From Pasture to Doorpost
We are so grateful to have created our own mezuzahs from scratch.
Making Jewish Meaning with Our Hands
As people made of the dust of the earth and the breath of the Everpresent, as faithful students of the past and rebellious residents of the present, we believe in making meaning with our hands. At Adamah growing vegetables, piling food scraps, making goat cheese, mixing brine for pickles, and canning jam is the path to learn about our heritage, ourselves, the interconnectedness of the world around us, and the many faces of the sacred. At Adamah we work, sing and learn together, and physical labor is at the core. We learn the value of gratitude by the sweat of our brows.
Our Ancestors were Shepherds
Our ancestors were shepherds of sheep and, particularly, of goats. That life is reflected in the way we eat (kashrut), our ideas about God (burnt sacrifices), the language of our prayers (which are full of shepherd and flock language), and the stories we tell about what it means to be a leader. Later in our history, many of us became farmers, and the cycles of seeding, rain, and harvest became rooted in our calendar, our holy days, and the ways we worship. After 2,000 years of diaspora and becoming fully the People of the Book, we have wisdom to re-claim practices to re-learn by engaging with soil and plant, animal and skin, which cannot be understood through books.
A History: Our Cup Overflows
Fifteen years ago the Jewish farmers at Adamah started raising goats. We milked them, shepherded them, evoked them in song and prayer (“kosi revaya” “My cup overflows), made cheese and yogurt, and, in the fall brought in a buck and bred them in order to refresh the ability of our herd to produce milk. That spring many goat kids were born and we knew we did not have the pasture to keep all of them. The male children were destined to be killed and eaten, either by us or by someone else. And so we started to learn about kosher slaughter with Adamah Alumni Aitan Mizrachi and Naftali Hanau, and Naf’s teacher and shochet Yehuda. Over the years, one of our most kindred teachers in living our Judaism on the landscape has been Rabbi Linda Motzkin, a Soferet (Torah scribe), whose solution to a scarcity of kosher parchment was to make it herself from locally hunted deer hides. Why don’t you do this with your goat skins?
Simcha Halpert-Hanson, an Adamah Alum and Field Apprentice, took on the project in 2017. Simcha did extensive research, spoke with Rabbi Linda and Soferet Julie Seltzer and created a modern hand-made process for making kosher parchment from the skins of our goats using a lime, stretching on wood frames, and sanding with a palm sander. Something that was common knowledge thousands of years ago took some serious internet research and troubleshooting for us 21st century Jews!
The Campaign for the Future
Isabella Freedman is the home for Adamah, and has been the home for so many Jews for so long. From Holocaust survivors swimming in the lake and dancing in the Great Hall as senior adult summer campers, to couples standing under the chuppah, seekers come to study Jewish meditation or the path to Hebrew priestesshood, guests celebrating at Sukkafest, 6th graders renewing Jewish ecological wisdom in our Teva programs, and activists and foodies gathering at the Hazon Food Conference, Isabella Freedman been the tent of meeting, the house of worship, the place of learning.
We are at the beginning of our Campaign for the Future to renew the physical structures at Isabella Freedman. You can donate to help us rebuild and to dedicate these mezuzot! Each renovation project we get funded will be sanctified by a farm-to-doorpost mezuzah with naming opportunities.
What better way to celebrate the spaces that have offered so much to so many for so long!
Contact Shamu Fenyvesi Sadeh at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to be involved.