Temple Of Aaron Welcoming Community To Block Party

The first three Crossriver Kosherfests put on by Temple of Aaron featured a host of vendors from around the Twin Cities and featured Milt’s Kosher BBQ from Chicago. But the upcoming Crossriver Block Party will still feature food but will tackle it in a different way.

Thanks to a grant from Shamayim V’Aretz Institute, Temple of Aaron’s Crossriver Block Party on July 18 from 6-8 p.m. will feature vegan food trucks among the other activities that will take place at the event. The event will be in the synagogue’s parking lot (616 S. Mississippi River Blvd, St. Paul), or inside if there’s poor weather.

“We’re big on working with the Highland community but also showing the Temple of Aaron community around the Twin Cities,” said Rabbi Jeremy Fine.

Temple of Aaron was part of the first cohort of grant recipients from Shamayim V’Aretz, an organization focused on ethical eating, and that grant is helping cover the cost of the event. Entry is free, but there will be a cost for food.

As part of the grant, Fine said the synagogue has to do one vegan event per month. Many have been a vegan Kiddush lunch after services.

“I hope it has made the congregation think differently about kashrut,” Fine said. “Vegan food trucks allow for a kosher flair and thought, but in no way is it just for vegans. Like any street fair, we’re trying to do something for Highland and we’ll see if it takes. There will be lots of local companies and Jewish organizations there.”

Scheduled to be in attendance are: Cafe Racer, Finnegans Brew Co., Bauhaus Brewery, Herbivorous Butcher, Kona Ice, Reverie, SSSDude-Nutz, Red Bull, Cecil’s Deli (Drinks), Quixotic Coffee, Game Truck, Tumble Fun Bus, Alchemy 365, Passionflower, The Great Back Rub, St. Paul JCC, Heilicher Jewish Day School, Newman School, St Paul Jewish Federation, and the Minnesota Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, the co-founder of the Shamayim V’Aretz Institute, said the goal of the organization is to raise a consciousness for food justice, and that Temple of Aaron is a wonderful partner.

“We think synagogues leading the charge making vegan foods more available can fundamentally change perceptions,” said Yanklowitz. “Jewish establishments are slower to adopt. Jews have a unique attachment to traditional foods. We need to overcome that and redefine what Jewish cuisine is.”

Fine is looking at the event as a way to make Judaism accessible, looked at through a lens not previously contemplated.

“One of the things grant has allowed us to do is think about what is kosher,” Fine said. “We should be thinking about how Kosher evolves. There is a huge cohort of rabbis pushing vegan as the new Kosher. I’m not, but I’m willing to have the conversation.”