Hazon's Min Ha'Aretz Family Education Initiative
In synagogues, day schools, and other Jewish institutions, students are busy sprouting seeds, grinding wheat berries into whole wheat flour, cooking dinner for their families, planting gardens and learning how Jewish tradition both informs and inspires healthy food choices.
Min Ha'Aretz, From the Land, is an interdisciplinary curriculum about food and Jewish tradition created by Hazon, the largest Jewish environmental organization in North America. The Min Ha'Aretz curriculum promotes awareness of contemporary food issues that is infused with Jewish values and traditions. Min Ha'Aretz increases the knowledge that students, families, and teachers have about healthy eating, creating a Jewish framework for food choices and allowing for the entire community to manifest their own Jewish, health, and environmental values and priorities by taking action around the ideas they learn. The curriculum helps students and their families answer the question, how does Jewish tradition relate to all the processes and choices involved in how we grow, harvest, prepare, and eat our food, as well as manage our waste? At Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos, CA, Chef Rachel Wilson teaches cooking classes to kindergarteners through sixth graders and uses the Min Ha'Aretz curriculum to provide content while the cooking takes place. Wilson preserves lemons with her second grade class, pickles with her first graders and has her sixth graders complete an entire Shabbat, Sabbath, meal while incorporating Min Ha'Aretz lessons on the laws of kashrut (kosher), blessing as a form of food appreciation, and sharing food as a Jewish value all the while students enjoy healthy, delicious foods that they are part of producing. Lev Metz, director of education at Temple Beth Haverim in Agoura Hills, CA, has his students tend the Temple's organic garden as part of the Min Ha'Aretz curriculum. Metz's students begin by learning how to sprout seeds and learn how to grow, harvest and prepare food through a Jewish perspective.Â The Min Ha'Aretz curriculum is part of Hazon's larger Jewish Food Education Network, JFEN, which currently has 53 members in North America. To learn more visit www.hazon.org or contact Judith@hazon.org