applicable to other religions.

Since I recognized that a shift to vegetarianism was only a part of the necessary responses to current environmental and other threats, I wrote Judaism and Global Survival, which related Jewish teachings to such issues as social justice, pollution, energy, global warming and population growth. It was published in 1984 and a second edition was published in 2002.

To help spread my messages, I spoke to many groups, appeared on many radio and cable TV interview programs and contributed many letters and articles to various publications. I now have over 130 articles and about 20 podcasts of my interviews and talks at www.JewishVeg.com/Schwartz.

In 2007, I helped produce a documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World,” which discusses how the application of Jewish values can help respond to global warming and other environmental threats. Because we believe the movie's message is so essential to helping avoid an unprecedented catastrophe, we have given away about 20,000 DVDs. The documentary can be seen and complimentary DVDs can be requested by visiting “ASAcredDuty.com.

Presently, I am president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV), editor of the JVNA online newsletter, a patron of the International Jewish Vegetarian Society, a Councilor for the Vegetarian Union of North America (VUNA) and a member of the Board of Directors of the Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM).

Most recently, I became director of the Veg Climate Alliance, a group that aims to increase awareness that a major societal shift to vegetarianism is an essential part of efforts to avoid the potential disaster that the world currently faces and to help shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

To get greater involvement in the Jewish community, I have tried to initiate a “Vegetarian Sabbath” and an “Environmental Sabbath” and to have the Jewish environmentally-related holiday of Tu B'Shvat considered a “Jewish Earth Day.” I have also tried to engage in a respectful dialogue/debate on “Should Jews (and others) be Vegetarians?” Even though I have had only limited success so far, I plan to continue and greatly increase my efforts, because the threats to all of humanity are so great. I look forward to working with many others in the religious and environmental communities.

For further information, I can be contacted at President@JewishVeg.com

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5. Seeking Volunteers To Help Promote Jewish Vegetarianism and A SACRED DUTY

As you know, the world is threatened as perhaps never before today from global warming and other environmental threats, and a major societal shift toward plant-based diets is an essential part of the response. As you also know, we have a very powerful message that the Jewish establishment and other establishments, and we have a very powerful tool in the acclaimed A SACRED DUTY, which we are providing completely free of charge to interested people and have made available also free of charge at ASacredDuty.com.

We would love to make key people, including rabbis, JCC directors, Hillel directors, professors of religious studies, bloggers, reporters and editors, environmentalists and others aware of the threats and our messages. Fortunately, we have received help on this from Ron Landskroner and now we have a new volunteer Rena Reason, in terms of computer searches to find contacts. Rena can be contacted at: rena_reason@yahoo.com. She has made a great start at finding valuable contacts and sending out messages about A SACRED DUTY.

But, much more remains to be done. Please consider volunteering, even if for only an hour or two a week. We will provide support in terms of guidance, sample messages, etc. Many thanks.

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6. S.I. Advance Article Re My Tu B'Shvat Seder

Tu B'shvat seders planned for Sunday

Friday, February 06, 2009

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The traditions of the Kabbalists of Safed will be carried on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at a Tu B'shvat Seder at Young Israel of Staten Island.

The seder will be led by Dr. Richard Schwartz, the borough's best-known vegetarian, who is also an author and activist; Rabbi Dr. Judah Newberger, rabbi emeritus of Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in West Brighton; Rabbi Eliezer Garner, a Kabbalistic teacher, and Rebbetzin Michele Garner, the 'Rockin' Rebbetzin' of radio station WSIA.

The seder will include readings and songs, talks and explanations, the sharing of a variety of fruits and nuts and drinking four cups of grape juice.

Schwartz, a Willowbrook resident, is the president of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America. The organization is urging the Jewish community to use the environmentally friendly holiday as an opportunity to consider a vegetarian lifestyle as a means to saving the planet.

Several reports, Schwartz said, have shown that "animal-based diets contribute more to global warming than all the cars and other means of transportation worldwide combined."

He pointed out that the Tu B'shvat seder is the only sacred meal where only vegetarian -- actually vegan -- foods are eaten as part of the ritual.

"Since the Talmud refers to Tu B'shvat as the New Year for Trees . . . it is an ideal time to consider our impact on nature and what we can do to move our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

For more information about the Jewish Vegetarians of North America's campaign to get vegetarianism on the Jewish agenda, visit www.JewishVeg.com.

No reservations are needed for the seder. Young Israel is at 835 Forest Hill Rd., Willowbrook.

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7. Article by Israeli Rabbi Simchah Roth Advocating Vegetarianism to His Fellow Rabbis

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

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

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

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

We hear a lot in modern Conservatism about the mitzvah of tikkun olam. To eat meat - any meat - however much sanctity and humanity was involved in its slaughter is the height of selfishness and unconcern for the plight of our fellow man. The amount of grain that it takes to create one kilo of beef would be sufficient to feed thousands of starving people in the third world: it takes nearly 16 kilos of grain to create 1 kilo of beef! The gasses emitted from the digestive system of millions - billions! - of herd animals are among the greatest contributors to global warming. Meat-centered diets require up to 21 times more land area per person than would be required for a vegan diet. Throughout the world more than 30,000 children die every day as a direct or indirect result of malnutrition, which could easily be solved by decimating the amount of meat eaten in the west. I could really bore you with more facts about the dangers to our eco-system of modern animal husbandry - without ever mentioning tza'ar ba'alei chayyim. In a very real sense the modern meat-production industry is tza'ar bnei enosh and the very opposite of gemilut chasadim.

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

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

Simchah Roth

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8. NASA Climatologist James Hansen Stresses Urgency of Responding to Global Warming VERY Soon

James Hansen: Obama Has 4 Years to Save the Earth

* President 'has four years to save Earth'
US must take the lead to avert eco-disaster
By Robin McKie
The Observer (London), January 25, 2009
Straight to the Source


Barack Obama has only four years to save the world. That is the stark assessment of Nasa scientist and leading climate expert Jim Hansen who last week warned only urgent action by the new president could halt the devastating climate change that now threatens Earth. Crucially, that action will have to be taken within Obama's first administration, he added.

Soaring carbon emissions are already causing ice-cap melting and threaten to trigger global flooding, widespread species loss and major disruptions of weather patterns in the near future. "We cannot afford to put off change any longer," said Hansen. "We have to get on a new path within this new administration. We have only four years left for Obama to set an example to the rest of the world. America must take the lead."

Hansen said current carbon levels in the atmosphere were already too high to prevent runaway greenhouse warming. Yet the levels are still rising despite all the efforts of politicians and scientists.

Only the US now had the political muscle to lead the world and halt the rise, Hansen said. Having refused to recognise that global warming posed any risk at all over the past eight years, the US now had to take a lead as the world's greatest carbon emitter and the planet's largest economy. Cap-and-trade schemes, in which emission permits are bought and sold, have failed, he said, and must now be replaced by a carbon tax that will imposed on all producers of fossil fuels. At the same time, there must be a moratorium on new power plants that burn coal - the world's worst carbon emitter.

Hansen - head of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies and winner of the WWF's top conservation award - first warned Earth was in danger from climate change in 1988 and has been the victim of several unsuccessful attempts by the White House administration of George Bush to silence his views.

Hansen's institute monitors temperature fluctuations at thousands of sites round the world, data that has led him to conclude that most estimates of sea level rises triggered by rising atmospheric temperatures are too low and too conservative. For example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says a rise of between 20cm and 60cm can be expected by the end of the century.

However, Hansen said feedbacks in the climate system are already accelerating ice melt and are threatening to lead to the collapse of ice sheets. Sea-level rises will therefore be far greater - a claim backed last week by a group of British, Danish and Finnish scientists who said studies of past variations in climate indicate that a far more likely figure for sea-level rise will be about 1.4 metres, enough to cause devastating flooding of many of the world's major cities and of low-lying areas of Holland, Bangladesh and other nations.

As a result of his fears about sea-level rise, Hansen said he had pressed both Britain's Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences to carry out an urgent investigation of the state of the planet's ice-caps. However, nothing had come of his proposals. The first task of Obama's new climate office should therefore be to order such a probe "as a matter of urgency", Hansen added.

Read the full interview with James Hansen here:

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9. JVNA Tu B'Shvat Press Release Urges Dietary Changes to Save Planet


Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) announced today a campaign to urge the Jewish community to use the environmentally-related holiday of Tu B'Shvat as an opportunity to shift toward diets that are far less harmful to the environment, as a major step to avoid a worldwide, unprecedented catastrophe from global climate change and other environmental threats.

“It is increasingly clear that survival of the human species is threatened as perhaps never before by global warming and other environmental problems, and several recent reports, including a major study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, have shown that animal-based diets contribute more to global warming than all the cars and other means of transportation worldwide combined,” stated Richard H. Schwartz, President of the JVNA. “It is essential that Jews play our mandated role as a “light unto the nations,” by, among other important steps, reducing or eliminating our consumption of animal-foods.”

JVNA has decided to link this campaign to Tu B'Shvat because it is the most vegetarian of Jewish holidays, due to its many connections to vegetarian themes and concepts. The Tu B'Shvat seder in which fruits and nuts are eaten, along with the singing of songs and the recitation of biblical verses related to trees and fruits, is the only sacred meal where only vegetarian, actually vegan, foods, are eaten as part of the ritual. This is consistent with the diet in the Garden of Eden, as indicated by God's first, completely vegetarian dietary regimen (Genesis 1:29) and that expected during the Messianic Period (based on Isaiah 11:6-9).

“Since the Talmud refers to Tu B'Shvat as the New Year for Trees,” Schwartz stated, “and it is considered to be the date on which the fate of trees is decided for the coming year, it is an ideal time to consider our impact on nature and what we can do to move our imperiled planet to a sustainable path. Global climate change is the greatest threat to humanity and perhaps the greatest moral issue of our time, so it is imperative that we do everything possible to reduce its impact, including shifting toward plant-based diets. Israel is especially threatened as it is now facing the most severe drought in its history and the Israel Union for Environmental Defense has warned of many other negative effects of global warming unless changes are soon made.”

Because of Tu B'Shvat's many environmental connections, JVNA also supports efforts to turn Tu B'Shvat into a Jewish Earth Day, a time when there are many environmentally-related activities at synagogues, Jewish schools, JCCs and other Jewish Institutions.

Further information about JVNA and its campaign to get vegetarianism onto the Jewish agenda, as well as much background material on Tu B'Shvat and Jewish teachings on the environment and vegetarianism can be found at the JVNA web site (www.JewishVeg.com). JVNA is very interested in respectful dialogues and debates on dietary connections to global climate change and other current environmental global threats and on questions such as “Should Jews Be Vegetarians?” The group believes that the Jewish community should make tikkun olam, the repair, healing and proper transformation of the world a central focus in Jewish life today. It will send a complimentary DVD with its acclaimed documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World” to rabbis and other Jewish leaders who request one at mail@JewishVeg.com. The entire movie can also be seen at ASacredDuty.com.

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10. Israeli and Other Animal Rights Groups Send Aid to Gaza Zoo

Animal rights groups send relief to Gaza Zoo

Israeli, Palestinian and international animal welfare organizations join forces to send food, medicine into Gaza to help needy animals across Gaza Strip, and mainly in Gaza zoo

Published: 02.03.09, 12:10 / Israel Activism

Israeli, Palestinian and international animal welfare organizations join forces to send food, medicine into Gaza to help needy animals across Gaza Strip, and mainly in Gaza zoo

Published: 02.03.09, 12:10 / Israel Activism


An initiative of "Let the Animals Live" brought the minister of defense to allow the entry of trucks, loaded with food and medicine, into Gaza, in order to take care of sick and needy animals in distress.

"Let the Animals Live Israel" together with a Palestinian animals welfare organization with the Coordination and Liaison office in Gaza, and other international organizations, has arranged for a delivery of food and medicine supplies to benefit the animals in Gaza in general and specifically the Gaza

I thank all the organizations and the people involved who contributed to this important project of helping out the animals in Gaza who suffer hunger and diseases. In light of this humanitarian effort I have no doubt we can save many of the animals in the place. I am hoping that through the animals we will be able to draw the two sides closer.

In order to allow the food supply into Gaza, there is a fee of NIS 700-1400 (roughly $170-350) per each truck, based on the truck's weight. "Let the Animals Live" said it was asking for the

[Sorry. Message was cut off at the end.]

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11. “VeggieJews” Group Promoting Local Jewish Vegetarian Events

Forward message from Peter Cohon of VeggieJews


This is a monthly reminder that group members, wherever located, are encouraged to host VeggieJews' social events in their own communities or college campuses. It's easier and more rewarding then you might think. Just choose an event that will bring VeggieJews together in your community - perhaps, for example, a young adult singles gathering at a restaurant or a potluck, picnic or coffee talk for students, adult singles or couples 40 and over. Pick a proposed date, time (not to conflict with Shabbat or a major Jewish holiday) and place and contact me. I can help by advertising the event to the group (including folks who only receive "special notices") and putting the event on the VeggieJews' Yahoo Group calendar. (Events sponsored by other Jewish veg groups are not eligible for such promotion.) I can also collect RSVP's, which means that your e-mail address never has to appear on the internet.

You need to do little more than help promote the event by posting a notice I'll give you to local veggie and Jewish listserves and event calendars, greet guests at the event and, maybe, notify the local Jewish newspaper for a listing in its events section.

This is a great way to get to know your fellow VeggieJews, make friends, and help spread veggie/vegan consciousness into the mainstream Jewish community. Please note that, in order for VeggieJews to sponsor your event, four simple rules must be followed:

(1) If the event is to be held at a restaurant, it must be a vegan or vegetarian restaurant.

(2) All SHARED food should be vegan (because it's the common denominator and all veggies and vegans can eat it).
Please remember that "vegan" means that foods made from grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts are welcome while foods made from animal flesh, including fish and fowl, eggs, honey and dairy products, are not;

(3) Unless an event is limited demographically, like single young adults between 20 and 39, or adult couples 40 and over, for example, all Jews, regardless of age, marital status, sexual orientation, race, denomination, and nationality must be welcome;

(4) As we are a Jewish vegetarian group, HOSTS should be both Jewish and vegetarian; and

(5) Our non-Jewish and non-vegetarian friends must also be welcome to attend.

As VeggieJews is not a religious group and we do not wish to compete with synagogue services, please avoid scheduling events on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays so observant group members are not excluded from our events. It's also helpful to make sure that events are promoted to the conventional (non-veggie) Jewish community since it's a great opportunity to introduce them to our lifestyle.

If everyone hosts even one event a decade our group will be extraordinarily successful at bringing Veggie Jews together for support and expanding our Jewish veggie community into mainstream Judaism. If those acts are not mitzvot, they sure ought to be.

Thanks for your consideration,
Pete Cohon, founder

*Those who attend or host VeggieJews events do so at their own risk and, by attending or hosting an event, they expressly release from any liability the VeggieJews group, its owners, moderators and volunteers.

[If you'd like to receive a "Summary of Scriptural and Rabbinical Support for a Vegetarian Diet," "Pete's Program for an Easy Ten Week Transition to Veg*n Diet," or "Let's Talk Fish," just click on the link to "files" on our Yahoo Group Web site or write to me at the above e-mail address and ask.]

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12. New Book on Religious Responses to Environmental Issues Published

Forwarded message:

Dear Richard,

Interfaith Power & Light presents Love God, Heal Earth by the Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham. Buy the book today for just $20.00 including shipping!

What does it take to power a great awakening about Earth's environmental crisis? Until recently, science has been alone in sounding the alarms while many religious leaders have held back, viewing global warming as a purely secular issue. Now, in an unprecedented demonstration of unity and moral purpose, religious voices from across the spectrum-liberal, conservative, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists-are joining in one of the largest movements in human history…declaring the environment to be an urgent matter of faith.

In Love God, Heal Earth: 21 Leading Religious Voices Speak Out on Our Sacred Duty to Protect the Environment (St. Lynn's Press, 2009, ISBN: 798-0-9800288-3-6, $17.95), the Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham brings together 21 highly regarded spiritual leaders from diverse faiths to make the case for environmental stewardship and show how their faith communities are tackling the issue of religion and environment.

Comments about this book from the worlds of science and religion:

Love God, Heal Earth is a historically important contribution. Its authors of diverse faiths recognize that protecting the planet and all of life is a transcendent responsibility - for both the scientists who study it and those of religious faith who are able to express its spiritual importance.” -E.O. Wilson, Harvard biologist and naturalist, author of The Creation: an Appeal to Save Life on Earth “Love God, Heal Earth features some of the clearest and most compelling voices in the emerging creation care movement-a unifying and rallying point for people of faith from across diverse traditions.” -Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners, author of The Great Awakening.

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13. Videos Relating Global Climate Change to the Potential of Increased Violence Produced

Forwarded message from Nadia Mclaren


By John McGrath
February 4, 2009
http://gristmill. grist.org/story/2009/2/3/142425/2971

Canada's public broadcaster, CBC, has just finished airing the three-part series Climate Wars, based on the Gwynne Dyer book of the same name. I haven't yet finished reading the book, but the thesis is easily summarized: If you thought that the effects of climate change only included withering droughts, torrential storms, and general freaky-deakiness, you've missed one of the big ones: anthropogenic mass death, or as the political scientists call it, "war."

Yup, on top of all the other things we'll have to worry about in a melting world, there's the sad fact that we'll have more and more reasons to kill each other over dwindling water and food supplies. When you consider that the 20th century was bloody enough as economic and industrial opportunities were expanding, the 21st century is looking mighty depressing if you believe that wars can start over resource scarcity.

You can download the podcasts of Parts I, II, and III of Climate Wars below, though I can't testify as to how long they'll stay up there. So give it a listen soon. And do check out the book -- like I said, haven't finished it, but it's excellent so far.




Global warming is moving much more quickly than scientists thought it would. Even if the biggest current and prospective emitters -- the United States, China and India -- were to slam on the brakes today, the earth would continue to heat up for decades. At best, we may be able to slow things down and deal with the consequences, without social and political breakdown. Gwynne Dyer examines several radical short- and medium-term measures now being considered -- all of them controversial.

Climate Wars - Part One January 19, 2008 v http://www.nhne.com/files/audio/climatewars/cbc_climatewars_01.mp3

Climate Wars - Part Two January 28, 2008 http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/ideas_20090126_11172.mp3 http://www.nhne.com/files/audio/climatewars/cbc_climatewars_02.mp3

Climate Wars - Part Three February 2, 2009 http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/ideas_20090202_11529.mp3 http://www.nhne.com/files/audio/climatewars/cbc_climatewars_03.mp3

NHNE's Climate Change Resource Page: http://www.nhne.org/tabid/490/Default.aspx

NHNE's 1000 Most Recent Climate Change Articles: http://www.nhne.org/tabid/1050/Default.aspx

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14. World Vegetarian Week Scheduled

How about making Sukkot a part of World Vegetarian Week?

Since, as indicated in the message too me below, World Vegetarian week Overlaps the first 4-5 days of Sukkot, I wonder if there is any way of connecting the harvest festival to World Vegetarian Week? Suggestions very welcome. Thanks.

Hi friends,

I can inform first hand that world famous author John Robbins will support the World Vegetarian Week: www.vegetarianweek.org

Please help this movement, planning activities in your country from October 1 to 7 and informing us.

If you can help us at an international level, your help is greatly
appreciated - please contact me.

In case you'd like to learn more about John Robbins' excellent work and greatly acclaimed books, visit, for example, www.foodrevolution.org

All the best,

Mateus Mendes

Oliveira do Hospital, Portugal

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15. Registration Open For AR2009

Forwarded message from FARM:

[If you would like to represent JVNA at this and/or at other upcoming veg-related events, please let me know. We would provide you with DVDs and other material to distribute. Thanks.]

register Now for Taking Action for Animals 2009!

Forwarded message:

Dear VeggieJews:

Registration is now open for Taking Action for Animals 2009 -- the largest national conference for the animal protection movement. Join us for the best TAFA conference to date, where you'll find more of our renowned educational workshops and networking opportunities. The fifth annual Taking Action for Animals conference will be held July 24-27, 2009, in Arlington, Virginia.

At just $140, TAFA is the best value of any national conference in the field of animal protection. Unlike other conferences that charge you extra for every meal, the TAFA registration cost includes two lunches, a banquet dinner, food and drinks at a welcome reception, and other snacks between workshops. In these trying economic times, you won't find a better value for your money than TAFA.

Plan now to join advocates from around the globe for this unparalleled opportunity to brush up on the basics, learn about the latest cutting-edge campaigns, and attend dynamic workshops that will help you improve your work for animals. Get more bang for your buck by registering now and taking advantage of lower early registration rates. Registration includes:

* Plenary sessions
* Training workshops
* A Lobby Day on Capitol Hill
* An exciting exhibit hall featuring vendors and non-profit organizations
* A banquet dinner
* Two lunches Sincerely,

Mike Markarian
Executive Vice President, The Humane Society of the United States
President, Humane Society Legislative Fund
* A welcome reception
* Invaluable opportunities for networking with colleagues, mentors, and fellow advocates

More than 1,000 people attended the 2008 conference. Don't miss this chance to get more involved -- join us in July! Visit www.takingactionforanimals.org often for program updates and registration information.

Location: Hyatt Regency Crystal City (map). Low group room rates are available for conference attendees. For reservations call the hotel's reservation department at 703-418-1234 or Hyatt Central Reservations at 800-233-1234 and mention Taking Action for Animals (group code TAFA).

Transportation: Hyatt Regency Crystal City offers complimentary shuttle service to/from both Reagan National Airport and the Crystal City metro station.

I look forward to seeing you in July at the 2009 Taking Action for Animals conference.

P.S. If you have an organization or business, promote your work at TAFA! Click here for opportunities on sponsorship and exhibiting.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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