December 27, 2009

12/21/2009 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Update on Copenhagen/CopenVegan

2. Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) Getting More Active

3. Israeli Animal Rights Group Demonstrates in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

4. My Postings at Some Blogs

5. Blog Response to False Claim that Hitler Was a Vegetarian

6. Humane Society asks Obama Administration to Appoint Animal Protection Liaison

7. Review of My Book “Judaism and Global Survival”

8. Shalom Center Analysis of the Copenhagen Climate Conference

9. Interested in Joining a Group to Monitor the Media With the Aim of Sending Letters to Editors?

10. My Article on “Veganism's Essential Role In Preventing an Unprecedented Global Catastrophe” at the EVANA Web Site

11. Why Our Efforts Are So Urgent: A VERY Frightening Analysis of Climate Change

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. Update on Copenhagen/CopenVegan

Unfortunately, there were no major breakthroughs at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. However, there was much activism by many veg, animal rights, environmental groups, and there was much education on the importance of a major shift to plant-based diets in order to avert an unprecedented climate catastrophe. Certainly we must continue and expand on our efforts to get our messages out. We must challenge rabbis and other Jewish leaders to put vegetarianism onto society’s agenda. Some of the activities related to my work with Veg Climate Alliance are below:

a. VCA Press release gets wide coverage


b. My article in the COP15 Post

Less Meat -- Less Climate Change

THURSDAY, 10 DECEMBER, 2009 10:21 | NEWS | JH | 4

By Richard Schwartz, Director Veg Climate Alliance

An exaggeration? Think again. As director of Veg Climate Alliance I am convinced that the real ‘inconvenient truth’ is that there is no way to avoid climate catastrophe without a major shift to plant-based diets.

The 2006 United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization report the “Livestock’s Long Shadow” determined that livestock production is globally responsible for more green house gasses (in CO2 equivalents) than all the world’s transport combined, or 18 versus 13.5 per cent. More recently, a major new assessment published this month in World Watch magazine concluded that the livestock sector contributes an astonishing figure of at least 51 percent.

Worse still, the UN reports foresee that the world’s population of farmed animals will even double in 50 years if current trends continue. This would largely roll back any emission reductions from all other sectors – making it very unlikely for us to avoid the impending climate disaster.
 So a major shift toward plant-based diets is imperative if we are to have even a chance of preventing catastrophe. Indeed top climate leaders Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. James Hansen of NASA and Lord Nicholas Stern are also urging people to significantly cut their consumption of meat.

And there is good news. Besides reducing global warming threats, a shift from animal products would have globally significant social and environmental benefits instead. 
There would be a major relief from chronic disease epidemics such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, with a related decrease in medical expenditures, freeing up public funds to meet environmental and other societal challenges.

Less livestock would hinder future zoological diseases and infections such as H1N1, MRSA, Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and E. coli. It would also significantly relieve global chronic hunger that now afflicts more than a billion people, because more than 40 percent of the world’s grain is fed to farmed animals.

Such a move would drastically reduce the severe mistreatment cruelty and unnecessary killing of billions of farmed animals. It would diminish many environmental threats, such as wholesale deforestation, soil erosion and depletion, ocean and fresh water pollution and other habitat poisoning, as well as the rapid extinction of species – all related to the raising of more than 60 billion animals annually worldwide.

In safeguarding future resources, such as water, land, and energy otherwise overused in meat production we would promote peaceful prosperity in avoiding the social effects that will follow climate change at its heals: hungry, thirsty, homeless people fleeing droughts, wildfires, storms, floods and disease, greatly increasing the potential for instability, violence, terrorism and war.

In the context of these greater global effects, it is in my view, clear that we are at a perilous turning point. Either we continue to eat as we do, contributing to the mounting problems and approaching calamity. Or we shift to nutritious plant-based diets and increase our prospects for a more peaceful, healthy and sustainable future – for all of us. 
You can help determine the fate of future generations. If you have not already done so, you can sharply reduce your consumption of animal products and convince others to change too.


c. Veg Climate Alliance letter sent to delegates and other key people in Copenhagen

Re: Avoid Climate Catastrophe: Please Support Shifts to Plant-Based Diets

December 6, 2009

Dear ,

Please consider the mounting evidence that a major societal shift towards plant-based diets is essential if the world is to avoid an unprecedented catastrophe from climate change and other environmental threats.

And please help inform the public of the negative environmental effects of their food choices and the urgency of major dietary changes, in order to help shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

We urge you to consider the following important but often overlooked research, as you consider recommendations for reducing climate threats.

• A 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization “Livestock’s Long Shadow”

determined that livestock production is globally responsible for more GHGs (in CO2 equivalents) than all the world’s transport combined (18 percent vs. 13.5 percent).

• There is increasing evidence that the impact of animal agriculture is far worse than the 18% mentioned.

A major new assessment by two environmentalists published in the November/December 2009 issue of the World Watch magazine concluded that the livestock sector contributes over half of global human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

• Making the situation even worse, the UN report projects that the world’s population of farmed animals will double in 50 years if current trends continue. The resulting increase in GHGs would largely negate emission reductions from all other sectors – making it very unlikely that we will be able to avoid the impending climate disaster.

Hence it is absolutely imperative that there be a major shift toward plant-based diets if we are to have even a chance to avoid the impending catastrophe. This is why Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. James Hansen of NASA, Lord Nicholas Stern, Al Gore and others are urging people to significantly reduce their consumption of meat.

Besides reducing global warming threats, a dietary shift away from animal products would have many other globally significant social and environmental benefits:

• Increased health and quality of life. There would be a major relief from chronic disease epidemics such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, with a related decrease in medical expenditures, freeing public funds to meet environmental and other societal challenges.

• The prevention of future zoological diseases and infections such as swine flu, bird flu, MRSA, mad cow disease, blue tongue disease, E. coli.

• A significant relief to global chronic hunger which now afflicts over a billion people. Over 40 percent of the world’s grain is fed to farmed animals, and most vital nutrients are lost in the conversion.

• A reduction of the severe mistreatment and cruel and unnecessary killing of billions of farmed animals.

• The reduction of many environmental threats. Raising over 60 billion animals annually worldwide is the major contributor to most, if not all, environmental problems. These include wholesale deforestation, soil erosion and depletion, ocean and fresh water pollution and other habitat poisoning, the rapid extinction of species, and many more environmental problems (outlined well in “Livestock’s Long Shadow”).

• Safeguarding future resources. The production of animal products wastes huge amounts of water, land, energy and other valuable resources.

• Peaceful prospects. Because of global climate change, there will be many more desperate hungry, thirsty, homeless people fleeing droughts, wildfires, storms, floods and disease, greatly increasing the potential for instability, violence, terrorism and war.

Taking the above factors into account, it is clear that the world’s people are at a perilous turning point. We can continue present diets and contribute to the mounting problems and approaching calamity. Or we can shift to nutritious plant-based diets, greatly increasing prospects for a more peaceful, healthy and sustainable future for the planet’s people.

You are in a position to help determine the fate of future generations. Please do all that you can to help the world make the dietary and other choices that can help avoid the impending cataclysm. For example, please consider recommending that governments stop subsidizing the production of animal products and begin subsidizing healthier, more environmentally-positive food production and consumption choices, as
for instance the organic vegan diet.

Thank you for your consideration, and best wishes as you carry on with your important efforts toward a better, more environmentally sustainable world. Please feel free to share this message with other government officials and other influential people.

Very truly yours,

Richard Schwartz

Director, Veg Climate Alliance

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2. Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) Getting More Active

[We should encourage this excellent, very important group, as I have been doing for some time, to put vegetarianism on its agenda and to educate people re the importance of switching toward plant-based diets.]

Jewish environmental group increasing efforts as climate debate heats up

By Eric Fingerhut · December 14, 2009

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- As the debate over how to combat climate change heats up in Copenhagen, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life is ramping up its efforts to help make the Jewish community a key player in the discussion.

Without a full-time director since early 2006, COEJL has secured a half-million dollars in funding for the next two years and hired Sybil Sanchez, the new COEJL director, says the group's focus now will be on a campaign to ofexecutive director of the Jewish Labor Committee, to be its new director.

Sanchez said she sees COEJL helping the Jewish environmental movement transition into a new phase.

For a long time, she said, the goal was to get people to understand such things like “climate change is real” and the negative impact of carbon emissions. But now that “all but the hard core” in the Jewish community are convinced of that, Sanchez said, the question is “how do we integrate that into action as Jewish individuals and activists -- move it to the next level and start to be the change we want to see in the world.”

“It's a challenging and inspiring time,” she said.

Sanchez, who was officially to take over at COEJL on Wednesday, said specific plans for the future are still being discussed -- she said the group would likely be hiring a representative in Washington -- but the primary focus of the environmental organization's efforts right now is the Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign. The initiative asks American Jews to pledge that they will act to conserve on the individual level, be part of Jewish communal actions on the environment, and advocate for environmental issues with elected officials and in the media.

She also sees COEJL becoming a clearinghouse of information for synagogues and Jewish organizations, providing best practices and products to help sustainability, providing advice and making connections between groups working on similar issues. COEJL sponsored a “sustainability” conference earlier this year for representatives of Jewish organizations.

Sanchez said the environment sparks multi-generational interest among Jews because it encompasses a number of different issues -- from concern about dependence on foreign oil to protection of nature to worries about the state of the planet for future generations. And Sanchez argues that Judaism is connected to the environment in a number of ways. Major Jewish holidays are timed to the seasons of Israel, she points out, and working “in community and collectively are part of the Jewish and environmental lifestyle.” For example, the requirement to pray in a minyan, she notes, is one example of the “idea that we need each other” in Judaism.

In the absence of a full-time leader in the last few years, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism have stepped in to help out with COEJL, which is a project of JCPA. The Reform center worked on legislative advocacy in Washington, while JCPA -- an advocacy umbrella organization bringing together the synagogue movements, national organizations and local Jewish communities -- organized grass-roots support and activism throughout the country.

The Reform center's director, Rabbi David Saperstein, said it was nice to have both organizations “more engaged than they might have been otherwise” in the issue and he hopes that intensity continues, but added that COEJL's re-emergence will help to mobilize further the consciousness of the Jewish community.

“It is crucially important at this moment in history to play a role in the climate change debate,” he said.

“I feel it's back in the nick of time,” said JCPA's president, Rabbi Steve Gutow, who hopes to see COEJL become successful enough to eventually spin off into an independent group.

Gutow said the Jewish community has been a “very important leader” on a number of other issues in recent years -- from Darfur to Iran to anti-discrimination issues -- but has not done the same on energy and the environment.

“I think people look to us for leadership on certain issues,” he said, and “if we decide to lead, I do think we have a particular niche that we are able to help move it forward.”

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3. Israeli Animal Rights Group Demonstrates in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

Animal rights group protests in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

By Ehud Zion Waldoks

Jerusalem Post December 14, 2009

Anonymous for Animal Rights will held two protest presentations in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on Monday, highlighting the "horrors" of the industrial meat and egg industries.

The presentations are among the events marking International Animal Rights Day, which was December 10.

Anonymous has recently achieved a major legal victory in its battle to outlaw "battery cages" for egg laying hens. The Supreme Court issued an interim injunction prohibiting the use of NIS 300 million out of an NIS 700 million Agriculture Ministry reform plan, which would have made extensive use of battery cages.

Battery cages have already been outlawed in 30 countries and will be entirely banned in the EU by 2012, according to the NGO. The wire cages provide less than its own body-width of room to each hen. The cages have slanted floors to enable the eggs to roll down, but this means that the hens live their entire lives without the benefit of a flat floor.

Because these cages don't allow enough room to move, their bones are weaker and prone to breaking and they often rub the feathers right off their chests, leaving sores in their place.

What's more, without room to move, the hens often turn on one another in frustration. To prevent them from killing each other, their beaks are often routinely removed when they are young, The Jerusalem Post was recently told.

The Agriculture Ministry planned to consolidate local coops into several large rows of battery cages. That's on hold for now, but the court injunction is only temporary, so the organization is plowing ahead full steam to raise awareness and continue the fight.

The exhibit at Jerusalem's Paris Square at 5 p.m. Monday will detail the problems with battery cages and discuss Anonymous's preferred alternative.

Anonymous is advocating for a different type of chicken coop, called an aviary. By nature, chickens are actually woodland creatures that prefer to roost on a tree limb. An aviary simulates that natural habitat by allowing the hens to fly around and roost. At the same time, it utilizes modern methods of egg collecting to maximize efficiency.

It also takes up the same amount of land as the battery cages since it is a vertical structure, Anonymous activist Hila Keren said.

"What's more, if you look at the appendix to the Agriculture Ministry's reform plan where they lay out the costs of each type of cage, they themselves say the aviary coops cost the same as the battery cages," she added.

She theorized that the ministry had not really considered the aviary-type coops because they were a relatively new invention.

Also on Monday, at 11:30 a.m., Anonymous will hold a protest in Tel Aviv, on the corner of Ben Zion Boulevard and King George Street. There, naked activists wrapped in plastic wrap will protest the cruelty of the industrial meat industry.

They will slam such practices as dismembering without benefit of anesthetic and bone breakages as cows are shoved into transports. They will also protest the egg-laying hens' battery cages.

Anonymous also claims that since male chickens cannot lay eggs and this particular type of chicken is not good for meat, about 15,000 male chicks are killed each day.

The industrial food industry has come under more serious scrutiny in recent years because of its apparent contributions to global warming. A UN report from 2006 attributed 18% of gases thought to lead to global warming to livestock, because of the methane they excrete.

Anonymous has had some significant victories in years past. It successfully petitioned all the way to the Supreme Court in 2003 against the production of foie gras, which is accomplished by force feeding ducks and geese, even though Israel was a major producer at the time. It also achieved better conditions for veal calves in 2005.


My letter in response to the above article:

December 14, 2009

Editor, the Jerusalem Post,

Dear Editor:

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I think that the Israeli animal rights group deserves a kol hakavod for its efforts to shine a spotlight on the inconsistencies between Jewish teachings on the proper treatment of animals and current practices on factory farms (“Animal rights group protest in J’lem, Tel Aviv,” December 14 issue).

In addition to these inconsistencies, the production and consumption of meat and other animal products arguably violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, protect the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people and pursue peace.

It is time that the many moral inconsistencies between typical Jewish diets and Jewish values be put on the Jewish agenda, especially since there is an epidemic of diseases strongly connected to animal-based diets, and animal-based agriculture is contributing significantly to global warming and many environmental problems that threaten Israel and, indeed, all of humanity.

Further information is at JewishVeg,com/schwartz, and, where one can see our acclaimed documentary "A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World."


Tel Aviv: Naked activists mark Animal Rights Day

*Anonymous members covered in saran wrap to symbolize frozen meat remember 'victims of human tyranny', protest 'horrors' of egg, industrial meat industries. 'Our intelligence does not justify abusing other creatures,' exhibit's organizer says*

YnetnewsPublished: 12.17.09, 07:18 / Israel Activism

An exhibit featuring naked activists covered in saran wrap was held in central Tel Aviv on Monday, as part of the 11th annual International Animal Rights Day events, during which activists across the world "remember the innocent nonhuman victims of human tyranny and call for the recognition of their basic moral rights."

International Animal Rights Day was officially marked on December 10.

The exhibit, in which the activists were bunched together to symbolize frozen meat, was organized by Anonymous for Animal Rights to protest the "horrors" of the egg and industrial meat industries.

A handcuffed female activist waved a sign reading, "The right to move freely" in protest of the confinement of egg laying hens in "battery cages", which, according to Anonymous, have already been banned in 30 countries and are expected to be entirely banned in the European Union by 2012.

Another activist carried a sign saying, "The right to be free of violence," in protest of the "daily violence animals are subjected to in the meat industry – be it the chopping of limbs without anesthesia or the breaking of bones while cramming animals into trucks."

Arbel Barak, organizer of the exhibit in Tel Aviv, said, "All living creatures, including humans, are equal when it comes to pain, fear and suffering. We would all suffer equally from having our limbs severed or from being starved inside a cramped industrial cage for a long period of time.

"Our intelligence does not justify abusing creatures that are considered inferior," he added.

Later Monday, animal rights activists held a similar rally at Jerusalem's Paris Square in protest against the Agriculture Ministry's plan to build battery cages" using "hundreds of millions of the taxpayers' shekels."

The "battery cages", Anonymous says, violate Israel's Animal Welfare Law.,7340,L-3820554,00.html

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4. My Postings at Some Blogs

[A great way to help get our message out to many people is to post messages after relevant articles. Below are several postings that I have recently made. Please consider sending in your own postings. Unfortunately, there are many naysayers and critics out there, who frequently send in comments, and we have to counteract their misrepresentations. Thanks.]

In view of the UN FAO report that livestock agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than all the transport worldwide combined and also requires vast amounts of land, water and energy and is greatly responsible for deforestation, species extinction, water pollution, desertification and many more environmental problems, why not a call for a shift to plant-based diets?


With the current climate, energy, hunger, thirst, health and other crises, does it seem rational to raise 60 billion animals worldwide for food? For a taste of flesh we are destroying the planet.

Bottom line: without a major societal shift to plant-based diets, thee is now way that we are able to avoid an unprecedented global climate catastrophe. Time to call meat eating what it is today: Madness and sheer insanity.

According to the cover article in the November/December World Watch magazine, the livestock sector is responsible for at least 51% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions


Whereas one can be adequately nourished on a completely plant-based duet; and
whereas producing and consuming meat is a major contributor to current climate, hunger, thirst, energy, health and other crises; and whereas animal-based diets and agriculture arguably violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve our health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people;

how can a Jew justify eating meat today?


At a time when the world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented climate catastrophe, I think we can best respond by increasing awareness of the inconvenient truth that even Al Gore has been generally ignoring: the major impact that animal-based agriculture has on global warming, A UN FAO 2006 report indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars, planes and other means of transportation worldwide combined. And a recent cover article by two environmentalists in World Watch magazine argues that the livestock' sector is responsible at least 51% of the human-caused greenhouse gases. Hence to avoid the impending climate disaster and shift our imperiled world to a sustainable path, a major societal shift to plant-based diets is essential.

Such a shift would reduce the many other negative effects of animal-based diets: disease, increased hunger, water pollution, deforestation, soil erosion, rapid species extinction, desertification and many others.

As to global climate change naysayers, we should ask them to please explain why the glaciers and polar ice caps are melting faster than climate scientists' worst scenarios, why so many areas are experiencing such severe droughts, why there are more and larger wild fires, why this decade is the warmest on record and much more.

In summary, by promoting plant-based diets we can do the most to help shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

For further information, please visit, where I have over 140 articles and 25 podcasts of my talks and interviews and, to see our acclaimed documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World.”

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5. Blog Response to False Claim that Hitler Was a Vegetarian

Registered: 08/03/09
Posts: 129
Loc: Calif. USA

Adolph Hitler Was NOT A Vegetarian!

An article in Time, May 24, 1999, points out that in her book Gourmet Cooking School Cookbook (1964), Dione Lucas writes of her days as a chef in a Hamburg, Germany, hotel before World War II: "I do not mean to spoil your appetite for stuffed squab, but you might be interested to know that it was a great favorite with Mr. Hitler, who dined at the hotel often."

Here are excerpts from a pamphlet by Rynn Berry entitled, "Why Hitler Was Not A Vegetarian."

Under the headline, He Loved His Squab, a passage is cited from a cookbook wirtten by a European chef, Dione Lucas, who was an eyewitness to Hitler's meat-eating. Drawing on her experiences as a hotel chef in Hamburg during the 1930s, Lucas remembers being called upon quite often to prepare Hitler's favorite dish: stuffed squab.

Richard Schwartz, author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, points out that Hitler would occasionally go on a vegetarian binge to cure himself of excessive sweatiness and flatulance, but that his main diet was meat-centered.

Robert Payne, Albert Speer, and other well-known Hitler biographers are also mentioned who point out Hitler's predilection for such non-vegetarian foods as Bavarian sausages, ham, liver and game.

It is also noted that Hitler banned vegetarian organizations in Germany and the occupied countries during his years as dictator.

The authors throw more lighit on the enigma of Hitler: Hitler was a connoisseur of sweets, and cream cakes, which he consumed in astonishing quantities. He drank tea and coffee drowned in cream and sugar. And according to one biographer, "No dictator ever had a sweeter tooth."

Publishers Weekly, has this to say about Berry's article: "The essay by Rynn Berry lays to rest the myth that Hitler was a vegetarian."


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6. Humane Society asks Obama Administration to Appoint Animal Protection Liaison

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7. Review of My Book “Judaism and Global Survival”

Judaism and Global Survival

by Anonymous [at the Barnes and Noble web site]

October 21, 2002: JUDAISM AND GLOBAL SURVIVAL by Richard H. Schwartz Ph.D.

Readers familiar with the classic volume "Judaism and Vegetarianism" by Professor Richard H Schwartz will be delighted to learn that its sequel, "Judaism and Global Survival," has recently been revised and updated. The publication of this new edition could hardly be more timely, seeking as it does to explore the vital issue of protecting the earth from the many threats it faces. The solution, according to Professor Schwartz, is not necessarily to be found in current technology, but rather by applying Jewish mandates related to protecting our imperiled planet. He reminds us that as Jews, not only are we obligated to carry out the mandate of Tikkun Olam (to repair the world), but also that we should pursue peace and justice, feed the hungry, conserve resources, and love our neighbors as ourselves.

The book's message however is not only for Jews but for people of all faiths, discussing as it does the practical measures that can help reduce global warming, world hunger and rapid population growth. The book is divided up into sections addressing many important themes, such as energy, social justice, and human rights.

Each section is illustrated with appropriate Biblical quotations and examples of Jewish teachings. As Professor Schwartz points out, however, it is not enough simply to know about these Jewish values. In order to achieve a beneficial and necessary change, we must apply them. To this end, he provides us with an appendix listing some effective and practical ways that we can help improve the environment: for example, by writing letters, displaying bumper stickers, and organizing events on the theme of global sustainability.

One of the most important sections is the one which argues that a shift toward vegetarianism is an essential factor in improving the environment. Indeed Professor Schwartz points out that both vegetarians and environmentalists have similar goals: "The aims of vegetarians and environmental activists are similar: simplify our lifestyles, have regard for the earth and all forms of life, and apply the knowledge that the earth is not ours to do with as we wish. In view of the many negative effects of animal-based agriculture on the earth's environment, resources, and climate, it is becoming increasingly clear that a shift toward vegetarian diets is a planetary imperative." "Judaism and Global Survival" is an important book for anyone who cares about the environment and who would like to learn the appropriate Jewish values which could make all the difference to the future of our planet.

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8. Shalom Center Analysis of the Copenhagen Climate Conference

A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life
Beyond Copenhagen:

The globe is in OUR hands now

Dear folks, 
I am writing from the midst of a great winter storm. It is at moments like this that it is hard to convince our kishkes, our innards, that global "warming" is dangerous. That's one of the reasons I insist on talking about "global scorching" -- more honest to the geological reality and more evocative of the emotional reality.
Copenhagen is over: At the official leadership level, it was a dismal failure. At the grass-roots level, it sprouted another stage of growth. 
Which narrative controls the future -- top-down failure or grass-roots growth -- depends on us.
One action we could take soon: Draw on a festival of mystics and ecologists to speak in public for the protection of forests and the shift to new energy sources.

The Tu B'Shvat festival of the Rebirthing of Trees comes this year the evening of Friday January 29 and into Saturday Jan 30. It celebrates both the biology of the renewal of tree life in midwinter and the mystical sense that God's Own Self is also every winter reborn as a Tree of Life with its roots in heaven and its fruit here - on earth - not only in trees but in all our lives. 

From 8 pm to 9:30 pm Eastern Time on Thursday evening January 14, I will be leading/ weaving a telephone seminar on the mystical, political, and ecological aspects of Tu B'Shvat.

The origins, practice, and purpose of the festival are so open, God's abundance and the vitality of forests are so intertwined, the biology and the Mystery so interwoven, that in a planet choking in carbon dioxide and starving for more oxygen, this festival can welcome people of all religious communities and spiritual impulses to take part in it. 

We will be sending out more detailed information about our phone seminar. Meanwhile, please save the date.

What went wrong in Copenhagen? The officials came up with a vague agreement among five major nations, no binding decisions, a too slowly approached process toward a too-limited target for even the non-binding decisions, anger among many other nations about both being ignored in the process and short-changed in the results, and a very tentative possible success in beginning the creation of a world fund to aid poor nations make the shift into non-fossil economic development.

Four major culprits: Big Oil & Big Coal, which have blocked effective action by the US; the US government (President & Congress), which has kowtowed to them and failed to commit a serious level of money to meet the needs of poor nations; and the Chinese government, which rejected effective outside verification of its promised cuts in CO2 emissions. 
Pressure for deeper commitment, coming from African and Latin American nations and small countries most vulnerable to global scorching through drought and flood, fell short because they had too little power to force the rich and large nations to meet the world's needs. 
On the streets in Copenhagen and around the world, however, the summit sparked much more action and much more coherent connection.

A true transnational movement is emerging, as will have to happen if the human race is to prevent utter disaster. 
In the US, attention now turns to the Senate where debate continues on the Kerry-Baker cap-and-trade climate bill and the pressures to water it down. Perhaps most crucial: Will the bill allow the Environmental Protection Administration to establish strong regulations on emitting CO2? If the Senate strips EPA of that power, as some Senators are trying to do, it will be better to defeat the bill and get EPA to act.
There will have to be many more people going beyond their own households to address public policy, with much greater effort from those people. In the US especially, climate activists will have to make much closer alliances with health-care, anti-war, and pro-jobs activists if climate healing is to prevail.
 One example of grass-roots energy that brought together people of different religions and generations: Last Saturday night (12/12), was both the second night of Hanukkah and the night, a transnational climate-activist network, had urged world-wide candle-lighting vigils to impact Copenhagen.
Around the world, there were more than 3,000 such vigils. Tens of thousands of people gathered in the bitterly cold streets of Copenhagen in night after night of nonviolent demonstrations. 
In Philadelphia that evening, about 60 people from various Jewish congregations, some interfaith environmental groups, the local climate-crisis, and the Philadelphia [High-School} Student Union gathered at Independence Hall to light Hanukkah menorahs and other candles as a message to Copenhagen to get serious about a fair, strong, and binding agreement to stop the worsening of the climate crisis.

The Shalom Center initiated the event.
We sang "This Little Light of Mine," Peter Yarrow's "Light One Candle," and Pete Seeger's "Rainbow Race." We gave and heard speeches from Steve Jones, the PSU president; Judy Wicks, renowned restaurateur and founder of Philadelphia Sustainable Business; Andrew Lavine of Philly 350; and me. 
Ron Goldwyn, press secretary to Congressman Chaka Fattah of Philadelphia, presented a proclamation from the Congressman honoring the work of The Shalom Center on climate healing.

My talk emphasized three relevant aspects of Hanukkah: 

Lighting hope in the midst of gloom and darkness;

Affirming the ability of grass-roots communities and movements like the Maccabees to "declare our independence" from top-down, elephantine power conglomerates like the Seleucid Empire and Big Oil and Big Coal; 
· Radically reducing our use of oil and other fossil fuels in the spirit that "one day's oil in rededicating the Temple Menorah met eight days' needs." 
The event and the Hanukkah connection were well-covered in advance by the Philadelphia Inquirer and WHYY, the local NPR station. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency nationally circulated an Op/Ed essay of mine (click here) on the Jewish principles that should underlie our climate policy.

Below you can see the URL for some photos by Jesse Brown. In addition, we had the whole event videotaped and will soon post both the whole thing and probably an excerpted version on The Shalom Center's section of YouTube and our Website. 

Click for Picasa Web Album - Climate Vigil Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
 Play a slideshow 

In the last year, there has been a great increase in Jewish activity on the climate crisis. There has emerged what might be called a "Jewish eco-system" in the eco-spiritual and environmental activist worlds. In that eco-system, The Shalom Center especially fills two important niches: building momentum around Jewish festivals and life-cycle ceremonies as moments for advocacy embedded in celebration; and providing a robust commitment to advocating deep changes in public policy on climate and energy.
Allies in other niches of the Eco-Jewish community have been emphasizing other aspects of the climate issue as a crucial part of Jewish commitment to God's Creation.

In this message we have space only for a brief sketch of how this eco-system works together. In our Website lead article there are much fuller details, and a place for comment at the end. We urge you to read the full essay and add your own comments at the end.
There are two other major clusters of eco-Jewish activity.

One is a revived COEJL (Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life). After ten years of vigor and then five years of doing little, COEJL has recently received an infusion of foundation money that should make possible a lot more action. In formal terms, almost all American Jewish organizations (including The Shalom Center) are listed as co-sponsors of COEJL. In reality, almost all its decisions are guided by the Reform movement's Religious Action Center (RAC) and the Jewish Council on Public Affairs. (It is legally a project of JCPA.)

The third cluster for eco-Jewish activism is a creative weave of eco-Jewish organizations, much smaller than the Reform movement or JCPA but totally dedicated to eco-Judaism. It is typified by Hazon and the Teva Learning Center and includes the Jewish Farm School, the Adamah Fellows (organic farmers at Elat Chayyim), Kayam Farm at the Pearlstone Center, and others. Here The Shalom Center has been a much more direct participant. 
I think it is accurate to say that our approach to public policy is sharper than that of any of the other groups, and we intend to keep playing two roles: that of a "tugboat" nudging, noodging, and tugging at the great ocean liners to take clearer, stronger positions; and that of a "seedbed" developing newly creative ideas and handing them over to others to sprout and flourish. These are further explained in our Web article. Remember to click here. 

Shalom, salaam, shantih --- peace, Arthur

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9. Interested in Joining a Group to Monitor the Media With the Aim of Sending Letters to Editors?

Forwarded from Israeli Jewish Vegetarian Society leader Yossi Wolfson: [If you would like to be involved with monitoring the US media, please let me know. Lettrs to editors can have a major impact. Thanks.]

. . . , we invite you to be part of a group that will monitor the Israeli English press. Members will inform each other about articles with vegetarian, animal-rights, health, environmental and similar topics, with the aim of sending / posting responses. To join the group e-mail us at

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10. My Article on “Veganism's Essential Role In Preventing an Unprecedented Global Catastrophe” at the EVANA Web Site

Please note that this summary article is dramatized on video and can be found in the videos and poscasts section at

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11. Why Our Efforts Are So Urgent: A VERY Frightening Analysis of Climate Change

Thanks to JVNA advisor Ron Landskroner for forwarding this very important link.

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