Quenching Our Thirst for Knowledge and Healing

By Lisa Rimmert, Director of Marketing

Beginning last month, the Mizel Museum staff has scheduled monthly Working Lunches, during which we learn about and discuss issues that are relevant to our work. In December, we watched three stories from our Community Narratives Project collection. As we head into a new year of programming, it’s already clear to us how valuable these Lunches are to our collaborative work efforts, personal and professional development and understanding of the issues in our world.

For our second Working Lunch, held Monday, we watched the documentary Tapped, which focuses on the ways in which the bottled water industry is harmful to us and our planet.

The main issues, according to this movie, are:

  • Municipal water is extracted from the ground, filtered and bottled, and sold back to us at a cost that is many times more expensive than what it costs companies to extract.
  • There is a battle over ownership of groundwater, and the commercialization of water threatens the availability of water for all.
  • The ways in which plastic bottles are manufactured are harmful to those who live near those plants.

After watching the documentary, the staff engaged in a discussion about these and other relevant issues, and about the merits of including such contemporary issues when deciding on an organizational definition of “kosher,” for the Museum. To think about this issue is, for us, an encounter with the ideas of the eco-kashrut movement, which aims to expand what “kosher” means, to include modern social, ethical and environmental issues. In his article, “Eco-Kashrut: Environmental Standards for What and How We Eat,” Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow states, “For shepherds and farmers, food was what they ate from the earth. For us, it is also coal, oil, electric power, paper, plastics, that we take from the earth.”

Waskow asks, “Is it eco-kosher to eat vegetables and fruit that have been grown by drenching the soil with insecticides? Is it eco-kosher to drink Shabbat Kiddush wine from non-biodegradable plastic cups? Is it eco-kosher to use 100 percent unrecycled office paper and newsprint in our homes, our synagogues, our community newspapers? Might it be eco-kosher to insist on 10 percent recycled paper this year, 30 percent in two years, and 80 percent in five years?”

Our aim at the Mizel Museum is to use the arts to heal the world, and perhaps our organizational policies can be tools in that effort. We are working now to incorporate what we’ve learned from watching and discussing Tapped into a policy for our organization’s use – or, rather, non-use – of plastic water bottles.

We’d love your input as we work to do our part to heal the word, and we’d love to hear your stories, too! What do you do – in your personal life or in your organization – to heal the world?

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