New York Times Food Writer Mark Bittman to Address Biennial

Renowned Speakers and Innovative Sessions Focus on Food Justice, Jewish Cooking
November 11, 2013, New York, NY – The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) announced today that renowned New York Times food writer Mark Bittman will address the 2013 URJ Biennial, taking place in San Diego, CA, from December 11-15, in a Friday forum, entitled Food, Food, You Shall Pursue. The forum, sponsored by Jewish Food Justice Fellowship, a Leichtag Foundation Initiative, will feature a discussion about the intersection of Jewish tradition, sustainable agriculture and contemporary food justice issues with Bittman and the Leichtag Foundation’s Jewish Food Justice Fellows.

Bittman, whose “Minimalist” column ran in the Dining section of the New York Times for more than 13 years, is a New York Times Opinion columnist, the lead food writer for The Times Magazine, and a columnist for the Times Dining section. His books include the bestselling How to Cook Everything and the groundbreaking Vegan Before 6 P.M. (VB6).

The Leichtag Foundation is also sponsoring the URJ Shabbat Dinner, the largest Shabbat dinner in North America. Those wishing to attend may register for the entire Biennial, Friday only, or Shabbat dinner only.

Two additional learning sessions will delve deeper into food justice issues including Food, Faith, and Activism and Hungry Rabbis: Experiences from the Food Stamp Challenge. The first will explore ways congregations can expand their hunger advocacy efforts and the second will delve into the experiences of rabbis who participated in the food stamp challenge and how this initiative could be implemented in other communities.

“Food justice and healthy eating have long been important issues for the Reform Movement,” said Barbara Weinstein, associate director of the Religious Action Center and the director of the Commission on Social Action. “The Torah and Jewish tradition are explicit in the command that we address hunger in our society and care for our bodies. We are looking forward to hearing from some of the top activists in these fields to learn more about what we can do to feed the hungry in our own communities and prioritize health and wellness in our own lives.”

On the lighter side, Biennial attendees can meet Food Editor and renowned cookbook author Tina Wasserman, who will conduct two cooking demonstrations in Kikar Biennial--The Biennial Town Square. On Thursday afternoon, Wasserman will cook recipes from her new book, Entrée to Judaism for Families: Jewish Cooking and Kitchen Conversations with Children, an inter-generational cookbook with tips on how to teach cooking and Jewish history to kids. On Friday afternoon, Wasserman will teach challah braiding. In addition, Wasserman will offer two Shabbat lunch programs, one a traditional lecture about Jewish cooking, the other a hands-on experience for families with young kids.

And finally, foodies will not want to miss the opportunity to hear from Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of the famous Zingerman’s Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Michigan, an organization with almost 600 employees and the source of gourmet food for more than 500,000 visitors every year. Weinzweig will speak in a Wednesday afternoon intensive called The Art of Giving Great Service: How Zingerman’s Treats Customers Like Royalty, which will explore how organizations, such as synagogues, can improve their approach to customer service.