Passover: Liberate Yourself from Industrial Food

Peninsula Jewish Community Center. Foster City, CA

Peninsula Jewish Community Center’s Gan Tzedek (Justice Garden). Foster City, CA

Our nation is enslaved to an industrial food system that is making us sick and fat. It abuses workers (with many cases of modern day slavery), is inhumane to animals, pollutes our drinking water with manure and pesticides, and contributes to climate change. Eating is a religious act. These foods do not reflect Jewish values of humane treatment of animals, workers rights, protecting the environment and human health.

This Passover, we can liberate ourselves from this system by supporting farmers that grow food more sustainably. Below is a list of suggestions for your seder and throughout the year. There’s so much more that can be done, so please share your ideas in the comments section, at the bottom of the post.  Continue reading

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Tzav: Sharing with Others

Tzav soup

Tzav soup

This week’s parsha, Tzav, includes more details about sacrifices, including the Korban Todah (Thanksgiving offering). Again, I wrestled this week about what the sacrifices mean to me and how to translate the parsha into a recipe (though the Korban Todah “consisted of forty loaves of bread”)?

Dr. Tali Loewenthal on Chabad.org explains that this offering “was brought as expression of thanks to God by someone who experienced any of four specific kinds of danger: a captive who was freed; a person who crossed the sea; one who traversed the desert, and someone who has recovered from an illness. And, none of it could remain until the following day.

Rabbi Brad Artson, in The Bedside Torah, comments that “the Korban Todah is a celebration of life and its wonder.”

Continue reading

Vayikra: Modern Sacrifices

Vaykira: lemon salt

Vaykira: lemon salt

As a vegetarian since the age of nine and an on-again, off-again vegan, I wrestled with this week’s parsha, Vayikra, which offers detailed instructions for animal sacrifices.  How do I understand sacrifices (and those who argue that these practices will return during the Messianic period) with my commitment to not eating or harming animals?

Rabbi Brad Artson puts the ancient practice into context. He writes in The Bedside Torah, “Our ancestors turned to animal sacrifice because they saw in it a way to express deep rage, feelings of inadequacy, and guilt. They could, through sacrifice of animals, see their own frailty, their own mortality, and their own bloodiness” (p. 169).

And, sacrifices still offer meaning to us in the 21st century. He explains, “in our age, a period of sanitized religion and everyday violence, the practice of our ancestors has something to teach. And so we read Sefer Va-Yikra, and learn to see our fears in the eyes of an animal going to the slaughter, in the cries of the victim of sacrifice” (p. 169). Continue reading

Fair-Trade Kosher Chocolate Give-Away

Kosher, Fair Trade chocolate

Kosher, Fair Trade chocolate

Who can say no to Fair Trade, kosher for Passover chocolate? Fair Trade Judaica is generously giving-away chocolate to one lucky reader! Enter to win by March 20, 2015 by writing in the comments section, at the bottom, about why Fair Trade kosher for Passover chocolate is important to you.  Continue reading

Ki Tisa: Anxiety and Desire

Ki Tisa: Smashed potatoes with turmeric

Ki Tisa: Smashed potatoes with turmeric

In this week’s parsha, Ki Tisa, an epic moment occurs when Moses descends Mount Sinai with the tablets inscribed with the 10 Commandments and finds the Israelites worshiping the Golden Calf. He throws down the tablets, shattering them.  How can one understand the Israelites creation and worship of the Golden Calf? Were their actions actually predictable and expected?

Yael Shy of the Institute for Jewish Spirituality describes the Israelites feelings then as “The Fire of Anxiety.” She writes, “When Aaron throws the gold in the fire, the people are filled with terror and anxiety. Moses has been gone for over a month. They are terrified of being abandoned, of being alone.“ Continue reading