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07/03/2017 03:53:28 PM


by Zach McElgunn

My name is Zach McElgunn, and I have been a member of Beth Ahabah since my family moved to Richmond, VA in 2001. I was in third grade at the time. In the intervening sixteen years, I have had my Bar Mitzvah, been confirmed, graduated high school, and I received my Bachelors degree from the University of Virginia in 2015.

Now, just two years into my professional life, I remain a part of Beth Ahabah’s community (I am a teacher in the Sunday school), and am pursuing work that emphasizes the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, a commitment to which played a central role in my upbringing.

The nonprofit organization of which I am now a part, E.A.T. Foundation (, has as its driving focus a mission to eradicate food deserts, and promote equal food access to all members of our community. (You know, eating together might be understood as a Jewish value as well. Haha.)

I am lucky enough to work in close proximity to the culinary world through E.A.T.’s exploratory pop-up dining events (the culinary world being something I am deeply interested in), all while supporting what I believe to be a worthy cause.

For our pop-up dining events, what we do is bring a chef (and cooking equipment if necessary) to an atypical location in which to share a meal (like an art gallery, museum, furniture store, etc.) and we put on an elaborate 5-7 course dining adventure with a group of about 30 people. The attendees always leave with new connections to one another, and we always try to use the event as a learning experience as well, either teaching about different cooking techniques, a specific culture’s cuisine, or food, food-access, and “the shared meal” in general. We try to host about one of these events a month, as they are our main source of fundraising at the moment, and they are open to anyone interested in attending. All you have to do is register for them online.

I remain grateful for the support of my community, family, and friends as we continue to navigate and overcome the obstacles to creating a more equal, empowered, and actively engaged society.

Editor’s Note:

This is part of a new series written by and about the members of Beth Ahabah. If you would like to submit an article about a friend or family member at Beth Ahabah, or your own adventures, avocations or interesting career, please contact Lori Allen in the Temple office at

Sun, June 26 2022 27 Sivan 5782