August 9, 2009

8/6/2009 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. How to Respond to the Madness and Sheer Insanity
of Animal-Based Diets

2. Relating Fall Festivals to Vegetarianism

3. Petitions for Meat-Free Days in Several Countries

4. Urging AARP to Promote Healthy Vegetarian Diets

5. Chicago First US City to Pass “Green Food Resolution”

7. New Audio Podcasts, Including a Whole Set of Interviews of Israeli Environmentalists

8. Video for Campaign to Eliminate Fur in Israel

9. A New Review of "A Sacred Duty"

10. Global Climate Change Group Active in Israel

11. Interesting Quiz on Veganism

12. Veg Climate Alliance Creates a Facebook Page

13. Update on Planned Demonstration at the December Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen/Also Attempting to Get Vegetarianism Onto the Conference's Agenda

14. Dan Brook's Comprehensive Article on “Judaism and Vegetarianism” in Tikkun Magazine

15. Israeli Environmental Group Warns That The Jordan River May Stop Flowing

16. Global Climate Change Threatens California Especially

17. Article Summarizes Some Health Benefits of Plant-Based Diets

18. Reporter Seeking Information About Vegetarian High Holiday Events and/or Dinners

19. Activists Seeking Support for Healthier School Lunches

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. How to Respond to the Madness and Sheer Insanity
of Animal-Based Diets

We need new creative ideas to respond to the madness of animal-based diets that are having such devastating effects on human health, animals, the environment, natural resources, hungry people. etc. Since I have often made suggestions, this time I am asking you for any suggestions you might have. The sustainability of our imperiled planet may depend on how we respond in efforts to increase awareness of the absolute necessity of a major societal shift to vegan diets to avoid the unprecedented catastrophe the world is rapidly approaching. Thanks.

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2. Relating Fall Festivals to Vegetarianism

It is still early, but now that we have passed Tisha B'Av, the High Holy Days are next, starting in about 6-7 weeks. As always, I plan to send my articles relating (1) Rosh Hashanah, (2) Yom Kippur and (3) Sukkot to vegetarianism to the Jewish media and possibly to some rabbis. So, please take a look at these articles in the holiday section of, if you have a chance, and please let me know if you have any suggestions. Also, please consider using the points in the articles for your own articles, letters to editors and talking points. Thanks.

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3. Petitions for Meat-Free Days in Several Countries

Forwarded message [I have adapted it for Israel, as it was originally written for Taiwan.]:

From: Meat-Free Monday <wan.mfm@gmail.comA>
Date: August 4, 2009 5:30:20 PM EDT
Subject: Important Petition!

Dear friends,

I have just received this very important petition, please take the time to read it and send it on to everyone you know. The more people that sign it, the more persuasive it will be.

The goal of the petition is to encourage the Israeli government to adopt a "meat-free Monday [or other day]" across the nation, in attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent further climate change.

Even if you're not Israeli it is still important [that you sign, as I have], as climate change is a global problem and another country adopting a meat-free Monday may encourage other countries to do the same.

Click on the link below to find out more details and sign the petition.

The corresponding petition for Taiwan is below.

Please sign and forward.

Yours sincerely,

Society for the Advancement of Animal Wellbeing

When I signed the petition for Israel, I also posted the following comment:

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I strongly support this initiative. Animal-based diets are inconsistent with basic Jewish teachings about preserving human health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, helping hungry people and pursuing peace. These diets are causing an epidemic of diseases among Jews and others and are contributing very significantly to global warming and other environmental threats to all of humanity.

[I would have added contact info for JVNA and the link for “A Sacred Duty,” but I ran out of space.]

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4. Urging AARP to Promote Healthy Vegetarian Diets

Forwarded message from JVNA advisor Laura Slitt

[With all the current interest in revising the dysfunctional US health care system, it would be great if prevention through dietary changes was on the agenda. Such letters as this one might help. Please consider writing similar letters to AARP and other groups. Thanks.]

Dear Richard,
I thought I'd drop a line to AARP, even as I am not yet a member. With all the chanting on the "health care" mantra, wouldn't it be strategic to lobby AARP to get with the vegan program and promote it for a holistic approach to health care? I think so.
Laura Slitt
Dear Editor,

I learned to eat what was put in front of me. My family learned to eat by watching commercials and being tempted by the powerful use of marketing by industries that sell food that has contributed to America's health crisis, manifesting in a broken, "health care" system that focuses on disease maintenance rather than prevention. While insuring Americans is critical since the horse of disease is long since out of the barn, we need to lead her back in quickly, to mitigate risks for future generations that need not suffer as past have, with preventable chronic diseases. TRUE HEALTH CARE REFORM is not possible without simultaneous USDA and FDA overhaul, to enable OUR TAXES be spent on the agriculture productsthat ensure risk for most preventable disease is reduced and even
ELIMINATED! A huge body of scientific research confirms, and books are being written, on the fact that plant based nutrition, the VEGAN diet, IS perhaps the "cure all" for the plaguing chronic diseases we have succumbed to.

The predatory marketing and billions of dollars spent on
promoting fat and cholesterol-laden foods, filled with toxins, added hormones, antibiotics, and chemical residues, is killing the environment we live in, our bodies, and the environment we live with, nature. The true cost of our current food and agriculture system is incalculable. AARP could be a driving energy in assuring America raises healthier children, beginning in fetal stage, who grow into healthy adults. Perhaps AARP (and I'd assist ) might consider contacting any of the
medical doctors working indefatigability to usher in a new age of how we think about health care that includes disease prevention in the discourse much more prominently than we hear it discussed currently. We hear very little about "health care" reform that includes personal responsibility for nourishing our organs properly, or USDA reform that would enable the food system change from its toxic state, to a healthy
system that sends nourishing food to ALL federal programs, helps farmers switch from unhealthy, unsustainable agribusiness, to producing wholesome foods for LIFE....
The following do just that:

My organization, Citizens For Food That Makes a Difference, attends hearings on childhood obesity; organizes events that offer state representatives healthier vegan choices and information about the vegan diet as the cure all it is in disease prevention and reduction; and we look forward to providing materials from medical organizations promoting HEALTH and LONGEVITY by healing the root cause of most human
AND environmental diseases, industrial animal agribusiness.
I look forward to working with AARP in lobbying for government
reform of the food system and taxpayer subsidies for healthier
agriculture products than are currently supported via the Farm Bill.

Laura Beth Slitt

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5. Chicago First US City to Pass “Green Food Resolution”

Thanks to author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for forwarding the following article:

Dan's questions re the article:

Does it include reducing the amount of meat and other animal products?
Can we get our cities to pass similar or better resolutions?---Dan

Chicago First City to Pass Green Food Resolution

* By Jennifer Lee
The New York Times, July 23, 2009
Straight to the Source

Environmentally friendly food practices are all the rage these days - from organic farming at the White House to cooking manure to harness energy from methane gases - but is there a need to codify it into government policy?

Across the country, local government officials are proposing "green food resolutions" - partially at the behest of a campaign run by Farm Sanctuary, a farm animal protection organization.

This week, Chicago became the first city to pass a green food resolution. Although the resolution is nonbinding, it urges the city to make healthy, locally grown food more available to Chicago residents.

A similar bill calling for the creation of a FoodprintNYC - a play on the Bloomberg administration's PlaNYC - has been proposed by Bill de Blasio, a Brooklyn councilman who is running for public advocate. The bill would encourage the city's various agencies to coordinate and establish climate-friendly food policies and programs, as well as a public awareness campaign about the health and environmental impact of food. It draws heavily from recommendations in a report, "Food in the Public Interest," [pdf] by the office of the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer.


Eco-Eating at

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7. New Audio Podcasts, Including a Whole Set of Interviews of Israeli Environmentalists

a. Forwarded messages from Joseph Puentes:

This time we have one new Audio Presentation for the VSSE podcast:

The Observer Online and Environmental Reporters, Juliette Jowit and Oliver Balch "The Hidden Cost Of Our Growing Taste For Meat":

b. My interview by Gary Null

Gary Null interviews Richard Schwartz on responses to rationalizations for eating meat.

c. Talks and Interviews of Israeli Environmentalists and Vegetarian Activists and Richard Schwartz, Recorded by Richard Schwartz in Israel during October, 2008

Part 1: Alon Tal, one of Israel's leading environmentalists, founder of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense and other Israeli environmental groups, discusses global warming threats to Israel and current responses.

Part 2: Alon Tal one of Israel's leading environmentalists, founder of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense and other Israeli environmental groups continues his discussion of global warming threats to Israel and responds to questions.

Carmi Wiseman discusses what his group “Sviva Israel” is doing to help educate Israeli youth about environmental problems in Israel and what they can do to reduce their environmental footprint.

Mira Edelstein discusses the work of "Friends of the Earth, Middle East" in trying to mitigate environmental problems common to Israel, the Palestinians and Jordan. Among the issues considered are the diminished flow of the Jordan River, the shrinking Dead Sea, Israel's water crisis and global warming effects in the region.

Naor Yerushalmi, director of "Life and Environment," discusses this Israeli environmental umbrella group and their efforts to help their over 100 affiliated environmental groups respond to environmental problems in Israel.

Jeremy Benstein, author and Associate Director of the Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership in Tel Aviv, discusses the group's efforts to educate Israelis and others on Jewish environmental teachings and ways to address Israel's environmental challenges.

Michelle Levine, spokesperson for the Society for Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) discusses the society's objectives and its many educational projects.

Gershon Peleg, Managing Director of the the Society for Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), discusses the history of SPNI and its efforts to educate Israelis about Israel's natural areas and how to protect them.

Justin Krieger, an urban planner with the Society for Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) discusses Israel's urban environmental problems and steps being taken to address them.

Edna Barnea, of the Open Landscape Institute of the Society for Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), discusses the group's efforts to preserve natural areas in Israel.

Joseph Tamir, lawyer for the Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS), discusses efforts to reestablish the group as a non-profit organization in Israel.

Dan Arbel, a long-time leader of the Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS), discusses the history of the group and Jewish teachings on vegetarianism.

Presentation: Richard Schwartz, President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America and author of “Judaism and Vegetarianism,” argues that a revitalized and active Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society (JVS) is essential at a time when Israel and the entire world face so many environmental and other threats.

Q & A: Richard Schwartz, President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America and author of “Judaism and Vegetarianism,” discusses ways that the Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society can promote vegetarianism in Israel.

Yossi Leshem, Israeli environmental and bird migration expert, discusses issues related to bird populations and migrations and environmental problems in Israel.

Shay Davidowicz and other Tel Aviv environmental and vegetarian activists discuss ways that they are educating Israelis about the benefits of plant-based diets and the need to respond to environmental problems.

Eren Ben Yaminy, an Israeli environmental activist and founder of an Israeli Green political party, discusses how political activism can help improve Israel's environment and economy.

Avi Levi, founder and director of Green Action, a group that links consumer behavior to environmental problems, discusses the ethics of consumerism and their campaign to reduce the number of billboards.

Gil Jacobs, director of Green Course, an Israeli University-based environmental group that has chapters on 26 campuses, discusses the group's efforts to green campuses and to increase environmental awareness and activism in Israel.

Arie Raveh, owner of Buddha Burgers, a vegan restaurant in Tel Aviv, discusses the vegan foods he serves and the recent increase in veganism in Israel.

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8. Video for Campaign to Eliminate Fur in Israel

Forwarded message from Jane Halevy, Israeli animal rigts activist:

Dear friends,

Here is the mini-footage for emphasizing the bill to ban all fur in Israel, and by so making it more concrete for people worldwide.

There is actually a country: Israel that is really willing to ban all fur.

So please share it worldwide! Forward it to all you can.

And i would be very happy to get feedbacks on this mini-footage :-)

Jane Halevy
International Anti-Fur Coalition

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9. A New Review of "A Sacred Duty"

{This review by veteran film reviewer and JVNA advisor Manny Goldman appeared in the Vegetarian Resource Group publication “Vegetarian Journal.”]

IN 1968, THE SOCIAL PHILOSOPHER ERIC HOFFER wrote, "As it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us." While he was writing about the geopolitical situation, his observation also applies to the looming environmental crisis facing the world.

This is the perspective from which the film A Sacred Duty (2007)--which was written, photographed, directed, and narrated by Lionel Friedberg and available at Subtitled "Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World," this hour-long documentary explores the connection between a potential future environmental catastrophe and one simple step that all people of good will can take to avert this: change to a plant-based diet and vastly reduce the use of animal products.

Sponsored by the group Jewish Vegetarians of North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. (of which I am a member), the film is narrated against a backdrop of gripping photography and a moving original soundtrack. It begins by establishing the religious underpinnings of the subject, that it is a religious mandate in the Jewish faith to care for the earth. There are scenes of Orthodox and Hasidic Jews in prayer, the Western (wailing) Wall, and the text of the Torah (holy scriptures that are often referred to as the Old Testament of the Bible), with English translation voice-overs by Theodore Bikel as he recounts the commandments to care for the earth.

Then, the film shifts to exploring Israel as a paradigm for environmental issues: rivers so polluted they are unsafe for swimming, air pollution, garbage, and the consequences of global warming global warming, the gradual increase of the temperature of the earth's lower atmosphere as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution. . We visit the Arava Institute in Southern Israel, where members of all nationalities--Jews and Arabs from Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority--can explore environmental solutions. The issue transcends borders and ethnicity, affecting everyone. Climate change in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. is also addressed.

After approximately a half hour, A Sacred Duty begins to explore the role of animal agriculture in global warming. Startling facts are recounted: 18 percent of greenhouse gases come from livestock alone, and overall, animal agriculture generates more pollution than all the cars, trucks, and aircraft in the world combined. Ten pounds of grain and between 2,500 and 5,000 gallons of water are needed to produce a single pound of beef. Furthermore, one third of the world's arable land In geography, arable land (from Latin arare, to plough) is an agricultural term, meaning land that can be used for growing crops.

Of the earth's 148,000,000 km_ (57 million square miles) of land, approximately 31,000,000 km_ (12 million square miles) are is used for growing meat.

Then, the film moves beyond the environmental harm of animal agriculture to the harm that consuming an animal food-centered diet has on human health. Here again, we are reminded of the Jewish mandate to take care of one's own health. Chronic degenerative diseases like heart disease and cancer--and their connection to an animal food-centered diet--are reviewed by medical and other experts.

But there is one final Jewish mandate that A Sacred Duty tackles head on: the prohibition against animal cruelty. I expect this part of the film will be difficult for most people to watch. A foie gras foie gras (fwä grä) [Fr.,=fat liver], livers of artificially fattened geese. Ducks and chickens are also sometimes used in the making of foie gras. factory is shown, while the narrator NARRATOR. A pleader who draws narrs serviens narrator, a sergeant at law. Fleta, 1. 2, c. 37. Obsolete. informs us that the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled these practices illegal. This is followed by brutal scenes of factory farming factory farming

System of modern animal farming designed to yield the most meat, milk, and eggs in the least amount of time and space possible. The term, descriptive of standard farming practice in the U.S. and slaughter. One of the experts goes so far as to say that you cannot even justify kosher certification for meat prepared from factory-farmed animals. It is hard to imagine how any meat-eater could see these scenes and not re-examine. his or her diet. I am reminded of the Paul and Linda McCartney quote: "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian."

There are no glass walls on slaughterhouses, but a film like A Sacred Duty shines a beacon of light on the adverse consequences of an animal food-centered diet--it is bad for the planet, bad for our health, and bad for our spiritual well-being. I hope the film finds a wide audience, and not just among Jews.

Disclaimer: I am acknowledged in the credits on a list of those who provided "cooperation and assistance."

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10. Global Climate Change Group Active in Israel

Forwarded message from Yannai Kranzler:

At JCI ]Jewish Climate Initiative], we're continuing to work on, and build support for the Seven Year Plan for the Jewish People on Climate Change and Sustainability, which we sent you a few months ago (the newer draft has incorporated suggestions made by you and other Jewish environmental leaders). The plan will be presented by Rabbi Sinclair and Nigel Savage from Hazon, to the Alliance of Religions and Conservation and the United Nations, at Windsor Castle in November. We hope it will continue to build steam after that, as we begin launching its implementation in months that follow- please feel free to spread the word!

My sense is that yours and Rabbi Waskow's global climate healing shabbat will be making a strong impact, as well. On the Israel end, we are trying to bring together various organizations and Rabbis to participate, as well, for an Israel Climate Healing Shabbat.

Thanks very much and Kol Hakavod on all of your efforts,

Yannai Kranzler

Jewish Climate Initiative


Jewish Climate Initiative ( is a Jerusalem-based NGO, mobilizing the wisdom of Jewish teaching and the collective passion and ingenuity of the Jewish people, to inspire a vision for the future that matches the magnitude of climate change. We invite you to subscribe to receive our blog updates, either via email or RSS, at See you there!

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11. Interesting Quiz on Veganism

Please let me know if you get 80% or more and we will send you a complimenary DVD of “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World.”

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12. Veg Climate Alliance Creates a Facebook Page

A very easy way to reach a larger amount of people - mostly already converted to the cause but many not yet also.

Please consider joining if you would like to participate in discussions of dietary connections to global climate change.

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13. Update on Planned Demonstration at the December Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen/Also Attempting to Get Vegetarianism Onto the Conference's Agenda

Forwarded message from Carolin G.

FoE [Friends of the Earth International] is welcoming people and organizations that support the idea of climate justice to the "Flood for Climate Justice" in Copenhagen, Denmark, the 12th of December at 10 AM that will start from Nørrebro train station. From there we will make a colourful celebration of people's empowerment and climate justice. This will be a peaceful non-violent event where people will demand action in a positive but powerful way non the less. The main motive of the demonstration will be that of a flood, and participants are enouraged to express it in a creative way; if you wish you can discuss your ideas with Carlos, so we will have a good theme coordination. His email is:

The demo will consist in a march of about 3 kms that will finish at about 1:00 PM. Afterwards, a 7-and-half-km-march organized by the Danish Climate Movement will start at probably 01:30 PM at Christianborg, the Danish Parliament, at walking distance from where the "Flood for Climate Justice“ ends. FoE is collaborating with them and encourages participants of the flood demo to participate in the Christianborg demo as well, which will go to the Bella Center, where the COP15 climate summit will take place.

If you would like to join, please make your accommodation arrangements in Copenhagen asap, because hotels etc. are already booked. At the moment, accommodation is still available in private homes through New Life Copenhagen, but they will soon run out of spaces:

Climate-friendly transportation by train or bus will be arranged by the national groups of FoEI (like Belgian FoE, FrenchFoE, BUND Naturschutz in Germany). Please get in touch with your local group for further info.

More detailed information will be provided by FoEI later. Keep checking their website at:

Further infos on the Christianborg demo and what else is going on:

If you would like to cooperate with the Veg Climate Alliance ( regarding the demonstration, contact Carolin at

Please take note that the weather in Copenhagen at this time [December] is generally cold and windy and it might be humid as well.

We are looking forward to seeing you in Copenhagen!

It is just an informal update. Neither Carlos nor I are native [English] speakers, but I would still like to leave it as it is, as parts were personally written and approved by Carlos. There will be an official info kit by FoEI later. If you agree, I will send it out to our VCA mailing list and post it on Green2Cool.

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14. Dan Brook's Comprehensive Article on “Judaism and Vegetarianism” in Tikkun Magazine

The Planet-Saving Mitzvah: Why Jews Should Consider Vegetarianism

by Daniel Brook

{This is a very important, extremely comprehensive article with many Jewish teachings related to vegetarianism, under 13 headings of Jewish concepts. So, please help increase awareness of this article. And please consider sending a letter to TIKKUN and posting a comment on their web site. Thanks.]

Judaism has to be a daily spiritual and social practice, not simply a ritualized one, if it is to be meaningful to Jews and relevant to others. Beyond being spiritual, we are called upon to uplift ourselves and to make the world a better place for ourselves, our families, our communities, and others.

In Why Be Jewish? Rabbi David J. Wolpe writes that "Judaism emphasizes good deeds because nothing else can replace them. To love justice and decency, to hate cruelty and to thirst for righteousness-that is the essence of the human task." The human task, therefore, is to be a mensch: a good, kind, and compassionate person.

One of the ways to follow our rich tradition while putting Judaism's highest ideals into daily practice is to choose vegetarianism. In the words of Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, "I see vegetarianism as a mitzvah"-a sacred duty and good deed.

Maimonides postulated thirteen principles of the Jewish faith, while Rabbi Moses Cordovero wrote about The Thirteen Divine Attributes. Here are thirteen categorical imperatives suggesting why Jews should seriously consider vegetarianism and then move in that direction:

1) Righteousness and Charity.

Even though it is often difficult, we do all have the power to break bad habits and soul search for better ways of living. Becoming vegetarian sets a lifelong course of righteousness. Righteous people regard-and guard-the lives of animals (Proverbs 12:10). According to Albert Einstein, if people aspire toward a righteous life, their "first act of abstinence is from injury to animals." A tzadik, or righteous person, is held in the highest regard because of righteous actions.

The Torah and Talmud are filled with stories of people rewarded for their kindness to animals and punished for their thoughtlessness and cruelty to them. In the Torah, Jacob, Moses, and David were all shepherds who cared for animals. Moses is specifically praised for how he showed compassion toward a lamb, as well as people. Rebecca was acceptable as a wife for Isaac because she showed concern for animals, offering water to thirsty camels in addition to the thirsty person who asked for it. Noah is considered righteous as he cared for the lives of the many animals on the Ark.

In contrast, two hunters mentioned in the Torah, Nimrod and Esau, are represented as villains. Further, according to legend, Rabbi Judah the Prince, compiler and editor of the Mishnah, was punished with years of pain for his insensitivity to the fear of a calf on its way to slaughter (Talmud, Bava Mezia 85a).

In the words of Torah commentary from Rabbi Moses Cassuto, "You are permitted to use the animals and employ them for work, have dominion over them in order to utilize their services for your subsistence, but must not hold their life cheap nor slaughter them for food. Your natural diet is vegetarian." Indeed, all of the promises of sustenance and food for the Israelites in the Torah are vegetarian: vineyards and gardens, wheat and barley, figs and pomegranates, grapes and dates, fruits and seeds, nuts and gum, olives and bread, milk and honey. Even the manna, "like coriander seed" (Numbers 11:7), was vegan. In contrast, when the Israelites in the Sinai desert call out for and consume meat and fish, many suffer and die in a plague and are buried in the Graves of Lust.

Judaism stresses the importance of tzedakah, that we be kind, assist the poor and weak, and share our food with the hungry. Yet about three-fourths of major U.S. crops such as corn, wheat, soybeans, oats, and alfalfa are fed to the billions of animals destined to be slaughtered for meat, while millions of people worldwide die from hunger and its cruel effects each year. This is an avoidable shanda (shame) on the world.

In the Talmud, Rabbi Assi states, "Tzedakah is equivalent to all the other religious precepts combined" (Baba Batra 9a). The way of the tzadik is the way of chesed (loving-kindness), compassion, charity, and righteousness for all living beings. Vegetarianism is a major form of tzedakah, on a daily basis, which can do as much for the giver as for the receiver.

2) Tikkun Olam.

While Judaism teaches that we are to be shomrei adamah, partners in tikkun olam-re-creating, preserving, and healing the world (Talmud, Shabbat 10a)-mass production of meat contributes substantially to greenhouse gas emission and global warming (what Rabbi Arthur Waskow calls "global scorching," and what the United Nations says is "the most serious challenge facing the human race"). Meat production also contributes to air and water pollution; overuse of chemicals and fossil fuels; the deforestation and destruction of tropical rain forests, coral reefs, mangroves, and other habitats; soil erosion; desertification; species extinction; loss of biodiversity; and various other forms of global environmental degradation. Among other things, we need to re-establish and reinvigorate the earth's mayim chayim-its living waters.

"The human appetite for animal flesh is," according to the editors of the science-based environmental magazine World Watch (July/August 2004), "a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future-deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease."

In the words of Isaac Bashevis Singer, the great Yiddish writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature: "This is my protest against the conduct of the world. To be a vegetarian is to disagree-to disagree with the course of things today. Starvation, world hunger, cruelty, waste, wars-we must make a statement against these things. Vegetarianism is my statement and I think it's a strong one."

3) Conservation of Resources.

Judaism teaches bal tashchit (concern for the environment, based on Deuteronomy 20:19-20), that we should not waste or unnecessarily destroy anything of value (in other words, engage in conservation), and that we should not use more than what is necessary to accomplish a purpose (in other words, prioritize efficiency). Yet, in contrast to these Jewish values, meat production requires the very wasteful use of land, topsoil, water, fossil fuels and other forms of energy, labor, grain, and other vital resources, in addition to various toxic chemicals, antibiotics, and hormones. For example, it can require approximately seventy-eight calories of non-renewable fossil fuel for each calorie of protein obtained from factory-farmed beef, but only two calories of fossil fuel to produce a calorie of protein from soybeans. Thousands of gallons of fresh water are wasted merely to produce a single pound of beef.

"This is the way of pious and elevated people," wrote thirteenth-century Rabbi Aaron HaLevi of Barcelona. "They will not waste even a mustard seed, and they are distressed at every ruination and spoilage they see, and if they are able to save, they will save anything from destruction with all of their power." The meat industry is exceptionally wasteful, inefficient, costly, and destructive, even while better alternatives are plentiful, easily obtainable, and healthier for consumers, workers, animals, and our environment.

SNIP [for space considerations. For the complete article, please use the URL above. It is planned to also post the link to the article at the JVNA web site (

Vegetarianism helps us to preserve and protect our health, environment, culture, community, society, and spirit l'dor vador, from generation to generation. Ecclesiastes 3:19, which is attributed to King Solomon, says: "The fate of men and the fate of animals, they have one and the same fate. As one dies, so does the other, and they all have the same spirit." What we do to animals and the environment, therefore, we are ultimately doing to ourselves and our communities. We are fouling our own nest.

Like Leo Baeck, I am struck with "ethical optimism." We can do better.

Rav Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of pre-state Israel, famously wrote "hayashan yitchadesh, v'hechadash yitkadesh, the old shall be made new, and the new shall be made holy." A shift toward vegetarianism can also be a major factor in the rededication, revitalization, and renewal of Judaism, as it would further demonstrate that Jewish values are not only relevant but essential to everyday personal life, communal development, and global survival.

If you want to make a powerful and positive difference and have more meaning in your life, living by Judaism's highest ideals, participating in a lifelong, life-affirming spiritual process, then vegetarianism is the best gift you could give yourself, your family, our community, and our world. To paraphrase Hillel: Do not do unto other beings what would be hateful if done to you. All the rest is dessert. Now go and eat!

Daniel Brook, a vegetarian since working on Kibbutz Sa'ar in Israel, is an author, speaker, and instructor of sociology at San Jose State University. He welcomes comments via

For more information, please read Richard Schwartz's Judaism and Vegetarianism (, watch A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World (, and visit Jewish Vegetarians of North America at and also

To read more of Daniel Brook's writing, visit the Vegetarian Mitzvah at, Eco-Eating at,

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15. Israeli Environmental Group Warns That The Jordan River May Stop Flowing


Jordan River may stop flowing, group warns
August 4, 2009

NEW YORK (JTA) -- An environmental group warned that the Jordan River may cease flowing this summer.

Officials of Friends of the Earth have measured the flow of the Jordan to be as shallow as 30 centimeters in some of its southern parts and fear it might dry up altogether in a few months, according to a news release. Years of drought and overuse for irrigation have reduced the flow of the once mighty river to a trickle.
"The state of the Jordan is indeed a catastrophe," Gidon Bromberg, group's Middle East director, told Reuters. "There are places where you struggle to see a river."

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16. Global Climate Change Threatens California Especially

Thanks to “A Sacred Duty” producer Lionel Friedberg for forwarding this article:

Subject: California Climate Change

California prepares for disasters resulting from climate change

State prepares to deal with heat waves, flooding, wildlife die-offs and other expected results of climate change.

The first statewide plan in the country calls for adaptation and education.

By Margot Roosevelt
August 4, 2009

Along with California's efforts to crack down on its own greenhouse gas emissions, state officials have begun preparing for the worst: heat waves, a rising sea level, flooding, wildlife die-offs and other expected consequences from what scientists predict will be a dramatic temperature increase by the end of this century.

California's Natural Resources Agency on Monday issued the nation's first statewide plan to "adapt" to climate change.

It offers strategies to cope with threats in seven sectors from firefighting to public health and water conservation. Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman called the plan an effort to acknowledge the problem and suggested that Californians "recognize their role in solving that problem and alter their behavior so that the change lasts."

The draft is "a good step in the right direction," said Gina Solomon of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group.

"It highlights the importance of local adaptation planning, protecting vulnerable communities and the importance of public education." But she cautioned: "These are all just words on paper without funding to carry them out.

"The federal government should help states to prepare for climate change. Spending some money now will save billions later, and these strategies save lives."

David Festa of the Washington-based Environmental Defense Fund voiced the hope that the report would "add urgency to our state's desperate water supply situation," noting that the Legislature will consider five new water-related bills when it reconvenes on Aug. 17.

In 2006, California adopted the nation's first comprehensive law to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists have found to be heating the planet.

Last year, state officials laid out a detailed plan to slash the state's emissions to 1990 levels in the next 11 years. And they began to adopt regulations, including the nation's first rule to mandate low-carbon fuel.

The public may submit comments to the draft over the next 45 days (e-mail address is Public hearings will be held in Sacramento on Aug. 13 and in Los Angeles on a later date.

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17. Article Summarizes Some Health Benefits of Plant-Based Diets

Thanks to Dan Brook for forwarding this article to us:

Vegetarians Live 6 To 10 Years Longer, 50% Lower Heart Disease Rate
Aug 3, 2009

Carole Carson--

A delightful part of my job as coach for the AARP Fat 2 Fit Community Weight-Loss Challenge is interviewing experts who share their insight on issues involving fitness. One such expert is Ellen Kanner, the author of Edgy Veggie: Better Eating, Blissful Living and the Broccoli State of Being (See her full biography below.)

I asked Ellen questions about vegetarianism so I could decide (and help others decide) whether to become a vegetarian. My questions and her answers follow:

Q. We consumers are bombarded (and in some cases overwhelmed) daily by the promotion of the latest and greatest diet. We are also confused by conflicting reports that state a particular food is bad for us (eggs, for example) and then state the following week that it is good for us. Is vegetarianism just another fad diet? Does it demonize meat, for example?

A. Vegetarianism has been around since Pythagoras, so it's hardly the latest fad. There are meat-demonizing militant vegans, just as there are veggie-vilifying angry carnivores, but these lifestyles are choices of the individual. At its core, vegetarianism is about compassion, so I hope my veggie peers will keep that principle in mind.

Q. What are the benefits of a vegetarian diet? Are the benefits supported by research?

A. Compared to our meat-eating comrades, vegetarians experience a 50 percent lower rate of heart disease, a 40 percent lower cancer rate and a lifespan of 6-10 years longer, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Maybe vegetarians enjoy health benefits because we are health conscious in general. We exercise, and we smoke and drink less than other groups. We're leaner, too, and we experience fewer obesity problems because we follow a diet starring vitamin-rich produce, fiber-mad legumes and whole grains-food from the earth rather than food that is overly processed. Eating these foods results in lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood lipids-health factors that can mean a healthier and longer life.

Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food and T. Colin Cambpell, Ph.D. author of The China Study, agree: “There are virtually no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants.”

Eating a plant-based diet has proven to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity-America's biggest killers. A July study by the American Dietetic Association concludes that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” The study also states that “the results of an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than non vegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates.”

Q. Does vegetarianism carry implications for the environment?

A. Huge ones. Einstein found that a plant-based diet feeds more people because it requires fewer resources to produce than a meat-based one. And this theory has since been proven by others. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists reported in the United Nations Chronicle (Vol. 42, March-May 2005), an acre of land can yield 165 pounds of beef or 2,000 pounds of potatoes.

Sustaining cows takes a lot of land and results in deforestation, particularly in Latin American countries. In the United States, significant evidence suggests that we're not raising animals in ways that are healthy for them or the environment. Some of these farming techniques have been associated with E. coli outbreaks.

In addition, cows are big methane producers-the 2006 United Nations report called the meat industry “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale, from local to global.” Nobel economist Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, who chairs the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says to slow the effects of global warming, go meatless one day a week.

Q. Do vegetarians walk around hungry all the time? Can energy be sustained on a vegetarian diet?

A. If vegetarians went hungry, there would be no vegetarians. Complex carbs, like whole grains and legumes (lentils, chickpeas, black beans), are wonderfully filling. (Animal protein contains no fiber.) Heart-healthy fats in nuts provide satiety (a feeling of fullness), and most fresh produce is full of flavor and low in calories, so you can eat as much as you want with no guilt and no hunger. These foods also have a low glycemic index, so your body burns them slowly and efficiently to give provide you with good energy throughout the day.

Q. Is there one standard vegetarian diet? Or are there significant variations? If so, what are they?

A. Vegetarians come in many flavors:

* Vegans consume plant-based foods only and abstain from all animal products.
* Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products.
* Pescavegetarians, or what I call a fishaterians, abstain from all animals except fish.
* Flexitarians normally maintain a vegetarian diet but occasionally eat meat.

Any change you make that deviates from the Standard American Diet (also called SAD or, as I call it, the Silly American Diet) is good for you and good for the planet.

Q. In the past, being a vegetarian was seen as being part of an extreme fringe group. Is that the perception today?

A. I'd like to think the tree-hugger image vegetarians endured half a century ago has been put to rest. Celebrities ofEllen Kanner all ages live a vegetarian lifestyle, from Anne Hathaway and Jessica Biel to Paul McCartney and Dustin Hoffman.

Q. How is a vegetarian diet useful in preventing or helping individuals with cardiovascular problems? Is a vegetarian diet useful in addressing specific medical conditions?

A. If you give up meat, you're giving up a very big source of cholesterol. In addition, produce, whole grains like oatmeal and certain nuts like almonds have been proven to reduce cholesterol. As a result, according to the American Dietetic Association, “a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than non vegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates.”

Q. Can you be a vegetarian and be overweight?

A. Studies, including a recent one by the American Diatetic Association, show most vegetarians tend to be lean. That said, your weight depends on what you eat (and how much). Chocolate is vegetarian, and french fries are vegetarian. A steady diet of this kind of food won't help you lose weight and classifies you as a junk-food vegetarian.

Q. Must I take an all-or-nothing approach? That is, must I choose between a 100 percent vegetarian diet and a carnivorous diet? And if I were to adopt a vegetarian diet, would I start tomorrow? Or would I take a gradual step-by-step approach?

A. While some people prefer to give up meat cold tofu, so to speak, going flexitarian is the easiest, and I think the most sensible, way to start. Take the change one meal at a time. It is easier to change your life partner than to change the way you eat, so gentle starts are the best. One way that's attracting interest is Meatless Monday. This program starts you out thinking right for the week and helps you contribute to the good of the planet, lighten your carbon load and take positive steps for your own health.

Personally, I love being vegan because it supports all the issues I care about-going meatless is multitasking at its very best. Vegetarianism connects me to the environment in a compassionate way. It is kind to animals, inexpensive (especially welcome these days), madly healthful and fabulous.

I have found that meatless meals are wonderfully satisfying and less expensive, and they leave me feeling as if I've done something positive for my health and the environment. Are you ready to experiment?

About Ellen Kanner

Ellen Kanner is the syndicated columnist the Edgy Veggie. She also blogs at, writes the Huffington Post's Meatless Monday blog and contributes to Tasting Table, Relish, Eating Well, Vegetarian Times, More and regional magazines, including Pebble Beach and Palm Beach Illustrated. A fourth-generation Floridian, Ellen lives la vida vegan in Miami.

About Carole Carson

Dubbed “An Apostle for Fitness” by the Wall Street Journal, Carole Carson was the inspiration behind the Nevada County Meltdown, where more than 1,000 people lost nearly 8,000 pounds. Carole is the author of From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction and serves as the national coach for the AARP Fat to Fit Community Challenge, a free weight-loss program welcoming all ages.
Healing: Eat A Plant-Based Diet

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18. Reporter Seeking Information About Vegetarian High Holiday Events and/or Dinners

I'm writing about “alternative” High Holidays observances for the Forward weekly.

Do you know of any vegetarian-oriented services/dinners, anywhere in the country?

Many thanks,

Michael Kaminer

= = = = = =

If you have any information fro Michael Kaminer, please send it to me at

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19. Activists Seeking Support for Healthier School Lunches

Forwarded Message from Deer and Justice Fields

Hi Richard,

We love the Sacred Duty dvd. We have given several away. Wish we had more.

We are writing you today about a non-profit for whom we are doing some volunteer work. The New York Coalition for Healthy School Food is doing great work here in NY developing a model school lunch program. Practically speaking, nothing will change until we cease poisoning kids through the school lunch program. The statistics are staggering: 50% of 2-15 year olds have fatty streaks in their arteries; childhood obesity is epidemic; diabetes is rampant and over a third of cancer deaths continue to be attributable to diet.

Children deserve healthy food. The products are available to schools. They need to be educated how to prepare these raw materials into healthy lunches. The Coalition is doing great work, at the grassroots. Check out their extensive website to learn more. We are most impressed by their program in Harlem providing nutritious meals directly to kids. They also work at the policy level too, advocating for new mandates with the PTA, the Dept. of Education Office of School Food, the NYS School Nutrition Association, the United Federation of Teachers and the NYS School Nurses Association, to name a few.

We realize that philanthropic funds are stretched thin in this economy. We feel that the work of the Coalition must be supported if we are going to turn around these troublesome trends in children's health. With all the debate over health care, the fact is that we will never get health care costs under control until people stop getting sick with chronic, debilitating, preventable diseases. And the way to do that is to start with children.

Our goal is to raise $55,000 for the Coalition. Can you help us reach our goal? Please send your tax-deductible donation to:

NYS Coalition for Healthy School Food

POB 737 Mamaroneck, NY 10543

Thanks so much for your support.


Deer and Justice Fields

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