May 25, 2009

5/24/2009 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy Shevuot

2. Israeli Rabbi a Long Time Vegetarian Advocate

3. Report from Responsible Policies for Animals

4. Analysis of Health Benefits of Vegetarianism

5. Update on Rubashkins and Agriprocessors

6. Wonderful New Documentary Links Animal-based Diets to Global Warming

7. Chabad (Lubavitch) Event Involves a Vegan Dinner

8. National Geographic Considers The Coming Food Crisis

9. Green Week Conference 2009 Scheduled

10. Report: Global Warming Far Worse Than Expected

11. Action Alert: Help End Mass Pig Slaughter in Egypt

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 Shevuot

Shavuot begins at sundown on Thursday, May 28.

Because the holiday commemorates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, many Jews stay up all of Thursday night hearing talks on Torah-related material and discussing the Torah. What a great time to consider that G-d's first dietary regimen was vegan (Genesis 1:29) and that there are many Torah teachings on treating animals with compassion, taking care of our health, preserving the environment, helping hungry people and other vegetarian-related issues. For more information, please see my article “Shavuot and Vegetarianism” in the holidays section at, and please consider using the points in the article for your own talking points. Thanks.

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2. Israeli Rabbi a Long Time Vegetarian Advocate

Forwarded message from the blog “heeb'n'vegan”

Michael Croland


Rabbi Sperber on the Jewish Case for Vegetarianism

This afternoon, I saw Rabbi Daniel Sperber, a Bar Ilan University professor and the rabbi of Congregation Menachem Zion in the Old City of Jerusalem, speak in Manhattan. He focused primarily on why Jewish teachings point toward vegetarianism, saying he would've needed a whole course to give a full overview of the scheduled topic, "Kosher & Food Ethics: Exploring vegetarianism, meat production, fair labor and other food related ethical issues."

Rabbi Sperber focused on how meat consumption in the Jewish tradition is often portrayed as a concession that strays from the vegetarian ideal. He discussed the vegetarian diet in the Garden of Eden, the "lustful" context of meat cravings, and the vision of vegetarianism after the Messiah comes. He also mentioned Maimonides' view that the pain and anguish of animals are the same as the pain and anguish of humans. Rabbi Sperber said that people who know about animals' horrors in industrialized agriculture should be vegetarian, and those who don't should find out.

During both his talk and the Q&A, Rabbi Sperber brought up some other issues related to ethical eating. He described eating as a sacrament and suggested that the food we eat and all aspects of its production should adhere to our highest ethical standards. He briefly touched on the health and environmental benefits of vegetarianism, and he alluded to Uri L'Tzedek's new Tav HaYosher program and Magen Tzedek (formerly known as Hekhsher Tzedek) to say that we should also consider the treatment of workers as part of a comprehensive ethical food framework.

I asked Rabbi Sperber what steps people could take to learn more and transition toward an ethical diet. He suggested reading Rav Kook's A Vision of Vegetarianism and Peace and (if my memory serves me correctly) Richard H. Schwartz's Judaism and Vegetarianism. Ultimately, though, he said that people need to take it upon themselves to consider the Jewish case for vegetarianism and embrace ethical eating habits.

posted by heebnvegan @ 5/16/2009 11:30:00 PM

Name: Michael Croland Location: New York

I can be reached at

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3. Report from Responsible Policies for Animals

Forwarded message from RPA Director David cantor:

Share Freely.

RPA Members and Friends!

Very special thanks to the small cadre of caring people who have been moving along Responsible Policies for Animals' 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign to get our land-grant universities (LGUs) out of the meat industry!

I sometimes wake up in the morning and wonder how a vast network of Earth's most prestigious and popular institutions of higher learning can persist in teaching meat-industry and human-supremacy ideologies destroying Americans' health, Earth's ecosystems, and animals by the trillions! Beliefs even more fetid than the billions of gallons of feces at hog factories and other facilities dotting the American landscape. Yet taught at universities!

Human beings are natural herbivores. That basic fact informs the 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign. Of the thousands of professors at the LGUs RPA has sent over 300 letters, 200 factsheets, and 50 books, none has refuted that or any other assertion by RPA.

The reason? What RPA says is based on thorough research and determination to serve the public interest, including the nonhuman public. The LGUs and their meat-industry partners -- in contrast -- primarily serve their own perceived interests.

Among the latest responses in the 10, 000 Years Is Enough campaign: Office of the Governor of Texas (Texas A&M University), Vice President of University of Florida, Maryland Secretary of Agriculture and State Veterinarian (University of Maryland), President of University of Connecticut. All being answered, of course!

KEEP IT UP! There is no way to eliminate meat as an institution -- a necessary objective before humane treatment of nonhuman animals can be a possibility -- without getting our LGUs out of the meat industry! It cannot be accomplished through shopping choices, common wisdom notwithstanding.

If you haven't yet dropped anyone a note in the 10,000 Years Is Enough campaign, don't miss out any longer! Your tax dollars fund the inhumane, health-destroying, ecosystem-disrupting meat industry regardless of your shopping choices. No expert, activist, official, author, or celebrity can take your place in changing that!

Have a great weekend! And thank you for your work and support!

Best wishes,

David Cantor
Founder & Director
Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc.
P.O. Box 891
Glenside, PA 19038, USA

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4. Analysis of Health Benefits of Vegetarianism

Dear Sir,
Thanks for sending me your monthly newsletters. I do appreciate it.

Below is a copy of my short article.

Hope the JVNA will find it worthy of publication in your newsletter.

Best Wishes,


Since the day God destroyed the Earth with water during the era of Noah and gave humans the authority to eat animals with conditions attached (Gen. 7: 17 - 24, Gen. 9: 2-5), the quest for animals as food has increased greatly; with total neglect to plant-based diets which are the original foods God created for humankind (Gen. 1: 29 -31).

Humans have improved technologically over the years and this has tremendously improved agriculture, which is the major source of food for people. But this very technology is geared more towards the growing and breeding of livestock (Animal agriculture) for the sake of meat, a diet humans desire so much, that they [fail to consider] its negative consequences health wise.

Animal based diets are the major cause of degenerative diseases like: strokes, Heart diseases, certain cancers, Obesity and so on. In fact, animal agriculture is more or less a menace to man because of its threat to mans heath and environment. Aside the negative implications of livestock to our environment through its contributions to global warming, the global food crisis, and the decline in fresh water supply; it is also responsible for the outbreak of major epidemics that have claimed many lives in recent years like; the avian flu influenza (Bird Flu), the swine flu disaster and so on.

If health is wealth and every human being needs to be healthy to stay alive, then the big question now is why would people stick to diets that could deprive them from being healthy, instead of eating diets that can make them live a healthy life? People eat animal-based diets for pleasure and not for nourishment. Eating for pleasure cannot be compromised with eating in order to stay healthy. Therefore, there is a need for people to rethink about whether eating should be made for pleasure or to stay healthy. If the decision favours the latter, then we all need to change our diet to plant-based diets which according to experts not only removes people from the risk of degenerative diseases, but can also repair the damages caused by eating meat. If this is the case, there is a need for health organizations and institutions to come up with policies that would be geared towards the reduction of meat-based diets and encourage the eating of plant-based diets which is much cheaper, healthier and a more convenient and efficient means of feeding the world.

It should be noted however, that staying healthy is a precursor to life and life itself is cherished by God Almighty (Deut. 30:19). As a result of this, living a healthy life is imperative to every person and the best way we can achieve this is by changing our diet to plant-based diets, a diet God has provided for humanity from ages ago to keep us healthy at all times (Daniel 1:8-16, Ezek. 4:9)

NWAKA, Kehi Harry


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5. Update on Rubashkins and Agriprocessors

Thanks to JVNA Secretary/Treasurer John Diamond and JVNA advisor Lewis Regenstein for sending us recent information about this:

New charges filed against Rubashkin
May 18, 2009

NEW YORK (JTA) -- Federal prosecutors filed a new 142-count criminal indictment against former managers of Agriprocessors.
The new filing, made Friday in U.S. District Court for Northern Iowa, replaces a 79-count indictment issued in March. Former plant manager Sholom Rubashkin and fellow managers now face 71 counts of harboring illegal immigrants, in addition to other charges.

Prosecutors dropped identity theft charges in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that would have made conviction on those charges difficult to achieve.
Agriprocessors was the nation's largest producer of kosher meat before a massive federal immigration raid last year resulted in the arrest of hundreds of its employees and set off a cascade of legal problems for the company, which ultimately filed for bankruptcy protection.

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6. Wonderful New Documentary Links Animal-based Diets to Global Warming

Forwarded message from Leron:

Vegan: the fastest way to cool our planet.

check it out

all the best,


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7. Chabad (Lubavitch) Event Involves a Vegan Dinner

campus life
Student Center's Shabbat Dinner Goes Vegan

In the English town of Brighton, known for its liberal air, the local Jewish Student Center provided guests with a completely vegan Shabbat dinner.
By Daniel Lowe,
May 21, 2009 8:30 AM

Edith Einhorn couldn't believe what she was hearing. Her granddaughter, who co-directs a Jewish Student Center on England's South Coast, would be doing the unthinkable: Making a Friday night meal without meat, or eggs, or any animal product of any kind.

“What? No gefilte fish? No chicken soup? Challah without eggs?” exclaimed the incredulous grandmother, who lives in Israel. “No kugel? No matza balls?!”

But according to students, the first-ever vegan Shabbat at the Dubbed by some as the “San Francisco of Britain,” the seaside town of Brighton is renowned for its liberal, laidback atmosphere. It's a haven for vegetarians and vegans - who shun all manner of fish, meat, dairy and egg products - boasting more than 50 establishments that cater to the community, from restaurants and cafes to pubs, specialist retailers and even a hotel.

And for kosher food of the vegetarian and vegan variety, more and more people are turning to the Lewises and their Chabad on Campus of South Coast, which serves the University of Sussex and schools from Canterbury to Southampton.

“Vegetarianism and veganism is probably accepted here more than anywhere in the United Kingdom,” attested Zalman Lewis, “perhaps even more than anywhere else in Europe.”

Every week, the Chabad House hosts Shabbat meals for between 15 and 30 students, who each have varying dietary requirements.

“Up to a quarter or more of our guests each week are vegetarians or vegans,” estimated Lewis, who makes sure that everyone has enough to eat.

Jewish law states that in order to ensure the proper Shabbat atmosphere, a person should enjoy their food. In that light, there is no explicit requirement that people eat meat or fish if to do so would cause displeasure. Challenging Menu

Robin Bagon, a student who swore off meat at the age of 16 and gave up all animal products three years ago, moved to Brighton for its vegan-friendly culture.

“Brighton isn't a bad place at all to be vegan,” said Robin, who attended last week's Shabbat dinner. “I usually have my own Friday night meal. Most of the time, it's vegetarian, whether at my house or with other friends. And when I go to Zalman and Shterna's, they're accommodating in terms of providing a vegetarian or vegan option.”

“We usually have a vegetable soup as an alternative to chicken soup and we have soya or tofu products for the main course,” said Shterna Lewis.

Still, to make an entirely vegan Friday night dinner can pose some challenges, especially for those accustomed to the traditional fare of gefilte fish, chicken soup and schnitzel. Even challah, kugel and matzah balls typically contain eggs.
But after consultations with their students, the Lewises decided to rise to the challenge as a way to expand their offerings for Jews of all stripes. The right moment came last week, after back-to-back Lag B'Omer barbeques showcasing grilled meats.

“After hosting the barbeques, it was unanimously decided to hold a vegan Friday night meal the next Shabbat,” said Zalman Lewis.

The “post-Lag B'Omer detox” also happened to coincide with the United Kingdom's National Vegetarian Week, which the Vegetarian Society established in 1992 to promote meat-free cuisine.

The rabbi said that the lack of meat wasn't a problem.

“But we had to get over the idea of not being able to use any eggs,” he said.

“Instead of regular challah,” stated Shterna Lewis, “I baked a water challah that was as good as any other. We ate it with plenty of hummus, chickpea salad, potato salad and lettuce salad in place of the usual fish course.”

The dinner progressed with zucchini soup filling in for the chicken-based variety. The soup was followed by rice, mushroom knish, roasted vegetables and tomato salad. An egg-free apple crisp was served as dessert.

“I think it was easier than making a regular Friday night meal,” reported Lewis.

Bagon left thrilled, and full.

“My veganism doesn't clash with my Judaism,” he asserted. “In fact, the Garden of Eden was a vegetarian paradise; no one was permitted to eat meat until after the flood.

“The vegan night was great. The food was brilliant,” continued Bagon. “I felt the night brought us one step closer to bringing in the Messianic era.”

Zalman Lewis might not have had such a spiritual reaction to the meat-free dining, but he said that they want students to feel that the Chabad House is a home away from home.

“We'll have to wait for Moshiach to come to discover what our diet will be,” he quipped. “For the time being, we're planning our next meaty barbeque. But we decided we'll do something like this on a regular basis.”

By Daniel Lowe, More articles... |

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8. National Geographic Considers The Coming Food Crisis

Thanks to Jonathan Wolf, founder and first president of JVNA, for letting us know about this important article:

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9. Green Week Conference 2009 Scheduled

Forwarded message:

Welcome to the Green Week Conference 2009

The biggest annual conference on European environment policy turns the spotlight this year on the multi-faceted challenges of climate change.

* What are the prospects for reaching a new global deal to control climate change at the crucial Copenhagen conference in December?
* How can we best 'climate-proof' our economies against the impacts of present and future climate change?
* How can we create a carbon-free society by 2050?
* How can we ensure action to address climate change best serves conservation of the ecosystems that support life on Earth?

These are some of the many questions Green Week 2009 will be examining in three days of discussion and debate between high-level speakers from Europe and beyond.

Green Week is a unique opportunity for exchanges of experience and good practice.

Some 3,500 participants are expected from EU institutions, business and industry, non-governmental organisations, public authorities, the scientific community and academia

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10. Report: Global Warming Far Worse Than Expected

Global warming may be twice as bad as previously expected

By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY

Global warming will be twice as severe as previous estimates indicate, according to a new study published this month in the Journal of Climate, a publication of the American Meteorological Society.

The research, conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), predicts a 90% probability that worldwide surface temperatures will rise more than 9 degrees (F) by 2100, compared to a previous 2003 MIT study that forecast a rise of just over 4 degrees.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007 forecast a temperature rise of anywhere from 2 to 11 degrees by 2100 based on a variety of different greenhouse-gas-emissions scenarios.

The projections in the MIT study were done using 400 applications of a computer model, which MIT says is the most comprehensive and sophisticated climate model to date. The model looks at the effects of economic activity as well as the effects of atmospheric, oceanic and biological systems.

The improved economic modeling and newer economic data (which gives a lower chance of reduced emissions) are among the major changes from the 2003 model application.

Unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, "there is significantly more risk than we previously estimated," says study co-author Ronald Prinn of MIT. "There's no way the world can or should take these risks."

"The results appear to be credible and quantify a certain unease many scientists have on the real magnitude of the climate problem ahead of us, one that is not adequately appreciated by most politicians," writes Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and an IPCC lead author, in an e-mail.

"The difficulty of dealing with inertia in human systems and infrastructure, and the lack of current incentives and a global approach to the problem means that reducing emissions will be a major challenge for humanity," he added.

Funding for the study came in part in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and by sponsors of MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

"To my knowledge, this is indeed the most exhaustive end-to-end analysis of climate change impacts yet performed," notes Michael Mann, a climatologist at Penn State University and also an IPCC author. "The results of the analysis are sobering, namely that we face a monumental challenge if we are to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system."

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11. Action Alert: Help End Mass Pig Slaughter in Egypt

Thanks to “A Sacred Duty” producer and JVNA advisor Lionel Friedberg for making us aware of this issue:

Please go to the following website and sign a letter urging Egypt's government to immediately cease the horrifically cruel mass culling of pigs.
Go to:

It is DEEPLY disturbing, please act urgently, it will take you only few minutes

Please note the attachment with template letter (please modify for stronger impact). Please see email below.

Please visit also the link
you will find there a petition which is sent immediately to EGYPT Embassy in The Hague

-thank you for caring

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