I hope that the previous lessons have made it very clear that there is an extremely strong case to be made for vegetarianism based on Jewish values. It is also becoming increasing clear that vegetarianism is not only an important individual choice, but also a societal imperative, and therefore it is urgent that it be on the Jewish agenda. However, unfortunately, the Jewish establishment has generally been ducking the issues. Hence, it is essential that we consider how we can more effectively get our message out.
SUGGESTED JEWISH VEGETARIAN PROJECTS:
Please feel free to comment on the projects and/or to suggest additional projects. Thanks.
(THese are not necessarily in any order of importance.) 1. Annual Vegetarian Shabbat
a. During Shabbat Be'Ha'alotkha (June 5 in 1999, June 24, 2000, and so on) This Torah portion relates that the Israelites cried out for flesh after they had been sustained by manna in the wilderness after the exodus from Egypt, that God and Moses were very displeased, that God reluctantly provided flesh in the form of quail, and that a great plague broke out as the Israelites were chewing on the quail, and many Israelites died, and the place where this occurred was called Kivrot hata'avah (the graves of lust). b. It is important to get rabbis to sign on c. It is also important to try to get some media attention d. We could provide the rabbis with much background information. e. Two of our participants are a rabbinic student and a future rabbinic student who are planning to be married shortly before a vegetarian Shabbat, and they are very interested in tying vegetarianism into their wedding-related events.
2. Trying to interest an Israeli farm community to raise cattle humanely and to permit them to die a natural death, so that sacred religious items, such as tefillin and Sefer Torahs, could be made from their skins. a. The Talmud (Shabbat 108a) indicates that this is preferable to using animals who have been slaughtered to create these items. b. Over the years I have received many questions related to the fact that several religious items are made from leather.
3. Creating Email lists of rabbis, synagogues, Jewish groups a. This could be very valuable re sending vegetarian-related articles to these people and groups periodically b. The internet and reference books, such as the annual American Jewish yearbooks could be very helpful in finding Email addresses. c. Here are valuable URLs that can be very valuable in this regard: General: shamash.org/trb/judaism.html (scroll down to "Jewish Communities" & "Jewish Organizations") Orthodox: www.ou.org Conservative: ucsj.org Reform: uahc.org Reconstructionist: shamash.org/jrf
4. Letter writing campaign a. Coordinating a group of people who would be willing to send letters out to publications from time to time b. Daily newspapers and other publications have articles on health, animals, ecology, nutrition, and other vegetarian-related topics that could be responded to.
5. Media coordination a. Setting up radio interviews b. Contacting newspapers and other publications to try to place articles c. THe potential here is very great since there are many radio talk and call-in shows and so many other media outlets
6. Get vegetarian articles by me and others linked to many websites (websites with connections to Judaism, health, animals, ecology, and other vegetarian related topics).
7. Getting resolutions introduced at rabbinic and other Jewish groups' conventions A sample resolution is at the end of this message.
8. Establish a moderated Jewish Vegetarian online discussion group, with a focus on promoting vegetarianism in the Jewish community and beyond. Volunteers to set this up and to moderate discussions would be most welcome.
9. Liaisons with other groups Establishing connections with health, ecology, hunger, peace, and other vegetarian-related groups.
10. Jewish anti-fur campaign Material on this will be sent to you as part of next week's lesson.
11. Putting this course on a website so that others can access it.
12. Research group To look into sources and respond to questions. There is much internet help available in this area. Also, people with excellent Judaica backgrounds could be very helpful in finding additional sources and strengthening and expanding the analyses presentd in this course.
13. Do a statistical analysis based on a survey related to Jewish vegetarianism. The survey is already prepared.
14. Actively promote vegetarianism in Israel. There are many great possibilities related to Israel, but we need people with the time, ability, and interest to take on various roles there. One need not be living in Israel to be involved, as much can be done through Email.
15. The following is based on a suggestion from Irena Franchi, one of the course participants. It involves using the method advocated in the book, The Bible Code by Drosnin, to seek an encoded vegetarian message in the Hebrew Torah letters. I do not know much about this approach and I have sme doubts about it, but wouldn't it be great if we could find a strong vegtarian advocacy hidden in the Torah?
16. Set up a Judaism and Vegetarian/Animal Rights website.
Again, please send in suggestions on other potential projects and comments on any of the ones above. If you would be interested in being involved with any of these projects or can suggest someone who might be, please let me know. Thanks. ------------
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