Around the country, a number of synagogues, JCCs, day schools, and other Jewish institutions are doing inspiring work to integrate the physical spaces of gardens and farms into their core work of transmitting Jewish ideas and values. Last month, I highlighted the increased popularity of school and community gardens and pointed out some of the necessary measures needed to maintain them properly and maximize their impact. Innovative Jewish institutions from synagogues to JCC’s and educational farms around the country are also taking broad steps to engage members, students and teachers in Jewish garden programming.
Agudas Achim a Conservative synagogue in Columbus, Ohio had installed a garden about a year ago, but as with many synagogue garden projects, the enthusiasm around it waned. When synagogue leaders heard about their congregant Ariel Kohane’s experiences in the Adamah program, they hired her as an Environmental Scholar in Residence. They saw the potential beyond offering a few “green” programs. With her experience, Kohane could develop a program that would inspire younger Jews to connect to the synagogue community through environmental ethics, food and spirituality. A new and exciting culture could grow from its garden.