Shmita classes relate justice to issues of food, land

Temple Emanu-El is holding a series of classes to honor the Shmita, or Sabbatical year. In biblical times the seventh year was a time to let the land lie fallow, for debts to be forgiven and for all who worked the land to rest and rejuvenate.

If the Sabbatical year is the fulfillment of the justice the Torah teaches us to practice daily — embracing our fellow human beings, the land, and all life — how, in a non-agrarian society, do we meet its challenges today? At the first class in January, Rabbi Richard Safran and the Rev. Greg Foraker of St. Philip’s in the Hills Episcopal Church explored questions of blessings related to the food we eat.

On Monday, Feb. 16, 7-8:30 p.m., Rabbi Sanford Seltzer and Leona Davis, education and advocacy coordinator of the Community Food Bank, will present “What is Jewish Food Justice,” leading discussions on what constitutes a food secure community, what are our obligations to the ‘orphan, stranger and widow’ and whether people should eat meat.

On Monday, March 16, 7-8:30 p.m., Seltzer and Michael Hewitt, Canyon Ranch health and wellness community expert, will explore “Food for the Jewish Soul: How are Our Food Choices Determined by Jewish Values? Toward Healthy Bodies in Today’s World.”

The final session on Sunday, April 12 at 10 a.m. will be a multi-generational hands-on gardening activity at Tucson’s Mission Garden, located west of downtown at the corner of Mission Road and Mission Lane, with the theme of “The Land: Preservation — Now and for the Next Generation.”

The cost for each session is $10. To register, call 327-4501.