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Land-Based Judaism

I am committed to fostering a North American Judaism, drawing its creative and spiritual energy from the land on which we live.

Publications

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Living Under Water

In the Fall of 2018, I travelled to Venice to work with a group of artists in creating Living Under Water, a compelling Jewish response to climate change. Sponsored by Beit Venezia the project takes the rising waters in the Jewish ghetto in Venice as a jumping-off point for an urgent Jewish response to this human-created crisis.

Water Seder

In the spring of 2018, I created an immersive water-focused Passover Seder for Bela Farm. We tapped the maple trees and drank the sap for our first cup of wine, poured out our wrath at the Nestlé-owned water-bottling well across the road, studied classical Jewish texts on water, and feasted on food produced at the farm.

Action

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Inspired by a Jewish CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program created by the New York-based Hazon, I joined with a few other activists to found the first Jewish CSA in Canada in partnership with the First Narayever Congregation and Everdale Farm, begun in 2007 and now in its 12th successful year.

The Narayever – Everdale CSA quickly became a locus for experimenting with local foods in holiday celebrations. We sourced local honey and apples for Rosh Hashanah, covered our sukkah with branches from local farms, ran cooking classes on challah-baking using locally-milled heritage grains and eggs from the CSA, and hosted an annual Sukkot harvest lunch featuring foods from our CSA partner farms.

With a dedicated committee of volunteers, I developed a sustainable food policy for the Narayever which is grounded in Jewish law and tradition and actively engages local farmers and food producers. Hazon has used our initiative as a model for other congregations eager to re-think kashrut in a twenty-first century context.

Since its founding in 2008, I have worked closely with Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs, serving as a founding board member and helping to plan multiple food conferences and other events.

 

As part of the Bela Farm creative team, I spent over a year studying the laws of shmita (sabbatical year) and became part of a groundbreaking movement called shmitaculture, a radical conjunction of the Jewish laws of shmita with the principles of permaculture design.

Delving into the complex intersections of gender and land in Judaism, I designed and led two immersive workshops for Jewish women thought leaders at Bela Farm. Co-sponsored by Shoresh and the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, “Exile and Wandering Home” launched an ongoing conversation about diaspora, indigeneity and gender in contemporary Jewish thought.

I have raised awareness about the important intersections of local food and religious practice in scholarly conversations at the University of Toronto through a conference on Food and Religion (hosted by Religion and the Public Sphere), at Shoresh food conferences which were jointly sponsored by the Centre for Jewish Studies, and a year-long fellowship at the Jackman Humanities Institute focused on food and spirituality.

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