Kudos to Pew Research for their Pew Jewish survey out yesterday. It makes interesting and challenging reading for those of us who believe in non-haredi expressions of serious Jewish life. One of the things that comes through very clearly is that many younger Jews in this country do not take Jewish particularism as self-evident. They — to some extent, we — are choosing to express a sense of Jewishness whilst at the same time engaging very deeply with the wider world. If organized Jewish life offers these things as a choice — to be either Jewish, or engaged with the world — then non-haredi Jewish life will decline, and the overall Jewish commitment to the world will lessen also. Simon Klarfeld wrote well about this in the Jewish Week two weeks ago:
A fundamental flaw with much of Jewish education in America is that it forces us to view Jewish identity within a vacuum. The goal of imparting students with as much Judaism as possible often leads teachers and administrators to ignore equally — if not more — discussions about focusing on the challenges of living a Jewish life in a predominantly non-Jewish world. What we ignore is the importance of teaching our children how to engage as “a Jew among the nations.” This doesn’t mean abandoning Jewish particularism; it just means supplementing it with a more holistic approach. Our children should graduate the Jewish educational system with pride in their inheritance, humility in what they know (and how much more they could know), and the knowledge that their Judaism provides added value for negotiating modern life.
This insight, of course, underpins an enormous amount of the work that Hazon does. We precisely do not see Jewish identity in a vacuum. Teva enables Jewish middle-schoolers to join the dots between the natural sciences and the Torah. Adamah provokes 20-somethings to think about the nature of Jewish community, and the ways in which Jewish tradition comes alive when we grow food and relate to earth in the most literal of ways. The work we’re doing on food justice connects the dots between a tradition of keeping kosher and the challenge of developing sustainable food systems today.
In the coming months there will be a renewed conversation about the challenges facing non-haredi Jewish life in this country. We need to be honest about the challenges, and we need to be far more decisive in strengthening initiatives that demonstrably enable Jewish life to flourish in connection with the wider world, rather than alienated or isolated from it.
Two last things:
b/ We’ve just opened registration for our 2013 Hazon Food Conference. It’s December 29th – January 1st at Isabella Freedman – the first-time we’ve ever done it over New Year’s Eve. There’s a phenomenal line-up and we expect it to sell-out. If you’d like to join us, click here for info and registration.
There’s also detailed info beneath my signature.
Shabbat shalom, all best wishes,
Executive Director, Hazon
If you haven’t yet made plans for New Year’s, you’re warmly invited to join us for this year’s Hazon Food Conference (December 29, 2013 – January 1, 2014, at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center), where contemporary food values meet Jewish tradition. It’s a unique gathering at which farmers and rabbis, nutritionists and chefs, vegans and omnivores come together to explore the dynamic interplay of food, Jewish tradition, and contemporary life. Our annual event brings together passionate people who are working for sustainable food systems on multiple levels — nationally and internationally, in their communities, and in their own lives. It’s an incredibly strong line-up, it’s the first time we’ve ever done it over New Year’s Eve, and we’re pretty confident it will sell-out. If you’d like to join us – registration is now open.
And, for the first time ever, the Food Conference will not be taking place over Shabbat, which means that we’re going to be packing the schedule with more cooking demos, more DIY sessions, and more opportunities to get your hands messy than ever before. We’re also going to be throwing a New Year’s bash as only Hazon and Isabella Freedman can – with the help of Itta Werdiger-Roth of The Hester, the coolest Kosher speakeasy in Brooklyn, and Zion 80, a rockin’ band that brings together the melodies of Shlomo Carlebach with the beats of Fela Kuti.
You’ll have the opportunity to learn from a number of leading Jewish foodies throughout the conference, including Joan Nathan, Gil Marks, and Leah Koenig, among others. We’re also really excited to be partnering with JOIN for Justice on a Food Justice and Community Organizing track, where we’ll be learning how to empower our communities to create a more just and equitable society.
All-inclusive rates start at $360 if you register before October 15th. Prices include lodging, homemade kosher farm-to-table meals, and all programming. We also have generous scholarships and financial aid available for those who qualify. Visit hazon.org/foodconference for more information.
Blossoms Bloomin this December at Isabella Freedman at Blues for Challah: Encores. Join us again for rocking out and reminiscing at this Jewish Deadfest in the inimitable winter-green Berkshires. Don’t miss serious jam sessions, farm-to-table gourmet meals, Dead trivia, Campfire A Cappella and more.
Friday, December 13th – Sunday, December 15th
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center
Falls Village, CT
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
615 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA
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?
Sunday, October 13th, 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Ahimsa House of Philadelphia
5007 Cedar Ave, Philadelphia, PA
Gloria Steinem & Reb Arthur: What Does 80 Look Like?
The Shalom Center invites you to a glorious celebration entitled This is what 80 Looks Like: Elders who Are Activists, Activists who are Elders honoring Reb Arthur Waskow & Gloria Steinem. We can, across all generations, learn from them what it means to be an Elder who’s still an activist, and what it means to be an activist who can draw on the experience of many years.
For more information and to register, please click here.
Sunday, November 3rd, 5:00pm
4101 Freeland Ave