December 27, 2010

12/27/2010 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Happy New Year

2. Tu B’Shvat and Vegetarianism

3. Building JVNA’s Jewish Media List

4. Israel’s Water Shortage Worsens

5. Student’s Essay on Vegetarianism vs. Veganism Based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s Book Eating Animals

6. Sharing God's Green Earth: Planting a Green World by Engaging the Greater Community

7. Source for Information on the Many Negatives of Animal-Based Foods and the Many Benefits of Plant-Based Foods

8. California Temple Schedules Showing of A Sacred Duty at Rosh Hodesh (New Month) Celebration for Women

9. Web Site Provides Valuable Veg Nutritional Information

10. The Thirteen Principles of Jewish Medical Ethics

11. Two Reviews of Judaism and Global Survival

12. Weekend for Sermons on Climate Change Scheduled

13. Excellent Discussions about “Greening” of Synagogues

Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this one from being even longer.

[Materials in brackets like this [ ] within an article or forwarded message are my editorial notes/comments.]

Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA, unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, material re conferences, retreats, forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsement by JVNA or endorsement of the kashrut, Shabbat observances, or any other Jewish observances, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event that you are interested in. Also, JVNA does not necessarily agree with all positions of groups whose views are included or whose events are announced in this newsletter.

As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.



1. Happy New Year

Best wishes to everyone for a wonderful, happy, healthy, successful New Year, one in which your fondest wishes are fulfilled.

Let us hope and work such that this year there is great progress toward vegetarianism/veganism, better conditions for animals, environmental sustainability and a more harmonious, humane, just and peaceful world.

Thanks to everyone for all you have done during the past year.

If anyone would like to volunteer to further the efforts of JVNA, please let me know. Thanks.

Return to Top

2. Tu B’Shvat and Vegetarianism

Please consider organizing and having a Tu B’Shvat seder or other event in your community this year. Or check with local rabbis about the possibility of attending a scheduled seder and possibly making a short statement about vegetarian connections to the holiday. This most vegetarian and environmental of holidays begins this Jewish year on Wednesday evening, January 19, 2011. For background ideas, please see my articles related to the holiday at the holiday section at and consider an Internet search for tips on running a Tu B’Shvat seder. Thanks.

Return to Top

3. Building JVNA’s Jewish Media List

We are trying to revise, update and expand the JVNA Jewish media list, so we can try to reach wider audience with our vegetarian messages. If you have suggestions about publications that should be added or other relevant ideas, please let me know. Thanks.

Return to Top

4. Israel’s Water Shortage Worsens

Jewish Ideas Daily

Israel's water woes
December 22, 2010

And Not a Drop to Drink
By Alex Joffe

With Israel's Carmel fires barely extinguished, word came in early December that the water level in the Kinneret, also known as the Sea of Galilee, was approaching the "black line" at which no more pumping could take place. At the conclusion of the driest November since 1962, already dismal forecasts of winter rain were being revised downward; they would be only slightly alleviated by a suddenly vicious storm that dumped snow and rain on the north—as if to taunt Israel as it stood on the brink of yet another abyss.

Over the next two decades, the real wild card for political and social unrest in the Middle East is not war, terrorism, or revolution; it is water.

Divided into two plants that can operate independently, Israel's newest desalination project at Hadera will produce almost a half-million cubic meters of drinking water per day.

Cores drilled from deep below the seabed point to a complicated and unexpected history.

The Kinneret covers about 64 square miles; its watershed, an area of about a thousand square miles, is home to over 200,000 people. The lake plays host to two to three million people each year who come to relax, swim, and admire the landscape. Some 30 percent of Israel's potable water is pumped from the lake via the National Water Carrier, a system of pipes and reservoirs that opened in 1964. It was a technical triumph, logical and in a way compact, but it fed both agricultural and urban growth that was sprawling and unplanned.

Lakes, like forests, project a quality of timelessness, but looks are deceiving. Humans have lived around the fluctuating shores of the Kinneret for millennia; evidence of previous habitations is revealed whenever the level drops precipitously. During the 1980s, a 20,000-year-old site was uncovered bearing well-preserved seeds of wild barley and fruit. The "Jesus boat," a small 1st-century B.C.E. fishing vessel, was unveiled the same way. Dotted around the shore are ancient stone piers, further evidence of life during the time of the Gospels. If too much water erases humans, too little can cause the social fabric to evaporate.

Weather in the eastern Mediterranean is part of a planetary whole, and Israel is stuck in the middle between vastly larger forces. Thanks to the high North Atlantic Oscillation, depressions that would otherwise track southeast across the Mediterranean end up instead over northwest Europe. Hence, Scotland shivers under the most snow in 40 years while Israel burns. The Indian monsoon, Saharan dust, and a host of other factors can conspire to keep hot air over the Middle East during the fall and winter rainy seasons. In part because of this fickleness, water in semi-arid zones is precious, and ancient peoples who prayed to weather gods knew what they were doing and why.

As surely as forests, lakes can also be killed. In a typically megalomaniacal exercise in Soviet planning, the Aral Sea—over 400 times larger than the Kinneret—was pumped to extinction to feed Central Asian cotton farms. The Israeli approach to nature—from the invention of drip irrigation to the invention of the cherry tomato—is more graduated and innovative, though capable of producing crises of its own. Water-hogging eucalyptus trees, much beloved by early Zionists, still exist, but gone are the days when inappropriate crops like cotton would monopolize agricultural water. Today's agricultural water is drawn from treated sewage.

In a measure of the very success of the Zionist ingathering, however, the thirst of towns and cities grows. The population of Israel and the Palestinian territories is larger than it has ever been in history, well over ten times what it was a century ago. Coastal aquifers are near collapse from over-pumping, and ownership of those in the West Bank is bitterly contested by the Palestinians. Existential problems are sometimes met with puzzlingly Brobdingnagian proposals. At one point not long ago, colossal schemes to build water pipelines from Turkey were seriously contemplated; but Turkey is no longer an ally and is embroiled in bitter water disputes of its own with Syria and Iraq. As usual, Israel will have to go it alone.

This year the world's largest desalination plant, using advanced reverse-osmosis technology, went on line at Hadera, another in a series that will in a decade or so provide most of Israel's water. Will these be enough? Some Israeli environmentalists criticize the impact of desalination, proposing that instead of emphasizing new supplies, Israel should further reduce its water use, already the most efficient in the world, through recycling and conservation. Others urge reviving the moribund Jordan River and the disappearing Dead Sea, or making it a national priority to see to the needs of the Palestinians. Politics and science, already deeply intertwined, cannot easily be teased apart.

Water is also fundamentally a security issue, but where does it fit in the scheme of things? The Ashkelon desalination plant was opened in 2006 at a cost of approximately $212 million—somewhere in the range of a single Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. But the plant and its counterparts have giant bulls' eyes painted on them, and are hardly likely to be spared by Iranian or Hizballah rockets in wartime. So which is the answer to Israeli security, the water or the warplane?

The eastern Mediterranean is full of surprises. Even a decade ago, few would have expected to learn that titanic natural-gas reserves sit off Israel's shores, or that more than a billion barrels of oil may lie under Israel itself. Solutions beget problems, as problems beget solutions. In the desiccated year of 1962, Israel's nuclear reactor at Dimona went critical, putting the country irrevocably on the path toward a nuclear future, for better and for worse. Humans rarely give up technologies, and despite the costs and risks, desalination in Israel will necessarily be expanded dramatically in coming decades. The key is learning to live with the uncertainty of nature—and with the uncertainties introduced by our own choices.

Alex Joffe is a research scholar with the Institute for Jewish and Community Research.

Return to Top

5. Student’s Essay on Vegetarianism vs. Veganism Based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s Book Eating Animals

Sam Silverman

The Souls of Animals Course

Fall 2010

Prof. Stuart

In the book Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer addresses the issue of whether, in modern America, it is morally acceptable to eat meat. The conclusion he reaches is a resolute and resounding “no,” and in the process advocates the embracement of a non-vegan vegetarian diet. Foer, however, fails to carry out his argument to the next step: is it good enough, morally speaking, to adhere to just a non-vegan vegetarian diet, or should we cut animal products out of our diet completely? In other words, is non-vegan vegetarianism (as opposed to veganism) a morally stable position? I believe that, granting the acceptance of the arguments made by Foer in Eating Animals, the answer to this question is no, non-vegan vegetarianism is not a morally stable position. I will support this claim by outlining the essential argument made by Foer against eating meat, then examining the practices of the dairy and egg producing industries, and finally, relating Foer’s focal argument against eating meat to an argument against eating dairy and egg products.

To begin to answer the question of whether non-vegan vegetarianism is a morally sound position, I must first explicitly define the terms “non-vegan vegetarian” and “vegan”. A non-vegan vegetarian (referred to simply as a “vegetarian” from here on out) is a person whose diet excludes animal products that result from the death of an animal. Therefore, a vegetarian does not consume animal flesh, or any by-products of animal slaughter (lard, and gelatin, for example) (“The Vegetarian Society - Definitions”). A vegan, on the other hand, is a person whose diet consists of no animal products whatsoever. Therefore, a vegan will not eat animal flesh, by-products of animal slaughter, dairy, eggs, honey, or anything else coming from an animal (“The Vegetarian Society - Definitions”).

To condense the central argument that Foer puts forth in Eating Animals into a single sentence, eating meat in modern America is morally wrong because the meat one consumes is virtually guaranteed to come from a factory farm, and all factory farms in America (without exception) treat animals in appallingly inhumane manners. Foer shows that this is the case for factory farm animals – whether they are chickens, turkeys, fish, pigs, or cattle – both in how they are raised and how they are slaughtered. He does so by describing these practices in gruesome detail. The examples I will use to illustrate Foer’s main point will be Foer’s descriptions of the life and slaughter of “beef cattle” (cows designed to produce meat) and “broiler-chickens” (chickens designed to produce meat). I will use these animals in order to compare them to the lives of their milk-producing and egg-laying sisters later on.

In his lifetime, a beef cow will be fed a diet poorly fitted for his digestive system, disbudded (the practice of removing horns with hot irons), branded, and castrated (Foer, 224). Between the age of 12 and 14 months, he will be shipped off to slaughter, a journey that can last up to 48 hours and during which he is completely deprived of food and water (Foer, 227). In the final phase of his life, he is slaughtered:

A steel bolt shoots into the cow’s skull… usually rendering the animal unconscious or causing death. Sometimes the bolt only dazes the animal, which either remains conscious or later wakes up as it is being “processed”… animals are bled, skinned, and dismembered while conscious. It happens all the time… the knocked cow – unconscious, semi-conscious, fully conscious, or dead – moves down the line… and [is hoisted] into the air… the animal, now dangling from a leg, is mechanically moved to a “sticker,” who cuts the carotid arteries and jugular vein in the neck… The cow should now be a carcass, which will move along the line to a ‘head-skinner,’ which is exactly what it sounds like… the percentage of cattle still conscious at this stage is low but not zero… After the head-skinner, the carcass (or cow) proceeds to the “leggers,” who cut off the lower portions of the animal’s legs… The animal then proceeds to be completely skinned, eviscerated, and cut in half… (Foer, 229-233).

The life of a broiler chicken is similarly grotesque. The standard amount of space that a broiler chicken lives in is eight-tenths of a square foot, which is roughly the size of a piece of printer paper (Foer, 129). Artificial lighting tricks him into eating more than he naturally would, and sleeping the bare minimum amount he needs in order to survive (Foer, 130). The incredibly overcrowded and unnatural environment in which he lives will cause a broiler chicken to suffer from any of the following conditions: sudden death syndrome (which affects between 1 and 4 percent of broiler chickens on factory farms), ascites (a condition in which excess fluids fill the body cavity, affecting 5 percent of broiler chickens), walking impairment (which affects 3 in 4 broiler chickens), as well as:

deformities, eye damage, blindness, bacterial infections of bones, slipped vertebrae, paralysis, internal bleeding, anemia, slipped tendons, twisted lower legs and necks, respiratory diseases, and weakened immune systems (Foer, 131).

After living in these conditions for 42 days, the broiler chicken is stuffed into a transport crate and is sent off to slaughter:

If [a factory farm’s] operation is running at the proper speed – 105 chickens crated by a single worker in 3.5 minutes is the expected rate –… birds will be handled roughly and… the workers will regularly feel the birds’ bones snapping in their hands… [the process continues as the workers] load the crates into trucks. Ignore weather extremes and don’t feed or water the birds, even if the plant is hundreds of miles away… hang [the birds] upside down by their ankles in metal shackles, onto a moving conveyer system. More bones will be broken… Often the birds will defecate in pain and terror. The conveyer system drags the birds through an electrified water bath. This most likely paralyzes them but doesn’t render them insensible… The next stop on the line for the immobile-but-conscious bird will be an automated throat slitter… about 180 million chickens are improperly slaughtered each year (Foer, 132).

Government estimates suggest that annually, about four million broiler chickens are alive and conscious when going into the scalding tank (the process in which boiling hot water is used to remove the feathers and skin of the chicken) (Foer, 133). Even still, none of this takes into account the sadistic behavior of many factory farm workers. At one particular slaughterhouse (which was designated as a “Supplier of the Year” for the KFC restaurant chain), workers were documented “tearing the heads off live birds, spitting tobacco into their eyes, spray-painting their faces, and violently stomping on them… dozens of times” (Foer, 67).

Now, in order to effectively compare the practices of the meat-producing industries to the practices of the dairy-producing and egg-producing industries, I will objectively state the practices of modern dairy farms and egg farms, without comment as to the morality of the practices. After all of the facts have been stated, I will relate these practices back to the central argument made by Foer.

Modern day dairy farms are simply another type of factory farm. The living conditions of a dairy cow on a typical American dairy farm are as follows: she is confined to a stall not large enough to turn around or lie down in, forced to stand on either a dirt or concrete floor, is exposed to all types of weather with no protection, and is forced to stand in a soup of feces and urine since the floors are cleaned no more than twice a year (Masson, 81). Similar to all other mammals, a cow must get pregnant before she begins to lactate. Therefore, in order to have a cow produce the maximum amount of milk possible, she is artificially inseminated and subsequently kept lactating as long as possible after she has given birth to her calf (Dawn, 162). As soon as her lactation period ends, she is again artificially inseminated and the process repeats itself. In another effort to maximize the amount of milk produced, a dairy cow is injected with a number of growth hormones that cause her to produce up to approximately 10 times the amount of milk she would produce naturally (Masson, 84). A metabolic imbalance that results from the unnaturally high milk production makes a dairy cow extremely susceptible to bacterial and viral infections (Masson, 84). The most notable of these infections is mastitis, which is “an infection of the udders that causes swelling and can make milking excruciating” (Dawn, 164). Mastitis affects half of all cows on dairy farms (Masson, 84). The cycle of impregnation and lactation lasts until the cow is about four years old (her natural lifespan is about 20 years), at which point she is no longer producing milk at a profitable rate (Dawn, 164). After being deemed “spent”, the dairy cow is sent to slaughter for meat, enduring the same fate that beef cattle endure at the slaughterhouse (described above) (Dawn, 165). Another effect of the practices of the dairy farms is the creation and continued existence of the veal industry. After a dairy cow gives birth, her calf is taken away within moments (this denial of her offspring causes the mother to bellow and ram the walls of her stall for days on end, and is acknowledged to be the “single worst incident in the life of a dairy cow” by leading animal slaughter experts (Masson, 80)). If it is a female calf, she will be raised as the next generation of dairy cows; a male calf, on the other hand, will either be sent immediately to slaughter, or to a veal farm. This is because “[d]airy cattle are not meant for meat, so to raise a male until adulthood is not economically feasible” (Masson, 81). On a veal farm, a male calf is chained around the neck inside of a wooden crate not large enough to turn around in or lay in with legs outstretched. He is fed an iron deficient diet and denied any form in exercise in order to keep his flesh pale and tender. These living conditions cause one in five veal calves to die in confinement (Masson, 83). Those who do not die in confinement are slaughtered at sixteen weeks (Dawn, 165).

Like dairy farms, egg farms are a form of factory farming. A hen on a typical American egg farm will live in a cage with between three and seven other hens. The cage that these hens share is twelve inches by twenty inches, and is made with wide-spaced wire. The cages are stacked from floor to ceiling, and the wide-spaced wire allows waste to drop from hens in the top tiers onto hens in the lower tiers (Dawn, 169). In order to prevent a hen from attacking and injuring the other hens in her cage, a hot knife is used to cut off her beak – which contains bone, cartilage, soft tissue, and nerves (“Mercy For Animals”). A hen is kept alive only as long as she is laying eggs at a profitable rate. Once her production rate starts to decline, a hen will sometimes be force molted in an attempt to shock her body into another egg-laying cycle. Force molting is a practice in which a hen will be starved, denied water, and kept in the dark for up to 18 days (“Mercy For Animals”). Similar to a dairy cow, an egg-laying hen is not genetically designed for her meat, so it is usually not worth the effort it takes to slaughter her. Therefore once she is “spent,” she is disposed of by the cheapest means possible. More often than not, this entails burying her alive in a large ditch with other spent hens (Dawn, 171). The male offspring of a hen is considered completely economically unprofitable, and is thus killed the day he is hatched. The two most common methods of extermination for a male chick are to allow him to suffocate in a plastic garbage bag or to grind him up while he is still alive (Dawn, 169).

Now to tackle the issue of why vegetarianism is not a morally sound position: I believe that, from the descriptions provided of the life of a dairy cow (and by extension, veal calf), and egg-laying hen, it is clear that these animals lead lives in which they are raised and slaughtered cruelly and inhumanely, and have just as much (if not more) pain and suffering inflicted upon them than the amount of pain and suffering inflicted upon animals raised for meat. Foer argues that it is immoral to eat meat in today’s society precisely because the manner in which factory farmed animals are raised and killed is cruel, inhumane and undeniably causes the animals’ immense pain and suffering. Therefore, since the morality of eating meat is based upon the suffering of the animals being slaughtered for meat, and animals raised to produce dairy and egg products undergo equivalent amounts of pain and suffering as animals raised for meat, there is no difference between the morality of eating meat and the morality of eating dairy and egg products.

A potential objection to the claim that eating meat, dairy, and eggs is not a morally sound position is “what if the food comes from a local farm where the animals are treated humanely?” Foer addresses this objection in terms of meat, referring to those who restrict their intake of meat to humane meat as “selective omnivores” (Foer, 56). His reasoning is that since the immorality of eating meat lies in the suffering and inhumane treatment of the animals being slaughtered, and animals that are raised and slaughtered humanely do not endure this suffering, it is morally defensible to eat the meat that comes from these animals. However, more than 99% of animals killed for meat are raised on factory farms (Foer, 12), which means that there is very little ethical meat available to the public. For example, “there isn’t enough non-factory chicken produced in America to feed the population of Staten Island… let alone the country” (Foer, 256). So although selective omnivorism is a morally acceptable alternative to vegetarianism, it is simply unfeasible. As Foer states, “[e]thical meat is a promissory note, not a reality” (Foer, 256).

To extend Foer’s argument about the selective omnivore to those who eat dairy and egg products only from animals that are raised humanely, the morally acceptable alternative to veganism is “selective vegetarianism”. Again, the immorality of eating dairy and egg products lies in the suffering and inhumane treatment of the animals that produce the dairy and eggs, so to eat dairy and egg products that come from humanely treated animals would be morally acceptable. The problem arises in that, similar to the percentage of meat that comes from factory farms, 98% of dairy and eggs produced in the United States come from animals raised on factory farms (Mason, 68). With that being said, although 98% of dairy and egg products come from animals raised on factory farms, it is actually easier to find ethical dairy and eggs than it is to find ethical meat. This is due in large part to the efforts of one organization: the Humane Farm Animal Care is “a national non-profit 501(c)3 organization created to improve the lives of farm animals by setting rigorous standards, conducting annual inspections, and certifying their humane treatment” (“Certified Humane”). Humane Farm Animal Care designates certain farms as “Certified Humane,” which means that the farms “[meet] the Humane Farm Animal Care program standards, which includes nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones, animals raised with shelter, resting areas, sufficient space and the ability to engage in natural behaviors” (“Certified Humane”). Certified Humane products, which are mainly dairy or egg products (with a few exceptions), can be found in a number of grocery stores throughout the country. However, these products are not yet widespread enough to make selective vegetarianism is a viable option. So, just as it is virtually guaranteed that one cannot find enough ethical meat to completely replace factory farmed meat in one’s diet and become a selective omnivore, one would be hard-pressed to find enough humane dairy and egg products to become a selective vegetarian. Therefore, while selective omnivorism and selective vegetarianism are both morally defensible positions, there are simply not enough resources at the moment to make them realistic possibilities in the United States (although it is, in fact, slightly more realistic in the selective vegetarian’s case).

In closing, Foer reaches the conclusion that it is not morally permissible to eat meat, and granting Foer’s argument as to why this is to be true, one must also conclude that it is not morally acceptable to eat dairy and egg products. Therefore, to be a non-vegan vegetarian on moral grounds is, in fact, a morally untenable position.

Works Cited

Dawn, Karen. 2008. Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals. New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins Publishers

“Certified Humane.” Humane Farm Animal Care, n.d. Web. 3 Nov 2010.

“Eggs.” Mercy For Animals. Mercy For Animals, n.d. Web. 29 Sep 2010.

Foer, Jonathan Safran. 2009. Eating Animals. New York, N.Y.: Little, Brown and Company

Masson, Jeffry Moussaieff. 2009. The Face On Your Plate: The Truth About Food. New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

“The Vegetarian Society - Definitions.” The Vegetarian Society. The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom, n.d. Web. 30 Sep 2010.

Return to Top

6. Sharing God's Green Earth: Planting a Green World by Engaging the Greater Community

By David Krantz [Director of Green Zionist Alliance]

NEW YORK (Dec. 23, 2010) — On the eve of the eve of the most widely celebrated Jewish baby's birthday ever, a holy day for billions of Christians around the world, it's important to remember that we Jews only make up about two tenths of one percent of the world's population. So if we're going to green the world, we can't do it alone. We need to engage with our brothers and sisters of all faiths.

In Israel, that means that we need to work with Christians and Muslims, both within Israel and in Israel's neighboring lands as well, because nature knows no borders. The Green Zionist Alliance, for example, is a North America-based Jewish environmental organization that has embraced diversity: Our volunteers, speakers and interns have included Christians, Muslims and Hindus. At the Green Zionist Alliance, anyone who wants to help green Israel and the Middle East is welcome.

Two Green Zionist Alliance sister organizations also aim to green the region through peaceful cooperation between peoples of different backgrounds and faiths. The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies is perhaps the best place in the world to learn about the environment alongside Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians. The accredited school offers master's degrees as well as the opportunity to study for a semester or a year as an undergraduate or graduate student.

And EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth — Middle East brings together Jews, Christians and Muslims in the region to work toward protecting the region's shared environment and, in particular, its shared watersheds.

Here in North America, GreenFaith helps communities of all religions work both independently and together to better serve as stewards of the environment that we collectively believe God has placed in our care. 

All four organizations have found that the way to a greener, more peaceful future is through cooperation with the greater community.

So what can you do to engage the world community? You can support the efforts of the Green Zionist Alliance, Arava Institute, Friends of the Earth and GreenFaith. And you also can follow the example of the Greenpoint Shul — Congregation Ahavas Israel, an Orthodox synagogue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

With help from leaders of the Green Zionist Alliance, this past summer the Greenpoint Shul transformed its dilapidated, weed-thicketed backyard into a thriving, interfaith, organic community garden, tended to by volunteers from the synagogue, the local mosque and a local church. All of the garden's harvest is donated to the neighborhood soup kitchen, run by the church. And from the thaw in spring until the first frost, Jews, Muslims and Christians grow food for the hungry, getting together in the synagogue's backyard to work in the garden. It's a beautiful thing.

And it's a model that could be replicated in every Jewish community across the country. Greenpoint Shul is putting the green in Greenpoint — you can put the green in your town. By working together with others, we can achieve a greener future.

Return to Top

7. Source for Information on the Many Negatives of Animal-Based Foods and the Many Benefits of Plant-Based Foods

Return to Top

8. California Temple Schedules Showing of A Sacred Duty at Rosh Hodesh (New Month) Celebration for Women

Potluck, film fete Rosh Hodesh

Temple Beth El in Aptos will host a Rosh Hodesh celebration for women Jan. 6 with a documentary screening and vegan potluck. The Jewish community center will be showing "A Sacred Duty," a film that examines how Jewish teachings can be applied to gathering food, using natural resources and protecting wildlife.

The potluck begins at 6 and the film at 7:30 p.m., and a discussion with Rabbi Paula Marcus will follow. Members and non-members (women only)are welcome, said organizers, who are asking attendees to each bring a printed vegan recipe. E-mail or call 335-3342. Temple Beth El is at 3055 Porter Gulch Road, Aptos


Thursday, January 6, 6:00 PM, 2011

Rosh Hodesh - Women's New Moon Celebration

Vegan Potluck & Film: "A Sacred Duty"

Temple Beth El /Jewish Community Center Social Hall

3055 Porter Gulch Road, Aptos, CA 95003

Members & Non-Members Welcome.

Free Event For Women Only / Donations Appreciated.

6 PM: Vegan Potluck: Vegan is vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts & beans. (No animal products.)

7:30 PM: A SACRED DUTY: Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal the World - (1 hour)

This documentary reminds us that it is our sacred duty to apply Jewish teachings to how we obtain food, use natural resources, protect animals and the environment. While reducing our impact on the planet, we may find moral, ethical and sustainable solutions, from Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist points of view. Award winning cinematographer, Lionel Friedberg includes interviews with Rabbis, Jewish Scientists, Israeli Environmentalists and Activists, with sacred texts read by Theodore Bikel. Some scenes contain graphic content that will hopefully inspire a thought provoking discussion with Rabbi Paula Marcus, following the film.

Art Exhibit "Women, Trees, Food & Animals" by Dominique Blanchard, Russell Brutsche, David Fleming, Jill Gibson, Donna Giubbini, Karen Kaplan, Jeanne Manss, Peggy Marketello, Judy Miller, Irina Parfenova, Bruce Telopa, Boris Tyomkin, Philip Wankier & Mary Warshaw.

Music: We will end the evening with live music and singing, led by Rabbi Paula Marcus.

Please print a favorite vegan recipe to share with the group or e-mail it to Karen Kaplan.

Please RSVP by January 3. Call: 335-3342 (11 AM - 11 PM), E-mail:

Event Organizers: Karen Kaplan, Shirley Ginzburg & Rabbi Paula Marcus

Return to Top

9. Web Site Provides Valuable Veg Nutritional Information

Forwarded message from the author of the web material Jay Lavine, M.D.:

When I addressed the USDA Food Guidance System meeting six years ago, I indicated that we have failed to change the way people think about a meal. The goals of the dietary guidelines have gone unrealized. I proposed a massive educational project that would make people think about plant foods as the entree rather than meat as the entree. Of course, my recommendation went unheeded. I think that health care reform of the kind that is needed will never occur if left to the democratic process. So I have simply assumed the role of a physician exemplar, and I give people the opportunity to learn what nutritional science is saying with regard to the ideal diet.



Return to Top

10. The Thirteen Principles of Jewish Medical Ethics

By Jay Lavine, MD

Return to Top

11. Two Reviews of Judaism and Global Survival

[All the chapters can be read at]

Judaism and Global Survival
 Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Nathan Braun, December 2002

Richard Schwartz, called "the dean of Jewish vegetarians" by the Jerusalem Post in its recent review of this book, has done it again. In his revised and updated Judaism and Global Survival, a sequel and expansion to last year's groundbreaking Judaism and Vegetarianism, he has pulled off another challenging handbook on how Jewish values are relevant to present socio-ecological crises. His advice is simple and profound, echoing King Solomon’s statement, "Fear God and keep his commandments, this is the whole duty of humankind." (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

. . . In view of worsening global threats, Dr. Richard Schwartz beautifully and comprehensively illustrates how the application of basic Jewish values can help address such current problems as global climate change, water shortages, pollution of our air, water, and land, widespread hunger, potential energy shortages, and rapid population growth. This book discusses Jewish teachings related to these threats, in order to challenge Jews (and others who take religious values seriously) to be at the forefront of attempts to repair and heal the world (tikkun olam), as required by Jewish law and indeed, by G-d Himself.

Written from a very positive Jewish perspective, Dr. Schwartz's book challenges people committed to religious teachings to live up to the highest values and mandates of their religion. Using an abundance of recent statistics, he argues that applying religious values is a societal imperative because current policies are unsustainable. Jewish values are thoughtfully applied to the issues.

Among the many intriguing approaches suggested in the book are: how Jewish values point to CARE ("Conservation And Renewable Energy") as a response to potential energy shortages; how a shift to plant-based diets can reduce hunger, environmental threats, global climate change, and resource scarcities; how Jewish teachings based on bal tashchit, the Torah mandate not to waste resources, can be used as a basis of a ZPIG (zero Population Impact Growth Movement) in response to zero population growth (ZPG) advocates.

This is a passionate, carefully argued book, based on a great love and respect for Jewish teachings.

At a time when environmental threats often seem overwhelming, Judaism and Global Survival, like its practical predecessor Judaism and Vegetarianism, deserves a wide readership. Its messages should be on the agenda of every synagogue and of every religious group.


Judaism and Global Survival 
Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Julie Rosenfield, December 2002

Readers familiar with the classic volume Judaism and Vegetarianism by JVS patron Professor Richard H. Schwartz will be delighted to hear 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 going back to explore Jewish values which already provide us with the mandates we need on how to protect our fragile 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 strive for peace and justice, feed the hungry, avoid waste and love our neighbours as ourselves.

The book's message however is not just for Jews but for people of all faiths, discussing as it does what practical measures can be taken to reduce global warming, world hunger and over-population.

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 the environment: for example, by writing letters, displaying bumper stickers or organizing events on the theme of global protection.

One of the most important sections is the one which deals with vegetarianism, the adoption of which is a key factor in helping 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.

Return to Top

12. Weekend for Sermons on Climate Change Scheduled

National Preach-In on Global Warming - February 11-13, 2011

· Access Event Materials & Notes

· Host a Sermon or Discussion

· Watch a Film

· Send ‘Love the Earth’ Valentines to Congress

Nationwide, Interfaith Power and Light is inviting faith leaders to give sermons and reflections on global warming the weekend of February 11-13, 2011.

As the date approaches, we will be offering a variety of resources, including sample sermons, reflections devotionals, and discussion activity ideas for diverse faith traditions to those who have registered, including youth activities.

For more information, go to

Return to Top

13. Excellent Discussions about “Greening” of Synagogues


Below is my posting after the article online:

Kol hakavod (Kudos) to all involved in presenting this very valuable material. A a time when the world is rapidly approaching an unprecedented climate catastrophe and facing many other environmental threats, this information is very important and I hope it will be widely read and acted upon.

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), I would like to add that serving all or mostly vegan foods is another very valuable way to green synagogues and other aspects of Jewish life. Animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, deforestation, desertification, water pollution, soil erosion and depletion, rapid species extinctions and many other environmental problems.

For more information on Jewish teachings on vegetarianism and related issues, please visit and see JVNA's documentary "A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World" at
Return to Top

** Fair Use Notice **

The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of vegetarian, environmental, nutritional, health, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for educational or research purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal, technical or medical advice.

December 20, 2010

12/09/2010 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Converting Tu B’Shvat Into a Jewish Earth Day This Year

2. Events Scheduled at the Israeli Vegetarian Society Center (Known as “Ginger”)

3. Was Israel’s Record Wildfire Worsened Due to Her Present Drought Due to Climate Change?

4. Dan Brook Article on Controlling Cholesterol & Beating Heart Disease

5. Courageous High School Student Defies School Authorities and Saves a Chicken

6. Getting Animal Agriculture Onto the Cancun Climate Change Conference Agenda

7. New Study: Increased Milk Consumption Does Not Protect Against Osteoporosis
But Promotes Ovarian and Prostate Cancers

8. PETA Seeking Help in Distributing Free Copies Of DVD of “If This is Kosher”

9. Survey Shows 20% Growth in Factory Farming in Past Five Years

10. “Carnism” Awareness & Action Network Established

11. Source for Much Environmental Material About Israel

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. Converting Tu B’Shvat Into a Jewish Earth Day This Year

Tu B’Shvat is the most Environmental and Vegetarian Jewish Holiday. I hope this year it will be converted into a Jewish Earth Day. More to follow in future JVNA Newsletters. Suggestions very welcome. Thanks.

This year Tu BShvat begins after sunset on Wednesday, January 19. Please consider arranging a Tu B’Shvat seder in your community, and please feel free to use my articles relating the holiday to vegetarianism and other issues at the holidays section at

Return to Top

2. Events Scheduled at the Israeli Vegetarian Society Center (Known as “Ginger”)

Forwarded message from the JVS director Yossi Wolfson:

December Events at Ginger – the Vegetarian Community Center
8 Balfour Street, Jerusalem 02-5665737


This month we are starting a new project, the first of its kind in Israel, in cooperation with “Jewish Nature“(the society for Jewish ecological responsibility) and “Tav Chevrati“ (the project of “Bema’agalei Tzedek” society). The project is entitled “Food for Thought” and it will consist of an introductory lecture plus seven workshops on the ethics of food from a Jewish orthodox perspective.

On Monday December 6th we will begin with a study-evening on the subject with the participation of Rabbi Beny Lau. Subsequent meetings will be held every two weeks on Sundays. These workshops will tackle issues of food ethics, including the environment, food-industry workers, and animal suffering. Participating lecturers include Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, Rabbi Danni Segal and Dr. Yael Shemesh.

Please spread the news about this project, especially to Hebrew-speaking
national-religious friends.

Another course starting in December will teach activists how to create an
internet-site—a necessary skill as activism continues to expand in the virtual
world. We will also hold a lecture in Hebrew on animals and war in cinema. On the culinary side, we will greet the winter with a soup workshop.

You are also invited to participate in a cooking course taught by Tziona Melman. Thursday evenings will continue to feature thematic food events. In addition to a soup evening, we will host green and white evenings and a musical evening.

Our regular monthly events include the freecycling market on the first Friday each month, and a communal potluck meal on the last Tuesday.

Let us also remind you about our nutritional consultation project: You are invited to schedule a meeting with dietitian Orit Ofir.

Looking forward to seeing you,

Team Ginger

Monday December 6th, 7:00 pm: Not by Doughnuts Alone: Study Evening on Judaism, Ethics, and Food

The evening will start with a lecture of Rabbi Beny Lau on food as a mirror of
our world of values and beliefs.

We will have a short break for refreshments during which time we will light

The evening will end in three study groups:

· Life and death in the hands of the tongue (facilitated by
Ori Ben David)

· Social Kashrut (facilitated by a member of the Tav Chevrati project)

· Meat from Genesis to Today (facilitated by Hadas Yellinek)

The course is organized together with “Jewish Nature” (the society for Jewish
ecological responsibility) and “Tav Chevrati” (the project of “Bema’agalei
Tzedek” society).

Admission: free

Thursday December 9th, 7:00 pm

Green-Colored Feast and Video Clips for the International Observance of Days for Human and Animal rights December 10th marks the 62 anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This date was also set as the International Animal Rights Day in the hope that the principles of the declaration will one day be expanded to cover all sentient creatures.

We will celebrate this date with a meal consisting of green food and video clips connecting human and other animal rights.

Organized by the volunteers of The Mahatma.

Admission: 25 NIS or individual donation

Sunday December 12th 7:00 pm:

Blessings over Food: Some Observations

Speaker: Rabbi Danni Segal, The Israeli Academy for Leadership, Ein Prat.

First meeting of the course “Food for Thought”: a seven-meeting project on Judaism and food ethics.

The course is organized together with “Jewish Nature” (the society for Jewish
ecological responsibility) and “Tav Chevrati” (the project of “Bema’agalei
Tzedek” society).

Admission for the full course: 70 NIS. For one workshop: 15 NIS.
Sliding Pay Scale is available – please talk to us.


If you would like to get on the list to get future announcements, please

Return to Top

3. Was Israel’s Record Wildfire Worsened Due to Her Present Drought Due to Climate Change?

Forwarded message from Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center:

Our first concern in regard to the blaze in Israel must be grief for the dead
and injured and their families, and prayers and where possible material help
to put out the fire.

Our second should be to realize there is a very high likelihood that the
abnormal heat and drought that made this horrific fire possible is a result of
global scorching.

When will we se this global plague in the light of the Pesach story, and act
against the pharaohs of our day?

Return to Top

4. Dan Brook Article on Controlling Cholesterol & Beating Heart Disease

[Dan is an author, educator and JVNA advisor. I have co-authored articles with

"Heart disease is the number one killer, for both men and women, in the U.S.
(followed by cancer and stroke). It doesn't have to be that way. Numerous
scientific studies show that reducing your cholesterol, among other
activities, is the best way to beat heart disease, cancer, stroke, and other
deadly diseases

Return to Top

5. Courageous High School Student Defies School Authorities and Saves a Chicken

Forwarded message from Steve Farbman:

Shalom Richard,

I teach two a course entitled, "Becoming a Mentsh" to two sections of seventh
graders at Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia. At the end of
October, I deviated from the course curriculum to highlight recent events at
Concordia High School in Concordia, Kansas, a small town with a population of
approximately 5,000 people. I had just been alerted by Karen Davis, President
of United Poultry Concerns in Machipongo, Virginia ( that on October 11, 2010, students (mostly juniors, with some sophomores and seniors) in an "Animal Science and Food Production" cou

rse were required to slaughter 40 six-week old chickens that they had raised. The stated purpose of the "broiler project" was to teach the students where their food comes from by raising chickens and then "processing" (the school never used the word "slaughter").

Thirty-nine of the chickens were killed. One student, 16-year-old Whitney Hillman, refused. With the full support of her mother, Whitney rescued her chicken, whom she had named Chiklett, with her stepdad driving the getaway car!

My students and I discussed the events at Concordia High to determine whether Whitney was a mentsh and whether her teacher acted as a bully. The week before my initial class on the chicken slaughter, my students and I had learned that while we should respect our teachers, we must not obey them if they require us to do something that is wrong. Doing the right thing is paramount to being a mentsh. Here are the facts that the kids in my classes and I discussed:

Each student in the broiler project was required to choose a chick, name him or her, mark the chick with a permanent marker, feed and care for the chick for six weeks, keep track of how much food he or she ate, how much weight the chick gained, how much it cost to care for the chick, and then "process" it.

No permission slips were required, although permission slips were required for
watching R-rated movies in History class. While the students were told about the "broiler project" at the beginning of the semester, they were also told that funding for the project was unlikely. When the chicks suddenly arrived, it was too late to withdraw from the class.

The chickens were starved from Thursday afternoon until the Monday slaughter, the teacher stating that this was needed and normal. Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns said that the teacher was wrong because standard industry feed withdrawal is eight hours before slaughter. According to several students who attended the slaughtering, the chickens' legs were wired together, the chickens were held over buckets, the students were handed knives, given a brief instruction on what to do, and told to do it quickly. The chickens were cut on or around the neck and hung over the buckets to bleed out.

One student said that the chickens flapped their wings and struggled, and so the cutting was hesitant. Another student described how her chicken suffered and bled for over three minutes before dying.

Students went back to other classes with blood on their clothes and, in some cases, blood on their faces. Some were distressed by a male student playing with a dead chicken's head. Some students refused to photograph the slaughter, as the teacher told them to do, or to watch.

Several girls were seen sadly petting their chickens before having to kill them. Although the teacher saw this, he said that the students knew what they had to do and it was OK. There is no indication that students were taught how to locate the carotid arteries, which carry oxygenated blood to the brain. If the carotid arteries were not cut precisely, the chickens retained consciousness during the slaughtering process.

(For more detailed description, see Karen Davis's November 15, 2010 letter to the editor to the Concordia Blade-Empire:

Whitney refused to slaughter Chicklett. She also did not want to leave him at
school for somebody else to slaughter. So, before the dastardly deed could be done, Whitney put Chicklett in her purse and took him to a friend's farm, where he is now safe and doing well.

Broiler chickens are engineered to grow quickly, with a large breast and legs;
those traits, along with living in a cage, left Chicklett barely able to walk.
Whitney said that Chicklett is "still slower than the other chickens on the farm, but he's walking better already. He just seems to be a happier chicken." Whitney said that she understands that because of his genetic background, Chicklett is unlikely to live as long as a traditional chicken, and that heart attacks are not uncommon.

Nevertheless, "I'd rather he die of old age in a year than live in a cage. My hope is that he survives and lives a happy little chicken life. I'd rather he die of a heart attack than have his throat slit by a teenager." When Whitney rescued Chicklett, she left a note explaining why she had absconded with Chicklett and offered to pay for him. (See for letters written by Whitney and her mom.)

Whitney was suspended for two days for leaving school without permission. (See for poem written by Chicklett through Whitney.)

In his own defense, the teacher said that the project "wasn't sprung on anybody. All anyone had to do was say they didn't want to participate." The teacher had said that his goal was to educate the students with a "real-life" situation - to show them where the chickens on their dinner plates come from. He was supported by both the school's principal and the superintendent of schools. The kids in my Mentsh classes, however, did not believe him; if, they asked, the teacher wanted to educate the students with a "real-life" situation, why did he tell his students to name the chicks and raise them for six weeks as if they were pets, only to say later that "we raised those chickens to process them, not to make them pets."

When Whitney told her teacher that she had become attached to Chicklett and could not kill him, the teacher responded that it was a class requirement. This clearly contradicts the teacher's later statement that he never forced anyone to cut throats.

The kids in my Mentsh classes wrote letters to Whitney explaining why they thought she either was or was not a mentsh for rescuing Chicklett. Although two students sided with the teacher, the rest concluded that Whitney was a mentsh and that her teacher behaved as a bully by forcing many other students to kill their chickens even though they did not want to do so.

Here are some samplings from my kids:

(1) Rachel: "There is no excuse for what they did, and you had all the
right to save the chicken and yourself from those scenes.

Hopefully, the teacher has learned from you and will stop this assignment and take a break from teaching."

(2) Emma: "No one would willingly kill their own pets unless terminally ill; so why would you have to settle with killing Chicklett? I definitely applaud your decision. My best to Chicklett!"

(3) Anya: "I think that slaughtering your pet is just plain stupid. I would never do that."

(4) Maddy: "I think that was a completely ineffective assignment.

All it did was make people vegetarians and kill chickens. If this teacher is
seriously going to continue these assignments, I think he should be fired. He had no excuse, and will live with the guilty image of blood everywhere and be haunted by the memories. He needs to step back and find a different job. I respect you for saving Chicklett's life, and please keep fighting for equal rights for chickens. I hope Chicklett is okay and lives a LONG life. Again, thank you from me for saving him."

(5) Hannah: "We read about what you did.

I thought it was amazing. It was inspiring, humbling, responsible, kind, and
you overall did the right thing. I know that most people are and would be
afraid to stand up to authority. I wish I could say that I too would do the
same, but I don't think I can. I would definitely stand up for what's right,
but I just don't know if it would work. I am glad to hear that Chicklett is
safe. I hope that other kids will read your story and be inspired, as I have,
to stand up against authority for what's right."

(6) Julia: "You saved another creature's life, and took responsibility for your actions.

You even offered to pay for Chicklett. You utterly and completely did the
right thing. I think your teacher bullied you and your classmates and was
unnecessarily cruel; for example, he made you grow close to the chickens and
starve them, which they don't do for real. I respect you for this and really
wish I could do something so great. You were given the responsibility of
taking care of your chicken and you did.

You saved a life, even if it's not the life of a human. I think that's

(7) Sam: "I like how you went out of your way to save the chicken's life. I liked how you put away school rules and replaced them with your rules, not killing innocent animals.

The way you saved the chicken's life really spoke to me. You were really brave how you disagreed with the teacher.

I am really happy for you and the chicken for what you did. I hope that your deed will change your life and other people's lives. Thank you."

(8) Abigail: "I'm happy to know that there are people out there who'd save a
chicken's life and not care about the consequences. I'm a vegetarian and have
been one my whole life (no fish/meat).

If I were in your situation, I would've done the exact same thing. I look up to people like you, and am so impressed.

My Aunt Tracy is the executive vice president of PETA. That chicken sure was lucky to be taken in by you. You're definitely a mentsh!"

(9) Eva: "I believe you are very brave. What you did was amazing. You save
a creature's life.

Your school and teacher are crazy. I can't believe they would actually make you do that. You are definitely a mentsh."

(10) Zach: "I can't believe that teacher made your class do that! I, for one, love
animals so I already get where you're coming from. But how he made you raise them I think is unhuman. I wonder why no one else did what you did. We just wanted to let you know that we care! We noticed! And I can without a doubt know that you are a mentsh. And I'm also sure you did the right thing!

P.S. My favorite animal is a frog....Frogs rock!"

(11) Jeremy: "The qualities of a mentsh are: Respectful, helpful, kind, spreads peace, love, nice, does the right thing, and is responsible. I think you are a mentsh because you meet those qualities.

You were respectful because you respected the chicken, you were helpful because you helped the chicken live, and you were kind to the chicken.

Also, you did the right thing by saving the chicken and took responsibility by willing to pay for the chicken. You met all of the qualities of a mentsh so that means you are a mentsh."

(12) Mitchell: "I believe that you did the right thing by saving the chicken and
not slaughtering the chicken. Then you brought the chicken from the school
and did not let anything happen to it."

(13) Jared: "I think you are a mentsh because I and you know that you didn't want
to slaughter that chicken. Not slaughtering it and saving the chicken's life
was good. If you wouldn't have done that, you would have felt terrible to
kill it. I think you fall perfectly in the category of being a mentsh."

(14) Matt: "I think you did the right thing. A mentsh has the qualities of kind, respectful, caring, helps others.

Being a mentsh can also state when your teacher is doing a wrong thing and you speak in a respectful way. What you did was smart. It would be really sad if I was in your situation. If I would admire someone who was a
mentsh, it would be you."

(15) Nathaniel: "I think you are responsible and totally respectful. I admire
you. You did the right thing. I love you! You prevented some gorey stuff."

(16) Lowell: "Do I think you are a mentsh? Sort of.

Yes, you saved a chicken from a gruesome death. And I agree with what you
did. But there is no true way to tell if you are really a mentsh.
A mentsh is someone who ... does good throughout your life. In your case,
you were definitely a good person in that moment, but to be a true mentsh, you
have to continue good deeds."

Whitney wrote back to the kids thanking them for their letters:

"I am writing
to express my deepest gratitude for your letters. I am so incredibly touched and honored that you chose to share my story and your support of my actions regarding Chicklett. As I read through these letters, each student expressed their thoughts on why I was or was not a mentsh so thoughtfully and eloquently.

I want you all to know that I will continue to live my life with integrity and honor and I will carry a piece of each of these letters in my heart. The compassion from your classroom pours out of these pages and I cannot say thank you enough to express how I really feel. You are an exemplary example of a teacher that is preparing a group of young people to go out into the world and make a difference and for that I thank you.

And to the students: I can tell from these letters that you are going to be responsible, intelligent, thoughtful adults that have the ability to follow your own moral compass even in the face of adversity. I am grateful and thankful to have
been a part of your learning experience."

Our class on this story has not yet ended, for Whitney as enthusiastically agreed to "meet" the kids in my classes through Skype in January. Since my students wrote to Whitney, I have had several conversations with her. What I have discovered is that her moral compass is true and unwavering. And the fact that it is possessed by someone so young gives us great hope.

When my friends and I marched against the Vietnam War in the 1960's, it was the right thing to do. But we had strength in numbers. Among Whitney's classmates, however, she acted alone, never losing focus on what was important and what was right.

Let this be an inspiration for all of us. Whenever we are faced with a dilemma, even if we would be acting alone, we should think of Whitney, think of Chicklett, and do what is right. Be a mentsh!

Steve Farbman

To read more about Whitney’s story and a wonderful poem by her about the case,
please visit:

Return to Top

6. Getting Animal Agriculture Onto the Cancun Climate Change Conference Agenda

Return to Top

7. New Study: Increased Milk Consumption Does Not Protect Against Osteoporosis But Promotes Ovarian and Prostate Cancers

Thanks to Dan Brook for forwarding this link to us.

Return to Top

8. PETA Seeking Help in Distributing Free Copies Of DVD of “If This is Kosher”

Message forwarded to me:

Dear Richard

Happy Hanukkah and Shabbat Shalom. PETA just alerted me that they have something like 2000 copies of Jonathan Safran Foer’s video “If This is Kosher…” that they aren’t sure what to do with as they haven’t been successful distributing them on their own.

Would you like to receive a big (or small) box of them or, even better, do you
have ideas on how they might be distributed? There isn’t enough money to send one copy to every synagogue or something like that. However, if there are ways we could get individuals to *request* a copy of the DVD or find ways to distribute en mass, PETA can send them to the appropriate individuals.

Any thoughts?


I hope all is well.


Message sent by Aaron to one group:

Something that you might be interested in: Jonathan Safran Foer (author of
Everything is Illuminated and, more recently, Eating Animals—but you probably
know that!) has a short twenty minute video that offers a critique of factory
farming and contains the key footage that originally exposed AgriProcessors’s
animal abuse in 2004—at the time Agri was the world’s largest glatt kosher
slaughterhouse (located in Postville, IA). That event played a key role in
fueling today’s Jewish food movement.

Amazon sells it for $5 (see here) and you can view a somewhat fuzzy copy
online on YouTube or Google Video:

If you are interested, I can get you as many complimentary copies of the video
for distribution to interested persons at the Hazon conference. The video is
twenty minutes and was designed to be the sort of thing that could be shown
and discussed in a classroom or group meeting. Any individual would be welcome
to take 10 or 20 (or a 100 for that matter) copies home with them if they
believe they can distribute at their synagogue, JCC, or whatever.

Would West Coast Hazon be interested? Would you be able to let me know who I
would contact at the East Coast Hazon to see if they would be interested.

Also: I can’t get you free copies, but if you wanted *signed* copies of
Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, I probably could arrange to have a box
of them signed for Hazon. Not as exciting as a free DVD, but there if you are

Thanks for all your work.


Aaron Gross, PhD
Executive Vice President & Founder
Farm Forward

Return to Top

9. Survey Shows 20% Growth in Factory Farming in Past Five Years

Thanks to Israeli activist Mark Feffer for sending this to us.

Return to Top

10. “Carnism” Awareness & Action Network Established

--- Melanie Joy wrote:

*We are excited to announce that Carnism Awareness & Action Network is now
live at **! CAAN is *the first and only organization whose goal is to expose and transform carnism, the invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals. CAAN provides materials to help improve the effectiveness of vegetarian and vegan advocacy and to inform meat eaters of the invisible ideology that has conditioned them to act against
their own interest and the interests of others.

Because vegetarian and vegan advocates have sufficiently raised public awareness about the impact of animal agribusiness on animals, the environment, and humans, the time is ripe for the critical next step in advocacy. Advocates are ideally poised to target the *roots* of the issue:

o expose and challenge carnism, the invisible belief system that makes eating
animals possible in the first place. Understanding carnism can dramatically change the way animal advocates and meat consumers alike think and talk about the issue of eating animals—and it can help pave the way for vital legislative
changes pertaining to animal agriculture.

CAAN depends on the support of others, particularly media professionals, leaders of animal advocacy organizations, and activists to get the word out.

Please visit CAAN’s site and share this email widely. If you are interested in
arranging an interview about CAAN, please contact founder Melanie

Also please consider posting a CAAN banner in your email signature and/or on
your website (available at

Thank you for your support in helping to create a better world for all
animals, human and nonhuman!

*About Carnism Awareness & Action Network*:

Carnism Awareness & Action Network works to expose and transform carnism, the
invisible belief system that conditions people to eat certain animals. CAAN empowers vegetarian and vegan advocates and concerned citizens through education and activism. Visit CAAN at


*To sign up for future emails from CAAN please send a blank message to*:

A very special thanks to the folks at VegFund, whose support has made CAAN

Return to Top

11. Source for Much Environmental Material About Israel

Return to Top

** Fair Use Notice **

The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of vegetarian, environmental, nutritional, health, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for educational or research purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal, technical or medical advice.

12/02/2010 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Promoting Vegetarianism During Chanukah

2. Will the World Address Factory Farming and Climate Change?

3. Review of Roberta Kalechofsky’s Shabbat Cook Book

4. My Letter to the Editor Sent to the NY Times

5. World Peace Diet Intensive Study Seminar Scheduled

6. Recent Environmental and Vegetarian-Related Items About Israel

7. Dietary Impacts on Individuals and the Global Community

8. Wonderful New Group Relates Judaism and Ecology

9. Green Zionist Alliance Schedules Chanukah Party/Meeting for December 5, 2010 in NYC/More From GZA

10. Dvar Torah: We Must be Active To Obtain a Better, Vegan World

11. Israel’s Worst Drought in History Continues/Chief Rabbis Call for Special Prayers for Rain

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.




Happy Chanukah everyone! The 8-day holiday of lights begins Wednesday evening
(December1) after sundown.

Please see my article on “Chanukah and Vegetarianism” and other Chanukah material in the holidays section at And please use the material to help spread the Jewish Vegetarian message.

Return to Top

2. Will the World Address Factory Farming and Climate Change?

Forwarded message:

Why the Cancun COP 16 Climate Summit Should Take Animal Agriculture Seriously

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mia MacDonald, Brighter Green

NEW YORK —As delegates gather in CancĂșn, Mexico for the next round of global climate talks, one topic isn’t likely to be on the agenda: the intensive system of rearing animals known as factory farming. However, as New York–based public policy “action” tank Brighter Green argues in a series of newly-published policy papers, the conference (and the planet) ignore factory farming and the rapid spread of intensive animal agriculture at its peril.

Climate-warming greenhouse gases (GHGs) are generated at every stage of livestock production. Approximately 60 billion animals are used in food production each year. As the global farmed animal population increases, and with it the number of intensive facilities (factory farms and feedlots), GHG emissions will rise exponentially, too.

Brighter Green’s research focuses on four countries: Brazil, China, Ethiopia, and India.

Brazil, China, and India are all emerging economic and climate powers, and each is a crucial force shaping 21st century animal agriculture.

Ethiopia, although far from a fast-food nation, is Africa’s largest producer and exporter of livestock.

In all four countries, a growing share of national resources like water, grain, land, forests, and climate “space” are being directed to the meat and dairy industries. This is coming at a considerable cost, not only to the global climate, but to food security, ecological sustainability, livelihoods, equity, animal welfare, and public health at the country level.

Produced as part of Brighter Green’s Food Policy and Equity Program the policy
papers, along with two-page policy briefs and short documentary videos, focus on four nations at various stages of economic development and intensification of animal agriculture:

· Cattle, Soyanization, and Climate Change: Brazil’s Agricultural Revolution (PDF)
· Skillful Means: The Challenges of China’s Encounter with Factory Farming (PDF)
· Climate, Food Security, & Growth: Ethiopia’s Complex Relationship with Livestock (PDF)
· Veg or Non-Veg? India at the Crossroads (policy brief/PDF)

Brazil, an agricultural powerhouse, is the dominant global exporter of beef and chicken, and a lead exporter of soy for farmed animal feed.

The Amazon rainforest and Brazil's savannah, the Cerrado, both of which have vast stores of carbon dioxide, are centers of large-scale cattle ranching and commodity crop production; deforestation rates rise with global demand for meat and feed.

China has committed to increasing its production of pork and expanding meat exports, even as domestic food prices rise and animal agriculture has become a major source of serious water pollution.

In India, the egg and poultry sectors are rapidly industrializing. As they do, demands for feed grain and water from the livestock sector are growing, while, at the same time, India contends with high levels of child malnutrition and strains on land and water supplies.

Ethiopia, at a very different level of development, is nonetheless looking to
produce more meat and dairy products for export, although food security for its fast-growing population remains elusive; soil erosion and land degradation are extensive. At the same time, all four countries are experiencing the effects of climate change—more frequent drought and floods; higher temperatures; and increasingly erratic weather patterns. (See below for summaries of each paper.)

“The rapid globalization of the livestock industry, particularly the use of intensive systems of production, ought to be high on the international climate
agenda,” says Brighter Green’s executive director and lead author Mia MacDonald. “Continuing to marginalize this issue means forfeiting a crucial
opportunity to reduce global GHGs and create a more sustainable, equitable, humane, and climate-compatible food system. Countries in the global South, set to be most affected by global warming, have an opportunity to lead in a new direction—with multiple benefits for their people, their environments, and the global climate.

Approximately 18 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stem from the livestock industry, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

A more recent estimate by current and former World Bank environmental specialists puts livestock’s share of GHGs much higher, at 51 percent of the global total.

“The questions raised in and by Brighter Green’s policy papers—and in the short video documentaries that accompany each of them—are ones that all countries face, whether their economies are emerging or developed,” MacDonald adds. “How should we use the finite natural resources upon which all societies depend in a sustainable and equitable manner? How best might governments balance the vital needs of human beings and societies to develop their capabilities and gain security against hunger and thirst in a global marketplace dominated by cash crops, commodities, and the relentless flow of capital?”

MacDonald continues: “What are our responsibilities to mitigate the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change on those whose technological and societal capacities are most constrained and who stand to be most negatively impacted by altered weather patterns?

Finally, and no less importantly, what are our responsibilities to the planet’s other animals, in CancĂșn and beyond?”

To view or download the policy papers, policy briefs, and videos, all produced as part of Brighter Green’s please visit Brighter Green’s website. To read more about Brighter Green’s work, visit:

Brighter Green is a New York-based non-profit action tank that works to transform public policy and dialogue on the environment, animals, and sustainability, both globally and locally, with a particular focus on equity and rights.


Mia MacDonald
Executive Director
Brighter Green

Return to Top

3. Review of Roberta Kalechofsky’s Shabbat Cook Book

Top Jewish Chefs, Back In The Kitchen
Amy Spiro, Editorial Assistant
Tuesday, November 16, 2010 Jewish Week

. . .

Those looking to combine their religious rituals with food activism should
pick up “The Shabbat Vegetarian Cookbook,” (Micah, September) by Roberta
Kalechofsky and Roberta Schiff. The book is packed with over 150 vegan
recipes, from stuffed cabbage with squash to crockpot goulash and curry mango
baked tofu.

Kalechofsky, who didn’t want the word “vegan” to make anyone “feel
intimidated,” argues that recipes and dishes without animal products are
ideally suited to Shabbat cooking. “These foods are wonderful to eat for
Shabbat, because most of them can be cooked Friday morning – and vegetarian
dishes keep very well,” said Kalechofsky, “unlike meat which has to be

Keeping a vegetarian diet, and trying dishes from the book like linguini with
Moroccan lentil sauce or spicy black beans and sweet potatoes, can also have
an added benefit for religious Jews. “A lot of my Jewish friends who are
observant, frankly kicked up their heels and said, ‘I feel as if I’ve been
liberated from the kitchen for the first time in my life,’” said Kalechofsky.
“I don’t need two sets of pots, or two sinks and two dishwashers…

Vegetarianism simplifies cooking for Jews — aside from what it does for the
environment, and aside from what it does for animals.”

While the international food activist community is promoting ‘Meatless
Mondays’ to encourage people to give up meat for at least one day a week,
Kalechofsky sees Shabbat as ideal for once-a-week vegetarianism.

“Jews, actually, if you go back to biblical times, did not eat meat on the
Shabbat,” said Kalechofsky. “Jews really have the longest conversation about
the ethics of diet of probably any people in the world today. … We should be
at the forefront of this movement.”

Return to Top

4. My Letter to the Editor Sent to the NY Times

RE: “To Fight Climate Change, Clear the Air” (November 27, 2010 article)

While many good ideas for reducing Greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are given, one major one is omitted: educating people on the importance of shifting to plant-based diets. A 2006 UN Food and Agricultural Organization report “Livestock’s Long Shadow” indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more GHGs (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars. Ships, planes and all other forms of transportation worldwide combined. And a November/December 2009 cover article by two environmentalists in World Watch magazine “Livestock and Climate Change” argued that the livestock sector is responsible for at least 51 percent of all human-induced GHGs. So a shift away from the consumption of animal products would greatly reduce climate change threats, and have the further advantages of improving human health, reducing the widespread abuses of animals and also reducing other environmental threats, including rapid
species extinction, deforestation, desertification, soil erosion and depletion
and water pollution.

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz (Ph.D)Return to Top

5. World Peace Diet Intensive Study Seminar Scheduled

Forwarded message from Author Will Tuttle:

[I have read this book several times and think that it is a marvelous work –
very readable and informative,]

World Peace Diet intensive study tele-seminar


We're entering the Holiday Season, an excellent time to go deeper with the
message of compassion and health, and I'm excited to announce a special WPD
study program that I will be teaching in December, and it's open to everyone.

Coordinated by Steve Prussack, a vegan radio host, I'll be presenting a four-
week World Peace Diet intensive study tele-seminar on Thursday evenings,
December 2, 9, 16, and 23. It will feature a full hour of instruction followed
by 15-30 minutes of Q & A and discussion.

[Last] Wednesday, November 24, Steve and I [hosted] a special preview call, in
which I'll be explaining what we'll be discussing and covering during this 4-
week World Peace Diet mastery program.

PS – [Since you are receiving this after November 24, please register anyway
so that we can send you information on listening to the recording of it later
at your convenience.

I hope you'll join us for this Wednesday's call; here's the link to sign up
for it:

As you'll see, I'm also planning on presenting the first-ever online version
of the World Peace Diet Facilitator Training starting on January 27, 2011,
which will run for 8 weeks and lead to certification as a WPD facilitator. If
you have interest in this opportunity to study in depth the principles of the
WPD with me through phone or computer connection, I recommend joining us on
Wednesday for the preview call to find out more about this upcoming
Facilitator Training program also.

We will be covering everything vegan -- nutrition, wellness, spirituality,
effective advocacy, healthy relationships, sexuality, cultural transformation,
and political, religious, and socio-economic renewal and evolution.

Please join us and contribute to this important discussion and to the
imperative awakening of our culture from the indoctrinated trance of
disconnectedness and violence to the beauty and interconnectedness of all
life. Food is key!

A positive future beckons - thanks for being part of its creation!
Here's the link again:

Yours for a world of peace and freedom for all,

Dr. Will Tuttle
Author, The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony

Return to Top

6. Recent Environmental and Vegetarian-Related Items About Israel

a. Israel Shares Desalinization Expertise with Jordan and PA by Elad Benari

Thirty participants from Jordan and the Palestinian Authority completed a week-long seminar on the topic of desalination earlier this month, according to a report posted on the International Desalination & Water Reuse Quarterly industry website on Saturday. The seminar was conducted by IDE Technologies, an Israeli company which is internationally recognized as a pioneer and leader in the delivery of sophisticated water solutions.

Desalination is a process by which undrinkable salt water is filtered to catch the salts and other particles suspended in the fluid, making the water drinkable.

Israel is considered a world leader in water recycling and has advanced in desalination and recycling water in recent years.

According to statistics released earlier this year, Israel recycles 70 percent of its waste water and sewage.

IDE’s desalination seminar was organized in cooperation with the Israeli Water
Authority, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, the Middle East Desalination Research
Centre and the Centre for International Agricultural Development Cooperation in Israel. It was held in Kibbutz Shefayim in central Israel, and was designed to introduce the participants to modern desalination technologies and to train them in the correct design, operation and maintenance of water desalination plants.

The seminar covered topics in both thermal and seawater reverse-osmosis membrane desalination and offered participants practical instruction regarding the operation and maintenance of large and complex desalination plants.

Participants also visited the desalination plant in Ashkelon which IDE designed and built.

A desalination plant was dedicated last May in Hadera. The largest of its kind in the world and the third largest in Israel, the plant uses reverse osmosis technology, which means the sea water does not have to be heated, as is done in larger plants in the world that are less environmentally friendly. The entire process of desalinating the water takes 35 minutes from the time it enters pipelines in the sea.

The mammoth plant covers more than 18 acres and actually is two facilities that can operate independently from each other. Together, they can provide 127 cubic million liters, or 33 million gallons a year.

Another desalination plant was approved by the Israeli government in June and will be constructed south of Tel Aviv by Sorek Desalination Ltd. It is expected to produce 150 million cubic meters of water each year, and the capacity will eventually be upped to 300 million cubic meters a year, making the plant one of the world's largest. The government plans to desalinate 750 million cubic meters per year by 2020.

b. Israeli Defense forces Efforts Toward a Greener Environment

c. Israel Develops New Vegan Substitutes For Meat

Thanks to Rabbi Dovid Sears, author and JVNA advisor, for sending this link to

Return to Top

7. Dietary Impacts on Individuals and the Global Community

Forwarded message:

You — and the global community — are what you eat by Jocelyn Berger

Like Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” and NBC newscaster Brian Williams in the recent video Judd Apatow made for American Jewish World Service, I am motivated by tradition. Jocelyn Berger

Tradition is why I love food. Tradition is why I believe in social justice. For some Jews, tradition comes from text and law. For others, it’s a cultural practice passed down from elders. Either way, food and justice form two central tenets of Judaism — and among today’s young Jewish adults, they have united as a significant force.

Growing up in a Conservative family that kept kosher, I understood kashrut as one of those rituals that Jews perform simply out of a sense of tradition or obligation — a mitzvah ben adam l’makom (commandment between a person and the Divine).

Without obvious worldly significance, mitzvot of this kind are often difficult to grasp. In attempting to fulfill the letter of the law, sometimes we lose sight of a broader purpose for the practice. To that end, recent controversies in the kosher food industry have indicated a need to reassess what actually makes kosher kosher.

Investigations in 2008 at Iowa-based Agriprocessors, formerly the largest glatt kosher meatpacking facility in the United States, revealed grotesque, inhumane treatment of animals; unjust, illegal treatment of workers; and extensive food safety and environmental violations.

Currently, New York Satmar–owned Flaum Appetizing, another kosher food distributor, is refusing to fulfill court-ordered payments of approximately $300,000 in back wages to their largely immigrant workforce, many of whom were fired after complaining about their low (if not completely lacking) wages, long hours and cruel treatment.

Sure, these companies produced technically “kosher” foods. But besides
teaching us not to mix milk and meat, doesn’t Judaism also teach us ethics of
justice, humanity, compassion and simple decency?

Observing strict legal obligations of kashrut in a vacuum that fails to incorporate the underlying values of Judaism has created a situation considered untenable by many American Jews. As the prophet Isaiah said, “Your hands are stained with crime — Wash yourselves clean … Cease to do evil; learn to do good. Devote yourselves to justice” (Isaiah 1: 15-17).

Given today’s globalized world, industrialized food system, environmental and
economic crises, and numerous other problems, I believe it is time to evolve our understanding of kashrut to be a mitzvah ben adam l’chavero (a commandment between person and community) — and I have reason to believe I’m not alone.

Here in the Bay Area, it is implicitly understood that the food system is broken, and this is reflected in our individual choices of alternatives to conventional options. Increasingly, people are starting to ask deeper questions: What does food justice really mean?

Why and how is the food system broken? What can we do about it? In an attempt to answer these fundamental questions, Pursue developed a new series titled “Chewing on Food Justice.” It was created in conjunction with our partners at the Progressive Jewish Alliance and Hazon.

This four-part program has explored various aspects within the food justice
conversation: workers’ rights (“Fruits of Our Labor” in August); environmental
impact (“Mind Your Agri-Business” in September) and food sovereignty (“Got Access?” in October). Through this series, we hope to equip a broad cohort of young Jews with the information and tools they need to move toward collective action.

The series concludes Tuesday, Nov. 30 with “Is Kosher, Kosher?” — where we’ll
consider the Jewish take on food justice issues. Have we stayed true to the spirit of our dietary laws? Are we living up to the standards of our tradition? If not, why? And how can we better express our values?

Unlike the extreme cases of Agriprocessors and Flaum, luckily, some Jews have
espoused forms of kashrut that do incorporate social justice, perhaps per Isaiah’s suggestion.

Both the Conservative and Reform movements have come out with new guidelines for ethically produced kosher food. Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox social justice
organization, is spreading its very successful Tav HaYosher (ethical seal) across the country, certifying kosher restaurants that honor basic labor and safety standards (three Oakland business have received the seal: Amba, the Grand Bakery and Oakland Kosher Foods).

Yes, Jewish vegetarianism and farming are practically the hottest things since the iPhone4.

The more we understand the complexities of the food system — the myriad interconnections between immigration, domestic farm policy, foreign aid, environment regulations, global trade agreements, urban poverty, the paradox of hunger and obesity, and much more — the more we realize that our food choices impact far more than just our own bodies.

How and what I eat is not just about following divine ritual. It is about acting with responsibility and care for the greater global community.

Incorporating kashrut as one element of an entire, coherent system of tzedek
(justice) can transform it from a mitzvah ben adam l’makom (between a person and the Divine) to a mitzvah ben adam l’chavero (between a person and community).

I believe tzedek is one of the best offerings of the Jewish tradition. That and some really good food.

Jocelyn Berger is the Bay Area program officer for Pursue: Action for a Just World, a project of American Jewish World Service and Avodah:

The Jewish Service Corps. Contact her at

“Chewing on Food Justice: Is Kosher, Kosher?” is scheduled for 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30 at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, 290 Dolores St., S.F. $15 with dinner by Amba (pre-registration required), $5 program only. Information: or

Return to Top

8. Wonderful New Group Relates Judaism and Ecology,7340,L-3991503,00.html.

[Please visit this web site, and help spread the Jewish vegetarian message there. There is not much so far on Jewish teachings on vegetarianism.]

Ecology activism and Jewish world

Young Jewish innovators unveil first international collaboration promoting Jewish environmental awareness and action Ynetnews

What happens when you mix young innovative Jews with ecology?! This transformational web portal, which was launched Monday, promotes and advances Jewish environmental awareness and action to the international Jewish community.

Led by Evonne Marzouk, the DC-based founder and executive director of Canfei
Nesharim, 19 Jewish environmentalists – all members of ROI Community for Young
Jewish Innovators - collaborated in creating this unique portal, which tackles
environmental issues through Jewish tradition.

"Jewcology is the first internet portal of its kind," says Efrat’s Baruch Rock, a member of’s international team and a rabbinical student at Ohr Torah Stone’s Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary. "Born out of the recognition that by sharing our resources we can accomplish so much more, Jewcology is the go-to place for Jewish environmentalists and lay people.”

Noga Zohar, a team member from Beersheba who is executive director of Shvuat ha-Adamah/Earth's Promise, emphasizes how the collaboration makes everyone feel both part of, and a contributor to, a movement for change.

"Jewcology is an amazing platform for organizations like ours to share some of
the daily wonders and struggles in creating a sustainable future in the middle
of the desert city of Beersheba."

“This is the first comprehensive web-based address for the entire Jewish
environmental community, enabling environmental activists to interact, learn from one another and leverage that knowledge to protect the environment and build a more sustainable world,” said Marzouk, who was featured as an up and coming leader in the 2009 New York Jewish Week's "36 under 36". “By empowering Jewish environmentalists, will help the entire Jewish community understand the relevance of Jewish tradition to modern challenges.”

The team includes Teva Ivri in Israel, activists from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, Miami, San Francisco, Charlottesville, New Jersey and Vancouver, as well as Shanghai, China and Santiago, Chile. They met through the ROI Community global network created by Jewish philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, and were able to realize the vision thanks to a $50,000 ROI
Innovation Fund grant.

“ is ROI’s largest collaborative initiative,” said ROI Director Justin Korda. “It underscores the power of the global network of young Jewish innovators we’ve been nurturing since 2006. gets environmental activists to leverage their knowledge in order to sensitize, educate and activate Jewish communities to safeguard the environment.”

Mobilizing Action

The site boasts content from Jewish environmental organizations like COEJL; Green Zionist Alliance; Hazon; Jewish Farm School; Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (JRF); Kayam at Pearlstone;; The Shalom Center; and Teva Learning Center. To date, over 50 Jewish environmental activists and organizations have uploaded more than 300 resources. Topics include vegetarianism, water, energy, agriculture, trees, food, and recycling; Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashana and Shavuot; and, mitzvot such as Bal Tashchit (do not waste) and Tzaar Baalei Chaim (proper treatment of animals). The materials – in English, Hebrew and Spanish - are intended for a wide range of audiences, from children to lay leaders and rabbis. Resources include synagogue projects, Jewish teachings, awareness activities, and art projects. will feature daily blog posts on a wide range of Jewish environmental topics by its international team, as well as Torah teachings with an environmental message from leading Modern Orthodox Israeli Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of the Petach Tikva Hesder Yeshiva, among others. is also partnering with On1Foot, the American Jewish World Service’s online database of Jewish texts on social justice, to create custom source sheets and discussion questions on environmental texts.

Beyond the virtual, will hold regional leadership training summits for Jewish environmentalists. In March 2011, in Los Angeles, will partner with Netiya: the LA Jewish Coalition on Food, Environment and Social Justice, and in Baltimore with Kayam, a farm at the Pearlstone Retreat Center. In June, will join forces with the Teva Learning Center at its conference in upstate New York.

The site is already garnering praise in the Jewish world. According to Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, “Using, Jewish environmentalists around the world can empower each other as they work locally to engage their students, rabbis, and communities. It has the potential to be a game-changing tool in the ongoing effort to inform the Jewish community about our mandate to protect the environment and mobilize action on critical energy and environmental issues.”

Message I received from the director of Jewcology Evonne Marzouk

Dear Richard, I encourage you to sign up and share the good work of the JVNA
on Jewcology!


Return to Top

9. Green Zionist Alliance Schedules Chanukah Party/Meeting for December 5, 2010 in NYC/More From GZA

Join the GZA and Greenpoint Shul for our Green Chanukah Celebration! Also participate in the GZA's general-membership meeting! Enjoy tasty latkes and sufganiot! Play competitive dreidel! Learn about energy issues in Israel!
Make Chanukah arts and crafts -- for kids or for the kid in you!

And all GZA members who have paid their dues for the current secular calendar
year can participate in the Green Zionist Alliance general-membership meeting!
(Contact us for a call-in number if you can't attend in person.) Not yet a member? Joining is fast and easy -- join today!

The party is for everyone!
Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010 at 3 p.m.

Greenpoint Shul (Congregation Ahavas Israel)
108 Noble St.
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Optional donation to the Greenpoint Shul's Go Green Fund.

Chanukah: The Holiday of Energy Conservation Chanukah isn't just our Festival
of Lights -- it's our Holiday of Energy Conservation. And the Maccabees are
the answer to climate change.
New website for Jewish environmentalists The Green Zionist Alliance is proud
to be a charter partner in Jewcology, a new web portal for Jewish
environmentalists and educational resources about the environment. Jewcology
creates a common space where Jewish environmentalists from around the world
can network, collaborate and share resources. On Jewcology, you can search for
a wide range of Jewish environmental resources, upload and share your own
content, create your own blog, find people in your area, and create and join
public and private communities on topics of common interest, including the GZA
Click here to visit Jewcology!
Featured book: Love God, Heal Earth: 21 Leading Religious Voices Speak Out on
Our Sacred Duty to Protect the Environment, by the Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham

"If we have learned anything from the earth, it's that all life is connected.
Faith has often stood in opposition to this organic vision of life by
emphasizing our differences, seeking to divide rather than unite. 'Love God, Heal Earth' now opens up a vision of the future where we discover that all faith traditions celebrate a connection to creation. Given the enormous environmental challenges we face, we need hope now more than ever. This book delivers that hope by demonstrating how faith communities share a common vision of caring for the earth.
It's about time we focus on what we share in common rather than where we
differ." -- Scott L. Denman

Click here to buy "Love God, Heal Earth: 21 Leading Religious Voices Speak
Out on Our Sacred Duty to Protect the Environment"
This Chanukah, give the gift of membership in the Green Zionist Alliance!

The Green Zionist Alliance is comprised of hundreds of individuals and organizations who are dedicated to the preservation of Israel's environment.

As an alliance, membership and partnership are essential to our mission. It allows us to show the Jewish community how many people truly care about Israel's environment, it provides us with a means of communication within our movement, and it raises much needed funds to allow the organization to operate.

The great work we do is made possible in part through generous donations. All
donations of $18 or more qualify you for individual membership for the current
secular year. Please donate today and become a member!

Return to Top

10. Dvar Torah: We Must be Active To Obtain a Better, Vegan World

The following dvar Torah is by JVNA advisor and rabbinical student David

Please visit his web site ( for more divrei
Torah and other material on Jewish teachings related to veganism.

26 November 2010
Parshat Vayeshev

For this week I am simply posting and building on a dvar Torah by the founder of the rabbinical school that (amirtz Hashem) I will be attending next fall, Yeshivat Chovovei Torah: Parshat Vayeshev.

What Rabbi Avi Weiss describes so succinctly and eloquently is the need for action. By being passive, we do not help the world at all.

Outside of this parsha in which action versus passivity is subtly mentioned in
Joseph's interpretation of his fellow prisoners' dreams there are a quite a few glaring examples throughout all of Torah. In order:

The Flood: God tells Noah to build an ark to save the remnant of humanity and the animals. Why in the world why God need Noah to spend way too much time and energy to build a big boat? He's GOD! He can simply save everyone and everything that needs to be saved on His own!

But He teaches us two lessons: Noah building this big boat give everybody the
opportunity to see what is going on and repent and secondly that human action in required in order to save the planet.

It is only through a partnership with God that we are able to achieve what we

Sdom and Amora: God tells Abraham He will destroy the two cities and Abraham fights to save everyone on account of the righteous (even though he only ends up saving the righteous). Again, multiple lessons: One is that God wants us to be involved in the the saving of the world. God has and is infinite knowledge, He knows there are only Lot and his family to save, but he wants Abraham to be involved.

Secondly, one could say that the cities being saved (theoretically) on account of the righteous could be a metaphor for those who step up and actively perform God's will. By being active a small proportion of people can be responsible for a large amount of change.

Moshe and the Reed Sea: While standing at the sea waiting for God's salvation,
Moshe cries out to God to save them. He responds: "What? You want I should do something mister leader? Take your staff and get busy!!" (liberally translated of course). What do we learn? BE ACTIVE!! You have to step up and get stuff done in order for God to partner up with you.

If I have not made myself clear: PROTEST! LOBBY! ACTIVELY GRASSROOT!! The only way that we can affect real change is by doing something. How do we stop cruelty to animals, abuse of water and land, climate change, etc.? We become Vegan. How do we globally stop these problems? We talk about being Vegan and attempt to spread the word that Veganism is not only a way to help alleviate many of the world's problems but that it also exemplifies many Jewish values and concerns.

The only way to make change happen is if we get up and do something.

May we all take this Shabbat and upcoming holiday of Chanukah (which exemplifies standing up and fighting for what is right) to think about what we can do in our lives (re: vegan or otherwise) to be an active participant with God and not just a passive bystander. Shabbat Shalom!

Return to Top

11. Israel’s Worst Drought in History Continues/Chief Rabbis Call for Special Prayers for Rain

The Israel chief Rabbinate has requested people fast on Monday for rain in

See the letters & Tefilat Geshamim from the Chief Rabbinate on the OU website:

15 Kislev, 5771

Dear Rabbi Eliezer Sheffer - May God protect him and strengthen him:

Wishing you life, peace and all good things,

I request from his eminence to use his connections abroad and to publicize the facts concerning the day of fasting and prayer which will take place, may it be God’s will, on Monday the 22nd of Kislev 5771, due to the severe drought which has befallen us in the Land of Israel many years. We must gather and shout out to the Creator of the universe to have mercy and compassion on his people Israel, and His Mercies are abundant.

May we attach the prayers that will be recited on the day of “Hakhel,” and in addition it should be instructed that anyone who can fast should do so and take upon himself a fast day Mincha prayer on Sunday.

If he cannot fast an entire day, he should at least fast until Chatzot/midday.

The Almighty will not reject our plea, for He does not turn away the prayers
of the many.

The Holy One, Blessed be He, shall have compassion and mercy on our people and on the Land of our Forefathers with salvation and mercy.

Fast Day for Rain Monday

Reported: 14:19 PM - Nov/28/10
Follow Israel news briefs on and

In light of the continuing drought in Israel, Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yonah Metzger have declared Monday as a second day of prayer and repentance, in which Israelis will be asked to fast and hold special prayers for rain. The Chief Rabbis called on everyone who is able to fast on Monday. Individuals who plan to fast should accept the fast upon themselves when praying Mincha on Sunday. The fast will begin at dawn Monday, and end at sunset.

The Chief Rabbis will participate in special prayers at the Kotel on Monday afternoon at 3:30 PM, and they called on those unable to get to the Kotel to hold prayers of repentance in their local synagogues. A similar day of fasting and prayer was held several weeks ago.

Return to Top

** Fair Use Notice **

The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of vegetarian, environmental, nutritional, health, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for educational or research purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal, technical or medical advice.