Zoe Penina Baker
Public Programs Assistant
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A New York City native, Zoe has spent the last few years working as an artist and in programming, planning events, and teaching through the arts in Jewish spaces across North America. Zoe’s creative practice explores intergenerational Jewish storytelling through interactive installations and immersive shabbat dinners and she’s used this practice as the foundation of her passion for Jewish programming and arts education. Spending most of her life on the east coast, working at Reboot in New York, as a community educator at BIMA at Brandeis University, and most recently, as a visiting artist the Museum of Jewish Montreal where she hosted her ongoing project, Miss Mitzvah, Zoe is so excited to spend the summer on the west coast and join the Urban Adamah team, learning more about Jewish urban farming and planning programming for the Berkeley community.
Acting Public Programs Manager
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Emily feels most engaged when she’s exploring the connection between the earth and the divine. Her interest in religion and earth connection has informed many of her experiences around the world including studying Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal, building a mile of the Continental Divide Trail in New Mexico with the Southwest Conservation Corps, volunteering on Cortes Island, British Columbia at Hollyhock Retreat Center, and WWOOFing at a burgeoning farm in rural Oregon. Originally from New England, she graduated from Macalester College with a degree in International Studies and Religious Studies. Her passions and interests, both professionally and personally, seem to be in constant expansion and she is delighted to hone many of them at Urban Adamah. After completing the Fellowship in Fall 2016 and serving as a Work Trader in Winter 2016-17, she felt so at home on the farm that she couldn’t leave. She feels grateful for the opportunity to continue contributing to the Urban Adamah community. The strength, connection and love here continue to inspire her each day.
Executive Director (ON SABBATICAL THROUGH 5/31/18)
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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. 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.
Adam teaches widely on issues related to Judaism, ecology and 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.
Finance and Operations Consultant
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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.
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Rachel Binstock, is an educator, artist, ritualist, and lover-of-plants and is Urban Adamah’s new Fellowship Director. Rachel was born and raised in Chicago and went to Wash U in St. Louis where she studied Environmental Anthropology. It was there that she joined the student run farm and started writing curriculum on Jewish ecology and environmental issues. After graduating Rachel worked as a political organizer in D.C. and then on college campuses across the state of Illinois, fighting against big banks, big ag, and big pharma. She decided she wanted to build the world she believed in so she joined the farm team at Eden Village Camp in the Hudson valley where she learned how to grow her own food and teach others how to do the same. There she built curriculum, managed the farm, and ran a Jewish farm educator apprenticeship. She has been working at Urban Adamah since Purim 5776 as an educator and program coordinator with the youth and families. Rachel spends her spare time practicing primitive skills, playing soccer, and writing saphrut. She also loves to sing!
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!
Ari Eisen (ON LEAVE THROUGH 8/6/18)
Director of Public Programs
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Ari Eisen is passionate about experiential outdoor education and programming as tools for personal transformation and community building. She is originally from Washington, D.C. and is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied global health and environmental studies. She strives to fuse these areas of interest by using outdoor immersive experiences as methods for physical and mental healing. Ari spent the last year helping to launch Camp Ramah in Northern California, a new specialty Jewish summer camp in Monterey, CA. There she developed and facilitated Jewish environmental programming, established communications and operations systems, and recruited and hired staff members for the camp’s inaugural summer. After participating in the Urban Adamah fellowship and apprenticeship in 2015/2016, and falling in love with the community on the farm, Ari is thrilled to be joining the Urban Adamah staff full-time.
Design Lead | Assistant Farm Manager
Hi, I’m Carly Fishman. I am from the West side of the bottom half of Michigan- the top half is prettier. I recently graduated from the University of Michigan where I studied Art & Design with a focus in visual communication as well as Environmental Studies with a focus in food sustainability. I really like to draw, let me know if you want a tattoo. I have been farming for most of my life learning how food systems in the Unites States of America work and how we as the people of the United States of America interact with this food. I think that regenerative agriculture is going to save our planet. I spend time outside looking at people standing next to nature, just like you probably.
Associate Director (ACTING EXEC DIRECTOR TIL 5/31/18)
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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.
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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.
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Katie grew up gardening all over the midwest and has fond memories of harvesting many pounds of cucumbers with her Grandpa in Wisconsin to make the best dill pickles ever! She has lived and traveled around the country since graduating from the University of Georgia with a degree in Wildlife Management. Katie has worked in the environmental education and conservation field for 15 years with various non-profits dedicated to youth development, environmental conservation and environmental justice. She is a dedicated community volunteer with City Slicker Farms, the Alameda County Master Gardeners, Bike East Bay and is currently on the board of the Longfellow Community Association. You will find her biking all over the neighborhood with her toddler, playing ultimate frisbee, hiking with her family and growing all the food she can at her TwinDuplex Farm. Katie is super excited to join the Urban Adamah team as the Administrative Associate.
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Kyle is excited to be working at the intersection of agriculture and social justice. Envisioning a future of more vibrant and self-reliant communities, Kyle sees food systems and nutrition as a major catalyst for change and the building of resiliency and sustainability. Kyle began growing food at the student organic garden at Berkeley, then worked at Acta Non Verba teaching kids about food and the earth. After managing restaurants for several years, he interned at Pie Ranch in 2016 and decided then that he wanted to pursue a career in agriculture. As a member of the site team at Urban Adamah, Kyle is excited to develop his trade skills in the context of an urban farm. He loves travelling, cooking, eating, growing food, snowboarding, and any other activities that involve spending time with friends and family. Kyle looks forward to continuing following his passions and growing his skills and plans to remain in the East Bay urban farming scene for years to come!
Anika loves exploring our connections to land through a critical lens. As an outdoor enthusiast, hobby herbalist, and gardener, she is interested in agroecological research and practice. She became part of the urban farming scene in 2012 at the UC Berkeley Student Organic Garden, where she facilitated garden classes and wrote grants for new programs. Her desire to understand and nurture the plant world also comes from her long dreamy days on an herbal medicinal farm in southern Oregon.
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.
Jason von Halle
Jason is excited to be working as a Farm Apprentice for the coming winter and spring. Born and raised in New Jersey, he gradually made his way to the West Coast, attending college in the Midwest and eventually moving to Seattle, WA. His first experience growing food was 6 years ago on an organic family farm in Ashland, Oregon. This initial connection to the earth and to his sustenance led Jason to seek out volunteer opportunities in community farms and gardens while working as a server in Seattle. Prior to arriving in Berkeley, Jason worked as an educator at The Tavon Center, a non-profit in Issaquah, Washington that provides active learning opportunities for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Jason came to Urban Adamah as a fellow in the fall of 2017 and feels lucky to continue to work outside and to learn from the rest of the Urban Adamah team.
Youth and Family Programs Manager
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Originally from Los Angeles, Maddy is excited to be in the East Bay as part of the Urban Adamah team! Maddy graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2015 and majored in Community Studies and minored in Sociology and Jewish Studies. Maddy loves working with youth and families and loves connecting Jewish values and ritual through outdoor exploration, food harvesting and planting. In college, Maddy interned with a campus community garden and led field trips on the farm with Life Lab. Maddy has worked in a variety of Jewish youth programs all throughout California, and is so excited to bridge her interests and enthusiasm of Jewish learning with nature practice!
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.