Wilderness Torah

Rating: 4.95 stars   37 reviews

Issues:

Location: Oakland CA USA

Mission: Wilderness Torah awakens and celebrates the earth-based traditions of Judaism to nourish the connections between self, community, earth, and Spirit.
Results: Over three years, we have created ten holiday pilgrimage festivals (Sukkot on the Farm Festival, Passover in the Desert, and Shavuot on the Mountain), and the day-long Tu B'Shvat in the Redwoods serving over 500 people in 2010. The demand for our programs has consistently demonstrated the deep need for our work. We have sold out every Wilderness Torah event since our first Sukkot in 2007, and attendance increases by more than 30% with each event. We started the first Jewish Vision Quest in 2008, and continued with Wilderness Walks and a second vision quest in 2009. IN 2010 we launched Gan Torah Children's Nature Program. In 2011, we will launch our B'nai Mitzvah Nature Mentoring Program and Hebrew Homesteading (classes like challah-baking and picking).
Target demographics: All ages! We are building multi-generational community at our festivals and also have programs specifically for youth, Gan Torah and a new B'nai Mitzvah Nature Mentoring Program starting in Fall 2011.
Geographic areas served: California and beyond
2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

My experience with Wilderness Torah planted seeds in my life, which are germinating~ sending down roots, & sending up tender shoots. The impact has been undeniable. I am biking more, eating with a much deeper connection with my food, the land & the farmers, joining a CSA, and developing a clearer sense of how I can integrate ecopsychology into my psychotherapy practice. I have been longing for years to connect with the earth based wisdom within our tradition. It was a pleasure to be in the company of so many Jews who felt the same. Wilderness Torah is meeting a deep and very timely longing. The world can't wait~ we need inspired and joyful ways to reconnect with the earth. It's the only thing that will help us save our home and ourselves.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I am more able to live in an ecologically conscientious way.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Community, prayer, amazing food, and lasting impact in my ability to sustain ecologically aware action.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Kind, and helpful.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Have a much needed impact on motivating f the Jewish community to live in ways that are in harmony with the earth~ something that is essential at this time in human history.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Wilderness Torah is rekindling the spark in people's souls by bringing them together (summer camp style), excavating meaning from Jewish rituals, and doing so by weaving it all together with nature/the land. The leaders are modeling a new, old way of living from the inside out. Started by a group of friends who haled from all over the US and met in the Bay Area, they found the things in common that make them feel connected and carved a place within Judaism to shofar this love to others. They continue to organize themselves and their ever-expanding community to unearth the most basic, delicious things about being human on this planet and being Jewish.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the non-pretentious, friendly family atmosphere and the close connections it fosters among its participants.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-9-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

The most recent Wilderness Torah event I attended I can honestly say was transformational. Two weeks ago I spent four days building and living in community with a tribe of 115 people who came together to celebrate one of the biggest Jewish festivals on our calendar. We gathered with the intention of sharing and connecting with each other and the land. It was a remarkable experience for our times to be living in a community in which so much love, harmony and good faith prevailed, a far cry from the world that existed outside our sacred space. I left with a feeling of understanding what it really means to be connected to other people and the natural world. This is a very positive and powerful feeling to bring back into greater society and I truely believe it has the ability to be transformational.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

...1) Hire a permanent staff and pay them market salary. 2)Start a real more permanent village that could act as an educational center and a model for the surrounding community and beyond.

Ways to make it better...

It wasnt so darn windy at the location! We experienced two days of a biting and strong wind.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

These guys are totally great. I just spent Succot with the Wilderness Torah group on the farm - great people, great programming, great food, great energy, great ruach. :-))) Nigel

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

absolutely first-class

Ways to make it better...

my tent hadn't blown away. (True: but my fault that I didn't tether it a tad better...)

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

One thing I'd also say is that...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

Wilderness Torah is filling the Jewish need for rooted spiritual connection with the Earth. While overall modern society in general has fragmented humanity's connection to the earth, most faith and cultural traditions do contain within them understanding, teachings, and practices that help restore that innate connection. Wilderness Torah is perhaps the best functioning model at the forefront of Jewish efforts to breathe continuity to our ancestral indigenous experience.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

community forums and public settings.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-9-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Wilderness Torah is a cutting edge Jewish organization. Notice I did not say a "jewish environmental" organization because Wilderness Torah seeks to end the distinction between the two terms. Wilderness Torah events and activities demonstrate that being Jewish is inextricably linked to "environmentalism", "locavorism", "community building", and earth-based spirituality because this tradition (so long buried in its wonderful texts) emanates from pastoral/agricultural tribes that lived close to their land after they first wandered in a "wilderness". By taking participants to a farm (for sukkot) the desert (for Pesach), or a mountaintop (shavuot), Wilderness Torah reestablishes the land (ha aretz) and the wilderness (ba midbar) as central teachers in the Jewish spiritual tradition. Wilderness Torah uncovers the ancient connections between holy days (chagim)and the land-based context in which they evolved (while completely respecting the written rabbinic tradition) and re-roots Judaism in its connection to place, community, self, and spirit. Events focus on the connection between land/place/wilderness and spirituality, including the tenuous nature of all that we are given (e.g., food and shelter). By emphasizing the central role of community in surviving and thriving spiritually, Wilderness Torah is creating a cadre of Jews who are enthusiastic about their mystical tradition, their community, and environmental sustainability.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

various wilderness and agricultural settings. Learning, praying, singing, and eating outstanding food with a community of adults (of all ages) has provided an amazing container for me to experience and hold the "awe" that is the basis of spirituality.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

dedicated, warm, knowledgeable, supportive, and welcoming without promoting any particular level of observance or type of Judaism. These are inspired people without a particular agenda regarding the "way" to practice Judaism.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I have now attended three events with Wilderness Torah (two Sukkots, one Shavuot). I think this organization is doing a great job of appealing to those of us who are already involved in the Jewish community, and those who are not. Combining Judaism and the environment is a natural (see the success of Jewish summer camps) but it should not end when we are adults. I can't wait to see where this organization goes as it continues to grow. More communities need something like it!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

meeting fantastic people who are interested in the same things I am.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

provide similar experiences in Jewish communities around the country, providing access to many more people.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

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