“Green” Jewish Values are Integrated into Program
Grant Issued as Earth Day Approaches
Asheville, NC – April 9, 2009 – An environmental education program for children at the Asheville Jewish Community Center (JCC) is the recipient of a major grant from The Covenant Foundation, officials announced today. The $20,000 grant will create the Jewish Children’s Gardening Curriculum, a structured environmental activity and learning program using a children’s garden at the JCC as a classroom and laboratory.
Noting the primacy of environmentalism throughout the country, JCC officials said it is critical this sensibility be instilled in children from an early age. The new initiative will do that, they noted, with hands-on projects integrating “green” Jewish values.
“As Jews, we are compelled to teach our children important environmental Judaic values, such as Bal Tashit (“Do Not Destroy”), L’ovda U’l’shomra (“To Work and Keep the Land”), Shomrei Adamah (“Guardian of the Earth”), and Tikkun Olam (“Repair of the World”),” said Heather Whitaker Goldstein, JCC executive director. “As we become more aware of earth’s changing resources, we must ensure that our children understand our interdependence with the natural environment and prepare them to protect and conserve the natural resources they will inherit.
“Children will gain first-hand knowledge of their relationship to the earth, and will ultimately understand the physical and moral imperatives for environmental stewardship.” The curriculum itself will engage children as young as two years of age in planting, growing, nurturing and harvesting projects. It will increase children’s knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the cycles of nature and how these relate to Jewish values, beliefs and holidays.
While an informal children’s activity program has existed in the educational garden since it was planted in 2007, no formal and comprehensive curriculum exists to utilize the space and make it relevant to children of all ages.
“The Covenant Foundation grant has made it possible for us to work with a Jewish educator and a master gardener to transform our weekly gardening activities into a full year’s children’s gardening curriculum,” Goldstein said, adding that the JCC intends to share the curriculum with other Jewish educators and institutions when it is complete.
The grant to the Asheville Jewish Community Center is one of 16, totaling $1.4 million, just announced by the New York-based Covenant Foundation as part of its mission to support, advance and recognize excellence and impact in Jewish educational settings.
“The Covenant Foundation is committed to injecting new life and vitality into Jewish educational realms, promoting and encouraging new ways of thinking, and sustaining and growing Jewish community into the future,” said Eli N. Evans, chairman of the Foundation’s board of directors. “Our grant recipients represent some of the most forward-looking projects and ideas on the landscape today. Their potential is far-reaching and significant.”
“Our new crop of grantees are generators of ideas and approaches of great promise for success, effect and transformative replication elsewhere,” said Harlene Winnick Appelman, executive director of the Foundation. “The Asheville JCC’s Jewish Children’s Gardening Curriculum is a shining example of that, at a time when instilling environmentalism in our children is critical to the future of the planet.”
The Covenant Foundation is a program of the Crown Family Foundation and the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA). Visit www.covenantfn.org for more information.