Cultivating Culture:
A (virtual) Gathering of Jewish Farmers


 

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Sunday, January 30, 2022 
28th of Shvat 5782

10:30 to 11:30 AM EST

Community Morning Practice

Avodat Lev

Avodat Lev (Heart Work) is a contemplative chant-based practice based on the three Jewish services to honor the passing of the day. We will follow the core structure of a weekday service. Our avodah/service will include Hebrew and English chanting, guided meditation and meditative silence. The practice is meant to guide us in greeting the morning and cultivate connection. Avodat Lev was initially crafted by Adamah housed at Isabella Freedman Retreat Center.

 

Simcha Halpert-Hanson (they/them)

Yoga for Farm Bodies

This gentle, all-levels yoga class is designed to support hard-working bodies in building strength and flexibility for greater ease in life on the farm. The class will include poses to open and stabilize the hips, release tension in the spine and back, and strengthen the core. Please wear clothes you can move in and bring a mat, chair, or comfortable place you can spread out on the floor.

Rachel Cotterman (they/all pronouns)

11:45 AM to 12:20 PM EST

Welcome & Opening

 

Join Jewish Farmer Network’s co-founders Shani Mink and SJ Seldin for a warm and grounding welcome into the first day of Cultivating Culture. We will be led by Nazshonnii Brown-Almaweri of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust in a land acknowledgement,  get to know who’s “in the room,” share why we’re all here, and set the mood for a day of learning and connection.

12:30 to 2:00 PM EST

Session Block One

 

The Spiralinear Calendar: Nested Cycles Of Jewish Agricultural Time

The Hebrew Calendar is a tool to measure in time spirals inward and outward, offering connections on levels of lifetimes, land, celebrations, and much more. In this workshop, we will build a shared understanding of the Hebrew Calendar as an explicit reflection of our agrarian roots, tracking how cycles of the months, the holidays, and the agricultural tasks interact with our past, present, and future.

Alexander Grace Vickery (he/him)

Garden Engagement Coordinator, GRuB; Founding Member, Yeshiva Beis HaGolus; Co-Author, Shmita Hives

Introduction to Ancient Jewish Agricultural Texts Part One

We will explore a number of passages from the Torah and some later rabbinic commentary about farming to understand better our heritages and our own relationships to the land, to food and to agricultural. This is a gentle introductory class. No prior knowledge necessary! We will start with creation stories and move into laws about how we treat animals, land ownership, neighbors, food access and justice, how we handle waste, etc...

Shamu Fenyevsi Sadeh (he/him) - Director of Education at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center

Sponsored by the Jewish Community Farming Field Building Initiative

Yovel: A Return To Ancestral Land Holdings

Building on the “releases” of Shmitah, the Torah mandates us to observe Yovel, a radical reset every fifty years, through a “return to ancestral land holdings” in Biblical Israel. This session will introduce biblical and rabbinic teachings about Yovel and examine how Yovel invites us to deeply rethink our relationship to land and ownership. We will also explore how we might reimagine our land-based ancestral teachings in a diasporic context where many of our homes are situated on stolen lands. 

 

Risa Alyson Cooper (she/her) - Bela Farm

SJ Seldin (they/them) - Co-Founder & Board Chair, Jewish Farmer Network; Yesod Farm + Kitchen

Sponsored by Yesod Farm+Kitchen

 

2:30 - 3:15 PM EST

Lunch Dates

One of our favorite parts of in-person conferences is the lunch time conversations that turn new acquaintances into friends and collaborators.  We weren’t willing to let this go! So we’ve organized virtual “lunch dates” centered around different identities, interests and geographies. In your registration form you let us know which “lunch dates” you’re interested in, but don’t let that stop you from popping into another conversation just as you might in a conference building dining room. All topics will be available on both pending enough participants. ​

Geographies:

Israel ✲ UK & Europe ✲ Canada ✲ California ✲ Pacific Northwest ✲ Midwest ✲ Southwest ✲ New England ✲ 

Mid-Atlantic ✲ Southeast

Jews & Land Study Group Alumni Shmooze

This is a space for Alumni of our Jews and Land study group to reconnect and reflect!

Learn more about Jews and Land HERE

3:30 - 5:00 PM EST

Session Block Two 

 

Bread From The Earth: Restoring The Forgotten Grains Of Ancient Israel

Join us to renew the meaning of 'bread from the earth' that is holy to the Jewish people. Discover the authentic five species of Holy Chametz of ancient Israel, the stories they teach of Jewish history, and how to plant, harvest and bake ancient Israeli wheats. Holy Chametz ancient Israeli seeds available to restore in your garden sanctuary.

Eli Rogosa (she/her) - Director, Heritage Grain Conservancy

Farm Bill Listening Session

How can federal programs support you as a farmer? The 2023 Farm Bill will shape the food and farming system in our country for decades to come. What vision for agriculture do you want to see prioritized? You do not need previous knowledge of Farm Bill contents or mechanics to participate! As a representative from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Janna will take notes on your thoughts to support the coalition in effective advocacy.

Janna Siller (she/her) - Adamah Farm Director and Hazon Advocacy Coordinator

Sponsored by Hazon

(Mostly) Everything You Wanted To Know About Jewish Farming History But Didn’t Know Who To Ask

We will explore the almost unknown history of organized Jewish farming from the 1880s until the 1960s and some of its more recent developments in North America and Israel. Although almost completely forgotten in collective memory, farming was a major feature of Jewish life for decades in the Americas, Eastern Europe and, of course, in the Land of Israel. At its height in the mid-20th century, hundreds of thousands of Jews farmed the land. What did it mean then? What might it mean today?

Jonathan Dekel-Chen (he/him) - Professor of History, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

5:30 - 7:00 PM EST

Session Block Three

 

Vision Jewish Seedkeeping: A Participatory Workshop On The Jewish Seed Project

The Jewish Seed Project started last year with the idea of reconnecting with fruits of our past. Six growers grew varieties of the qishuim, a melon that looks like a cucumber referenced in the Torah. This session will provide a brief update on our progress and a discussion space to generate possible ideas with the larger JFN community about where the project could go next. We’ll also share ways that you can get involved - whether as a grower, storyteller, collector, or more!

Zach Goldberg (he/him) - PhD Candidate in Geography, Pennsylvania State University

Anika Rice (she/her) - Graduate Student in Geography, University of Wisconsin - Madison

Masha Vernik (she/her) - Jewish Seed Project Coordinator

Storytelling Towards Accountability: Sharing Our Tales Of Home In Diaspora

Join Linke Fligl as we delve into our theory of diasporic land relationship through personal reflection, song and storytelling. We will co-create a container to share our histories of grief, longing and connection to lands, both ancestral and present, both beautiful and violent. This exploration builds on the larger conversation of what can accountable relationship to land look like for each of us?

Chana Rusanov (they/them) - Co-Director, Linke Fligl

Ollie Schwartz (no pronouns) - Co-Director, Linke Fligl

 

A Garden Of Gratitude: Blessings For The Harvest

Gratitude and awe are integral parts of our lives as farmers. Judaism has designed blessings for many such moments. Each blessing is a moment of Shmita, of release and trust. Come share your own practices around thankfulness and blessing. Learn about the construction of Jewish blessings - both traditional formulas and traditions of the heart. We will also learn new blessings to mark harvest, including a special blessing for the sabbatical year, and explore what blessings remain to be composed.

Nili Simhai (she/her) - Director of Agricultural and Environmental Education, Abundance Farm

Rabbi David Seidenberg (he/him) - Shmitah Scholar-in-Residence, Abundance Farm

Sponsored by Abundance Farm + NeoHasid.org 

7:30 - 9:00 PM EST

Keynote

 

 

The Conversation:

Black & Jewish Relationships With The Land, Identity And Food

Join Michael W. Twitty for a presentation and conversation on the blessings and challenges that the African and Jewish diasporas (separate and together) face in farming, identity and food culture.

 

Michael W. Twitty is an author, culinary historian and living history interpreter. He is the author of The Cooking Gene, (2017) published by HarperCollins winner of two James Beard Awards, Rice (2021) by UNC Press, and Koshersoul also by HarperCollins, to be published in 2022. 

Pre-order Kosher Soul HERE

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Monday, January 31, 2022 

8:00 to 9:30 PM EST

Queer Jewish Farmers Affinity Space

This space is designed for anyone who self-identifies with any identity on the brilliantly colorful LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Learn more here.

 

Simcha Halpert-Hanson (they/them)

Shoshana Mackay (she/her)

 

Tuesday, February 1, 2022 

8:00 to 9:30 PM EST

Rosh Chodesh Adar I with At The Well

Join At The Well's Program Director, Samia Mansour, for a gathering to celebrate the ritual of Rosh Chodesh, the new moon and the start of the new Hebrew calendar month. This Rosh Chodesh we will be celebrating the start of Adar I, a month centered around joy. This gathering draws on ancient roots and modern tools, bringing us all together in virtual sacred space.

*This event is for all who identify as women or non-binary, age 15 and beyond, inclusive of all races, classes, abilities, life stages, religious affiliations, sexual orientations, and gender expressions. Join us!

 

Samia Mansour (she/her) - Program Director At the Well

Sponsored by At the Well

Wednesday, February 2, 2022 

8:00 to 9:30 PM EST

BIJOCSM [Black Jews, Indigenous Jews, Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews] Farmer Affinity Space! 

This space is specifically for BIJOCM [Black Jews, Indigenous Jews, Jews of Color, Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews] farmers targeted by racism, colonialism, and ashkenormativity to connect with each other. Racism sucks, but we're the best–– can't wait to see you there!

Rebecca Leung (she/her) - farm educator and farmer for Abundance Farm

White Jewish Farmer Caucus Space

What do white Jewish farmers need to learn and unlearn in order to be in liberatory, healing, and reverent relationships with people and land? This is a space for white Jewish farmers to ask: what are we coming into this work with? Before joining the call, we invite you to explore this Map of Internalized Anti-Semitism for White Ashkenazi Jews in the US.

Trella Dubetz (they/she) - Phoenix Farm 

SJ Seldin (they/them) - Co-Founder & Board Chair, Jewish Farmer Network; Yesod Farm + Kitchen

Thursday, February 3, 2022 

8:00 to 9:30 PM EST

Disabled Jewish Farmer Affinity Space

Calling all Disabled Jewish Farmers! We'd love for you to join our community of disabled (or crip, Deaf***, mad, mentally ill, neurodivergent, chronic pain, chronically ill, etc) folks to gush and kvell** at our magic while sharing what it’s like to be a farmer (or to *want* to be a farmer) as disabled people—the woes, frustrations, victories, and connections we have with the land. 

Rae Mindel-Katz Nathanson (he/they)

Orly Rubinfeld (they/them)

Sunday, February 6, 2022 
5th of Adar 5782

10:30 to 11:30 AM EST

Community Morning Practice

Avodat Lev

Avodat Lev (Heart Work) is a contemplative chant-based practice based on the three Jewish services to honor the passing of the day. We will follow the core structure of a weekday service. Our avodah/service will include Hebrew and English chanting, guided meditation and meditative silence. The practice is meant to guide us in greeting the morning and cultivate connection. Avodat Lev was initially crafted by Adamah housed at Isabella Freedman Retreat Center.

 

Simcha Halpert-Hanson (they/them)

Movement Minyan for Farmfolk

Anyone who's spent time on a farm knows how critical physical movement is to farming. How often do you think about *how* you are moving on the farm? How might we move in ways that are nourishing and offer outlets from creative expression, whether on the farm or in the studio? In this session we'll explore a range of Jewishly grounded forms of movement, embodiment, and centering to help connect more deeply with ourselves and the environments in which we work and play.

Yoshi Silverstein (he/him) - Founder & Executive Director, Mitsui Collective

Sponsored by Mitsui Collective

 

11:45 to 1:15 PM EST

Session Block One

 

Conversations With African Jewish Farmers: Cultivating Culture, Torah Observance, Collective Responsibility, and Jewish Identity In Far Away Places

Join facilitators Akedah Eze and Robin Washington in discussion with African Jewish Farmers from Nigeria , South Africa and Uganda on the subjects of food justice , sustainability, and Jewish communal support, in an age of global Jewish outreach  and religious voluntourism.

Presenters:

Akedah Eze (she/her) - SULAMAfrica , Eze Yoffi LLC

Robin Washington (he/him) - Editor-at-Large,  the Forward

Stacey Aviva Flint

Panelists:

Dayan Obidi & Ebenezer Igbokwe - Co-Owners of Chaim Farms

Kamya Tarphon - Managing Director, Jewish Response Uganda

Ephraim Orizo

Introduction to Ancient Jewish Agricultural Texts Part 2

We will explore a number of passages from the Torah and some later rabbinic commentary about farming to understand better our heritages and our own relationships to the land, to food and to agricultural. This is a gentle introductory class. No prior knowledge necessary! We will start with creation stories and move into laws about how we treat animals, land ownership, neighbors, food access and justice, how we handle waste, etc...

Shamu Fenyevsi Sadeh (he/him) - Director of Education at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center

Sponsored by the Jewish Community Farming Field Building Initiative

Or Hadash | עור חדש: Parchment Making as a Soil Regeneration Practice

Join artist, Shoshana Gugenheim Kedem, to learn about her art in(ter)vention into the contemporary parchment making industry. Take a journey through Shoshana's art practice in  Torah scribing and her emergence into high animal welfare parchment production. We will examine questions about kedusha (sanctity) while learning about the current parchment making industry and what is possible. 

Shoshana Gugenheim Kedem (she/her)

 

1:45 - 2:30 PM EST

Lunch Dates

One of our favorite parts of in-person conferences is the lunch time conversations that turn new acquaintances into friends and collaborators.  We weren’t willing to let this go! So we’ve organized virtual “lunch dates” centered around different identities, interests and geographies. In your registration form you let us know which “lunch dates” you’re interested in, but don’t let that stop you from popping into another conversation just as you might in a conference building dining room. All topics will be available  pending enough participants. ​

Identities:

We know that folks often hold multiple, intersecting identities. Feel free to pop into multiple spaces!

Orthodox Jews ✲ Queer Jewish Farmers ✲ JOCISM (Jews of Color, Indigenous, Sephardi, & Mizrahi) ✲

Jews by Choice ✲ Russian Jews ✲ Disabled Jewish Farmers

 

Interests:

Grazing Group ✲ Beginning farmers ✲ Vegetable Producers ✲ Seed Savers ✲ Land Justice ✲

Farm Based Educators ✲ Herbalists ✲ Beekeepers ✲ Academics ✲ Urban Farming ✲ Grains Group

 

2:45 to 4:15 PM EST

Session Block Two

 

Ashkenazi Herbal Medicine and Ashkenazi Plant Wisdom: Rediscovering the Healing Traditions of Our Ancestors

Drawing on the rediscovered herbal knowledge and healers in Ashkenazi Herbalism, we will discuss how Jewish communities in the Pale of Settlement were “rooted” to the land and the plants that healed them.  We will discuss the folk methods of Jewish practitioners in the region, as well as a number of the plants on which they relied for their traditional folk medicine.

Deatra Cohen (she/her) + Adam Siegel (he/him)  - co-authors of Ashkenazi Herbalism

Rediscovering the Herbal Traditions Of Eastern European Jews  

 

Bees, Honey & Torah

The Torah, Midrash and halachic sources from the sages contain many references to bees and Torah. What can we extract from them that can inspire us toward sustainable farming and deepen our farming practice during this Shmittah year?

Amalia Haas (she/her) - Director of Spiritual Engagement, Congregation Beth-Sholom (RI); CEO, Bee Awesome

 

Pilgrimage Festivals On The Farm

Jewish festivals are based on agricultural cycles. We will review ways to integrate our ancestral traditions with what is happening amongst the land and seasons you reside; while using pilgrimage as a guide. Join us as we create rich meaningful experiences that deepen our connections to self, community, earth, ancestry and spirit. 

Sephirah Oshkello (she/her) - Founding Director, Living Tree Alliance

Melanie Kessler (she/her) - Program Director, Living Tree Alliance

Sponsored by Living Tree Alliance

 

4:30 - 5:45 PM EST

Session Block Three | Participant-Led Sessions 

 

Gathering at the Edges of the Field: Disabled Jewish Wisdom with Land as our Ally

Let’s cultivate a space to revel in the mad, crip, neuro expansive, chronically ill, disabled wisdom of Jewish relationships with land through song, story, poem, art, lullaby, time travel and beyond. Folks from our Disabled Jewish Farmer Affinity group will share our experiences through an anti-panel/ skill share/celebration of mad, crip wisdom and survival with land as our ally. Participants will be encouraged to sing, nap under lush blankets, stretch bodies together, journal or whatever supports you. Some questions we will explore: What does disabled wisdom have to teach us about Shmita, land connection,  Jewish/de-assimilated time, decolonization, and embodiment? How does mad/crip Jewish wisdom guide us toward olam haba? All abilities are welcome.

 

Sonia Brin (they/them) - Farm Manager, Eden Village West

Loon Liebling (they/them)

Rae Mindel-Katz Nathanson (he/they)

Orly Rubinfeld (they/them)

Ollie Schwartz (no pronouns) - Co-Director, Linke Fligl

 

Participant-Led Sessions:

How Radical Diasporism Contributes to Jewish Land Justice

How does a commitment to the politics of radical diasporism shift our understanding of relationships to land. This session will discuss anti-racism, decolonialism and land justice and how jewishness intersects with these discourses.

Rachel Solnick

Jewish Flower Teaching

Let’s talk about flowers and deepen our relationships to these beautiful plants! Flowers can uplift and comfort us during difficult times. For this gathering, we will learn about 7 flowers. I will share about the uses in Jewish herbalism of these flowers throughout history and across the diaspora, with examples ranging from Talmudic flower aphrodisiacs to Ashkenazi flower balms to Maimonides’ violet syrups and beyond.

Naomi Spector

6:30 - 8:00 PM EST

Keynote

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does it mean to farm on Indigenous land? How can Jewish traditions and teachings inform and inspire our participation in Indigenous led movements for land back and Rematriation? Drawing on the work of Sogorea Te’ Land Trust (STLT) and Jews On Ohlone Land (JOOL), we will explore our relationship to the land we live and farm on and the intergenerational practices of healing our ancestors and future generations are calling us to do. 

Nazshonnii Brown-Almaweri is a farmer, STEM educator, and Union College Alumna (B.S Mechanical Engineering and Studio Arts and French and Francophone Studies Minor) from West Oakland. At Union, she was a leader in Hillel and interfaith groups like IFYC, leading intersectional discussion spaces and teach-ins around difference and diversity. In the Territory of Huchiun, she works at Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, an urban Indigenous women-led land trust that facilitates the return of Indigenous land to Indigenous people. There she co-leads mutual aid distributions, design/construction, website management, land care, and cultural education. Nazshonnii is passionate about STEAM education and also advocates for exposure and opportunities for the historically excluded people, especially Black and Native youth. As an educator, Nazshonnii has provided middle and high school youth with the space to learn about science and technology at the intersection of ancestral knowledge and their lived experiences. Creating space for Oakland youth to thrive in disciplines like engineering. Outside of work, Naz likes spending time with her nephews on the farm, watching endless youtube with her partner, and cooking for her friends.

Born and raised in Lisjan Ohlone territory now known as Oakland, California, Ariel Luckey is an interdisciplinary artist and activist who blurs the lines between performance, public ritual and political action. Ariel is the Development Director at the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, the first urban Indigenous women-led land trust in the country. He is also a co-founder and organizer of Jews On Ohlone Land, a vibrant Jewish community that is learning together how to be good guests on Lisjan land. Ariel earned an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College and has been an Artist in Residence at La Peña Cultural Center, the White Privilege Conference and June Jordan’s Poetry for the People at U.C. Berkeley. Ariel’s plays Free Land and Amnesia illustrate stories from his life and family history as a cartography of race, class, land, migration and intergenerational healing. His band Waystation remixed the hip hop and klezmer score of Amnesia into their debut album rememory. Ariel loves to play soccer with his sons, walk in the woods with his beloved, and indulge in dark chocolate and dancing outdoors. 

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8:15 - 9:00PM EST

Closing Session & Story Share

 

Join the JFN Team for a closing for our third annual conference. Together we will reflect on what we've learn, the connections we've made and the questions we're taking forward with us into the rest of the year.