JOFEE Network Gathering

Sep 14, 2017 - Sep 17, 2017

Pearlstone Center, Reisterstown, MD

Register Now!

Share, Learn, Celebrate! With something for everyone, we hope to see you there!

The most powerful moment for me was sitting around the fire with everyone on the last night, singing songs together. After being a part of so many sessions that brought Judaism to life in a way I had not experienced before and feeling so connected to all others at the conference, it was at the fire that I had this a-ha moment — that this is the field where I belong and will continue on in life.
—Lizzy, St. Louis, MO


The JOFEE Network Gathering is the annual gathering place for thought leaders, enthusiasts, and program professionals throughout the Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming and Environmental Education world. With some of the best Jewish outdoor educators from around the world leading workshops, hands on learning sessions, panel discussions, and keynote addresses, participants will take away new experiential education tools and resources and build new relationships with like-minded Jewish professionals across the country. Whether you have been a JOFEE-nik from the beginning or are newly interested in bringing JOFEE programming back to your community, the JOFEE Network Gathering is the place to be.

Join us for the opportunity to showcase new initiatives, share best practices, learn from veteran JOFEE professionals, spur collaboration, and strengthen our connections to Jewish tradition through the outdoors, food, farming, and the environment. Explore new opportunities for networking, coalition-building, and hands-on activities to engage youth, young adults, families, and more with meaningful Jewish experiences.

All who are involved, interested, and/or invested in the JOFEE space are invited to attend.

During the gathering, attendees will:

  • Learn about and engage in innovative JOFEE programming to bring back to their Jewish community or institution
  • Meet outstanding seasoned and formative leaders in the JOFEE field as well as JOFEE Fellows and other early-career professionals and educators
  • Develop and strengthen their network of educators and professionals for resource sharing and collaboration

Educators include*:

  • Jakir Manela, Pearlstone Center
  • Adam Berman, Urban Adamah
  • Michal Wetzler, Pearlstone Center
  • Hody Nemes, Hazon
  • Michael Fraade, Louisville JCC
  • Elan Margulies, Teva
  • Sara Shalva, Pearlstone Center
  • Zelig Golden, Wilderness Torah
  • Cara Silverberg
  • Becca Weaver, Boulder JCC
  • Shamu Sedah, Adamah
  • Abrah Dresdale
  • Yoshi Silverstein, Hazon
  • Rabbi Psachyah Lichtenstein, Pearlstone Center
  • Rachel Asarnow
  • Joanna Perlin
  • Leib Kaminsky, Greening and Advocacy Consultant
  • Mira Menyuk, Pearlstone Center
  • Joe Murray, Pearlstone Center
  • Paul Entis
  • Rabbi Jessy Gross
  • Yoni Stadlin

*Our educator list continues to grow! Check back often for updates … 

No matter where you come from, this year’s conference has something for you!

  • Jewish Nature Connection: showcasing initiatives that engage Jewish people holistically in the context of ecology, the outdoors, and the environment.
  • How Jews Eat: explore the complex, historical, fun, thoughtful, and enigmatic relationship Jewish people have with food from the seed or egg to our mouths.
  • Jewish Sustainability Action, Activism and Advocacy: tackle the Jewish response to climate change, unprecedented political occurrences, and educating the next generation in the classroom, from the pulpit, at the JCC, or in the field.
  • Jewish Community Farming: support the emerging and ongoing education and engagement of Jewish Farmers and Educators. This track is planned in conjunction with the Jewish Community Farming Field Building Initiative. 

For an idea of what we did last year, check out 2016 program book here!

  • Do you have to be a “JOFEE person” to come to the JOFEE Network Gathering?

NO! There will be professionals, lay people, and other enthusiasts from all backgrounds at the conference – if you are interested, you are welcome!

  • How much does it cost?

All-inclusive rates for the JOFEE Network Gathering start at $410.

Register by August 12 to receive $50 off with code LOVE50!

Click here to see all rates and register now!

  • When is check-in and check-out? 

Check-in begins at 3 pm and check-out is by 10 am.

  • Where is Pearlstone located?

Pearlstone Center is located at 5425 Mt Gilead Rd, Reisterstown, MD 21136, just half an hour from Baltimore and BWI Airport.

  • How do I get there?

Click here for driving directions to Pearlstone Center.

Click here for a list of taxi companies.

Upon registering for the Gathering, you will receive access to a digital rideshare board. Offering a ride in your car will help reduce carbon emissions, cut down gas costs and make new friends! If you are looking for a ride, adding yourself to the wait list (on the right hand side of the page) is the best way to be notified when movements occur.

  • What about parking?

Parking is free for all guests. The circular drive is for loading and unloading. Overflow parking is on the grass in the center circle. Please do not park in the fire lane across from the main entrance.

  • What are the accommodations like?

Pearlstone Center features accommodations in hotel, dormitory, and log cabin style lodging. This variety accommodates a range of preferences and budgets. All lodging has free WiFi access and includes sheets, blankets, pillows, pillow cases, and towel set for each guest, soap and shampoo.

Click here for more information about the accommodations. You will have the opportunity to select your preferred accommodations when you register for the Gathering.

  • What is the food like?

Pearlstone serves healthful, delicious, farm to table food. It is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union. Pearlstone can accommodate most dietary preferences and restrictions with advance notice. You will have an opportunity to indicate your dietary needs when you register. Please contact us at or (860) 824-5991 ext. 0 to discuss your needs.

Click here for more information about the food and dining.

  • What should I bring?

You may want to bring:

  • Over-the-counter and/or prescription medications
  • Toiletries
  • Flashlight
  • Chargers for electronic devices
  • Lots of layers for warm to brisk fall weather
  • Sun protection
  • Rain gear
  • Ritual wear
  • Closed toe shoes
  • Hiking boots to enjoy the woods
  • Can my child/ren attend?

Children are welcome to attend. As the Gathering is geared towards adults, children’s programming will be not offered, and children must be supervised by an adult guardian at all times. All attendees, including infants and children, must be registered in advance. We offer reduced rates for children in the same room as their parent(s).

  • Are the facilities accessible?

All of Pearlstone’s public and common areas are accessible for individuals with physical disabilities. Pearlstone has accessible rooms equipped with accessible bathrooms, strobe fire alarms, lower closet bars, and roll-in showers. Please contact us at or (860) 824-5991 ext. 0 if you have accessibility needs.

  • Is there a computer I can use?

Two computers and a printer are available for guest use in the main building and will be accessible during building hours. Wireless internet is available at no cost throughout the facility and in your accommodations.

Thursday – September 14

Arrival and pre-conference programming – 1:00-5:00pm

Opening Remarks and Dinner – 5:00pm

State of JOFEE Panel – 7:00pm

Campfire – 8:45pm

Friday – September 15

Morning Prayers/Farm Chores/Yoga – 7:00am

Breakfast – 8:00am

Session 1 – 9:00am

Session 2 – 10:30am

Lunch – 12:00pm

Session 3 – 1:15pm

Session 4 – 2:45pm

Shabbat Services – 5:45pm

Candle Lighting and Dinner – 6:47pm

Torah Learning Panel – 8:00pm

Tish – 9:30pm

Saturday – September 16

Minyan/Hike/Yoga – 9:30am

Kiddush – 11:30am

Gender conversations in the JOFEE Space (panel) – 12:00pm

Lunch – 1:30pm

Beit Midrash – 4:15pm

Difficult Conversations Panel – 5:45pm

Seduah Shlishit – 6:30pm

Havdalah – 7:45pm

Dinner and Campfire – 8:00pm

Sunday – September 17

Morning Prayers/Farm Chores/Yoga – 7:30am

Breakfast – 8:00am

Session 5 – 9:15am

Closing Panel – 10:45am

Closing Circle – 12:00pm

Lunch/Departure – 12:30pm

Our educator list continues to grow! Check back often for updates … 

Rachel Aronson is an educator, dialogue facilitator, and nature lover living in Brooklyn. She comes to Hazon and JOFEE from Resetting the Table, where she worked to open conversation about Israel across difference on college campuses. She has worked on a community farm, lived in an environmental co-op, and planted gardens on her fire escape to bridge her passions for building community and being around fresh-grown vegetables. Rachel is a former Emerson National Hunger Fellow and has a Bachelor of Arts in cultural anthropology and environmental studies from the University of Vermont.


Judith Belasco is the Chief Program Officer at Hazon. She leads the incredible team that runs all of Hazon’s programs, including JOFEE (Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education), retreats at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Teva, Adamah, Hazon Seal of Sustainability, Siach, food programs, and more. Prior to joining Hazon, Judith was the Program Coordinator at Linking Food & the Environment (LiFE) at Teacher’s College, Columbia University. Judith is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and graduated with a Masters of Science in Nutrition and Public Health from Columbia University and holds a Bachelors degree in Urban Studies from Vassar College. Judith lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY with her husband and two children.


Maggid Zelig Golden is Director of Wilderness Torah; he leads countless individuals in wilderness based Jewish exploration through thoughtful and contemplative study sessions. Zelig’s vision for a thriving, earth-based Jewish tradition developed out of a lifetime of nature connection, Jewish leadership, and commitment to environmental advocacy. Zelig invokes mentorship, facilitation, and ceremonial tools to guide an annual cycle of land-based festivals, nature-based rites of passage, and mentorship for emerging young leaders. Zelig was ordained Maggid by Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi ztz”l and is currently a rabbinic candidate. He previously worked as an environmental lawyer protecting food and farms and has long guided groups into the wilderness.


Jakir Manela is the executive director of the Pearlstone Center; he founded and directed the organic Kayam Farm which has been incorporated into the Pearlstone Center and has provided leadership and mentorship to countless young professionals searching for meaning on their Jewish journies. The work at Pearlstone demonstrates talmudic agricultural laws and provides hands-on Jewish education for people of all ages. Before coming to Baltimore, Manela spent several years teaching for the Teva Learning Center. He has a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he majored in Hebrew, Jewish Studies and Global Environmental Studies.


Nati Passow is the co-founder and Executive Director of Jewish Farm School and coordinator of the Jewish Communal Farming presence at JNG; he has been a leader in the field of Jewish environmental education for over 10 years, was selected to the Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36,” and was a recipient of the Joshua Venture Group Fellowship for Jewish Social Entrepreneurs. Under his direction, JFS was named by Slingshot as one of the most innovative Jewish organizations in North America for three years. Prior to forming Jewish Farm School, Nati ran an award-winning garden construction program for the Urban Nutrition Initiative in Philadelphia and led service–learning trips in the developing world for American Jewish World Service. Nati has studied sustainable building design and natural building and is a certified Permaculture designer, and holds a B.A. in Religion and Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.


Yoshi Silverstein is the Director of the JOFEE Fellowship at Hazon; he is also a landscape designer, writer, and educator with over fourteen years’ experience in both Jewish and secular outdoor, food, and environmental education. Yoshi is the founder of Mitsui Design, which strengthens Jewish connections to nature through landscape design and community engagement. He holds a Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a B.A. in European Cultural Studies and Near Eastern/Judaic Studies from Brandeis University.