Gendler Grapevine Interfaith Food Justice Initiative

The Gendler Grapevine Project is a six-year initiative that promotes activities within the Jewish and interfaith communities honoring and supporting the values affirmed by Rabbi Everett Gendler. The Project facilitates the creation of effective, innovative, and replicable programs that celebrate the deep connections between Jewish traditions, social justice and the environment, helping others transform their words and ideas into activities that will make a difference not only in their own lives but also for those around them.

New Roots was a 2015, 2016, and now 2017 (see below) recipient of the Gendler Grapevine L’dor V’dor Grant which supports environmental and social justice projects at non-profit organizations across the United States. These grants:

  • Helped New Roots to create the Parkland Fresh Stop Market in partnership with Congregation Adath Jeshurun. Many Parkland residents struggle with limited resources and the Fresh Stop Market is the only channel for farm-fresh organic food in the neighborhood. This Market was created, is run by, and is sustained by members of the Pleasant View Baptist Church and Congregation AJ along side the residents of the Parkland Neighborhood;
  • Invested in the formation of the first Fresh Stop Market at a Jewish Community Center in the entire country.The Gendler Grapevine Fresh Stop Market @ the J is one of the most successful Markets in the region with an average of 70 families every other week; and,
  • An interfaith food justice movement where Jews, Muslims and Christians come together to pursue fresh food as a basic human right.

The idea that Jews must pursue—in fact run after—justice, is at the core of this initiative. This theme guides our work at New Roots. We understand that the meaning of the word tzedakahis not about an act of condescension from one person to another who is in need. It is the fulfillment of a mitzvah, a commandment, to a fellow human being who has equal status before God. Although Jewish tradition recognizes that the sharing of our resources is also an act of love—as the Torah states, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev.19:18), it emphasizes that this act of sharing is an act of justice. We do not believe that people are “under-served,” “needy,” or that we have to “empower” them.

Rabbi Gendler

Rabbi Gendler’s challenge is to:
“Tune into heaven but keep feet on earth”

This a call to:
“Pray with our feet, and become God’s light in the world as active doers.”

To us at New Roots:
“Doing” means working to obtain food justice for all.

Chef Elana Levitz cooking from scratch with organic, farm-fresh veggies at the Gendler Grapevine Fresh Stop Market @ The J.

The goal of the 2017-2018 Gendler Grapevine Initiative is:

Creation of a Youth Food Justice Corps and testing the replication of the New Roots Fresh Stop Market model

This project will unite communities to spread food justice in Louisville and beyond and engage youth as true leaders in the movement. Here’s how we will do it:
New Roots will focus on the next generation of food justice organizers. We will be working 12- to 14-year olds who will learn to:

  • Utilize community gardening to heal themselves and their community;
  • Learn from and shadow adult food justice leaders at the Fresh Stop Markets and Fresh Stop Training Institute;
  • Learn how to leverage their technological fluency for the purpose of social change;
  • Organize within the Jewish community, their schools, and other spaces they inhabit to grow the local food justice movement;
  • Learn the basic Jewish values of Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam; and,
  • Work with New Roots professionals.
New Roots will also be extending networking with other Jewish Community Centers that are interested in creating a Fresh Stop Market in their food-insecure neighborhood to replicate New Roots’ model. Our goals is to move forward with organizing in Clayton County, Georgia as our first Fresh Stop Market outside of the Kentuckiana region.
We will pursue these goals in partnership with the Gendler Grapevine Foundation, our Louisville-based Hazon Jofee Fellow, Michael Fraade, the Jewish Community of Louisville, and the Georgia Farmers’ Market Association.

New Roots had a very successful 2017 growing season with our Gendler Grapevine Fresh Stop Market @ The J and is now about to kick off a 2018 spring and summer Fresh Stop Market.

See more about the Gendler Grapevine Project and our partnership here at this blog post about Counting the Omer.