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  

8 people found this review helpful

Bringing environmental awareness and stewardship together with the rich history of Jewish culture in a non denominational and inclusive manner is what this organization is about. I have been moved, impressed and inspired by the vision and dedication that this organization is bringing to our 21st century evolving culture.

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

Inspiring and unbelievably dedicated.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-10-01

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Role: Client Served
Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

I've been to only one Wilderness Torah event, but it left me and my family feeling more connected to community and the environment. Everything that was planned for the event -- from the food to the tribes -- was done with loving intention to create a stronger, more vibrant, more diverse and more connected kinship among the participants.

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

very kind and committed.

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  

5 people found this review helpful

Wilderness Torah Helped me deepen my roots in the bay area Jewish community. My first interaction with Wilderness Torah was Pesach in the desert. I didn't even like the desert and now I have a new appreciation for it. Most importantly, I made life time friends in the Jewish community. The workshops were informative and spiritual.

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

The new experiences I had with this group and the people I have met.

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

Very sincere and dedicated to their program.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-6-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

5 people found this review helpful

Wilderness Torah is the future of Judaism. The people who are involved are some of the most kind spirited people I have ever met. The underlying philosophy that the potential for spiritual connection and transformation happens in a sacred space that is rooted deeply in proven ancient traditions yet fluid and open to shifting when Spirit calls for it on the spur of the moment, is a great strength unique to Wilderness Torah. Although my husband an I do not have children yet we admired the way in which the Wilderness Torah leaders taught and cared for the young children and are hoping that by the time we have children they will have a full time hebrew school. My husband and I drove 7 hours to spend Succot with Wilderness Torah and are now planning to spend all our holidays with them no matter how far we have to drive. There is nothing else like this out there and it needs to thrive. Additionally, our lifestyle has changed because of what we learned at succot on the farm. We now only use reusable dishes when we camp. Additionally we reduced our consumption of meat to almost nothing and we eat more grains and organic fruits and vegetables.

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

1. Start a branch in Southern California 2. Open a school 3. Start their own farm 4. afford more scholarships to people

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 provided me, my wife, and my 4yr old daughter with a memorable time celebrating Succot on an organic farm on the California coast, making friends and contributing to a beautiful collective experience.

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

an amazing offering called Succot on the Farm, which brought together a whole community to create a sacred collective experience.

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

increase their budget, so they could actually compensate their staff for the loving work that they do

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

its striving to engender a genuinely thoughtful and loving experience for its participants.

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

motivated, smart, spiritual, and hip!

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

revolutionize spiritual Judaism by helping people see the dynamic connection to our roots as a people

Ways to make it better...

the weather was less windy, on the Succot program. But the whole point is to be outside, of course.

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

growing pains, and gathering SF Bay Area participants consistently, with all the rich offerings that are available here

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

I'd be happy to do another program, or many more, with Wilderness Torah... and I don't consider myself religious, but its inspiring nonetheless... which is probably the highest praise I could give.

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  

I have attended two of Wilderness Torah's events. They have been transformative and have brought me closer to my culture, my community, and myself. They are an organization on the leading edge of making the connection between the role of religion, culture, and sustainability.

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

fabulous and committed.

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

make a huge difference in the world

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

An incredibly simple concept: taking Jewish holidays and rituals, and putting them outside in their original context. It's ancient-retro in trying to engage the original style and spirit of the rituals. And it's 21st century ultra-modern in its blending of environmental sustainability, back-to-the-land wilderness=beauty, and neo-Kabbalistic in the connection to "Something great than ourselves" through connecting with your own inner truth. It's the Judaism I didn't even know I was always looking for.

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

finding immediate relevance of Jewish practices in my current life and my affinity for the natural environment

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

Create an endowment.

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

feeling simultaneously connected to an incredible community, beautiful natural settings, and an approach to Judaism that fit all of it, and that fit me.

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

deeply sincere, authentic, truly believing what they were teaching, actually LIVING what they were preaching, sharing deep wisdoms and insights.

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

sponsor MANY more events, appealing to an even broader range of folks. For example, simultaneous "Passover in the Wilderness events" could include a full 8-day trek in the desert, weekend excursions closer to home, and 1-day or 1-eve. events.

Ways to make it better...

...they had some outside funding sources to make their experiences more affordable to more people (esp. more young folks)

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

Channeling the financial and personal resources to meet the tremendous demand.

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

I didn't get to go on the last Sukkot on the Farm because it sold out weeks before the deadline. They need more funds to support more trips so that I can go next time.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-5-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

7 people found this review helpful

Wilderness Torah offers me a chance to bear witness to Oneness, in all its many forms, but especially as it can be seen and felt beyond the walls of institutional Judaism. The rituals I have experienced with Wilderness Torah have been accessible, grounding and full of joy. I felt blessed to be a part of the holy community woven together at Sukkot on the Farm 2009.

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

the chance to live outdoors for a weekend and connect to the ancient rituals which have been lost in our post-modern world - harvest...wind...sleeping outside.

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

totally gracious

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

totally transform the face of American Judaism - connect so many people who might otherwise give up on their heritage and religion

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-9-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

Wilderness Torah has provided me with the most essential thing I can hope for: a sense of belonging, exactly as I am, and an inspiration to care for the earth because I feel the caring that comes from belonging. I also leave these events with the a sense that there are other people playing on this team and a network to facilitate change. The events are rich in education and integrity, the people are loving, the purpose is completely uplifting and I come from there feeling like a better person and wanting to take action accordingly. It has brought me back to Judaism more so than any Havurah I have come across.

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

Start an educational community that would be at the heart of a movement that I believe can truly make an immense difference in raising consciousness and improving our stewarding of the planet.

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: 4 stars  

I love Wilderness Torah as it is bringing alive the often lost connection to nature in our modern world. The concepts and depth of what is being offered feeds the Jewish soul like nothing I have found in Judaism. Zelig's energy is great and teachings are grounded, accessable and experiential causing one to get more into their body, pay attention and into healthy relationship with God's country (nature) and being in authentic community.

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

New ways to relate Judaism to nature

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

The authenticity and wisdom

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

Very open, sincere and intuitive

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

This would be great! Perhaps they could open a rural/rustic sustainable retreat center offering ongoing programs, retreats, workshops and even residential programs with Jewish community living on site.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-9-01

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