Tag Archives: Food Justice

This Year Let’s Put Food Justice at the Center of our Fall Harvest

Sukkot is the Jewish holiday celebrating the harvest and commemorating the booths or huts the Israelites built while wandering in the desert. As a people with agricultural roots, Jews have found many ways to mark the seasonal and environmental changes that occur throughout the year. The Shalosh Regalim, the three pilgrimage holidays of our tradition (Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot), celebrate the three times each year that our ancestors journeyed to Jerusalem to make harvest offerings at the Temple.

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Let's Move

Let’s Move into a Healthier America  

As someone who has traveled a good amount, I can’t say I’m always proud of some of the American stereotypes that are out there, worst of all – that Americans are overweight. This is more than a stereotype nowadays when one in three children in the United States is either overweight or obese. In order to fight the past few decades’ transition to unhealthy behavior, First Lady Michelle Obama started the Let’s Move Campaign in 2010.

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Teva Seminar participants

Ten Teva Tidbits: Reflecting on the Teva Seminar

“Baruch atah (a strong breath out), eloheynu ruach ha-olam, a-sher kid-shanu b’mitz-votav vitzi-vanu la-asok b-divray torah. Blessed are You, Breath of Life, Spirit of the Universe, who sanctifies us with Your Mitzvot and commands us to engage in the study of Torah.” – Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Last week I had the pleasure and privilege of presenting at and attending the Teva Seminar on Jewish Outdoor, Food and Environmental Education at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT. Isolated in the grounds of this Jewish, environmental haven, I shared time with and learned from some of the most interesting voices in the Jewish environmental movement. Between the nearly two dozen sessions I attended throughout the week, and the time I spent with Jewish environmental leaders, it would be impossible to share every lesson and insight in this single blog post. Instead, I have Ten Teva Tidbits to impart below: Read more…

goats in field

Reflecting on the Jewish Environmental Movement

This piece was originally published on the Jew & the Carrot on May 29, 2014 

Smash! Squeeze! Study! These were three tasks to choose from: the smashers would be taking hammers or use their fists to crush the apples, the squeezers would be sweeping the apple chunks into the wooden juicer to press, and the studiers would be reading and discussing Jewish texts related to apples, eating and the sabbatical year, Shmita. Everyone got a chance to perform each of the tasks and at the end of the activity, we sipped the delicious, fresh, homemade apple juice.

I participated in this apple juice making program in October at the Green Hevra council meeting. At the time, I had no idea what to expect from the retreat. I knew that I was attending the meeting with leaders of different Jewish environmental organizations throughout North America and I knew we would be collaborating, sharing ideas, and presenting unique but complementary perspectives on Judaism and environmental stewardship. Read more…

Double Booked: Perspective on Food Insecurity in National Security

By Josh Protas

Like many modern couples, when it comes to the numerous responsibilities and duties that keep our household organized and running as smoothly as possible, my wife, Abby, and I divide and conquer.  It’s a constant juggling act of school drop offs, concurrent after-school activities, carpools, laundry, meals, shopping, and laundry that (surprise!) leaves us drained and weary.  One of my regular tasks is making school lunches – far and away it is the task I dread the most.  Is it really that big of a deal? No. I just have to concoct and prepare a healthy and nutritiously balanced meal that includes protein, fresh fruit, and some type of whole grain so that Eli, Noah, and Rosie have the energy they need to power through the school day.  And the lunch has to be something they will find at least palatable. (No pressure!) But I make it worse for myself because I always seem to put off making lunches until right before I am ready to wearily slink off to bed.  The cycle – including the exhaustion from staying up too late and the predictable kvetching that ensues – repeats for five days.

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Michelle Obama speaking at a podium with "Let's Move" written on it

Congress Backtracks on Health and Nutrition Standards

In 2010, Congress passed a landmark reauthorization of child nutrition programs, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Along with as the expansion of the free lunch and after school meals programs, the law significantly improved nutritional guidelines for school meals in line with scientific consensus on reducing obesity and improving the health of our nation’s children. Unfortunately, some members of Congress are hard at work attempting to roll back some of the law’s standards. Read more…

Seder plate

A Tomato on the Seder Plate?

Passover is holiday full of symbolism. We eat the bitter herbs to remind us of the bitterness of slavery. We dip parsley in saltwater to recall the tears of our ancestors in Egypt. The charoset is meant to resemble the mortar the Israelites were forced to use while building structures for Pharaoh and their Egyptian oppressors. These traditional symbols have paved the way for contemporary symbolism, allowing modern Jews to use the Seder plate as a place for social or political expression.

In recent years, placing an orange on a Seder plate has become a statement with various interpretations. Introduced by Jewish feminist and scholar, Susannah Heschel, the orange has come to represent the inclusion of women and LGBT people in the Jewish tradition. In general, the orange is meant to symbolize the rejection of the notion that “a woman, [gay person or other historically marginalized person] belongs on the bimah as much as an orange belongs on the seder plate.”

This year, I invite you to include another item on your Seder plate, a symbol of food justice. Read more…

Jewish envrionmental heart

The “10 Human Plagues” on Our Environment

Each year on Passover, we recall the pleas of Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh demanding, “Let my people go!” And when Pharaoh refuses, Moses warns that God will smite Egypt with a series of plagues: water turns to blood, frogs overrun the land, lice infest the people and animals, wild beasts storm the cities, pestilence kills the domestic animals, painful boils afflict the Egyptians, hail descends from the sky, locust devour crops and greenery, darkness envelops the land and finally, the firstborn children of the all of the Egyptians are slain. How do we understand these 10 plagues in the context of our modern world? What “plagues” us now? More intensely over the last few years, there have been extreme weather events and natural disasters at the hand of climate change. These are perhaps the most devastating “plagues” of our time. If we do not act now to protect our environment, we will see the modern plagues of climate disruption.

Consider these “10 Human Plagues” on our environment: Read more…

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