Dear All,

I wanted to write this week about Teva. There is so much going on at Hazon, right now, that is exciting and impactful; and yet Teva is almost in a class of its own. It is the longest-standing continuous program of those surveyed in the JOFEE Study. It’s been around long enough that some of our Teva staff first encountered it as middle-school participants. Its alumni are staffing – in many cases founding and leading – initiatives around the country. The content and the approach that it pioneered are being adapted and applied in day-schools, camps, and synagogues.

So I’m writing to you to update you on Teva and to invite you – variously – to send your kids to Shomrei Adamah; to come and teach at or work for Teva; to participate in this year’s Teva Seminar; to speak to us about bringing Teva to your school; and to consider supporting Teva financially, including especially providing scholarships to support attendance at Teva programs.

The Teva Seminar

You’re warmly invited to join us at the Teva Seminar! It’s an amazing opportunity to gain skills in wilderness exploration, Jewish gardening, eco-activism, pedagogy, textual exploration, and culinary arts, here at Isabella Freedman, which is flourishing and beautiful in the spring sunshine. This year will be the 20th Teva Seminar, and we’re now formally focusing on many different aspects of Jewish Outdoor Food and Environmental Education (JOFEE). There are more offerings than ever, plus a focus on the upcoming shmita year. There will be at least two sessions per day on shmita, specifically creative, hands-on ways bring shmita to your community, including a session on planting perennials and a cooking class. We are partnering with over 20 different organizations, most of which are sending a director or leader in the organization to attend, making this event both an annual summit of leaders in the JOFEE movement and a high quality hands-on workshop and training for people who want to bring JOFEE to their community. Be a part of this amazing group and experience Teva yourself by spending time in the woods, learning how food is grown, and singing about psolet and conservation.

Shomrei Adamah in the Southeast

This March, Teva returned for our second spring season of Shomrei Adamah (Guardians of the Earth) at Ramah Darom in Clayton Georgia where 85 4th- and 5th-grade students from Georgia and Alabama participated in this flagship program. Students learned about native ecology, indigenous plants and animals, water systems, studied current environmental issues, prayed outdoors, hiked in the Blue Ridge Mountains and sang their hearts out after each meal. Kids loved it and parents raved about it. We’ll be returning year in Spring 2015, and look forward to partnering with more Jewish day schools in the Southeastern United States. If you’re interested please email Yishai Cohen.

In April, we returned to Freedman for three weeks of Spring Teva. I continue to be struck by how we sometimes underchallenge kids nowadays – and how Teva brings out the best in them. On a particularly rainy day of Spring Teva, one educator considered switching her hike to a less wet activity, but her students came together to request the hike. They supported and cheered each other the whole way to the overlook, and surprised her with their resilience and sustained excitement about their achievement. One student wrote to the group that it had been “one of the best times of my life,” while another said they wanted to “never leave Teva!” Truthfully, when I founded Hazon in 2000, I did so at least partly because, when I was a kid, I didn’t have experiences like this. I hope that, as a community, we continue to increase the number of kids, schools and teachers at Teva, across the whole of the next shmita cycle.

I would add: while the Shomrei Adamah program is nearly sold out for regional Jewish day schools, we do have a few slots remaining. For more information about how to take your Jewish day school students on the Jewish outdoor education trip of a lifetime, either this fall or next spring, email Yishai Cohen.

Working for Teva

Each fall, a team of 10-14 educators teaches in Teva’s flagship Shomrei Adamah program. It’s not for everyone: the work is rigorous and intense, the days are long, the sense of community is intense. But it is a strongly self-selecting group: season after season, year after year, those who come to teach at Teva have the experience, literally, of a lifetime. They learn a wide range of hard-skills; they learn a good deal about themselves; they immerse deeply in a rich Jewish life; and – not infrequently – they fall in love with each other. To learn more about the lifestyle and work of being a Teva educator, and to apply, visit the Teva website.

The Topsy-Turvy Bus!!

This July, we’ll be driving the Topsy Turvy Bus across the country powered exclusively (we hope!) by used vegetable oil. Along the way we’ll be showing off our worm compost bin, bicycle-generated blender, and solar ovens to bring alternative energy systems to life. This year’s tour, in loving memory of Jonah Meadows Adels, an educator on previous tours, will be focused on the theme of Shmita. We plan to launch the bus tour at our Colorado Food Festival in Denver on June 29th, and to end at Isabella Freedman, with stops along the way to work with a variety of camps, Jewish community centers, synagogues, and community-building organizations to run Jewish environmental programs. The Topsy-Turvy Bus is intended to be an opportunity to draw attention to the themes of our work in creative ways. Laura Gurvis, Senior Assistant Director at URJ Eisner and Crane Lake Camps, put this in perspective when she explained that at their camp “we have an Amir gardener who plants several gardens with our campers and teaches them about sustainability, we compost our left-overs, we study Bal Tashchit, we recycle and we do everything we can in our community of nearly 800 to live lives that are as “green” as possible. However, we KNOW we can do more and better at conveying this message to our campers. The Topsy Turvy Bus and the program you offer seems perfect for us.” Check out Teva’s Topsy Turvy Bus on our website to find out when the bus will be in your area! We’re available to be in either Colorado/Nebraska/Kansas the weekend of July 4th, and we have some free time in Chicago between July 10th – 16th, including a full day on July 10th.

Donate to support Teva

David Weisberg wrote last week to ask you to support our new Hazon Access Fund. Thank you to the many of you who made donations. If you want to give a gift to support scholarships that especially support Teva’s work, please click here and write “Access Fund” under the tribute gift section.

With thanks and warm best wishes,

Shabbat shalom,


PS: To begin your own journey into the world of Teva, you can make your own recycled paper by following the steps of one of our dynamic Teva educators.