What’s Jewish about protecting the environment?
The Asheville JCC is committed to serving as Shomrei Adamah, Guardians of the Earth. Through our environmental education programming we teach our children about Kavod (Respect) and Tikkun Olam (Repair of the World). Our award-winning garden curriculum connects them to Nature, Food and the ancient agricultural cycles which have set the rhythm of Jewish life for millennium.
Coming soon: multi-generational programming that explores the connection between Judaism and environmental stewardship through education, service and fun!
Please take our very brief survey about what kinds of environmental programming you would like to see at our Asheville JCC. Provide your email address at the end of the survey and we will contact you as new programs are scheduled.
*The Asheville Jewish Community Center is partnering with Zev Friedman, local permaculture designer, educator and agro-ecological researcher, to offer the class Immersion into Permaculture and Its Connection to Judaism at Earthaven Ecovillage, outside of Black Mountain, NC on July 14 from 2–7:30 p.m.
This program is part of the JCC’s Go Yarok!, initiative that seeks to connect people of all ages and backgrounds to the Jewish values of “shomrei adamah” (guarding the earth) and “tikkun olam” (repairing the world). The program offers opportunities for service learning, community gardening and exploring Asheville’s natural resources, as well as inter-generational and cross-cultural connection.
“There are many environmental education programs for children in Asheville,” says the JCC’s Jacqui Childs, “including the Go Yarok! curriculum, which teaches kids in the JCC’s children’s programs about the cycles of nature through gardening, composting and harvesting food. We’d like to provide similar programming for older generations who want to learn more about green energy and practices of alternative farming and permaculture.”
Go Yarok! offers adults the chance to take part in educational activities and discussion groups, contribute to and experience the JCC garden, visit local farms and volunteer in environmental service projects throughout the community.
“Permaculture is a way of thinking, not a set of dogmatic practices,” says Friedman. “A definition of permaculture I often use comes from Chuck Marsh, one of the original founders of Earthaven: permaculture is an ethically based design system for creating regenerative human habitats. Permaculture is not only “sustainability”, which strives to mitigate destruction of of the ecological vitality of the earth; we stretch for “regenerative” systems which go beyond simply sustaining the planet to improving the earth for future generations and leaving the environment in a better condition than it is now.”
The Immersion into Permaculture and its Connection to Judaism class offers participants a tour of the 22-year-old Earthaven, allowing them to explore its hand-built buildings, solar arrays, micro-hydro energy system, gardens and farming operations. The course will focus on the connection between permaculture principles and Jewish traditions and spirituality.
“The connection is surprisingly deep,” says Friedman. “Ancient Judaism is inseparable from agriculture and ecology. Almost all major Jewish holidays are related to the seasons and cycles found in nature. The Torah is first received at Shavuot, the same annual calendric moment when farmers were required to bring their most beautiful ripened specimens of the 7 sacred species of seeds to the Temple as offerings. Many primary esoteric teachings comes from earth-based insights, such as Etz Chayim (the Tree of Life); another example is the 4-layered study of Torah known as “Pardes Bet Midrash”- Pardes is a Hebrew acronym which means “orchard” and compares the deepening study of meaning to the layered communities of plants in a healthy orchard. In the grand narrative of the Torah, the development of spiritual consciousness begins in the Garden of Eden where our future as agriculturists co-arises from the moment when we recognize human mortality. Through middle-eastern, European, African and North American history, the relationship between Jewish people and the land has persisted thousands of years, despite repetitive migrations and Diasporas over time. In the U.S., much of the practical connection between land and Jewish living has gone into dormancy, with most Jewish communities living in urban centers; I think that we need to bring this core element of our culture back into action in order to retain vitality and relevancy for future generations as we cope with climate change, major socio-economic challenges, and a generally uncertain future. And finally, I think that Jews find an ethical imperative in our spiritual teachings to pragmatically pursue Tikkun Olam, to heal and make whole the world, including and beyond our own families and communities- permaculture offers a powerful and dynamic toolbox for doing so. ”
“An Immersion into Permaculture and Its Connection to Judaism” is open to anyone interested in learning about permaculture. “Interestingly, most major world religions and every indigenous spiritual lineage I’ve studied have some form of the customs and belief systems discussed in the Immersion into Permaculture class,” says Friedman. “The class will have something for everyone, no matter what your background or beliefs.”
Earthaven is located at 5 Consensus Cir, Black Mountain. For more information about Go Yarok! see jcc-asheville.org/goyarok.org. For information about Earthaven, see earthaven.com. Tickets to the Immersion and Judaism class are $45. Email Jacqui Childs at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Find out more about Zev Friedman at see the video link below or check out these websites: www.livingsystemsdesign.net and www.schoolofintegratedliving.org.
The Asheville JCC is Composting for a Better World!
We are partnering with a great local company-Danny’s Dumpster. Danny’s Dumpster will pick up our food and paper waste, bring it to their facility and turn it into nutrient rich compost which then goes back into our local gardens.
By involving our children in the composting process, they experience a concrete way to help repair the world. Composting connects the cycles of growing and eating food with decomposition and nutrient recycling. The compost we generate will come back to us to help our children grow more food in their gardens.
Want to be involved in the direction and planning for our Environmental Programs? Contact Volunteer Coordinator Natalie Kramer: email@example.com.
By Jacqui Childs, Early Childhood Education Program Manager & Garden Specialist