Hazon Food Conference

Dec 30, 2015 - Jan 3, 2016

Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT

Join the thinkers and doers of the Jewish Food Movement to explore and experience a new angle on food.

Click here for the complete program guide to the 2014 conference, including schedule and presenters.

The Hazon Food Conference is the only place in the world where farmers and rabbis, nutritionists and chefs, vegans, omnivores, and you come together to explore the dynamic interplay of food, Jewish tradition, and contemporary life. Our annual event brings together passionate people who are working for sustainable food systems on multiple levels – nationally and internationally, in their communities, and in their own lives. Learn from the experts and you will never look at eggs, bees, or food prices the same way again.

Last year’s highlights included:

  • VISION: Make collaborative decisions setting the next 7-year goals for the Jewish Food Movement
  • SOURCE: Participate in an educational poultry shechita (kosher slaughter) of heritage breed chickens
  • PARTY: Rockin’ New Year’s Eve “Pollinators’ Ball” party with a live band and contra dancing
  • TASTE: Expert cooking demonstrations and hands-on learning with renowned farm-to-table chefs
  • HOMESTEAD: Workshops with farmers and city folk for backyard chickens, pollinator conservation, and beekeeping
  • EQUIP: Community organizing training and take-home resources to build a sustainable, resilient food future
  • EXPLORE: Daily text study on the Poultry, Pollinators & Policy theme in Hebrew or English at our Open Beit Midrash – all levels welcome!


I’m so grateful to have gotten to meet like-minded people my age who are also looking to further contribute to the growing Jewish Food Movement. I really enjoyed spending time at the retreat center in general due its natural beauty. I honestly had a good time participating in any and all activities and sessions.
—Danny, Chicago, IL

The Poultry, Pollinators & Policy theme is a thread that ran throughout the conference. We explored ethical eating and learned about the sources of our food through poultry and other foods. We understood sustainable agriculture through learning about pollinators and other critical elements of ecosystems. And presentations on activism and advocacy, including food policy, showed how we could be creating a more healthy, sustainable and just food system.



How have heritage bred poultry that once fed the nation been transformed into the specialized egg laying and broiler chickens of today?

What options are widely available, if any, for humanely raised egg laying hens?

How might we act to bring better systems for animal welfare and humane slaughter?

Sessions include:

  • how to keep egg-laying hens in your yard
  • firsthand poultry shechita (ritual slaughter)
  • taste testing chickens of heritage and hybrid breeds
  • discussions among contemporary poultry farmers and retired Jewish poultry farmers
  • Jewish law related to ritual slaughter
  • history of poultry and kashrut
  • technicalities of eggs and pareve food



How much does our food system really rely on pollinators?

What trends in conventional and organic agriculture impact pollinators?

How can honey be kosher if bees are not?

What can ancient midrashim (legends) about honey harvest teach us about food justice?

In what ways can Jewish tradition support our living in harmony with a diverse ecosystem of pollinators?

Sessions include:

  • backyard beekeeping
  • how to garden in order to maximize robust ecosystems for pollination
  • international honey tasting
  • conference-wide plant/pollinator real life pollination mystery game
  • honey tasting from around the globe



Since ancient times, Jewish communities have set up systems for fair food growing and distribution practices. What can we learn from these systems and how can we take them back to our communities today?

How do the policies of our federal and local governments contribute to the challenges and successes of our current food systems?

What systems have worked to increase access to healthy food for citizens of all income levels?

What are some campaigns that we can join to make change for farmers, workers, and consumers?

How can our communities strive toward a “whole supply chain approach” with food products that are be grown, harvested, processed, packaged, transported, and sold without exploitation of workers anywhere along the line?

Sessions include:
  • presentations by activists and politicians working at the local and national level
  • community organizing trainings for you to bring more robust food policies to your local area
  • collaborative opportunities for how we create a more healthy, sustainable and just food system
  • take-home resources for getting involved in food policy this year

I was inspired to be in the presence of so many people who care so deeply about the state of the food system and use a Jewish framework to address its flaws.
—Ian, Detroit, MI

Please check back soon for registration information.

Camp Teva is for kids ages 5 – 12, and runs simultaneously with retreats geared toward adults. Camp Teva combines the best of Teva’s signature Jewish environmental education with all of the opportunities provided by the Adamah Farm to create a distinctive and creative way for kids to have a fun and safe Jewish outdoor, food, and environmental education experience while their parents are enjoying Hazon’s many retreats, conferences, holidays, and workshops at Isabella Freedman. A transformative experience for the whole family!

When you register kids during your event registration process, they are automatically enrolled in Camp Teva! All-inclusive kids’ rates include Camp Teva programming.

more information about camp teva

I am planning to eat fewer processed foods at dinner times – i.e. things that come in a box – and work harder to prepare meals in advance that use whole ingredients instead, so I don’t have to sacrifice the efficiency of having food ready to eat when I get home.
—Maddy, New York, NY

Scholarship for Teens (13-17 years old)

Through the generous support of a donor, Hazon is pleased to offer up to 2 scholarships to teens between the ages of 13 – 17, covering program fees and housing expenses. Applications are now closed. Email margot.seigle@hazon.org for more information.

Scholarship For Rabbinical Students

Through the generous support of an anonymous donor, Hazon is offering scholarships cover the conference fees for participants currently studying to be rabbis. Participants will be responsible for travel and personal expenses. We are especially looking for individuals who are looking to bring back Jewish food education to their communities and their studies.  Deadline extended until December 17th. For more information, please email margot.seigle@hazon.org.


Tamar Fund Scholarship

Thanks to a generous donation, a select number of individuals will be chosen to pay a discounted registration fee of $180 for economy housing. Applications are now closed. For more information, please email margot.seigle@hazon.org.

The Tamar Fund is in loving memory of Tamar Bittelman z”l who attended the food conference in Davis, California in 2011. Torah, Jewish community, ecology, and DIY food were values that Tamar held dear in her own life, and she very much appreciated the intersection of these values at the Hazon conference. Sharing a meal with Tamar, particularly a Shabbat or Chag meal, was an experience filled with kedushah, where one was effortlessly and joyfully escorted to “a different place.”


Young Farmer Scholarship

Are you a young farmer interested in attending the Food Conference? Email Margot at margot.seigle@hazon.org for more information.

Denver and Boulder Area Residents Scholarship

Through the generous support of Rose Community Foundation, 18 Pomegranates, and Oreg Foundation, Hazon is pleased to offer scholarships for people from the Denver and Boulder areas. We are seeking a diverse group of applicants of all ages and religious backgrounds, and especially welcome those working in Jewish organizations. For more information, please email colorado@hazon.org.  While the deadline has passed, if you are interested please contact Colorado@Hazon.org to explore options.


San Diego Area Residents Scholarship

Through the generous support of the Leichtag Foundation, Hazon is offering scholarships to subsidize a portion of the conference fees for participants from the San Diego area. Scholarships will partially or fully subsidize the conference registration fee (which includes meals and accommodations and all programs, workshops and parties!), and participants will be responsible for travel and personal expenses. We are bringing a cohort from San Diego to the Food Conference to capture new knowledge, connections, energy, and ideas and bring them back to our community. We are seeking a diverse group of participants of all ages and religious backgrounds. For more information, please email gabi.scher@hazon.org.

Detroit Residents Scholarship

For the third year in a row, Hazon is pleased to offer scholarships to Detroit residents through the generous support of our donors and foundation supporters.  This is an opportunity to be part of a cohort that will meet in Detroit pre and post conference, as well as at the conference itself. Those accepted to the Detroit cohort will pay a discounted registration rate of $100 as well as receive a $100 travel stipend. Applications are now closed. For more information, please email aj.aaron@hazon.org.




Here are some highlights from last year’s Food Conference. Presenters and sessions change from year to year, but this will give you an idea of what a Hazon Food Conference looks, feels, and tastes like!

2013 schedule  2013 photo gallery  2012 schedule  2012 photo gallery

At the food conference, I connected with many fascinating people with diverse backgrounds and involvements in the food movement. The conversations I had with rabbis, local farmers, and community organizers inspired me to become more involved with the broader Jewish food community and share this with my home community. I am planning to bring another participant to my campus Hillel to lead a workshop on shechita and sustainable food systems. Already, I have had many personal conversations with my peers about what I learned about kashrut and food ethics, Jewish food history, and cooking..
—Johanna, New Haven, CT

While the Hazon Food Conference offers diverse programming – including yoga, hikes, bike rides, farmer’s markets and prayer services – the learning sessions are the dynamic anchor of the whole weekend.

Sessions offer participants the opportunity to strengthen and expand their knowledge of Jewish thought on food, agriculture, and ethics and examine the Jewish community’s role in creating a socially and economically-just and environmentally-sound food system.

The goals of the Food Conference are to:

Think. Encourage participants to think more deeply and broadly about their food choices, food systems –including issues of food access and affordability–and the connection of contemporary food issues to Jewish tradition and texts.

Connect. Build a Jewish community and a Jewish food movement by providing a model of a vibrant, joyful Jewish life that connects Jewish tradition, learning and spirituality with sustainable, healthful food practices.

Inspire. Convey a sense of energy, importance and enjoyment to inspire positive change around food issues and Jewish tradition so that participants who are more familiar with contemporary food issues see the Jewish connections, and Jewishly-knowledgeable participants explore contemporary food issues locally and nationally.

Strengthen. Build leadership capacity by supporting volunteers to help create change in their own communities.

Act. Create change agents to speed the velocity of best practices and action in Jewish homes, institutions, and communities, and the world as a whole.

Dig in. Join this powerful Jewish Food Movement that works to create healthy and sustainable communities in the Jewish world and beyond.

We are looking forward to learning, experimenting, eating, and partying with you!

For daily updates about the conference, make sure to check out and “like” us at Facebook.com/foodconference or follow @foodconfernece on twitter.

Session Preview

The Poultry, Pollinators & Policy theme is a thread that will run throughout the conference. We’ll explore ethical eating and learn about the sources of our food through poultry and other foods. We’ll understand sustainable agriculture through learning about pollinators and other critical elements of ecosystems. And presentations on activism and advocacy, including food policy, will show how we could be creating a more healthy, sustainable and just food system.

With over 20 sessions each day, we couldn’t possibly list them all here.

Here are a few of our favorites:
Vision: Tuesday evening will feature a keynote with an essential theme for all of us: 2022 Vision: Envisioning the next seven years of the Jewish Food Movement. Visit this page to read about the vision and be part of the conversation!


Food As Medicine: Your Grandmother was Right! The hottest trend in healthful food: Bone Broth with chef Donna Simons of Pound Ridge Organics.
Backyard Egg Laying Hens – How to get started with Anna Hanau of Grow and Behold and Adamah Director Shamu Sadeh


Behind the Veil: The True Secret Life of Bees & Beekeepers with Kirsten S. Traynor, PhD, editor of Bee World and master photographer Michael Traynor.
Join honey expert Marina Marchese and learn how to taste honey like a honey sommelier.


Theology and Factory Farming with Aaron Gross, author of the forthcoming book: The Question of the Animal and Religion: Theoretical Stakes, Practical Implications, which details the scandals at Agriprocessors and their significance for the American and international Jewish community.
“Who Grew Your Food?: From Farmworkers to Farming Cooperatives” featuring farmers from across the country, including Heriberto Gonzalez of the Justice for Farmworker Campaign with Rural & Migrant Ministry (see his webisodes here)

And you won’t want to miss the Gefilte Fish Experiment with MaNishtana, or join us as we attempt to answer the all-to-common modern day question: What if our children want to be farmers?

New Year’s Eve: Pollinators’s Ball

In additional to a traditional champagne toast at midnight, you can also expect an elegant and fun party with plenty of food and drink!
Our menu features Amish-style chicken & waffles (vegan option available!) as well as yummy snacks and desserts
We will honor the pollinators by drinking mead, a local honey wine, in a variety of fruity flavors
Finally, we’ll dance the night away traditional New England style with a local Contra Dance Band and the infamous caller & dance teacher Paul Rosenberg!
Program Fair/Shuk
Do you have a product to sell, organization to represent, or project to promote? You are invited to reserve a half table at our program fair/shuk which will take place Wednesday, December 31, from 4-7pm.
Product sales must be approved via the conference organizers. You have the option to donation a portion of sales or actual product to the conference.
Email Sarah Chandler (foodconference@hazon.org) if you would like a space at the program fair.
Encourage others to register
There are just a few dozen spots left before we sell out – and it looks like we will be completely sold out by the end of next week. Don’t let your friends miss out out on the fun! Early bird rates are long gone, but you can encourage a friend to still get $20 off with the code “LASTCHANCEBUDDY”!

What to Bring

Please bring a reusable water & mug bottle if possible. We try to minimize the use of disposable (in our case compostable) cups that we provide at the retreat center.

Be prepared! Bring the medications you need and the toiletries that you enjoy and might use. Bring a flashlight if possible. Bring your chargers for your devices. We’re not totally in the middle of nowhere but pretty close. We suggest bringing clothes for many types of weather. Sweaters, long pants, ritual wear, hats, rain jackets, warm boots etc. It is quite cold here the winter, so bring lots of layers. We provide linens and towels – and feel free to bring personal items you especially like as well.

Food & Kashrut

If you plan to supplement our delicious, healthy, farm-to-feast meals, you may bring food, sealed in original packaging, with conventional kosher certifications for your meals in the dining room. One of our mashgichim (kosher supervisors) must pre-approve all food items that enter the dining room. You can bring other non-supervised foods/drinks and enjoy them anywhere on campus besides the dining room.

Travel: Arrival & Departure

RIDESHARE: Help to reduce the environmental impact of car trips to and from Isabella Freedman by checking out our NEW carpool initiative!

Here is a link to help connect you with fellow retreat participants. This is a unique link for your retreat and is only available to those that have already registered. The site that we use doesn’t require a user login, which contributes to its ease of use; however, the information you post will be visible to everyone with the link. This being the case, we recommend using just your first name and email address. Offering a ride in your car will help reduce carbon emissions, cut down gas costs and make new friends! If you are looking for a ride, adding yourself to the wait list (right hand side of the page) is the best way to be notified when movements occur.

Those who are driving should plan to arrive between 1 and 2pm on Monday, December 29. Our first session is at 3pm with our official opening program at 5pm, followed by dinner at 6pm. The schedule on the closing day of the conference (Jan. 1) is a New Year’s Day brunch followed by a 9:30am session and our closing program. At noon there are snacks, a farmers’ market, and farewells!

For those on public transit, at the end of this email you’ll find written instructions about getting the train from NYC to the Wassaic train station where our shuttle can pick you up for the final leg of the journey. To guarantee a spot, you must reserve and pay for it ($20 each way) by Monday, December 21. Give us a call at (860) 824-5991 ext. 0 to reserve your spot. For those of you driving, please see our website for directions to IF.

Keep in mind that you can find all of this information and more on our website. If there are details of your stay or arrival that you still need to share with us here at the retreat center, please email registrar@hazon.org.

We look forward to seeing you soon!


From any point in the NY Metro Area, use google maps to get public transit directions to Grand Central Terminal (GCT). From GCT buy a ticket for Metro North Railroad, and look at the website or consult the in-terminal signs or ask at the info desk for the track number for the train to the “Wassaic” station. You may need to take a train that has you transfer across the track at the “Southeast” station- very easy, no big deal. The whole thing is not particularly complicated, it’s just a bit of a shlep. New Yorkers are notoriously helpful to out-of-towners (seriously!) so ask somebody if you need help.

TAXI TIMES from Wassaic Train Station:

We offer to arrange shuttles for you from the Wassaic Train Station to Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center on Monday, December 29th at the following train arrival times: 2:03 pm and 4:03 pm. You’ll need to catch the trains at GCT at 11:47 am or 1:47 pm. Plan to arrive at GCT no less than 20 minutes before departure time. There will be big yellow school buses picking you up from Wassaic and bringing you to Isabella Freedman.

We also offer a shuttle to Wassaic Train Station departing from Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center at 1:30 pm on Thursday, January 1.

presented in partnership with  Liechtag Foundation