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A selection of initiatives, blogs, resources and communities on Jewcology which focus on outdoor classrooms.


Blogs

Earth Etude for Elul 19: It’s All About the Soil

by Rabbi Robin Damsky “It’s All About the Soil.” So reads the headline for a website discussing regenerative agriculture. I’m torn between fear and possibility. Evidence of climate change worsens every place we breathe. I read several summaries of the most recent UN report on the climate crisis in which Antonio Guterres declares a “code red for humanity.” Yikes. I’ve always believed we have the power to heal our planet. I still do. But the window of opportunity is getting smaller and the actions we must take are more substantive. There ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 17: The Birds

by Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein “Return again. Return again. Return to the land of our soul.”[1] The liturgy sings. I hear it in my head. This is the season of returning. ~ It’s quiet here. ~ A steaming cup of coffee, Billowing clouds of whipped cream. We thought it would be different by now. Stay at home. Wear a mask. Wash your hands.No guests for Shabbat dinner. ~ Inside, ~ It’s quiet. So very quiet. Too quiet. And lonely. ~ Ready to begin my morning, ~ I choose a book Ready to read, I ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 7: Trees from my travels spell hope for civilization

by Susie Davidson Desert trees in Los Cerillos, New Mexico Trees by the Mississippi River in Burlington IowaTrees with a red bush accent in Yorba Linda, CaliforniaTrees on a red rock in the American Southwest When people admire my frequent traveling, I always say yes, but it's budget travel. "But that's the best way to really see places," they usually respond. It's true. Not only do I get to mingle with locals and walk all over, but on buses and trains, you see the outer landscapes. You see the fields, the hills, the bodies of water, the crops and the ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 6: I Am a Terrible Gardener

by Rabbi Megan Doherty I am a terrible gardener. But I garden anyway. I hate weeding. I water my plants too much, or too little. I don’t know from fertilizer, or mulch, or those fancy cages which keep out the deer and the birds. I live in rural Ohio, and when I look at the thriving mini-farms my neighbors create and tend, I want to throw my hands up in despair. But I plant. One year, my dad showed up at our house with a bunch of lumber and built raised beds in our backyard. The process was a beacon for awestruck kindergartners, who showed up with ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 5: Choosing Life as Nerds for the Earth

by Harvey Michaels ~Moses’ final message from G-d: This day…I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.  For millennia we have reflected on what it means to choose life; realizing that it is not always our life we’re choosing – our choices are more about our children and theirs; our communities, and our world. What does it mean to Choose Life for the Earth?  In recent years, I’m privileged to ask this question to classrooms of talented young people, and learned that when ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 3: Joining Fifty Years of Mystic River Watershed Environmental Advocacy

by Karen L. Grossman In 2009 I was invited to get involved with the Mystic River Watershed Association, established in 1972 with a long, hard mission of environmental advocacy. As a board member for 10 years, I was able to admire how we partnered with other groups to champion environmental changes for MA, pursuing concerns with land use and transportation, involving the location of the Alewife Red Line Station, a highway building moratorium, the Amelia Earhart Dam completion, and greenway connectivity into Boston. While tabling at events, I spread the word that ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 1: An Etude is…

by Enid C. Lader To listen to the Etude: Listen to Earth Etude for Elul 1, read by Ilana Gauss An etude is a short musical composition, typically for one instrument, designed as an exercise to improve the technique of the player. Is it finger dexterity? Bowing alacrity? Air control? Rhythmic concentration? ~ Standing beneath a canopy of trees I hear the rhythm of their rustling leaves I feel the heavenly breath of the breeze, A breath so controlled it seems to last forever. The tiny birds fly this way and that, Aligh...

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My interview of Noam Bedein, founder in 2015 and director of the Dead Sea Revival Project


Earth Etude for Elul 1: Elul is here

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen I turned inward with the lockdown. I didn't want to go anywhere. My garden saved me. I worked outside almost every day. In early summer, I started again to lead outdoor services with small groups. But no walks on my own, in nature. After the depths of despair of Tisha B'Av, as the weeks of consolation began, knowing Elul was approaching, I started to turn outward. I spent a week of early mornings in a little-traveled conservation area, before the heat settled in. Reveling in the blooming flowers ...

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It’s time to go hug a tree!

The month of Nisan has arrived - it's time to go hug a tree! The month of Nisan began the evening of April 1, in the midst of the welcoming blossoms of springtime in Israel. This month also comes in the midst of the "Coronavirus crisis," as we are asked to shut ourselves in our homes instead of going outside and enjoying all that beauty of nature. Birkat Ha'Ilanot (Blessing for the Blossoming Trees), the mitzvah that is observed during the days of Nisan, reminds us that even in our own backyards (or our neighbors’ yard) we can find nature that is full of blessing. ...

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Growing Torah for Adults and Children in the Orthodox Community: Two Orthodox Environmental Organizations Merge to Maximize Impact

GrowTorah and Canfei Nesharim, two Torah-based environmental non-profit organizations, have merged into one entity, effective Dec. 10, to strengthen their combined efforts and maximize their impact within the Orthodox Jewish community.

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L’Shanah Tova and a thank you to our Earth Etudes for Elul Contributors

Elul is the month before Rosh Hashanah, a time when we review our lives and think about how we will live the coming year. Many of these earth etudes actually connect our earth with the spirit of Judaism–Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. We would like to thank Rabbi Katy Z. Allen for bringing together these awe-inspiring contributors, whose essays, poems and thoughts help us understand the meaning of our lives and how we can repair our world. And our Earth Etudes can be helpful throughout the year. So you can read them here: Earth Etude for Elul 1: Rabbi ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 21 — A Little Omer on the Prairie

by Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein ~ I live on the prairie. In the Prairie State of Illinois. On a summer’s day with large clouds towering over the cornfields, it is spectacular. Awe-inspiring. I remember to be grateful. For several decades, I have followed the practice of Rabbi Everett Gendler of planting winter wheat, rye or barley at Sukkot and harvesting it during the counting of the Omer, the 50 days between Passover and Shavuot. I have done this with generations of Hebrew School students and their parents. It roots the Jewish year in the agricultural cycle. ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 26 – Returning to The Trees of Life

by Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein~ I am a tree hugger. From long ago. I have planted trees, hundreds of them. I have celebrated Arbor Day as a Girl Scout. I have hiked in the woods from the time I was little. There is a tree that grows in the center of the Merritt Parkway on the way into New York. I passed this tree every week on my way to rabbinical school. It is a beautiful tree with many strong, curved branches coming out of the central trunk. It looks like a menorah. There is another tree like that, a very old tree on the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, ME. Over a ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 17 – Tree Speaking

by Rabbi Jill Hammer~ The trees are speaking with one another. The trees are speaking with all creatures… and all the conversations of living things are about the earth.  (Genesis Rabbah 13:2) Trees have been speaking with me since I was a child, and each tree speaks in its own way. The pine shelters; the willow bends in the wind; the birch has its cool gracefulness. The sycamore sheds its bark in July; the oaks drop their acorns in autumn; the maple leaks sap in February. The cherry, pear and apple blossoms make spring an enchanted kingdom. My father’s chestnut ...

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The Rainbow Connection: Rainbow Day and Creation

Millennia before Kermit sang about the Rainbow Connection, the very first Rainbow Day marked the connection between God and all animals. The biblical flood began on the 17th of the second month, exactly one lunar year and 10 days (= one solar year) before Noah, his family, and all the animals that were with them left the ark, on the 27th day of the second month. But just before they left, God made a covenant with them that there would never again be a flood of water to destroy life on Earth. And just as today we sign contracts with our signatures, God signed our covenant ...

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Eden Village Camp is hiring a Farmer/ Educator

Eden Village Camp is Hiring! About Eden Village Camp: Eden Village Camp aims to be a living model of a thriving, sustainable Jewish community, grounded in social responsibility and inspired Jewish spiritual life. By bringing the wisdom of our tradition to the environmental, social, and personal issues important to today’s young people, we practice a Judaism that is substantive and relevant. Through our Jewish environmental and service-learning curricula, joyful Shabbat observance, pluralistic Jewish expression, and inspiring, diverse staff role models, we foster our ...

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Free Eco Israel Birthright Trip with URJ Kesher

This June 1-11 join Taglit-Birthright Israel and  URJ Kesher on a unique program. The Eco Israel bus will explore and discover, up-close, the remarkable variety of environmental initiatives in Israel, through the lens of ecology and environment WITHOUT missing out on all of the highlights of a classic URJ Kesher Birthright tour. During the tour, the group will visit four main regions in Israel: North, Centre, Jerusalem, and South. In each region, you will encounter local community members, and will gain hands-on experience volunteering with local Israeli activists who are ...

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Hazon Philadelphia’s Ride the Pines

We are excited to announce Hazon Philadelphia’s Ride the Pines - Sunday, May 31st, at the JCC Camps in Medford, NJ. Ride the Pines is a fully-supported bike ride and community experience for people of all cycling levels and ages, bringing together organizations like ours from across the Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey Jewish communities.   Join friends for routes through pine forests, farmland, and local villages, culminating in a barbecue lunch of kosher, pasture-raised meat from Grow and Behold, followed by an interactive marketplace of local, ...

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Eden Village is hiring farm educator apprentices for 2015 growing season!

Eden Village Camp is Hiring!  Submit Your Application About Eden Village Camp: Eden Village Camp aims to be a living model of a thriving, sustainable Jewish community, grounded in social responsibility and inspired Jewish spiritual life. By bringing the wisdom of our tradition to the environmental, social, and personal issues important to today’s young people, we practice a Judaism that is substantive and relevant. Through our Jewish environmental and service-learning curricula, joyful Shabbat observance, pluralistic Jewish expression, and inspiring, diverse staff ...

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