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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 27, 2012 Inspired by tradition, bat mitzvah goes vegan PAGE 5B Courtesy of the Horowitz family Eating Jewishly is about showing justice "to all of God's creatures," says Kira. By Debra Rubin New Jersey Jewish News When Kira Horowitz be- came a bat mitzvah at East Brunswick Jewish Center, she also made a life-changing de- cision reflecting both Jewish tradition and her compassion for animals. As her social action project, Kira decided to become vegan. She does not eat meat, fish or any animal products, includ- ing dairy and eggs. She also embarked on a "cruelty free" and environmentally con- scious lifestyle by not wear- ing fur or leather and not using cosmetics, toiletries or cleaning products tested on animals. "Four years before my bat mitzvah I became a vegetar- ian, and I did all the research about how they treat ani- mals," said Kira. "Then I found out about the connection to Judaism, which requires treat- ing animals well, and thought how amazing it would be to do this." The transition has been relatively easy for the seventh grader at Hammarskj old Mid- dle School in East Brunswick, N.J. Instead of cow's milk, she uses almond, soy, oat or hazelnut milkwith her cereal. She has also discovered meat- less "chicken" patties, tofu, beans, and vegan macaroni and cheese. "I'm always encouraging others to give up meat," said Kira. "Even if they don't be- lieve me, I always keep push- ing because there is always a chance I will change their minds. I always tell my friends how good the food is and let them try it. I always tell them about the environmental impact." Coincidentally, Kira's Torah portion for her bat mitzvah on Nov. 18 was Chayei Sarah, which includes a story of compassion toward animals. Tired and thirsty, Abra- ham's servant Eliez& en- counters Rebecca, who brings water for him and his camels. 'Because of her kindness to him and his animals, he de- cides she is the perfectwife for Abraham's son Isaac. Calling Rebecca "the per- fect role model for all people today," Kira said many of the practices of the dairy and meat industries, including kosher products, seem to run counter to Jewish law and tradition. "First, conditions are ter- rible for these animals, many of whom are kept in cages and never get to go outside in their lives," said Kira, who will turn 13 on Feb. 18. "When they milk cows they use a metal machine that hurts them. They are often also fed hormones and antibiotics that get into the milk. This really makes you think about where your food comes from." Kira said plant-based prod- ucts, because they are low in cholesterol and high in fiber, are healthier. She cited the laws that prohibit tza'ar ba'alei chaim-- causing cruelty to animals-- which require that field ani- mals be rested on Shabbat and not be overworked and give all animals certain "rights" to proper food and care. "One of the concepts of tikkun olam [repairing the world] and tzedaka is about showing justice for all of God's creatures," she said. "I realized most of the heroes in the Bible, like Moses or King David, were shepherds who cared for animals while the two hunters, Esau and Nim- rod, are depicted as villains." Kira's mother, Amy Horow- itz, said she herself became vegetarian four or five years ago, followed by her older daughter, Dana, who is also a vegan. To get other fam- ily members on board, she began preparing some vegan meals. Kira had been the lone holdout. "I am very proud of her," said Amy. "Kira took this very seriously, so seriously that there is no doubt in my mind this is what she will be for the rest of her life." During her bat mitzvah speech, Kira asked those attending to give up meat at least one day a week and stressed her support of animal rights organizations. "Being vegan truly makes me feel that I am following every Jewish law there is pre- venting animal cruelty," said Kira. "I feel great to this day. I feel healthier, happier and content with myself." Debra Rubin is Middlesex bureau chief at the New Jer- sey Jewish News, from which this article was reprinted by permission. PUT SOME FREILACH IN YOUR SIMCHA WITH THE ENERGIZED MUSIC OF BOB AND ANNETTA GLICKMAN 407-587-5948 OR 407-463-7588 DINNER SOCIAL FUNCTIONS