Jewish Outdoor, Food & Environmental Education
JOFEE stands for Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education. JOFEE experiences connect people to Judaism, community, and the natural world. JOFEE programs engage participants of many different ages, Jewish backgrounds, and religious approaches. Tens of thousands of people engage in JOFEE activities every year, from learning about Jewish harvest rituals to starting a CSA. Combining methods from existing secular models with Jewish learning, wisdom and traditions, JOFEE programs create entry points to Jewish life and social action.
The number of people participating in JOFEE activities is growing explosively, from about 2,500 in 2012 to more than 6,000 participants, in hundreds of multi-day programs across the country, in 2015. From children at Teva to teenagers at Ramah Outdoors, from young adults teaching at Eden Village to families celebrating Passover at Isabella Freedman, JOFEE now has an impact on Jewish people of all ages and stages of life.
If you’re a practitioner – a Jewish food activist, a Jewish environmental educator, a Jewish outdoor leader – consider yourself well within the overall JOFEE field, and use this page to learn about the many opportunities available within the JOFEE field.
In fall 2012, a collection of Jewish funders collaborated with Hazon to conduct the first national research study on experiences that integrate Jewish outdoor, food, and environmental education (JOFEE), focusing on immersive JOFEE programs lasting four days or longer. The Improve Group and Informing Change gathered and analyzed data to explore JOFEE programs, participants, and professionals.
On March 10, 2014, Seeds of Opportunity: A National Study of Immersive Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education (JOFEE) was released. The report highlighted the incredible impact JOFEE has had on Jewish communities and individuals around the country. Since the report’s release, the field has continued to expand at a rapid rate.
How can I support the field?
Investments of many different sizes in the field can make an important contribution in helping to expand Jewish life and learning through JOFEE, especially to people who have previously been disconnected from Jewish life. You can promote JOFEE approaches with existing local, regional, national or international grantees, as well as in new grantmaking. In addition to working with individual JOFEE programs, there is field-wide work that needs ongoing support for the field to grow:
- Support professional development, to build the capacity JOFEE programs need to reach their potential
- Build on promising business models in which participant pay to participate, and look for ways to support financial sustainability
- Strengthen the network of JOFEE participants and professionals
- Support research on JOFEE work, including areas like programmatic return on investment and the overall impact of JOFEE programs on Jewish communities.
- Support market research to help us learn about the needs, interests, and constraints of JOFEE participants and potential participants.
The Report was based on the work of the following projects and programs:
- Adamah Adventures*
- American Jewish University: Experiential Fellowship
- Amir Project: Amir Farming Fellowship
- Burning Bush Adventures
- Camp Newman: Kibbutz Yarok– staff program
- Camp Tawonga: Wilderness Department
- COEJL Conferences*
- Derech HaTeva/Teva Adventure
- Eco-Activist Beit Midrash*
- Eco-Israel Semester Program
- Eco-Israel Summer Program
- Eden Village Camp GreenFaith Fellowship Program
- Jewish Farm School: Farm Apprenticeship
- Jewish Farm School: Organic Farm Alternative Break
- Jewish Farm School: Seminar in Organic Agriculture and Educational Gardening
- Pearlstone Center: Alternative Spring Break Program
- Pearlstone Center: Beit Midrash
- Pearstone Center: Chesapeake Watershed Pilgrimage
- Pearlstone Center: Integrated Sustainability Apprenticeship
- Pearlstone Center: Summer Farm Kollel
- Pearlstone Center: Sukkot Retreat
- Ramah Outdoor Adventure
- Torah Trek Guides Track
- Torah Trek Retreats
- Urban Adamah Fellowship
- Wilderness Torah Retreats: Passover in the Desert
- Wilderness Torah Retreats: Sukkot on the Farm
* These programs are no longer in operation
We’re grateful to the Advisory Group for their guidance throughout this research project:
- Jim Joseph Foundation (Josh Miller, Jon Marker)
- Leichtag Foundation (Charlene Seidle, Naomi Rabkin)
- The Morningstar Foundation (Adina Dubin Barkinskiy, Lisa Gerton)
- Rose Community Foundation (Lisa Farber-Miller)
- Schusterman Family Foundation (Seth Cohen)
- UJA-Federation of New York (Melanie Schneider, Vladimir Ronin)
- Urban Adamah (Adam Berman)
- Nili Simhai
The JOFEE Fellowship
The JOFEE Fellowship seeks to invigorate the Jewish educational landscape by seeding Jewish communities with a cadre of outstanding Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Educators.
JOFEE Fellows will work to effect change in local institutions and communities by organizing and running JOFEE programs that focus on education, action, and engagement.
Applications for the first cohort are now closed. If you are an institution interested in hosting a Fellow, or an individual interested in joining our second cohort, email email@example.com. We look forward to being in touch!
The JOFEE Network Gathering
The JOFEE Network Gathering is for JOFEE educators and professionals, Jewish communal professionals, lay leaders, and others looking to further develop their knowledge and expertise in Jewish Outdoor, Food & Environmental Education (JOFEE).
During the gathering, attendees will:
- Help build the future of the JOFEE field and discuss our broader goals and activities
- Develop and strengthen their network of educators and professionals for resource sharing and collaboration
- Learn about innovative JOFEE programming to bring back to their Jewish community or institution
- Gain experiential education skills and build a personal resource library
- Meet outstanding seasoned and emerging leaders in the JOFEE field, including the new JOFEE Fellows and other early-career professionals and educators
JOFEE events are opportunities for the public to engage with and support the very intensive work happening in the field of Jewish outdoor, food, and environmental education. From veterans to newcomers, everyone can be inspired by short-term immersive experiences that motivate their ongoing engagement with JOFEE programs in their home communities. JOFEE events cultivate a community of advocates and change-makers, who are the base for raising the awareness and the funds that will enable the JOFEE field to transform what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century.
Come to one of Hazon’s JOFEE programs listed below, or join one of our partner organizations’ programs.
People who participate in immersive JOFEE experiences report increased their involvement with the Jewish community. Their energy and skill helps make them leaders and enrich their communities’ Jewish life.
What could a Jewish community that values JOFEE look like?
It would include some (or all) of the following:
- Integrated food policies at all the local Jewish institutions
- Teva programs integrated into Jewish day-school and synagogue-school programming
- Jewish urban farming and food justice programs
- Jewish institutions using the shmita year as an opportunity for reflection and release
- Orchards planted on Jewish communal properties, with intergenerational programming on everything from pruning techniques to orlah
- A flourishing of local, sustainable food businesses
- And so much more!
Most JOFEE programs collaborate with other organization, such as synagogues, JCCs, day schools, federations, camps, and social service agencies.These collaborations and relationships also help in recruiting participants and building interest in their work.
Many Jewish organizations offer JOFEE experiences that are supported by partnerships with dedicated JOFEE organizations. These range from teaching JOFEE classes to providing spaces such as farm sites or community gardens for JOFEE experiences. JOFEE groups within Jewish organizations may support greening work in their own community, or distribute educational material about more global environmental issues. Jewish organizations embrace JOFEE practices and programming because they are important to current and potential constituents. Community leaders report that JOFEE work provides meaningful ways to engage constituents and helps create a welcoming environment, while also providing rich Jewish experiences.
Where should I start?
Read about the impact of JOFEE programming on community engagement in Seeds of Opportunity: A National Study of Immersive JOFEE
Submit listings for full-time and seasonal employment, educational, volunteer, and internship opportunities to firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn about professional development opportunities for your staff, such as Nevatim and the Jewish Outdoor Leadership Training (JOLT) program
Join educators, professionals, and representatives interested in bring JOFEE programming to their communities at the JOFEE Network Gathering
Find resources like curricula and program outlines at hazon.org/education
Find case studies from the Jewish Greening Fellowship and resources to help your organization introduce JOFEE programming at hazon.org/jgf