In a bygone era of old-world Jewish life, making food was dirty work. Jewish farmers plowed, planted and harvested; foraging was a necessary skill that allowed communities to live off the land. In our modern, decidedly American age — when our relationship with food might consist of opening Blue Apron meal delivery kits — Jewish Farm School wants us to renew our past connection with nature and revive our self-reliant Shetl Skills.
“Jewish Farm School: Teaching Jews to do stuff with their hands since 2006,” jokes founder Nati Passow, whose Orthodox upbringing and passion for the outdoors has put him at the forefront of an idealistic wave of young Jews tying the ethical production and consumption of food to Jewish values and practice. Supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, this community of agricultural activists get their hands dirty by volunteering on urban farms, vacant-lot gardens and food providers all around Philadelphia. Through classes and text study, they discuss Jewish agricultural traditions and how to use them as blueprints for a sustainable, equitable food system — like in an upcoming learning series, “Cursed is the Ground for Your Sake,” beginning November 28th.
And then there’s their year-round Shtetl Skills series, which teaches city dwellers practical skills like medicine-making, local foraging, cheesemaking, lessons on shmita and permaculture, and sustainable building with reclaimed materials. This month, don’t miss Jewish Farm School’s December 7th introduction to at-home candlemaking, in which participants will use pure beeswax and all-natural supplies to make a set of Chanukah candles — much the same way your great-great-grandparents did.
For more information on Jewish Farm School or to register, visit their website or call 877.537.6286.