Five Questions for Ari Hart

6 Mar

Ari Hart

Well friends, jewhungry is very thrilled to unveil the first interview, of what we hope will be many interviews, with folks in the Jewish/food world.  As stated in our mission, jewhungry sees food as a connection and what better way to connect than to use this blog to tap into those folks on the ground who are players in what we see as a movement in the Jewish food world.  Maybe movement isn’t the right word but something is definitely brewin’ and we would very much like to be a part of it.  Through talking with everyone from our family, to kosher restaurant owners to Rabbis to professional chefs and folks who just like to cook and/or eat, we want to investigate food (especially, but not strictly limited to, Jewish food) from all angles.

Our first interview is with the passionate and wise, Ari Hart.  Ari Hart is the co-founder of Uri L’Tzedek (Awaken to Justice): The Orthodox Social Justice Movement and a leader of multiple initiatives that bring the Jewish community and the world together to make positive social change. A contributor to the The Huffington Post, Jerusalem Post, Haaretz magazine, and, he was recently selected by the Jewish Week as one of the 36 “forward-thinking young people who are helping to remake the Jewish community.” He has worked to spread the message of Jewish social justice and responsibility in synagogues, schools and change organizations around the country, from Washington DC to the South Side of Chicago (where Whitney and Ari were once co-workers at the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs).  Ari also just happens to be married to one of Whitney’s old friends, also from the Chicago days, and was kind enough to indulge us over here at jewhungry as our first interviewee.  Ari is currently studying to be a rabbi at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York City.

jh:  What’s the history behind Uri L’Tzedek?

AH:    Uri L’Tzedek (ULT) was founded in 2007 by a group of orthodox social justice activists. We aimed to fill a gap in the Jewish community by inspiring the Orthodox community to fully realize the value of tzedek, justice. We began this work by articulating a traditional, text centered basis from which to engage in local, domestic, and global advocacy and community service projects. Since 2007, we’ve reached 15,000 people across North America and abroad, engaging the entire Jewish community in social justice learning and action.

jh: How did you get involved in the Jewish social justice movement?

AH:    I believed that if Judaism was to be a holy, meaningful force in the world, it had to address the injustices in the world. When I began studying Jewish social justice, I realized I was not alone. I was inspired by the likes of Rav Soloveitchik, who wrote in Halakhic Man that “the actualization of the ideals of justice and righteousness is the pillar of fire which halakhic man follows,” in addition to the hundreds of other great rabbis and Jewish leaders, prophets, and sages who call on the Jewish people to be a source of blessing in the world.

jh:  Do you see a movement of young Jews connecting to their Judaism via food?

AH:    Definitely. The growing consciousness about food and the connections to our bodies, the earth, and other people is happening all around the globe. Baruch Hashem, Judaism has profound things to say about all three! Whether it’s the spirituality of brachot (blessings), the food-justice consciousness of Jewish agricultural laws, food used in religious practice, and much more, folks are discovering the wealth of food-wisdom we posses, and that’s a great thing.

jh:  What is Uri L’Tzedek’s ultimate goal for the kosher world?

AH:    The North American Jewish community has done a tremendous job of ensuring that kosher food is accessible to all who wish to purchase it, pretty much wherever you are. One hundred years ago, that would have been unthinkable. Uri L’Tzedek would like to see that commitment to kashrut continue to grow, while at the same time also ensuring that our food is produced in ways that are “yosher” -ethical. The Tav HaYosher has been a great start – over 80 restaurants have signed on and are being checked to make sure they meet basic ethical standards. We want to see that kind of attention to ethics grow, so that in one hundred years we’ve got millions of Jews who keep kosher and keep yosher.

jh:   What is your favorite family dish?

AH:     Hmmm…. Probably my mom’s shabbat potatoes.   Simple recipe: a squeeze of lemon, some sprigs of rosemary, equal parts garlic and potatoes, drizzle with oil. Bake. Wow.

One Response to “Five Questions for Ari Hart”

  1. jessie March 8, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    i am a HUGE fan of uri l’tzedek and will make this potatoes in their honor!

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