Freedom, Wandering, & Resilience

“In every generation, one must see oneself as if one had personally experienced the Exodus from Egypt.” – Passover Haggadah 


Like our ancestors leaving Egypt – beginning the long desert wandering – we face daunting years and decades ahead.

The Israelites rejoiced with the Song of the Sea: we’re free! And then we walked out into the wilderness, not knowing what lay ahead. Moshe, Miriam, and Aharon led us: first to the mountain, and eventually home. It was a long and winding trail, both traumatic and transformative.

Today, we are horrified by war crimes in Ukraine, tyranny and fascism on the rise, and fossil fuel profits propping up a new Pharoah. So this Pesach, we celebrate spring renewal and commit to a deeper freedom – a global transformation of epic proportions. The fight for democracy and decarbonization is not going to be quick or easy; the path to freedom takes us through the wilderness.

Science tells us that we are embarking upon a lot more than 40 years of wandering in the deserts of climate crisis. So as we enter this wilderness together, let us summon our will and our strength; our perseverance, resourcefulness, and resilience; our tenacity, our stubborn survival instincts, our dedication to our children and our children’s children. And let us also bring great love, wisdom, and spirit to the challenging path ahead. We need all of it, and we need all of us.

So may our seders manifest the rebirth of spring amidst pangs of hope. May we rejoice in renewal, give thanks for our freedom, and recommit ourselves to the fight for justice. May this Pesach plant seeds of resilience in each of us, strengthening us for the challenges ahead. And may we honor our beloved teachers who have passed on, embodying their love for all of us and all the world.

Chag Sameach – Happy Passover,


Jakir Manela

Chief Executive Officer

In Loving Memory

Rabbi Everett Gendler

Civil Rights Activist, Pioneer of the Jewish Environmental Movement, Mentor & Elder 

August 8, 1928 – April 1, 2022

Everett Gendler always asked to be introduced to Adamahniks and staff at Freedman just as “Everett.” He met and chatted with many cohorts of Adamahniks over the past 20 years, always eagerly approaching a ‘nik and asking “And where are you from?” And then deftly using some morsel of information about the hometown to make a compliment or encouraging remark. Over the years I heard him do just this about Durham, North Carolina and Long Island, the Jersey suburbs and Berkeley.

He was religiously generous and egalitarian in his conversation, giving ‘kavod’ (respect) to every biographical detail, Jewish practice or lack thereof, course of study, hobby, and locale offered by the Adamahnik.

Though this may seem an odd story to tell about someone who was a student of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s and marched with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and had regular audience with the Dalai Lama, but as the story goes:

Upon coming home the student is asked, “And what did you learn from the rebbe?” The student answers “I learned how he ties his shoes.”

I will carry with me Everett’s kindness, his very particular word choice and diction, his equal enthusiasm for winter squash and the prophet Jeremiah, and his word play (Henry David Thoreau became Hayyim Dovid Torah). In other words, I will remember how he tied his shoes.

May his memory be a blessing.

– Shamu Sadeh, Co-Founder of Adamah & Managing Director of Education, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center


Rachel Brodie

Master Jewish Educator, Visionary, Innovator

March 21, 1967 – April 11, 2022

Rachel Brodie

Her memory is a blessing, and her loss is a shock to her extensive community of friends and students. Our hearts break for her family and friends. She was so deeply and widely treasured and esteemed, and for all the reasons. Her depth of knowledge, generosity, humor, creativity, leadership, vision, organization, curiosity, inspiration…

Rachel was an adept Jewish learning entrepreneur and intrapreneur. Her teaching, friendship and laughter was held in the highest regard in circles of institutional power, in countless learning communities, among people who had no Jewish education, and at many Shabbat and holiday tables in the Bay Area and around the world.

Rachel founded “The Jewish Retreat Center” at Isabella Freedman in 1994(!) when she also co-founded the Teva Learning Center. For so many folks whose lives have been forever bettered by those places and programs that were birthed there, she is our spiritual godmother.

May we merit to honor her memory in many ways in the times to come. Her Hebrew name is Rachel Aviva bat HaRav Yosef v’Devorah Hannah. May all who mourn her be comforted.

– Adam Segulah Sher, Isabella Freedman General Manager Emeritus

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