The hallmark ideology of the Labor Zionist movement is the notion that Jews have, for too long, lived without having our hands in the dirt; we had developed a disconnect from the land because we weren’t in “our land.” What has offered me much contemplation and confusion over the last 10 years is why Jewish education encourages farming Israel but says little to nothing of the values of farming in the diaspora.
As societies world-wide face dramatic food crises with a future looming that would be practically unprecedented in terms of injustice and inequality in food distribution, availability and cost. Jewish values and ethics have lots to say about our roles as communities and individuals regarding our responsibilities to care for and steward our earth. As industrial food production becomes more and more untenable each day and as public interest and knowledge grow, Jewish communities across the country are responding to the crises in our midst. They are doing so not just by attempting to rework and renew Jewish education, but also by reconnecting our traditions to their agrarian roots and teaching people about the importance of food security in establishing a strong and vibrant community.
At the Hazon food conference last Hannukah I was most impressed by the work of the likes of KOL (kosher organic local) Foods and the Jewish Farm School. Their work is essential not only to the health and strength of the Jewish community, but of global society at large.
The JTA has this great article published recently on just some of the exciting things happening in the burgeoning Jewish food movement. Remember, spring is approaching fast, if you haven’t already sign up for your local CSA! See if your synagogue has a Tuv Ha’aretz site set up with Hazon and if not, help set one up!