Julie Wolk 04/22/12
A couple months back, Wilderness Torah re-launched its Sunday-school-in-the-woods, Gan Torah, as B’hootz (which means “outside” in Hebrew). We were very excited and grateful to receive a micro-grant from ROI to create a new look for this program (much thanks to logo designer Kristen Gillette for her amazing work), which now has two age cohorts, 6 to 7 year olds, and 8 to 10 year olds. The groups meet every Sunday morning with amazing, Teva-trained, Jewish nature educators, Ariela Ronay-Jinich and Rivka Sack.
This spring, the youth up at Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, California, are exploring the theme B’Midbar, “In the Wilderness.” We are literally bringing to life the lessons of the Jewish people wandering in the wilderness as the kids develop important community and wilderness survival skills in the forest, including foraging, tracking, shelter-building, fire-building, and lost-proofing. This skill building is embedded in Torah stories as we travel through the Jewish calendar from Tu B’Shvat, the New Year of the Trees, toward Passover, the day of our liberation from slavery into wilderness. Not your typical Sunday School experience.(Of course, Wilderness Torah is not a synagogue).
B’hootz is only one piece of a larger puzzle at Wilderness Torah. This puzzle is about re-building a healthy, multi-generational Jewish community that is connected to the earth... like our ancestors once were! B’hootz is preparation for our brand new B’nai Mitzvah Nature Mentorship – B’naiture. B’naiture families (the parents are part of this rite of passage too) are now attending our annual cycle of land-based pilgrimage festivals (Sukkot on the Farm, Shavuot on the Mountain, and Passover in the Desert), along with our 20s, 30s and 40s crowd, and more and more older adults in our community, our elders, are being invited and honored for their wisdom. Last year at Sukkot on the Farm, the 250 participants ranged in age from less than one to 83 years old, with 30 kids under 10 and 30 adults over 60.
Thanks ROI for supporting this work!
Julie Wolk, Founding Co-Director at Wilderness Torah