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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

Thu, February 27 2020 2 Adar 5780