Behind the Kitchen Door

611taCpxXoLOn  Sunday April 12 you can join a group of Jewish social justice activists who will visit the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) in Detroit to learn about the often invisible problems of restaurant workers. Many of those workers—often with children—qualify for food stamps and live a paycheck away from homelessness. Discrimination, wage theft, and abusive working conditions are common. The deadline to register for this event is April 6, see the bottom of this post for more details.

Founded in 2008, ROC-Michigan is dedicated to winning improved working conditions and opportunities for advancement for Southeast Michigan’s 134,000 restaurant workers. ROC-Michigan is an independent affiliate of ROC United, a national organization of over 10,000 restaurant workers.  ROC was originally founded in New York City by a group of restaurant workers who had formerly worked at the World Trade Center and were displaced by the 9-11 tragedy.

In her 2013 book Behind the Kitchen Door, ROC co-founder Saru Jayaraman writes, “Sustainability is about contributing to a society that everybody benefits from, not just going organic because you don’t want to die from cancer or have a difficult pregnancy. What is a sustainable restaurant? It’s one in which as the restaurant grows, the people grow with it.”

This program will feature a vegetarian, kosher-style Cajun/ Soul fusion lunch at ROC’s COLORS Restaurant. Following the meal we will learn about issues faced by restaurant workers from a panel including COLORS staff. Cost of the meal is $18 per person. Any additional donations are tax-deductible and go to support ROC. To reserve a spot, make a check out to “ROC-MI,” indicate # of attendees, and mail to the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, 1457 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226. Deadline is April 6th. Reconstructionist Congregation is co-sponsoring this joint social justice program along with six other area Jewish groups. Carpooling is encouraged! For questions or more information contact Steve Merritt at stevemerritt2@gmail.com.

Beit Sefer Tzedakah Project

By Rebecca Ball

Photos by Sara Goldshlack

Beit Sefer

Being new to the AARC Beit Sefer, and to attending a Beit Sefer in general, my family and I weren’t necessarily sure what to expect this year. We have not been disappointed! The learning and camaraderie and overall fun that my sons have experienced has been so positive. I am extremely impressed by all the thought and work that has been put into the curriculum and activities the students are enjoying.

One activity in particular that has been quite rewarding has been the school-wide Tzedakah Project. For this project, the students decorated their own tzedakah boxes to bring home. They earned money at home by doing chores and other tasks for their parents. The students discussed in class the things they did to earn the money, such as making dinner for the family or shoveling snow or cleaning their rooms. After several weeks of earning money, the students brought in their boxes and voted on the agency to which they would donate. They chose the Humane Society of Huron Valley, and were proud to discover that they had raised over $125 for the animals! Beit Sefer Tzed project

The school then had a volunteer from the Humane Society come to visit with an adoptable dog. She described to the students the programs and supplies towards which the students’ money would go. The children had the chance to pet the dog and learned about showing compassion towards animals. Many were even interested in learning how to volunteer at the facility. The authentic, real-world experience that this project provided helped our young people to live the experience of tzedakah rather than merely hearing about it. Giving tzedakah is a righteous act in Judaism, simple justice and possibly the most enlightened of all the commandments. Our Beit Sefer has beautifully illustrated this joyful obligation for our children.

Hand in Hand Jewish-Arab Education in Israel

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AARC is a co-sponsor of the visit to Ann Arbor of Lee Gordon, co-founder of Hand In Hand, Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel. He will be here March 20-22 for a series of open community events highlighting the work of these bilingual and multicultural Jewish-Arab schools. The weekend’s events will give you the opportunity to be a part of this diverse intercultural Ann Arbor gathering in support of a shared society in Israel.

Community members are invited to all events:

Friday, March 20, 7:30 PM: “Continuing Together, without Hate and without Fear” Guest sermon, Social Action Shabbat service. Temple Beth Emeth, 2309 Packard Street

Saturday, March 21, 8:00 PM: “Building a Shared Society Together: Multicultural Education and Peacemaking in Israel,” an interfaith, multicultural gathering. St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church/Temple Beth Emeth, 2309 Packard Street

Sunday, March 22, 4:00 PM: “Overcoming the Jewish-Arab Divide in Israel: Building a Model of Integrated Schools and Leadership,” hosted by Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor. Jewish Community Center, 2939 Birch Hollow Drive

Please RSVP to handinhanda2@gmail.com indicating which event(s) you plan to attend.

Co-sponsors: Temple Beth Emeth, St. Clare of Assisi Episcopal Church, Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor, Jewish Cultural Society, Beth Israel Congregation, Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, Chelsea First United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor, Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, First Unitarian Universalist Association of Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Hillel.

 

Connecting Food & Faith

Thursday, Jan. 22, 7 pm
Panel Discussion at Ann Arbor District Library, downtown (343 South Fifth Avenue)
Multi-Purpose Room

Chuck Warpehoski, the Director of Ann Arbor’s Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, will moderate a discussion among a variety of different faith perspectives, about how, and why, people of faith link what, and how, they eat to their values and beliefs.

Panelists will include:

  • Reverend Kristin Riegel, First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor
  • Cathy Muha, Mindful Eating Coalition leader, First Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Ann Arbor
  • Carole Caplan, Jewish Alliance of Food, Land & Justice / Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation
  • Mansoor Qureshi, President, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Michigan
  • Julie Ritter and Colleen Retherford, Jewel Heart Ann Arbor

honey

Edible Home Landscapes: From saving seeds to harvesting from your trees

Edible Landscapes

Sunday, February 1, 2015, 1 pm – 3 pm, at the JCC
Join us in honor of Shmita and Tu B’shevat

Think beyond grocery stores, farmers markets, and CSAs – what if healthy foods were right outside your kitchen door?

Local plant guru Erica Kempter from Nature and Nurture Seeds will educate us on soils, seeds, and trees needed to create edible landscapes at home.

Dialogue, text study, hands-on learning, and refreshments.

Admission is free, but please pre-register!

Event is at the JCC, 2935 Birch Hollow Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.

Organized by the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation, Pardes Hannah and the Jewish Alliance for Food, Land, and Justice.

This event made possible in part with support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor.

Never a Bystander: Free Screening Followed by Q&A

Filmmaker Evelyn Neuhaus and film subject Irene Butter at the premiere in May, 2014.

Filmmaker Evelyn Neuhaus and film subject Irene Butter at the premiere in May, 2014.

AARC Member Evelyn Neuhaus has created a documentary about Irene Butter, who has spent nearly 30 years visiting schools and inspiring countless children to find the courage to take compassionate action and transcend obstacles.  The film is about making courageous choices in the face of injustice.  It’s 30 minutes long and will be screened this Sunday at the JCC, followed by Q&A with Evelyn and Irene Butter.

Sunday, January 11, 4pm at the JCC (2935 Birch Hollow Drive).  Admission is Free

More information about the film is available at its website.  A flyer for the screening is here.

Cultivating Shmita: Re-Wilding Our Ecosystem, Our Diet, Our Medicine

By Idelle Hammond-Sass

Drake Meadow took some of us on an illuminating permaculture walk at the Fall Sukkot Retreat. It was especially relevant in this year where we are cultivating a new ‘Shmita mentality‘.

Idelle and Drake examining a plant at the 2014 Sukkot Retreat

Idelle and Drake examining a plant at the 2014 Sukkot Retreat

We learned to find edible and healing plants in our own yards and how those things that many people sacrifice to have a typical American lawn are actually better to embrace, cultivate and use in tinctures and teas. Drake’s knowledge and ability to notice plants reminded me of how little we know about the land around us.

Shmita reminds us to recognize that even when the land is fallow and wild, it can provide nourishment and even healing herbs for us. Allowing the land to rest can bring a different type of harvest as well, as local and native plants regain their footing and provide habitat and food for animals as well as perennial and edible plants for us.

In an article shared recently by Sarah Chandler, (Director of Earth Based Spiritual Practice at Adamah Farm at the Isabella Freedman Center) she demonstrates how to cultivate elderberry plants and make a tincture from it with the Jewish Greening Fellows. (The article is not available online but here are photos of the process.) This dovetailed with some of the knowledge Drake shared with us at the retreat. Drake mentioned making tinctures from other plants we found including goldenrod.

One piece of knowledge passed on by Drake came in handy recently as we toured conservation efforts in Washtenaw County with Legacy Land Trust. [Read more…]

Join the Food, Land and Justice Bus Tour to Detroit

[Members Idelle Hammond-Sass and Carole Caplan have been working with others in the community to organize a bus trip to Detroit and day of learning as part of the Food, Land and Justice grant. They pass along this note with details,  printable flyer and the link to purchase tickets.]
honeyAs part of a year of programing grounded in the Jewish practice of Shmita  you are invited to join with members of the Ann Arbor Jewish community for an exciting visit to Detroit on Sunday September 14, 2014.

So much is happening around the issues of food systems, security, accessibility and affordability in Detroit–let’s take the day to learn about it first-hand! After meeting at the Ann Arbor JCC, we will travel by bus to D-/town Farms, and learn how their work is making important healthy change both personally and communally.

We will then arrive at historic Eastern Market where we will hear from several speakers as to their important roles in the food movement. We will enjoy a healthy lunch and have time to shop the artisans’ market as well. We will study together, laugh together and then brainstorm how we might be part of this important movement moving forward.

Details of  the FOOD, LAND and JUSTICE trip to Detroit:

Space is limited—reserve yours today! Contact Carole Caplan (caplan.carole AT gmail.com), or Idelle Hammond-Sass (Hammond_sass AT msn.com) for more information.

This program is generously funded by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Ann Arbor.