Welcome to the new crop of young souls to work, learn, and grow with!
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Summer 2014
Quarterly Update from Adamah, a program of Hazon at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, that cultivates the soil and the soul to produce food, build and transform identities, and gather a community of people changing the world.
In this issue
From the Director
From the Mouth of an Adamahnik
Brief News
Seasonal Highlight
In the Media
Alumni Updates
From Shamu Sadeh, Director
What Renews My Pastures
There is an amazing moment each week when we finish moving the portable fences, fill the water bucket, and then finally release the goats onto new pasture.
  The younger goats shake with joyous anticipation and even older nannies prance with excitement. The grass and shrubs have grown new tasty shoots, and there is an overwhelming feeling of new potential even though this is the same land, and in fact the same piece of pasture, the goats grazed only four weeks ago.
  And here we are in our 12th year of Adamah, praying the same tunes and words, hoeing the same cucumber beds, sitting in circles with the same intentions. So what makes repetition restorative and keeps us from falling into a rut? What renews my pastures? Three things: Jewish practices that bind us in a cycle of personal and communal growth, the constant change and regeneration of nature around us, and a new crop of young souls to work, learn and grow with!
  From the Mouth of an Adamahnik
  Jeremy Slen, Summer 2014
My Journey with Adamah
My journey with Adamah began nine weeks ago. I can already say that this experience has been life changing. For me lessons about prayer, communication, and anger have been critical.
  Every morning we are up before dawn to participate in Morning Prayers: Avodat Lev. At first I had concerns about it not being a traditional service.  I did not think I wanted to change how I grew up praying, although to be honest I never connected spiritually with the traditional service. Meditation was also new to me. Over the weeks I have noticed that the intentions we set and the focus on the meanings of the short prayers allowed me to feel a closer relationship with those around the circle as well as the life flowing within us, around us and above us.
  Throughout my time here I have attended all kinds of classes from permaculture to active listening, Jewish creation stories to pickling. There have been many spirited conversations about culture, community, Judaism, feminism and Israel to name just a few. Before coming to Adamah I had a very hard time debating with someone without getting worked up and feeling as though I had to prove my points were right even when they weren’t. Early in my time here I got stuck in a debate with a cohort member. I could not understand him and could not find a way to talk to him so he would hear my side. In one of these debates I became infuriated and stormed off. In the past I would have just stopped communicating with this person altogether, giving up a connection I did not have the skills to negotiate. However at Adamah we live, work, pray, eat, and learn together so total avoidance is not an option.
  I worked with this person in the field in total silence a few times, resigned to tension and avoidance. But then something happened. I went home to see my father and we began talking. He asked me why I was, “living in a hippy commune with a bunch of crazy people?”  I was not really sure what to say at first and sat there, both of us feeling dejected by our interaction. Then my father told me that he had just been suspended from work for fighting with a coworker. He has worked with this man for 7 years in virtual silence but last week they had gotten into a verbal confrontation in front of customers. Listening to my father, I understood exactly why I was at Adamah.
  I did not want to grow up to be 50 years old and still getting into arguments with others to the point that I could not contain myself. Lucky enough for me there are many people who are well versed in the art of listening and learning from others rather than arguing and trying to prove their point. This is a skill I am working hard on here at Adamah. The conversations I have had with Arthur and Shamu have allowed me to not only keep my sanity, but also to make strides in this life long endeavor of empathizing with others.  The staff at Adamah push us to our limits physically, emotionally and spiritually they do so with the best intentions, and with a safety net to catch us when we inevitably fall.  
  In my time here I often think of a line by Anne Frank, “We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”  All of us arrive at Adamah looking to change something about ourselves and be fuller, happier people. We all set lofty goals that are probably not attainable in 12 weeks or even a year; but rather through a lifetime of effort. If it were not for Adamah I would still be the same person -- quick to anger and long to calm down. I would still lack the deeper connection with Jewish prayer I have so longed for. It is a hard learning process but everyday I realize how happy I am I started this journey.
  Brief News
  From Seed to Pickle to Liberation!
From the Center for Cultural Proliferation
Arthur made a delicious test batch of our first black currant jam, this season’s first cucumber pickles are ready, and we are making jam from our own blueberries!
Camp Urban
From the Fields
The fields are exploding with summer bounty. There are cucumbers lurking around every corner at Isabella Freedman and all Adamahniks are on a dietary regimen of at least one zucchini a day. We are farming some new fields on Beebe in what used to be goat pasture.
Camp Urban
From the Barnyard
Feta, Talia, Zola, Quark, and her baby Matzah (short for Mozzerella, the newest addition to our milking herd) are enjoying their summer pasture and getting to know the Adamahniks. Over on Beebe, our 3 bucklings have been joined by 6 lambs - it's a joy to watch our mixed flock browse and graze together!
From the Classroom
We are taking our long-time practice of active listening to a new level by learning how to have conversations about Israel. This summer we were joined by Becky Havivi, a facilitator from "Resetting the Table," a NYC-based project for young Jewish adults to have nuanced and meaningful conversations about Israel. After sharing personal stories about their relationship to Israel, fellows participated in a "spectrum of opinion" activity regarding their views, and practiced open curiosity. We are grateful and proud of this cohort for engaging in such a challenging topic with grace and openness!
  Seasonal Highlight
  Wake Forest Divinity School Program

Adamah’s deepest foray into interfaith work was a massive success. EcoTheologian and writer Fred Bahnson and 8 Christian Seminarians from Wake Forest Divinity School joined us in the fields, in study, in prayer and around the Shabbes table.  The students mikvah’d, met with Reb Zalman, took part in the shechting of old hens with Alum student Rabbi Jacob Siegel, and led the goats in the First Fruits Shavuot parade. The students left inspired to grow more food in their home communities, to bring nature and farm alive in scriptures and prayer, and to use their faith to heal our relationship with the planet.

  In the Media

New Gleanings from a Jewish Farm
by Michael Tortorello, The New York Times, July 24, 2014

How Do I Teach My Suburban Kids to be Environmentally Conscious?
by Cara Paiuk, Kveller, July 23, 2014

  Alumni Updates
  Shidduchim (Holy Partnerships)

7 Marriages, 14 Alumni! So many of you have asked, so here are the historical stats on Adamah alumni who have married other alumni.* 

Shema Blum-Evitts ('04) & Robbie Freidman ('04)
Aaron Desatnik ('05 )& Jenna Levy ('04)
Naf Hanau ('06 ) and Anna Stevenson ('07)
Chani Trugman ('07) and Eden Pearlstein ('07)
Abby Streusand ('07) & Gabe Greenberg ('05)
Sarah Brown ('09) & Shimon Darwick ('10)
Morris Panitz ('09) & Ilana Havusha ('08)

*This list does not include Adamah-Teva marriages
  Photos from the Field

Wake Forest Divinity School students learned about challah and braided all our Shabbes loaves! 


Kelly Banker stands with Dan Gregory, farm manager of Grow Hartford. Grow Hartford engaged at-risk youth in urban farming and provides vegetables for Harford residents who rely on "double up bucks" - SNAP assisted payments at farmers markets that count for double the produce. In lieu of a monetary donation for the tour Dan gave us, we donated jars of pickles for each of his CSA members. 

Adamah at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center
116 Johnson Road, Falls Village, CT 06031
860.824.3003 •
We create healthier and more sustainable communities in the Jewish world and beyond.
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