Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Roots in NYC

The Uri L'Tzedek Summer Fellowship Program Participants with Author Karyn Moskowitz in NYC

The following article is reprinted from Uri L'Tzedek's August Newsletter. I met one of the founders, Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, at Hazon's Jewish Food Conference in December in Sonoma County, California. When I knew I was going to be near NYC after dropping my daughter Cicada off at Eden Village Camp in late June, I contacted them to see if the interns would be interested in hearing about our food justice work here in Kentucky. I am so glad I went. It is inspiring to me to see young people make the choice to spend part of their summer organizing for social justice in NYC, to make a change in our food system. We wish them well as they go back to school!

You can find out more about Uri L'Tzedek's work at: http://www.utzedek.org/

My name is Tamar Schneck and I am currently participating in the Uri L'Tzedek Summer Fellowship Program. I have spent the past five weeks with eight peers working, learning, and growing. Throughout the fellowship, we have heard presentations on social justice and the nonprofit world, strategized for the Tav HaYosher program, and worked on our group projects, but most importantly we have developed friendships, processed, reflected and learned from various experiences together.

One of the experiences that truly influenced me was a presentation by guest speaker Karyn Moskowitz, who spent her life travelling and living in various cities throughout the United States, until finally settling down in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville, according to Karyn, is split roughly into two sections: one wealthy and one poor. The impoverished area has some of the highest obesity rates in America and is a food desert, an area in which fresh and/or healthy food is difficult to obtain. Karyn noticed the disparity in food resources and the unhealthy lifestyle and was determined to change it. She began a non-profit organization called New Roots, which is dedicated to teaching healthy eating and cooking and providing fresh food to these neighborhoods, in conjunction with local churches, through the Fresh Stop Project. Karyn identified a problem and spent her resources, energy and time devoted to resolving it. She is an inspiration to me and my fellow peers in the program. She spoke to us about how, in the beginning, she was rejected from grants, and thus went on welfare to support and establish New Roots. In the beginning, churches were uninterested in cooperating and the community was suspicious of her. Despite these initial hurdles New Roots has grown tremendously.

Karyn's dedication, hope and persistence are characteristics that I have learned are vital to anyone who wants to create change in the world. Speakers like her have helped me internalize, understand and power through the experiences that we've had as part of the fellowship. It has also helped me appreciate the positive reactions I hear from others and accomplishments that we have achieved.

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