Jewish Outdoor, Food & Environmental Education
JOFEE is an acronym that stands for Jewish Outdoor, Food & Environmental Education. These three new disciplines – Jewish outdoor education; Jewish food education and Jewish environmental education – have grown sharply in the last dozen years. JOFEE is already renewing American Jewish life – and helping to create a better world for all – in powerful ways.
More and more people, particularly young adults, express their Jewish identity through passion for building sustainable and environmentally conscious Jewish communities. We need to learn more about this phenomenon, better understand effective strategies, and determine long-term outcomes on participants. This is an exciting first step in deeply examining this relatively new and emerging space of Jewish learning and engagement.
In fall 2012, a collection of Jewish funders – Jim Joseph Foundation, Leichtag Foundation, The Morningstar Foundation, Rose Community Foundation, Schusterman Family Foundation, and UJA Federation of New York – 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 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
- Yiddish Farm: Yiddish immersion farming program
* 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 will be available in late August 2015 and accepted on a rolling basis.
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. Not everyone can be a Jewish food educator, or run environmental programs at their local day school, or be a Jewish farmer – but 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.
Join top-notch educators, exceptional professionals working in Jewish Outdoor, Food & Environmental Education (JOFEE) organizations.
Join the People of the Bike for our annual fully-supported ride and retreat. This exciting, diverse community Shabbat and cycling experience is open for people of all cycling levels and ages.
Sukkahfest is a singular event — perhaps the most joyous, and almost certainly the most diverse celebration of the holiday of Sukkot on planet Earth.
Enjoy five glorious days of riding with routes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced cyclists. All routes are fully supported with rest stops, mechanics, and lead riders.
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
- Annual Jewish Food Festival
- Teva programs integrated into Jewish day-school and synagogue-school programming
- Jewish urban farming and food justice programs
- Summer bus tours for teens to sustainable farms
- Gardens at a majority of synagogues and JCCs
- 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
- Sukkot harvest festivals
- Prayer hikes
- And so on
If you’re a practitioner – a Jewish food activist, a Jewish environmental educator, a Jewish outdoor leader – feel free to consider yourself within the overall JOFEE field. And if you’re involved in leading a Jewish institution, think about how you’re currently using JOFEE programs at the moment – what is working, what is not – and how you might use a greater range of JOFEE programs in the future.
If you would like to strengthen JOFEE in your institution, please let us know what you’re interested in. We’ll be in touch to help you out.
Between now and 2016, we would like to expand the Adva Network (a network of Adamah alumni and Teva educators) to include people who have been involved in JOFEE immersive experiences. If you’re interested in working in this space on a full- or part-time basis, please let us know. We will keep you posted on opportunities as they emerge.