EKEV

The Jewish Chronicle - - Judaism - SALLY BERKOVIC

“You shall eat, you shall be sat­is­fied and you shall bless” Deuteron­omy 8:10

“BE a mensch and let us ben­sch” — it’s sum­mer camp time and many youth move­ments will be ben­sching (say­ing Grace af­ter Meals). The prayer orig­i­nates in the tri­par­tite com­mand­ment, “You shall eat, you shall be sat­is­fied and you shall bless.” Eat­ing is plea­sur­able, but to be sat­is­fied, we should ask our­selves how the food ar­rives on our plates.

For ex­am­ple, the trial of Sholom Rubashkin of Agripro­ces­sors, the meat pro­ducer in the United States, put kosher food pro­duc­tion in the limelight. In 2010, he was sen­tenced to 27 years in prison on mul­ti­ple counts of fraud. It ru­ined com­mu­nity re­la­tions in Postville, Iowa, the cen­tre of Agripro­ces­sors’ op­er­a­tions, and is­sues in­volv­ing an­i­mal treat­ment, food safety, en­vi­ron­men­tal safety, child labour, and hir­ing of il­le­gal work­ers were high­lighted.

In 2008, Ma­gen Tzedek, an eth­i­cal seal of kashrut, was launched and its web­site ex­plains that prod­ucts car­ry­ing it “re­flect the high­est stan­dard on a va­ri­ety of im­por­tant is­sues: em­ployee wages and ben­e­fits, health and safety, an­i­mal wel­fare, cor­po­rate trans­parency and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact.... Ma­gen Tzedek demon­strates that ri­tual and eth­i­cal com­mand­ments have an equal place at our ta­bles.”

An­other famine is un­fold­ing in East­ern Africa: how do we re­spond when the po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic forces driv­ing it are so over­whelm­ing? In Lon­don, GIFT en­cour­ages cus­tomers in kosher food stores to buy an ex­tra item for a fam­ily in need, in Los An­ge­les, Ma­zon is ded­i­cated to pre­vent­ing and al­le­vi­at­ing hunger among peo­ple of all faiths and back­grounds and in Is­rael, each year Leket res­cues over 700,000 meals and 13 mil­lion pounds of pro­duce and per­ish­able goods, for re­dis­tri­bu­tion. These in­spir­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions have a re­sponse: don’t for­get to ben­sch, but it’s even more im­por­tant to be a mensch.

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