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November 01, 2012 - Image 38

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-11-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

metro

Jewish Food Chain

Detroiter's first job at nonprofit Hazon provides the chance to make a difference.

T

wo weeks after my graduation
from the University of Michigan
this spring, I moved to New York
City to begin a position as a program
fellow at Hazon, a national Jewish envi-
ronmental nonprofit based in New York's
Financial District. My first few months in
New York were a whirlwind.
Nearly four
months into my job,
when I was starting
to settle into city
life and the roar of
the subway started
to sound more like
lullabies as opposed
to life-threatening
rumbles, I had the
opportunity to par-
ticipate in the end
Liz Traison
of the Hazon Cross-
Special to the
USA
Ride, one of the
Jewish News
many great events
that Hazon plans
each year.
At the beginning of June, riders depart-
ed from Seattle; 10 made the trip across
the country and arrived in Washington,
D.C., 10 weeks later with the intention to
raise awareness about sustainable food
systems.
Riders met farmers and Jewish commu-
nities of all shapes and sizes along the way,
getting to know the country in a different
way. I joined the riders in their last week
of the trip, from Pittsburgh to Capitol Hill.
Of all the strange and interesting places
I have ever spent Shabbat in my life, from
Kfar Chabad to Kathmandu, Connellsville,
Penn., may be amongst the most obscure,
yet most meaningful. Once a thriving, bus-
tling town, Connellsville was brought back
to life on the Shabbat the Hazon bike rid-
ers shared their energy with the town.
On Shabbat afternoon, sitting behind a
church in Connellsville, I shared a blanket
and some sunshine with a group of fasci-
nating people I may otherwise never had
the chance to interact with if it weren't for
Hazon. Some were just a few years older
than me, transitioning between jobs and
graduate degrees; some were my parents'
age and just looking for an adventure to
inspire them; and some were closer to my
grandparents' age, beginning a third chap-
ter in their lives.
We spoke about our families, our
thoughts on the future of the Jewish peo-
ple, we reminisced about our grandmoth-
ers' cooking, and the challenges facing our
current food system.

38

November 1 • 2012

Enthusiastic riders support Hazon's environmental efforts.

Hazon Connection

In that moment and now, I cannot help
but be thankful that my first job out of
college is one I love and feel so connected
to. Hazon, the leading Jewish environmen-
tal organization in North America, has a
strong commitment to creating healthier
and more sustainable communities in the
Jewish world and beyond.
We organize four annual bike rides — in
New York, California, Israel and across
the U.S. — that serve as fundraisers for
food work, which includes a weekend food
conference, resources about healthy and
sustainable living, and giving grants to
other Jewish environmental organizations
including Adamah, Teva and the Arava
Institute for Environmental Studies.
The Jew and the Carrot, Hazon's blog
in collaboration with the Jewish Daily
Forward, serves as the homepage for the
Jewish food movement. Its articles reach
more than 40,000 people each month with
everything from Shabbat recipes to serious
discussions on food justice issues.
Hazon Rides have raised more than $7.5
million for Jewish environmental educa-
tion in the 12 years since Hazon's incep-
tion. More than 81,000 people have shared
an experience with Hazon, and more than
645,000 have benefitted from its resources

Hazon programs teach children about

sustainable food systems.

in some way, whether it's joining a CSA
(Community Supported Agriculture), rid-
ing a bike, attending a food conference
or a cooking class, or trying a new recipe
from Jew and the Carrot.
However, the aspects of Hazon that are
the most inspirational go far beyond the
amount of money raised. It's the Shabbat
afternoons sitting on a blanket speaking
with a 65-year old woman who spent the
first nine weeks of her retirement biking
across the country. It's watching a little boy
no older than 5, pick up a CSA share from
one of Hazon's 60 CSA sites across the
country, and get excited about gooseber-
ries. It's watching a bar-mitzvah boy and

his mom complete a century-ride (100
miles), after having spent the summer
raising money for Jewish environmental
organizations. And, above all else, it's
watching Jewish people of all backgrounds
come together with a strong desire to
make the world a better place.
At an organization with a serious commit-
ment to making the world a healthier and
more sustainable place, its no surprise that
around lunchtime our office is filled with
delicious smells of mostly fresh and local
ingredients. Our passion for Judaism, food
justice and good cooking unites us as a staff.
A more surprising connection is the
number of Hazon staff, past and present,
who have spent some time in the Mitten.
In fact, it is because of the connection
to Michigan and U-M that many Hazon
staff members found themselves drawn to
Hazon in the first place.
Senior Development Associate Sydney
Maisel graduated from U-M in 2009. She
says, "I was drawn to Hazon because of the
inherent Jewish community that it creates
and maintains. The community created
by the University of Michigan is uniquely
similar. People who participate in Hazon
events share a very close common bond.
Similarly, if you see someone anywhere in
the world wearing a U-M hat, and say 'Go
Blue!' your connection with him or her is
immediate. I feel blessed to have attended
the University of Michigan, where a com-
munity like that existed, and to currently
work for a place where every day I feel
connected to my coworkers and a larger
Hazon community"
My day school education from Hillel
Day School and Frankel Jewish Academy
has left me with a serious desire to
advance the Jewish future. It's no surprise
that I love being outside, spending my
summers in Northern Ontario at Camp
Ramah in Canada. My interest in health
and nutrition spiked when my youngest
sister was diagnosed with diabetes the
same week as my bat mitzvah.
The aptitude test I took in high school
said I would either be a rabbi or a farmer,
so perhaps it's no surprise that I ended up
at Hazon, an organization striving to cre-
ate healthier and more sustainable com-
munities in the Jewish world and beyond,
and to generally making the world a better
place. I couldn't be more grateful for the
opportunity.

Liz Traison, 22, of West Bloomfield is a 2012

graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann

Arbor.

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