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February 23, 2012 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-02-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

>> ... Next Generation ...

Green Living In Israel

Accessing tikkun olam through community at Hava and Adam Educational Farm.

W

e were gathered
in one big circle
inside the yurt.
The room had gone unusually
quiet for a party of 30 young
adults. All of the laughter and
conversation had halted to
make way for the beautiful
live music that was begin-
ning. We had a singer, two
guitarists, a drummer and a
harmonica player captivat-
ing everyone's attention. I
don't remember what song
they were playing, or even if
Eco-Israel
it was in Hebrew or English.
participants Bela
All I remember is looking
Mittelman, Jessica
up to see that everyone in
Fleisch, Jenna
the room wore an expres-
Blumenthal, Maya
sion that exactly captured
Wolf and Sara
my emotions at that
Rapaport
share a
moment. We were all smil-
song
while
ing and near tears. It didn't
harvesting
spinach.
matter that it was chilly,
later than any of us normal-
ly stayed awake (9 p.m.!) or
crowded. We were so joyful, so deeply
grateful for each other's company and
It is what ultimately provided a frame-
work for me to come to Israel for an
talents, so sad that our time together
would soon end. It was at that moment, extended period.
looking around the room at the people
I had known that I was ready to leave
my home in Oak Park and begin travel-
I loved so dearly, that I realized we had
made it. We were a community, in the
ing, and I had known that the most
comfortable place for me to start would
truest sense of the word.
Our community resides at Hava and
be in Israel. I also knew that I was not
confident enough in myself to get on a
Adam Educational Farm in Modi'in,
Israel. The farm naturally breeds togeth-
plane, put on a backpack and hope for
erness, while teaching people of all ages the best; I needed a program that would
promote my independence, stimulate
about agriculture, sustainability and
permaculture, a design concept intended me academically and provide opportu-
to create sustainable systems (agricul-
nity to explore new places.
turally, socially and otherwise) that use
Upon my arrival at Hava and Adam,
natural patterns as a foundation.
I knew I had made the right decision.
One of the many goals of the farm
The excitement I had felt when poring
is to create an interconnected social
through their website was nothing com-
pared to the amazement I felt at the
system involving all different kinds of
people. As a result, it is host to many
lush fields, well-cared-for chickens and
programs, including participants in
donkeys, and environmentally friendly
Shnat Sherut (a gap-year program of
mud buildings.
volunteering that some Israelis complete
Within the first two weeks, I was
before their army service), ever-changing engrossed in my classes and enthused
volunteers from all over the world, resi-
to be living the concepts I believed in. It
dential and commuting staff, school and
was affirming to learn that recycling was
tour groups, troubled youth, visitors for
much vaster than I ever knew, that I
the community gardens and Eco-Israel.
could live without creating any garbage
Eco-Israel (www.eco-israel.org) is a five-
and that growing my own vegetables
month Masa program that encompasses
was possible.
a permaculture course, agricultural work,
Today, nearing the end of an enrich-
studies about Israel and Judaism as well
ing five months, I can truly say that I
as Hebrew classes, all in the context of
will be able to return to Oak Park with
an entirely new approach to daily life.
communal living on an organic farm.

28

February 23 2012

JN

Bela Mittelman weeding

inspired and educated by each
other. That is the beauty of a
Educational Farm in
community, particularly a permac-
central Israel.
ulture-oriented community: There
is no waste. Each person has a
Below: Freshly picked
purpose, each person is valued,
radishes from the
each person is part of an impor-
fields shown by Jenna
tant web that would suffer with-
Blumenthal and Bela
out his or her contribution. This
Mittelman.
is true tikkun
olam, repairing
of the world.
It may come
off as idealistic
to suggest that
the entire world
would be a bet-
ter place if each
individual were
appreciated by a
larger group, but
Hava and Adam
Educational
Farm and the
Eco-lsrael
program have
proved to me
However, I can also say that this is not
that it's possible. I have experienced the
the most valuable lesson I have received
true power of community in my own
personal development. Even visitors
from Eco-Israel.
The greatest knowledge I have
to the farm comment on the positive
impact of this style of living.
gained has been the ability to live in a
community, but more importantly, to
I know when I return to Oak Park, I
recognize the value of such a thing. I
will not necessarily live in such a tight-
knit community. What I do know, though,
needed to make typical adjustments as
is that I can take this significant lesson
anyone does in a new living situation,
such as settling in with new scenery and of tikkun olam with me. I now have the
accepting annoying quirks about group
ability to treat each person I encounter
with an honest sense of respect and tol-
members. There were plenty of conflicts
regarding varying preferences about
erance, even when it is difficult.
I am looking forward to the wide
extra activities, ways of decision-making
grins I will share with the friends, family
and approaches to communication.
It was difficult at first. I wondered if
and strangers I encounter when I return
things would ever run smoothly between
home to practice this great skill. It is my
the 14 Ecos. Eventually, we learned how
hope that, together with my fellow Jews
in Detroit, we can continue to develop
to interact appropriately with each other
by truly listening before speaking and
our community to a point of rich com-
post, ready to fertilize the next seeds we
responding respectfully. Day-to-day life
on the farm became easier.
are ready to plant. ❑
In the last two months, we have
Bela Mittelman, 21, attended Hillel Day
become as effective as a nice, warm
compost pile. Just as a compost bin
School of Metropolitan Detroit and Akiva
Hebrew Day School before transferring to
brings together nitrogen in the form of
food scraps and carbon in the form of
Berkley High School and later attending
Wayne State University. She has volunteered
dry organic matter to create fertilizer
at various farms in Detroit as well as at the
for the soil, we combine many different
backgrounds and views to create one
Friendship Circle. Upon her return from Hava
and Adam Educational Farm (havaveadam.
rich, healthy and productive group that
org/eng), she hopes to become more involved
is capable of making a difference in our
in green efforts within the Jewish community
surroundings. We all share the experi-
ence of feeling supported, enriched,
of Metro Detroit.

at the Hava and Adam

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