Hebrew School on the Farm
HEBREW SCHOOL + FARM = NATURALLY HAPPY KIDS
By the sound of it, you may already guess that Hebrew School on the Farm isn’t the typical Hebrew School experience. That’s because our classroom is nature and our working farm is our living learning laboratory.
At Hebrew School on the Farm, learning is fun. Through hands-on activities designed to engage students’ hearts, bodies, minds and spirits, students explore Judaism’s deep connection to nature and caring for the environment, the core values of love, justice and generosity, and how these ancient tenets apply to who we are and how we live today.
We are currently offering this program to any synagogue who would like to bring a group of 2nd-4th graders to the farm for 8 sessions as part of their Hebrew school program. Groups often come once a week in the afternoons during their usual Hebrew school program hours. We offer a fall and a spring season of learning, and are happy to coordinate program dates with your group.
If you are part of a synagogue group and would like to inquire about creating a Hebrew School on the Farm experience for your students, please contact Ariela Ronay-Jinich, Hebrew School on the Farm Director of Education.
• To increase awareness of the miracles that abound in life.
• To foster a greater sense of connection to others, to the food we eat, to Jewish tradition and to the natural world.
• To cultivate a sense of responsibility to the world around us and to all who dwell in it.
At Hebrew School on the Farm, we learn, play and explore together. In a progressive and passionate Jewish context, we use group-building exercises, games, storytelling, art and fun science activities to learn about the natural world and our place in it.
Our curriculum is shaped around natural and Jewish rhythms: the Jewish holiday calendar, lunar phases, weather, seasons, plant life cycles and the four elements (earth, air, fire and water). Our Jewish curriculum focuses on familiarity with the holidays and the Jewish calendar, the four elements and their role in Jewish ritual practices, the core Jewish values of love, justice and generosity, and the Jewish commitment to earth stewardship.
We typically open each class with a story that introduces several themes related to one of the four elements as well as an upcoming Jewish holiday, Shabbat, Havdalah or Rosh Hodesh. Students then have the opportunity to deepen their interest in a particular theme by choosing from two or more experiential activities that continue to explore that day’s topics.
• Building and tending fire
• Making our own beeswax candles for Shabbat, Chanukah or Havdalah
• Building a sukkah with materials sourced from the farm
• Using tools to carve our own walking sticks
• Felting with sheep’s wool
• Making our own pickles, sauerkraut, butter and goat cheese
• Baking challah from farm-harvested grain
• Tending our grape vines and making grape juice
• Harvesting potatoes and making latkes
Ariela Ronay-Jinich, Director of Hebrew School on the Farm, serves as lead educator for the program and loves bringing Judaism to life at Urban Adamah. She loves creating rich Jewish learning journeys with children that weave story and song, sensory exploration, and fun hands-on projects that feed children’s curiosity and passions. She loves sharing her passion for living on the Earth guided by Jewish values and life rhythms, and has helped pioneer experiential Jewish education in the Bay Area through leadership in a diversity of projects including at Edah, Camp Tawonga, Chochmat HaLev’s religious school, and Gan Shalom Preschool in Berkeley. At Hebrew School on the Farm, she loves using holidays and traditions as a portal for greater connection to the Earth, to others, and one’s own power. She especially likes teaching kids how to make fire and how to find special places. Read her full bio.
Rachel Binstock, an educator at Hebrew School on the Farm, Rachel is deeply excited to be part of the movement reconnecting Jews with their agricultural roots. She loves bringing Jewish traditions to life for kids on the farm and in the forest. Rachel studied Environmental Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis and has since been studying and teaching Jewishly inspired earth-connection as farmer, activist and educator. She came to Urban Adamah most directly from Eden Village Camp in New York where she worked as an educator and Assistant Farm Director. Read her full bio.
Ariela and Rachel are assisted by adjunct faculty from our community educator corps, with support from our Urban Adamah fellows who participate in our residential Fellowship program for young adults in their 20s.
At Urban Adamah, Jewish tradition comes alive through activities that integrate Jewish values and ritual with hands-on farm exploration, environmental education and community building.
The Jewish tradition’s core values of ahava (love), chesed (compassion) and tzedek (justice) guide the development of all of our programs and activities. Jewish tradition is also rich with connections to the natural world and a call to social action. At Urban Adamah we put into practice ancient laws like Bal Taschit (do not waste), Shmita (letting the land rest), Peah (leaving the corners of the field for the poor), and Tza’ar Ba’alei Chayim (preventing cruelty to animals) in the context of the environmental and social realities of the 21st century. We also examine timeless practices like Shabbat and kashrut, which invite renewed connection in an era when the energy we use and the food we eat have consequences for people around the globe.
Brachot (blessings) and hitbodedut (reflection) are also essential components of Urban Adamah programs. They allow us to pause, to notice the fleeting and the overlooked, and instill in us a sense of awe and gratitude.
Each class includes a healthy, kosher, organic snack. Many snacks are prepared by the students themselves. All ingredients are either grown on the farm or are hechshered kosher.
Our office trailer has a full-service bathroom with running water that is available for student use.
Children should come to the farm in casual, comfortable clothing that you don’t mind getting a bit soiled – they will be working with the earth after all! Children should wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes. As most of our activities take place outdoors, please dress your child accordingly and plan for inclement weather with good rain gear or an extra layer if necessary.
Urban Adamah is open and accessible to children of all backgrounds. No specific Jewish, or Hebrew, knowledge or experience is required or necessary for children to thrive at Hebrew School on the Farm.
Hebrew language education is not the primary focus or goal of our program. While we do not teach the aleph-bet as its own exercise, Hebrew is naturally integrated into our curriculum by way of signage around the farm, through Holiday and Shabbat learning, storytelling, the teaching of core Jewish values and rituals, and through our focus on the four elements (adamah, esh, mayim, ruach) and their role in Jewish ritual.
Urban Adamah takes the safety of your children and all visitors to our working farm very seriously. We always have staff onsite trained in First Aid/CPR. Our staff to student ratio is no less than 7:1.
If you have questions we haven’t addressed, please feel free to contact Ariela Ronay-Jinich.