Rosh Hashanah is quickly approaching. It is the season of reflection, repentance, forgiveness, apples, and honey. And this year, it is the season to think about the bees that made the honey and pollinated the apples. Recently Amichai Lau-Lavie, the founding director of Storahtelling and spiritual leader of Lab/Shul brought to our attention the latest information about the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder. In the last six years, bee populations have plummeted and an estimated 10 million beehives have been abandoned by their bee tenants due to a disease called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). While the cause of CCD has been mysterious to scientists and researchers, evidence is coming together to point to chemicals found in pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
Jewish tradition and values treasure all life, including bees, and their loss of life at the hand of dangerous chemicals is tragic in itself. Yet this phenomenon is not occurring in a vacuum. As one of the most-relied on pollinators in the US, the loss of the Western honey bee would have detrimental effects on agricultural cycles. One third of the crops we eat—including foods like broccoli, bell peppers, avocado, and our beloved Rosh Hashanah apples—rely on honey bees and other pollinators in order to reproduce year after year.
Apples and honey are simple icons. They represent looking forward to a year that is tova u’metuka—happy and sweet. This year, let’s expand that symbol to represent a commitment to action to protect the bees with whom we are so interdependent. Let’s make this year truly sweet by imbuing it with awareness, intention, and stewardship of the environment around us.
As Rosh Hashanah quickly approaches, there are several things you can do to take action against the damaging effects of CCD. Education is an amazing first step to take. We encourage you to buy organic apples and honey if possible to support agriculture that doesn’t use the harmful chemicals associated with CCD. Then, while you and your guests (or hosts) dip apples into sweet, delicious honey, raise awareness and explain the CCD crisis.
In addition, there are steps you can take to promote bee health after the holiday passes. If you are a home gardener, consider using fewer or no pesticides in your gardens. Plant native flowers that will give bees healthy food to eat at your home, or make it a community project! If you are involved in a community that has space for a flower plot, like a synagogue or Jewish Community Center, begin a native flower meadow and distribute seed packets to your community to do the same at their homes. Another great step to take is to write to your Member of Congress in support of the “Save America’s Pollinator Act.” This act calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend the use of bee-harmful chemicals called neonicotinoids in seed, soil, and foliar treatments of bee-pollinated crops. Additionally, while neonicotinoids are currently up for review for safety by the EPA in 2018, the act calls for the EPA to review neonicotinoids now. For more information about CCD and action you can take, see our flier and visit these links.
Bee health and the issue of CCD can seem overwhelming and far away. But our food, our lives, and the environment we live in is directly related to the well-beings of these precious honey bees. After we blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, we recite the phrase “hayom harat olam,” which means “today is the creation of the world.” On a holiday imbued with the spirit of creation, let’s commit to respecting and protecting all of the world’s creations and its complex systems and cycles, with emphasis on the bees and their pollinating relationship with the world around them. Furthermore, Rabbi Matis Weinberg interprets this to mean that Rosh Hashanah is the “womb of the year.” In other words, our thoughts, prayers, and intentions set on Rosh Hashanah have real power to shape the year to come. Let’s tap into this power by working collectively to be aware, educate, and take action to combat CCD. Wishing you and your loved ones a year that is truly meaningful, healthy, happy, and sweet.
All the best,
Executive Director, Hazon
Wednesday, September 11, 5:30 pm til dark
181 S Oneida St, Denver CO
Together with the Jewish Education Project, Hazon is teaching a class for Westchester Teens. We will explore what it means to keep kosher in 2013, and how our food choices reflect our other values, Jewish and secular. We will look into our souls and our stomachs to explore the various ways in which our food traditions interact with our Jewish traditions and our contemporary lives. We will delve into issues of food justice, reasons for eating healthy within the framework of Jewish texts, and of course create and taste delicious foods!
Mondays from 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Dates: Sept 30, Oct 14, 28,
Nov 11, Nov 25, Dec 9
Grades: 8 – 12
JCC Mid Westchester
– 999 Wilmot Road
Scarsdale, NY 10583
Join us for a day with Philadelphia-area foodies, rabbis, chefs, farmers, vegans, and omnivores alike to learn, explore, and celebrate the intersection of healthy food, sustainability, and Jewish life. The day’s activities include a panel discussion and keynote speech led by Senator Daylin Leach, DIY skill shares on beekeeping and healthy eating, and sessions on food justice, Torah, and Being Jewish in Philadelphia. There will be a dynamic shuk (market) for your enjoyment. Be a part of the 1st Annual Hazon Food Festival in Philadelphia and make history.
Registration Fees: $36 Adult, $18 Children, Student (with valid ID), & Seniors (62+).
Sunday, October 20th, 9:30am – 5:30pm
Rodeph Shalom – 615 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19143
Shift gears, shake the lulav, and share good food with friends! Pick from one of two beautiful routes through Boulder County and visit several community sukkahs and enjoy community, conversation, and delicious, freshly-prepared, kosher food at each stop. Registration is $10 – $30. Join us!
Sunday, September 22, 2013. 8:00 am arrival, 9:00 am departure. Riders will meet in the overflow lot of Congregation Bonai Shalom, Boulder, CO.
The Shtetl Skills workshop series provides city dwellers with practical skills to live more sustainably. Topics will include building a Sukkah from reclaimed materials, financial permaculture, and preserving the harvest. Each workshop will be framed by traditional and not so traditional Jewish values and concepts, and then followed with a hands-on experiential component. Workshops are held in West Philadelphia at the Ahimsa House, and are co-sponsored by Hazon in partnership with Kol Tzedek and What is Your Food Worth?
September 15, September 29, October 13, 1:00pm-4:00pm
Ahimsa House of Philadelphia – 5007 Cedar Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19143
New Kevah Learning Groups Focus on Jewish Perspectives on Food
How do we balance enjoying great food while recognizing that people—even here in our own community—go to bed hungry every night? How do we help our children bring mindfulness and gratitude to every meal?
These are just a few of the questions being posed by the Peninsula Jewish Community Center and Kevah. As part of an innovative new partnership between the PJCC (Foster City) and the Berkley-based Kevah, family learning groups are being formed to address Jewish approaches to food, hunger, and social justice. In a relaxed, comfortable setting, groups will attend six sessions with other families in their community. Guided by Jewish texts and an outstanding educator, participants will explore some of Judaism’s most fascinating ideas about food, and deepen their understanding of tikkun olam and tzedakah. No previous background knowledge is necessary and interfaith families are welcome.
If your family (children ages 4-12) is interested in this unique opportunity to learn, grow, and connect, please contact Lea Policoff, Kevah Groups Coordinator, at 650.378.2778