[Newsletter] September 28 – Sukkot and the Farm Bill

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Sukkot and the Farm Bill

New York

September 28th 2012 / 12th Tishrei 5773

Dear All,

Sukkot starts on Sunday. It’s one of my favorite holidays: Sitting in a sukkah; the lulav and etrog; celebrating the harvest; feeling exposed to the world in good ways; thinking about relationship to place, both locally and in relation to Israel. Celebrating the change of season.

Liz and I are going to Isabella Freedman for Sukkahfest this Sunday, Freedman being the perfect place to spend Sukkot as the New England leaves start to change color; and Sukkot being the perfect time to be at Isabella Freedman, especially since this year the succah, which is huge and beautiful, has a solid foundation, and thus won’t slide into the mud if it rains, which the weather forecast says is statistically unlikely. (Sukkahfest is almost sold-out, but to get one of the last reservations, or to join a list for cancellations, check Isabella Freedman’s website.)

This year, Sukkot will also coincide with the legal expiry of the current Farm Bill. What a long strange trip it’s been: a multi-year journey to a vital and complex piece of legislation, that’s not now going to proceed. I’ll say more in a moment about what I think will happen. But, first, in terms of the background:

  1. the Senate Agriculture Committee, and then the full Senate, voted for a proposed piece of legislation that was quite good in various respects. A prescient article in Mother Jones on June 22nd said that it could have been worse, and that the House version would be worse.
  2. The House version in due course was indeed a lot worse, including more than $12 billion in additional cuts in food stamps, but it only went through the House Ag Committee; it didn’t go through the full House, nor then get reconciled; and now Congress is on recess, which is why the 2008 bill will now expire;
  3. An article in the New York Times on September 12th contains a more radical critique of the Farm Bill, and one that I think is valid: The Farm Bill Should Help the Planet, Not Just Crops
  4. the Senate version, though not the House version, included $100m to supportDoubleUpFoodBucks, which we argued for strongly. I hope that this provision makes it through into the 2013 versions. Similarly, there’s a trenchant piece by Jonathan Zasloff just up on the Jew & the Carrot, specifically about the foreign aid provisions of the Farm Bill. As a proportion of the overall farm bill, these provisions are relatively tiny, but their impact is significant. This is one of the areas where the Jewish community may be able to make a difference: If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention

So what happens now? Nothing will happen till a new Congress takes office, after the elections. Probably at some point this winter an extension of key provisions of the last Farm Bill will be approved, for a limited time. That will then shuffle consideration of a full-scale new Farm Bill into 2013.

For now, therefore, I’d say: watch this space. Don’t be deterred by a sense of disempowerment. Certainly, of course, you should vote in this fall’s congressional and presidential elections (and the smaller elections as well; the new West Wing Reunion video, encouraging you to vote, is superb). And certainly you should carry on learning about the Farm Bill, and about how we could develop more sustainable food systems in this country. There’s news and links, including a live twitter feed, atwww.hazon.org/farmbill. The Jewish Farm Bill Working Group, of which we are founding members, will regroup after the chagim to figure out if/how we can seek to make a more sustained impact. (This year we made a reasonable start).

The single most valuable thing you can do is to learn about the issues, and get directly in touch with your elected officials. A comprehensive Farm Bill should be supporting and strengthening sustainable food systems, providing support for people in need, and reducing the amount of taxpayer money that goes to industrial monoculture either directly, via subsidies, or indirectly via mispriced crop insurance.

Sukkot comes to celebrate the harvest, to remind us of our vulnerability, and to inaugurate, we hope, a period of rains that will enable next year’s crop to grow healthily. Kein yehi ratzon- may this be a year of health and sustainability for us all.

Shabbat shalom, chag sameach,


Nigel Savage
Executive Director, Hazon

Last Chance to Register!

[Image]The Israel Ride is six weeks away, but it is not too late to join us. We have a great new route this year, including two days of riding up north. Details of our daily route options are now available – we will be riding through the Galil, stopping at the Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary, climbing the lower slopes of the Golan (with the Chalutzim, our strongest riders, do a bit more climbing!), and riding around the Kinneret. As per tradition, we will still spend Shabbat in Mitzpe Ramon, visit the Arava Institute, and end with a finale on the shores of the Red Sea in Eilat.

If you are still considering joining us, we invite you to use the code “newyear” which will discount registration by $200. You can also share this code with friends who may wish to ride this year as well. If you cannot join us, we invite you to sponsorone of our riders.

Learn More | Join the Ride

What Are You Doing for Hanukkah?

Food Conference Registration Is Filling Up

[Image]Come to Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center and the Hazon Food Conference –light in the darkness! Good food, jelly donuts from around the world, and more.

The Food Conference will take place over Shabbat Hanukkah, December 6th-9th. Space is extremely limited, and we will sell out. Register today!

Learn More | Register Today

Denver Sukkah Bike Hop

[Image]Join your friends in Colorado for the annual Sukkah Bike Hop!

Sunday, October 7 beginning and ending at Chabad NW of Metro Denver

8:00 AM recommended arrival, 9:00 AM sharp departure – Rain or shine

Join us from 8:00 AM for coffee, tea and snacks. We’ll have people on hand to help with mechanical support for any last minute tune up or repair needs.

The rides will start and end at:
Chabad of NW Metro Denver, 4505 W. 112th Avenue, Westminster, CO 80031 (Google Map)

Three routes through beautiful Boulder County in the fall, each supported with aSAGwagon, ride leaders, and a snack stop in a community sukkah in each city.

Learn More

Scholarships Available to Coloradans for 2012 Food Conference

[Image]Through the generous support of Rose Community Foundation, Oreg Foundation, and 18 Pomegrantes, Hazon is pleased to offer scholarships for people from the Denver and Boulder areas.

We are seeking a diverse group of applicants of all ages and religious backgrounds, who are eager to capture the energy and knowledge from the conference to catalyze initiatives, awareness, and organizational programming to the Jewish Food Movement in Denver/Boulder. Application deadline is midnight, October 2nd.

Learn More | Scholarships for Non-Coloradans

Opportunities From Our Friends

Party in the Sukkah!

[Image]Enjoy fun activities and delicious holiday-inspired treats in the Pottruck Family Atrium and in our rooftop sukkah at the San Francisco JCC! Sample and purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at our mini-farmers’ market. Learn environment-saving techniques from Hazon and EcoJews of the Bay and plant crops with the JCCSF’s resident gardener. Join the PJ Library for story time in our Little Library Sukkah. Free. Presented in partnership with Hazon, EcoJews of the Bay, PJ Library and Capay Organics.

Learn More

Jewish Farm School’s Sukkot Harvest Celebration[Image]

Jewish Farm School on the Farm at Eden Village, invites you to the Sukkot Harvest CelebrationSunday, October 7, from 10:30am-2:30pm. We’re celebrating our favorite Jewish holiday with a day of farming, feasting and fun in and around our Sukkah. Be a guest at our table and experience the beauty of our farm in the wealth of natures bounty!

Eat, Pray, Lulav

[Image]Head down to the Urban Adamah farm in Berkeley for ‘Eat Pray Lulav,’ a Sukkot Harvest Festival, on Sunday, October 7, from 2-6pm for a family event featuring live musical performances, goats, storytelling, cob stove building, a Really Local Tea Bar, Farm tours, face painting…and much more!

Local, kosher, organic food available for purchase. The Urban Adamah farm is at 1050 Parker Street, Berkeley. Tickets are available for friends of Hazon at 50% off the regular price from http://urbanadamah.org by using the code ‘partner-orgs’.

Modern Manna

[Image]“Modern Manna” will be the first public LABA event of our EAT year. It
will be held October 3, 2012 at 7pm in the Sukkah on the roof of the
14th Street Y.

During the evening we will study texts about manna while experiencing
the modern interpretations of the miracle food. There will also be wine,
art and music from this year’s fellows and LABA alumni.

For more information about the event and to purchase tickets, please visit:www.14streety.org/events

Israel Herb School


Israel herb School is receiving applications for the 2013 session of Foundations of Herbalism. They are incorporating artistic expression including music, painting, sculpture and writing in this; and farming for the sake of eating local. ContactBaruch Shapiro for more information or visit their website at www.israelherbschool.com.