As we celebrate the Passover Seder, we sing, Dayenu, perhaps the most recognized of Passover songs. We sing “It would have been enough” to take us of Egypt, and “it would have been enough” to split the sea, and “it would have been enough” to give us the Torah and Shabbat. But as we sit and feast, we must recognize that there are those in our community who will go to sleep enslaved to the empty feeling in their bellies for lack of food. There are those in our community who are trapped in food deserts without access to fresh produce. There are those whose lives are broken because of the broken food system.
My fondest memory of our Rosh Hashanah table is from even before we sat down to eat. As I was growing up, one of my chores on the Jewish New Year was to help set the table. Every year, as my mother would leave the plate of apples and honey on the table while she attended to some other kitchen task, I would sneak over and try to grab an apple slice off the pile, dip it in honey, and sneak out. The trick, of course, was making sure that pile of apple slices looked undisturbed. I had to choose my apple slice carefully, making the whole effort sort of like a fruit-base Jenga puzzle. Pulling on the right slice was crucial. Once I achieved success (yes! no one would know!) dipping it into the honey presented its own challenges. How to get the delicious bee-nectar out without spilling a drop on the white table cloth? It took a few years, but I mastered the art of rolling the apple slice just right so the honey would curl its golden fingers around the wedge like an infant reflexively grabbing his mothers finger. And then, crunch!
A lot of ink has been spilled about Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on large sodas in New York City. The central question is whether citizens should sacrifice freedoms such as the ability to choose an oil tanker-sized soda in order to ensure more healthy society. This battle of values pits freedom against health: Is there anything Jewish about this kind of debate?