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Topic: Food Justice

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Eikev and the Seven Species | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Sarah Rockford, JOFEE Fellow Cohort 4, Maine Jewish Food Network at Colby College Center for Small Town Jewish Life – Waterville, ME Parshat Eikev Fourteen years ago I read from parshat Eikev as a bat mitzvah. As I stood on the bimah and chanted my way through the aliyot, I reflected briefly that the eleventh-hour cramming I’d done over the past hours seemed to be paying off, but reading the final aliyah my concentration waivered, and I lost my place in the scroll. I continued to chant the Hebrew words I’d memorized while theatrically moving the lost yad along the rows of letters on the parchment. When I ran out of words in my head I stopped chanting and shot a desperate look at the rabbi—hoping he would reorient me so I could finish the portion. Our eyes met, he smiled, and congratulated me. I’d finished the aliyah from memory without realizing, and no one was the wiser for my mistake. Relieved and full of adrenaline I started to cry as the congregation began to sing Siman Tov U’Mazal Tov. I believe everyone thought I was having a profound spiritual moment, but these were tears of relief. I was just happy the […]

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Hazon Detroit: Food Festival This Sunday!

Dear Friends, This Sunday, we will gather as a Jewish community for the 4th Annual Hazon Michigan Jewish Food Festival – the largest event annually in the Michigan Jewish community. This event, which takes place at Eastern Market in Detroit from 11am-4pm, is truly one-of-a kind. It spans geography, age, race, interest, denomination, and so much more. For four years running now, we have been able to bring a message of sustainability and food justice to the metro Detroit Jewish and city-based community, while inspiring a reconnection with the city, with one another, with the food we eat, and with the earth itself. Jewish tradition is full of references to food. In the Torah, food is part of our service to God. Growing it is how we make an income and harvesting it is cause for celebration. Throughout the ages, as Jews have migrated from place to place, food has followed us. And at the same time, we have followed food, adapting and evolving our culinary traditions to intertwine with the surrounding communities wherever we’ve dwelt. And today, food is central to our family holidays, our contributions to popular culture, and our interaction with the world around us, serving as […]

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Hazon Seal Spotlight: Movie Series, Sustainable Kiddush and More!

Woodstock Jewish Congregation (NY) By Gail Albert Please see below for an article about the Woodstock Jewish Congregation movie series and other sustainable initiatives. This is a prominent example that no matter where you on your sustainability journey – the Hazon Seal is here to support you. The Woodstock Jewish Congregation was ahead of the game, yet continuously works to increase its impact and inspire us all. For any questions or comments for Woodstock Jewish Congregation, please reach out to us and we are happy to make the shidduch! Background The Woodstock Jewish Congregation is a 350 member non-affiliated synagogue in Woodstock NY.  Most of us have come from the NYC metropolitan area, and many are still week-enders, but the county is semi-rural, and has only two or three other synagogues. We are generally active around social justice issues, but we have not made environmental activism—particularly in regard to climate change—as much of a priority, nor have we linked it as much with Jewish values. Some of this imbalance is rooted in Jewish history, but it has also arisen from a sense of powerlessness—even despair–in the face of our government’s inaction to what most of see as looming disaster. Before […]

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Harvesting and Baking our Heritage | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Hannah Fine – Hazon Detroit Parshat Shelach In parshat Shelach, Moses sent twelve spies to scout out the land of Canaan and report back to the Israelites. All of the spies returned with the same objective report. It was a land of milk and honey brimming with fruit and sustenance. There were grapes, and figs, and pomegranates which they even brought back to show Moses and the Israelites. The spies also reported that the inhabitants of the land were mighty and intimidating. While all twelve spies saw the same land and shared the same observations, they were split between two opposing conclusions. Ten of the spies were convinced that the formidability of the inhabitants meant certain demise for the Israelites. Doom was a foregone conclusion so it was not even worth trying. The other two spies, Caleb and Joshua, had a different interpretation. They were confident that, despite the strength of the peoples and societies in Canaan, the Israelites could overcome it. Caleb and Joshua contended that the greatness of the Promised Land was worth the challenge.  At Hazon Detroit, we are working to overcome a formidable structure that exists in our land: the lopsided nature Michigan’s grain industry. […]

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Farm Bill: Update and Action

It is springtime on the farm which means that seedlings are sprouting in the greenhouse, the peepers are singing at dusk in Lake Miriam at Isabella Freedman, and lovers of food and earth are calling congress about agricultural appropriations. Thanks to millions of grassroots actions, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed with many important programs for sustainable agriculture and healthy eating. However, many of those programs need to be funded annually by Congress through the appropriations process. Appropriations is a process full of nitty-gritty details and back-and-forths so it can seem off-putting to engage with. However, urging a healthier and more sustainable world for everybody hinges on it and you can participate without going cross-eyed with the fine print! Below is a script that we at Hazon recommend you use when calling your member of Congress. You can read more about each of the issues, however, you don’t have to to make a difference and call! While your individual Senator or Representative might not be on the agricultural appropriations committee and thus might not have influence over the draft appropriations bill, it is very useful for them to know where you stand as a constituent so they can make public […]

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Hazon Seal of Sustainability Highlights our Relationship to Food in 2019

Our Hazon Seal of Sustainability network is large and strong. Together, we can aggregate our efforts and demonstrate how we, as a community of Jewish communities, have made and continue to make a measurable difference in safeguarding this earth (being “Shomrei Adamah”)! We applaud each of our Hazon Seal institutions for the unique and impactful programs and policies implemented in 2018. As we begin to consider and to work on projects for 2019, we at the Hazon Seal wanted to announce that we are dedicating 2019 to the area of FOOD POLICY. Whether addressing food waste, hunger in the community, composting and/or animal welfare – we encourage you to consider food policy to be one of your projects for 2019.   This means that if you choose to join us in these efforts, we may have funding available for some of your programs! We are happy to announce NEW MINI-GRANTS to help Hazon Seal sites create and implement a FOOD POLICY that also promotes ethical food sourcing and animal welfare in their organization. Get all the details here. Grants are limited and first-come, first-serve, so check it out today! Consider the following… Know a bar or bat mitzvah student who loves […]

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Ethical Eating Mini-Grants

Announcing: New mini-grants to help Hazon’s Seal of Sustainability Sites promote ethical food sourcing and animal welfare* Thank you for your interest in putting your values into action by exploring food choices that promote ethical food sourcing and animal welfare. YES – our food choices matter animal welfare is important this *is* a Jewish issue and we – right now – at a tipping point toward compassion Click here to learn more.    With the generous support of EJF Philanthropies, Hazon is pleased to provide this wonderful mini-grant opportunity. To obtain the mini-grant – (a) Commit to one or more of the following: Reduce consumption of animal products Transition to higher welfare animal products (b) Articulate how this will be a part of a long-term change in your institution’s food sourcing and policy Grants of up to $1000 and will be granted on a matching basis, in $ or in-kind contributions. ‘In-kind’ can be, for example, hours of work, space, and other services that your community is contributing to the project. Examples of projects that you can do with this grant: Plan an all plant-based kiddush once a month with a commitment to continue this moving forward. Organize a screening […]

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Food and Farm Policy: Update and Action

Important food and farm policy work moved forward this winter amid all of the daunting political news. On December 20th the 2018 Farm Bill became law. The law’s passage was a win simply in that it allowed the continued function of crucial programs that address issues like hunger prevention and price stabilization. Thanks to widespread public advocacy, there were also specific wins for sustainability. Keep reading to learn more about the good and bad of the law, about the work ahead in influencing implementation, and crucial action steps you can take today. If you don’t have time or energy to absorb the details of our update but want to join the throngs of individual citizens nudging those in power toward a more equitable and climate-friendly food system, you can skip to the script at the end and call your legislators! The overwhelming state of our national politics won’t stop the Jewish community from participating in the greatest work of our generation: combating climate change and inequity. Update Passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which became law on December 20th, was critical to the continued basic functions of the farming and food systems in the U.S. Hazon applauds lawmakers for slugging their […]

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Blessing Family & The Earth | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Jared Kaminsky, Shoresh Parshat Vayechi In only 3 short months, I’ll be turning 30 years old! I was recently married, and purchased a home, and feel that I have made a massive leap into adulthood. I will one day, G-d willing, start a family and have children of my own. It will be my responsibility to pass on teachings to my children (and grandchildren) that reflect my values. This is a HUGE responsibility! They will see me as a guide and role model for how to act in the world. What will I share with them? What type of father, grandfather, neighbour, and citizen will I be in their eyes? In this week’s parsha, Vayechi, Jacob is nearing the end of his life and he decides to pass on his final wishes and blessings to his own family. He asks his son Joseph to bury him in Israel. He also blesses Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh elevating them to be considered his own sons and heads of tribes one day within Israel. In addition, Jacob provides individual blessings to the rest of his sons, each of whom will be leaders among their tribes. My grandfather is one of the […]

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Reflections on Kindness | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Brenden Jackson, Amir with Shalom Community Farm Houston Parshat Eikev In Parshat Eikev, Moses calls upon his people to reflect on their past in order to remember and obtain the future that was promised to them. As they prepare to enter the Promised Land, the lines blur between past transgressions, promises, sufferings and joys, made inseparable from the current joy at the edge of the holy land. As summer comes to a close here in Houston, so does summer camp programming, which means ending my mentor role with summer farmers and transitioning to fall programming. With the end of the summer chapter, I find myself guided by Moses’s reflections while I enter the reflection stage of this particular learning cycle. Here in Houston, we have several projects occurring and converging at one time: On the one hand, we have Shalom Community Farm – a Jewishly centered agriculture program aimed at connecting flora and Torah for community members. On the other hand, we are developing a Garden Kitchen program with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, where I grow, harvest, and prepare produce with different community members. While in many ways these projects are totally separate, Amir has […]

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Choosing our History | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Henry Schmidt, Shalom Institute Parshat Devarim The Torah may be our past, but Devarim, the shared name both for this week’s Torah portion and for the fifth book of the Torah, is our history. What is the difference between past and history? Our past is simply a chronology of events, one after another, that bring us to the present. It is what one may observe if they traveled back in time and watched things unfold. History, on the other hand, adds important layers; history is the past we choose to tell and how we tell it. The establishment of history is an inherently political process. Whoever has the most access to public discourse or public thought typically gets to shape the narrative of the people. In the case of Devarim, this power rests solely with Moses. Though he shall not see the promised land and must cede this honor to his successor, Joshua, he still possesses the most powerful role of this period for the Jewish people: he gets to tell them their own story. After all, Devarim translates to “the words,” and these are “the words” of the Jewish people. We already know that the Jews eventually receive […]

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Mayim Chayim and Honoring our Mother | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Alex Voynow, Jewish Farm School  Parshat Chukat In Chukat, our mother dies. “Miriam died there [at Kadesh] and was buried there. The people were without water and they joined against Moses and Aaron.” ~Numbers 20.1-2 Miriam’s death gets one line, and then the narrative is quickly redirected back to the patriarchs. I was amazed at the amount of lines the Torah takes in Chukat to explicate the condemnation of Moses, the laws or ritual purification, and the military proceedings of the Israelites, while one verse is all we hear about the death of Miriam the Prophetess. Miriam provided the water. And just as in the central focus of the movement at Standing Rock, “Water is Life.” Mayim chayim. If you say mayim repeatedly, you also begin to say ima — mother. In the Torah, we lost our mother Miriam, our life source. She is barely mentioned again. So, the central question for me and for us that comes up is: whose story is this? Who wrote this book? There is an obvious reality that women were centrally important to the life and culture of the Israelites, yet they are seldom mentioned, celebrated, or mourned. I see this as the Torah’s infidelity […]

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Korach: Disruptive Visionary or Disgruntled Rabble-Rouser? | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Eliezer Weinbach, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Hazon Parshat Korach וַיֵּרְדוּ הֵם וְכָל-אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם, חַיִּים–שְׁאֹלָה And they and all their belongings went down, alive, into Sheol Numbers 16:33 I was traveling once, and my tour guide, a wizened Arab, asked me if I wanted to see the pit that swallowed Korach’s followers. Intrigued, I followed my guide through the desert. After some time, through a haze of heat and mirage, we saw smoke billowing from a fissure in the ground. My guide doused a towel with some of his water, and tied it to the tip of his staff. He cautiously approached the fissure, and held his staff over the smoking vent. To my surprise, the wet cloth began to burn. As he was walking back to me, I could hear voices carried on the warm desert wind. Faint voices, singing, or perhaps chanting. Softly enough that I wasn’t sure if I was hearing anything at all. “What are those voices?” I asked my guide. “Those are the children of Korach,” he replied. “They are slowly lowered into the hellish heat of the Earth and then raised back out, rotated like a roast on a spit. When they finish […]

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Unique Boulder Collaboration Leads to Big Food Rescue Wins

The juxtaposition of the Jewish community’s commitment to addressing hunger issues and the reality of literal tons of prepared foods being wasted after events was too much for Hazon’s Boulder Director, Becky O’Brien, to handle. She observed that the Jewish community was generous with donating to food drives but it was stumped with how to handle the abundance of delicious perishable foods leftover from events like Shabbat luncheons or bar mitzvah parties. On the donor side of the equation, the Boulder Jewish Community Center (JCC) was eager to be a guinea pig. The JCC’s Event and Rentals Manager Sara Guttman was seeing firsthand how much untouched prepared food was being wasted or composted after major events, everything from crudite trays, to boxed lunches, to expensive cheese platters. While the desire to donate was there, the JCC didn’t have the knowledge or time to research appropriate ways to donate. Sara reflected, “Sustainability is an important priority for the Boulder JCC. We represent this in our new LEED-certified facility, by having a Farm and Sustainability Director, as well as by hosting food drives, and composting. One of the challenges we faced when we moved into our new larger facility in September of 2016 […]

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Changing the Way Animals are Raised for Food

Hazon joins Bon Appetit, UC Berkeley, Airbnb and other organizations as a leader in animal welfare in food service supply chains. Hazon was invited to join Farm Forward’s Leadership Circle for the eggs we serve to the thousands of guests who visit our home each year in the Connecticut Berkshires—Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. Farm Forward announced the launch of the Leadership Circle, a new institutional purchasing program that leverages the buying power of businesses, universities, and civic and religious institutions to change the way animals are raised for food. The program increases the public’s understanding of higher-welfare farming, supports a network of farmers who are third-party certified, and meets the demand among American consumers for products bearing animal welfare certification labels with meaningful standards. Further, the Leadership Circle encourages institutions to adopt a “less meat, better meat” approach by sourcing higher-welfare meat, poultry, and eggs while incorporating more plant-based proteins to lower costs and improve public health, the environment, and animal welfare. Founding members of the Leadership Circle include Bon Appetit Management Company, Airbnb’s Portland office, Cal Dining at the University of California Berkeley, Dr. Bronner’s, and Hazon, the largest Jewish sustainability organization in North America. These institutions are leaders in ethical and sustainable […]

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