This Year Let’s Put Food Justice at the Center of our Fall Harvest

October 8, 2014

Sukkot is the Jewish holiday celebrating the harvest and commemorating the booths or huts the Israelites built while wandering in the desert. As a people with agricultural roots, Jews have found many ways to mark the seasonal and environmental changes that occur throughout the year.

The Shalosh Regalim, the three pilgrimage holidays of our tradition (Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot), celebrate the three times each year that our ancestors journeyed to Jerusalem to make harvest offerings at the Temple. As the days begin to shorten and the first chill of fall settles in, we build a Sukkah to remind us of the temporary dwellings we lived in while we wandered in the desert between Sinai and Canaan.

We also enjoy the fall harvest fruits and vegetables. This year, take Sukkot as an opportunity to do more than just celebrate. In Leviticus 23:22, we are commanded: "'When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the stranger residing among you.” How can we, on Sukkot, leave gleanings for the 49.1 million Americans who are food insecure as we enjoy our bounty? Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28 tells us: “Do not destroy and desolate my world, For if you corrupt it, there is no one to set it right after you.” How do we ensure that our Sukkot celebrations and that our daily lives outside of the Sukkah do not destroy God’s earth? Sukkot comes only two weeks before Food Day (October 24). As you set out food for your Sukkot party in your home or your congregation, print out these table tents with facts about food justice, hunger, Jewish values, and what we can do to help for your tables. Check out the Religious Action Center’s Food Justice Program Guide, which includes program ideas specifically for Sukkot and Food Day and also take a look at the Sukkot: A Season of Gathering and Giving page for more ideas on how to make your Sukkot celebration meaningful.

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