Sunday, November 2, 2008

Project Eliah Packing in Minnetonka, MN

Shalom All,
We just had a fantastic Kosher Manna packing at Bet Shalom Congregation in Minnetonka, Minnesota. We packaged over 19,000 meals in about two hours and numerous volunteers helped out from pre-school age on up.
Project Elijah continues to thrive and over the next year will be conducting packings around the nation and shipping tens of thousands of meals around the nation and the world. Our new product is designed to meet the dietary needs not only of Jews, but also of Muslims and Vegans. It is the only product designed specifically to meet such dietary restrictions in addition to nutritional requirements and it is the only such product designed for a domestic American audience, not only of starving people, but of food insecure people.
For those who do not know, food insecure people are those who can afford food, but need to choose food over other primary necessities in their lives such as rent or medical expenses. Many food insecure people will opt to use their money to buy food rather than to accept food commonly distributed because the latter is not of good enough quality or because it does not meet their religious or ethically based dietary needs. Our new product with its chicken soup flavoring tastes very good and looks like it tastes. Hopefully, it will enable food insecure people to choose to meet their medical needs and provide them a higher quality of life.
Thanks to all those who continue to make Project Eliah and Elijah's Kosher Manna grow in its ability to help those in need. My wife Julie and I look forward to helping other congregations and organizations help more people around our nation and our world. For more information on Project Elijah or the Kosher Manna packing project, please contact my wife Julie, Executive Director of Project Elijah, at or visit their website .

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Shandeh fur de Goyim

Shandeh fur de Goyim

It has been an embarrassing few months in Iowa. The ridiculously unethical and outrageously illegal behavior and practices of which Agriprocessors in Postville has been accused and now charged have frankly shamed the Jews. If we have to discuss whether or not meat is kosher which is slaughtered in a plant that knew its workers could not legally work, aided them in violating the law, and potentially also knew that some at the plant were abusive to them, what does kosher mean? For that matter, what does being Jewish mean? Tikkun Olam, the repair of the world, is not about reinforcing the lining of pockets at the expense of principles. We, Jews, feel guilty for the sins of the few among us. There is such a thing as a "Shandeh fur de Goyim," "Embarrassment for us in the eyes of the Gentiles." The actions of Shalom Rubashkin and others in Agriprocessors' employ are such a shandeh.

This led me to wonder, "Why is it that only Jews feel embarrassed when those who claim to be pious co-religionists astound in their hypocrisy? Why is there no such thing as an embarrassment for Christians or Muslims?" It seems to be understood by Christians and Muslims that their radical nut cases are NOT REPRESENTATIVE of them, why do we feel that ours are? Perhaps, it is an ingrained fear that we are held accountable collectively and have been historically, particularly by Christians and Muslims?

In my mind, the reality is that Christians and Muslims should be embarrassed by their brethren who sin while supposedly acting in a "religious" manner, just as we are embarrassed by those in Postville. That embarrassment, that guilt that we feel over actions of others in which we played no part, helps drive us to make the world better. That guilt makes us care about more than just ourselves. Perhaps, it is that which is the light we must shine unto the nations. It is the very concept of the shandeh. It drives us to do better.

Just a thought,