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January 20, 2011 - Image 14

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-01-20

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Special Report


Preserving The Earth from page 13

Tu B`Shevat!

Thursday, Jan. 20:

• 6:45 p.m., Orchard Mall, 6445
Orchard Lake Road, West
Bloomfield: Hands-on, young fam-
ily event led by Martha Goldberg
of Congregation Shaarey Zedek in
Southfield. Wear green or home-
made tree costume. Information:
kdavis@shaareyzedek.org or
(248) 357-5544, ext. 60. No

• 5-7 p.m., Aish in the Woods,
25725 Coolidge Highway, Oak
Park. Shalom Family challah-
baking program sponsored by
Federation's Alliance for Jewish
Education. 5-6 p.m. challah-
baking open house; 5:30-6:15
p.m. pizza dinner and Tu b'Shevat
fruits; 6-7 p.m. challah braiding,
book reading, sing-a-long. $18.

Sunday, Jan. 23:

• 10 a.m.-noon, Matthaei Botanical
Gardens,1800 N. Dixboro Road,
Ann Arbor. (734) 647-7600.

• 4:30 p.m., Jewish Community
Center, 6600 W. Maple Road,
West Bloomfield. Sponsored
by the JCC's Shalom Street.
Children's Tu b'Shevat activities
and counting of pennies to be
donated to JNF. Call (248) 432-
5451 or e-mail tabohasira@jccdet.
org . No charge.

• 5 p.m., Temple Emanu-El in Oak
Park. Potluck vegetarian family-
friendly seder. Cantor Darcie
Sharlein and singer-guitarist
Steve Klaper will explain symbolic
foods for the holiday and lead
music, stories and activities. Last
name beginning A-J, bring des-
sert; K-S, bring main veggie dish;
T-Z, salad. RSVP by Jan. 21: (248)
967-4020. $5; $10/family.

• To make a donation or plant a
tree in Israel, contact the Jewish
National Fund at (248) 324-3080
or access the website at www.jnf.
org. All tree donations will sup-
port the rebuilding of the Carmel
Forest in northern Israel, which
was devastated by fire.

14 January 20 • 2011

farm and she was an inspiration to me in
general, so I looked into the possibility."
While searching online about farming
apprenticeships, Nosan found the Isabella
Freedman Jewish Retreat Center website.
That find would change the course of her
professional and religious life.
After graduation, she spent eight months
in Falls Village, Ct., on Adamah: the Jewish
Environmental Fellowship, sponsored by
the Freedman Center. The fellowship is
a leadership training program for young
adults connecting Judaism with environ-
mentalism, integrating organic farming,
sustainable living, Jewish learning, corn-
munity building and contemplative spiri-
tual practice.

Lessons Of The Land
"Judaism and environmentalism had never
before been linked, let alone adjacent, in
my experiences': Nosan said.
She spent a summer and a fall at
Adamah, staying on past her fellowship to
be an apprentice in a commercial pickle
"Judaism was really brought to life there
in a way I had never experienced before,"
she said. "We were using Judaism as a rea-
son to take care of the Earth, to be a partic-
ipant in the world around us. We were also
being Jewish in the sense of engaging in
Jewish tradition and singing songs, being
exposed to the excitement of being Jewish.
For the first time, I felt I identified with
a Jewish community and that coincides
with how I felt about the environment and
Earth-centered Judaism."
Another important revelation came from
her experience.
"I had left Michigan thinking I would
not go back, but agriculture-based Judaism
taught me the value of roots, and I ulti-
mately found myself yearning for home,
to bring the lessons I learned back to the
Metro Detroit community': Nosan said.
Since returning to Michigan in
2009, Nosan has worked in Ann Arbor
preparing seasonal meals with the Harvest
Kitchen and freezing fresh produce with
Locavorious. In Detroit, she worked with
AmeriCorps as an urban agriculture
apprentice at the Greening of Detroit,
where she was able to use her expertise in
pickling and preserving food.
Her decision of where to live came easily.
"I knew what I wanted was to work in
food and food justice and to live in the
city:' she said. "I grew up near the city, but
had no relationship to it other than sel-
dom-attended cultural events downtown.
And when I was a junior in high school,
I participated in Summer in the City [a
nonprofit designed to improve and expand
community service in Metro Detroit]. I
wanted to live in an urban area exposing

Straight from the ground — garlic used

in pickling

me to something new, but I wanted to be
near my family."
Since August 2009, Nosan has lived in
three neighborhoods before settling into
Detroit's North Corktown.
"It's one of many neighborhoods where
gardening and farming has long been
a solution for vacant urban lots': Nosan
said. "The excess land is used for a myriad
of interesting projects, including indi-
vidual and community gardens. There's a
farm-for-profit just up the street; and my
upstairs neighbors have a beautiful garden
in the lot next door. A lot of my friends in
the neighborhood have chickens."

Jewish Knowledge
"I'm always eager to share my experiences
and the value they've added to my life, par-
ticularly my Jewish life': Nosan said.
She joked that this week is "her busy
time with requests from synagogues and
agencies to share her expertise in relation
to the Jewish holiday of Tu b'Shevat, which
falls on Thursday, Jan. 20.
The holiday, dubbed the "New Year for
Trees;' "Jewish Arbor Day" or even "Jewish
Earth Day': marks the start of a new cycle
for the tithe on fruit-bearing trees in Israel,
a sharing of the bounty with those in need
and a time for the land to rest during each
Sabbatical year.
According to the Coalition on the
Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), Tu
b'Shevat can be celebrated with ecological
restoration activities, by eating fruits —
like grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and
dates — and through educational events
relating to protecting the Earth. Tu b'Shevat
is a time to plant trees or make donations
to the Jewish National Fund to have trees
planted in Israel.
Nicole Jahr, director of education at
Congregation Beth Shalom in Oak Park,
contacted Nosan about sharing her exper-
tise."Tu b'Shevat is an environmental
holiday and I was looking for new ideas
to bring to my high school program:' Jahr
Nosan will teach in a joint program with
seventh- and eighth-graders from Beth
Shalom and Temple Emanu-El in Oak Park.
"The program will focus on winter foods
found locally and native/ancient foods

of Israel," Jahr said. "Blair is a visionary.
She is passionate and knowledgeable and
the Detroit Jewish community is ready
to utilize her passion for Jewish environ-
mentalism by bringing her ideas to Jewish
children and families."
Nosan teaches Jewish environmental-
ism through Temple Beth El in Bloomfield
Township, where she graduated from
religious school, and Temple Israel in West
"I started by teaching four classes at
Beth El and I loved it:' she said. "This year,
I will teach 10 lessons to eighth- and 10th-
Her course includes an introduction to
Judaism and agriculture as well as making
sauerkraut with the students.
At Temple Israel, she teaches a fourth-
through sixth-grade environmental mitz-
vah program that was already written and
implemented. Beginning next month, she
will begin to teach her own curriculum.
"Blair contacted me, looking to find
a way to communicate her passion for
environmentalism': said Beth El's rabbinic
associate, Keren Alpert. "She also wanted
to share how her pathway back to Judaism
— after being a disaffected young adult
— was through environmentalism and
through her discovery of all the implicit
Jewish values that are imbedded in envi-
Both women had been involved with
the Isabella Freeman Retreat Center, where
Alpert began work for her rabbinic train-
ing and Blair participated in Adamah.
"We began to work together to develop
two mini-courses; and we studied texts
together and talked about adolescent
development and creation of lesson plans':
Alpert said.
"She has now taught her mini-course for
two years and is developing a Tu b'Shevat
component as well. The students enjoy
Blair and are beginning to understand the
intersecting space that Jewish values and
environmentalism share.
"I think Blair is a wonderful role model
for the children, who can see that social
action is Jewish action. I also applaud her
work to make sure that we consume food
in a more intentional manner:"
Nosan added, "I really love adult educa-
tion and would like to develop more con-
nections with Jewish institutions."

Community Teaching
Nosan runs food preparation, preservation
and fermentation classes from a mobile
kitchen she brings to homes, classrooms
and community centers. She hopes to have
kitchen space in the Corktown area some-
time next year.

Preserving The Earth on page 16

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