The Urban Adamah Fellowship educational curriculum is taught by in-house staff and an extraordinary group of visiting scholars and practitioners. They come from a range of backgrounds, and together bring amazing perspective, diversity and richness to the Urban Adamah Fellowship experience. The individuals below serve as regular teachers in the Fellowship.
Environmental, Agricultural, Social Justice Training
Rae Graber, Urban Adamah’s Farm Manager, and Sarah Karlson, our Senior Farm Educator, teach the core Urban Agriculture and Permaculture Curriculum in the Urban Adamah Fellowship. In addition, the following individuals serve as regular adjunct faculty.
A long-time resident of San Francisco, Corey Block has spent over a decade 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 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, Block created a 1-acre production and education farm for the Treasure Island Job Corps Center to help train culinary students in farm-to-table concepts and better connect them to their ingredients, and continues to serve as their Urban Farm Coordinator.
Arielle Cohen is a professional hospice chaplain in the East Bay who also likes to work at farmers markets. She completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at UCSF Medical Center and spent a year training on the Palliative Care Service also at UCSF. Arielle earned a Masters in Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion and spent two years studying at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. A long-time Buddhist practitioner, she is endorsed through Spirit Rock Buddhist Meditation Center and completed the Sati Center Training for Buddhist Chaplaincy. Arielle studied Non-Violent Communication with Bay NVC and loves teaching NVC to the fellows.
Barbara Finnin is the Executive Director of City Slicker Farms, a nonprofit that empowers West Oakland community members to meet the immediate and basic need for healthy organic food for themselves and their families by creating high-yield urban farms and backyard gardens. Barbara’s professional career has focused on community-level health, environmental, and social justice. Barbara came to City Slicker Farms from the Women’s Community Clinic where she served as the Volunteer Director, providing free health care for women by women. She served as the Interim Development Director for the Clinic before joining the staff permanently. She was the Coordinator for New Projects at the Tides Center, providing fiscal sponsorship and infrastructure support to nonprofit initiatives. She served as the Production Manager for Freshtopia.net, an online award-winning show about food and the environment. She was also an Environmental Educator for Community Learning Services, teaching environmental education in schools and working with youth to run a green teen café. Barbara is a certified Permaculture Designer, Master Composter, Master Gardener, and a Steering Committee member of the HOPE Collaborative. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Maryland.
Zelig Golden is co-director of Wilderness Torah, which awakens and celebrates the earth-based traditions of Judaism. A community Maggid, vision quest guide, youth mentor, and environmental educator, he brings over a decade of visionary leadership to the Jewish environmental movement. A former member of Hazon’s Board, he co-chaired the 2008 Food Conference. Until recently, he worked as an attorney for the Center for Food Safety, protecting our food from GMOs while promoting sustainable agriculture. Zelig is an Adamah alum, where he is best known as the “pickle-man.”
Nikki Henderson serves as the Executive Director of Peoples Grocery. She began her work in social justice through the foster care system in Southern California, having been raised with seven older foster brothers. Through mentoring, tutoring, and directing Foster Youth Empowerment Workshops, she developed her passion for youth leadership development among communities of color. She later shifted into sustainability, developing course curriculum for the University of California system and advocating across the state for environmental justice and political ecology. She has worked closely with Van Jones and Phaedra Ellis Lamkins at Green for All, fighting for a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty. She was also a part of Slow Food USA in Brooklyn, NY, where President Josh Viertel came to regard her as an “extraordinary leader with a vision for how food and urban farming can be tools of empowerment.” In 2009, Nikki co-founded Live Real, a national collaborative of food movement organizations committed to strengthening and expanding the youth food movement in the United States. In 2010, Nikki was featured in ELLE magazine as one of the five Gold Awardees.
Mark X. Jacobs
Mark Jacobs currently serves as a Senior Mediator and Program Manager at the Meridian Institute, where he designs and facilitates collaborative processes that help diverse parties identify critical issues, build relationships and trust, construct innovative solutions, and implement durable decisions. Mark is currently focused on multi-stakeholder efforts to address challenges at the intersection of agriculture, environment, and public policy. As the Founding Executive Director of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) from 1994 to 2003, Mark played a leadership 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.
Joanna Kent Katz
Joanna Kent Katz is a social justice educator, urban farmer, Theater of the Oppressed practitioner and amateur harmonica player. She creates and facilitates dynamic, embodied workshops to support young adults in strengthening themselves as agents of social change. Joanna has lead workshops about liberation and oppression for young adult leaders for Avodah, Pursue, Jewish Funds for Justice, Eden Village Camp and The Jewish Farm School. She brought social justice education to the Adamah curriculum in Connecticut where she has been a central part of the program for the last six years. Joanna was most recently the Assistant Farm Educator at Martin Luther King High School food justice program in North West Philadelphia. She is currently a Masters student of Drama Therapy at The California Institute for Integral Studies, learning to incorporate more creative, radical personal and collective healing practices into her justice work. And bravely risking foolishness.
Kait Singley is the founder and owner of Herbn’ Gardens, an edible landscape company based in Berkeley. With a background in environmental resource management and organic market farming, Kait brings sustainable self-sufficiency to the urban environment. Kait got her start in the Bay Area as a volunteer with City Slicker Farms, and more recently assisted in teaching the Permaculture Design Course for the Landscape Horticulture Department of Merritt Community College. In 2004, she received her certificate in Permaculture Design from the “Permaculture Institute of Northern California” – now the “Regenerative Design Institute” (RDI) and studied at the California School of Herbal Studies for two years. She has also studied plant energetics and Biodynamics at the Findhorn Foundation and Emerson College in the U.K.
Adam Berman, Urban Adamah’s Executive Director, and Casey Yurow, our Director of Education, teach the core Jewish Curriculum in the Urban Adamah Fellowship. In addition, the following individuals ocassionally serve as adjunct faculty.
Deena Aranoff, Ph.D.
Prof. Aranoff teaches courses on Jewish history, culture and mysticism at the Center for Jewish Studies (CJS) at the Graduate Theological Union. She also serves as a scholar at Wexner Heritage Foundation programs throughout the country. In addition to her Jewish scholarly pursuits, Professor Aranoff has been a dedicated yoga student for many years and now teaches widely in the Bay Area. She completed her Ph.D. in 2006 in the department of history at Columbia University.
Zvi Bellin, Ph.D.
Zvi is the Director of Jewish Education at Moishe House. A recent transplant from the Washington, D.C. area to Berkeley, Zvi comes with a mixed background in Jewish education, psycho-spiritual counseling and guidance, and retreat and community facilitation. He has learned Torah at both Israel and U.S. based institutions including Darchei Noam, Simchat Shlomo, and Elat Chayyim. Zvi earned a Ph.D. in Pastoral Counseling and an M.A. in Counseling and Guidance. Zvi’s most recent interest is the integration of personal spirituality into a practice of holistic well-being.
Arik comes from a family of rabbis, starting with both his parents and going back many generations. He swore as teenager that he would never become a rabbi himself (which might explain why he has resisted ordination up to this point) and spent his teens and twenties exploring other spiritual traditions. Eventually he found teachers and guides (namely, Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi and Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach) that inspired him to return to his roots and seek meaning there. His journey brought him to Israel where he studied in yeshiva for several years and lived an orthodox lifestyle. Upon his return to the United States in 1998, it slowly became clear that orthodoxy was not his path and he spent the next decade finding a balance between his traditional training and his post-traditional sensibilities.
Rabbi Yonatan Cohen
Rabbi Cohen is the Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Berkeley. He received his ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT), the Modern Orthodox Rabbinical School in Manhattan, NY. Rabbi Cohen was born in Israel and grew up in Montreal, Canada. Rabbi Cohen completed a B.A. in Philosophy at McGill University, and studied at Kollel Torah Mitzion, the Metivta and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 2006, Rabbi Cohen joined a rabbinical delegation to El Salvador, organized by AJWS, which focused on issues of social justice and Tikkun Olam. R. Cohen is passionate about teaching Midrash and Halakha, poetry and prayer and Jewish thought.
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Rabbi Lerner is a political activist, and the editor of Tikkun, a prominent progressive Jewish and interfaith magazine based in Berkeley, California. Rabbi Lerner received a B.A. from Columbia University, studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary and became a protégé of Abraham Joshua Heschel. In 1964, he started his graduate studies in philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, eventually earning in 1972 a Ph.D. in philosophy. His dissertation argued for an objective foundation to ethics and against various forms of ethical relativism.He completed a second Ph.D. in 1977, this one is social/clinical psychology at the Wright Institute in Berkeley.
In 1976 Lerner founded the Institute for Labor and Mental Health to work with the labor movement and do research on the psychodynamics of American society. In 1979 he received a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to train union shop stewards as agents of prevention for mental health disorders, and he simultaneously extended his previous study of the psychodynamics of American society. With a subsequent grant from the NIMH he studied American politics and reported that “a spiritual crisis” was at the heart of the political transformation of American society as well as at the heart of much of the psychic pain that was being treated in individual therapy.
Rabbi Chai Levy
Rabbi Levy is the rabbi of Congregation Kol Shofar, in Marin, CA, where she has served since 2002, teaching, listening, celebrating, singing, dancing, and playing music with adults and children of all ages. Her spiritual leadership is mostly guided by the wisdom of the Hasidic masters and Jewish feminist thinkers. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Rabbi Levy received her BA in Religious Studies and Women’s Studies at the University of Virginia. She was ordained in 2002 by the Jewish Theological Seminary. She also spent three years living and studying in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University, Pardes, and Machon Shechter. Before coming to Kol Shofar, Rabbi Levy worked as a chaplain at Mount Zion hospital in San Francisco, as a Jewish outdoor environmental educator in New England, and as a coordinator of inner-city service programs in Washington, DC.
Rabbi Dorothy A. Richman
Rabbi Dorothy A. Richman is the Rabbi Martin Ballanoff Memorial Rabbi-in-Residence at Berkeley Hillel. She serves on the regional council and state board of the Progressive Jewish Alliance and sings a mean Janis Joplin.
Nigel Savage is the Executive Director of Hazon, which he founded in 2000. Before founding Hazon Nigel was a professional fund manager in the Wall Street equivalent in the UK. He has an MA in History from Georgetown, and learned at Pardes, Yakar and the Hebrew University. Hazon was recognized by the Sierra Club as one of 50 leading faith-based environmental organizations in the US. In 2008 Nigel was named a member of the Forward 50 – the annual list of the 50 most influential Jewish people in the United States.He serves on the board of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, is a founder of Limmud NY and on the advisory board of Ramah Outdoor Adventure and the Jewish Greening Fellowship.
Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller
Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller is the Associate Rabbi of Congregation Sherith Israel in San Francisco. She serves on the Bay Area Council of Progressive Jewish Alliance, and is Co-Chair of the J Street Rabbinic Cabinet, through which she expresses her passion for Israel and for a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians. She likes to share her bent for Jewish tradition on the same page as her commitment to fresh thinking.