The current iteration of ideas and programs that are encompassed by “Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming & Environmental Education,” ie “JOFEE” for short, is less than twenty years old.
But Pesach – chag ha’aviv, the festival of spring – is more than two thousand years old. And civilization, depending on how you measure it, is perhaps ten thousand years old.
We arise in relation to the physical world. We are nurtured by it, live within it, clothe ourselves, eat and drink. The contemporary world of moving from one structure of brick and glass, to another of brick and glass, via a container of perhaps steel and glass, is recent. It is trite to point this out, yet it is not trite to remind ourselves of these connections. One way of understanding Hazon’s work, and that of our partners, is simply to understand that to go outdoors in different ways is to think afresh about our lives and our choices. To hike, or plant, or harvest; to daven or meditate or just sit and feel the breeze; to sing, to learn, to celebrate… each of these is a moment of reconnection, with ourselves, with our friends and families and communities. If we are Jewish and open ourselves to the rhythms of the tradition, we catch echoes of our ancestors, of how they lived, their values, how they were formed. I’m typing this on a train, on a laptop, online. Different technologies, different eras. But I’m thinking about rosh chodesh Nissan, the new month of Nissan, and seder night in two weeks‘ time.
So… come join us, in putting the pieces back together. We’re doing a new JOFEE Network gathering: an opportunity for leaders in the field, or people who care about Jewish education, to come together, to learn and share, to reflect, to be inspired or to inspire others. If you want to come to a retreat at Freedman, or teach at Teva, or ride in our New York or Israel Rides, you’re warmly invited.
Seder night is both things: it is the slingshot into activism, confronting pharaoh, releasing ourselves from chametz, challenging inequality; and it is a celebration of spring and the natural world, the simplicity of wheat and water, the wonder of wine, the beginnings of the barley harvest growing.