Download a PDF of the Discussion Guide
The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic is an anthology of diverse essays on Jewish dietary practices. This volume presents the challenge of navigating through choices about eating, while seeking to create a rich dialogue about the intersection of Judaism and food. This book supplies the basic how-to’s of creating a meaningful Jewish food ethic and incorporating these choices into our personal and communal religious practices. Picture a beautiful buffet of choices from which you can shape your personal kashrut.
- What unique questions do Reform Jews bring to the topic of kashrut?
- To what extent is dietary practice a useful measure of religious observance and of ethnic identity?
- What are the shortcomings of applying diet as a litmus test to Reform Jews?
- How do environmental concerns factor into your personal food ethic? Your family? Your community?
- What are some ways that you can “curb your consumerism”?
- How might you incorporate gardening into your life? Is there a space at home, at work, at your synagogue, in your neighborhood, or in another communal space where you can begin a garden? Who might be interested in joining you in this project? What are the “rational” and “irrational” parts of your dietary practice? What makes them so? What factors besides rationality influence your dietary choices?
- In what ways are your personal dietary choices influenced by your upbringing? What changes have you made from eating in the way that you were raised?
- What aspects of eating connect us to God or make us more aware of the world around us?
- What principles do you think should be part of a contemporary Jewish food ethic? How close or far are those principles from traditional Jewish ideas about food and eating?
- What are your priorities for considering a Jewish communal food ethic? What values would be important for you to include in the creation of such an ethic? How do you think Reform synagogues should respond to the challenge of ethical eating? How have the essays in this book informed your views on these topics?
- Has The Sacred Table inspired you to change your behavior? If so, how? If not, why not?
- Shop local! Find a farmer’s market in your neighborhood. Talk to your local supermarket managers about the food they stock.
- Start a Consumer Supported Agriculture project.
- Make food-related resolutions! Incorporate new conscious eating choices into your eating practices, i.e. less meat, less fish, more veggies, locally grown only, sustainably grown etc., with each new-year, new season, or new milestone in your life.
- Relate what you know! Most, if not all Jewish holidays involve food. Incorporate your new knowledge from The Sacred Table into your holiday food practices. Where does that juicy brisket come from anyway?
- Support a local farm! Plan a visit to a local farm. Get a tour, buy some fresh veggies, and talk to the farmers about what they do.
- Preach what you practice! Share information about ethical and healthy consumption in congregational sermons, newsletters, etc. Encourage others to submit articles and share recipes. Start with writing a review of The Sacred Table!
- Revisit your synagogue food policy. Follow this Just Table, Green Table guide for tips on how to create or refine existing dietary policies at your synagogue.
- Check yourself! Conduct an “audit” of your diet. How does what you eat and where you get your food show a concern for the environment, justice, health, kashrut, etc.?