This week’s Foodie was nominated by our Jewish Adventurer of the Week – Rose. Rose and Julie attended Tufts University together and are united again in DC! Rose wanted to highlight Julie for her love of travel and her passion for food justice.
If you know someone who you think should be the Jewish Person of the Week nominate them!
Jackie: What was your favorite part of Avodah’s Jewish Service Corps?
Julie: My favorite part of being an AVODAH Corps Member was definitely my house. I lived in an intentional and cooperative community with 12 other Jewish women in one of two AVODAH houses in DC. Each one of my housemates had unique passions and their own personality, and while it wasn’t easy to live with such a big group, we worked hard to establish systems of that allowed us to appreciate each other’s strengths and contributions. I admire and am inspired by each and every one of the people I lived with last year. Learning how to coexist and cooperate with this group allowed me to grow a lot as a friend, a person, a family member, and a Jew.
Jackie: How did you get involved in food education?
Julie: My interest in food education kind of grew into a professional passion by accident…and very quickly! I’ve always loved food – I’m from a family of big eaters who all love to cook – but I really dove into the food scene after I studied abroad in Argentina. During my time abroad, I really learned about the city of Buenos Aires and Argentinian culture by eating the local food and sharing meals with friends. When I came back to the US, I realized that my passion for food was more than just a love of local produce and hatred of food waste – rather, it was something that allowed me to connect with different cultures and people. I realized that my love for food didn’t just have to be a personal interest! I started exploring further by taking classes at my university and doing research on food policy, local and urban agriculture, and sustainability. After I graduated I was lucky enough to land at Brainfood, a DC non-profit and youth development organization that runs summer and after-school programs for high schoolers all about cooking, food entrepreneurship, and urban agriculture. This opportunity allowed me to combine my interests in child development and education with my love of food in the best way possible.
Jackie: You are staying in DC now that Avodah is over. What about DC made you want to stay?
Julie: As a New Englander, DC felt surprisingly foreign to me when I arrived. After a year here, I feel connected to the city first and foremost by my Jewish community, and friends from AVODAH and from work. I also feel a deep connection to the city through the learning I’ve done both from research and from first-hand experience about education in the District. DC schools and youth services have a unique set of issues, which I feel motivated to work to address. While there’s youth in need everywhere, I feel particularly able to do this work here in DC because of the amazing network of people I have supporting me.
Jackie: What was your favorite part of studying abroad in Buenos Aires?
Julie: It’s hard to pick one thing that stands out from my six months in Argentina, but I think the biggest thing I took away from this experience was the culture of social interactions. Meals in Argentina are much slower. There’s actually a term “sobre mesa” for the conversation you have after the meal is finished “over the table” (literally). Sharing “mate”, a bitter and highly caffeinated tea, shows the deepest sign of friendship in Argentina. I found the casualness and intimacy of this tradition really beautiful; when you drink mate you actually share the tea through one straw using one cup. While Buenos Aires was the largest city I’ve ever lived in, I came to appreciate the slower pace of life and the desire to spend time with others that is so innate in Argentinian culture.
Jackie: What inspired you to travel to Morocco with JDC?
Julie: Travel has always been an interest of mine, and I was really excited by the opportunity this trip presented to learn about non-Ashkenazi Jewish practice and the co-existence of Jews and Muslims in an Arab country. I was also drawn to the idea of participating in this trip with fellow students at my university and using a critical eye to consider globalization and the ideas of service and charity. The opportunity to connect with a specific community and compare their Jewish experience to my own was a huge part of why I applied to this program.
Jackie: What was your favorite part of that trip?
Julie: I was so floored by the graciousness and hospitality of our hosts especially given how the Jewish community in Morocco is shrinking almost daily. We were fed enormous amounts exquisite foods all day and were welcomed into the fairly private Jewish community with open arms.
When the Jews gather… you know there will be food.