Archive for the 'Synagogues' Category

Hazon’s Food Programs Featured on Civil Eats Blog

Check out this post about the Jewish Food Movement on Civil Eats. It is great to learn about the Food Movement from two of Hazon’s core characters – Judith Belasco, Hazon’s director of food programs and Sue Carson, one of Hazon’s key lay-leaders in the food movement. Sue co-chaired the 2008 Hazon Food Conference and helped start a Hazon CSA program at her synagogue in Merion Station. The article includes these reflections from Sue about her experiences at the Conference:

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!

Jonathan Safran Foer at B’nai Jeshurun

I just got home from seeing Jonathan Safran Foer speak at B’nai Jeshurun in Manhattan. Foer spoke for a short while and read from his new book, Eating Animals, but a large portion of the event was devoted to Q&A.

Foer noted from the onset that the synagogue was a fitting venue to have a discussion about the ethical issues related to eating animals. He said that religion strives to lessen violence and suffering in the world and that it affects our relationship with the Earth and nature. He said that while he does not consider himself particularly observant, the Judaism passed down to him from his parents and grandparents “informed” Eating Animals.

He read a sample of the book’s opening chapter, which also appeared in The New York Times Magazine last fall. The concluding line “If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save” was a great “thesis” to shape the conversation that followed.

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.

Beyond CSAs and Sustainable Meat Co-ops: How can our communities support us in eating sustainably and more cheaply

I got an intriguing email from another member of my synagogue this week. He knew I had organized bringing a sustainable meat co-op to the shul, but was wondering what I knew about bulk dry goods in our area. Married to a vegetarian, he cooked a lot of legumes and grains, but found it hard to find them in larger packages (more than say 1-2 pounds for legumes or 10 pounds for grains). Also, prices for these staples have been rising. He floated the idea that there might be interest in the synagogue in buying these items in large quantities (say, 100 pounds at a time) from a bulk supplier, both to bring down cost and to reduce packaging. It also might provide all of us with more variety, since the risk of trying a new product would be spread among the group, and encourage us all to eat more sustainably by reducing our meat and dairy consumption.

Hazon CSA featured in The Jewish Week!

Eric Jewish Week

Check out this article in The Jewish Week that features the Hazon CSA at the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the Northshore in Long Island, NY. The syanagogue’s cantor Eric Schumiller highlights the cooperation between his synagogue and the farm, as well their emphasis on environmentalism.

Photo Credit to Lauren Pulver


This past shabbat I visited Tikvat Israel, the synagogue whose Tuv Ha’aretz CSA we joined at the beginning of the summer. In honor of Shabbat Hazon, the shabbat before the fast of Tisha B’Av, and to celebrate the success of the Hazon CSA, Tikvat Israel served a vegetarian shabbat lunch for its congregants and CSA members. The lunch was chock-full of delicious organic and locally grown vegetables. Farmer Pam’s produce was used in such dishes as cucumber salad, savory zucchini bread and vegetarian chili. In addition to being delicious, the lunch served as a wonderful way to connect congregants and members of the CSA.

Kosher and Food Ethics: Exploring Vegetarianism, Meat Production, Fair Labor and Other Food Related Ethical Issues

Darkhei Noam’s Scholar-in-Residence program with Rabbi Daniel Sperber is hosting a Shabbat luncheon this Saturday May 16, 2009 from 12:30 PM – 2:00 PM in New York City’s Heschel School (270 West 89th Street between West End Avenue and Broadway.)

Join Rabbi Sperber, Milan Roven Professor of Talmudic Research at Bar Ilan University, rabbi of Congregation Menachem Zion in the Old City of Jerusalem and Darkhei Noam’s halakhic adviser, at a lunch and learn program following services.   Rabbi Sperber will be speaking on the topic of “Kosher & Food Ethics: Exploring vegetarianism, meat production, fair labor and other food related ethical issue.”

Eco-Kosher Shabbat Meals Becoming the Norm?

My parents’ shul and rabbi are mentioned in this article, which should make the notion of an intentionally eco-Kosher Shabbat meal seem that much more normal.  But it doesn’t.  Every meal I host, like nearly every meal my friends host, is vegetarian, with special emphasis placed on organics, etc, during the “food tour.”  This, too, should make it all seem so normal, but it doesn’t.  I have vegan friends (and was vegan myself for 6 years) who host with or request water challahs, no hard-boiled eggs in the cholent (the best part, if you ask me, or most people, judging by the fighting that sometimes happens over them,) etc.  I think the reason it doesn’t seem so normal is that it’s not really.  Are my friends and me, Jews who do the whole Shabbat/Kosher/observance thing and do it in this way, a subculture within a subculture?

Shomrei Ha’aretz – Two Green Thumbs-Up!

Thanks to Hanniel Levenson for this guest post.  Hanniel is the Environmental Rabbinic Intern at The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs. Hanniel majored in Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University and was awarded a Master of Science degree in environmental policy at Bard College. A self-described post-denominational Jew, Hanniel sees a strong connection between the environment and Judaism and plans to pursue this avenue in his Rabbinical studies at The Academy for Jewish Religion. He is also a painter, a competitive gymnast, who has competed on the national level, as well as a recently Registered Yoga Teacher.

Biodegradable Plastic Utensils

The Federation for Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC), one of the main pillars of Conservative Judaism, under the direction of its Executive Director, Rabbi Charles Simon, has taken the initiative to realize Conservative Judaism’s denominational- wide commitment to create a sustainable future.  And it begins in the synagogue.

Jewish tradition is filled with environmentally conscious laws, stories, and leaders. Couple this with strong social action and you have Shomrei Ha’aretz –  “Stewards of the Land.”

Yid.Dish: Got gelt? Post-Chanukah suggestions for using up less-than-amazing chocolate

Buckeyes - the state candy of Ohio

Chanukah gelt always seems like a good idea at the beginning of December, but these days, the chocolate just doesn’t seem worth fighting with the foil to eat. Similar to Rhea Yablon Kennedy‘s experience, we wanted to find another way to use up our leftovers. When my roomies came back from a trip to Ohio they were inspired to make Buckeyes – the unofficial candy of the state of Ohio. Buckeyes are a tree nut and the candies do resemble the naturally occurring buckeye. Rachel, who hails from Cincinnati, referenced the Isaac M. Wise Temple Sisterhood cookbook for recipes. Not 1, but 2 recipes can be found (pages 113 and 114 for those of you who have the 2001 edition of the cookbook).  The Hazon office sure enjoyed these tasty treats…Buckeyes are basically peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate.

Change from Within: An Interview with Rabbi Gordon Tucker

Rabbi Gordon Tucker is the Senior Rabbi at the Temple Israel Center in White Plains, New York. He served as the Dean of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTA) from 1984 until 1992, and on the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly from 1982 to 2007. His most recent published work, Heavenly Torah: As Refracted Through the Generations is a translation with commentary of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s three volume work in Hebrew.

Right before Thanksgiving, I had the chance to speak with Rabbi Tucker about his thoughts on Hekhsher Tzedek, how food and social justice connect, and where change comes from in Conservative Judaism (hint, read the title of this post)

Read all about it below the jump (plus – a special, candid photo of Rabbi Tucker on Hazon’s New York Jewish Environmental Bike Ride!)…

Institutional Food – How Green is Your Synagogue?


Deciding what to eat for lunch can be a challenge – but deciding what hundreds (or thousands) of other people should eat for lunch is decidedly harder.  But such is the charge for the many hospitals, schools, and other institutions across the country that feed people, en masse, on a daily basis.

In the past few years, a growing handful of institutions (e.g. Yale University and Kaiser Permanente) have attempted to bring institutional food away from Lunch Lady Land – sourcing produce from local farms, offering less junk food in favor of more fruits & veggies, increasing the number of homemade meals (vs. “heat-n-serve” foods) etc.  The Jewish community has jumped on the institutional food reform bandwagon too as synagogues, day schools and JCCs across the country begin to question their dependence on Styrofoam coffee cups and greasy kosher pizza.

Read it and Eat: A (Jewish) Review of In Defense of Food

good-food.jpgMany people complain that it’s difficult to find a synagogue to join in New York City. There are just so many options, that none of them feel exactly right – you might call it The Shul-Goers Dilemma. These days, however, I’m feeling pretty good at Temple Bet Pollan.

Michael Pollan gets his fair share of love on this blog, and his new book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto has already joined its predecessor, The Omnivore’s Dilemma as a New York Times Best Seller. Pollan is in the middle of his second whirlwind book tour in two years (I guess he sleeps on the plane) – and I hear the same account every where he goes. Huge venue, sold out show, knockout performance.

Like any effective leader – Martin Luther King included – he’s charismatic and big on the big ideas that change the way we think – or in this case how we eat. But as I devoured (pun intented) Pollan’s new book on my subway commute, I wondered what, if anything, does his worldview offer to the Jewish community? And, perhaps more interestingly, what wisdom does the tribe have to offer back to him?