The launch of Adamah At Home, and thoughts about M4BL

Thursday, June 18, 2020 | 26 Sivan 5780

Dear All,

Isabella Freedman is closed as a retreat center, but the state of CT has reduced the minimum period for bookings, which now enables us – next week –  to launch Isabella Freedman Getaways. If you’re interested in coming up and spending 5 or 12 days at Isabella Freedman – with three meals a day of (local, ethical) kosher food, in beautiful surroundings – look out for our email next week.

We similarly had to take the very difficult decision to suspend the Adamah Fellowship for this summer – the first time since the program began, in 2003, when that has been so.
But – but! – we’re now happy and excited to launch a new program: Adamah At HomeThe program runs from July 6th to July 26th, and you can send in applications on a rolling basis from now through July 1st. It’s an exceptionally strong program encompassing practical skills, daily conversation and what we hope and intend will be a strong group. We’ll cover Jews ecological learning, garden mentorship, food systems and policy; also food choices, cheesemaking and regenerative farming.

And we’ll also talk about structural racism in this country – because the longer that Hazon has done work on food, and what it means to eat Jewishly in the 21st century, the longer we have looked at food deserts, the impact of federal policy, the weird distortions of the Farm Bill (and the competing values that underpins its different measures) and so on.

And so as well as sharing with you the launch of Adamah At Home, I wanted also to reflect further on events in America in the last few weeks. I wrote last week to say that, properly understood, Black Lives Matter is capable of making this a better country for all its inhabitants. This week I was one of nearly a thousand environmental leaders on a historic call with leaders from the Movement For Black Lives. It included Hop Hopkins, who’s head of strategic partnerships for the Sierra Club, and who wrote a very strong essay a week ago, titled Racism Is Killing The Planet. He’s not just talking about “environmental justice” in the abstract, but giving a sense of how and why the two issues are so closely related. So I commend that to you. And I share with you, below, not just information on Adamah At Home, but also some of the work that Adamahniks have been doing in relation to this topic and some of the things that the leadership of our Adamah team want to share with everyone.

I’d add that, in this fractured and difficult time, not everyone agrees on every topic, and nor should they. Many of you will be provoked and inspired by some of this. Some of you may be disturbed or confused or disagree. That’s ok. Jewish tradition is a journey, life is a journey, and this country is on a journey. So we learn and grow, and what’s been happening this summer is all part of it.

Finally: you know how much I love the calendar and the significance of the calendar. But it’s not just the Jewish calendar. Juneteenth has arisen in recent years to become a significant day in the calendar of this country. I think it almost certain that this year will see the largest celebrations of Juneteenth yet. The protests I’ve attended in the last week or two in New York have been a kaleidoscope of this city – young and old, every color, every background – coming together to try to hold this country to its high rhetoric, to its best aspirations. So I wish you not only shabbat shalom but also happy Juneteenth. This too is a step towards building a healthier and a more sustainable Jewish community and a more sustainable and equitable world for all.


PS: This week’s After The Plague is me in conversation with four of the teens from Hazon’s Jewish Youth Climate Leadership board – please join us at noon ET on Sunday.