March 31, 2010

3/8/2010 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Passover and Vegetarianism

2. I Was appointed a Delegate for the Green Zionist Alliance (GZA) to the World Zionist Congress

3. Al Gore Op-Ed in the NY Times re Climate Change

4. Reform Judaism Magazine has Article/Debate Re Eating Meat/Letters in Response

5. Article Analyzes Tactics of Climate Skeptics

6. JVNA Sponsors Great American Meatout Event

7. Areyvut Schedules “Make a Difference Day,” With Theme of Hunger and Poverty

8. Interested in Helping Organize Vegetarian Events in the New York City Area?

9. Famous Rabbi Promotes Vegetarianism

10. Will This Be the “Century of Famine”?

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. Passover and Vegetarianism

Passover begins this year on Monday evening, March 29. As always, along with the other observances, we try to connect the holiday to vegetarianism. So, please see my article “Passover and Vegetarianism” at the holidays section at, and please consider using the points in the article for letters to editors, calls to talk programs and talking points Thanks.

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2. I Was appointed a Delegate for the Green Zionist Alliance (GZA) to the World Zionist Congress

I hope to help propose and promote resolutions re climate change and other environmental threats to Israel.

I have also been asked to serve as liaison to the media, environmentalists, rabbis, etc., in Israel, to get the maximum exposure for our efforts.

The World Zionist Congress is scheduled for June 15 – 17 in Jerusalem.

Suggestions very welcome. Thanks.

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3. Al Gore Op-Ed in the NY Times re Climate Change

We Can’t Wish Away Climate Change

This is a great response to climate change deniers.

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4. Reform Judaism Magazine has Article/Debate Re Eating Meat/Letters in Response

Forwarded message:

The Spring issue of Reform Judaism magazine includes two articles of interest:

Eric H. Yoffie argues for a 20% reduction in red meat consumption among Reform Jews. The link is:

And two rabbies debate "Should WE adopt Dietary Restrictions to Save the Environment?" That link is:

Neither article calls for vegetarian diets, and I - and another vegan I know - have already written letters to the editor.

The magazine can be found at


Letter from Patti Breitman:

Dear Rabbi Yoffie,

Thank you for your article about reducing red meat consumption among Reform Jews. I was disappointed that it didn't go further and call for vegetarian or vegan diets, at least on the Sabbath.

You write about the rabbinic teaching that one does not say a blessing over stolen food (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Berakhot 1:19), yet the milk from cows and goats is stolen from their offspring for whom it is produced and intended by nature's brilliant design. Animals are kept pregnant year after year so they will produce milk. The calves are sold for their meat (veal) while human take the milk for their own consumption. When the adult stops being profitable as her milk production falls, she too is sold for meat. Cows have been known to "scream" for days after their calf is taken from them, and often spend hours pacing frantically looking for their newborns.

Additionally, fish is no longer a healthy choice for humans or the planet.. The toxins in our oceans are most concentrated in fish, and most fish today are grown in confinement with rampant disease, filthy water, and unnatural food. The delicate balance of the oceans' ecosystems is being devastated by our consumption of fish.

While some may think a vegan diet is too challenging, I believe that living in denial of suffering and destruction is even more difficult. As a life long Reform Jew and a vegan for 24 years, I can attest to how easy and delicious it can be to eat a nonviolent diet, even holiday meals, including seders, and Sabbath meals with vegan challah.

Please tell me if you have not yet read Jonathan Safran Foer's new book Eating Animals. I will be happy to send a copy to you.

And already on its way to you is a copy of my new book How to Eat Like a Vegetarian, Even If You Never Want To Be One, which includes recipes for vegan potato latkes and vegan matzoh ball soup.

Please keep the spotlight on dietary choices, Rabbi Yoffie. Environmental concerns are no more important than compassion for animals and human health problems that come from eating (any) animal flesh and dairy products.

With all best wishes,

Patti Breitman

. . .

Fairfax, CA 94930


My letter:

February 28, 2010

Editor, Reform Judaism magazine

Dear Editor,

As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I was pleased to see in the Spring, 2010 issue the article by Rabbi Yoffie urging Jews to Eat Less Meat and the debate between Rabbis Schwartz (no relation) and Librach about the article.

I hope that the URJ will continue the dialog for the following reasons:

* The production and consumption of animal products arguably violate important Jewish teachings on preserving human health, treating animals with compassion, protecting the environment, conserving natural resources and helping hungry people.

* The raising of 60 billion far animals annually worldwide contributes significantly to many environmental problems, including air and water pollution, widening water shortages, rapid species extinction, soil erosion, deforestationa nd desertification.

* At a time when the world is rapidly approaching a climate catastrophe, animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases ((in CO2 equivalents) than all the world’s cars, trucks and other means of transportation combined, according to the UN FAO..

* There is an epidemic of diseases in the Jewish community and other communities today, largely due to the high consumption of meat and other animal products.

I think that URJ would do a great kiddush Hashem by facilitating respectful dialogues in the Jewish community on these and related issues, showing the relevance of our eternal values to current threats.

I would be happy to send one or more complimentary copies of our acclaimed documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World” to anyone associated with URJ who contacts me at The movie can be seen and more information about it can be found at">. My book “Judaism and Vegetarianism” and my over 140 related articles can be read at, where I also have 25 podcasts of my talks and interviews.

I would welcome a respectful dialogue/debate with anyone on “Should Jews be Vegetarians?”

Very truly yours,

Richard H. Schwartz


Letter from Jayn Brotman

I was so sad to read the commentary by Rabbi Cliff Librach that he found it silly for Jews to be stewards of the land and to have compassion for animals. He is also grossly either misinformed, or misinforming, when he touts eating meat as healthy. Rabbi Librach, an others of his ilk, are the reason that for many years I had not been a practicing Jew. And, I am sure that I am not alone.

The animal rights leaders in the world are composed of a high percentage of Jews who understand that "L'Chaim" can be a toast to all beings with whom we share our planet. And, furthermore, that the best way to prevent another Holocaust is by the teaching to our children that no one should be harmed, and that this compassion for all will trickle up.

Dr. Alex Herschaft, the founder and president of FARM (the Farm Animal Reform Movement) is a Holocaust survivor. He is the epitome of understanding that compassion for all does not diminish, but enhances, our compassion for each other.

If it weren't for people like Dr. Hershaft, Debra Wasserman (The Vegetarian Resource Group) and others like Rabbi Frank, who speak out for animals anddocument to the world what a wonderful people we are, I am afraid that Rabbi Librach would've made me ashamed to have been born Jewish.

Jayn Brotman

Cincinnati Ohio

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5. Article Analyzes Tactics of Climate Skeptics
Climate skeptics are recycled critics of controls on tobacco and acid rain

: Jeffrey Sachs 19 February 2010

In the weeks before and after the Copenhagen climate change conference last December, the science of climate change came under harsh attack by critics who contend that climate scientists have deliberately suppressed evidence — and that the science itself is severely flawed. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global group of experts charged with assessing the state of climate science, has been accused of bias.

The global public is disconcerted by these attacks. If experts cannot agree that there is a climate crisis, why should governments spend billions of dollars to address it?

The fact is that the critics — who are few in number but aggressive in their attacks — are deploying tactics that they have honed for more than 25 years. During their long campaign, they have greatly exaggerated scientific disagreements in order to stop action on climate change, with special interests like Exxon Mobil footing the bill.

Many books have recently documented the games played by the climate-change deniers. Merchants of Doubt, a new book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway set for release in mid-2010, will be an authoritative account of their misbehaviour.

The authors show that the same group of mischief-makers, given a platform by the free-market ideologues of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page, has consistently tried to confuse the public and discredit the scientists whose insights are helping to save the world from unintended environmental harm.

Today's campaigners against action on climate change are in many cases backed by the same lobbies, individuals, and organisations that sided with the tobacco industry to discredit the science linking smoking and lung cancer. Later, they fought the scientific evidence that sulphur oxides from coal-fired power plants were causing "acid rain." Then, when it was discovered that certain chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were causing the depletion of ozone in the atmosphere, the same groups launched a nasty campaign to discredit that science, too.

Later still, the group defended the tobacco giants against charges that second-hand smoke causes cancer and other diseases. And then, starting mainly in the 1980s, this same group took on the battle against climate change.

What is amazing is that, although these attacks on science have been wrong for 30 years, they still sow doubts about established facts. The truth is that there is big money backing the climate-change deniers, whether it is companies that don't want to pay the extra costs of regulation, or free-market ideologues opposed to any government controls.

The latest round of attacks involves two episodes. The first was the hacking of a climate-change research centre in England. The emails that were stolen suggested a lack of forthrightness in the presentation of some climate data. Whatever the details of this specific case, the studies in question represent a tiny fraction of the overwhelming scientific evidence that points to the reality and urgency of man-made climate change.

The second issue was a blatant error concerning glaciers that appeared in a major IPCC report. Here it should be understood that the IPCC issues thousands of pages of text. There are, no doubt, errors in those pages. But errors in the midst of a vast and complex report by the IPCC point to the inevitability of human shortcomings, not to any fundamental flaws in climate science.

When the emails and the IPCC error were brought to light, editorial writers at The Wall Street Journal launched a vicious campaign describing climate science as a hoax and a conspiracy. They claimed that scientists were fabricating evidence in order to obtain government research grants — a ludicrous accusation, I thought at the time, given that the scientists under attack have devoted their lives to finding the truth, and have certainly not become rich relative to their peers in finance and business.

But then I recalled that this line of attack — charging a scientific conspiracy to drum up "business" for science — was almost identical to that used by The Wall Street Journal and others in the past, when they fought controls on tobacco, acid rain, ozone depletion, second-hand smoke, and other dangerous pollutants. In other words, their arguments were systematic and contrived, not at all original to the circumstances.

We are witnessing a predictable process by ideologues and right-wing think tanks and publications to discredit the scientific process. Their arguments have been repeatedly disproved for 30 years — time after time — but their aggressive methods of public propaganda succeed in causing delay and confusion.

Climate change science is a wondrous intellectual activity. Great scientific minds have learned over the course of many decades to "read" the Earth's history, in order to understand how the climate system works. They have deployed brilliant physics, biology, and instrumentation (such as satellites reading detailed features of the Earth's systems) in order to advance our understanding.

And the message is clear: large-scale use of oil, coal, and gas is threatening the biology and chemistry of the planet. We are fuelling dangerous changes in Earth's climate and ocean chemistry, giving rise to extreme storms, droughts, and other hazards that will damage the food supply and the quality of life of the planet.

The IPCC and the climate scientists are telling us a crucial message. We need urgently to transform our energy, transport, food, industrial, and construction systems to reduce the dangerous human impact on the climate. It is our responsibility to listen, to understand the message, and then to act.

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6. JVNA Sponsors Great American Meatout Event

Many thanks to JVNA advisor and JVNA website co-coordinator Maida Genser for arranging this event and sending the announcement below. I hope others on this list will help arrange similar events. We will be happy to send background material, including complimentary DVDs of our acclaimed documentary “A Sacred Duty” to hand out.

South Florida is once again going to participate in the F.A.R.M Great American Meatout. The event will be March 21, from 10 Am - 5 Pm at the **new** Power Bazaar and Marketplace, 8399 N University Dr, Tamarac, FL 33321

Admission to the GAM is FREE. This event is a public outreach to introduce the general population to vegetarianism, including free literature, free food sampling, vendors and exhibits.

The sponsoring organization for our event is JVNA, Jewish Vegetarians of North America.


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7. Areyvut Schedules “Make a Difference Day,” With Theme of Hunger and Poverty

I hope that all is well with you. I appreciate your interest in “Make a Difference” Day and want to remind you that this year’s theme is Hunger and Poverty and the program is scheduled for next weekend. You have not yet registered a project and I want to invite you to do so As always, please feel free to schedule a project or event at another time if that works better for you. The educational materials contain project ideas and resources p. 16-31 that can help you find a suitable project to meet your needs and the planning unit on p. 6-15 is an excellent resource for planning a project. Both the project ideas and planning unit can be used throughout the year. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions. Thanks for your consideration and have a great day.

Daniel Rothner
Founder & Director
Areyvut, Inc.

147 South Washington Avenue
Bergenfield, NJ 07621
P: 201-244-6702
F: 201-338-2427

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8. Interested in Helping Organize Vegetarian Events in the New York City Area?

Forwarded message from vegetarian activist Ginger Singer:

Hi Richard,

It was great speaking with you on the phone and I understand that you are winding down some of your activities and concentrating on others. (No one can do everything.)

One of the essential elements in winning "converts" to a vegan lifestyle is to afford those potentially interested in this lifestyle change with healthy and deliciously satisfying food.

I think if we had either a facility (JCC or?) or private kosher home in the nyc area who would donate their space for an afternoon or evening where interested parties could come and experience both "food for thought" AND a delicious meal, the idea might catch on and we would "fuel" the movement.

If the right situation presented itself, I would be willing to volunteer to teach/lecture on vegan nutrition and to help prepare an incredible meal. Of course I might need others to volunteer in the preparation of the food.

Twenty-two years ago I saw the same thing was needed in Jerusalem, when I attended a lecture that Rabbi David Rosen gave which was followed by a meal consisting of Tivol Hot Dogs, mustard and cans of coca cola.

I then volunteered and personally cooked a meal (it took five days ) for over 100 people who attended, including Shar Yeshuv Cohen and Rabbi Rosen. It was well received and their were al ot of smiling happy faces:)

Our message resonates with truth and for it to stick, we should educate and feed these hungry souls with all that is required to help them make an easy transition to a healthier lifestyle on many levels.

Perhaps you can propose this idea in one of your upcoming newsletters.

My contact information is as follows:

Ginger Singer

Off: 845-434-0450


Best Wishes & Blessings,


P.S. Ron sends his best

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9. Famous Rabbi Promotes Vegetarianism

Forwarded article:

March 5, 2010 | 9:08 am

Friday the Rabbi Eats Tofu

Posted by Rob Eshman Blog: Foodism

In his “Off the Pulpit” e-mail column today, Rabbi David Wolpe declares his long-time vegetarianism. Rabbi Wolpe is one of the leading rabbis in the country—an accomplished author and speaker who leads one of the major Conservative congregation in the west, Sinai Temple. In the past we’ve run stories on hos he single-handedly, using his considerable rhetorical gifts, swayed his congregation to give up their gas hogs for Priuses, or donate to help Israel, or any number of other worthy causes. But has he ever tried to ween them off animal flesh? Not that I know of. Sinai Temple is a big, meaty shul. About a third of the congregants are Persian Jews, and I suspect there’s not lot of veggies in the lot. A Persian meal may be tricked out with a thousand pilafs and adorned with bowls of fruits and nuts and haystacks of fresh herbs, but the heart of the exercise is meat: stews, kebab and, as the community has grown wealthier and more Americanized, hunks of roasts. This is a people who loves their meat. They would follow their beloved rabbi anywhere — he has proven that — but even he knows how.

That has to be challenging, because not eating animals is very much part of his heart and soul. As he writes:

I have not eaten chicken or meat for decades. I readily acknowledge that Judaism does not ask this of me. Kashrut is not vegetarianism. But kashrut is a reminder of Judaism’s concern with animal suffering.

The Talmud tells the story of a frightened calf on its way to slaughter breaking free to hide under the robes of Rabbi Judah Hanasi, one of the greatest of the Talmudic Rabbis. Rabbi Judah Hanasi pushes the calf away declaring, “Go — for this purpose you were created.” This insensitivity was punished, the Talmud relates, and the rabbi later repented. (B.M. 85a)

Tza’ar Ba’alei chayim, acknowledging and preventing the suffering of living creatures, is an important Jewish principle. Nature may be “red in tooth and claw,” but we are both part of nature and commanded to rise above it. For human beings, instinct is the beginning of the story, not its culmination. To make those in our power suffer, whether people or animals, is to darken our own souls.

Many biblical heroes are shepherds; animals too must rest on the Sabbath (Ex. 20:20) and the bible legislates many other protections for animals. We are the custodians of creation. Our first responsibility is to be kind.


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10. Will This Be the “Century of Famine”?

The Century of Famine

By Peter Goodchild

Humanity has struggled to survive through the millennia in terms of balancing population size with food supply. The same is true now, but population numbers have been soaring for over a century. The limiting factor has been hidden, but this factor -- oil and natural gas, or petroleum -- is close to or beyond its peak extraction. Without ample, free-flowing petroleum, it will not be possible to support a population of several billion for long.

Famine caused by petroleum supply failure alone will result in about 2.5 billion above-normal deaths before the year 2050; lost and averted births will amount to roughly an equal number.

In terms of its effects on daily human life, the most significant aspect of fossil-fuel depletion will be the lack of food. “Peak oil” is basically “peak food.” Modern agriculture is highly dependent on fossil fuels for fertilizers (the Haber‑Bosch process combines natural gas with atmospheric nitrogen to produce nitrogen fertilizer), pesticides, and the operation of machines for irrigation, harvesting, processing, and transportation.

Without fossil fuels, modern methods of food production will disappear, and crop yields will be far less than at present. Crop yields are far lower in societies that do not have fossil fuels or modern machinery. We should therefore have no illusions that several billion humans can be fed by “organic gardening” or anything else of that nature.

The Green Revolution involved, among other things, the development of higher yielding crops. These new varieties, however, could be grown only with large inputs of fertilizer and pesticides, all of which required fossil fuels. In essence, the Green Revolution was little more than the invention of a way to turn petroleum into food.

Over the next few decades, therefore, there will be famine on a scale many times larger than ever before in human history. It is possible, of course, that warfare and plague will take their toll to a large extent before famine claims its victims. The distinctions, in any case, can never be absolute: often “war + drought = famine”, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, but there are several other combinations of factors.
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To read the complete article go to

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