By Belle Crawford
Go Yarok!, an initiative of the Asheville Jewish Community Center (JCC), seeks to connect people of all ages and backgrounds to the values of shomrei adamah (guarding the earth) and tikkun olam (repairing the world). The program offers opportunities for service learning, community gardening and exploring Asheville’s natural resources as well as intergenerational and cross-cultural connection.
“There are many environmental education programs for children in Asheville,” says Jacqui Childs, Go Yarok! program coordinator, “including the Go Yarok! curriculum, which teaches children in the JCC’s children’s programs about the cycles of nature through gardening, composting and harvesting food. But less programming exists for older generations who want to learn more about green energy and practices of alternative farming and permaculture.”
Go Yarok! offers adults the chance to take part in educational activities and discussion groups, to contribute to and experience the JCC garden, visit local farms and volunteer for environmental service projects in the community.
On July 14 from 2–7:30 p.m. at Black Mountain’s ecovillage, Earthaven, Go Yarok! is collaborating with Zev Friedman, local permaculture designer, teacher and researcher, to offer the class Immersion into Permaculture and Its Connection to Judaism.
“Permaculture is a way of thinking, not a set of dogmatic practices,” says Friedman. “Permaculture is not sustainability, which strives to maintain the earth’s resources, it’s going beyond simply sustaining the planet to improving the earth for future generations and leaving the environment in a better condition than it is now.”
The class will give participants a tour of the 22-year-old Earthaven, allowing them to explore its hand-built structures, solar arrays, microhydro-energy system, gardens and farming operations. The course will focus on the connection between permaculture principles and Jewish traditions and spirituality.
“The connection is surprisingly deep,” says Friedman. “Ancient Judaism is very connected to agriculture and ecology. The relationship between Jewish people and the land has survived thousands of years, despite repetitive migrations and Diasporas over time.”
Immersion into Permaculture and Its Connection to Judaism is open to anyone interested in learning about permaculture. “Interestingly, most major world religions have some form of the customs and belief systems discussed in the class,” says Friedman. “It will have something for everyone, no matter what perspectives you bring to the table.”
The Asheville JCC is located at 236 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Earthaven is located at 5 Consensus Circle, Black Mountain. For more information about Go Yarok! see jcc-asheville.org/goyarok.org. For information about Earthaven, see earthaven.com. Tickets to the class are $45. E-mail Jacqui Childs at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 25 to reserve a space in the class.