Noshin’: Social Justice and Kashrut, a Heksher Tzedek Discussion with Rabbi Morris Allen

Rabbi Morris Allen Magen Tzedek
Rabbi Allen

Every week, I get up here and rattle on about eating, cooking, and partaking in the smorgasbord that is Judaism, and although I’ve touched on kashrut briefly a small handful of times, we’ve never had a legitimate discussion.

I’d like that to change.

This Sunday, November 1st, Rabbi Morris Allen of Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights will be speaking at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul on Heksher Tzedek. If you have any interest in kashruthalacha, social justice, current events, slow food, local food, sustainable agriculture, ethical treatment of animals/humans/the earth, socially-responsible anything — or heck, if you considered reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma once upon a time — you need to be at this event.

The Heksher Tzedek initiative championed by Rabbi Allen has received national attention and been strongly endorsed by diverse groups across the religious spectrum, including Jewish Community Action, The Union for Reform Judaism, the Central ­Conference of Reform Rabbis, and MAZON — but its origins are here in the Twin Cities.

The mission of the Hekhsher Tzedek Commission is to bring the Jewish commitment to ethics and social justice directly into the marketplace . . . and the home. The Commission’s seal of approval, the Magen Tzedek, will help assure consumers that kosher food products were produced in keeping with the highest possible Jewish ethical values and ideals for social justice in the area of labor concerns, animal welfare, environmental impact, consumer issues and corporate integrity.

The Magen Tzedek, the world’s first Jewish ethical certification seal, synthesizes the aspirations of a burgeoning international movement for sustainable, responsible consumption and promotes increased sensitivity to the vast and complex web of global relationships that bring food to our tables.
-Magen Tzedek Mission Statement,

“Jewish people understand the world from ethical and ritual perspectives; a Judaism that denies one for the sake of the other, regardless of which one, is not a fulfilled life,” says Rabbi Allen. “Heksher Tzedek is a corrective to a Jewish world that elevates the ritual over the ethical. In our discussion on Sunday, we will come to understand why Heksher Tzedek is a vehicle for helping restore a level of kashrut in America.”

Sunday’s stimulating and educational session will include some halacha and some background on the Postville, Iowa/Agriprocessors situation, all with a strong dose of social action/responsibility. And, oh — it also includes brunch. Just sayin’.

Whether you’re die-hard kosher already or had bacon with your cheese omelet this morning, this discussion is sure to raise as many questions as it answers, serving as a foundation on which to ground your explorations of what role kashrut has in your life. Like our name, Israel, literally Struggles with God,” I think this is one topic we need to struggle with a little more. We can start with Rabbi Allen’s discussion and go from there.

Heksher Tzedek: Restoring Balance to Jewish Life
with Rabbi Morris Allen of Beth Jacob Congregation
Sunday, November 1, 10:00 a.m.
Mount Zion Sisterhood Lounge/Chapel
1300 Summit Ave., St. Paul
Complimentary brunch will be served.
Sponsored by the Mount Zion Temple Brotherhood