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ADAMAH Logo is a program of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center
that connects people to their roots — to the land, to community,
to Judaism and to themselves — by providing educational programs
and products in order to build a more sustainable world.

Help support ADAMAH and all of Isabella Freedman's programs by making a donation today

Garlic Planting

Returning to Justice and Leveraging Change with a Pickle

A Message from Shamu Fenyvesi Sadeh,
ADAMAH Director

Farming is about return: returning to our right place in the web of life, returning to gratitude and awe, and returning to justice. Every cohort of ADAMAHniks studies the laws of peah and leket—leaving the gleanings and the corners of the field for the poor, and Shabbat, Shmittah and Jubilee—the cycles of seven that are meant to balance work and spirit, and repair the effects of debt, land ownership and social hierarchy. When we talk about composting, biofuels or the place of religion in the environmental movement, we refer to the three interconnected realms of sustainability: the ecological, the financial and the social.

Every year our soil test speaks to justice. It tells us that we have increased the percentage of organic matter in our soil. This means we are successfully storing soil carbon and slowing the catastrophes of rising seas, gathering hurricanes, and extended droughts that are causing great suffering around the globe, particularly for the most vulnerable. Since we started farming at ADAMAH, we have donated to local food banks and soup kitchens. ADAMAH Alumni are pursuing food justice by planting school gardens, by changing food policy and by helping farmers in other parts of the world maintain sustainable farming practices.

And this coming season at ADAMAH we are committing more of our educational and vegetable power to communities in need. This winter we are building partnerships with local agencies so that we can better answer questions such as:

  • How can we use pickles to leverage change in the local school cafeteria and empower local teens?

  • How can we use the model of Community Supported Agriculture to connect Jewish communities to food security questions?

  • How can we bring the words of Micah alive in the world: "But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid"?
Shamu Fenyvesi Sadeh

In this newsletter...

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JobsADAMAH IS HIRING. We are looking for two full-time positions (Field Manager and Value-Added-Products Manager), as well as taking applications for dairy, pickle and field apprentice positions. Check out the job descriptions online.

Adva ReunionADVA REUNION. This past November, our fall fellows joined close to 200 alumni of the ADAMAH fellowship and educators from the Teva Learning Center at our second annual ADVA reunion. Read more about the ADVA alumni network and EcoJewish Jobs.
Hazon Food ConferenceHAZON FOOD CONFERENCE BACK ON THE EAST COAST. Our fall fellows recently led workshops, yoga and services at the Hazon Food Conference East, which returned to Isabella Freedman after two years exclusively on the West Coast. Check out the articles on The Jew and The Carrot and The Wandering Jew, as well these photos.
BookstoreHOT OFF THE PRESS. ADAMAH and Isabella Freedman are featured in two recently published books: Kosher Nation by Sue Fishkoff and A Life of the Land: Connecticut's Jewish Farmers. Both are for sale through the Isabella Freedman Bookstore.

How to Get Involved

If you are a 20-something and have three-months to commit to ADAMAH, our 2011 summer and fall fellowship application is now online. If you are 19 or 36 or 72 and have a day or a weekend, join us for the Grow Your Own Garden workshop in May and the DIY Food Week in August. Check the Isabella Freedman calendar or watch your email for more information.

Mazel tov to our director Shamu Fenyvesi Sadeh for being named one of the Forward 50 of 2010!

From the Mouth of an ADAMAHnik

Rachel Bedick,
ADAMAH Fall 2010

I was originally drawn to ADAMAH for the sake of learning farm skills and learning about environmental sustainability through a Jewish lens. Communal living also appealed to me. Even Jewish communal living sounded interesting, but being a part of a Jewish spiritual community was something that I wasn't that excited about. I knew that I enjoyed singing Jewish songs, but that was basically the extent of my spirituality. One of the surprises for me at ADAMAH is how we, the staff and ADAMAHnikim, have created an incredibly spiritual space together in which I feel comfortable thinking and talking about the existence of G-d, or oneness, or the creator, or that unnameable life force, and my relationship to it.

Building StepsIt's amazing to me that diverse parts of my day at ADAMAH seem to invite spirituality as a topic of thought, conversation, and learning. It makes sense to me that it would arise while chanting and meditating in the mornings during Avodat Lev (service of the heart), but while putting away the drill and hammer that we had been using to build outdoor wooden stairs? I didn't expect that that would be a time when Alysa and I would begin talking about whether or not silent meditation is a way for us to connect with G-d or simply a practical way to calm the mind. And, even if meditation is only a way for us to calm our minds, isn't it possibly that calming one's mind and connecting with oneself more deeply is a way to also connect with the Divine? These seem to be typical conversations for me at ADAMAH.

Then of course there is the abundance of opportunities to think about spiritual things whenever I am working in the sadeh (field) or on Beebe Hill. Yesterday while planting garlic on Beebe I began to meditate on faith and having faith. It seemed remarkable and almost ridiculous to me to think that a lonely garlic clove, which I would normally dice into a cast iron pan for a stir fry, has the capability to survive through the harsh New England winter and produce a new stalk of garlic. It's truly a miracle that a garlic clove + soil/compost + sun + water + time = more garlic! I may have to return to ADAMAH in the spring to actually see this harvest of garlic to believe it. Nevertheless, while planting I was struck by how much faith I have in a process that is so mysterious to me. How does this growth happen? How do we know that it's happening when we don't have any visible evidence? A few months from now, we won't dig up the frozen earth, extract the fledgling garlic plant and put it under a microscope to witness the cells dividing. We simply have to be patient and trust that the growth is happening even when we can't see it; even when the field seems frozen and stagnant.

This lesson in faith that the garlic taught me yesterday is one that can easily apply to human beings. It's something that I wish I remembered more often, especially when I am anxious and hard on myself about the person I am and the person I want to be, and fixate on not knowing my future. I am grateful that through planting garlic I was reminded that growth is always happening even when it's not easily apparent.

ADAMAH In the News

ADAMAH has been highlighted both in the Jewish and secular press these past few months.

As always, we encourage you to keep up-to-date about ADAMAH by reading our blog.

Our gratitude goes to...

UJA-Federation of New York, Dorot Foundation, Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, The Grinspoon Foundation, Hazon, The Chuck Goldman Family Supporting Foundation, The Gottesman Fund, The Weaver Foundation, The Friedman Family Foundation, Repair the World, Adina Allen and Jeffrey Kasowitz, Dana and Warren Cohn, Judith Dack, Myron and Annette Kaplan, Robert Reid, The Margulies Family, Josh Lichtman, Risa and Mati Cooper, Beth Myre, Nancy Wolfson and David Moche, Larry Shwartz and Shelley Levine, Ellen and Scott Singer, White Plains 2010 CSA Members, Grow and Behold Foods, Adam Berman, Anna and Naf Hanau, and all our Alumni!

IF Logo ADAMAH is a program of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center.

Isabella Freedman is an allstream Jewish organization where people connect with themselves, Judaism, the environment and each other. We offer diverse programs and retreat experiences that renew and sustain the vibrancy of contemporary Jewish practice. Located only two hours from New York City and three hours from Boston, we provide farm-to-table kosher cuisine, year-round country lodging, UJA logomiles of hiking trails and an organic farm.

116 Johnson Road, Falls Village, CT 06031 | 800.398. 2630 | isabellafreedman.org