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May 22, 2009

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 22, 2009 By Sue Fishkoff SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) One year after a massive im- migration raid at the largest kosher meatpacking plant in the United States, an Orthodox social justice organization' announced the first seven recipients of its seal of ethical business practice. Uri L'Tzedek recognized six kosher restaurants and a kosher supermarket in Man- hattan with a Tav HaYosher. or ethical seal. Mike's Bistro. Mike's Piz- zeria and Italian Kitchen. Cafe Nana, Hewitt Dining, My Heights Cafe. Hartley Kosher Deli and Supersol of the West- side are displaying the seal in their windows. Uri ~,'Tzedek. which was founded by rabbinical students at the liberal Orthodox Yeshi- vat Chovevei Torah in New York. timed its announcement to May 12, the anniversary of the 2008 raid atAgriprocessors in Postville. Iowa. The ensuing scandal and ongoing court cases gener- ated widespread discuss-ion of the ethical dimensions of kosher food production, and spurred several new social justice initiatives. They include the Tav HaYosher, envisioned for kosher eateries, and the Conservative movement's Magen Tzedek. a proposed social justice program for food manufacturers. Uri L'Tzedek developed the Tav HaYosher project last summer to shine a spotlight on kosher restaurants that treat their workers well, pay fair wages, give adequate work breaks and maintain a safe work environment. It is based o~ a similar Israeli ethical seal. Tav Chevrati, which has been given to more than 350 kosher and non-kosherrestaurants in that country. "Given recent events in the kashrut industry, it is impera- tive that we implement a sys- tem thatwill prevent abuse and exploitation," Uri L'Tzedek's Web site explains. Noting that "thousands" of New York restaurant work- ers are paid below minimum wage, denied overtime pay and subjected to unsafe working conditions, the statement continues. "We must ensure these abuses are not taking place in kosher restaurants." In Los Angel~s, a similar initiative spearheaded by three Orthodox rabbis gave its first compliance certificate to two restaurants and two syna- gogues right before Passover. The L.A. project, Peulat Sa- chir, also looks at employment conditions, but is not limited to restaurants. In fact. Rabbi Elazar Muskin of Young Israel of Century City, one of the co- creators, says the group wants synagogues to sign on first. "Change begins at home." he said. Neither project is adver- sarial, its leaders insist. The intention is not to shame restaurants that do not meet the groups' standards, but to publicize those who do and en- courage others to follow suit. In the Tav HaYosher pro- gram, restaurants apply for the certification and staffers visit tovetworking conditions. Volunteer compliance officers trained by the organization visit the sites every six to eight weeks to ensure continued compliance. The Peulat Sachir project, conversely, actively'solicits Jewish-owned businesses and relies on self-policing. "We speak with the own- ers and the workers, we go through payroll records." says Yeshivat Chovevei Torah student Shmuly Yanklowitz. one of the founders of the Uri L'Tzedek program. "There's an anonymous tip line workers can use to call us." Not all applicants pass. One kosher restaurant that applied for the seal pays its undocu- mentedworkers $2 an hour. far less than the minimum wage of $7.15 an hour for non-tipped employees. "We said. at least pay them $4.80. the minimum wage for PAGE 17A earn new courtesy Uri L'Tzedek Uri L'Tzedek co-founde~ Shmuly Yanklowitz (1) discusses the group's ethical seal with a worker at New York City's Cafe Nana, which received a Tav HaYosher. delivery workers." Yanklowitz said. "They said no and we walked away." Uri L'Tzedek has trained nearly 60 volunteer compli- ance officers and is developing a core group of 12.. Virtually all are in their 20s or early 30s. This summer. 10 to 15 college students will receive fellowships to spend six weeks in New York studying Jewish teachings on social justice and serving as fieldworkers for the project. Yanklowitz says he has fielded calls from Jewish food activists in Washington and Chicago eager to bring the program to their cities, but for now the group is focusing just on Manhattan and plans to build slowly. The fact that the projectis up and running givesthe lie to the notion that it's too difficult, or inappropriate, to monitor the ethical practices of kosher es- tablishments,Yanklowitz says. "There's a huge cultural shift taking place," he insists. "Thousands have signed on to say they will only buy from these places. The spirit ofvol- unteerism in the young Jewish community is very strong*." BEERSHEVA. Israel A new study by a Ben-Gurion University of the Negev re- searcher reveals a linkage between elderly people's appe- tite and mortality rates, with those who report impaired appetite more likely to die sooner. The study, published in the May issue of the "Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging," demonstrated a link between the Daily Activity Energy Expenditure (DAEE an ac- curate measurement of total physical activity), appetite and mortality among well functioning community- dwelling adults. Information on an elderly patient's eating habits may be important for health providers "regarding risk for patient deterioration and mortality. "'These findings are impor- tant because they show how subjective appetite measure- ment can predict death, even when adjusting for health and many other variables." said Dr. Danit Shahar. a researcher with BGU's S. Daniel Abraham Interna- tional Center for Health and Nutrition and Department of Epidemiology. "Past studies failed to show an association with survival. Itwas thought that decreased appetite may be an indicator or a result to other health problems, and that malnutrition, rather than low appetite was associ- ated with mortality." "Dietary Factors in Rela- tion to Daily Activity Energy Expenditure and Mortality among Older Adults" ar~a- lyzes data from" the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) study to dem- onstrate that higher DAEE is strongly associated with increased appetite, resulting in lower risk of mortality in healthy older adults. Using 298 older participants (ages 70-82 years) in the Health ABC study, researchers ana- lyzed DAEE and dietary fac- tors. including self-reported appetite, enjoyment of eat- ing and intake assessed by the Block Food Frequency Questionnaire and Healthy Eating Index. Participants who reported improved appetite were at lower risk for mortality. Simi- larly, participantswho reported good appetite at baseline had a low risk for mortality. The re- sults remained significant tak- ing into account health status, physical activity, demographic and nutritional indices. Follow up was nine years. By Andrew Silow-Carroll New Jersey Jewish News I've been writing this col- umn every week since Sep- tember 2003, which means I'm closing in on my 300th col- umn. (Please, no gifts. If you must. send donations to the Nature Conservancy, which is trying to save America's forests.) I feel I'm due. if not for a vacation, at least for a break from my own opinions. On certain topics Iran's nuclear program, the Israeli-Pales- tinian conflict I feel the more I learn the less I know. Or rather, the more I think I know, the less sure I become. Luckily I had the chance recently to sit down with David Horovitz, the editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post. The London-born Homvitz. 47. has lived in Israel since 1983 and has been the Post's editor since 2004. Although the Post is inevitably labeled "right-leaning," I've always found Horovitz' views to be an accurate reflection of the elusive Israeli consensus. When I asked him aboutthe realistic options available to President Obama in halting Iran's nuclear ambitions, his answer was a characteristic attempt to capture the Israeli mainstream, which he said favored McCain over Obama in the 2008 election. "The key issue was Iran," he said. "People looked at McCain and said, 'Here was a guy who had gone through an extraordinary challenging life and had internalized man's capacity to do terrible things to his fellow man.' Therefore, Israel, feeling seriously threat- ened by Iran, thought McCain would be in the right head." Almost half a year later. Israelis are "incredibly admir- ing of Obama." And unlike Obama~s critics on the Right, Horovitz is less willing to label Obama's calls for diplomacy as weakness. "The president of the United States can't simply com- mand but has to persuade. So there is an advantage in Obama engaging with Iran and trying diplomacy. Where McCain would have been more instinctively ready for tougher measures. Obama is going the slower route, and the hope is he can potentially galvanize greater American and inter- national support if the time comes for tougher actions." Not that Israel is itching for a fight. "The strong convic- tion in Israel is that Iran can be stopped by non-military means and is vulnerable," said Horovitz. He praised Stewart Levey, the Treasury Department official who is leading efforts to make Iran a pariah within the interna- tional financial system. What Israelis want, Horovitz said, is for America to spread the message that stopping Iran is a free-world priority. "If every- one was doing what America is doing, there wouldn't be a problem," said Horovitz. Similarly, Israel wants the world to kflow that Iran isn't an "Israeli problem" or only an Israeli problem. "Even if you don't care about Israel. the argument has to be that [Iran!an PresidentAhmadine- jad] is really dangerous," said Horovitz. "This regime and that weaponry is something that it should not fall to Israel to be screaming about." Yet should such arguments fail, I asked, is an Israeli mili- tary strike on Iran's nuclear facilities feasible, conceivable or possible? "I pray that it doesn't come to that, and if it does come to that, it will be a terrible failure of the international commu- nity," said Horovitz. "It should not fall to Israel militarily to have to stop Iran. The stakes are so astoundingly, terribly high." But if it should come to that, don't expect a repeat of the daring, surgical strike 9n the Osirak reactor in Iraqlin 1981. Iran has built its nuclear program, he said, exactly with the example of Osirak in mind. Certainly, he said, Israel's military has a plan. "And~ if we do. I would like to believe that Israel has in mind some- thing that nobody else has thought of." Ultimately, Israel's conflict with the Palestinians cannot be separated from the threat from Iran. The Palestinians' "moderate" leadership is 10s- ing ground to Hamas, and Hamas draws much of its inspiration, and funding, from the Iranian regime. "That money is flowing in. and Hamas gets stronger so long as Iran is unthwarted." said Horovitz. "If'you were to disable that Iranian threat and destroy some of the confidence of the Islamic extremists--and at the same time gradually try to heal the West Bank economy, which Tony Blair is trying to do and Netanyahuwants to help do maybe gradually you start to create a climate where people are less attracted to Islamic extremism, have some kind of hope for the future,and there- fore are more inclined towed moderate political views." I ask David if he would describe the mood in Israel in its 62nd year. "There have absolutely been periods when people felt much more pessimistic than today. We are not in the mindset we were in 2001 or 2002, when you knew once a week some- thing was going to blow up. "We feel threatened by Iran buffed the international com- munity is realizing they, too, are threatened by Iran," he added. "We may be the first in line, but there is a sense that this is wider threat." Andrew Sitow-Carro!l is the editor-in-chief of the New Jer- sey Jewish News from which this article was reprintedwith permission. The Wizard says, ' here's no place like" USA gov. Your official source for government info. 1 (800} FED-INFO