December 19, 2010

12/19/2010 JVNA Online Newsletter

01/01/2010 JVNA Online Newsletter
Shalom everyone,

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

1. Using Tu B’Shvat To Get Environmental and Vegetarian Issues Onto the Jewish Agenda/Making Tu B’Shvat Into a “Jewish Earth Day”

2. Wonderful New Web Site for Jewish Environmental Teachings and Activism Established

3. Valuable Material in English at the Israeli Group “Anonymous” Web Site

4. Excellent New Article on Judaism and Vegetarianism by an Israeli Rabbi

5. “A Sacred Duty” Producer Lionel Friedberg Honored in Cancun During the U.N. Climate Conference

6. Chili con Carnivore

7. “Peace on Earth” While Billions of Farmed Animals Are Cruelly Treated Each Year And … ?

8. Update on the Fur Issue in Israel

9. Big Anti-Fur Demonstration in Israel on Fur-Free Friday

10. Help Sought to Improve New Vegetarian-Related Web Site

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. Using Tu B’Shvat To Get Environmental and Vegetarian Issues Onto the Jewish Agenda/Making Tu B’Shvat Into a “Jewish Earth Day”

With Israel experiencing her worst drought, now in its 7th year, probably the warmest year in her history, and the after effects of the worst forest fire in her history, with the relative lack of success of the just-completed UN climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, and with apparently little chance the U.S. congress will soon pass meaningful energy legislation, it seems an ideal time to use Tu B'Shvat, the "birthday of the trees" as a Jewish Earth Day, a chance to try to begin making environmental stewardship a major priority in the Jewish community.

Suggestions very welcome.

My article about Tu B'Shvat is below.

Please feel free to share it.

Suggestions for improvements very welcome.

Many thanks, Richard

= = =

Richard H. Schwartz

One of the highlights of the Passover seder is the recitation of the four questions, which consider how the night of Passover differs from all the other nights of the year. Similar questions are appropriate for Tu B’Shvat, which starts on Wednesday evening, January 19, this year, because of the many ways that this holiday differs from Passover and all other nights of the year.

While four cups of red wine (or grape juice) are drunk at the Passover seder, the four cups drunk at the Tu B’shavat seder vary in color from white to pink to ruby to red.

While Passover is a holiday of springtime, Tu B’Shvat considers the changing seasons from winter to autumn, as symbolized by the changing colors of the wine or grape juice, to remind us of God’s promise of renewal and rebirth.

While Passover commemorates the redemption of the Israelites, Tu B’Shvat considers the redemption of humanity, as the kabbalists of Safed who inaugurated the Tu B’Shvat seder regarded the eating of the many fruits with appropriate blessings and kavannah (intentions) on Tu B’Shvat as a tikkun (repair) for the original sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

While other Jewish holidays honor or commemorate events and people, Tu B’Shvat honors trees, fruits, and other aspects of nature.

While people generally eat whatever fruits are in season, on Tu B’Shvat people try to eat fruits from Israel, especially fruits mentioned in the Torah.

While people generally take the environment for granted, on Tu B’Shvat there is an emphasis on the proper stewardship of the environment and related Jewish teachings.

While people do not generally think about trees in the winter, there is much interest in trees on Tu B’Shvat, although the spring is still months away.

While people generally think of Israel as the land of the Bible, as the Jewish people’s ancestral home, and as the modern Jewish homeland, on Tu B’Shvat people think of Israel in terms of its orchards, vineyards, and olive groves.

While people generally think of fruit as something to be purchased at a supermarket or produce store, on Tu B’Shvat people think of fruit as tokens of God’s kindness.

While people generally try to approach God through prayer, meditation, and study, on Tu B’Shvat people try to reach God by eating fruit, reciting blessings with the proper intensions, and by considering the wonders of God’s creation.

While many people eat all kinds of food including meat and dairy products during most Jewish holidays and on most other days, the Tu B'Shvat Seder in which fruits and nuts are eaten, along with the singing of songs and the recitation of Biblical verses related to trees and fruits, is the only sacred meal where only vegetarian, actually vegan, foods are eaten as part of the ritual.

While people generally look on the onset of a new year as a time to assess how they have been doing and to consider their hopes for the new year, Tu B’Shvat is the New Year for Trees, when the fate of trees is decided.

While most Jewish holidays have a fixed focus, Tu B’Shvat has changed over the years from a holiday that initially marked the division of the year for tithing purposes to one in which successively the eating of fruits, then the planting of trees in Israel, and most recently responses to modern environmental crises have became major parts of the holiday.

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach once quipped that the most important Jewish holidays are the ones that are least celebrated. While there has been increasing interest in Tu B’Shvat recently, this holiday that is so rich in symbolism and important messages for today is still not considered to any great extent by most Jews. Let us hope that this will soon change and that an increased emphasis on Tu B’Shvat and its important lessons will help revitalize Judaism and help shift our precious, but imperiled, planet to a sustainable path.

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2. Wonderful New Web Site for Jewish Environmental Teachings and Activism Established

Forwarded article: — new online home for Jewish environmentalists

by amanda pazornik

Two weeks ago, Emily Freed of Santa Cruz helped launch, a comprehensive website that enables Jewish environmental activists around the world to network and swap materials.

The site’s early success still hasn’t sunk in.

“It’s funny,” said Freed, a Jewish farmer who grows organic herbs. “I don’t know if I’ve taken the time to celebrate the accomplishment. I’m still in wonderment that the site actually exists after waiting so long for a project like this.”

Freed, 34, is a founding member of, a virtual learning community for educators, farmers, gardeners and others, spearheaded by Evonne Marzouk, 34, of Silver Spring, Md.

She, along with Freed and 17 other Jewish environmental activists, collaborated on the effort during a 2008 conference in Israel for young Jewish innovators.

“It’s really exciting to be part of an international project,” said Freed, an assistant production manager at Jacobs Farm in Santa Cruz County. “We’ve been wanting a website like this for many, many years. I feel pretty lucky to have the chance to help create it.” is attracting two different users to its site: proactive and casual.

There are the activists who Marzouk says are “really into Judaism and the environment,” such as those who organize events at their synagogue or school, or rely on resources to create campaigns and blogs.

And there are the casual visitors who “may not necessarily be so into the environment,” Marzouk notes, but still want to peruse the site’s marketplace of ideas. She offered the example of a rabbi who wants to give a sermon on an environmental topic. has daily blog posts on several topics, from vegetarianism and agriculture, to recycling and humane treatment of animals. Torah teachings with an environmental message, in addition to resources from synagogue projects, awareness activities and art lessons, populate the site.

“There is something for everyone,” said Freed, who was involved in the early planning stages of the site before it went live. “We put a lot of work into making Jewcology exciting and fresh so people come back.”

Members of the team live all over the world — from San Francisco to New York to Miami, from Shanghai, China, to Santiago, Chile.

The eclectic group met through ROI, a global community of young Jewish leaders created in 2006 to cultivate an international network of innovative and creative individuals. They convene at the annual ROI Global Summit in Israel, which is where the idea for was envisioned.

Two years ago Marzouk attended the summit, where it was announced that a $50,000 grant would be available to turn the 100 or so participants’ dreams into reality. Activists took on projects for social justice, education, technology and Israel advocacy.

Marzouk’s interest in Jewish environmentalism prompted her and 18 like-minded ROI members to think about what the movement needed most. The answer, they felt, was an all-inclusive website for users looking to help create, sustain and further the development of the global Jewish environmental network.

“We realized there was no common place to look for resources,” Marzouk said. “To find materials, you would have to search so many websites or miss them completely. If you were teaching a class and had useful materials, there was no way to share with the community.”

Earlier this year, she received a call from ROI saying she won the grant.

The first day went live, it got 60 hits. That number more than doubled after the site’s initial week. Marzouk said she receives e-mails daily from people wanting to use the site as a place to promote their environmental projects.

With each request, Marzouk is reminded of her website’s early success and its potential for expansion, both in content and viewers.

“A robust Jewish environmental movement has taken ownership of the site,” she said. “We’re hoping to strengthen this effort and engage a diverse, multigenerational group of activists who can educate the Jewish community about our responsibility to protect the environment.”


Posted by Richard Schwartz
12/10/2010 at 06:50 AM:

Kudos to everyone involved in setting up Jewcology. It is especially needed today as the world is rapidly heading toward an unprecedented climate catastrophe.

Unfortunately, Israel is now like the canary in the coal mine in providing a wake up call to the world to climate threats. She is i the 7th year of the worst drought in her history, is on track to have the warmest year of her history and is now trying to recover from the worst drought in her history.

I hope Jewcology will be a means to help Jews play ur historic role as a light unto the nations, and help lead efforts to awaken the world to the need for major changes to avoid the coming climate crisis.

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3. Valuable Material in English at the Israeli Group “Anonymous” Web Site

They plan to post some of my articles that are at at there web site.

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4. Excellent New Article on Judaism and Vegetarianism by an Israeli Rabbi

I highly recommend this article by Israeli Rabbi Simchah Roth. It is very comprehensive and challenging to the Jewish establishment.

Please feel free to pass the word about it.

Rabbi Roth appears in our documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World.”

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5. “A Sacred Duty” Producer Lionel Friedberg Honored in Cancun During the U.N. Climate Conference

Forwarded message from multi-award-winning producer, director, writer and cinematographer Lionel Friedberg, producer of “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal the World”:

Hi Richard,

I hope this finds you well.

I have just returned from Cancun, Mexico where the United Nations Conferenceon Global Climate Change -- or COP-16 -- is taking place. While there I MC'd a big show put on by Supreme Master Television honoring a bunch of environmental activists. They called them 'Green Heroes.' Totally unknown to me one of the recipients of the award was me for my environmentalism, support of animal rights and especially for 'A Sacred Duty.' Some of the other people who were honored were Will Tuttle, Cary Brown, Kerry Walsh and Richard Green. The entire five-and-a-half hour event was vegan and the show was transmitted via Supreme Master TV around the world via satellite and webcast streaming. It will later be available as an edited-down version on their channel as well as on DVD. Also of importance was the fact that I gave the organizers 40 copies of 'A Sacred Duty' (in the original box packaging) which were taken to the COP-16 conference and handed out to all the international delegates.

Kol Tov!


Kol hakavod (kudos), Lionel, for this VERY well deserved award

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6. Chili con Carnivore

A satiric recipe

by Dan Brook (Author, educator and JVNA advisor)

As a long-time vegetarian, I recognize that most people still eat meat. In appreciation for the way they treat animals, I would like to offer them a special recipe I created for their enjoyment.

3 lbs. fresh tomatoes (heirloom)
1 large sweet onion (organic)
3 cloves garlic (sustainably-harvested)
1 jalapeƱo (biodynamic)
1 lb. beans (completely optional)
1 playful puppy (whole-grain vegetarian diet)
1 cute kitten (free range)
1 garter snake (locally sourced)
1 rat (wild)
1/4 lb. Chincoteague pony (grass-fed and humanely-slaughtered)
1 rooster's cockscomb (very red)
2 dozen black flies
1 tsp. butterfly wing powder (preferably Monarch)
3 tsp. chili powder
3 tsp. turmeric
1 bay leaf
1/4 lb. lard to saute ingredients
enough salt and pepper to disguise taste

If you accidentally chop your finger off during preparation, remove nail and saute the finger and include.

Bon appetit and share with your friends and family!

Dan Brook maintains Eco-Eating at, The Vegetarian Mitzvah at, and Food for Thought—and Action at

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7. “Peace on Earth” While Billions of Farmed Animals Are Cruelly Treated Each Year And … ?

Forwarded message:

Every year millions of people in North America send out cards calling for "Peace on Earth." This year we at Plant Peace Daily think it's time to bring more meaning to those words.

We are hoping that you will join us in a campaign to educate and stir the conscience of peace advocates and clergy across the land.

We have revised the preface to the book Old MacDonald's Factory Farm by C. David Coats for posting on community bulletin boards and for sending to places of worship.

Here is the text for "A Holiday Thought" (a colorful PDF version is available at

A Holiday Thought...

Aren't humans amazing? They kill wildlife - birds, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million in order to protect their domestic animals and their feed.

Then they kill domestic animals by the billion and eat them. This in turn kills people by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal - health conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and cancer.

So then humans spend billions of dollars torturing and killing millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases.

Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals.

Meanwhile, few people recognize the absurdity of humans, who kill so easily and violently, and once a year send out cards praying for "Peace on Earth."

~Revised Preface to Old MacDonald's Factory Farm by C. David Coates~

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8. Update on the Fur Issue in Israel

Forwarded message from Israeli activist Jane Halevy:

Dear friends,

If you get this email from me, it means that i think you can help again with the bill. We might have an opportunity to get a new committee date [for the fur ban to be considered], although the chances are slight.

I would like to ask you to keep up the pressure now and ask all your members and friends to write emails to MK Mozes

and to MK Amsalem. The 2 main MKs opposed to the bill. No need to write to Margi, he will remain neutral and won't block the bill anymore.

Below find their 2 emails and a template letter. I would like their inbox to receive many emails again so that they understand that the world is still closely watching.

Thank you very much!

Jane ;-)


MK Menachem Ben Eliezer Mozes --

MK Haim Amsalem --

Here is a sample letter, that you can use,or you could add lines of you own or use it as a guide to write.

Dear _____________

I am writing to you not only to voice my support and loyalty for the bill to ban the fur trade; but also to tell you that I am keeping up with each and every development on this important bill, introduced by MK Ronit Tirosh.

In view of all the facts; the ban will save hundreds of millions of innocent animals that are living in horrendous conditions only to be massacred (even skinned alive) and all only for nonessential fashion items and status symbols.

Israel would be setting an enlightened precedent and the world, both in the public venue and the governmental level would be viewed as a moral and compassionate nation. It would be the best public relations move that Israel took.

In addition, you would be honestly fulfilling your obligation by representing the majority of the Israeli population.

Followers of ultra-orthodox should logically be leading this compassionate law that is 100% in compliance with the Jewish religion’s stance on “Tzar Baal- Lahaim” (empathy and mercy for all creatures) and the requirement of modesty, even though you have been promised an exemption.

The Israeli bill to ban fur trade is an important advancement in humanity for mankind and Israel. I give my total support to the bill and the International Anti Fur Coalition.

If the ban is voted in, then Israel becomes a world precedent and Israel becomes a global leader in compassion over commerce.

Please do the humane thing and aid the bill to ban fur trade and by taking this important action immediately; Israel becomes a light unto the nations.


[Your Name]
[Your Address]

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9. Big Anti-Fur Demonstration in Israel on Fur-Free Friday,7340,L-3997530,00.html

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10. Help Sought to Improve New Vegetarian-Related Web Site

Forwarded message from Author, educator, activist and JVNA advisor Dan Brook:

Here's the first draft a new veg web site of mine. While I'm proud of the content, the form is lacking. If anyone would like to donate their expertise to technically fix it up, I would very much appreciate that.



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