My family and I just got back from ten days at our annual “dance camp.” This gathering, which has been happening for more than 30 years, is about dancing, but more so, it’s ten days of living like a village in a tight knit, inclusive and caring community. My oldest son had a great summer this year: Jewish wilderness camp, basketball camp, beaches and more. He loved all of them, but he said that dance camp was the best: it was because he got to hang out with a tight group of teens who spent a ton of time together dancing (he’s becoming a great salsa dancer!), swimming, talking and exploring life. It was one more reminder that community is the essence of our happiness as human beings.
We are very excited about all the new developments at Organic Torah and I wanted to share some of them with you. As you see, we have a brand new logo (I liked my old hand drawing of the tree growing out of the Torah scroll, but I love this new design!), a new website, more staff members and collaborating teachers; more programs, learning and events. If you know of Organic Torah mainly from my blog posts, it’s a whole new ball game. We’ll be introducing a lot of these new features and people to you in the next few weeks. But the most exciting thing that I’m going to talk about now is our new community/membership model. Last spring I realized that, while I talk and write a lot about community, Organic Torah as an organization wasn’t doing much to build community. We’d have classes and workshops, and people could read my essays and articles, but it wasn’t adding up to a real community.
So we’ve decided to create a community which will be partly online, partly in person, which allows us to get to know one another, share our ideas and experience together the new way of being and perceiving which is the essence of Organic Torah. After all, the essence of Organic Torah’s message is that when you shift away from a world view that breaks everything and everyone down into separate, isolated units and start experiencing the world as connected the world comes alive. This is true whether we’re talking about how isolated people are in our society, and how great we feel when we discover community, or how boring education can be when it is served up in separate silos, and how it comes alive when we learn in the way that the world really works—when any part can be a key to the whole and organic networks of connection make even the smallest detail bursting with relevance.
This first year, our new Organic Torah community will be learning together from some of the most exciting teachers, thought leaders and holistic practitioners in the world. Organic Torah will be offering its members an eight webinar series, taking place over the course of 2017 – 2018, in which I’ll be having conversations with people like Nigel Savage, the founder and head of Hazon, Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams, physician, author and expert in holistic medicine, Rabbi David Ingber, founder of Romemu, and more. We’ll be exploring the ways that Organic Torah relates to some of the most important areas of current concern: Jewish community and its future directions, medical science and the future of our healing, ecology and the crisis of the environment, art and creativity, Jewish learning and systems thinking and more.
And you, as a member, will be a part of the conversation. Not only will there be a time each webinar for Q and A, but we are also building in time for you to get to know one another, participate in “hevruta” – partner learning, and give you an opportunity to carry on the conversation anytime in a members only online discussion forum. But we also know that online interaction isn’t a substitute for in-person experiences. So we are inviting all Organic Torah members to an end of year retreat. You’ll also get a 20% discount on any Organic Torah classes, and we’ll be inviting you to suggest new classes and events in your city or synagogue. Which leads me to another feature of our membership: your synagogue or institution can join as well. We are offering institutional membership which includes a day long, learning event to take place on-site at your synagogue or institution.
There are a few suggested levels of membership from a basic membership to higher levels which include more benefits and also allow people to become major financial supporters of Organic Torah’s work. We are a 501c3 non-profit organization and your donations are the key to success in this new phase of Organic Torah’s development. We also have a student/fixed income discount membership, which I encourage you to take advantage of if for any reason that feels more comfortable and doable for you. And, of course, any donation at any level is greatly appreciated.
We’ve nearly forgotten that community is not only a luxury but it’s the life blood of human happiness and flourishing. I hope that you’ll be a part of this new community. Organic Torah needs not only your financial support, but also your ideas, your enthusiasm, and your vibrant presence. We offer you a chance to connect with others like yourself who are interested in creating a new vision of a thriving, healthy world. At Organic Torah we believe that Judaism can be at the center of a new/old way of living which is based on connection, on the organic, living relationships that emerge when we come together. Please click this linkto learn about joining Organic Torah as a member.