Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thinking on Thanksgiving


This paper discusses the global issue of inner city food deserts. These are areas in which healthy and affordable food options are not available. Research has shown that a lack of nutrition leads to further health problems, cognitive gaps, and unpromising trajectories. This paper reviews the social, health, and environmental impacts of this problem. Here, past research is analyzed and current programs are evaluated. This article focuses on food deserts in New York City, specifically in Harlem. Some field research is also included. Following a detailed review of the situation, practical recommendations are made to alleviate this crisis.

The full article: Food Deserts: A Global Crisis in New York City

I apologize in advance for any editorial errors.

When the editors decide to finally publish Issue III, you can view my article here: Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development

And, if you get bored, here are three more articles to peruse:

Remind Me Why We're Doing This

8 Easy Green Thanksgiving Tips

5 Steps to an Eco Black Friday



Saturday, November 21, 2009

It’s Always an Adventure Here!

I just got back from a great weekend in Tel Aviv and Yehud. I enjoyed Shabbat with Evyatar Asher, Allen Glen, and many other fun people. THANK YOU to the Asher family for hosting me and feeding me very delicious food non-stop.

Everything with Evy

I didn’t stop eating…

  • Background: Evyatar Asher is a good friend of mine from Camp. He was a member of mishlachat and we worked together in Shorashim this past summer. He currently lives at home with his family in Yehud and attends Bar Ilan University.

  • On Thursday night we went out with two of Evyatar’s high school friends to a quaint place called Café Gidi in Ramat Gan. There was a line out the door. But, that’s ok, because they brought us free, very tasty, hot coco as we waited outside. Once we entered, it had a lovely ambiance (similar to Max Café on 122nd and Amsterdam), good/quick service, and delicious food. If you’re ever in the area, I recommend grabbing a bite there.

  • On Friday morning, we did some marketing with his mother and brother at the shuk, during which I bought a finjan, small glass cups, and shuk/homemade coffee blend. My tea/coffee set is almost complete!

  • Then, the two of us headed off to a place where Evy eats every Friday: Birenbaum (located at the top of Nahalat Binytamin)! This was another great restaurant, with a cool atmosphere. Except here, it was like visiting family. Evy gave a hug and kiss to every waitress and chef and we got everything we wanted, plus dessert on the house! The food is all vegetarian, served buffet style, and VERY scrumptious. Another must for your next visit to Tel Aviv.

  • Next, we walked through the famous art fair that happens every Tuesday and Friday.
    • I think this is such a unique thing. I’ve never been to another place that has high-quality artists in the same location twice a week. I love it!
    • I was able to walk up to the exact table, in the exact place, where I bought a very cool class snake five years ago and found a similar piece of art waiting for another patron.
    • I love seeing this street full of creativity.
    • However, every time I visit I think, this would be great…but I don’t own a home, so I have nowhere to put these cool fixtures (like toilet paper holders and baskets for newspaper)….I must return…

  • Over Shabbat we went to three different minyanim. Friday evening we davened with a group that Evyatar and his friends help organize. They call it a Carlbach minyan. But, only a few of the niggunim were distinctively Carlbach (at least to my ears). Nonetheless, they had a great showing and now have to look for a bigger place to hold services.

  • As my list of reasons why I wouldn’t make Aliya continues to grow, there are sometimes glimmers of hope. Friday night after dinner was one of those beautiful times. Evyatar’s friends from town came over for a small “oneg.” It was great to see people of all shapes, sizes, colors, and religious observance hang out together as one “chevre.” As some studied a bit of Talmud in one corner, another couple arrived in their car. The memorable moment for me was when Moshe, with his large kippa seruga and flailing tzitzit, said goodbye to Siyum, a secular Ethiopian, holding car keys. They threw a few love punches, gave a great big hug, and discussed the details for Moshe to sign the Ketuba as the eid next week at Siyum’s wedding.

  • Did I mention, Evy’s wonderful mother didn’t stop feeding us?

  • Finally, as my father always says, Israel is “The One Disk Country.” And….now with modern technology, it’s even easier to swap files. Needless to say, I left Yehud with a lot more Israeli music on my computer.

Over Shabbat I read a wonderful article from a recent New Yorker about the current Israel-Gaza situation. I highly recommend it. It’s very detailed and objective (hard to find these days). After reading it, you can come to your own conclusion about an “appropriate” solution: Captives

Food for Thought

I guess going to a food conference has become an annual tradition for me.


  • I arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening. I had arranged a place to stay.

  • While out to dinner with some friends, I received a text message from my original host saying, “Do you have an Alternative? If that’s ok.” So, I asked Joe (name changed for confidentiality) if I could stay with him. Joe, who was staying in a hotel, was staffing the Conference the next day, so it was a perfect arrangement. He checked with his roommate for the night, and all was set for success.

  • After an exciting evening with friends and some new, eye-opening experiences, it was time to catch a few Zs. But, Joe had disappeared. Furthermore, he was not answering his phone or text messages. All I wanted to know was where the hotel was so I could go back on my own.

  • Eventually, we made contact with him and he said to meet on the corner of Allenby and Rothschild, a main intersection.

  • So, I left the group with whom I was walking to find Joe.
  • But, Joe was nowhere to be found. Thirty minutes later, at 1:25 AM, as I stood in the brisk wind, Joe had still not arrived, and was once again not responding to cell phone communications.

  • It was at this time, that I decided there was nothing else to do, but find a hostel. At one point during the evening, another friend had mumbled “48 Hayarkon” amidst our conversation about places to stay. So I started walking towards Hayarkon St and eventually hailed a cab.

  • I asked the driver if he knew of any hostels in the area, but he didn’t know, so I told him to go to Hayarkon St. During the ride he radioed the dispatcher, who confirmed that there was indeed a hostel at 48 Hayarkon.

  • I arrived and walked into this gloomy lobby with one guy behind the counter. I was in luck:
    • With my passport, as a “tourist,” I was able to get a bed in a dormitory-style room for 78 Shekels (~$21). This was perfect as I was just happy to be inside, warm, and have a place to sleep.
    • After I paid, he gave me the sheets and told me I could pay to lock up my valuables.
    • Despite the warning, I took a chance and didn’t lock up anything.
    • But, I did rent a towel for 3 shekels.
    • I went up to my room to find two girls and one guy occupying the other bunk beds. I washed up and went to bed.
    • A few hours later, after a light sleep, I awoke, showered, shaved, and headed off.
    • I’m not sure my roommates ever knew I was in the room.

  • While I could have been angry about this situation, I realized it wasn’t worth it. It is just better to laugh about it and tell myself, it’s always an adventure here!

Discussing Sustainable Food and Agriculture:

  • The Food Conference, sponsored by the Arava Institute and the Heschel Center, was very impressive.

  • Over 500 people attended!

  • They had a bunch of big names speak including the Minister of Agriculture, the founder of Israel’s Green Party, and a few of my professors.

  • I met some interesting people and reconnected with old friends.

  • Like the Bike Ride, I was the only current student at the Machon to partake.

  • It was another good experience away from the Kibbutz!

I would like to thank everyone for their overwhelming support of my Israel Ride! Feel free to visit my ride site for the latest stats or if you have a last minute urge to contribute.

Now, I’m off with my class on a three-day Negev fieldtrip.

Until next time...



  • Do you REALLY have to smoke?
    I just don’t understand: If you’ve grown up and gone to school (with health education) in the last twenty years, especially in the States, how could you possibly want to smoke?

  • Only in Israel will you find a car zipping down the street blasting the song “Yo Ya” by Kveret.

  • Why does every Israeli think they can treat you like a sibling? This can be both good and bad. Often times they are very endearing and you get a lovely homey feeling wherever you may be. BUT, I don’t think a shop owner should reprimand potential customers. Hey, whatever works!...

Shoutout #38: Ariel Touger – WOW! It’s great to see you out here; welcome! Well, what can I say, you are simply a good friend. In our former years…Be it a quick visit in Milburn or a whole weekend together, we always seem to have a good time with a lot of laughs (usually about other people). Hope College Park is treating you well.

Shoutout #39: Allison Guttenplan (Alli G!) – You are such a kind person. You will go out of your way do anything for most people. Plus, you are a lot of fun! Welcome aboard!

P.S. If you didn’t get a chance yet, take a moment and Vote for the Edot Names at Ramah Outdoor Adventure.

P.P.S. Do you know what you’re eating? Maybe you should think again: Corn-based Meat

P.P.P.S. SERIOUSLY?! Who does Fox think they’re kidding:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

I apologize for the plethora of external links above. However, as a fellow procrastinator, I would actually find them helpful…ENJOY!


Notes from the Field

Here are two meaningful things that I’ve been intending to post for over week now…

The Value of Breira in Peace-Building

I recently wrote to my friend, mentor, and former boss, Dr. Beth Jaret, Director of Breira B’Ramah:

As part of the Arava Institute all students must take part in the semester-long non-credit “Peace Building and Environmental Seminar.” Last week we had a six hour session (yeah, I know) on Compassionate Listening. Although I thought this was going to be long and drawn out, it actually was very good and helped people open up. I realized again what I have noticed in the last year or two, that working with Breira and the training you provided has made me a pretty good listener. As we know, most people (especially our campers) usually have the best solutions to their problems. So, if you just give people a chance to talk and truly express themselves, it can make things much easier. Thank you for that.

But, I also noticed that sometimes when I'm not specifically in the role of "Breira Counselor," I forget this important skill. I believe this especially happens in situations like here, where everyone feels they must really defend their opinions. Thus, this session was actually a very good remainder of one of the most important communication skills. As many of the conversations here are often very politically and emotionally charged, I am working hard to actively listen well and "give peace a chance."

Seriously, you should try it. It really works in everyday life. And, it’s definitely a start in peace work.

A Biblical Note

While sitting in my class Bible as a Key to Environmental Thought, I found an amazing verse about the joining of beloveds, hidden in the middle of B’reishit.

Genesis 2:24

Hence a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, so that they become one flesh.

I think this is a beautiful view of love, marriage, and family!

[In addition, feminist readers, take note: Man clings to Woman. WOW!]

While there is a lot I could say, both negative and positive, about this one verse, I will simply say that I hope part of this philosophy is a major part of my marriage one day.

And, if you are in the mood for an enchanting, heartfelt, exemplary love story, read this (plus it even mentions “kibbutz”): The Obama’s Marriage

This post had a bit of a different tone than normal. I would love to hear your thoughts. Simply hit “comments” and tell us what you think.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Day I Lost My Hair

Once again, THANK YOU to all those who have already supported me. If you didn’t get the chance yet, please take this opportunity and Follow This Link to promote PEACE, PARTNERSHIP, and ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION…and pass on the word. If just 18 more people contribute $18, I will definitely meet my goal.Together we can make a difference!

Well... I guess I got bored...

Inspired by Jason, please look to the right and vote on which hairdo you like better:


From The Day I Lost My Hair


From The Day I Lost My Hair

Can't wait to hear from you...


P.S. You can see more pictures from the event by clicking on the photos.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ride Recap

I’ve just completed the most amazing

315-mile journey!

Again, THANK YOU to all those who have already supported me. If you didn’t get the chance yet, please take this opportunity and Follow This Link to promote PEACE, PARTNERSHIP, and ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION…and pass on the word. If just 18 more people contribute $18, I will definitely meet my goal. Together we can make a difference!

There’s so much I could tell, but that may bore you. So here’s my takeaway:

  • Luckily my first adventure was not indicative of the entire experience…When I stepped onto Bus 394 at 1:45am in front of Ketura, the driver did not have my preordered ticket. So, I was forced to pay again AND sit/lay on the floor for the 5-hour ride. I did not sleep as planned and arrived in rainy Tel Aviv at 6am, very tired.

  • I mentioned a bunch about the basics in the last two posts. But just to reiterate, we ate and slept VERY WELL. They really took good care of us!

  • Here’s something impressive…Two of the lead riders included:
    • Israel’s #1 Cyclist - Ayal Rahat
    • The Chair of the Chemistry Department at Hebrew University - Gil Shoham

  • I became friendly with them and the entire crew. In fact, I spent a lot of time with the Crew, who are Arava alums, during breaks, because I am closer in age with them then most of the other riders.

  • Nonetheless, I think I had a conversation with every participant.

  • The CREW deserves a huge round of applause. They did a spectacular job. There was not one time when I felt confused or stressed during this week. (Honestly, it felt nice to not be in charge or give directions for once. This week I was able to sit back and just participate. Though, I did “crew” at times for fun.)

  • Moreover, I believe the Ride was very well done, because no matter if you cycled the whole way or rode the bus for half the time, everyone left feeling accomplished.

  • On our way to Ketura on the second to last day, we hit a WIND STORM. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried this, but cycling in a headwind that is moving faster than you is much harder than biking up a mountain.

  • I was really impressed by many of the cyclists. I hope when I am three times my age I can beat a youngster up steep hills. But, as Ed Loebl (Rachel’s dad) put it, “When you ride five times a week, it’s not so bad.” (Not to mention, I didn’t really train for this.)

  • Finally, this Ride provided a very unique vantage point of Israel. I’ve seen most of Israel in many different ways (small groups, large groups, hiking, busing, driving), but rolling through the country on a bicycle in an extraordinary experience. To physically move yourself, at your own speed, through the land, allows for a whole new perspective. You better appreciate the height of mountains, the geographic and climatic diversity of the small area, surrounding nature, and even the people within. I strongly encourage everyone to do this at some point in your life. Speaking of which, SIGN UP NOW FOR NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM - October 19th - 26th, 2010!

I’m always available to answer questions and share more with you. Can’t wait to hear from you...

And, tomorrow we celebrate Ketura's birthday!


Biking Befuddlements

  • In the last post when I discussed my fear of the downhill, I forgot to mention that another risky factor is that I am attached to my pedals. This does not make for an easy fall!

  • However, I’ve also learned to love the downhill, because after a climb, the ONLY thing you want is a nice, long, steep, descent. OY!

  • You know you’re working hard when you take off your sunglasses and can wipe off actual salt crystals.

  • In case you don’t know, THIS COUNTRY HAS A LOT OF HILLS!

  • I’ve decided I should not be so hard on myself when the #1 Israeli cyclist beats me in a sprint… even if he’s only using ONE foot!

One last time (I hope), PLEASE DONATE TODAY!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Israel Ride: Almost There…

First, I’d like to thank everyone who has already supported my efforts. Without your help this would not be a success. For those of you who have not had the opportunity to donate yet, there’s still time. We will complete our ride by cycling from Ketura to Eilat tomorrow. Please take a moment and Follow This Link to support PEACE, PARTNERSHIP, and ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION.

From Israel Ride 2009

I am a bit tired and must be up early, so I’m not going to write a full post now.

But here are a few highlights:

  • Our ride began by leaving Tzfat towards the Kinneret; winding back to the to the Mediterranean (Yam el Yam!); bused down to Meshabim (near Be’er Sheva); from there to Mitzpei Ramon à Ketura à Eilat.

  • After spending so much time in the desert, it was really refreshing to be up north.

  • We’ve done a lot of mountain climbing. Ironically, my thighs, which could have burst open, feel better today than they did after a full Shabbat of no riding.

  • The community that has been created is really amazing. A lot of great people from all over the country.

  • I sat down with Nigel, the Founder and Executive Director of Hazon, to share a few of my ideas. We had a very fruitful discussion.

  • I’ve uploaded some photos. But, I really haven’t taken that many because there’s a photographer capturing all the good moments. Check out the Fall Israel Ride web page for further updates.

As always, more to come…


Biking Befuddlements

  • The old guys love the downhill. I could reach the peak of a mountain 10 minutes before them, but sure enough, they’ll whiz by me on the descent.
    Quite frankly, I get slightly scared. I really don’t like roller coasters, so you can imagine what it’s like for me going down a mountain just as fast, with switchbacks, on bike that’s not connected to a track that’s been tested for safety!

  • This ride is very Jewish. I think I’ve actually gained weight, because of all the eating.

  • For some reason, Israelis seem to think that it’s very supportive for cyclists to honk their horn and then zoom by.

P.S. I promise a full post is on its way. But until then, please make a small difference in this world by supporting me on the Hazon Arava Institute Israel Ride: CLICK HERE TO DONATE NOW. Toda!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Israel Ride: Stage 1

I have so much to tell you, but we must be up at that doesn't leave me much time to sleep right now. I hope to bring you a longer update in the next few days.

In Short

  • We completed our first 70 miles and I'm feeling great! I was able to ride in the front of the strong group for the entire day.

  • Food is delicious and we're eating like kings (queens...royalty....whatever you want).

  • Social Environment and camaraderie is amazing!

  • Accommodations are lovely.

  • Weather: Went from my teeth chattering this morning to a burning neck in the afternoon. Tomorrow's forecast is even better.

  • I wish I had pictures to share, but I didn't take that many because it's a lot easier for the photographer to take pictures of us while we're riding. Soon, there should be photos posted HERE, along with other ride information that's already out there.
More to come when I am more awake.

From the road,