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Author Archive | Hazon

Teshuvah and My Year of Eating Sacredly

By Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster Last year, one of my first posts for the Jew and the Carrot was giving up drinking Diet Coke as a way of eating more sacredly and doing a kind of food teshuvah (repentance). After all, Diet Coke does not exactly fit into my overall food values of eating locally and sustainably. It’s essentially water with coloring and caffeine, it creates wasteful packaging, and drinking enough of it each year has the carbon footprint of flying roundtrip from New York to Cleveland. In my attempt to eat mindfully, aware of God’s blessing present in the food before me, Diet Coke seemed like an easy target. Teshuvah comes from the Hebrew word meaning to return. Repentance is a chance to start over. But part of the teshuvah process is also reviewing how we are doing. We are told by the rabbis that we can’t repent knowing in advance that will plan to do our misdeed again, and yet, we are also human. Despite our best efforts, we slip backwards. We stumble, and once again, as Elul and the season of repentance arrive, we have to ask for forgiveness yet again. (more…)

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Major Bike Legislation Changes A City

If you have the opportunity to spend time in Amsterdam, Chicago, Copenhagen, Portland, or Bogota, you will witness the possibilities of the bicycle as a main source of transportation. A transportation system in Amsterdam where almost 40 percent of all trips are made by bicycle evolves through a combination of economic necessity, bike friendly policies, a strong integrated public transportation system and a vocal community of cycling advocates.  Recently, the New York City Council took a step toward making the city more bike friendly. They  passed two pieces of bike friendly legislation that will greatly reduce the biggest deterrent to bike commuting: bike theft. Intro. 0780-A (Koppell) – bicycle parking in garages and parking lots. This bill will require the operator of every garage and parking lot with a capacity of one-hundred or more cars to provide and maintain parking spaces for bikes. The law mandates one bike spot for every 10 motor vehicle spots. Prices for the new bike parking will be left up to the garage owners to decide. According to DOT Commissioner Janet Sadik-Khan’s estimates, the law will eventually create more than 20,000 new bike parking spaces in nearly 1,700 locations, mostly in Manhattan. Intro. 0871-A (Yassky) […]

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Tisha B’Av, Copenhagen and Climate Change

Rabbi Yedidya (Julian) Sinclair, Director of Education, Jewish Climate Initiative, and Hazon Rabbinical Scholar Recently I was asked an interesting question by an Israel environmental leader. “I was a bit surprised and somewhat dismayed,” he began, “to find out that the date chosen for the Copenhagen Planning Seminar was also Tisha B’Av.” A bit of background for the uninitiated: 1.         The Copenhagen Summit in December is a gathering of world leaders that aims to bash out a successor agreement to the Kyoto protocol that will limit CO2 emissions going forward. It is widely seen as a critical moment in the global effort to address climate change. 2.         The particular Seminar spoken about here is a gathering of Israeli environmental NGO’s that will propose an Israeli position for the Copenhagen Summit. Israel has not so far taken an official line on global warming. That is probably about to change. The new environment minister, Gilad Erdan, is one of the very few in recent years not to see the appointment as a consolation prize for not receiving a “real” ministerial job.” Erdan gets it. He understands that the environment really matters. The Tisha B’Av seminar includes a meeting with him. 3.         Tisha B’Av […]

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Copenhagen, Climate Change, and Jewish Fast Days

by Rabbi Yedidya (Julian) Sinclair, Hazon Senior Rabbinical Scholar The Copenhagen Summit in December is a gathering of world leaders that aims to bash out a successor agreement to the Kyoto protocol that will limit CO2 emissions going forward. It is widely seen as a critical moment in the global effort to address the threat of climate change. There is a remarkable groundswell of concern and activism in the world that is building in advance of this event. People everywhere are raising their voices, demanding that, this time, our leaders do right by the earth and by our children. In the Jewish community too, there is an awakening of passion and activism around this issue. The Shabbat of Parshat Noach, October 23rd-4th has been declared Global Climate Healing Shabbat and Hazon will shortly be going public with a Seven Year Plan for the people to address climate change and sustainability. How can the current period in the Jewish calendar help us to understand what’s going on and what’s at stake? We are in the middle of the three weeks that are bounded by the fasts of the 17th Tammuz until Tisha B’Av. Let’s first note they are two out of […]

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Hazon Food Programs: What’s Happening?

“Does every Jewish institution need a farmer?” The question struck me a few weeks ago when I was at the Long Island Hazon Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) site for a “Meet the Farmer” night. Rabbis, cantors, and educators are usually seen as necessary staff in a Jewish organization; and in this room full of CSA members, some new and some returning, it seemed that a farmer should be considered essential as well.  For the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens and the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore in Long Island, Maggie, from Golden Earthworm Farm, is their farmer. Maggie spoke about the time, attention, and thought that went into building each member’s box of vegetables each week. In addition, she felt privileged that through the support of these institutions, she was able to live her life as a farmer. Since 2004, when Hazon launched the first CSA site in the Jewish community, Hazon has been on the forefront of the new Jewish Food Movement. In 2008, when 560 farmers, rabbis, educators, students, chefs, and foodies attended the Food Conference, Hazon became the home of this movement. The Food Conference, like all of Hazon’s Food Programs, examines food through the […]

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Green with(out) Envy: Struggling with the Tenth Commandment

Rabbi Yedidya (Julian) Sinclair, Hazon Rabbinical Scholar and Cofounder of Jewish Climate Initiative On Shavuot morning next Friday, in synagogues around the world, we will read the Ten Commandments. It’s remarkable, when you think about it, what a success they’ve been. Over the past 3000 years the Jewish people has done an extraordinary marketing job on conveying these basic ethical and spiritual laws. Across the Western world today they are acknowledged as axioms of civilized life. Well, mostly. My friend (Hazon Rabbinical Scholar) Steve Greenberg likes to qualify that success as follows. “We Jews have done a pretty good job in delivering nine and a half out of the Ten Commandments to the world. The half that we have delivered is the side of Shabbat that is about employment; the universal right to have one day off work each week.  The half that we haven’t is the part of Shabbat that is about refraining from shopping, driving, flying – the part that deals with our relationship to the created world. We need to deliver that half of the Shabbat commandment to the world now.” Rabbi Steve makes an important and timely point. Shabbat is a precious spiritual and ecological resource. […]

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Pollution in the Promised Land

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, Hazon Rabbinic Fellow Yom Haat’zmaut. Here in Israel we celebrated Yom Ha’atzma’ut last week; fireworks, barbecues, mutual congratulations on how much we’ve achieved in 61 years (absorbing millions of immigrants, sustaining a vibrant democracy, building a dynamic economy, etc.), and a certain amount of soul-searching about how much we still haven’t: (peace, intra-Jewish harmony, a national soccer team that qualifies for the World Cup finals etc etc.). In honor of Yom Haatzmaut, I read a brilliant 500 page book; (rather sad, I know, but that’s the kind of kid I’ve always been…). Professor Alon Tal’s “Pollution in the Promised Land: an Environmental History of Israel” is the definitive work on the subject. In retrospect it was also the perfect read for the day. Tal’s book does much more than its subtitle claims. As you would expect it tells the story of how Israel’s rapid economic development has come at a high environmental price; it traces the roots of Israel’s current water crisis to bad planning and short sightedness in the early years of the State; one chapter relates the staggering success, or disastrous stupidity (depending on your perspective) of the JNF’s forestry policies. (The JNF planted […]

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The True Cost of Food

Barbara Lerman-Golomb, Director of Education and Outreach, Hazon From PresenTense Magazine – February 2009 Last winter I was at a retreat hosted by a Jewish organization when on the buffet table I spotted something white. It was watermelon, in February in Upstate New York, which was literally unnatural and tasteless. I thought about our unsustainable demand for food and all the energy it took to get that watermelon from farm to fork and wondered, what is the true cost of our food? Like all our lifestyle choices, our food choices increase our carbon footprint and therefore affect our health and the health and sustainability of our planet. According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, around eighty percent of the energy used in the US food system can be attributed to processing, packaging, transporting, storing, and preparing food. In fact, after transportation, the food sector uses more fossil fuels than any other sector of our economy. (more…)

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2008 Israel Ride Official Blog

We did it! – David Eisenberg – Monday, November 17 We did it! It is hard to believe that it is only six days since we cycled out of Jerusalem — five days of cycling, a wonderful, relaxing Shabbat in Mitzpeh Ramon, and, today, 282 miles later, we pedaled into Eilat! I still owe some details on the past few days, each of which had it’s own unique and special character. Even though this was my third Israel Ride, it was still a remarkable experience. (more…)

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Agriprocessors Statement

CONSORTIUM OF JEWISH GROUPS RESPOND TO PLIGHT OF IMMIGRANT WORKERS IN POSTVILLE IN WAKE OF FEDERAL RAID ON AGRIPROCESSORS ENDORSE HEKHSHER TZEDEK NEW ETHICAL CERTIFICATION INITIATIVE OF THE CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:Heather Wolfson                               hwolfson@mazon.org New York, NY (June 27, 2008) – In the wake of last month’s federal raid on the Agriprocessors meat processing facility in Postville, Iowa, where hundreds of illegal immigrants were arrested, a consortium of Jewish groups devoted to social justice have issued a statement calling for a response to the “human tragedy” of the raid and urging cooperation to work towards a “long term structural change,” within the kosher meat industry. (more…)

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The Health Benefits of Fasting

By Will Carroll Originally posted on Serendip There has been much contention in the scientific field about whether or not fasting is beneficial to one’s health. Fasting is an integral part of many of the major religions including Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Many are dubious as to whether the physiological effects are as beneficial as the spiritual promoted by these religions. There is a significant community of alternative healers who believe that fasting can do wonders for the human body. This paper will look at the arguments presented by these healers in an attempt to raise awareness of the possible physiological benefits that may result from fasting. Fasting technically commences within the first twelve to twenty-four hours of the fast. A fast does not chemically begin until the carbohydrate stores in the body begin to be used as an energy source. The fast will continue as long as fat and carbohydrate stores are used for energy, as opposed to protein stores. Once protein stores begin to be depleted for energy (resulting in loss of muscle mass) a person is technically starving. (1) (more…)

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The Jew and the Carrot in the News

Of Church and Steak: Farming for the SoulNew York Times By: Joan NathanHow Kosher Was Your Turkey? Wall Street Journal By: Julie Weiner The Central Role of Food in Jewish Life The Jerusalem Report By: Leonard Felson Can You Be a Kosher Locavore? The NY Jewish Week By: Sandee Brawarsky Yom Kippur Food & Fasting Express Night Out (Washington Post) By: Stefanie Gans Noted. Keeping Kosher The Nation By: Naomi Sobel A Sustainable Passover The Daily Green Thinking Outside the Bun New Jersey Jewish News By: Jeffery Yoskowitz Advice from Modern Jewish Mom Modern Jewish Mom Interview: Leah Koenig Profile: Midtown Lunch’er Midtown Lunch Blog Nagila Goes Kosher Star News Online By: Liz Biro Garden Feast Hadassah Magazine By: Adeena Sussman It’s Not Easy Being Green World Jewish Digest By: Rachel Burstyn Culinary Corner: Green Cuisine American Jewish Living By: Lilit Marcus Holy Kale New York Jewish Week By: Elicia Brown Eco-Ushpizin: Women Take on the Environment Lilith Magazine Ed. Rabbi Susan Schnur Greening of Passover Augusta Chronicle By: Kelly Jasper

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PEDALING FOR PEACE: 350 Miles (even more than I expected!!), Jerusalem to Eilat

By Rachel Brandenberg Back in Jerusalem after a week in the desert, having successfully completed 350 miles of bike riding through the southern half of Israel, I am sitting at the table in my apartment looking at and listening to a light rain through open windows, appreciating the cool breeze and pitter-patter of the water on my mirpeset (balcony). With great thanks to all of you who have supported or intend to support me, the Arava Institute and Hazon in this endeavor, I offer here a taste of the Israel Ride 2007 experience in stories and pictures. For more footage (still and video), reports from the ride, and/or to help me reach my fundraising goal, lots of great information is still available at www.israelride.org. After meeting the Arava Institute staff and students, visiting their facilities and hearing more about their work, as well as riding through much of the territory they study and work to preserve and develop, I can say with full confidence that I am happy to have embarked on this adventure and do all that I can to offer them my support. (more…)

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Grueling Desert Biking in Israel: Breaking out of the Comfort Zone, for a Cause

By Andy Katell “The hill is your friend,” Howie Rodenstein declared as he tried to brace 180 Americans, Australians and Israelis for what was to become the bicycle climb of their lives – 4,100 feet up from the lowest point on earth. Later, while trudging up yet another massive hill en route from the Dead Sea to Eilat, I learned that what Howie, a founder of the annual Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride, probably really meant was that the downhill is your friend. (more…)

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Daniel C – From Jerusalem to Eilat, The 2007 Arava/Hazon Israel Ride

Practicality flooded my realm today. Waking to find forty others gathered together for prayers overlooking Jerusalem, in its waking hours with its cars and lights, hitting 50 mph on the speedometer along the 20 mile downhill stretch outside of the ancient city, suffering the ogre belches of 18-wheeler’s exhaust pipes and trekking a good 50 miles under the desert’s 100 degree sun. We had a police motorcade. There was a point when our cop friends slowed down traffic enough (around 30 mph) for me to have a slight chance to catch up to the cars. I did. Three cheers! (more…)

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