Kayam Farm- the scene of "Planting Seeds: The First Jewish Early Childhood Conference.
It was better than imagined. It was the participants willingness to "dig deeply" on all fronts that mattered. People came from as far as Seattle,North Carolina, Texas, Boston and Worcester, Florida and New York as well as from nearby Virgina, Pennsylvania,New Jersey and of course Baltimore. There were nature specialists, ece directors, teachers, a rabbi and a great mix of ages and persuasions. There were the gardeners and the wannabes and together we weeded, worked on the farm, engaged with the farm animals at a distance of our choice and got to see red wiggler worms up close and personal. There were sessions on nutrition and healthy eating, and great meals for our own sustenance.
There was an ongoing discussion of what makes the garden 'Jewish' and how to bring the very young into this endeavor.
As the 'green bubbie' I gave the opening keynote, trying my best to weave together Richard Louv's wonderful book, "The Last Child in the Woods" with Jewish Identity and Inspiration from the Garden- For those of you not there, I used my actual weaving expertise to invite those present to image the 'warp' of the loom as Torah and the weft as the experiences in the natural world. The warp of the loom is the backbone and strength of the fabric..Sometimes that warp is invisible, and sometimes given the design of the pattern it becomes obvious and beautifully woven together- that's what create the design of the fabric. So too, if the foundation of what we do in the garden comes from our growing and continual study of what the Torah teaches us, that is the foundation of what we teach, of who we are, and what we do we the children. The stronger the warp, the stronger the fabric we create.
And just in case anyone thinks young children are too young,not so. There is no better example that the song, "Yom Rishon Avodah, Yom Sheni Avodah....Yom Shabbat Menucha" (with the hand motions of course) that demonstrates that even the youngest of children can participate in our Torah based tradition- 6 days of work, and on Shabbat we rest"
just like it says in the Torah!
So, as we prepare for Shabbos, let's try to think of all the work we've done all week- in and out of the garden- how we finish it, and rest on the coming Shabbat.
My hope is that this was only the first Jewish Early Childhood Gardening Conference- There is no way I can convey the extraordinary interplay of the parallel sessions of the Ashville JCCs' Early Childhood Cur brilliantly conveyed and shared by LAEL and JILL along with the workshops given by the incredibly knowledgeable staff of Kayam Farm. They live the life they are aspiring to and it is inspiring to work and learn along side of them
I look forward to the next gathering and learning and bringing our field to new heights,
as together we dig deeply into our Jewish Tradition and into the earth from which G-d created us all.
Will you still need me when I'm 64? Today is actually the 64th birthday of 'the green zaydee.' I realized today how much the operative word in the Beatles'song was always the "I" as in "when I am 64"
It's one thing to imagine oneself growing older- it always seems so far away. It is quite another thing to think of family and friends growing older. As a boomer, I was always struck by how many people were my age, no matter how old I was. I remember when I thought everybody was a 'pre-teen' Of course the advertising business has reinforced my
ego=centrism at every stage. I have always told my children that I have never had a new idea or interest, or reached a new milestone in what I thought of as my own development, without having some version of my newest stage or interest appear as a cover story in the NYTimes magazine.
Life catches up to the lyrics of the songs we sang before we were 3o. Now that we are in cutting edge Boomer age range, it's good to reflect and re-group.
YES I thank G-d I still love the 'green zayda' in my life, and that our life is so much more than I could have imagined at 30. I do have to say that the stanza about weeding the garden and doing the chores- who could ask for more??? That still resonates.
It is not always so simple to have a life filled with the simple things. Knowing what the basics are, and being grateful for what we do have is a blessing everyday.
'64' doesn't seem bad,it's much better than I thought it could be (no, I am not 64)- it's slightly over half the way I see things. And the best is being with, and around people of all ages- not every one is 64!
It's not about letting yourself 'go' as we get older, it's more about letting yourself "become" not only what we imagined, but so much more.
Happy Birthday, to all the green bubbies and zaydees!
I recently returned from the West Coast. Of course it is not uncommon for people to go to the LA area to see the homes of stars, or to hope to catch a glimpse of a star trying to hide behind those big sunglasses. I really don't think I could recognize a Hollywood star if I bumped into one who was wearing a large print name tag.
But for me, I had an incredible thrill- seeing timeless stars. I looked UP. and what did I see? I SAW MARS no kidding. There it was in the dark night sky- just where it is supposed to be! As well as the smaller flashing star right next to it. And when I turned around and looked up again- there is was- THE BIG DIPPER! Unlike many things in life that appear smaller as we grow older or taller- the stars in the sky retain their enormity, while we shrink in humility at their enormity.
Truth be told, there was a telescope. But, it was so complicated, I couldn't figure out how to use it. My host had used it the night before so I was told where in the sky to look. We turned out all the lights in this home in the Valley, and against this beautiful night sky, the stars and planets appeared just as clearly albeit a bit smaller than when viewed through the fancy scope.
But it just proves, that if you really want to "see stars " turn out the lights- don't fear the dark, just look up and be amazed.
You can only imagine the stories I told my grandchildren when I returned...we've been looking up ever since.