Jewish Farm Educator and 2017/2018 JOFEE Fellow
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Rose Benjamin is an East Coast native who fell in love with the outdoors as a young child exploring the wildlife of New England. After graduating from Oberlin College with a degree in Psychology, concentrating on Environmental Studies and Educational Justice, Rose dove into the field of experiential education. For the last two years, she has lead backpacking trips in Yosemite with Camp Tawonga, taught Natural History to young children in Santa Cruz, CA, and deepened her love for agriculture with the Urban Adamah Fellowship. In her spare time, Rose is often found rock climbing, hiking, or knitting. She is thrilled to be a part of the JOFEE team, and to continue working with Urban Adamah to share her love for earth based spirituality, natural history, and farming.
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Adam Berman founded Urban Adamah in 2010 and currently serves as its Executive Director. From 2002 – 2009, Adam served as the Executive Director of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in the Connecticut Berkshires. While at Isabella Freedman, Adam founded ADAMAH: The Jewish Environmental Fellowship, a three month leadership training program for Jewish young adults that integrates Jewish learning and living with sustainable agriculture, green living skills, teaching and contemplative spiritual practice. He also served as the program’s first Director. At Isabella Freedman, Adam also co-founded the Jewish Greening Fellowship (JGF), an intensive 18-month Fellowship program for Jewish professionals from twenty different New York Jewish summer camps and community centers. The JGF is working to reduce the carbon footprints of Jewish communal agencies and place environmental stewardship high on the agenda of every agency that participates. For three years (1996-1999), Adam served as the Director of the Teva Learning Alliance, the leading Jewish environmental education program in the United States.
Currently, Adam serves on the Board of Directors of the David Brower Center, Wilderness Torah, the Jewish Federation of the East Bay, and on Advisory Boards for the Teva Learning Center and Adamah. He teaches widely on issues related to Judaism, ecology and civic leadership. Adam holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.A. in Environmental Policy from Brown University. He lives with his wife, Deena Aranoff, and daughters, Shira and Maya, in Berkeley.
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Ash sees themself helping to create a more sustainable food system for our planet. Ash’s introduction to this field began in 2007 during a Green Apprenticeship on Kibbutz Lotan in Israel and has taken them across the globe to farms in Hawaii and eventually to this landing spot in Berkeley. Ash was a fellow at Urban Adamah during the fall of 2011 and went on to become one of the founding members and Business Manager of Urban Worm, Urban Adamah’s worm composting project. Having graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2008 with degrees in geography, economics and business, Ash combines their greater passion for justice with their agricultural knowledge and business sense to not only keep Urban Adamah’s books balanced but expand its reach and ability to make a difference.
Born and raised in Chicago, Rachel remembers first finding wonder among the wilderness of her neighborhood parks. It wasn’t until she found herself studying Environmental Anthropology at Wash U in St. Louis when she started working on urban farms and asking herself what her own culture’s relationship was with the earth. Rachel began seeing Jewish rituals and texts with new eyes, and it was then that she first became a Jewish earth-based educator, compiling a Jewish ecology course for her Hebrew school class. Rachel worked as an organizer after school leading campaigns around greater healthcare access, GMO labeling, and de-privatization of public services. She then became an educator and farmer at Eden Village Camp in the Hudson valley where she built curriculum, helped to manage the farm, and ran a Jewish farm educator apprenticeship. She comes to Urban Adamah as a JOFEE Fellow and Senior Farm Educator, excited to ferment into a more seasoned teacher of wonder and facilitator of earth based spiritual practice. She spends her spare time keeping bees, eating apple cores, dancing, and making herbal concoctions. She is excited to be joining the education team at UA and to be living for the first time west of the Mississippi.
A San Francisco native, and founding Urban Adamah Board Member, Corey Block has spent fifteen years as a farmer, educator, organizer and activist around urban food justice and access issues in the greater Bay Area. In 2003, Corey founded Sustaining Ourselves Locally (SOL), a grassroots, community-based urban farming collective and educational center in East Oakland. With a degree in Earth and Environmental Science from Wesleyan University, and a certificate as an Alameda County Master Gardener, Corey has taught, supervised, mentored and farm-to-school-coordinated at such venerable institutions as Garden for the Environment, Slide Ranch, the San Francisco Arboretum, the Presidio of San Francisco and Project Eat. She received a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at UC Santa Cruz, and subsequently served there as a 2nd year apprentice and assistant site manager. In 2010, Corey built a one-acre production and education farm for the Treasure Island Job Corps Center and created a program to train culinary students in farm-to-table concepts. Corey is thrilled to be the Farm Manager for Urban Adamah, a place and program she’s watched and loved from the very beginning!
Director of Public Programs, Camp Co-Director
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Zachary is passionate about working toward creating a more equitable and sustainable food system. After completing his B.S. in Chemistry at Tufts University, Zachary worked as a chemist before moving to New York City to teach middle school science in East Harlem. He moved to California in the fall of 2012 to attend the Urban Adamah Fellowship, after which he worked at Green String Farm where he learned regenerative farming methods. At heart, Zachary is a camp counselor. He grew up attending YMCA Camp Coniston in New Hampshire for 14 years, serving as the camp’s Program Director during his last two summers. Zachary is excited to combine his enthusiasm for education and local food systems here at Urban Adamah. When not on the farm Zachary can be found tending to his community garden plot and exploring the limits of personal homesteading projects.
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Mark X. Jacobs joined the Urban Adamah staff as Associate Director in 2015. Mark has been providing leadership to efforts to integrate Jewish life and environmental stewardship for more than 25 years. As the Founding Executive Director of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) from 1994 to 2003, Mark played a pivotal role in engaging the American Jewish community in environmental education, action, and advocacy. He has served on the advisory boards of many Jewish and multi-faith environmental initiatives, and is the author of many articles, chapters, and educational materials on Judaism and the environment.
Prior to joining the staff, Mark served as Urban Adamah’s Board President from its inception in 2011 until April 2015. Between 2008 and 2015, he worked as a Senior Mediator and Program Manager at the Meridian Institute designing and facilitating collaborative processes that help diverse parties identify critical issues, build relationships and trust, construct innovative solutions, and implement durable decisions. Mark has an MA in International Relations and a Graduate Certificate in Development Studies from Yale University, as well as a BA in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He lives in Berkeley with his husband, Daniel Barash, and their two young children, Aviva and Lev.
Aquaponics Manager and Educator
Nathan manages the aquaponic system and associated programs on the Urban Adamah farm. Born and raised in the Bay Area, he earned a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz. Prior to his work in aquaponics, Nathan studied the physiological structure and function of albino redwoods. Since catching the aquaponic bug back in 2010, he has interned and worked on several aquaponic farms and education centers throughout Northern CA. Nathan came to Urban Adamah as a fellow in the Spring of 2013, and is captivated by the intersection of community, ecology and technology. Now as a member of the staff, he experiments with space conservative agro-ecosystems in order to develop environmentally sustainable and equitable methods of food production for urban areas.
Office and Special Programs Manager
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Kat feels most in her element when working in community to address issues of inequity and illness in our conventional food system. After graduating in 2010 with a BA in Religious Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, Kat completed an 18 month Fellowship program in sustainable agriculture and community building with the Allegheny Mountain Institute in rural Hightown, Virginia. Through this program, Kat came to work with Urban Adamah and joined on as a full-time staff member, primarily managing Urban Adamah’s Free Farm Stand project. When she is not thinking about the joys of healthful eating and living, Kat enjoys writing and performing music, salsa dancing, enjoying her San Francisco home, traveling to foreign locations, forming connections with those around her, and delving into life through both the unexpected and extraordinary.
Director of Youth and Family Programs
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Ariela grew up in Mexico City with no opportunity for formal Jewish education and somehow made her way in life as a Jewish environmental and experiential educator. Her passion for living on the Earth as a Jew has been nurtured through years of personal study and work in the community. After completing her B.A.in Education from Brown University, she spent a year in Israel learning Torah and other traditional texts. Her favorite learning there was through the Eco-Activist Beit Midrash in Jerusalem, where she got to focus on texts relevant to ecology and earth-based Judaism. After working for the Teva Learning Center as a Jewish environmental educator, she settled in the Bay Area and has taken on diverse educational projects, including Camp Tawonga, Chochmat HaLev’s religious school, and Gan Shalom Preschool in Berkeley. She is the program founder of “B’Hootz,” Wilderness Torah’s year-round children’s program, and most recently served as Education Director for Edah, an innovative out-of-school, Jewish experiential learning program that includes an after-school program, camps, and family learning. She is also a Kevah teaching fellow and is participating in the Torah Trek program.
Sarah supports the Office and Special Programs Manager and the Fellowship Manager. You are likely to see her at Urban Adamah’s Free Farm Stand and in the office helping with administration and Fellowship recruitment. Sarah’s passion for participatory community development and its intersection with the environment comes from her experiences working with communities in the Bay Area, rural El Salvador, and Peru’s Sacred Valley. A Milwaukee native, she received her BA in International Relations from Drake University and her MPA in International Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys hiking, seeing live music, and singing along to her favorite songs.
Chloe Zelkha first fell in love with sustainable agriculture and intentional community during a transformative high school semester learning and farming at The Mountain School in Vermont. She turned to issues of social justice while studying at Carleton College, where she organized around sexual violence, facilitated anti-oppression workshops, led courses in local prisons, earned a B.A. in Religion and Gender Studies. Connecting the dots between sustainable agriculture, transformative education, and community has taken her all over: to Latin America to explore land-based theologies; to New York, where she worked with Pursue: Action for a Just World to create educational events for Jewish young adults around food system workers; and finally, to Boston, where she was a JOIN for Justice Community Organizing Fellow and ran The Food Project’s Root Internship, a year-long experience for a racially and socioeconomically diverse cohort of teenagers that combines organic farming, social justice training, and leadership development. At Urban Adamah, she manages all aspects of the spring, summer and fall young adult residential fellowship.
Sustainable Development Site Manager
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Matt lives to build things. He grew up by the beach in Encinitas and loves getting into any large body of water. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in Agricultural Development Studies he attempted, and failed, to convince his dad that becoming a farmer was a good idea. But, he became one anyway. Matt joined the young organic farming scene in Santa Cruz, raising and slaughtering pastured pigs and chickens at Fogline Farms, managing a walnut farm, and growing vegetables all over the Central Coast. After running two elementary school Life Lab garden programs, Matt co-founded Seven Acres, a cooperative educational farmstead in the Santa Cruz mountains.
Farming’s necessity for physical infrastructure eventually led Matt to pick up the building bug. He pursued fine homebuilding, timber framing and furniture making before landing here at Urban Adamah. He’s excited to merge his passions for sustainable agriculture with building craft out on the farm.