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Summer Feature – Teva Educators: Where Are They Now?

As we begin approaching Teva’s 25th Anniversary, we will be spending the summer months featuring former Teva Educators who were once Teva students. They are from different Teva seasons and have different stories, experiences and memories. Enjoy the walk down memory lane with us!

Aliza Hertzmark came to Teva in 2000 as a student with Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, MD and came back to be a Teva educator in the Fall of 2009. Aliza currently works as a civil engineer in Baltimore, MD.

What do you remember about Teva as a student? Which moments/memories/stories stand out?

I remember singing the psolet song. After about two days of steadily declining psolet weight, the weight of the psolet bucket shot up on the third day. Someone on staff (either Teva or from our school) tried to say that the scale was broken. I also remember sitting by the pool pavilion as my kvutza (group) discussed what change each of us was going to do in order to earn our earth bead.

What do you think Teva taught you as a young person?

Teva inspired me to feel that one small act of change could make a difference.

When you grew up and thought about Teva, before you came back to be an educator, what sentence would you have used to describe it?

Teva was like camp, but with my friends from school.  (The fact that I went to Teva at Capital Camps, which was my actual summer camp, probably contributed to this feeling). I did Teva in the spring of 7th grade, so in some ways, I think it was much more about the social aspect than it might be for a 6th grader in the fall.

Which life steps lead you to coming back to Isabella Freedman to be a Teva Educator

Towards the end of college, I was very interested in expanding my Jewish practice, and also in farming. I was looking for things to do after I graduated and googled “Jewish” “Farm” and “School.”  I thus discovered the Jewish Farm School and ended up on a spring break trip with JFS my senior year. Simcha Schwartz, one of our trip leaders, told us about the Teva Seminar.  I registered for the Seminar and also decided to apply to be an educator.

What was it like to return?

Freedman was new to me (since I had done Teva at Capital Camps).  I was excited, knowing that I was going to be in a position to be a role model to so many students.  I had also seen a group of the previous year’s staff at the Teva Seminar and to me, they looked like they were having so much fun with the program and each other, and I was excited to join that community.

What stands out to you now as a Teva Educator when you think about your experience as a Teva student?

As a Teva student, I’m sure I had no idea how hard the staff worked and how intensive the program is for the educators. I think that is part of the magic of being a student – that the educators seem so at home in the space, and so comfortable with the curriculum and with each other.

How do you describe Teva to your friends and family? 

Getting students excited about Judaism through nature and nature through Judaism.

What are three words you would use to describe Teva?

Fun, dynamic, beautiful.

How do you think doing Teva as a young person and coming back as an educator will or has shaped your life going forward?

As a young person, it planted a seed in my mind that my actions and decisions matter.  My Brit Adamah (covenant with the Earth) was to not eat meat for 6 weeks. I ended up staying a vegetarian for 6 months. As an educator, it brought me into an amazing community of vibrant, creative, and inspired people. This community has taught me to welcome growth and change, and is never short on celebration. I also credit Teva with introducing me to my husband, when he came to teach a winter ecology course to us educators. Many of the skills we used at Teva for working with crowds of energetic children are also applicable to taking care of my own children.