What a year! My name is Ellen Brown and I am the Farm Program Coordinator for Eden Village Camp. I came to the farm at Eden Village as a Farm Educator on July 15, 2012. Having just completed a six month MASA Eco-Israel Program at the Modi’in eco-village, Hava V’Adam, I arrived to the Farm at Eden Village with one ambitious goal in mind: to live and work with meaning to me, to others and to G-d. Inspired by permaculture where everything is connected and my intentions were to strive to make everything sacred: there is no such thing as waste, the problem is the solution (or opportunity), and life is precious at every level and in all its forms. Yet, one of the main themes of Jewish tradition is le’havidil, to differentiate. Shabbat and havadalah are focused on this distinction between the sacred and the profane. How then, can we bring G-d into the office/farm and still connect deeper in our private time?
This is a question that young Jewish professional pose for themselves when they enter the work force, be it secular or Jewish. To be Jewish, or the act of being Jewish rather, can mean so many things to many people in many ways. For my college years, I felt the most connected to Judaism through farming. The outdoors was my synagogue, growing food to feed others was my tikkun, and creating plant life was acting in G-d’s image! Since I was in school, farming felt sacred to me because my livelihood was not dependent upon the success of the growing season both financially and nutritionally. For that reason, I believe I was able to pray to G-d with my hands in soil. So again, how can we develop a work attitude that honors G-d humbly?
During my time with the Jewish Farm School and Eden Village, the answer became sustainability. G-d created the world holy and completely. G-d’s divine design is a closed system that takes care of itself. When left alone, nature’s systems can be self-sustaining and self-regulating. It is the human’s mitzvah to be a steward of the earth: to see to it that G-d’s divine design is upheld. In this way, we are mere facilitators in ensuring that nature is protected for it too was created in G-d’s image. To me, this understanding that “G-d saw it was good and it was good…” our job is to preserve the goodness not just for ourselves but for all those involved in its closed systems. Therefore our attitudes should be such: sustainability is fairness. If we model our work ethic after G-d’s work ethic, where the waters were created above and waters created below, than we see that it not just differentiating that fosters a Jewish approach to making work meaningful but also a balance of all that we juggle. This balance can help us reach a fair level for sustainability in our selves, for each other, in our work and in our reminders to G-d that we love and fear with each breath.