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Meet the 2019-2020 JOFEE Fellows

Aliza Heeren

Eden Village Camp – Putnam Valley, NY

Aliza has been helping develop Eden Village’s teen programs since summer 2017, both at camp and on the road. She studied environmental studies, social justice and social policy and passionately believes engaging young people in learning to take care of and respect the earth can create ripples of change.

Because you asked, her current favorite plant is the bald cypress tree as they support each other through their root systems and essentially live in community. Not so different from a bald cypress herself, Aliza thrives when living in Jewish community and spending time outside and in the sun. Her current favorite late night snack: dark chocolate peanut butter cups (the Trader Joe’s kind, of course).

 

Allison Blonder

Shalom Institute – Malibu, CA

Allison Blonder is a Program Director at the Shalom Institute and Assistant Director of Camp JCA Shalom Day Camp. Allison grew up in north Texas going to camp from a young age; Girl Scout camp, theater camp, swim camp, choir camp, 12 years of Jewish overnight camp… she was really into camp. After studying opera and music education in college, she changed directions by moving from Texas to Boston in 2014 to start working in the Jewish summer camp world. (You can take the girl out of camp, but you can’t take the camp out of the girl)

In 2017 Allison made another move all the way to Malibu, CA to work at the Shalom Institute, home of Camp JCA Shalom. There she works with all ages, literally infants to grandparents, bringing Judaism, nature, and fun together at SI’s many year-round programs including family camps, religious school retreats, and family fun days. Allison is also a part of the Bee Team and spent 2018 cultivating a curriculum of bee and pollinator programs which are integrated into the overnight camp, day camp, year-round programs, and the first Apples N’ Honey Festival.

When she isn’t playing at camp, you can find Allison hiking, at a Zumba class, dressing up at Disneyland, singing showtunes, traveling far off places, or binging her most recent podcast find.

 

Beth Denaburg

Shoresh – Toronto, CA

Beth is an avid environmentalist, outdoor enthusiast, and local food lover who loves connecting people to their environment through experiences in nature. Her interest in the environment and sustainable agriculture began during her BSc in physical geography at Queen’s University, where she was part of a group of students that established a farmers’ market on the Queen’s campus. Her MA in geography and environmental studies from the University of Toronto focused on the interconnections between water, energy, and food resources. Beth has worked at a number of environmental non-profits and startups, and volunteers as an environmental steward with the City of Toronto.

Beth has been involved with Shoresh since a summer internship in 2010, and then volunteered for many years. She was thrilled to rejoin the Shoresh team as an educator in 2017, and is very excited to now take on the role of Program Director. In Shoresh tradition, she feels she needs to mention that her favourite vegetable is a tie between romano beans and spaghetti squash.

 

Chelsea Taxman

Eden Village Camp – Putnam Valley, NY

Chelsea describes herself as a typical Capricorn, probably because she’s always working with purpose and intention. Chelsea’s holistic background of work in Herbalism, Raja yoga, Humane Education, Permaculture, & Ayurveda has brought her to the mystical community at Eden Village Camp. She has lived mostly in Omaha, Nebraska, but happens to have deep roots to places near and far, and ancestry leading to the Ba’al Shem Tov. Chelsea believes in magic, the beauty of most every living thing, and lives her everyday life asking herself and others “How can I help?” She loves astrology, reading tongues, and is looking forward to beekeeping for the first time in 2019.

 

Clara Feigelson

Pearlstone Center – Reisterstown, MD

My name is Clara Feigelson and I am from originally from State College, PA. I’ve always had a passion for camping, hiking, and exploring the outdoors, starting with camping trips with my family. I recently graduated from Goucher College with a BA in Environmental Studies. My capstone focused on intersections between Judaism and environmentalism. This summer, I continued to explore these ideas as the Assistant Teva Director at URJ Eisner Camp, where I designed programs for campers and managed the Teva team. I am excited to be working with kids again at the Pearlstone Retreat Center and creating educational programming that ties environmental action to Jewish identity.

 

Coltrane Siegel

Hazon – Adamah – Falls Village, CT

Cole is excited to be continuing their work as an Adamah Apprentice for a second season. Cole was an Adamah fellow in the Fall of 2017, and developed a passion for farming, pickling, and the Adamah program. Cole is from Boston and graduated from Brandeis University. Post-college, they have worked in the Jewish non-profit sector, as a union organizer, and in the service industry. Cole loves vegetables, green-houses and Sauerkraut.

 

Hannah Fine

Hazon Detroit – Detroit, MI

A transplant from the suburbs, Hannah is a proud Detroiter who got her start in urban agriculture while earning a B.S. in Biochemistry and Chemical Biology at Wayne State University. The contrast between sterile laboratories and land rich with life fed her passion to pursue the latter and she has since lived and worked on farms throughout Michigan and South America.

Hannah worked in environmental consulting before finding a home in the JOFEE world when she began working at Hazon Detroit in 2018. In her role at Hazon, Hannah gets to build relationships across difference, support urban farming, and connect the Jewish community to food and environmental justice issues in Detroit and beyond. When not getting her hands dirty she can be found exploring, talking to strangers, or daydreaming about ice cream.

 

Jessica Wolfe

Farber Farm at Tamarack Camps – Ortonville, MI

Jess Wolfe is a Michigan native, passionate about cultivating magical Shabbat experiences, food preservation and spreading the good word of eco-consciousness. Jess studied Organic Horticulture Management at Michigan State University, worked and volunteered on various farms, and has most recently lived in Israel where she obtained her Permaculture Design Certificate from Hava V’Adam. Jess currently serves as the Farm Educator at Tamarack Camps’ Farber Farm. She is honored to bring her passions and skills to the farm, where she hopes to cultivate a desire in visitors to embrace their place in community, and faith, inspiring them to explore the natural world, while connecting to their earth-loving Jewish roots.

When she’s not guiding the next generation in making choices to mend our broken food system, you can find her fermenting all the foods that make her house stinky, foraging in the woods, concocting herbal potions, reading Psalms, and generally struggling over the lack of ethically raised and locally sourced grass-fed kosher beef that doesn’t break the bank.

 

Liana Rothman

Hazon – Adva Network – Falls Village, CT

Liana Rothman grew up in small-town Ohio and moved to Tel Aviv when she was 17 to attend Tel Aviv University. During this time, she worked for Kids4Peace, an interfaith youth organization in Jerusalem. Liana returned to the United States in February ‘18 after a five month backpacking trip through South America. She spent her spring at Isabella Freedman as an Adamah Fellow. Liana returned to Isabella Freedman in the fall as a Teva Educator, spending her days with curious children; exploring the woods and nature and Judaism in creative and meaningful ways, diving deep into environmental education and radical amazement of nature and life (much of which was a continuation of the learning and growing started during Adamah). The Adamah and Teva worlds have been an affirmation and a continuation of her journey in seeking transformational Jewish experiences and deeply spiritual and intentional communities.

Liana is thrilled and humbled to be coming back to Freedman and Hazon for the year, this time as the inaugural Adamah and Teva (Adva) JOFEE Fellow. She will be working on organizing and synthesizing these communities; engaging with alumni, working on recruitment for both programs, planning events and opportunities for people to stay connected to Freedman, the experiences had here, and to each other. She is so excited to be on this justice-seeking, community-building, world-growing and strengthening journey with all of you!

 

Maddy Winard

Urban Adamah – Berkeley, CA

Maddy is excited to take her Jewish camping roots and share them with the JOFEE world! She first discovered her love for the outdoors as a camper at URJ Camp Newman spending overnights with friends amongst the tall tall trees. She found herself at UC Santa Cruz studying Community Studies, Sociology, and Jewish Studies, and volunteered at LifeLab as a garden educator on the UCSC farm. Maddy found her home in the East Bay in California as the Youth and Family Programs Manager and Camp Director at Urban Adamah. Maddy especially loves harvesting zucchini and baking it into bread, caring for our chickens, and felting fun creations with youth.

 

Molly Sease

Milk & Honey Farm at the Boulder JCC – Boulder, CO

Molly joins the JOFEE cohort from Colorado, where she works as the Farm Educator and Program Coordinator at the Boulder JCC. Born and raised in the Green Mountains of Vermont, Molly is thrilled to continue her passion for creating experiences that help instill a sense of wonder and stewardship through exploration, discovery and hands-on activities, all while spending as much time outdoors as possible. In college, she studied archaeology, which sparked a life long interest in understanding how different cultures have and continue to interact with the land. Molly left the Northeast and moved to the Santa Cruz Mountains, where she worked for 10 years as an environmental educator. Living and working in a small community of naturalists, she was inspired daily by the magical combination of youth and nature as as Bay Area 5th graders connected to themselves, the earth and each other. During the summer months, Molly worked on a small farm in North Carolina. Here, she fell in love with tomatoes and guinea hens, humidity, and a pig named Lil Honey. When she is not farming or teaching youth, Molly enjoys backpacking and canoe trips, swimming in rivers, reading and playing cards by kerosene light, and drinking coffee.

 

Noah Weinberg

Kedem Farm – Boston, MA

Noah’s journey to founding Kedem Farm began in growing cucumbers and tomatoes in his childhood backyard garden in Evanston, IL. Noah first found home in the JOFEE world spending four summers on staff at Eden Village Camp, and as an Adamahnik, Lotan permaculture student, and Jewish Initiative for Animals educator. What he discovered on this journey from desert oasis to lush Hudson Valley forest was that Jewish tradition lives not only in books, but also in the deep roots and stretching stems of the plants we grow, in our bodies as we work to bring forth and preserve earth’s abundance, and in our souls as we connect with each other in sacred intentional community. Noah returned to Tufts University to finish his degree in Peace and Justice Studies and Education, dreaming of building community around earth-based Judaism. Noah is currently finishing two years as a Machar Jewish and Student Life Fellow at Gann Academy outside Boston, is a member of the Kavod community, and serves as a musical prayer focalizer for Shabbat Nariya@TBZ. Noah is filled with gratitude and excitement to bring the Greater Boston Jewish community together on the land to co-create Kedem Farm, meeting the challenges of this unique moment by heeding the call of our tradition, “Hadesh Yameynu keKedem” (Lamentations 5:21), (“renew our days as before”).

 

Rebecca Leung

Abundance Farm – Northampton, MA

[Bio coming!]

 

P Stern Christian

Pearlstone Center – Reisterstown, MD

P Stern Christian joins the JOFEE world bringing a decade of diverse experiences as a youth educator and mentor with young people across the globe. Stern has come to know, educate, and mentor youth from India, Nigeria, China, Pakistan, Hong Kong, New Jersey, Japan, El Salvador, and Baltimore!

After graduating from St Mary’s College of Maryland with a BA in Philosophy and Minor in Chinese Language, Stern moved to Baltimore to get to know its people, systems, communities, and landscapes in the pursuit of justice and collective liberation. Following two AmeriCorps service terms working with youth in and out of the context of the educational and juvenile justice systems, Stern began searching for a way to integrate his growing religious identity with his already existing passions for youth development, mentorship, and education. When Pearlstone knocked on his door, Stern knew that he had to make the jump into the JOFEE-verse! In the future, Stern hopes to use what he has learned in the Fellowship to work alongside youth in the fight for the liberation of all people and of the Earth from oppressions past, present, and future.

 

Sara Just-Michael

GrowTorah – New York and New Jersey Metro Area

Sara Just-Michael inspires students as a Garden Educator for GrowTorah. She loves wildflowers and potatoes and shares this passion to help others see the awesomeness that is Hashem’s world. As a child, she took any opportunity she had to study butterflies, and that has paid off. Sara has been involved in experiential Jewish education for many years in the USA, Israel, and Hungary. Nowadays you can find her teaching Torah in gardens on the rooftops of New York City or the suburbs of Bergen County.

 

Sarah Julia Seldin

Jewish Farmer Network – National

Sarah Julia Seldin, a first-generation farmer and community organizer outside of Asheville, North Carolina. Sarah is the founding farmer and steward-in-residence of Yesod Farm+Kitchen, a twelve acre oasis twenty minutes from downtown Asheville. Yesod is a community space dedicated to the pursuit and practice of collective liberation through relationship building across difference, earth-based Jewish living, and regenerative agriculture.

Yesod Farm+Kitchen is also home to Jewish Farmer Network, which Sarah co-founded with fellow farmer Shani Mink after a conversation at the 2016 Hazon Food Conference revealed a deep desire for connection among socially isolated Jewish farmers. Together they have grown the Network from a Facebook page that gained 200 members in two days to a grassroots nonprofit that supports the economic, social, and cultural vibrancy of Jewish agriculture by connecting nearly 700 Jewish farmers to resources and community around the world.

Shani and Sarah are excited to be planning a gathering of 100+ Jewish farmers at the Pearlstone Center, February 13-16, 2020. This conference, the first of its kind in over a century, will deepen interpersonal connections among farmers, illuminate the links between our heritage and our vocation, and provide tools for contributing to the creation of a world in which everybody eats. Sarah’s work is inspired by the legacy that before were the people of the book, we were a people of the land. You can meet more Jewish farmers by following Jewish Farmer Network on Instagram @apeopleoftheland.

 

Sarah Rockford

Maine Jewish Food Network at Colby College Center for Small Town Jewish Life – Waterville, ME

Sarah Rockford hails from Denver, Colorado where she was lucky enough to grow up playing in the Rocky Mountains. These days, she calls Maine home and is proud to work as program coordinator for the Center for Small Town Jewish Life. Sarah is passionate about bringing superlative Jewish programming to rural communities—driven by the belief that we should all have access to strong community and faith networks. Her latest ventures include designing a Maine Jewish Food Network to bring together farmers, chefs, and foodies interested in Jewish life. Sarah feels lucky to have Hazon and the JOFEE fellowship as a partner in this work and is looking forward to a year of growth and learning.

 

Stephanie Salem

de Toledo High School – West Hills, CA

Stephanie grew up in Los Angeles and is incredibly stoked to be giving back to her local community as the JOFEE Fellow at de Toledo High School. After receiving her B.A. in Global Studies and Spanish, Stephanie taught English abroad for two years until the call of the outdoors was too strong to ignore. She started working in outdoor guiding and as a wilderness leader at Jewish summer camp where she got to work alongside past JOFEE fellows who inspired her to apply for the program. In her free time, Stephanie loves to hike, bake, slackline, rock climb, go camping and nap in the sun.