Behar: National Week of Shmita Awareness

Shabbat Behar: May 15 – 16, 2015
Behar Events: April-June, 2015

As we continue to deepen into the process of re-acquainting ourselves with the Shmita tradition, we are excited to use the opportunity of Parshat Behar as an annual mark, as a reminder, and as a guide. The parsha (weekly Torah reading) of Behar, which literally means ‘On The Mountain,’ introduces the detailed, visionary teachings of Shmita. This particular section of the Torah is located towards the end of the book of Vayikra (Leviticus) and is read each year about a week or two before Shavuot.

Vision & Dream

Each year, during the weeks leading up to, including, and following Shabbat Behar, Jewish communities across North America, in conjunction with simultaneous happenings in Israel, claim this moment in time to host events, teachings, and activities all focused on the possibilities of bringing to life the Shmita tradition. Events unfold on a micro-local level, throughout communities involved with the Shmita Network, creating a widespread mosaic of Shmita in action. In 2014, Parshat Behar fell on the sixth year of the Shmita Cycle, and was just over 4 months away from the arrival of the Shmita Year! Special Behar Shmita events were scheduled from mid April to late May. This was a wonderful opportunity to share Shmita educational and experiential offerings in local synagogues, schools, community centers, community gardens, etc.

How did communities use this week to bring Shmita education & action into your own community? This year’s Behar campaign was a wonderful opportunity to begin visioning and preparing for how you would like to recognize and celebrate the Shmita Year in your community.

San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Thursday, May 14 (5:30-8:00pm)
Moishe House East Bay
Shmita-inspired DIY Workshop
In this shmita-inspired Shabbat brunch edition of the Hazon DIY Series we will learn how to make our own highly delicious, highly nutritious fermented dairy products. We’ll make yogurt and dairy kefir, and everyone will have the opportunity to bring home some ferment (though you’ll have to come back to pick up your yogurt the next day after fermentation). This is fun and empowering, and considerably cheaper than buying fermented dairy from the store. Learn how to get into a rhythm of fermentation so that’s it’s a regular part of your life.

Palo Alto, CA

Friday, May 15
“On the Road”

Saturday, May 16
Kehilah School

Boston, MA

Jewish Climate Action Network Conference, May 15-17:
Friday, May 15 (7:30pm)
Congregation Dorshei Tzedek, West Newton, MA
Rabbi Waskow speaks on “From Eden to Manna to Shmita/ Sabbatical Year: Eco-Biblical Theology & Present Action”

Saturday, May 16 (10:00am-12:00pm)
Hillel B’nai Torah, West Roxbury, MA
Rabbi Waskow speaks on “From Eden to Manna to Shmita / Sabbatical Year: Eco-Biblical Theology & Present Action” & leads part of service.

Sunday, May 17 (3:00-7:00pm)
Hebrew College, Newton Centre, MA
Public Conference on “From Uncertainty to Action: What You Can Do About Climate Change.” Sponsored by the Jewish Climate Action Network and Hebrew College. Rabbi Waskow speaks at plenary & co-leads workshop on “Move Our Money/ Protect Our Planet.”

Baltimore, MD

Sunday, June 14 (2:00-5:00pm)
A community-wide festival celebrating non-monetary trade and barter, food equity, sustainable agricultural practices, and restorative rest and the cycles of sacred time.

Ann Arbor, MI

Sunday, June 14 (10:00am-2:00pm)
Jewish Alliance for Food, Land and Justice
Farm Education Day and Sustainable Food Fest
PM Matthaei Botanical Gardens
1800 N. Dixboro Rd., Ann Arbor, Mi 48104

The Jewish Alliance for Food, Land and Justice. an interdenominational group in Ann Arbor, has organized events throughout the year in honor of Shmita including tours of sustainable projects, discussion groups, interfaith activities and lots more. The Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor has generously provided support. Our next big thing is a Farm Education Day and Sustainable Food Fest which will take place on June 14th at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan. There will be exhibits and activities for all ages including a tour of a local Jewish-owned organic farm, re-skilling workshops, educational presentations on soil, water, seeds, pollinators, animal husbandry, land use and preservation and foraging. Of course there will be locally sourced FOOD (back by popular demand, the Zingerman’s Knish Kart)! What’s really exciting is that as more people and organizations want to participate, our ability to disseminate the wisdom of Shmita grows exponentially.

West Bloomfield, MI

Saturday, May 16 (11am)
Congregation Beth Ahm
Beth Ahm’s Bet Midrash Shabbat
Our Bet Midrash is an opportunity for people to learn together in hevruta learning on a regular basis at Beth Ahm. This event will explore the foundations of Shemita and how the concepts behind Shemita speak to conditions in our contemporary world.

Governor’s Island, NY

May 25 – September 10
Art Kibbutz
Co-sponsored by Hazon, Jewish Art Salon, Association for Jewish Theater, COJECO, REsidency Unlimited, Chashama, Alliance of Artist Communities, and ResArtis
A select group of 50 visual artists, writers, composers, and performance artists join Art Kibbutz for an extraordinary summer of art making, exploration, and networking just a short ferry ride away from Manhattan & Brooklyn.

New York, NY

Monday, May 11 (6:30 – 8:30pm)
FallowLab Monthly Study Salon 7
The Workmen’s Circle

Putnam Valley, NY

June 23 – August 16
Eden Village Camp
This summer at Eden Village Camp our theme is Let it Bee a Radical Sabbatical! Our amazing Farm Educators will be leading an all-camp, interactive Shmita learning adventure each session and camp culture will be infused with shmita values and conversations. The farm curriculum will also particularly focus on perennials and on honey bees, which are inextricably linked to each other and to a healthy earth.

Riverdale, NY

Saturday, May 16
Hebrew Institute of Riverdale

Philadelphia, PA

Wednesday, May 27 (6pm)
Jewish Farm School & Hazon Philadelphia
Wild Food Walk

May 22-25 (4pm – 4pm)
The Shalom Center (hosted at Kirkridge Retreat Center, Bangor, PA)
Rabbis Phyllis Berman, Jeff Roth, & Arthur Waskow guide a retreat called “Revelation from Within” — within the self, within the Earth, within the restful place of Shmita and release. Contemplative Torah study, Jewish meditation, chant, connection with the Earth & sacred labyrinth will invite retreatants to discover their own Revelation, their own “Anokhi.”

Seattle, WA

Shmita-inspired Discussions
Beth Shalom
Beth Shalom is hosting a series of three conversations on Shmita-inspired topics on Sunday mornings during religious school:

Sunday, April 19 (10:15 – 11:15am) – Laura Strauss will be hosting a conversation: “Shmita/The Sanctity of Money: Socially Responsible Investing”

Sunday, April 26 (10:15 – 11:15am – Pamela Love of the Seattle Hebrew Free Loan Association and Erica Doctor of Beth Shalom will be co-hosting a conversation: “Shmita/Release of Debt: Student Loans and Community Support Systems”

Sunday, May 3 (10:15 – 11:15am) – Shachar Shamay of Beth Shalom will host a conversation: “Shmita/Sabbatical Rest: The Rewards

Last year, Parshat Behar fell during the Shabbat of May 9-10. Events were scheduled from mid April to late May. Take a look at our record of Behar events from around the country.



Berkeley, CA

Sunday, May 11 (1-4pm):
Urban Adamah & 7Seeds:
Shmita Community Skillshare & Swap Meet

Los Angeles, CA

Sunday, April 27th (2-4pm):
Interfaith Council Gathering ~ Food Relief in our Institutions: Justice not Charity
Contact from more details

Saturday, May 3rd (8.30am):
IKAR & Netiya
Wild Food Walk, IKAR Community Shabbaton, Brandeis Bardin Campus

Friday, May 9 (7pm):
Temple Isaiah & Netiya
What’s in that Challah? Food and Values with Devorah Brous of Netiya

Palo Alto, CA

Sunday, May 18th (1.30-2.30pm):
Hazon & Jewish Learning Works
‘Feast of Jewish Learning’ Shmita, Local Food Security & Fair Access

San Francisco, CA

Saturday, May 10 (10-12.30):
The Kitchen
Bar Mitzvah of Josh Topor, ‘Shabbat Behar: The Importance of Shmita

Sunday, May 11 (9.30-11.30am):
Hazon & Go Wild Consulting
Wild Edible Plant Walk in the San Francisco Presidio

Boulder, CO

Saturday, May 10th (9.30am-12.30pm):
Congregation Bonai Shalom
Shabbat Behar Services & Shmita Learning

Denver, CO

Sunday, April 27th:
Ekar Farm
Teen Earth Day Celebration

Stamford, CT

Friday, May 9th (9-10.30am):
Neshama Yoga
Shmita Mindfulness & Movement
Contact for more details

Washington, DC

Saturday, May 10th:
Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Synagogue
Shabbat Behar Day-Long Celebration: Community Learning, First Fruits, and Social Activism
Evening Live Music w/ David Broza

Atlanta, GA

Saturday, April 26, May 3, May 10 (12.30-1.30pm):
Ahavat Achim Synagogue
Getting Ready For Shmita: A Community Beit Midrash

Geneva, IL

Sunday, June 1st (5pm):
Pushing The Envelope Farm
Fruit Tree Planting Work Party & Potluck

Boston, MA

Sunday, May 18 (3-7pm):
Nehar Shalom & Ganei Beantown
Shmita Community Skillshare & Lag B’Omer Party

Northampton, MA

Sunday, May 18 (10am-3pm):
Abundance Farm
Work Party & Celebration / Community Orchard Planting

Tuesday, June 3rd (5.30pm – sunrise):
Congregation B’nai Israel
Tikkun Leil Shavuot: Food Justice, Land Stewardship, and Community Strengthening

Wayland, MA

Friday, May 9th (7.30pm):
Ma’ayan Tikvah & Mosaic Jewish Outdoor Club
Outdoor Shabbat Service & Shmita Seder/Potluck

Baltimore, MD

Friday, May 9 – Saturday, May 10:
Fair Trade Judiaca & Moishe House Without Walls
Fair Trade & Shmita Shabbaton

Ann Arbor, MI

Saturday, May 3rd (7pm):
Ann Arbor Reconstructionst Congregation
Learning & Havdalah: Eating With Our Ethics & Our Budgets

Saturday, May 10th (10-12.30pm):
Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation
Shabbat Behar: Services, Learning & Movement

Sunday, May 25th ((10.30am-12pm):
Ann Arbor JCC & Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation
Community Shmita Study Group: Slavery, Indentured, Forced, Unequal Labor and Release

Winston-Salem, NC

Tuesday, June 3rd:
Temple Emanuel W.S.
Shmita Tikkun Leil Shavuot: Making Shmita Real For You
Contact for more details

New York, NY

Saturday, May 10th (8am & 10.15am):
Hebrew Institute of Riverdale
Shmita Learning with Rabbi Ari Hart

Saturday, May 10th (9-10am):
West End Synagogue
Let It Go: The Personal, Environmental, and Spiritual Practice of Shmita

Saturday, May 10th (10am-12.30pm):
Let It Be: Shmita Learning & StorahTelling

Thursday, May 15th (12-4pm):
Hazon & Siach
NY Regional Shmita Gathering

London, ON

Saturday, May 10 (9.30am):
Congregation Or Shalom
Shabbat Behar services & Shmita learning

Philadelphia, PA

Saturday, May 10th
Minyan Dorshei Derech
Shabbat Services Shmita Learning
Contact for more details

Sunday, June 1st (1-4pm):
Jewish Farm School
Shtetl Skills Building Series: Seed Saving

Burlington, VT

Wednesday, May 7th (4-5.30pm):
Ohavei Zedek Synagogue Hebrew School
Inviting Shmita Into Our Lives

Thursday, May 8th (4-6pm):
Temple Sinai Hebrew School 
Inviting Shmita Into Our Lives

Montpelier, VT

Friday, May 9th (7.30pm):
Tiferet Trails
Shabbat Community Potluck & Shmita Visioning

Saturday, May 10th (9.45am):
Beth Jacob Synagogue
Shabbat Services Shmita Learning

If you would like guidance and support in organizing a Shmita learning event or activity for your community, please email