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October 5, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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October 5, 2012

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 5, 2012 PAGE 15A By Dan Pine j. the Jewish news weekly Jeremy Gillick's hands are dirty. For the last few weeks, Gillick and scores of volun- teers have been harvesting the chard, parsley, mustard greens, tomatoes and lettuces growing in the garden of Berkeley synagogue Choch- mat HaLev. It's not quite the Garden of Eden, but the 56 square feet of growing space has been a great, green success, thanks to a pilot program thaf Gillick has created. Green Chaverim, which helps synagogues plant gardens and fruit "trees on their property, won a two- year $3,00Ogrant from NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation this past spring. Coinciding with Sukkot, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the traditional harvest, the timing--and the produce--couldn't be better. "We're just wrapping up the first harvest," the Berke- ley resident said. "My idea is to have lots of synagogues replicating this." Gillick, 27, is a graduate of U.C. Davis with a degree in Jewish studies• New to the realm of Jewish nonprofits, he and his brother, Dan, founded Green Chaverim because they saw a need. The brothers were well aware of and had a lot of respect for Urban Adamah, the nonprofit that promotes sustainable agriculture from a Jewish perspective via its urban farm in Berkeley. But, they thought, what about people who don't know about Urban Adamah? Why not bring the game idea to them instead of hoping they'll seek out the Berkeley farm? The plan is to establish gardens at synagogues, day schools and other Jewish institutions• The Gillicks applied for the NEXT grant last December and by spring they had passed the audition. The brothers brought Chochmat HaLev on board, using their grant money and volunteers to erect two raised redwood garden boxes on the synagogue's south lawn. "I spent less than a third of [the grant] buying wood for boxes we built, for fancy soil to get a good start, tools, compost, bins and seed," Gil- lick said. He bought plants from nearby Willard Middle School's spring plant' sale, and received donated seeds from the Victory Garden Foundation as well" as from Urban Adamah. Over the course of the summer, Gillick gave chil- dren a chance to tend the garden. Some of the summer vegetable crop was turned "over to the nearby Telegraph Ministry Center's food bank and pantry.. That giving spirit ties in with Gillick's Jewish values, which he says are the core of Green Chaverim (chaverim means "friends"). "The environment, the cooperation, the charity: You can make a case they are all subsumed under the Jewish tradition of being at the forefront of social move- ments," Gillicksaid.'-'Judaism in America has been good at that." There are no other syna- gogues signed up for plant- ing just yet. Gillick wants to complete this trial runz assess and then move forward. He and his brother also see no reason to limit the Concept to Jewish institutions. "I'd love to see churches and mosques with a garden,, he said, "with the food donated or for com- munity members." Meanwhile, Gillick wifl Jeremy Gillick and one of Green Chaverim's two garden boxes soon swap his overalls for pin- stripes, as he has just started studying law at U.C. Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. Somehow he plans to run Green Chaverim at the same time. "Our generation is going to need to be more coop- erative and thriftier than our parents' generation," he said. "We're going to need to be more conscious of the environment and have higher standards when it comes to quality of~Jr food. This project will help us figure out a potential way to that." More information athttp:// By Rabbi Rachel Esserman The (Vestal, N.Y.) Reporter Throughout the past de- cade. a new nonfiction sub- genre has appeared, one that explores the role a food, beverage or object played in history. Most of these works make grand claims about their subject, for example, saying tea or cod fish or a particular guitar "changed the world." Fortunately, that's not true of "Jews Welcome Coffee: Tra- dition and Innovation in Early Modern Germaw" by Robert Liberles (Brandeis University Press). Instead, Liberles, who is the David Berg and Family chair in European history at Ben Gurion University, notes that coffee was not the cause of the social transformations that occurred in 17th and 18th century Germany. However, coffee came to symbolize • those changes and can help us understand not only "what Jews drank, but a great deal about economic life, social conditions and the halachic processes inadjusting to a new central element of daily life." Although coffee has long been considered a staple of Western civilization, the drink only arrived in Europe in the late 1500s. Liberles follows its path from Ethio- pia through the Middle East before its introduction in European countries, For those unfamiliar with the history of coffee, this section will be fascinating, if only for how controversial the drink was when it first appeared in Muslim and Christian spheres of influence. Also arriving in Europe around the same time were tea, chocolate and sugar. At first, all of these items were considered problematic and dangerous, although for different reasons. While some European countries immediately ad- opted coffee drinking, this was not true of Germany. Beer was considered the country's primary beverage (drinking water was unsanitary and unsafe during this time pe- riod) and a major source of manufacturing income due to the large number of German breweries. Germany also had no American, Asian or African colonies in which to grow coffee, so the government had no economic incentive to encourage people to drink it. When coffee, which was expensive, became popular with the ricbm" Classes• they sought to prevent the lower classes--particularly ser- vants and peasants from drinking it because the lower classes "were not entitled to adopt the lifestyle of the wealthy, for this would make them unable to fulfill their duties as proper subjects." In addition, the government was afraid that those who gathered in coffee houses might be plotting against the regime. The Jewish community, on the other hand. readily ac- cepted coffee. The fact that it could keep people awake and alert was considered a great benefit, particularly for those who wanted to stay up later stu@ing or praying. There were several halachic (legalis- tic} concerns about the drink. The first was to decide the appropriate blessing to recite before drinking it. There were several rabbinic opinions and the different opinions are still debated today but the majority chose the blessing that thanks God "by whose word all things exist" (She- hakol), which is also used for fruit drinks, rather than for the second choice, the bless- ing over the fruit of the earth (Ha'adamah). Other questions dealtwith: Whether or not coffee is ko- sher for Passover. Some rabbis originally thought it should be considered kitniot (legumes and beans), a category of food that Ashkenazic Jews do not consume on Passover. However, as they learned more about coffee--including the fact that it grew on trees rabbinical authorities agreed it was OK for use during the holiday. Whether or not coffee could be prepared on Shabbat. Since coffee had to be brewed with hot water, there was the question of whether or not this constituted cooking on the Sabbath. Making coffee from scratchwas not allowed. However, rabbinical authori- ties alk)wed people to pour hot water ore r a coffee preparation made the day Before. ' The economic opportuni- ties offered by the sale of coffee beans and the prepared drink caused problems between the Jewish and Christian popula- tion of Germany, particularly after Christian merchants realized just how lucrative the coffee trade could be. They not only wanted to restrict Jewish trade in general, but sought to keep Jews out of Christian coffee houses. According to Liberles, the arguments against Jewish traders and merchants--which portrayed them as "immoral," in addi- tion to declaring "that Jews by nature used unf iir and improper techniques in their trade" -show the discomfort many Christians felt about the increasing role of Jews in. German society. Documents from court cases between Jews and Chris- tians also give insight into the economic positions of Jews at the time. Liberles notes that maw poor Jews--widows; the elderly and the infirm--were selling i:offee by the cup. Although the Jewish com- munity did offer assistance to those in need, "these efforts clearly didn't suffice and did not preclude the less fortunate themselves from seeking sources of additional income." His research also corrects the general impression that Jewish women only worked in the home: "In fact, women played an active role in Jewish economic life in Germany in modern times." "JewsWelcome Coffee" does an excellent job not only giv- ing backgrour~d information about its subject, but in por- traying the daily life of those who drank it. The work is not filled with scholarly jargon, which makes it accessible to the general reader. However, it does demand careful reading since it is filled with thought- provoking insights about how small changes in culture can affect all members of a society. 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