April 30, 2009

4/26/2009 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Relating Vegetarianism to Lag B'Omer (the 33rd Day of the Counting of the Omer)

2. Relating Shavuot to Vegetarianism

3. Two Sample Letters re Shavuot and Vegetarianism

4. Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI) Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

5. Update on Anti-Fur Campaign in Israel

6. My Talk on “Should YOU Be a Vegetarian?” Scheduled

7. John Robbins Discusses Reconsidering Carnivorous Holiday Traditions

8. Update on Farm Animal Rights Movement's AR 2009 Conference

9. Article Discusses Negative Effects of Animal-Based Agriculture

10. Shalom Center Promotes Campaign for “A Jewish Call for the Greening of America”/JVNA Urges Stronger Appeal to Jewish Groups and That Vegetarian Diets Be Considered

11. Resources From Canfei Nesharim re the Counting of the Omer

12. Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate

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. Relating Vegetarianism to Lag B'Omer (the 33rd Day of the Counting of the Omer)

[I am planning to send the article below to the Jewish media. So, suggestions are very welcome. Please consider using the article for ideas for your letters and talking points.Thanks.]

Lag B'Omer & Vegetarianism:
Making Every Day Count

Daniel Brook & Richard H. Schwartz

Lag B'Omer is considered a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar, but even a minor holiday is still a holiday and therefore worth celebrating. A great way to celebrate Lag B'Omer is through vegetarianism, as Lag B'Omer is deeply connected to the Earth and its fruits.

Lag B'Omer represents the 33rd day of the counting of the omer, the fifty days between Passover and Shavuot, reminding us of the link between these two important holidays. While Passover celebrates our freedom from slavery, Shavuot celebrates our receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai -- both events being relevant for each generation. During Passover, Jews would bring barley to the Temple in Jerusalem; on Shavuot, Jews would bring their first fruits. Between these two holidays, while counting the days, Jews traditionally brought an omer of grain to the Temple. The word lag represents 33 and an omer is a measurement. The goal is not only to count the omer but to make the omer count.

According to a midrash, there were fifty days between the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and the receiving of the Torah - between liberation and law - because the Jewish people were not yet spiritually pure. On our modern journeys, in our efforts toward liberation, we can increase our purity by eating purer foods. We can purify our health and purify our planet, while purifying our spirit, with every meal.

Many people who switch to a vegetarian diet report feeling
physically, emotionally, and spiritually better. Lag B'Omer presents a special opportunity to reflect on where we've come from as well as to look forward to where we might, and should, be going, as it is a time for self-aw areness, self-growth, and community development.

We sincerely hope that Jews will enhance their celebrations of this ancient and beautiful holiday of Lag B'Omer by making it a time to strive even harder to live up to Judaism's highest moral values and teachings. We certainly don't need more "things" in our homes and we don't necessarily need to make an agricultural pilgrimage; instead, we do need more meaning, purpose, and spirit in our lives. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this. One significant way is by moving towards vegetarianism. Promoting organic agriculture, recycling, renewable fuels, and conservation are some others ways.

By sharing grain with others, Lag B'Omer demonstrates the power of cooperation and community. In contrast, meat-eating demonstrates the opposite. Raising animals for consumption, besides being cruel to animals (and therefore violating the Torah prohibition of tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, causing unnecessary harm to animals), uses and wastes a tremendous amount of grain as well as water, land, soil, and fossil fuels (transgressing bal tashchit, the Torah injunction not to waste anything of value), while destroying communities (the opposite of tikkun olam, healing the world), degrading the environment (not the way to be shomrei adamah, partners in preserving our world), and damaging human health (going against pekuach nefesh, the need to protect our health and lives).

Judaism also stresses the importance of tzedakah, that we be kind, assist the poor and weak, and share our food with the hungry, yet approximately 3/4 of major U.S. crops - e.g., corn, wheat, soybeans, oats - is fed to the billions of animals raised for meat and destined for slaughter. Further, Judaism repeatedly suggests that we pursue peace and justice, and vegetarianism is one key step on that path.

While millions of people annually die from over-consumption, particularly consumption of fat and cholesterol, millions of people annually die from under-consumption, from starvation and hunger-related diseases. Indeed, it takes many pounds of grain, rich in fiber and other nutrients, to produce a single pound of cholesterol-laden meat. Although the world produces more than enough food to feed all its people, the inequality of wealth and power, along with the inefficiency of land use and food distribution, creates conditions that lead to scarcity, chronic hunger, malnutrition, and starvation. Lag B'Omer reminds us to enjoy the bounty of our crops - and lives - and to share what we have.

World hunger is neither necessary, automatic, nor inevitable. Vegetarianism creates conditions that are more fair and just, more efficient and sustainable, thereby potentially allowing more people to be fed, rather than using land, grain, water, labor, energy, and other resources to produce food to be fed to animals that are later killed and then fed to people. In addition to being better for one's health and our environment, vegetarianism is better for food security and the alleviation of world hunger. Food security, in turn, may prevent the all-too-common instances of jealousy, covetousness, ethnic tensions, and then violence, war, and genocide. It is worth noting that the Hebrew root word for both bread, lechem, and war, milchama, is the same, implying that when bread is scarce war is more likely.

Traditionally, many Jews refrain from open celebration during the counting of the omer. However, Lag B'Omer is a day during this season on which marriages, haircuts, and other celebrations are allowed to begin again because miracles have occurred on Lag B'Omer. It was on Lag B'Omer, for example, that a plague that had killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students finally ended. Choosing vegetarianism champions life by saving lives everyday. Shortly after the plague, Rabbi Akiva chose five students to carry on his work, one of whom was the great sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Rabbi Eleazar hid in a cave for thirteen years after Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai was condemned to death by the Roman conquerors of Jerusalem for speaking out against them, following the murders of Rabbi Akiva and many others. While they lived in a cave, they were sustained by their studies of the Torah, a local stream, and a nearby carob tree for their food. These great sages demonstrated that a vegetarian diet, like the manna the Israelites received in the Sinai desert, is enough to sustain a person as well as a people.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai taught that our world and the unseen "higher" worlds are unified, as manifestations of the Divine Soul, and that the meaning of life is to reunify Creation with the source of Creation. He also affirmed that the "crown" of a good name, doing good deeds, is the most important thing, even more so than studying Torah, and is within the reach of everyone. He further asked that his day of passing be a day of celebration. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai died on Lag B'Omer.

The Omer is sometimes referred to as the Sefirah, The Counting. Sefirah also means illuminating. Literally for some and figuratively for all, it is important to count each day and to make each day count. Eating vegetarian may allow us to live longer and healthier lives, as many scientific studies have shown, while saving the lives of countless animals. Doing so illuminates our lives as well as theirs, allowing us to be a light unto others.

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.

The founder of Chasidism. Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, known as the Baal Shem Tov (Master of the Good Name), became known to the rest of the world on Lag B'Omer (he died 26 years later on Shavuot in 1760). Among his great teachings, the Baal Shem Tov said that "People should consider themselves, and the worms, and all creatures as friends in the universe, for we are all created beings whose abilities are God-given."

This season, while we count the omer, we should re-educate ourselves about the hazards of mass production and consumption of meat and the many benefits of vegetarianism, as well as bring offerings to our inner temples. We can do this by practicing the powerful teachings and highest values of Judaism. A shift toward vegetarianism can be a major factor in the renewal of Judaism, as it would further demonstrate that Jewish values are not only relevant but essential to everyday personal life and global survival.

During the counting of the omer, between Passover and Shavuot, it is customary to read Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Parents), a section of the Talmud. In it, Rabbi Tarfon states that "It is not your obligation to complete the task [of perfecting the world], but neither are you free from engaging in it". Another Talmudic sage, Ben Hay Hay, says in Pirkei Avot that "The reward is in proportion to the effort". Therefore, it's up to us to go beyond our good intentions and do the best we can. Shifting toward vegetarianism would be a great start! And as Hillel asks, "If not now, when?"

For more information, please visit Aish Hatorah at aish.com/omer, the Jewish Vegetarians of North America at JewishVeg.com and The Vegetarian Mitzvah at Brook.com/jveg.

Daniel Brook, Ph.D., is the author of Modern Revolution and dozens of articles and is a member of the Advisory Committee of Jewish Vegetarians of North America. He maintains Eco-Eating www.brook.com/veg, The Vegetarian Mitzvah www.brook.com/jveg>, CyberBrook's ThinkLinks
www.brook.com/cyberbrook, and can be contacted at Vegnik@gmail.com.

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D., is the author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival, and over 100 articles located at www.JewishVeg.com/schwartz. He is President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) JewishVeg.com and Coordinator of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV) www.serv-online.org.

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2. Relating Shavuot to Vegetarianism

[I am planning to send the article below to the Jewish media. So, suggestions are very welcome. Also, please use the material in this and the above article for letters to editors and talking points. Thanks. Two sample letters are in the section below.]

Shavuot and Vegetarianism
By Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

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

1) Shavuot is described as "z'man matan Toratenu" (the season of the giving of our law (the Torah)). It is this Torah that has in its very first chapter God's original, strictly vegetarian, dietary regimen: "And God said: 'Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed - to you it shall be for food'" (Genesis 1:29).

2) To honor the Torah, many Jews stay up the entire first night of Shavuot to study Torah teachings. It is some of these teachings -to guard our health and our lives, to treat animals with compassion, to share with hungry people, to protect the environment, and to conserve natural resources - that are the basis for Jewish vegetarianism.

3) Shavuot is also known as "Chag Hakatzir" (the Harvest Festival), since it climaxes the year's first harvest. Hence, it can remind us that many more people can be sustained on vegetarian diets than on animal -centered diets. While the Torah stresses that farmers are to leave the corners of their fields and the gleanings of their harvests for the hungry, over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as 15 to 20 million people worldwide die annually because of hunger and its effects.

4) The Talmudic sages also referred to Shavuot as "Atzeret" (the closing festival of Passover). This name implies not only that Shavuot completes the harvest begun at Passover time, but also suggests that the Torah completes the physical liberation celebrated during Passover. Yet, while the Torah has many teachings on compassion toward animals and indicates, as part of the Ten Commandments, that animals are also to be able to rest on the Sabbath day, most farm animals are kept in cramped confined spaces where they are denied exercise, fresh air, sunlight, and the fulfillment of their instinctual needs.

5). There are several other Torah teachings that are seriously violated by animal-based diets: a) While the Torah mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives (Deuteronomy: 4-9, 4-15), animal-centered diets have been linked to heart disease, stroke, several forms of cancer, and other illnesses. b) While many Torah teachings are concerned with protecting the environment, modern intensive animal agriculture results in soil erosion and depletion, extensive air and water pollution related to chemical fertilizer and pesticides, and the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats. c) While the Torah mandates bal tashchit, (Deuteronomy 20:19, 20) that we are not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value, livestock agriculture requires the wasteful use of food, land, water, energy, and other resources.

6) Shavuot is a festival of thanksgiving to the Creator for His kindness. The full Hallel, psalms of praise and thanksgiving from Psalm 113 to 118, are chanted during morning synagogue services. Since one must be in good health and have a clear conscience in order to fully rejoice and be thankful, the many health benefits of vegetarian diets and the knowledge that such diets are not harmful to hungry people or animals are factors that can enhance thankfulness.

7) On Shavuot, Jews read the Book of Ruth in synagogues. One reason is that its barley-harvest setting echoes the harvest just ending as Shavuot arrives. One of Ruth's outstanding attributes was her acts of kindness. Vegetarianism is a way of showing kindness, because it best shares food with hungry people and it doesn't involve the mistreatment and death of animals.

8) The Book of Ruth begins with Naomi, Ruth's future mother-in-law, and her family leaving Israel because of a severe famine. Today, major shortages of food in the near future are being predicted by the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington DC think tank, and others, and one major reason is that people in China, Japan, India, and other countries where affluence has been increasing, are joining the US and other western countries by moving to animal-centered diets that require vast amounts of grain.

9) The Book of Ruth indicates that Naomi's family suffered the death of her husband and her two sons because the family fled in the time of famine rather than using their leadership to help others in need. In contrast to this selfish act, vegetarianism considers not only personal well being, but also encompasses broader concerns, including the global environment, the world's hungry people, animals, and the efficient use of the world's resources.

10) According to the Talmud, Shavuot is the day of judgment for fruit trees and there is an obligation to pray for them. Yet, to create pasture land for cattle, tropical forests are being rapidly destroyed. The production of just one quarter-pound fast food hamburger can require the destruction of almost 55 square feet of tropical rain forest along with much animal and plant life.

11) Shavuot involves the highest spiritual teachings (the revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai) and down-to-earth considerations - the wheat harvest and the offering of the first fruits in the Temple. This reminds us that ideally we should relate heaven to earth and translate the Divine laws to our daily lives. Vegetarianism is an attempt to do this because it applies Torah teaching to our sustenance needs.

In view of these and other connections, I hope that Jews will enhance their celebrations of the beautiful and spiritually meaningful holiday of Shavuot 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.

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3. Two Sample Letters re Shavuot and Vegetarianism

Dear editor,
Since Shavuot commemorates God giving the Torah to the Jewish people, and there is increased Torah study on this important holiday, with many religious Jews staying up all night engaged in Torah study, it makes me wonder why the many ways that animal-based diets and agriculture violate Torah values seem to be generally ignored in the Jewish community:

1) While Judaism mandates that people should be very careful about preserving their health and their lives, numerous scientific studies have linked animal-based diets directly to heart disease, stroke, many forms of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases.
2) While Judaism forbids tsa'ar ba'alei chayim, inflicting unnecessary pain on animals, most farm animals -- including those raised for kosher consumers -- are raised on "factory farms" where they live in cramped, confined spaces, and are often drugged, mutilated, and denied fresh air, sunlight, exercise, and any enjoyment of life, before they are slaughtered and eaten.
3) While Judaism teaches that "the earth is the Lord's" (Psalm 24:1) and that we are to be God's partners and co-workers in preserving the world, modern intensive livestock agriculture contributes substantially to soil erosion and depletion, air and water pollution, overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other habitats, global warming, and other environmental damage.
4) While Judaism mandates bal tashchit, that we are not to waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value, and that we are not to use more than is needed to accomplish a purpose, animal agriculture requires the wasteful use of food, land, water, energy, and other resources.
5) While Judaism stresses that we are to assist the poor and share our bread with hungry people, over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter (it takes about 9 pounds of grain to produce one pound of edible beef), while an estimated 20 million people worldwide die because of hunger and its effects each year.

In view of these important Jewish mandates to preserve human health, attend to the welfare of animals, protect the environment, conserve resources, help feed hungry people, and pursue peace, contrasted with the harm that animal-centered diets do in each of these areas, shouldn't committed Jews (and others) sharply reduce or eliminate their consumption of animal products?

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

Letter #2:

Dear Editor:

Shavuot commemorates God giving the Torah to the Jewish people. There is increased Torah study on this important holiday, and many religious Jews stay up all night engaged in Torah study. Hence, this may provide a good occasion to respectfully raise some questions, such as:

* Since the Torah mandates the avoidance of tsa'ar ba'alei chaim (causing unnecessary pain to animals), why isn't there far greater concern about the horrible treatment of animals (10 billion annually in the US alone) on factory farms?
* Since the Torah mandates that we should very diligently guard our health, why don't Jewish leaders speak out about the many negative health effects of animal-based diets?

* Since the Torah mandates that we are to be shomrei adamah (guardians of the earth - Genesis 2:15), why are the many current severe environmental threats (all of which are significantly worsened by animal-based agriculture) not being adequately addressed by the Jewish community?

* Since the Torah mandates that we are not to waste resources (bal tashchit - Deuteronomy 20: 19, 20), why isn't the Jewish community addressing the fact that animal-based agriculture requires far more land, water, energy, and other agricultural resources than plant-based agriculture?

* Since the Torah mandates that we are to share with hungry people, why isn't the Jewish community (and others) addressing the fact that 70% of the grain produced in the United States is being fed to animals destined for slaughter while an estimated 20 million people die from malnutrition and its effects annually?

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4. Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI) Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

Forwarded message from Nina Natelson, founder and director of CHAI, and JVNA advisor:

Please distribute widely: click Forward email at bottom of page

April 23, 2009

CHAI Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

Over Two Decades of Helping Israel's Animals

CHAI marks its 25th anniversary of sowing seeds of compassion throughout the country, made possible by your support.

From our inception, we struggled to fulfill each request as it came in: an autoclave for sterilizing surgical instruments to one shelter, an anesthesia machine, educational videos and materials to another, surgical instruments and tranquilizers to a third, humane dog and cat traps to a fourth, and to a fifth, a large newspaper ad asking for donations for a desperately needed roof before the arrival of winter rains. Whatever the need, CHAI was there. Above all, one shelter Director told us, CHAI showed them that people saw their terrible situation and cared, offering desperately needed hope that things would change for the better.

The fruits of our efforts were videos we sent shown on Israeli TV, educating thousands around the country, spay/neuter surgeries made possible at two shelters by equipment we sent, several new shelters launched, and a new roof for a shelter built, providing dozens of dogs protection from cold winter rains.

Our Israeli sister charity, Hakol Chai, was established in 2001.

Our first year: CHAI and the Education Ministry co-sponsored Israel's first nationwide Humane Education Contest

CHAI has always believed that education is the key to positive change, as it goes to the root of the problem, and so in our first year, we co-sponsored, with Israel's Ministry of Education, the first country-wide Humane Education Contest.

A committee of Education Ministry officials judged actions to help animals and compositions submitted by students throughout the country. At the formal award ceremony in Ramat Gan, the Minister of Education awarded prizes to individual students and classes of students who had done the most to help animals or who had written the best compositions about the right attitude toward animals. For the first time, high-level government officials held up compassion for animals as an ideal for students to emulate. Response to the contest was so positive that the Ministry continued it for many years afterwards, calling it "The Love of Animals."

Winning compositions were displayed at the Ministry, one table per grade level. Classes and individuals who won were bused to the award ceremony.

Year after year, your loyal support made it possible for us to respond when and where help was most needed.

Thanks to you, we:

* Participated in the process of drafting the country's first Animal Protection Law.

*Campaigned successfully to put donated ambulances for animals on the same tax and customs duty-free basis as ambulances donated to human hospitals, and we donated the first ambulance in Israel to a shelter.

CHAI's animal ambulance, the first in Israel

* Co-sponsored professional conferences with government ministries in Israel to raise awareness about animal issues, teach proper shelter management, and replace the cruel mass strychnine poisonings with humane methods of animal control.

* Co-sponsored, with the Ministry of Education, a conference on the link between violence toward people and toward animals and the importance of humane education, which led the Knesset Education Committee to acknowledge the need to include humane education in the school curriculum.

Professional conferences

Shipped the first mobile spay/neuter clinic in the Middle East to Israel, performed operations from one end of the country to the other, and taught and demonstrated the importance of early-age spaying and neutering.

Our mobile spay/neuter clinic

* Exposed the routine cruelty to cart horses, pressing Mayors throughout the county to end the abuse, and rescued and rehabilitated as many horses as we could.

*Campaigned to block the establishment of the horseracing industry in Israel.

* Provided a lifeline in times of crisis during the Disengagement in Gaza and the West Bank, and rushed truckloads of food, hundreds of water bowls, and teams of volunteers to the north during the war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, then housed and cared for the animals and found them homes, saving hundreds of lives.

* Developed an extensive, trilingual website (English, Hebrew, and Arabic) that provides comprehensive information for animal advocates, researchers, students, and others around the world.

And so much more.

Whether it is your small contributions combined, special gifts, or bequests that made possible the ambulance, enabled us to purchase, ship, and operate the spay/neuter clinic, to build a new cat facility for a shelter, to create an extensive humane education curriculum for secular and Jewish schools and so much more - all was made possible by YOU. Read more about CHAI's accomplishments.

Please join us for another decade of progress for the animals.

CHAI's mobile spay/neuter clinic provided low-cost operations and education throughout the country and earned a reputation for professionalism and compassionate care of animals. Thanks to a bequest from a CHAI member, the clinic - whose work we had to temporarily curtail due to the economic situation - will soon be back in service. Being able to alter animals at a very low cost is even more critical in difficult economic times, preventing abandonment and euthanasia of many animals. A contribution of $26 will help subsidize one spay or neuter; $260 will underwrite 10 surgeries. Please help us keep this vital service going into the future. Send your generous tax-deductible contributions to CHAI.

Please also contribute to our campaign to prevent gambling on horse racing, a cruel industry based on greed, from entering Israel. A professional lobbyist is expensive, as much as $25,000 per year. For information about the cruelties in this industry, see Horse Racing - the Horror Behind the Glamour.

The clinic, our extensive educational curriculum for secular and Jewish schools, and many of our other major projects made dreams reality because our supporters included CHAI in their will, leaving a legacy of compassion that helped thousands of animals, educated children and adults in the importance of caring for animals, and saved countless lives. Including CHAI in your will ensures that your values will be taught in schools and demonstrated in action on behalf of animals throughout Israel.

Please Help Us Continue to Help Animals in Israel

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

Email: chai_us@cox.net
Phone: 703-658-9650
Web: http://www.chai-online.org
[Kudos to Nina and CHAI for their many achievements, and best wishes for their continued success, They have been very cooperative and helpful to JVNA for MANY years, contributing many valuable suggestions.]

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5. Update on Anti-Fur Campaign in Israel

Forwarded message from Christine Krishnasami and Chantal Buslot:
Subject: I support the Nitzan Horowitz [anti-fur] Bill


Dear Knesset Member,

I'd like to show my support the bill to enforce a total ban on the fur industry in Israel.

Here follow the reasons:

1) The hope that if one country passes such a bill into law, it would encourage other countries to follow on that enlightened path. It is often the case that after one leader takes that first brave step onto a new path, proving that path to be indeed obtainable, that others happily and eagerly follow.

2) The fur industry is an outdated barbaric trade based today exclusively on greed and ego. Many barbaric traits used by our cavemen ancestors in the name of necessity and survival have been given up as humanity evolved through the ages; like the tabooing of human sacrifice, and cannibalism it has always been the more enlightened that took the first step on the path of evolution, but it is inevitable that all of human kind must follow.

And this fact holds true too, that the time has come that the barbaric era of inflicting anguish and terror upon innocent mammals to wear their skins is long ago over, and must be made taboo, in the name of the innocent mammals and the name of our humanity.

3) The wearing of fur is only natural on mammals [who are the original 'wearers'!! The fur industry in its disparate death rattles has been putting out ads filled with lies and propaganda 'that to wear fur is green'. The facts are that the fur industry destroys the environment via the chemicals used in its production like in poisonous formaldehyde and many other che micals that get into our air, water and land supply.

4) Fur endangers the balance of nature for various reasons, in that often endangered species are killed and hunted into extinction. In other cases where the mammals are not yet on the endangered list, the continuing mass slaughter of them, like in that of the baby seals, is fast putting them in danger. Take into consideration the recent years of global warming melting the birthing ice floes, and couple that with the unsustainable and brutal massacre of the infant seals, and the future of the seals is easy to predict. Again the fur industry in its desperation put out ads filled with lies and propaganda 'that to wear fur is green' and 'it protects the balance of nature', but anyone that has learned ecology or biology knows that
perhaps the most importantly relevant point to make here is that when left alone nature always balances itself.

I thank you so much for your time and attention.

Thank you in name of the animals

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6. My Talk on “Should YOU Be a Vegetarian?” Scheduled

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
6:30 p.m

Mid-Manhattan Library
The New York Public Library
40th Street and 5th Avenue, 6th floor

(elevators access the 6th floor after 6 p.m.)
New York, NY 10016

Should YOU Be a Vegetarian?

What are the health, animal-treatment, environmental, resource usage, hunger and other implications of animal-based diets?

Can one be adequately nourished and healthy without eating meat and other animal products? How are animals treated on factory farms? How much does animal-based agriculture contribute to global warming, soil erosion, species extinction, destruction of forests and other habitats and other environmental problems? How much land, water, energy and other resources are needed to produce meat and other animal-based products?

How does animal-centered agriculture affect world hunger? How important is a societal switch toward vegetarianism today?

This illustrated lecture will provide the answers to these questions and more.

Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D, is Professor Emeritus, Mathematics, College of Staten Island; President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA); and co-founder and coordinator of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV). He is best known as a vegetarian activist and environmental activist. He is an advocate for animal welfare in the United States and Israel.

Dr. Schwartz is the author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival, Mathematics and Global Survival and over 130 articles at http://jewishveg.com/schwartz/ . His writings inspired the 2007 documentary film, A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World, directed by Lionel Friedberg.

All programs are FREE and subject to last minute change or cancellation.

Join in the New York Bird Club Community Discussion:

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7. John Robbins Discusses Reconsidering Carnivorous Holiday Traditions

Forwarded message from Earthsave:

It's a holiday week when people across the world are consuming pigs, chickens and lambs by the millions.

We thought we'd let EarthSave founder John Robbins explain why it might be a good idea to re-think our carnivorous holiday traditions.

Watch the video:

(Warning: Tragic images and language)


Peas & Love,
Jeff & Sabrina

Other recent videos:

John McDougall MD: My health awakening

Jay Gordon MD: Defeating the culture of obesity

Jeffrey Masson: On his new book, “The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food”:

Upcoming Events:

American Vegan Society Annual Meeting:

Healthy Lifestyle Expo:

P.S. Please share VegSource e-mails and
videos with friends and colleagues.

That's how we grow. Thanks.

VegSource Interactive, Inc.
19360 Rinaldi Street
Suite 438
Porter Ranch, CA 91326

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8. Update on Farm Animal Rights Movement's AR 2009 Conference

Forwarded message from FARM:

Discounted Registration Ends April 30th

The $40-off registration rate for the Animal Rights 2009 National Conference ends April 30th. The Conference will be held on July 16-20th at the Westin LAX Hotel near Los Angeles Airport.

A highlight of this year's conference will be the presentation of awards for the most effective local and national animal rights campaigns in 2008. Please e-mail your nominations, with a brief description and effectiveness argument.

More than 80 speakers from 60 organizations have already signed up. They include
Lorri Bauston, Michael Budkie, Karen Davis, Karen Dawn, Debra Ehrenberg, Camille Hankins, Alex Hershaft, Elliot Katz, Dennis Kucinich (by video), Elizabeth Kucinich, Bob Linden, Erik Marcus, Erica Meier, Anthony Marr, Jack Norris, Lauren Ornelas, Alex Pacheco, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Nathan Runkle, Brenda Shoss, Will Tuttle, Paul Watson, Peter Young.

Sponsoring organizations include FARM, In Defense of Animals, & Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, as well as ACT Radio, E/Environmental Magazine, Healing Species, Mercy For Animals, Vegetarian Times, and VegNews Magazine.

To register, visit our Registration page, call us at 888-327-6872, or mail a check to FARM/AR2009, 10101 Ashburton Lane, Bethesda MD 20817.

To book a discounted room, visit our Lodging page or call Westin reservations at 800-228-3000 or 301-216-5858 and mention Animal Rights 2009.

Contact our registrar for work scholarships and low-income discounts and housing.

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9. Article Discusses Negative Effects of Animal-Based Agriculture

Forwarded message from Dan Brook, author and JVNA advisor:

Another EXCELLENT article by Kathy Freston!
A must read and share, especially today.
Happy Earth Day!

Peace, Dan


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10. Shalom Center Promotes Campaign for “A Jewish Call for the Greening of America”/JVNA Urges Stronger Appeal to Jewish Groups and That Vegetarian Diets Be Considered

Forwarded message from Shalom Director Arthur Waskow:

[JVNA responses below the statement below.]

Dear chevra [friends],

As promised, here's the proposed statement -- “A Jewish Call for the Greening of America” -- on public policy and the bills that are now about to come before Congress on energy and climate.

I would of course be delighted if you feel fine with it as it stands -- but if there is some really important sticking point that would keep you from signing, please let me know what it is and we will see what's possible. (And if there's a minor point that you think could improve it, let me know that too.) If there's someone I should have included in this letter but didn't, please let me know.

I am hoping to proceed as follows:

1) You-all sign this by writing me at Awaskow@shalomctr.org and making a commitment to make a (tax-deductible) donation to make possible its publication in as wide a way as we can support.

I am requesting that your signature be “sealed” with a donation of at least $36 if you are living on a limited income; for most of you, in the range from $180 to $720 or $1,000. Your letter adding your signature should include a statement of how much you are willing to commit to donating.

2) With a list of signatories stretching across Jewish life, we will then go to broader lists that The Shalom Center and I hope many of you will then write, asking for signatures and donations.

3) Meanwhile, we will approach some people of great means and great commitment to donate considerably larger amounts of money.

4) Our goal will be to publish this if possible in the only national “megaphone” we have in the USA - the New York Times -- and to win public media attention, in and beyond the Jewish community, for what will be a quite unprecedented call for the Jewish community on this subject.

5) Finally, we will be in touch with you about bringing together an organizing/ strategy meeting for planning Jewish advocacy on public policy beyond the decisions made by Congress in the next couple of months.

The statement follows. It's also attached.

With blessings of refuah [healing] for our planet --

Twenty-five hundred years ago, the last of the classical Hebrew prophets - Malachi -- proclaimed that a day was coming that would burn like a furnace; that its remedy would be a "sun of justice with healing in its wings"; and that to forestall utter destruction of the earth, the Prophet Elijah would turn the hearts of parents and children to each other.

There are many such strands of deep concern for the earth woven into the fabric of our tradition. Indeed., through centuries of rabbinic tradition, the principle of Bal Tashchit, "Do not destroy," has reminded us of our broader responsibility to the earth.

In our own era, we see in quite practical reality the danger of a burning global climate crisis; we can already see that this disaster can only be averted if we turn away from burning fossil fuels to drawing on the healing energy of sun and wind; and that elders and youth and children -- all the generations -- must come together to heal our wounded earth.

We are Jews of several generations, ranging in age from the 80s to the 20s, many of us with children and grandchildren even younger. We turn our hearts to each other; we call ourselves together to address the Jewish community and American society in this time of danger and of promise:

American society has, per capita, been the worst contributor of carbon dioxide and methane to the heating of our planet. Yet now the American public is poised to turn from this dangerous course, as Congress takes up major legislation to reduce carbon emissions and turn to the use of renewable energy and the creation of green jobs.

During the past decade, many Jewish institutions and leaders have called for the "greening" of our congregational and organizational buildings and our homes - -- though many fewer have actually begun the work. Some groups have passed resolutions calling for the greening of American society as a whole, through changes in public and corporate policy. Far fewer have turned these resolutions from paper into action. The time has come when the values of Judaism, the needs of our country, and the health of life upon this planet must coalesce into vigorous action by every Jewish institution.

We call upon Congress to pass the strongest possible legislation that -

1) Ends all subsidies for oil and coal production, and devotes massive resources to research, development, and actual deployment of transportation and construction based on wind and solar energy --- including high-speed rail, electric cars, wind farms, solar installations, and the reshaping of neighborhoods so that work and home are close to each other and do not need long energy-wasting commuter transport.

2) Actually reduces greenhouse gas emissions by the developed countries by 40% by 2020 and achieves the relatively safe limit of 350 parts per million carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, using whatever combination of cap-and invest, carbon fees on high-carbon fuels, early replacement of wasteful coal power plants and low-mileage autos, and other steps that will actually produce that result.

3) Submits all cap-and-invest "permits to pollute" to auction, not giving any away free.

4) Transfers the funds raised by carbon fees and cap-and-invest auctions to drastic reductions in payroll taxes on low-income and middle-income Americans, and to vouchers for use of home insulation, public transit, and other energy efficiencies.

5) Sets aside substantial funds to meet the special needs of economic conversion for regions, businesses, and workers in the US that are heavily impacted by these changes.

6) Sets aside substantial funds to assist poorer nations in the world to follow a non-fossil path toward economic improvement and to meet the urgent needs of societies that are specially vulnerable to climate-caused disaster.

We ask every congregation and organization in the Jewish community to commit at least 1% of its time and its budget to pursuing these changes in American public policy through community organizing, lobbying, public vigils, religious celebrations with an activist component, and other such means to join in a concerted effort to make this Jewish vision of healing the world into practical reality.

Only in this way can we fulfill the vision of Malachi, the commitment of Elijah, and the teaching of the rabbis -- joining the generations to heal our wounded planet and give new meaning and new purpose to the age-old Jewish people and to Jewish wisdom.

My response to Rabbi Arthur Waskow:

Dear Arthur,

Kol hakavod for your excellent statement and for your continued splendid efforts to alert people to the importance of responding quickly and effectively to global scorching.

I do have two suggestions:

I think your statement re synagogues' and other Jewish institutions' involvement should be FAR stronger than asking for a commitment of 1 percent of their time and budget. As you know, the world is heading rapidly toward an unprecedented catastrophe from global scorching and other environmental threats, with some climate experts, including James Hansen of NASA, arguing that we could soon reach a tipping point when climate change could spiral out of control with disastrous consequences, unless major changes soon occur. Hence, I strongly suggest that you urge Jewish leaders and institutions to make global scorching a major focus of their activities and preferably THE major focus. This would be consistent with your call for vigorous action in response to the present crisis. Limited measures are not sufficient to address the magnitude of the crisis that all of humanity faces.

Second, I urge you to add something about the importance of reducing the consumption of meat. As you also know, the 2006 UN report "Livestock's Long Shadow" indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars and other means of transportation worldwide combined (18% vs. 13.5%), and that the consumption of meat and other animal products is projected to double in 50 years, negating the effects of many of your valuable suggested changes.. So, I think it is essential that there be at least a mention of the importance of reducing the consumption of animal products. The statement below by Nina Natelson, JVNA advisor and the founder and director of Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI), and the suggestion by JVNA advisor Rena Reason (also below) reinforce my dietary suggestion.

If you make changes along the lines I have suggested, I would be happy to support your statement and make a contribution toward the ad's publication, and I would urge others in the vegetarian and animal rights communities to do so also.

Many thanks for all you are doing toward a more sustainable world.

Message from Nina Natelson of CHAI:

The concept and contents of the letter are excellent, but how is it that animal agriculture, the #2 cause of global warming per the U.N., is omitted from the list? To draft an action plan to halt global warming, but exclude a top contributor to it seems like declaring one's intention to lose weight while failing to reduce one's intake of fattening foods.

The just aired PBS/WETA Frontline documentary, Poisoned Waters, pointed out that our waterways are dangerously polluted and the number of dead zones around the world doubles every decade. One result is cancer and mutations in marine mammals and other aquatic creatures, and health threats to people. The documentary placed the blame for the destruction of the Chesapeake Bay (40% of which is already a dead zone) squarely on the shoulders of the numerous Perdue chicken farms on Maryland's Eastern Shore. 1.5 billion pounds of chicken manure from hundreds of thousands of chickens (more than all the human waste from 4 major cities) runs off into waterways, its nitrogen and phosphorous content feeding algae that sucks up oxygen so nothing can live. The program cited animal agriculture as the primary source of water pollution (60%) in the U.S., from hog farms (which caused a 6,000 mile dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico) and cattle farms across the country, in addition to chicken farms.

How can the Jewish community fail to act on this information, knowing that besides animal agriculture's major contribution to global warming and water pollution, animal products have been linked, in one scientific study after another, to cancer and other degenerative diseases (see the American Cancer Society and American Dietetic Association's websites, for example, on the documented health benefits of vegetarianism)? Just how close to planetary destruction do we have to come before rational thinking overrides lust for the taste of meat?

I hope individuals and organizations will defer signing the letter until vegetarianism is given appropriate priority on the list of actions being promoted., perhaps with wording such as: “Sets aside substantial funds to make available a wider variety of vegetarian options for school lunch programs and hospital and government office cafeterias, and to promote understanding by the general public of the importance of reducing or eliminating our consumption of animal products in halting global warming. ” Changing light bulbs won't do enough to save us. Going veg will.

Hi Richard,

How about the idea that public schools implement hands-on experience growing and preparing vegetables? This could be a powerful way for children to explore the cycles, seasons, and other processes of nature while enjoying healthy food that they have grown themselves. See "Rethinking School Lunch" at www.ecoliteracy.org/programs/index.html

Rena Reason

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11. Resources From Canfei Nesharim re the Counting of the Omer

Forwarded message from Evonne, director of Canfei Nesharim (an Orthodox Jewish environmental group):

Make it Count This Omer!
Exploring the Land, Refining Ourselves

Order Fact Sheets for your community

Program Ideas and Lesson Plans

Support Canfei Nesharim

Last week, we concluded the joyous holiday of freedom. As we move toward Shavuot, we refine ourselves and develop our relationship to the land by counting the Omer. Canfei Nesharim has resources to help you and your community connect to the land during this special time of year!

* NEW! "Counting the Omer, Refining Ourselves" - A Torah teaching about the Omer and our relationship to the land during this time;

* Additional Torah Teachings about the environment for the eight weekly Torah portions during the Omer;

* FREE fact sheets to distribute to your community, with a Torah teaching and facts about the environment in Israel; and

* Great NEW program ideas and lesson plans about the Omer season for children in your synagogue and school.

View Our Full Set of Omer Resources

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12. Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate

NY Times article
Published: April 23, 2009

For more than a decade the Global Climate Coalition, a group representing industries with profits tied to fossil fuels, led an aggressive lobbying and public relations campaign against the idea that emissions of heat-trapping gases could lead to global warming.

“The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” the coalition said in a scientific “backgrounder” provided to lawmakers and journalists through the early 1990s, adding that “scientists differ” on the issue.

But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the coalition worked to sway opinion, its own scientific and technical experts were advising that the science backing the role of greenhouse gases in global warming could not be refuted.

“The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied,” the experts wrote in an internal report compiled for the coalition in 1995.

The coalition was financed by fees from large corporations and trade groups representing the oil, coal and auto industries, among others. In 1997, the year an international climate agreement that came to be known as the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated, its budget totaled $1.68 million, according to tax records obtained by environmental groups.

Throughout the 1990s, when the coalition conducted a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign challenging the merits of an international agreement, policy makers and pundits were fiercely debating whether humans could dangerously warm the planet. Today, with general agreement on the basics of warming, the debate has largely moved on to the question of how extensively to respond to rising temperatures.

Environmentalists have long maintained that industry knew early on that the scientific evidence supported a human influence on rising temperatures, but that the evidence was ignored for the sake of companies' fight against curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. Some environmentalists have compared the tactic to that once used by tobacco companies, which for decades insisted that the science linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer was uncertain. By questioning the science on global warming, these environmentalists say, groups like the Global Climate Coalition were able to sow enough doubt to blunt public concern about a consequential issue and delay government action.

George Monbiot, a British environmental activist and writer, said that by promoting doubt, industry had taken advantage of news media norms requiring neutral coverage of issues, just as the tobacco industry once had.

“They didn't have to win the argument to succeed,” Mr. Monbiot said, “only to cause as much confusion as possible.”

William O'Keefe, at the time a leader of the Global Climate Coalition, said in a telephone interview that the group's leadership had not been aware of a gap between the public campaign and the advisers' views. Mr. O'Keefe said the coalition's leaders had felt that the scientific uncertainty justified a cautious approach to addressing cuts in greenhouse gases.

The coalition disbanded in 2002, but some members, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute, continue to lobby against any law or treaty that would sharply curb emissions. Others, like Exxon Mobil, now recognize a human contribution to global warming and have largely dropped financial support to groups challenging the science.

Documents drawn up by the coalition's advisers were provided to lawyers by the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, a coalition member, during the discovery process in a lawsuit that the auto industry filed in 2007 against the State of California's efforts to limit vehicles' greenhouse gas emissions. The documents included drafts of a primer written for the coalition by its technical advisory committee, as well as minutes of the advisers' meetings.

The documents were recently sent to The New York Times by a lawyer for environmental groups that sided with the state. The lawyer, eager to maintain a cordial relationship with the court, insisted on anonymity because the litigation is continuing.

The advisory committee was led by Leonard S. Bernstein, a chemical engineer and climate expert then at the Mobil Corporation. At the time the committee's primer was drawn up, policy makers in the United States and abroad were arguing over the scope of the international climate-change agreement that in 1997 became the Kyoto Protocol.


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