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Topic: Jewish Texts

Returning Home | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Nicole Cruz, Peninsula JCC, Bay Area, CA Parashat Vayishlach 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 prospective fellows will continue to be reviewed as positions are available. JOFEE Fellows Nicole Cruz and Michael Farade complete the high ropes course during the Outward Bound portion of the JOFEE training in May 2016; Photo Josh Kleymeyer This week’s Torah portion, Vayishlach, centers on Jacob’s return to the Holy Land and his encounter with his estranged brother Esau who he has not seen in over 20 years. The night prior to their meeting, Jacob wrestles with a ‘man’ until day break. The next morning, battered from his nighttime confrontation, Jacob and Esau meet and peacefully part ways. While this Torah portion contains many important themes […]

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Prayer in Action: Upholding our Covenant for a Brighter Future | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Daniella Aboody, Wilderness Torah, Berkeley, CA Parashat Chayyei Sarah 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 prospective fellows will continue to be reviewed as positions are available. The Torah portion for this week, Chayyei Sarah, begins with the death of our matriarch Sarah. We see Abraham mourn the loss of his beloved, and then immediately take action by purchasing her burial grounds—the cave of Machpela—and then sending his servant to go find a wife for their son, Isaac. Abraham says goodbye to her in an honorable way, and then makes moves to follow through on the covenant that God has made with him and Sarah—the promise of land and descendants. God makes this promise on several occasions, but only now, once Sarah […]

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What’s Mine is Yours, and What’s Yours is Yours | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Michael Fraade, Jewish Community of Louisville, Louisville, KY Parashat Vayera 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 and will continue to be reviewed as positions are available. Parashat Vayera opens with Abraham rushing to greet three guests who appear near his tent while he is sitting under a terebinth. “My lords,” he insists, “Let a little water be brought; bathe your feet and recline under the tree.  And let me fetch a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves.” He and Sarah prepare bread, milk, and a freshly slaughtered calf for their guests, who soon reveal themselves as angels and inform Abraham that Sarah will soon give birth […]

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Going Forth | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Eli Goldstein, Shimon and Sara Birnbaum JCC, Bridgewater, NJ Parashat Lech Lecha 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 and will continue to be reviewed as positions are available. There is an entire world around us if we just open our eyes, ears, and mouths. In our new enrichment nature class here at the Shimon and Sara Birnbaum JCC, we are working on using the learning cycle shared by our BEETLES Instructors during JOFEE Fellow training – Invitation, Exploration, Concept Invention, Application, and Reflection – to do just that. This is a class challenging on many levels for me and the students. When you think of nature you may […]

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Grappling with the Ark of Responsibility | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Bailey Lininger, Tamarack Camps, Bloomfield Hills, MI Parashat Noach 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 and will continue to be reviewed as positions are available. Some days, my job makes me feel like Noah, stocking his Ark full of animals before the flood, the weight of the world’s responsibility on my shoulders. Let me explain: At Tamarack Camps, where I’m placed as a JOFEE fellow, I have the good fortune of being the supervisor of Tamarack’s brand new nature center: The Teva Center. Just finished in June 2016, we’ve slowly but surely been filling with new animal residents ever since. Our goal is a nature center filled with […]

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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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To See and Be Seen | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Liora Lebowitz, Jewish Farm School, Philadelphia, PA Parashat V’zot Haberachah + Sukkot & Simchat Torah 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! Together with the holiday of Simchat Torah, V’zot Haberacha, the final parsha of the Torah, marks the transition from the end of a cycle to beginning anew. From beginning to end, the readings of Torah follow the Jewish calendar, and there are strong parallels between the cycle of the Jewish calendar and the corresponding seasonal and agricultural cycles of the year. During Simchat Torah, we ready ourselves to read the final parsha of the Torah – to celebrate our accumulated knowledge and […]

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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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The Beauty of Yom Kippur | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

Zach Goldberg, Ramah in the Rockies & Congregation Bonai Shalom, Boulder, CO Yom Kippur and Parashat Vayelech 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!  — The high holiday season is full of JOFEE experiences! Elul is mamash the harvest season, and Sukkot is the third and final harvest festival after all! I witnessed this a few weeks ago on the birthday of the Baal Shem Tov, the 18th of Elul. The celebration was kicked off with a call of the shofar. Morah Yahudis Fishman explained during a noon time shiur at Congregation Bonai Shalom that this call, blowing air through a horn of an animal, awakens the deepest parts of […]

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Choosing Life | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Yoshi Silverstein  Parashat Nitzavim & Rosh Hashanah 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 (and staff): reflections on their experiences, successful programs they’ve planned and implemented, gleanings from the field, and connections to the weekly Torah portion or Holidays and what they’ve learned from their experiences with place in their host communities for the year. This one is from me, Yoshi, Director of the JOFEE Fellowship. Views expressed are the mine and do not necessarily represent Hazon. Be sure to check back next week for Zach Goldberg’s post on JOFEE and Yom Kippur!   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!  You all know the big one coming up this week: Rosh Hashanah. The Head of the Year, when we begin the High Holiday season full of heart-beatings and introspection, good food, wine, and cheer followed by the Yom Kippur fast. This week is also Parshat Nitzavim – the Torah portion from my Bar Mitzvah. Much of that weekend is a blur at this point, twenty years later (wow, that just sunk in […]

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A Heart to Know, Eyes to See, and Ears to Hear | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Danielle Smith, Eden Village Camp, Putnam Valley, NY Parashat Ki Tavo 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. 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!  In this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavo, Moses speaks reflectively and instructively to the Israelites as they approach the Promised Land, finally nearing the end of their forty year journey through the wilderness. Here at Eden Village Camp, we may not have spent forty years wandering the wilderness of Putnam Valley (though sometimes the packed days and weeks at camp can feel almost as long #jewishcamptime), but the transition into the fall season is the perfect time for deep reflection and exhalations. It was a fast leap from summer into the slower pace of the fall, and after two months of […]

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Upside Down and Open Hearted | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Emily Glick, Teva, Hazon, Falls Village, CT Parashat Shoftim 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. 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!  My debut expedition as Teva’s first JOFEE Fellow began in a transformational grease machine / holy mobile space most commonly known to the greater world as the Topsy Turvy Bus. Having just completed a three-week JOFEE Fellowship orientation and training intensive seminar, I was leading our seven-week Mayim l’Mayim themed bus tour fueled on used cooking oil, holy vibes, and Torah – not to mention the passion of our 5 radiantly unique bus educators, all of whom brought skills and essential senses of humor that our tour would not have succeeded without. Our team performed in camp talent shows; saw shooting stars; wrote […]

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Shmita, like Shechina, Goes Global: Reflections from a Hammock on This Shmita Year

By Amichai Lau-Lavie A year ago I was laying in a hammock on a Brazilian beach, planning a year’s worth of Shmita study and action that will rebrand this ancient sustainability practice rooted in the Land of Israel for new digital generations all over the world. Hovering between earth and sky provided the perfect setting to what I was designing: An adaptation of the Shmita concept beyond its original halachic, geographical and agricultural settings so that it will prove useful and meaningful to so many more of us. Now that the year is almost up and FallowLab, the project I designed, is starting its descent, it’s time to get back into the hammock and reflect on lessons learned and theories tested. Many creative projects and conversations emerged this year with varying degrees of success at wrestling with Shmita and offering ambitious renditions and new traditions. What sticks for future? Did we live up to the values of Shmita, did this year live up to expectations? Luckily I don’t have to go back to Brazil to find a reflection-friendly hammock. When I got back home last summer I set up a shmita garden in my Manhattan backyard: Stripped the garden of […]

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sukkah-square

Because Sometimes it Rains on Your Sukkah

by Sarah Chandler Geshem Be’ito (Acceptance of Rain in Its Time) The following essay will be published in the forthcoming book of teachings “Good Noticing” published by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. The rhythms of the Jewish calendar may not coincide with your particular climate. At times, our traditional rituals may range from the impractical to the impossible. For example, in the Northern Hemisphere, calling upon light in the darkness of Chanukah in Kislev/December always resonates, but singing about blossoming trees in Shevat/January may not make sense. How can we stay true to our tradition when the weather doesn’t cooperate? And as mindfulness practitioners, how might we elevate the news of undesirable weather? Those of us who live in the Northeastern United States are usually blessed with bountiful precipitation year-round. Furthermore, our religion is no longer based on the careful balance between following God’s laws and receiving in return enough rain for our crops to survive. The Reform movement even removed the second paragraph of the Shema from prayer books to make the bold statement: we are modern Jews—we do not believe that we can influence God to change the weather by keeping the commandments of our tradition. Recent evidence […]

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courtesy of mru-rosa, Flickr

Eco-Judaism: The Torah Mandala and the Mystical System of Sustainability

By Rabbi Elisheva Brenner In the Torah “holiness” is part of an idiosyncratic way of understanding how the cosmos came into being, our place in it (cosmogony) and the nature of reality (epistemology). To our ancient ancestors, the cosmos, the physical world as we experience it, all life was brought about by “the word of G-d.” Today we would regard “the word of God” as a metaphor for the energies, forces, karma, particle and wave plus the energy of human consciousness that concentrates, compresses, expands and contracts into what we experience as the physical and spiritual world. When the energies of life are in properly balanced, albeit dynamic, homeostasis, the life system has achieved a state of sustainability. In Torah-speak, that homeostasis, that sustainability, is called “Holiness.” The parts of the system as well as the objects, actions and time intervals used to maintain and correct the system are called “Holy.”   We can find our way into the Torah’s way of understanding through the study of language and literary structural forms. Language is a window onto the way a people or culture perceives reality. It both arises from and reifies a culture’s epistemology. Biblical Hebrew is a language that […]

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