Shani Mink (she/her)
Co-Founder | Executive Director
Shani Mink is a seasoned farmer, experiential Jewish educator and the executive director of the Jewish Farmer Network. At the age of 18, Shani began her farming journey at Even’ Star Organic Farm while earning her degree in philosophy at St. Mary's College of Maryland. She has since studied at the Arava Institute, earned her permaculture design certificate at Hava V’Adam, worked as a farmer educator at Eden Village Camp, graduated from the Adamah Fellowship, spent time learning Torah in Jerusalem, and was part of the inaugural cohort of the JOFEE Fellowship. This last experience landed Shani as a farmer at the Pearlstone Center, where she managed annual production and the livestock operation for two years. Her work with the land has deepened her spiritual path, and the wisdom of the Jewish tradition has lent endless meaning and intention to her work as a farmer. Shani’s desire to share the depth and beauty of the connection between farming and Judaism led her to co-found the Jewish Farmer Network with SJ Seldin in 2017. The cultivation of this network is Shani's proudest accomplishment to date.
Liel Green (they/them)
Liel Green first began farming in high school as part of Growing Youth Organizers, a coalition of young people committed to ending food apartheid and providing accessible political education for all ages. They graduated from Smith College with a degree in Jewish Studies, the Study of Women and Gender, and a Five College Certificate in Queer, Trans, and Sexuality Studies where they completed their thesis project on Queer-Jewish Futurity and Shabbat. Liel has worked as a Jewish Justice Educator and Farmer at Abundance Farm, as a co-director of Rowe Young People’s Camp, and as a crew member on Astarte Farm. Liel believes that through the loving and full integration of our whole selves, identities, histories, and traditions we can begin to move towards more meaningful solidarity with movements for healing and liberation of both people and land. Rootedness in and an exploration of the relevancy of Jewish- agricultural knowledge has enabled Liel to feel like they could even begin to move and collaborate towards collective visions of Olam Ha-ba, the World to Come. Liel loves their brilliant and beautiful community, creating big art with friends, dovening [praying], glitter, matzah ball soup, and zines.
SJ Seldin (they/them)
Co-Founder | Board Chair
SJ is a co-founder and steward-in-residence of Yesod Farm+Kitchen, a Jewish community farm near Asheville, North Carolina, dedicated to collective liberation with the land through Jewish agriculture, mutual aid, and growing relationships across difference. In between adventures into the woods and waterways, they studied socio-economic injustice at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since graduating from UNC, they have been traveling through America's side streets and byways, growing organic produce for donation at educational farms and community gardens, and consulting with organic businesses and community agriculture non-profits. SJ believes that Jewish agricultural wisdom offers modern farmers and stewards compelling questions, tools, and technologies for creating more just and regenerative communities for all.
Risa Alyson Cooper (she/her)
Risa Alyson Cooper is an outdoor educator, environmentalist, and urban homesteader. For 13 years, she served as the Founding Executive Director of Shoresh exploring Jewish traditions in the fields and forests of southern Ontario. She is a founding partner of Bela Farm, a 100-acre farm in Hillsburgh, Ontario that is being jointly stewarded by growers, artists, activists, and educators to develop creative responses to environmental crisis through integrative and regenerative agriculture. Risa currently lives in Toronto/Tkaronto with her partner, Mati, and their children, Ayda and Gavi. Risa believes that growing food sustainably is an expression of her deeply-rooted Jewish ethics and her favourite vegetable is the beet.
Hannah Henza (she/her)
Hannah Henza is a Jewish environmentalist with a lifelong commitment to sustainability and leaving the world better than she found it. Hannah currently serves as a Development Officer at VentureWell working to support start-ups and early-stage organizations. Prior to that she spent 5 years at Hazon: the Jewish Lab for Sustainability as a senior program manager. She has worked as an environmental educator and wilderness guide across the U.S. with nearly 15 years of experience in nonprofit program management and fundraising. She is an avid outdoors-woman and global explorer, spending as much time as she can outside with her husband Jack, and their two Siberian Huskies - Rocket and Kiva. Hannah earned a M.S. in Nonprofit Management and Jewish Studies at Gratz College and a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies from North Carolina State University.
Beth Jacobs (beth/they)
Beth is a queer and gender non-conforming white Ashkenazi Jew. They are an occasional farmer, a carnivorous plant lover, a reclaimer of Jewish ritual and song, and is devoted to joy. Originally from San Diego and now based in their mothers hometown of Brooklyn, NY. They got inspired to farm in 2011 while studying wildlife biology at University of California, Davis and participating in the Jewish Farm School spring break program when they began to put the Jewish and the agriculture pieces together. Their relationship to farming shifts and grows with each season. Beth is a Co-Director of JG3: Jacobs Grounded Guided Giving, a trans-feminist, anti-imperialist family collaboration building towards liberation in our lifetimes. They spend most of their work time redistributing wealth and organizing their class peers to grow their politics alongside their healing for a just and joyful world.
Bella Schnee (she/her)
Isabella is currently based on the East End of New York. Her work involves writing, teaching and farming, and is focused on building a more equitable food system in her local and global community. Her Mizrahi roots and bilingual upbringing led her to study Creative Nonfiction and Spanish Literature at Sarah Lawrence College. She landed in agriculture after assisting in the launch of an organic seed breeding company in 2018. Since then, she's rotated through roles as in education, hospitality, food-focused publishing companies, and both for-profit and donation-based operations on the East and West coasts. Isabella was a residential fellow at Urban Adamah in Berkeley and has since returned to New York to continue digging into thinking, talking, teaching, and writing about food, power, and land.
Paul Schulman (he/him)
Board Member | Treasurer
Paul works as the Director of Finance at the Fair Food Program, where he has monitored the distribution of over 36 million dollars of Fair Food Program Premium through the supply chains of companies like Walmart, Subway, McDonald’s, and Burger King. Paul has been the lead auditor on nearly one hundred financial audits along the East Coast and has consulted with new practitioners of the Worker-driven Social Responsibility model on implementation in new industries and geographies. He has worked with Participating Growers in the Fair Food Program on how best to adapt their payroll systems to better comply with the Code of Conduct. Prior to joining the FFP, he studied finance, accounting, and math at Northeastern University, then worked for three years in corporate finance and accounting at various divisions within IBM. He then sought a job that more closely aligned with his increased interest in renewal Judaism, so joined the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, where he served as a bookkeeper. Paul enjoys gardening, cycling, hiking, trail running, KenKen, and trying any vegan food he can find.
Judy Seldin-Cohen (she/her)
Judy is an author, speaker and community activist. Her book Recharging Judaism, co-authored with her then-synagogue rabbi, inspires and guides synagogues to civic engagement outside their building walls. Her article in Hadassah Magazine “Farmer Daughter, Uptown Mother” discusses the contrasts between her life and the one chosen by SJ Seldin, co-founder of Jewish Farmer Network. Her recent essay “Beyond Casseroles” is included in the anthology Impact: Personal Portraits of Activism, describing her community organizing work for affordable housing. Judy is an experienced non-profit board member, currently serving as board chair of A Way Home, a $26 million housing endowment and previously serving as board chair of Time Out Youth, an agency serving LGBTQ youth. She has also served on boards for her synagogue, the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund, and other agencies in Charlotte. Judy joined the Jewish Farmer Network board in 2018 to assist SJ and Shani with governance. Judy lives in Charlotte NC with her husband, Jeff Cohen.
Gavi Welbel (she/they)
Gavi is a young farmer and co-founder of Zumwalt Acres: A Regenerative Agriculture Community located in Sheldon, Illinois on unceded homeland of Kickapoo, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Potawatomi, Myaamia, and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ peoples. Gavi is also a junior at Yale University studying mechanical engineering and earth and planetary sciences. They are passionate about environmental justice, their research in soil carbon sequestration, and baking sourdough bread. In her free time, she loves to dance, take long walks, and cook communal meals. Gavi believes that the environmental and agrarian undertones of Jewish commandments and customs should not be seen as auxiliary, but necessary to fully understand and celebrate our tradition. She is excited to help build a future of Jewish farming that catalyzes a commitment from Jewish communities to tend to the earth, to address climate change, and to take care of one another. In this process, we will cultivate solidarity with other communities and we will reimagine more harmonious human relationships with non-human earth systems.