Jews have a special relationship with food. God requires us to eat ethically. In the Torah, God instructs us to be sensitive to our food sources. We allow the land to lie fallow every seventh year. We don’t slaughter a mother cow and her calf on the same day. We value sensitivity and kindness – sustainability and stewardship. This Food Summit is designed to help us integrate ancient wisdom into our contemporary context. As Conservative Jews, we honor our tradition by allowing our Jewish values to influence our daily decisions. Eating is a religious practice. Let’s educate ourselves about the food manufacturing system. Let’s develop our gardening and composting skills. Let’s choose our food mindfully. Rabbi Ranon Teller Congregation Brith Shalom
Welcome to Brith Shalom’s – and possibly Houston’s – first Jewish Food Summit. The idea for this event developed, well, organically, through numerous conversations about how we could learn more about ethical, sustainable, and healthy eating as a community. Here’s our first attempt: a half day of learning and activities planned to coincide with the celebration of Tu B’Shvat, Judaism’s “New Year of the Trees”. Many thanks for the incredible volunteer and staff effort to put together an educational, fun, and thought-provoking program. Matt Stein Food Summit Organizer
WHEN 9:00 – 12:45
WHAT Check-in / Registration
9:45 – 10:00 10:00 – 10:30
Welcome – Rabbi Ranon Teller Keynote: Jewish Food Justice – Yaira A. Robinson
10:30 – 11:15
(Choose one) Food and the Environment – Dan Cohan Sanctuary ‘Food Deserts’: An Innovative New Program for Inner City Schools – Lisa Helfman Composting Workshop – Jeanie Dunnihoo
11:15 – 11:25 11:25 – 12:10
Break (Choose one) What is the Local Foods Movement? Politics and Beyond – Judith McGeary The Farmer and the Grocer: Practical Advice on Eating Well
– Rabbi Samantha Bodner, Stacey Roussel, Gwen Manzano
Is it ‘Kosher’ to Eat Meat? – Karen Bernstein 12:15 – 12:30 12:30 – 1:30
Tu B’Shvat Community Tree Planting with Religious School
Tu B’Shvat Seder Lunch (ticket required)
Please see the following pages for session descriptions and bios.
9:45 – 10:00
Opening and Welcome by Rabbi Teller
10:00 – 10:30 Location:
Keynote: Jewish Food Justice We will explore how Jewish understandings of food connect us to the earth, to each other, and to God. From kashrut to kavanah and kedushah (kosher practice, intention, and holiness), we’ll discuss how we can bring more justice and healing to the world through our food choices. Yaira A. Robinson is the Associate Director of Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy. She graduates this spring with a Master of Theological Studies from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and she is an active member of Congregation Agudas Achim in Austin. She lives with her husband and their two boys who make her laugh every day.
These two short clips will play continuously in the Board Room all morning: The Meatrix, an entertaining 10-minute animated video following Leo the pig as he exposes the problems of factory farming (themeatrix.com). A Tale for Tu B’shvat, G-dcast’s 4-minute animation featuring Honi the Circle Maker’s tale of establishing a personal relationship with God and the Jewish birthday of the trees (g-dcast.com/tu-bshvat).
THANK YOU to the following volunteers, staff, and presenters who contributed to making the Food Summit come together: Lori Actor, Marian Bell, Karen Bernstein, Rabbi Samantha Safran Bodner, Dan Cohan, Jeanie Dunnihoo, Larry Estes, Jess Faerman, Ellen Fiesinger, Troy Fiesinger, Lisa Helfman, Monica Hoffman, Steve Kaplan, Wendy Lerman, Cantor Mark Levine, Lisa Lowenstein, Judith McGeary, Debi Mishael, Yaira A. Robinson, Stacey Roussel, Meredith Segal, Bettina Siegel, Rhonda Sherman, Matt Stein, Renee Stern, Debbie Taylor, Rabbi Ranon Teller, Leah Wolfthal, Manoj Yadav
SESSION I Food and the Environment
10:30 – 11:15 Location:
How do our choices of what we eat affect the environment? How much can we reduce our carbon footprint by eating local, going vegan, or simply eating and wasting less food? How much energy and water does it take to grow and transport the food on our kitchen tables? These topics and more will be explored in an interactive discussion on food, energy and the environment. Dan Cohan is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering at Rice University. His research focuses on atmospheric modeling and air quality management, and he teaches courses on Energy and the Environment and Atmospheric Science. Dan is a recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER award and a member of the NASA Air Quality Applied Sciences Team. At Brith Shalom, Dan helped lead a Green Task Force to reduce the synagogue’s energy use and carbon footprint.
10:30 – 11:15
‘Food Deserts’: An Innovative New Program for Inner City Schools
How do we get kids to choose healthy alternatives to the usual fast food? Ripe over wrapped. Just-picked over packaged. Food Multipurpose that hasn’t been fiddled with and as easy to find as it is to eat. This Room session will focus on a new, Houston-grown initiative that empowers underserved families to choose fruits and vegetables over processed foods by providing easy access to fresh produce, nutrition education, and a fun food experience. Location:
Lisa Helfman is a board member at Recipe for Success (recipe4success.org), a Houston-based non-profit “dedicated to combating childhood obesity by changing the way our children understand, appreciate and eat their food, and by educating and mobilizing the community to provide healthier diets for children.” Lisa, a longtime Houstonian, is a graduate of the University of Houston Law Center and works as director of real estate services for Texas Children's Hospital.
10:30 – 10:30 – 11:15 Rooms 5+6
Fresh compost for your garden produces a more bountiful harvest by improving plant health, revitalizing the soil’s nutrient base, retaining water during dry days and protecting your roots from erosion and disease during rainy periods. Although you can buy good compost, it can be expensive and of questionable quality. Come learn the best way is to make your own compost from the free materials you already have: garden waste, yard clippings and other organic materials. *Adapted from urbanharvest.org/education/gardeningeducation/vegetables.html
Jeanie Dunnihoo grew up in Atlanta in a family of nature lovers with herbs and flowers all around her and learned to love them at an early age. Dunnihoo was recently chairperson of the Herb Fair of the South Texas chapter of the Herb Society of America, has been a Harris County Master Gardener for 23 years, and is a teaching member of Urban Harvest.
11:25 – 12:10 Location:
What is the Local Foods Movement ? Politics and Beyond Many people use the terms "local foods movement" or "sustainable agriculture movement," but what does it really mean? Judith McGeary will discuss the new paradigm of sustainable agriculture and the consequences for both our society and individuals. The Texas Legislature will be voting on several bills that will impact the movement, and there are many ways each person can help. Come learn what is happening, how it impacts you, and what you can do about it! Judith McGeary, the founder and Executive Director of FARFA, is an attorney and sustainable farmer. She has a B.S. in Biology from Stanford University and her J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. After a clerkship with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, she practiced as an attorney in the areas of administrative law, litigation, and appeals. She and her husband have a farm in Central Texas with sheep, cattle, horses, chickens, and turkeys. After seeing how government regulations benefit industrial agriculture at the expense of family farms, she founded FARFA in 2006 to provide a voice for independent agriculture.
The Farmer and the Grocer: Practical Advice on Eating Well
11:25 â€“ 12:10
Is it really better to eat locally grown, organic food? Stacey Roussel, founder of All We Need Farm, will teach us about the benefits of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs Location: and why they are so great for your health, for your farmer, and Multipurpose for the environment. But what if you donâ€™t have the time or the money to participate in a CSA farm share? Healthy Eating Specialist Gwen Marzano of Whole Foods will educate us about making smart decisions in the grocery store. Rabbi Samantha Safran Bodner, CSA member and Whole Foods enthusiast, will facilitate. Rabbi Samantha Safran Bodner is the Assistant Director of Jewish Living & Learning at the Evelyn Rubinstein Jewish Community Center. She moved to Houston last summer from Philadelphia, after graduating from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. In her spare time she enjoys listening to live music, reading the New Yorker, watching classic movies, spending time outdoors, and discussing the merits of healthy eating with anyone who will listen.
Stacey Roussel was a CPA but her passion was always food and growing veggies. In 2000, she quit her office job and started to focus on local community gardens, quickly realizing that the food from those gardens had better quality and taste than the store. In 2004, Stacey and her husband bought a few acres in Needville and started to grow their own food and sell produce in the form of a CSA. She grows without chemicals or synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.
Gwen Marzano is a healthy eating specialist at Whole Foods and certified vegan chef and raw food instructor. See Gwen on Houston Culture Map talking about healthy eating and making a three-minute vegan chocolate cake with cashew-vanilla frosting: http://houston.culturemap.com/newsdetail/08-28-11-raw-vegan-chocolatecake-is-mmmm-good/. *Photo courtesy of Joel Luks
11:25 – 12:10 Location:
Is it ‘Kosher’ to Eat Meat? Join us in a discussion of the ethics of eating meat and what it means when a beef cow is grass-fed – to you, the cow, the farmer, and the community. At the end of the session we'll taste a bite of kosher grass-fed beef from Appalachia. Karen Bernstein is a Brith Shalom member, a NASA engineer, a mom of two 3rd generation Houstonians and a former vegetarian who has been searching for a kosher grass-fed beef provider for 10 years.
12:15 – 12:30
Tu B’Shvat Community Tree Planting
Immediately following the last morning Food Summit sessions, come plant a new tree with Brith Shalom’s K-7 Religious School classes.
Tu B’Shvat Seder Lunch 12:30 – 1:30 pm Location:
Join in as Rabbi Teller leads a fun and festive seder meal to celebrate the "New Year of the Trees" ()ראש השנה לאילנות. The seder lunch will start immediately following the community Tu B'Shvat tree planting and the end of morning Religious School. So bring the whole family! The menu will include healthy dishes with fruits, grains, and nuts to keep with the spirit of the holiday. $5/person until January 18 $8/person thereafter Please register online: