When 6,500 people come together

by Judith Belasco

September 7th, 2017 | 16 Elul 5777

Dear All,

Dreams (and dreamers) are being seemingly pushed aside. Storms are raging wilder and fiercer as the climate changes. Difference is being aligned with fear. We must find ways to open our doors to each other even more widely.

We need to create more entry points to connect with each other and with those whom we might think of as other. Last week, when 6,500 people came together in Detroit for the 2nd annual Michigan Jewish Food Festival, we aimed to let the whole community in.

Here is more from Sue Salinger, Director of Hazon Detroit, about the festival.

As we do our inner preparations during Elul – our return-to-who-we-are, our repair work between each other – according to our teacher Reb Zalman zt’l, we’re already building the world to come: the world we want to live in. Sometimes if we pay enough attention, we get to catch a glimpse, a hint of that world.

August 27, 2017 was the second annual Michigan Jewish Food Festival, and what a delicious taste we got of the world as it could be!

An estimated 6,500 people came together from across Metro Detroit to gather at the historic Eastern Market in Detroit, where many of the area families first worked when they immigrated to America from the 1880s until just after World War II.

With the help and participation of countless volunteers, we brought people from the suburbs and the city – from the entire spectrum of Jewish life – together with over 60 Jewish organizations, 20 environmental and food justice organizations, 3 chefs, 11 prepared food vendors, and 30 up-and-coming food entrepreneurs.

Dozens of neighborhoods from the suburbs and the city were represented in shoppers, eaters, and learners. The Detroit urban gardening community brought beautiful produce, and Detroit Food Movement entrepreneurs were featured as vendors.

Four speaker sessions included panels on water issues and on food justice, and featured long-time Detroit leadership in movements for equity around health and sustainability – Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence attended the water panel – and we are encouraged by the responses that attendees will step up to work for food and water access for all our neighbors.

One attendee said it best: “To see people’s minds light up in an a-ha moment – we can’t wait for the government or the EPA to make a difference. Festivals like this, this is where change is going to happen.”

We are more than grateful for the opportunity to do this work.

Watch a recap video from the Food Festival here.

Whether in Detroit or elsewhere, let’s continue to push ourselves and each other to expand our definition of community, create more opportunities to connect, and widen our understanding of who belongs.

All the best,
Judith Belasco
Acting CEO
Chief Program Officer

PS – And as we approach the new year, let us commit together to “less fear, more resolve.” Read more about vision, hope and the awe-inspiring Unetenah Tokef prayer in Nigel’s recent article in Sh’ma Now.