November 21, 2008

Mock Meat Is Kosher

With three of the five largest kosher beef plants in the United States having stopped production, consumers can expect significant shortages of kosher meat as well as price hikes (“Shelves Empty as Three Plants Stop Beef Production,” November 14). But don’t worry: Many companies make great-tasting, kosher-certified mock meats.

Jewish law mandates that animals be treated with compassion and respect. By choosing meatless meals, you can adhere to Jewish principles and save animals from pain and suffering.

Help Fight Cancer

Your November 7 article, “Scientific Advances Looking To Stop ‘Cancer Gene,’” draws attention to important research currently underway in the field of cancer genetics throughout the world.

As the coordinating genetic counselor for the Jewish Women’s Breast and Ovarian Cancer Genetics Study at New York University School of Medicine, I would like to highlight the fact that such significant research cannot be done without the support and enthusiasm of the Jewish community. Therefore, NYU has decided to engage the Jewish community by presenting educational seminars about breast and ovarian cancer genetics and our study to various groups. Our work, however, has just begun, and we have many more communities to reach.

Ultimately, we hope our efforts, along with the results of the other research studies, such as those mentioned in the article, will lead to incredible advances in the field of breast and ovarian cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

Animals Suffered, Too

Finally, Agriprocessors is paying for its mistreatment of its employees (“Kosher Plant Struggles as Owner Faces Arrest and Fines,” November 7). Now, if only it would be penalized for its horrendous abuses of the other unfortunates — the animals — who suffer greatly in this greedy, unscrupulous and cruel establishment. Shame on our kosher authorities who have turned a blind eye to these unethical practices.

Conference’s Genesis

While the Forward is right on the mark in its editorial comment on the political tilt of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (“The Conference’s Bad Call,” October 31), the editorial’s narrative of the origins and mission of the Presidents Conference is flawed. The genesis of the conference came as much from European Jewish leader Nahum Goldmann’s desire to play an enhanced role in the United States, via a single organizational voice, as it did from John Foster Dulles and other Eisenhower administration officials’ desire to dodge delegations from the alphabet-soup of Jewish groups. More serious is the matter of mission and role. The Presidents Conference’s formal role was never to “foster a consensus within the Jewish community” on any issue; that was the role of the umbrella body of Jewish public affairs agencies, the National Community Relations Advisory Council (the NCRAC, later NJCRAC —“Jewish” was added in the 1960s — today the Jewish Council for Public Affairs), which did the job admirably. The role of the Presidents Conference was simple and basic: to act as a spokesman, on behalf of the American Jewish community, to the administration, on Israel. Period. Over the years, for better or for worse, the conference has expanded this role, sometimes in filling a vacuum, often by its own fiat.

Don’t Forget Idaho

Thank you for your look at Jews running for office in 2008 (“From Alaska to Alabama, the Races That Could Change the Jewish Face of Congress,” October 17). I enjoyed reading about the diverse and talented group of Jewish men and women seeking to represent their states in Washington.

With that said, I’d like to note a terrific Jewish candidate who did not make your list. Deborah Holmes, a dedicated member of Boise’s Jewish community, made a spirited run for Idaho’s Second Congressional District seat. While she did not defeat the incumbent Republican in this very red state, Holmes conducted an excellent campaign. Her clear-sighted pragmatism and commitment to tikkun olam raised the level of the debate and inspired many here in the Gem State.

Insist on Decency

So the Rabbinical Council of America wants to create a guide to Jewish ethics with specific applications to the kosher food industry (“Orthodox Rabbis To Set Voluntary Guidelines for Kosher Businesses,” October 10). But adherence by Orthodox Union-certified producers would only be voluntary. Wouldn’t it make at least as much sense that the RCA ask the O.U. to issue voluntary kashrut guidelines rather than enforce rigid standards with which all companies must comply? Somehow that fundamental principle of the greater importance of commandments between man and man (e.g,. no exploitation of workers) than the commandments between man and God (e.g., kashrut) has been expediently forgotten.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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November 21, 2008

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