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

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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

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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?

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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

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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:

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

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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.

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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

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

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

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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

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11. Source for Much Environmental Material About Israel

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