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Topic: Adamah

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Visions for Our New Land

Thursday, April 4, 2019 | 28th Adar II, 5779 Dear All, I had asked Janna, Rebecca, and Shamu – leaders of our Adamah program – to write something for all of us, about the new land we have been able to buy at 181 Beebe Hill Road, contiguous with our existing Adamah land at Isabella Freedman. They’ve written an extraordinarily beautiful piece, and I hope you enjoy it and are inspired by it as much as I am. In the Jewish tradition of fractal sevens, between the seven days of Shabbat and the seven years of shmita, we have sefirat ha’omer, seven weeks of seven, starting the second night of Pesach. Seder night – just two weeks from now – is our gateway to this journey. I hope that what they have written offers wisdom for all of us. Shabbat shalom, chodesh tov, Nigel “Our design at 181 deepens the resilience of our farm while nurturing the land and a community. And maybe it will offer inspiration to you ahead of Pesach…” As we walked on the new land across crusty snow this January, we were tempted to shout out and point: Put fences here! Plant trees there! Fix that […]

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Big News: Extending the Adamah Farm & Increasing Capacity at Isabella Freedman

By Nigel Savage Thursday, December 13, 2018 | 5 Tevet 5779 Dear All, With strong active staff and lay involvement, and support from Project Accelerate, Hazon’s board earlier this year signed off on a new master plan for Isabella Freedman. Isabella Freedman is a place that touches people’s lives individually and strengthens and thickens Jewish institutions. Through Adamah, Teva, the Hazon Food Conference, and our other national retreats it has had a profound impact across the American Jewish community. As Jessica Haller, one of our senior board members, says, “there are some places that do some of the things that this place does, but there are no other places that do all of the things that this place does.” So the master plan is critical not only to Isabella Freedman and Hazon but also, in fact, to the future of the American Jewish community. Isabella Freedman is a place where magic happens – but we need to increase capacity; we need to improve the quality and range of our accommodation and meeting space; and we also need more land to be able to grow our flagship Adamah program, and to enable us to use the land itself more lightly and more carefully. Happily, we believe that […]

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Why Do We Wander? | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Eliezer Weinbach, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Hazon  Parshat Maasei Earlier this year, Isabella Freedman hosted a Moishe House retreat called “Wandering Jews.” Led by New York Times contributor Eli Reiter, twelve people in their twenties and thirties got together to discuss their experiences and wisdom regarding travel as a Jewish person. They discussed things like kashruth and shabbat observance while abroad. The question is: Why bother? When the Torah lists all the stages of the journey through the desert, as per the text from Numbers above, it really does discuss each part. All forty-two stages, in fact! The question is: Why bother? God commands that when the Jews do finally enter the land, they are to travel three times a year to Jerusalem. Wasn’t the journey to the land long enough?! Why bother?! Travel is hard. Sitting at home is easy. Hiking is hard. Watching Netflix is easy. Adventures change you. Inaction keeps you the same. Wandering is change. On a very basic level, you are moving from one place to another. But it’s so much more than that. I could quote Emerson on “roads less traveled” or Kerouac on basically anything, or any of the myriad formulations regarding […]

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Korach: Disruptive Visionary or Disgruntled Rabble-Rouser? | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Eliezer Weinbach, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Hazon Parshat Korach וַיֵּרְדוּ הֵם וְכָל-אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם, חַיִּים–שְׁאֹלָה And they and all their belongings went down, alive, into Sheol Numbers 16:33 I was traveling once, and my tour guide, a wizened Arab, asked me if I wanted to see the pit that swallowed Korach’s followers. Intrigued, I followed my guide through the desert. After some time, through a haze of heat and mirage, we saw smoke billowing from a fissure in the ground. My guide doused a towel with some of his water, and tied it to the tip of his staff. He cautiously approached the fissure, and held his staff over the smoking vent. To my surprise, the wet cloth began to burn. As he was walking back to me, I could hear voices carried on the warm desert wind. Faint voices, singing, or perhaps chanting. Softly enough that I wasn’t sure if I was hearing anything at all. “What are those voices?” I asked my guide. “Those are the children of Korach,” he replied. “They are slowly lowered into the hellish heat of the Earth and then raised back out, rotated like a roast on a spit. When they finish […]

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Wrestling With Darkness | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Jacob Weiss, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Hazon Parashat Vayishlach This week’s Torah portion — Vayishlach — is jam packed with complex and significant plot lines that the reader can surely glean valuable lessons from. The parsha opens up with Jacob preparing himself and his family for their eventual encounter with his twin brother Esau, who he has not seen in quite a long while. We then read about Shimon and Levi’s attacking of the city of Shechem, followed by Rachel’s passing away, while giving birth to her youngest son Binyamin. I want to further examine the relationship of Jacob and Esau — and how that presents in this week’s parsha — as well as exploring Jacob’s nighttime meeting with the angel. In the first chapter of Vayishlach, Jacob says to God: “Now deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him, lest he come and strike me, and strike a mother and children.” We see here very clearly just how anxious Jacob is in anticipation of encountering his twin brother. Jacob and Esau are the perfect twin foils for one another. Since the time that Jacob came out of Rebecca’s womb clutching onto […]

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Calling the Congregation | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Jacob Weiss, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Hazon Parashat Beha’alotcha “Make thee two trumpets of silver; of beaten work shalt thou make them; and they shall be unto thee for the calling of the congregation… And when they shall blow with them, all the congregation shall gather themselves unto thee at the door of the tent of meeting.” Bamidbar perek yud, pasuk bet (Numbers 10:2) I recently recalled to a friend— just after our festival of Shavuot — that I had now been in attendance at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center for all three of the Shalosh Regalim, which are the three main pilgrimage festivals. Shavuot, Passover, and Sukkot all took on very different energies at Isabella Freedman. There remained a constant, though: the spirit, joy, and sheer heart that was poured into those festivals by everyone who attended, and by everyone who worked so tirelessly to make those retreat and community gatherings manifest. An incredible sense of community occurs during Jewish holiday retreats at Isabella Freedman, where I am currently a JOFEE Fellow. After spending the seven weeks of the Omer preparing ourselves, the Jewish people traditionally celebrate the festival of Shavuot to commemorate the receiving of the […]

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In the Sukkah We Trust | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Rachel Binstock, Urban Adamah, Berkeley, CA Parashat Breishit + Sukkot Editor’s Note: Welcome to D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog! Most weeks throughout the year, you’ll be hearing from the JOFEE Fellows: reflections on their experiences, successful programs they’ve planned and implemented, gleanings from the field, and connections to the weekly Torah portion and what they’ve learned from their experiences with place in their host communities for the year. Views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily represent Hazon. Be sure to check back weekly!  P.S. Interested in being or hosting a JOFEE Fellow? Applications for cohort two are now open for both prospective fellows and prospective host institutions! Priority Deadline is October 31! Of all the Jewish holidays, I learn most about trust on Sukkot. Why? you might ask. After the New Year and the Day of Atonement, is not Sukkot the holiday of celebration and happiness? Sukkot is about trust for a few reasons. We build ourselves sukkahs – impermanent booths in which we are commanded to dwell – and in so doing we find ourselves up-rooted. We create a new home susceptible to the elements and porous to the sky. The holiday necessitates a release of control, a faith […]

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Listen and Gather: Jewish Rain Makers | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Jessica Berlin, Hazon: Transformative Experiences, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center – Falls Village, CT Sukkot and Parashat Ha’azinu Editor’s Note: Welcome to D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog! Most weeks throughout the year, you’ll be hearing from the JOFEE Fellows: reflections on their experiences, successful programs they’ve planned and implemented, gleanings from the field, and connections to the weekly Torah portion and what they’ve learned from their experiences with place in their host communities for the year. Views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily represent Hazon. Be sure to check back weekly!  P.S. Interested in being or hosting a JOFEE Fellow? Applications for cohort two are now open for both prospective fellows and prospective host institutions!  On a hot summer day in late August, I led a group of young adults on a tour of the Adamah farm on BeeBee Hill at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. The inscription above the gateway, “And God saw that it was good,” reminds us of a classic JOFEE interpretation of the Genesis creation story: that the interdependent relationships found in nature are fundamentally good; and that by emulating these relationships, humans can learn to create more sustainable relationships with one another and the land. […]

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Feeling The Gratitude Of Our Bounty And The Pride In Our Colleagues

by Mordechai Schram, Director of Food Services It seems like just yesterday that we celebrated Shavuot/Yom Habikurim with a celebration of First Fruits – reveling in the tingling fresh taste of our delicious Shavuot Schav Shooters – Schav, is a delicious Sorrell and Potato Soup served hot or cold and made with Sorrell from Adamah Farms. Now that we are in early August, our fruits and veggies are in full abundance, and they have begun making their way to our kitchen in their full glory. So many colors, flavors and textures from the Collards, Kale, Cucumbers, Salad Turnips, Salad Greens, Romaine, Oregano and Basil. Today we held our second annual Farm & Table Team Farm Tour (say that 5 times fast). We toured the farm together and learned how the farmers grow such bounty without the use of chemicals- through the use of crop rotation, the creation of habitat for beneficial insects that help control pests, the mile high compost piles of food waste decomposing into rich fertilizer, drip irrigation technology (developed is Israel) and more. A fine and fun day was had by all. Now is a glorious time to be here at the farm, so we look forward to […]

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Journey to freedom at Isabella Freedman

by Mordechai Schram, Director of Food Services Dear friends, in my last blog post I wrote about the delicious sourdough breads that we have been making here in the kitchens of Isabella Freedman… And now for something completely different. Pesach is almost upon us, and we are now beginning our journey in earnest from from slavery to freedom. We begin this journey by freeing ourselves from the hametz in our lives both physically and spiritually. Hametz refers to anything that is leavened, and hazal, our sages of blessed memory, make the spiritual connection to hametz to refer to puffery and arrogance in ourselves. As we clean every nook and cranny in our stoves, ovens, refrigerators and cabinets, we also search deeply in our own neshamot (souls) to identify the spiritual hametz in ourselves toward becoming our best selves as we begin this incredible journey from slavery to freedom to matan torah (receiving Torah). But make no mistake about it, the work is very physical. Here at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center kitchen, we are scrubbing and torching and scraping everything and getting ready for what will be an amazing Pesach here at the farm, b’h. Our staff – chefs, porters, dining hall and mashgichim –  […]

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Adamah Farm and Table: Journey to Red Barn Produce

by Mordechai Schram, Director of Adamah Food Services Yesterday, the Adamah Farm and Table team took to the road to visit Kevin Terr, owner of our produce supplier Red Barn Produce in Highland, NY. It was an amazing trip where we learned about all the ways that Red Barn supports local farms and sustainable farming practices. Red Barn, a family owned business in operation for over 20 years, had identified the need for a local and specialty fruit and vegetable distributor here in the Hudson Valley. They work with more than 30 local farms to bring the best of what the bountiful Hudson Valley has to offer in seasonal and sustainable fruits and vegetables. In addition to fresh produce, they also distribute local farm-fresh dairy items, grains, and artisanal foods. They support equal exchange practices for produce grown outside of the US, utilize controlled atmosphere technology for apple preservation, and contract with local farms to do freezing and canning thereby extending our access to local fruits and veggies throughout the winter. They are true and valued partners with us here at Hazon/Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center helping us to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community and a healthier […]

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From the Field – Fall 2015

In true Adamah fashion, we’ve been scrounging up free stuff this fall. A local hay farmer found himself with a whole section of his barn full of broken bales – difficult to move, not very useful, and in the way. Across town on Beebe Hill, we have 6,000 cloves of garlic (planted by alumni during the reunion) in need of mulch, a compost yard that is ever-hungry for dry organic material, and a few empty beds that are in need of erosion-preventing cover after late fall harvests left them bare. Enter: the enthusiastic, pitch fork wielding, pickup truck loading, hay slinging, professional schleppers of Fall Adamah 2015! We got about ten truck loads of free hay and Bill got his barn cleaned out, plus a few jars of the best pickles in the world. It was a shidduch between vegetable growers and hay farmers and a case of turning one farmer’s trash into another’s treasure. But it was also something else. It was a regenerative act. One way to look at farming is as the practice of moving carbon around. A plant takes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, creates its’ body with the carbon, and then we eat the plant, […]

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Reflections on 12 Years of the Adamah Fellowship

When Adam Berman and I started the Adamah Fellowship in 2003, we had a handful of young people, a garden no bigger than the average suburban backyard, and an assortment of classes, programs and half-formed ideas we put together from our years at Teva and Camp Tawonga, guiding wilderness trips, and teaching community college. There were no goats, no pickles, no Adamah house and no final presentations called “Speak your truth.” The Jewish Food Movement did not yet exist, and there was essentially one destination – Isabella Freedman – for young Jews who wanted to combine their passion for Judaism and environmentalism. Fast forward 12 years: Our 10-acre farm production goals are carefully planned, our morning prayer services are more carefully rooted in the tradition, our new pickle labels are made of a low-impact calcium paper, our orchards are bearing fruit, and the ways we speak about pluralistic community are more nuanced. We have a CSA and we donate food. We have moved out of the risky floodplain that was the original sadeh, and built the resilient and diverse Kaplan Family Farm on Beebe Hill. Our farm and all our products are certified organic. The number of JOFFEE programs we […]

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Where Are They Now?

Adamah Alumni Updates Josh Lichtman (Summer 2005) lives in New Orleans, has two young children, and is working on a Masters degree in urban planning. Steve Sherman and Glenn Katz (’11-’13) are working at a dairy in Tuscany for the second half of the Shmita year. Rachel Ackoff (Summer 2011) is working as a Senior Organizer at American Jewish World Service to mobilize the American Jewish community and other supporters of human rights to end violence against women and LGBT people globally. Tova Boehm (Summer 2006) owns and operates Short Winter Soups, a soup subscription business delivering locally grounded, inspired soups on a weekly basis in central North Carolina. (Rabbi) Adina Allen (Fall 2005), her husband Jeff Kasowitz and their little one Remy Ner are thrilled to have recently moved back to the Bay Area where they are launching a new Jewish learning and creative arts organization called The Jewish Studio Project. Jacob Perlman (Summer 2006) is in a masters program for occupational therapy in Minneapolis. Laura Held (Summer 2009) moved to Rochester, NY, to work at Foodlink as an Eat Smart New York (ESNY) Community Nutrition Educator. Emma Stuhl (Fall 2011) is getting her masters at the University of […]

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Adamah Alumni Spotlight: Ahron Lerman, Fall 2006

It’s been a surprisingly long eight and a half years since I did Adamah in the fall of 2006. I was just 22 then, and had recently returned from a stint trading farm work for room & board as a WWOOFer in Kealakekua, HI. It occurred to me then that Judaism and natural cycles shared something more in common than I had been led to believe, and it was on that conviction that I applied to Adamah. Those three months spent ankle-deep in compost and soul-deep in community helped shape the mindset and language with which I’ve come to my current work as an Urban Forester with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation’s Greening the Gateway Cities program in Holyoke, MA. As an urban forester, my job can be delightfully simple: plant trees. On the other hand, there is something profoundly unsettling about work whose success is ultimately based on maturity measured in decades. I approach work each day (sometimes humming an Avodat Lev melody) carefully balancing the attitude that those truths bring about. Besides its everlasting melodies, I feel Adamah’s most meaningful impacts when I go through the daily routines that comprise my life. I learned at Adamah […]

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