BCC Receives 1 of only 7 U.S. Synagogue Vegan Challenge Grants

This article is reprinted from BCC’s newsletter, Gvanim, vol. 49 no. 2, November/December 2020, Cheshvan/Kislev/Tevet 5781.
Brett Trueman

The Torah has a lot to say about food. In Genesis 1:29, G-d said, “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food.” This passage has been interpreted by some as a commandment that humans not eat animals.

But, then there’s Genesis 9:3, in which, after the flood, G-d said, “Every creature that lives shall be yours to eat; as with the green grasses, I give you all these.” And then, of course, there’s Leviticus 11, in which the laws of kashrut are laid out. Along with these verses are the many passages in the Bible that command humans not to cause the unnecessary suffering of animals.

All of these references to food in the Bible have led Jews to think a lot about the food they consume. In addition to considering the effect of food choices on health and on animal suffering, it led to the establishment of the eco-kashrut movement in the 1970s, which is an effort to extend the Jewish dietary laws to address modern environmental, social, and ethical issues, and to promote sustainability.

These considerations have led many Jews to become vegan.  In fact, the country with the largest percentage of vegans in the world is Israel.

I mentioned in an email sent out in early October the exciting news that BCC has been awarded a Synagogue Vegan Challenge grant this year from the organization, Shamayim v’Aretz.  BCC is one of only seven Jewish institutions in the United States to receive this grant.  The goal of the Challenge is to provide funding for the chosen institutions to incorporate friendly, food-based vegan programming for a year, aimed at providing education about the ethical, environmental, and health considerations that go into the decision to adopt a plant-based diet.

There are currently seven BCC members serving on the committee planning this year’s events.  We have come up with a lot of exciting events (many involving food).  The first is entitled, “Feeding the soul – at the intersection of plant based diet and Jewish spiritual practice – a conversation between Cantors Tifani Coyot and Juval Porat,” to be held via Zoom on November 22 at 7:30 p.m.  Other events in the works are vegan Tu b’Shvat and Passover seders, cooking demonstrations, and panel discussions on veganism and health and on veganism and the environment.  We hope that you will be able to join us for one or more of these events.

If you would like to join the committee planning these events, please send me an email at brett.trueman@gmail.com.