Archive for the 'Jewish Learning' Category

Chasing the Carrot: Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz’s 2nd annual Jewish edible garden bike tour

Last Sunday, July 25, 15 people gathered at Oregon’s Museum of Science and Industry for Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz’s 2nd annual Jewish edible garden bike tour. Portland is laid out in grids, like Washington, D.C. Last year’s tour covered NE Portland; this year we set off to explore neighborhoods in SE.

Our ride leader, Tuv member Beth Hamon, is an old-school bike geek. Last year she created spoke cards for our ride (when you do something for the first time, it’s an innovation; twice is minhag) So of course she made a new one for this year’s ride. Here’s a picture:

Earth Based Judaism – Reclaiming Our Roots, Reconnecting to Nature

Originally Published by ZEEK.

Humanity’s current alienation from nature is unprecedented. As Wendell Berry explained in his seminal 1977 work The Unsettling of America, we are confronted with a “crisis of culture,” reflected in a “crisis of agriculture,” rooted in the simple fact that modern people have become disconnected from nature and the natural cycles we depend upon for survival. In less than fifty years, modern Western culture – particularly in the United States – has shifted from relying on small family farms that dotted the countryside to relying on an industrial food system run by massive corporate farms.

Brachot – From Kayam Farm Kollel

Crossposted to Kayam Farm Kollel Blog Photo from Kayam Farm


My name is Joel Mosbacher, and I was the “Brachot captain” for week one of the Kollel here at Kayam Farm. I am a rabbi at Beth Haverim Shir Shalom in Mahwah, New Jersey, and I’m spending six weeks of my first-ever sabbatical sweating and studying here at this incredible place. I love it here, and would recommend to all of my colleagues to spend a week, a month, a summer, or whatever time you possibly can here at Kayam when you get a vacation or a sabbatical!

The Price of Fish: Parshat Beha’alotcha

In this week’s parasha, Beha’alotcha, Bnei Yisrael continue their journey from Egypt to the promised land. They are provisioned during their desert wanderings by manna, a mysterious food which appears on the ground with the nightly dew, and, according to midrashim,[1] exhibited a variety of tastes. It is against this background that we read the Israelites’ astounding complaint:

If only we had meat to eat. We remember the fish we ate in Egypt for free, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and the garlic. [2]

The Israelites had only just been redeemed from tortuous oppression, so it is most perplexing that they would now long for the ‘free’ foods of slavery. Commentators have offered a number of explanations, claiming that perhaps the fish were so cheap or easy to catch such as to be considered free.[3] The Sifrei, however, provides a more profound interpretation.

Framing the Environment Through a Jewish Lens May 23rd in Malibu, CA

Bill Kaplan, Executive Director of the Shalom Institute and Lisa Friedman, President of the Lisa & Maury Friedman Foundation shared the following information with us about the upcoming event they’re hosting in California later this month. Read on for more details!

As a Jewish community we have the capacity and potential to create our own unique and genuine response to integrating environmental education into our family life. Thats why we are so excited to present this first-ever Los Angeles Jewish environmental seminar Framing the Environment Through a Jewish Lens. Join us on Sunday, May 23rd, 1:30-6pm at the Shalom Institute in the beautiful Malibu Mountains.

Maimonides meets Christ: Portland Tuv Ha’Aretz visits St. Andrew Lutheran Church



On April 18, my co-steering committee member Sylvia Frankel and I were invited to speak to the congregation of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Beaverton, Oregon, a nearby city most famous for being the home of Nike. It was an opportunity to address the congregation for one of a series of learning and study sessions; this one was called Food and Spirituality from a Jewish Perspective.

About 25 people attended, including Lead Pastor Mark Brocker and Associate Pastor Robyn Hartwig, and members of the St. Andrew Green Team, a group of congregants who work on sustainability issues within the St. Andrew community.

New Podcast Episode with Wilderness Torah’s Julie Wolk

Listen to our new PODCAST, Episode 5 by clicking here!

Co-Founder Julie Wolk sits down with me on the latest Hazon Podcast. Listen to what Wilderness Torah is doing to revitalize the American Jewish Community. Also, don’t forget you can subscribe on iTunes by searching “Hazon”.

Also, don’t forget that it is Earth Day this week, so check out all the options going on in your area. For a good listing, check this website out

They have a map where you can choose where you live and find out what is going on near you!

New Podcast – RideCast Special

Happy Rider

Check out this new special Ride Edition Podcast! If you haven’t heard, Hazon is allocating funds raised from the Bay Area Ride a bit differently than past rides. It’s pretty exciting and really putting the power in the hands (or cycles) of Ride participants, who will get to decide where to allocate the funds they raise.
Also, if you didn’t hear about last year’s NY Ride engagement story, Marc tells us what he was thinking the day he proposed on the Ride.

Check it all out by clicking here!

Yid.Dish: Quinoa, a Passover Game-Changer


It is apropos that the Whole Grains Council has declared quinoa as the March Grain of the Month, as we begin Passover on the night of March 29th. Quinoa, a rockstar of a grain in its own right with tons of nutritional value, made its debut as a Passover friendly grain just a few years ago, forever changing the way many people cook for the holiday.

According to the laws of Passover, chometz (barley, rye, oats, wheat, and spelt [BROWS to many who attended Jewish day school]) and their derivatives are forbidden. An Ashekanazic rabbinic tradition developed where kitniyot, legumes, rice and other similar products that are processed similar to chometz, look like chometz when ground into flour, or may have even just a bit of chometz in them, were also outlawed for Passover (many Sephardic Jews eat kitniyot).

As luck would have it, the law of kitniyot applies only to items that the rabbis were aware of at the time this tradition developed. This means that, you guessed it, quinoa is allowed on Passover! No longer were the Jewish people restricted to endless variations of potato dishes.

Enter, quinoa.

On Nisan and on Recalling

cherry blossom chrysler

The month Nisan begins tonight and with it, so many associations. Last year, I wrote about the practice of refraining from eating Matzah from Rosh Hodesh Nisan (i.e. tonight) until Passover. Most people make, if any, the association of dreaded Pesach cleaning and preparation. I’ll be writing some about that in a few days or next week, God willing, but for now, let’s stick to things connected specifically to Rosh Hodesh Nisan.

One association fewer people make is that Birkat haIlanot, the blessing over blooming trees, is typically said in the month of Nisan:

How does our garden grow?

Pizza Bed smaller

Thanks to Bobbi Rubinstein for sharing this update about the garden at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, CA. Bobbi is a publicist, journalist and green activist. She’s chair of the Valley Beth Shalom Green Team and co-founder of Netiya: The Los Angeles Jewish Coalition on Food and Environmental Justice Issues.

I am excited to share some news with the Hazon kehillah. My shul, Valley Beth Shalom, has broken ground on an urban garden called the Gan Tzedek Initiative. We’re growing food to donate to local food pantries and creating educational opportunities around Torah and environmental study. And perhaps most importantly, we’re building community across all age levels since this is a team effort among all the schools, teachers, parents, administrative staff and clergy.

Leading the Way to Sustainability

These days, it seems everyone is talking about “going green.” Never has such a simple sounding term had so much meaning.  For nonprofit overnight Jewish camps, their staff and lay leaders, this means changing old habits, teaching campers about how and why to make changes, and ensuring a vibrant future for their camps.

Many camps have begun to implement green practices, taking action to decrease their carbon footprint, and impart a positive environmental message to their campers.  Steps have included forgoing paper, plastic, and Styrofoam in favor of using reusable tableware and reducing non-biodegradable waste, using solar power for heating, providing campers and staff with environmentally friendly water bottles, changing light bulbs to reduce carbon emissions, and more!  Several camps have also planted gardens and are teaching their campers about healthy cooking and organics.

Hazon in Colorado


Learn with Hazon’s Executive Director and Founder, Nigel Savage, get updates about our work to build a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community and a healthier and more sustainable world for all. Participate in the conversation as we explore the dynamic interplay of food, Jewish tradition and contemporary life.

Shomrei Torah Synagogue: Torah To Go! Parashat Va’era

Torah To Go – Va’era

At the beginning of this portion, we have a piece of Torah that gives rise to one of the most ancient traditions we possess:

6  So say to the people of Israel, I am God, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will save you from their slavery, and I will redeem you with a outstretched arm, and with great judgments; 7  And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6:6-8)