Throughout Chanukah, we’re sharing our “8 sparks of light” providing inspiration and insight into the diversity of people working on a local level for a more transparent and just food system.
Jake W-M grew up in Hamden, CT and has been volunteering with Ganei Beantown since moving to Boston in 2012. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors. Learn what keeps him involved.
How would you describe your involvement in the current “Jewish food movement?”
I probably first became aware of a Jewish Food Movement sometime in the Mid-00s when I started questioning the Kosher food industry and learned that there were others asking the same questions. In the early days of blogging and the internet, I stumbled upon other unfiltered voices that pushed me to think critically about the food industry. In many cases the blogs and writers were Jewish, and the act of questioning and looking for justice was intrinsically Jewish to me. Learning about the terrible working conditions revealed during Rubashkin scandal was a turning point for me.
Do you remember the moment when you started learning about our food system?
Both my parents are fantastic cooks. My dad comes from a long line of gardeners so I always took for granted that food was home-cooked and had fresh ingredients. I thought I was the odd person out who didn’t grow his own food, but I remember always being at home in the kitchen.
When and why did you first take action?
One of the first actions that I can remember is speaking to the mashgiach (kosher kitchen supervisor) at my college about where he sourced kosher meat from. I don’t know that I changed anything, but the conversation that stemmed from that question was empowering.
What Jewish values underlie this work for you?
“Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue.” Justice cannot be achieved without education and a community to drive change.
What Jewish values and traditions speak to you most?
The pursuit of justice and the act of questioning were lessons that resonated with me in both communal Jewish spheres and at home. Just as we should be committed to justice, we should be committed to learning for its own sake.
Why are you involved in Ganei Beantown vs. local garden club/ cultural /farm organization? Or if you’re involved in both, why?
Ganei Beantown has been a means of staying connected and informed around issues of food justice and sustainability.
How did you first get involved in Ganei Beantown?
I learned of Ganei Beantown’s work while living in NYC and working for Hazon. It was only natural to connect with the Ganei Beantown community when I moved to Boston.
What advice do you give to others looking to be involved?
I suggest anyone interested in testing the waters to attend the Boston Jewish Food Conference. There are learning opportunities for a wide variety of interests and for those entering at different levels. You’ll meet at least one person who shares your interests or challenges your thinking in a positive way. I’ve learned that this warm, welcoming community is one where everyone is both a teacher and a student.
If you find Jake’s story as inspiring as we do, please consider an end of year donation.