Jewish Vegetarians of North America

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Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) is a grassroots organization promoting vegetarianism as "God's ideal diet"[1] within the Jewish community and the world at large. Their website "serves as a major reference point on the connections between Judaism and vegetarianism." [2]

JVNA was founded in 1975 by Jonathan Wolf in his living room after a World Vegetarian Conference was held at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine.[3] The organization was originally called "The Jewish Vegetarian Society of America," and was affiliated with the Jewish Vegetarians of England.[4] Wolf stated in 1980: "In a real sense, vegetarianism is the highest form of Judaism... Intrinsic values in Judaism -- compassion for animals, concern about world hunger and ecology -- are exemplified by vegetarianism." [5]

Wolf, who became the organization's first president, was largely responsible for creating the modern version of the Tu Bishvat Seder in the 1970s, which continues to be promoted by JVNA. Following and expanding the ceremony used by the 16th-century kabbalists of Safed (who loved trees and tasted a variety of fruits, but were not vegetarians), Wolf developed a liturgy that focused on vegetarian themes.[6] Wolf's original liturgy has been widely adapted, and Tu Bishvat seders are now observed by Jews of many backgrounds, both vegetarian and not.[7]

A more recent JVNA achievement was the production of A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World, a one-hour documentary on Judaism, vegetarianism, and the environment directed by Lionel Friedberg. The film received favorable reviews by The Jerusalem Post, [8] Haaretz,[9] and The Peaceable Table,[10] as well as numerous vegetarian organizations.[11] JVNA has made the entire film freely available on YouTube.[12] JVNA has also given out almost 40,000 complimentary DVDs of the video, because they think the issues are so urgent.

The current president of JVNA is Richard H. Schwartz, who has served since 2003.[13] Through Schwartz's efforts, the vegetarian message of JVNA has been widely disseminated on the Internet and through other media. The JVNA website currently hosts an extensive FAQ, online newsletter, recipes and other resources. The site also houses the Richard Schwartz collection of essays on Judaism, vegetarianism and animal rights,[14] and The Rabbi David Sears collection on Judaism and animals.[15] Schwartz's book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism," was published in 1982, with revised, expanded editions in 1988 and 2002. He argues that Jewish mandates to protect human health, treat animals with compassion, preserve the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and pursue peace point to vegetarianism as the ideal diet fir Jews today.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://jewishveg.com/torah.html
  2. ^ Puskar-Pasewicz, Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism,Greenwood Publishing Group, p.97
  3. ^ http://jewishveg.com/schwartz/history.html
  4. ^ Karen Iacobbo and Michael Iacobbo, Vegetarian America: A History, pp. 183
  5. ^ Karen Iacobbo and Michael Iacobbo, Vegetarian America: A History, pp. 183-184.
  6. ^ http://jewishveg.com/schwartz/history.html
  7. ^ http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Tu_Bishvat/Practices/Modern_Seder.shtml
  8. ^ "Jews ban beef to save the world?" http://www.jpost.com/ArtsAndCulture/Entertainment/Article.aspx?id=82344
  9. ^ Zilber, Ariel, "Film aims to show how Jewish values can help heal the World," November 17, 2007 http://www.haaretz.com/news/film-aims-to-show-how-jewish-values-can-help-save-the-world-1.233411
  10. ^ Carpenter, Cathrine, "Film Review: A Sacred Duty," Vol. 5, Num. 3, March 2007 http://www.vegetarianfriends.net/issue41.html
  11. ^ see the film's homepage for a full list of review links http://www.asacredduty.com
  12. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9RxmTGHZgE
  13. ^ "Interviews with Vegetarian/Vegan Activists," IVU Online News, April 2008 http://www.ivu.org/news/online/interviews/richard.html
  14. ^ http://www.jewishveg.org/schwartz/index.html
  15. ^ http://www.jewishveg.org/DSindex.html

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