Wilderness Torah awakens and celebrates the earth-based traditions of Judaism to nourish the connections between self, community, earth, and Spirit
We revitalize Jewish life by reconnecting Jewish traditions to the cycles of nature. We facilitate individual spiritual growth, strengthen multi-generational community, and connect people to nature through land-based festivals, rites of passage, and sustainable life skills education. Our programs cultivate understanding of Judaism’s earth-based roots, inspire appreciation for Creation, and offer skills that empower participants to engage in Tikkun Olam (healing the world) by living sustainably in the modern world.
Wilderness Torah is a Response to the Jewish Yearning for Connection to Nature and Each Other
The story began long ago, when we Jews were connected. We were connected to the land, to the seasons, and to the cycles of the sun and moon. We were connected to one another, as we wandered the desert and then settled and farmed, wandered and settled, wandered and settled. And many times, whether in the village or the shtetl, we planted our food together, and harvested it. We all came together for holidays and festivals, like a big family. In fact we were a big family…
…a big family that became uprooted, again and again, until that big family got splintered into many smaller families. Now, our close friends and family are often spread across the country, instead of living next door. The village gave way to the suburb and the big city. And many of us, young Jews especially, are taking advantage of a wide variety of spiritual and communal offerings available today, from High Holy Days to yoga and meditation. We have privileges and luxuries we could never have previously imagined.
And yet, there’s something missing. Somewhere inside of us is this deep yearning for something we had back in the desert, back in the village, back when we were one big family. There is a yearning to connect that is all around us. It’s in the teenager’s phone lighting up with text messages, and the endless hours so many of us spend on Facebook, yearning to connect. It’s at the bustling farmer’s market, where we meet our farmers and run into friends and taste fresh blueberries grown an hour away. It’s in the pile of mulch on our neighbor’s driveway… one of the millions of people who’s decided to tap into the ancient skill of growing food.
It’s the yearning for connection to what is truly real: To the earth, to the seasons, and to one another.
It’s in this yearning that Wilderness Torah was born.
It all started during our first Sukkot on the Farm in 2007, when thirty-five of us camped—somehow appropriately—in the shadow of a tractor. Only a few short years later, our programs have spread rapidly and our community of participants is thriving—in 2011, 250 gathered for Sukkot on the Farm. And whether it’s our festivals, like Passover in the Desert, where we build a village for five days to celebrate our freedom and connection to the desert, B’naiture, our nature-based mentorship program marking the adolescent rite of passage, B’hootz, a weekly adventure in the woods for young children, or our various other multi-generational community experiences, it’s all about connection—bridging the gaps that modern culture has left us with.
The modern yearning to connect is not going away; rather it’s becoming increasingly apparent to Jews everywhere. To heed this call, our vision is to build a thriving Bay Area center for earth-based Judaism that reconnects our community to nature all year round, providing a hub for our community programs, a permaculture village, and a training ground to bring Wilderness Torah programs across the Jewish world.