November 11, 2010

11/08/2010 JVNA Online Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

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

1. Chanukah and Vegetarianism

2. Israel and the Palestine Authority Declare War … Against Climate Change

3. Responding to the Midterm U.S. Election Results Re Climate Change and Other
Environmental Issues

3a. Climate Scientists Plan to Challenge Climate Deniers

4. Working With “Republicans for Environmental Protection”

5. Efforts to Get the Connections Between Animal-Based Agriculture and Climate Change Onto the World’s Agenda

6. Links to Many Hebrew and English Animal Rights Web Sites

7. Conservative Movement Promoting Greener Jewish Responses

8. Seeking Volunteers/Getting Our Messages Out More Effectively

9. Israeli University-Based Environmental Group to Extend Its Activities to the Broader Israeli Community

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. Chanukah and Vegetarianism

With Chanukah beginning on Wednesday evening, December 1 this year, I plan to send out my article “Chanukah and Vegetarianism” widely.

Please take a look at the article in the holidays section at and let me know if you have any suggestions for improvements. Please feel free to forward the article to others who might be interested. And please consider using that article as a basis of a letter to the editor, a call to a talk show and for talking points with your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Thanks.

A sample letter is below:

Dear Editor:

I hope that Jews will enhance their celebrations of the beautiful and spiritually meaningful holiday of Chanukah this year by making it a time to begin applying Judaism's highest moral values and teachings in response to climate change and other current environmental crises. One way to do this is by moving toward a vegetarian diet.

Chanukah commemorates the miracle of the oil that was enough for only one day, but miraculously lasted for eight days. A switch to vegetarianism on the part of the world's people could result in another great miracle: the end of the scandal of world hunger, which results in the death of an estimated 20 million people annually, while over a third of the world's grain is fed to
animals destined for slaughter.

The miracle of the oil brings the use of fuel and other resources into focus, and vegetarian diets make resources go much further, since far less water, fuel, land, pesticides, fertilizer, and other agricultural resources are required for plant-based diets than for animal-centered diets. Besides moving our imperiled planet to a more sustainable path, a switch toward vegetarian diets would greatly benefit the health of individuals and would sharply reduce the present mistreatment of billions of farmed animals. It would also help revitalize Judaism by showing the relevance of our eternal values to current critical issues.

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2. Israel and the Palestine Authority Declare War … Against Climate Change

Israel and the Palestine Authority Declare War … Against Climate Change

[Great to see this example of cooperation.]

ENN Environmental News Network

From: Susan Kraemer, Green Prophet
Published October 27, 2010 09:25 AM

Many thanks to author and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for forwarding this link to us.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority are among 15 Mediterranean nations who have just signed a historic agreement to work together to combat the effects of climate change, one month ahead of the next United Nations conference on climate change, meeting at Cancun in November.

The Mediterranean Climate Change Initiative was inaugurated by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to develop common Mediterranean positions on climate change and was signed by the prime ministers or top environmental officials of 15 countries who agree that climate change threatens their way of life as peoples of the Mediterranean.

Most remarkable of all, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed on to the initiative. Signatories included a wide assortment of countries: EU members like France, Spain, Italy, and Greece; Eastern European countries like Turkey, Croatia, Romania and Macedonia, and Middle Eastern countries, like Libya, Syria and Egypt. The declaration called for contributing to the emergence of low carbon,
resource efficient and climate resilient economies.

Israel’s president had committed the nation to reduce carbon emissions 20% by 2020 at Copenhagen last year. To achieve the reduction in carbon, Israel’s state-owned electricity company the IEC (Israel Electric Corporation) which supplies nearly all of the electricity for both states, would need to supply a higher percentage of the total electricity (about 12,000 megawatts) that currently powers the two tiny states – with clean energy.

A few solar CSP, solar PV and wind farms would make an enormous reduction quickly, given that the total electricity used is relatively small. Both Israel and Palestine are acutely aware of their vulnerability to climate change, which is expected to make water resources even more scarce for what is already the most water-stressed highly populated area in the world.

The region faces a potential 4 degree rise in average temperatures and a 70% drop in precipitation. Sea level rise is expected to further contaminate nearby aquifers such as the coastal aquifer of Gaza that provides water to 1.5 million Palestinians. The annual decrease in rainfall is already raising farm prices for fruits and vegetables, and creating a two-tiered class system for water: those who can afford to pay, and those who can’t.

One diplomat at the meeting said “It is a new way of doing diplomacy because all these countries have a lot of problems to deal with — economic crises, political instability and other issues — and the conflicts between them. However, they sat around the same table realizing that they all face the same threat to their culture and their way of life.”

To a US observer like me, it seems remarkable that all of these nations, let alone Israel and Palestine can agree on something that has become so contentious here in the United States that one entire party here (the Republicans) not only will not agree to any reductions in fossil fuel dependence to address the catastrophic climate destabilization problems created – but won’t even admit that there is any problem to address.

So congratulations to Israel and Palestine on your declaration of war.

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3. Responding to the Midterm U.S. Election Results Re Climate Change and Other Environmental Issues

Two forwarded articles below. The first considers the outlook for climate-related actions in the U.S. congress, and the second one outlines a plan of action to get climate change onto the nation’s agenda. Comments and suggestions welcome as always. Thanks.

Outlook for Action on Climate Change and other Environmental Issues in the New Congress Not Good

Following last night’s election, over 100 freshmen Republicans will take their seats in the 112th Congress. These GOPers come from disparate backgrounds, but they are united by their adherence to the extreme wing of conservative ideology.

A new ThinkProgress investigation has found that the incoming GOP freshman class is rife with legislators who not only oppose climate change legislation, but deny that manmade global warming even exists. They are pushing not just to end birthright citizenship, but also demand that the United States reduce the number of legal immigrants.

Here is a snapshot of the GOP Class of 2010’s extremism:

- 50% deny the existence of manmade climate change
- 86% are opposed
to any climate change legislation that increases government revenue


Future Hope column, November 7, 2010

What Now?

By Ted Glick

"We need to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people, combined with thousands participating in strategic nonviolent civil disobedience, behind a message and a program that is popular, not narrow, and which targets the oil and coal companies, the for-profit health care industry, the too-big-to-fail greedy and criminal bankers, the military-industrial complex--in short, the powerful monied interests.
. ."

* * * * * *

The results of the November 2 elections, overall, were very sobering. It wasn't just the Tea Party and Republican victories in House and Senate seats but their striking successes in gubernatorial and state house and senate races. One analysis that I saw said that, after the redrawing of electoral district boundaries over the next two years by much more heavily Republican state governments, the Democrats will need to win the equivalent of 15-20 more seats to retake the House than is true right now.

Of course, the Democrats had overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress and control of the White House for two years, and there were serious flaws in much of what they produced and some things that weren't accomplished at all, like decent climate legislation, action to match the need as far as unemployment and mortgage foreclosures, immigrant rights legislation, serious action against criminal bankers, a reduction of the military budget and labor law reform.

Is it too much to hope that the election results will lead many, many more progressives to realize that it's time--it's past time--to stop expecting that the Democratic Party is going to provide the solutions we need? Or, at least, that the Dems will ever stand up to the corporate powers-that-be without strong and visible, massive grassroots pressure? Will a critical mass of us see and act upon the fact that the economic/climate/
social/political catastrophes that we are in and facing will never be solved absent a powerful, unified, independent, visible, grassroots-based, progressive political movement?

In a Future Hope column many years ago I wrote about what I saw as the three absolute prerequisites if we were to have any hope of transformative change in the USA.

One is the existence of thousands and thousands of community-based and workplace-based organizations all over the country. These organizations would be--are being--led by and accountable to and take action on the key issues of low-income, working-class, disenfranchised and/or decent people in all kinds of communities and workplaces.

Second, we need something similar to, with some key differences, the Rainbow Coalition movement of the 1980’s, a "third force" alternative to the Democrats and Republicans which supports candidates for office who are part of and connected to the various social and popular movements of the people. One difference is that it has to be more independent, more consciously involve third party supporters as well as progressive Democrats. Another is that it can't be built around the personal charisma of one person. It needs a leadership, not just a leader.

Third, we need something like what we saw in this country, and the world, from 1999 to 2001 with the global justice movement that challenged the World Trade Organization, the IMF, the World Bank and similar institutions. Beginning in the USA in Seattle, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in the streets as part of legal marches and as part of mass civil disobedience actions, mainly nonviolent, over and over again during this time. It was still a rising force when the 9/11/2001 Al Qaeda attacks stopped it and diverted much of its energy into the Iraq anti-war movement.

My sense of what is the priority task, not the only one but the priority, following the elections is to consciously forge a broad progressive alliance to plan for and organize a massive "street heat" set of actions in D.C. and elsewhere in 2011, possibly in the spring but no later than the early fall.

We need to shift the political dynamic in the country. This is what the Tea Party--they were then the "tea baggers"--did with their September 12th, 2009 demonstration at the U.S. Capitol.

We need to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people, combined with thousands participating in strategic nonviolent civil disobedience, united behind a message and a program that is popular, not narrow, and which targets the oil and coal companies, the for-profit health care industry, the too-big-to-fail greedy and criminal bankers, the war profiteers--in short, the powerful monied interests who have hijacked our democracy and are pulling the strings behind the Tea Party, the Republican Party and powerful sections of the Democratic Party.

That's what I see as the most important thing to be done right now.

I welcome constructive criticisms and response.

Ted Glick's past writings and other information can be found at

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3a. Climate Scientists Plan to Challenge Climate Deniers

Scientists Plan to Challenge Climate Deniers

Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times November 8, 2010

Intro: "The American Geophysical Union plans to announce Monday that 700 researchers have agreed to speak out on the issue. The effort is a pushback against congressional conservatives who have vowed to kill regulations on greenhouse-gas emissions."


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4. Working With “Republicans for Environmental Protection”

While, as indicated before, almost all Republican politicians seem to be in denial about climate change, there is a wonderful group “Republicans for Environmental Protection” that is promoting positive responses to climate change and other environmental threats. I have been in touch with their dedicated president, urging him to issue a statement and/or take some other action to help get climate change onto the midterm electoral agenda. He is sympathetic and supportive, but so far has not been able to make major progress in getting Republican politicians to support legislation to combat climate change.. Please visit their web site

Then please contact their president (Rob Sisson:; commend him and REP for their environmental positions, and urge him to help get climate change to be an issue for the next congress. This has the potential of making a major difference, since so many Republicans are in denial on what should be a major issue.

Some of REP’s very good material on climate change and other environmental issues can be found at the following web sites: (God’s Climate Plan)

Their website has hundreds of pieces, published all around the country. Below is the link to an article about the denial of Republican politicians about climate change:

Republican Candidates in Denial About Climate Change

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5. Efforts to Get the Connections Between Animal-Based Agriculture and Climate
Change Onto the World’s Agenda

In addition to being president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America, I am also director of “Veg Climate Alliance.” In that position, as the message below indicates, I am working with other veg and animal rights groups to try to increase awareness worldwide of the major contribution of animal-based agriculture to climate change. Please help spread the word about this and also please consider organizing an event, as suggested in the message below.


Green Your Plate, Green Your Planet- Call To Action

Please join the Veg Climate Alliance, In Defense of Animals, Farm Animal Rights Movement, A Well-Fed World, and AnimaNaturalis, an unprecedented coalition of vegetarian and animal rights groups, for the first ever Global Grassroots Action to draw attention to the connection of animal agriculture to climate change.

This call to action coincides with the U.N. Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico, November 29 – December 10, 2010.

Join the Action In Your City!

We are encouraging activists to take action during this period by publicly reading our Declaration on Meat Consumption and Climate Change. (

All you need to do is go to a symbolic public location, such as a capital building, courthouse, or office of a government environmental agency with the declaration in hand. Read the declaration through a bullhorn or microphone for the public to hear, and make sure to take pictures and/or video!

The coalition will provide you with media tips, additional event ideas, leafleting materials, and our declaration to read when you register your event by emailing The international day of action is December 4th, 2010, and this is the ideal day to hold your event (however, any time between Nov. 29 and Dec. 10, 2010 will work). We plan to have dozens of events all over the world. You can be part of this empowering grassroots action to help move our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

With irreversible climate disruption becoming more of a reality every day, the need to push for replacing livestock products with more sustainable alternatives is essential for all life on Earth. Numerous experts from UN agencies have assessed the livestock sector as being responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector.

Your action will help ensure that policies for reducing livestock are included in official discussions at Cancun!

Pressed for Time? You Can Still Help!

The coalition will be supporting activities and activists in Cancun during the UN Climate Conference, including demonstrations, presentations, artistic performances and advertisements. Please support our efforts with a generous donation. (

If you are interested in organizing an event, please contact Hope Bohanec, or 415-448-0058. Please forward this message to others who might be interested in organizing an event. Thanks!

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6. Links to Many Hebrew and English Animal Rights Web Sites

Thanks to author, professor and JVNA advisor Dan Brook for sending us this link.

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7. Conservative Movement Promoting Greener Jewish Responses

Forwarded article:

Conservative movement launches ‘green’ initiative November 2, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) -- The Conservative movement has launched a movement-wide
environmental initiative. Called the Sustainable Synagogues Initiative, the project seeks to provide resources to encourage Conservative institutions to adopt “green” policies.

The initiative is a joint project of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which have joined the interfaith environmental coalition GreenFaith in what the latter’s leadership calls “the most comprehensive, denomination-wide effort on the environment we’ve ever seen.”

The initiative will unfold over three years, beginning in December with the release of the first resource focusing on energy conservation and renewable energy. Two free resources will be issued each year to help congregations and households address environmental concerns.

Materials will be provided to help congregations incorporate environmental practices into their daily functioning and educational curricula, as well as giving tips to individuals to use at home.

Later this fall, a yearlong webinar hosted by the Jewish National Fund will teach synagogues about water and energy conservation. A select number of Conservative synagogues and leaders will be offered scholarships to the GreenFaith Certification and Fellowship program, a multi-faith religious-
environmental education and training program.

The Sustainable Synagogues Initiative grew out of conversations between Rabbi Charles Simon of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs and Rabbi Lawrence Troster of GreenFaith in Israel in 2008.

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8. Seeking Volunteers/Getting Our Messages Out More Effectively

As I have often stated, we have truth, morality, justice and other positive values on our side, but we do not have the resources we need to get our messages out as much as we would like. We are willing to engage in respectful dialogues on “Should Jews Be Vegetarians?” but the establishment continues to duck the issues. And, with the increasing reports about climate-related events and about connections of animal-based diets to climate change, it is more and more important that people realize that a major shift to vegetarianism is essential to help shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

So, please help spread the Jewish and general vegetarian messages as much as you can.

· Make people aware of the many articles and other material at the JVNA web site, including my over 140 articles and 25 podcasts of my talks and interviews at
· Inform people that our acclaimed, award-winning documentary “Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the world” can be seen at If possible arrange for a showing of the documentary.
· Write letters to editors and call in to talk shows.
· Speak to your friends, neighbors, family, co-workers and others.

In addition, we could use volunteers to help spread our message. What would be especially valuable would be to compile email lists of Jewish publications, rabbis, synagogues, Jewish community centers and Jewish and health-related blogs. If you can help with this, please let me know. Many thanks.

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9. Israeli University-Based Environmental Group to Extend Its Activities to the Broader Israeli Community

Message from Green Course Director Gil Ya’acov:

Dear Friends,
I hope everything is well with you. We have some important news to tell you, which relates to our strategic direction, and though these decisions have not been fully formalized, I thought that, as one of our supporters, it is important to bring you up to speed.

In the past few years Green Course has emerged as Israel's leading platform for environmental activism, with thousands of student-volunteers raising their voices in campuses throughout the country. Alongside that, however, we have experienced a tremendous rise in non-campus interest in activism, among members of the general public engaging in our campus-initiated activities.

This trend provided the opportunity for us to better understand the implications and opportunities of the rise of Israeli environmental awareness, and so we began an intense organizational evaluation and re-thinking process, involving all levels of the organization: student chapter directors, board members and staff, as well as external consultants.? Our goal was to reevaluate Green Course's orientation, in order to ensure maximum impact.

Our discussions centered around 2 major changes that have occurred in Israeli society in recent years:?

1. A significant increase in environmental awareness among the general public. This has been reflected not only in the substantial increase in the number of non-students contacting Green Course out of a desire to promote environmental issues, but also in an increase in public discussion and published “green” news items in the media. In our eyes, this rise in awareness holds great potential in as long as it is translated into meaningful, proactive, public pressure on decision makers.

2. Decision makers and various leading corporations, on the other hand – both on the national and local levels – speak often of, or even commit to, “green”
issues, though they all too often leave these issues without following through with their commitments in actuality.? These undeniable trends have led us to conclude that there is a substantial need to expand Green Course's activities beyond the campuses and into the general public. To that end, Green Course has designated the next year as a “transition period” to change our focus from a campus-only orientation, to a student-led public movement.

In no way does this enlarged focus mean that we will lose sight of our campus roots. Rather, Green Course aims to leverage its outreach and continue nourishing students as the next generation of environmental leaders in Israel.

In parallel, however, we have decided that over the next year, we will be actively inviting the public to be involved in our campaigns. Our goal is to provide an effective framework for the wider public to increase public pressure on decision makers and bring about real change pertaining to issues of social-environmental concern.

We believe that the conditions for this change are ideal for a number of reasons: First, Green Course is already positioned and recognized as the leading environmental activist organization in Israel, and many of our current activities already receive public support.? Secondly, Green Course’s unique national outreach enables us leverage our presence in cities where other environmental organizations are weak – for example in Sderot and Rehovot.

On the practical level, in addition to our target population, these changes are expected to be expressed in an organizational shift to geographically based Chapters in selected areas. In turning to the public, we have also decided to begin with our close circle – by re-engaging our alumni. As many of them today are into their careers and family lives, they usually are not prone to volunteer, but can provide a significant potential boost to our organizational capacity by providing other resources.

One of the first steps we have taken in this direction has been to change our title from "Green Course – Students for the Environment" to "Green Course -
Leading Activism for the Environment".

I look forward to sharing with you more on this soon, and to inform you on how all this is impacting our leadership training program and campaigns. In the meantime, I am eager to hear your thoughts and insights about our directions.

Please feel free to contact me at
Looking forward to a meaningful and impactful year,

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