Food Systems and Jewish Learning

Ariel Wexler, a fellow from Repair the World Pittsburgh took some time to share the impact she was able to have on others over the course of the year, and the impact the fellowship had on her.

At UC Santa Cruz where I went to college, I became extremely passionate about environmentalism. My main focus was on the complexities of the food system and practices of sustainable agriculture. Growing up in a strong Jewish community and being fascinated with the history of the Jewish people I decided to minor in Jewish Studies. The Repair the World fellowship was the perfect combination of both my interests in food justice and the Jewish community.

My main partner organizations were Grow Pittsburgh and 412 Food Rescue. I also collaborated with the JCC teen education groups of JLINE and Teen Philanthropy. My projects for Grow Pittsburgh included helping with map outreach to get community and home gardens on an electronic map. I also enjoyed supporting farmer Courtney in cooking and garden education at two local elementary schools in Pittsburgh. I had the great opportunity of designing an eight week service learning class called the “Intersectional of Poverty” through JCC JLINE. 15 high school students delved into the topics of employment, housing, food and education justice.

Moving to a new city and having to start from scratch would have been much more difficult without the skills Repair taught me to go outside of my comfort zone. I learned what type of events to attend in the city to meet other non-profit professionals and how to learn more about people’s interests.I became involved with a youth mentoring program at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church called “Food for Thought”. I had the honor of being a mentor for a fourth grade boy who taught me that relationships take patience.

My Jewish identity has always been very important to me and so has my desire and passion for environmental and social justice. I think it’s valuable and enriching to learn about the Jewish context behind issues I believe in.