What draws people to the Adamah Fellowship?
There are as many reasons to come to Adamah as there are Adamahniks! Here are just a few:
- You know nothing about Judaism and are curious to learn more.
- You know a lot about Judaism and want exposure to an ecological, social justice-oriented, spiritual Judaism.
- You want to learn hands-on farming and sustainability skills.
- You are interested in learning about, participating in and advancing small-scale sustainable food businesses.
- You want to understand some of the economic, political, and social factors that influence how we eat and you want to join the movement toward creating a healthier food system for all.
- You want to live in an intentional Jewish spiritual community.
- You feel the need to bring together your ecological life and your Jewish life.
- You want to grow and be grown as a leader.
- You want to try out living in a Jewish community.
- You want to develop skills for healing the world.
What is the community like?
Adamah Fellows live together in shared housing, work together, learn together, cook for each other, spend Shabbat and celebrate Jewish holidays together, and plant and harvest together. Living communally creates a myriad of rich learning opportunities for developing communication skills, appreciating differences, and resolving conflicts. Fellows are supported by the Adamah staff through community-building exercises, regular community meetings, and other programs. Pluralism of all kinds is key to the success of the Adamah community. We strive to center everyone’s identities and we seek applicants of all genders, nationalities, cultures, and abilities.
What is the relationship between Adamah and Isabella Freedman?
Fellows are integrated into the larger Isabella Freedman community in three ways: as teachers, community members and as institutional support. Adamah fellows lead educational programs for Freedman’s three primary client groups: senior adults during Freedman’s summer adult programs, elementary school students who participate in the Teva Learning Center, and Jews of all ages and affiliations who visit the retreat center during the summer and fall. Fellows may lead garden, farm and green facilities tours, prayer services or nature hikes. During special retreat programs (like High Holy Days), Adamah fellows are members of the larger spiritual community, learning and praying with Isabella Freedman staff and retreat guests. Adamah Fellows provide institutional support by working 10 hours a week in the kitchen, housekeeping, and maintenance. This work is an important piece of Adamah’s financial sustainability as well as our integration with the larger staff community at Freedman.
What skills can I expect to learn at Adamah?
- In the field, fellows learn the techniques of organic vegetable production, including bed preparation, transplanting and direct seeding, mulching, hand and tool weeding, drip irrigation, foliar spray applications, tilling, and composting. Fellows are exposed to permaculture design and application in perennial beds, fruit orchards, and herb gardens. Fellows learn proper harvesting and post-harvest handling techniques as they prepare vegetables for delivery to the Isabella Freedman dining hall, donation sites, our CSA (community supported agriculture) in West Hartford & Falls Village, and the cultural center
- In the cultural center (our commercial food-processing kitchen) fellows learn hands-on how to make pickles, sauerkraut, jam, tomato sauce, and other value-added food products. Working in the CC provides an opportunity for fellows to learn about sustainable farm business and food preservation on a small commercial scale. Fellows also learn how to make yogurt and cheese from our fresh goat milk.
- In the greenhouse, fellows learn to seed and care for the young vegetable plants, as well as the basics of saving seeds from open-pollinated crops.
- In the barnyard, fellows participate in all aspects of raising dairy goats, including daily milking, mucking out stalls, trimming hoofs and breeding. In the chicken yard, fellows are responsible for the care of our flock of 30 chickens. Fellows attend classes that introduce them to the barnyard and animal husbandry techniques.
- In the home, we cook most of our own meals using food from the farm and bulk goods from the local co-op. Some fellows come in with very little cooking experience, and build skills to cook a farm-to-table meal for a group of 10 or more! In addition to food processing and homemaking, fellows learn how to support each other through communication, conflict resolution, and other community-building skills.
Adamah Fellows may also work on a variety of additional projects, including building compost bins and shelters, repairing bicycles, painting, caring for the Isabella Freedman lawns and buildings, and making soap. Adamah is an ideal program for folks who are new to these endeavors, as well as for people with previous experience who wish to expand their skill set.
Is there a therapist at Adamah? How does Adamah support people in their personal growth?
While we offer mentoring and formal and informal interpersonal support, Adamah and Isabella Freedman are non-therapeutic settings. There is no on-site clinical support.
If a member of the Adamah community notices another member of the community experiencing what appears to be mental health or substance use related issue(s) of concern we have a process through which people confidentially report their concerns to selected staff. We ask that all Adamah community members commit to this protocol for reporting if they think that someone is in psychological or emotional distress.
The Adamah Fellowship can be physically challenging and it is an intense emotional, interpersonal, and even spiritual experience. The staff’s goal is to assist fellows to recognize and reach beyond self-imposed limits and to facilitate the group as they move towards independence and healthy interdependence.
If you become a member of our community and require emotional, psychological, or addiction related support beyond what our non-clinical staff can provide, we expect that while living within our community, that you will continue an established relationship with a mental health professional and/or that you will arrange for an off campus support system before arrival.
Do I need to have health insurance to participate in Adamah?
Yes, Adamah fellows are required to have health insurance. If you are accepted into the program, you will be required to share you health insurance info. If you do not currently have health insurance, you can get an income based plan including free medicaid if you qualify. Visit www.healthcare.gov to sign up. Even if you are outside the traditional ‘open enrollment’ period, you will likely still be eligible to sign up. If you are eligible for medicaid, there is no enrollment period for medicaid and you can sign up at any time of the year. In addition, moving to Isabella Freedman constitutes a change of address and entitles you to a ‘special enrollment’ period. Please let us know if you need a letter from us documenting your residential address at Isabella Freedman.
What else might I learn at Adamah?
- How to open your heart and voice to prayer
- The empowering potential of Jewish ritual and learning
- How to move your community toward sustainability & inclusivity
- Listening with compassion
- To work toward justice and liberation in the food system and beyond
- How to work hard
- The joys and challenges of communal living
- How to lead
- Your path in the world
- To be a Jew in your own way
It seems like the Adamah Fellowship covers a lot of ground: Judaism, sustainable agriculture, community building, leadership training. Are there opportunities to go deeper into certain topics or skills?
Adamah provides a great first taste of everything from goat cheese making to Jewish text study, meditation to communication skills, confronting justice issues to song leading, composting to permaculture. There simply is not time to go deeply into all of it. We want to whet your appetite! We want you to leave here and seek out more of the above. Expect to leave here not a specialist but an inspired generalist.
Wait, is Adamah an educational program or a farm business?
It’s both. At Adamah, there is the potential to learn from everything we do. Learning happens in both traditional, discussion-based classroom settings and during work sessions in the field, pasture, greenhouse, and kitchen. We are a foundation and a donor-supported non-profit, and we are increasingly seeking to sustain ourselves from the revenue of our CSA and our value-added product business. At Adamah, we strive to balance fellows’ learning and creative exploration with the realities of producing healthy products that support our financial sustainability. We model this sustainable and conscientious business as a tool for learning and supporting the bottom line. This means that you will learn and your work here will be productive.
How much do the animals play a part in the program?
Animal husbandry is an integral part of the Adamah program. Everyone at Adamah- vegans, omnivores, and everyone in between- participates in the chores and responsibilities of animal care as well as discussions and learning around the welfare and ecological issues around animal agriculture. Our animals are important teachers in the community no matter how you relate to eating animal products.
Under the management of the A Barnyard Manager, the fellows milk our goats every morning. We use the milk in homesteading classes so that fellows can make their own cheese and yogurt throughout the fellowship. Fellows participate in all aspects of raising goats, from breeding and birthing to mucking out stalls and trimming hoofs. In the late Fall, the fellows witness the shechita / ritual kosher slaughter of the male kids and have the option to participate.
Adamah fellows care for our flock of over 30 chickens and are the main consumers of eggs from the free-range, compost fed flock, and are responsible for most daily aspects of chicken care, including opening and closing the coop, collecting eggs and transporting food waste from the Isabella Freedman kitchen to the chicken yard daily.
How Jewish is Adamah?
We pride ourselves on pluralism. Jewish observance varies considerably among Adamah fellows. The Adamah community has a scheduled morning prayer service daily that is not traditional. Those who would like to pray individually three times per day have historically made time for themselves even in our busy schedule. We provide (and produce!) kosher food and we do not work on Shabbat except for watering and feeding the animals. We celebrate Jewish Holydays! More questions? email us.
How much formal Jewish learning is there?
In the average week there will be two formal Jewish learning sessions that involve interpreting traditional texts. In addition to these sessions, Friday afternoon closing circles, blessings around meals, Shabbat, and other rituals provide opportunities for integrating Judaism into daily life.
What about Shabbat?
Shabbat is the fellows’ time off. The workweek ends on Friday a few hours before sunset and begins again on Sunday usually at 1:00 pm. Fellows are free to leave the program during this time. Fellows may also choose to participate in the Shabbat services that are held at the retreat center or create their own services together as an Adamah community.
After hard work and intensive learning, Shabbat at Adamah is a powerful community experience of rest and rejuvenation. Many fellows tell us they have never immersed themselves in Shabbat as they did in Adamah. The Adamah fellows spend late Friday afternoon cooking, cleaning and planning prayer services. We reflect on our week, fellows lead a soulful and accessible Shabbat service, and we sit down to a bountiful feast prepared from our field.
Each season we plan one or two Shabbat retreats for the Adamah community. On these weekends, fellows participate in all programmed activities. Otherwise, we do no programming on Shabbat and Adamah fellows are free to come or go, sleep or pray, spending their time however they choose. Each group of fellows comes together to make their own decisions on what Shabbat observance will look like in the Adamah house communal spaces (lights, stereo, kitchen, etc.) In your private room or tent you are welcome to celebrate Shabbat however you choose.
What about Kashrut?
The Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center’s dining hall is a strictly kosher facility supervised by the Hartford Kashrut Commission and a trained mashgiach. The Adamah House kitchen, where fellows eat most meals, is a kosher vegetarian kitchen where any food that isn’t harvested directly from the field must have an accepted hechsher.
How much free-time is there?
Like the exodus from Egypt, a wilderness backpacking trip, or Yom Kippur, the Adamah fellowship is an intensive, immersion experience. The full schedule is designed to facilitate personal and community growth, learning and productive work. Free times include:
- From about 3:00 pm Friday afternoon (depends on sunset) until 7:00 pm on Sunday. Some Sundays there will be scheduled program time, whether that’s class or farm work. There are more scheduled Sundays during the Summer fellowship.
- One hour off after lunch.
- One evening off during the week.
For more information about daily schedules see A Typical Day.
Where will I live?
Fellows have the option to live in the Adamah house or in a tent.
Tents are on platforms in the woods at Isabella Freedman. The kfar (“village”) has three tent platforms, the shechuna (“neighborhood”) has five tent platforms. You will have a 2-3 person backpacking tent to yourself, as well as access to bathrooms and showers on campus- there are three options: a gender-neutral bathroom & shower, female-identified bathroom & shower, and male-identified bathroom & shower. Tenters are also always welcome to use the bathrooms at the Adamah House. Fellows often choose to live in a tent for the experience and challenge of living outdoors for three months, and for having a little more private, personal space.
The Adamah house (where all fellows eat breakfast, participte in Avodat Lev and celebrate Shabbat) has three bedrooms, which accommodate 2-3 people each. There are two gender-neutral bathrooms in the house. Fellows who are looking for indoor accommodations and a more social environment tend to choose to live in the house. We will do our best to give you your first choice of accommodations.
What is the difference between the spring, summer and fall fellowships?
In the Spring we witness the land waking up, and much of the farm work involves planting seeds and tending to baby plants. Our work in the summer is focused on the farm, the CSA and starting in July, pickling. Summer fellows get to see all aspects of the growing process (seed to harvest to pickle), go swimming in the river, and enjoy the benefits of summer in the Berkshire mountains.
In the fall fellowship we celebrate high holy days (fellows participate in phenomenal holyday retreats at Isabella Freedman) and focus on harvest and pickling/krauting until we put the field to bed in mid-Octoberish. During November and December we switch into project mode, working on bike repair, shed building, soap making, perennial bed prepping, permaculture design and application, and other projects that emerge.
Do I need to know how to ride a bike?
Bikes are our main form of transportation at Adamah, and we use them throughout the day to get from one place to another. We ride short distances (from the field to campus, from the house to the field, etc), so being an expert biker is not a requirement. We can lend you a bike and/or helmet if you don’t have either. We take six to eight 1/4 to 1/2 mile trips a day by bike. You do not need to have done the Tour de France, but need to be able to ride short distances.
How will the Adamah Fellowship be different during COVID-19?
Adamah staff have developed a COVID protocol that aims to lower risk for fellows’ exposure to COVID-19 as much as possible. We require all fellows to be fully vaccinated before arrival. Once you’re here, the fellows will be a “pod” and follow social distancing guidelines with those outside the pod, including wearing masks when indoors with others. Overnight visits away from Freedman, or having guests stay overnight will not be allowed, unless your arrangements follow this protocol. We don’t expect much to differ, just a few precautions to keep us safe!
What is there to do in Falls Village, CT?
Isabella Freedman and the Adamah program are located in one of the most beautiful parts of the Connecticut Berkshires. The Isabella Freedman campus is located on 250 acres of woodland, and includes several miles of hiking trails, and a lake where swimming and boating are available. The town of Falls Village is a short bike ride away, and a visit to the Toymaker’s Café, Mountainside Cafe, the Falls Village Library, or waterfall is a great outing. Other nearby towns include Millerton, NY, Salisbury, CT, and Great Barrington, MA.
Falls Village is about 2.5 hours from New York City by car, or two hours by the train via the Wassaic Metro North station, which is a 30-minute drive from Isabella Freedman.
Can I do Adamah if I am from another country?
We have had folks participate in Adamah from Canada, Israel, and England! Depending on where you live, the visa requirements vary. Because the requirements change from time to time, we recommend that you research this on your own. We are able to provide any documentation you need that proves you will be participating in Adamah. In the past, our Canadian fellows have been able to participate without a visa as long as their stay in the States is less than 3 months. Canadians who have stayed on and worked at Adamah have received an R1 visa.
What is the connection between Adamah and Urban Adamah in California?
Adam Berman, the Director of Urban Adamah in California co-founded of Adamah in Connecticut in 2002 with Shamu Sadeh, currently the Managing Director of Adamah & Teva. In 2010, Adam moved to California and founded Urban Adamah, with the intention of bringing the work of Adamah to an urban center and integrating food justice into the fabric of the curriculum. The programs are kindred spirits and work together to build a more vibrant Jewish community and a more just and sustainable world.
Interested? Have questions? email Adamah Fellowship Director Carly Sugar: firstname.lastname@example.org