Innovative Jewish education projects around the country are helping students of all ages to understand the connections between Jewish tradition and contemporary food issues. But what about the educators? How can these innovative professional and lay leaders, often working and teaching in isolation, create a community and come together to collaborate and work on common challenges?
Enter the Jewish Food Education Network. For the last two years, JFEN has encouraged its members to connect with each other, both face-to-face and virtually. Through weekly network listservs and occasional conference calls, the network has had the opportunity to connect and strategize on how to bring the connections between Jewish life and contemporary food issues to their classrooms. But virtual experiences, have their limitations.
This year, we are thrilled to be able to bring this network of educators together in person for a day of inspirational learning and community building at the Hazon Food Conference. The JFEN Seminar, which will be held on August 18th, right before the food conference, will bring together Jewish food educators to build community, create and strengthen professional networks, and learn inspire their own communities to work towards a healthy and sustainable world. Throughout the various workshops and networking sessions, participants will learn new skills from seasoned educators and create professional and personal connections that will serve them throughout the year.
JFEN Seminar participants will also work with some of Hazon’s exciting new curricular initiatives. One of these programs, Home for Dinner, is being piloted in three Bay Area synagogues this fall. This new program will give families the opportunity and the tools to learn about healthy eating and engage in the shared experience of cooking and food preparation in the context of Jewish family life. The program is structured as four sessions for a religious school classroom and at least three family learning experiences for each synagogue. At the JFEN seminar, educators will see these curricula for the first time and begin to figure out how they can implement it in their own schools. Dinnertime is a time when adults and children can come together after being apart throughout the day, a unique time for families to break bread, interact and reconnect. The ultimate goal of Home for Dinner will be to strengthen the family unit and in turn, the Jewish home and Jewish life.
Educators at the seminar will be able to grapple with these issues, and work together to help find creative solutions. The seminar is also a prelude to the rest of the Food Conference, and participants will expand upon their learning and build community together for another four days. It is our hope that the Food Conference, and the JFEN Pre-Conference Seminar, will help educators from all sorts of Jewish institutions to build community, share experiences, and learn and grow together.
Daniel Infeld is the Food Programs Fellow at Hazon, and a graduate of Clark University. Daniel lives in Brooklyn, and he loves spending time with friends and loved ones around the Shabbat table, and he is looking forward to spending time with you at the Hazon Food Conference