2019 – 2020 Synagogue Vegan Challenge Recap

June 23rd, 2020

​ERICA FUCHS

The Synagogue Vegan Challenge is a way to engage your community to start thinking about more ethical food choices for animals, the environment, and our health. Enjoy this recap of events from our 2019 – 2020 SVC participants!

Congratulations to Congregation Beth Sholom for a hosting a great Synagogue Vegan Challenge kick-off event at Wildflour Vegan Bakery & Juice Bar! They celebrated receiving the vegan food grant and discussed programming related to food consciousness for the year ahead.

Congregation Bonai Shalom in Boulder, CO had a “Back to Shul” event to kick off their participation in the Synagogue Vegan Challenge. For this first event, people especially loved the vegan desserts served! This synagogue is excited to be partnering with a famous local vegan chef and with their local JCC (who has an organic garden) during the year for many of their programs. Stay tuned for more updates on how they are bringing vegan food to their congregation.

Congregation Bonai Shalom, a participant in our Synagogue Vegan Challenge, held an incredible plant-powered break fast event last month! At the break fast, information was shared about Rabbi Marc Soloway’s sermon titled “Trees, Animals, and the Weather”, where he spoke about our relationship to nature, animals, and the responsibility that we all have to our environment. He shared with the congregation that he has recently become vegan and quoted from Jonathan Safran Foer’s new book, “We are the Weather” (about climate change). He urged the community to consider something that we can do to impact positive change. This sermon set a tone for the entire high holiday season, which was extended through Yom Kippur. You can read Rabbi Marc’s wonderful sermon here

B’nai Jeshurun NYC, a participant in our Synagogue Vegan Challenge, held a Havdallah last month for their 20s/30s community to celebrate Sukkot and learn more about plant-based food, environmental issues, and their connections to Judaism. One of B’nai Jeshurun’s Rabbinic interns led a program connecting different passages from the Torah to farming, sustainability, and ethical treatment of animals. She also shared her own personal story about becoming vegetarian at the age of 8 once she learned about how animals who became meat for consumption were treated. Delicious pumpkin sliders with vegan toppings, maple-flavored caramel corn, vegan banana bread, roasted vegetable medley, dried fruits and nuts, and vegan smores were served.

The best way to show others how easy it is to eat plant-based is through hands-on experience. That’s why we’re so proud of Natasha, representing Chabad Shul of Potomac, a participant in our Synagogue Vegan Challenge, who held a demo on how to prepare healthy, vegan desserts for her community! They made chocolate bark with Tu B’Shevat inspired toppings, as well as vegan Samoah girls scout cookies, and granola bars. Everyone left with some delicious samplings, a good taste for healthy plant-based desserts, and empowerment to prepare these treats at home.

Back in September, Congregation Beth Sholom held a pre-Selichot vegan ice cream and concert night for their second event sponsored by our Synagogue Vegan Challenge. What a delicious learning event!

As a part of the Synagogue Vegan Challenge, Congregation Bonai Shalom held a community “Soup in the Sukkah” meal during Sukkot, serving vegan challah, green salad, minestrone, and Broccoli Potato soups, and fruit cobbler! Global citizenship and environmental awareness were key themes throughout the high holidays for the Bonai Shalom Community. Rabbi Marc Soloway continued to speak about the importance of doing something, however small, to support the environment during this Sukkot event, keeping the same message from Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

Sixth & I, a participant in our Synagogue Vegan Challenge (2020 -2021 application opening soon!) held a beautiful vegan seder last month for Tu B’Shevat. The menu included the traditionally vegan Tu B’Sheavat foods: dates, grapes, almonds, alongside fresh kale salad, vegan vegetable sandwiches made with cashew cheeses. Attendees explored Judaism’s ancient connections to environmentalism its evolution to and presentation in modern movements. (veganism & plant-based eating!)

As a part of our Synagogue Vegan Challenge, Congregation Bonai Shalom served plant-based snacks alongside a book club discussion of, “We are the Weather” by Jonathan Safran Foer, in partnership with Boulder JCC. The book was used as a basis for a discussion focused on reducing reliance on animal agriculture and moving towards plant-based diets. They followed a great guide provided by Hazon that went through the main points in the book complemented with Jewish texts & various questions about environmentalism and consumption habits. They discussed how hopeful and powerful it is to know that each person can truly make a difference through food choices, and it makes an even more significant impact when done as a community effort (like through our Synagogue Vegan Challenge)!

Last month, another one of our Synagogue Challenge participants, B’nai Jeshurun NYC, used the environmentally focused holiday of Tu B’Shevat to share a meal and talk about the importance of plant-based eating with their community through a 100% vegan seder! You can read more about the plant-based origins of Tu B’Shevat here.

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