"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


Vegan Jewish-Foods Mega-Potluck!

L'shana tovah! This evening, my friends and I welcomed the new year in style with a Vegan Jewish-Foods Mega-Potluck. We had vegan versions of a wide variety of traditional Jewish foods, some of which are usually vegan to begin with, and everything was scrum-diddly-umptious.

We had a round challah and apples slices drenched in agave nectar (a honey substitute) for Rosh Hashanah. Other Jewish-themed dishes included kugel, matzoh brie, potato latkes, karpas with saltwater, carrot tzimmes, and even mock gefilte fish. Yes, everything was vegan!

Vegan celebrations of Jewish holidays are easier than you'd expect, as I've previously blogged about on Passover and Tu B'Shvat. Visit the recipes section of JewishVeg.com for some help getting started! The next major Jewish holiday isn't too far away.


Vegetarian Jewish Punk Rockers

The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGB's: A Secret History of Jewish Punk--the definitive volume about the role of Jews in punk rock--will be released on October 1. I've done quite a bit of research into this topic myself and even wrote an article about it last year. After you get past the initial shock of how many prominent Jews there are in the punk scene, it's also fascinating to note that many of them are vegetarians and animal advocates.

Did you know?
* Joey Ramone, the late frontman of The Ramones, went vegetarian after reading a PETA leaflet. According to an article on OfficialRamones.com, Joey also avoided dairy products because they had a negative impact on his singing voice. Last year, Joey posthumously received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Heeb Magazine at the Jewish Music Awards.
* Fat Mike released an awesome compilation to benefit PETA with his Fat Wreck Chords label. He's the frontman of NOFX, which did a song called "The Brews" that's the greatest Jewish punk anthem of all time. Fat Mike also plays bass in Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, which released a hilarious live album that was recorded at a bar mitzvah.
* Bassist Ian Grushka is one of three Jews in the Florida-based quintet New Found Glory. Grushka designed the classic "Want Fries With That?" pro-vegetarian T-shirt, and he's now teamed up with peta2.com to give away a free copy of NFG's upcoming new album.
* The members of Useless ID, the biggest punk band to ever come out of Israel, are all vegetarian. Their Web site features links to various animal rights sites and the statement: "well, falafel is the fuel and the main force behind useless id. see, even if we werent all broke, lazy, vegeretian [sic] punx, we'd like to think that falafel was [the bomb]. we eat falafel all the time, and we talk about it even more."
* Bram Presser--the lead singer of the zany Australia-based Yidcore, the world's foremost Jewish punk band--is vegetarian. While he's said that potato latkes are his favorite Jewish food because they're "without animal products," he's also absolutely obsessed with hummus, describing himself as "more hummus than hummus" on his Myspace page. He loves to profess his love for Natalie Portman, a Jewess who has twice been declared the world's sexiest vegetarian. When Yidcore takes "chicken soup shots" onstage, Bram's are vegetarian. The liner notes to Yidcore's last album note that "Yidcore like to … support a cruelty free, egalitarian lifestyle. Despite the dumb stuff they do."


What Patriotism Means to Me

I've been thinking about patriotism a lot lately. In the words of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) President Richard Schwartz, a quote from today's JVNA newsletter seemed to sum up my perspective on patriotism:
I believe that the highest form of patriotism and respect is to challenge one's country, people, and religion to live up to its highest ideals. Jonathan Wolf, founding president of JVNA, reminds me of the statement by Orthodox Rabbi Yitz Greenberg that: (paraphrasing) "one should be the most critical of and dissatisfied with and aware of the flaws and failings of one's OWN groups and movements and ideologies within Judaism--that loyalty and identification and belief require constructive criticism and attentive focus and acknowledgement of mistakes and shortfallings, and NOT blind support or uncritical, unquestioning endorsement!" (Jonathan's quote)
But there is more to patriotism than politics, activism, and challenging the status quo. Today I attended the season finale for a local AAA baseball team. Something about eating veggie dogs while watching baseball and trying to catch T-shirts shot out of a canon by a funny-looking mascot seems to embody the American spirit.

This is the week when Americans stand united. On Friday, U.S. Air Guitar Champion Craig "Hot Lixx Hulahan" Billmeier will compete in the Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland. In June, Hot Lixx Hulahan won the U.S. crown with a dynamic medley of flamenco and Metallica. (Click here to see a video clip of his performance.) As I wrote on my calendar, next to four American flag stickers, "AMERICA SUPPORTS HOT LIXX HULAHAN." The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

"I remember being handed an American flag," Billmeier said of the victory celebration. "I remember being put up on someone's shoulders and the crowd started chanting, 'U.S.A., U.S.A.' "

"It was at that point," Billmeier said in his backyard, "that I realized I wasn't just doing this for myself. I was taking these guys' dreams with me."

Hot Lixx Hulahan, you've already captured the hearts of Americans. Now it's time to show Oulu just how hard Uncle Sam can rock!