Imagine a Shabbos dinner table in the middle of a cold Polish winter many moons ago. The family lives in a little shtetl and on Friday night they come together to say Kiddush and to welcome the Shabbos bride. What were they eating? I bet it wasn’t factory-farmed chickens, genetically modified challot, or gefilte fish made with enough preservatives to last until the Messiah returns!
That being said, the unpredictable climate of these past weeks has got me praying for Captain Planet. In the cartoon, Gaia, The Spirit of the Earth, gets pissed when she sees that the humans have utterly decimated her precious land. “I guess I napped too long,” she laments, “but how much damage could they do in a century?” Gaia proposes an immediate plan of action: send five rings to all corners of the Earth in order to awaken Captain Planet and save the world!
Here in Montreal our own little Jewish Captain Planet has emerged. The Green Kippah Collective formed of young adults is working on creating a Jewish rooftop farm and connecting people back to the land. Meanwhile The Ghetto Shul and The Shefa Project, have enabled and inspired the downtown Jewish community to prepare local, kosher organic meals for every Shabbos Dinner, free of charge. The local organic chickens are ‘schechted’ according to Jewish law, the vegetables are sourced from a nice lady with a CSA program, and it’s always a haimish affair.
The question clearly arises: who’s cooler – Captain Planet or the Shefa Project?
Now, I may be a bit biased, but I’d have to say that the Shefa Project goes way beyond. Ensuring the health of our planet is important, we need to act as stewards of the land, water, and the air, but the ideals of the Shefa Project’s Sustainable Shabbat program go a lot deeper. On a basic level, it’s about connecting people in healthy ways. The program forges connections between farmers, fellow community members, animals, and our earth. The Shefa Project is about being environmentally responsible while building stronger, healthier, Jewish communities.
Local food in a classic Jewish setting brings a profound “connectivity,” as our Rabbi Leibish would say. The food elevates our entire community and we delight in the notion of a Sustainable Shabbat. We become deeply connected to the present both temporally and spiritually, to the season, its produce, to our people, and our heritage.
It’s only natural to blend the beauty of the old with the bounty of the new. So what do you get when you blend the new local food movement with the most ancient Jewish tradition? A Friday night dinner that we like to call Sustainable Shabbat.
Please join us this Friday night (March 31st) for our last Sustainable Shabbat of the year hosted by the Green Kippah Collective! Traditional services will be held at Ghetto Shul at 6:45. An alternative service reflecting on the spirit of Shabbat will be happening just around the block (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for info). Dinner will be served at 8 pm @ The Ghetto Shul! 3458 Parc Ave between Milton and Sherbrooke.
Nadav Slovin is a member of the Shefa Project and a student at McGill University. Nadav only eats meat that is leftover from someone else’s meal.