Wilber Roberts helps inaugurate Temple B’nai Abraham’s Pe’ah Garden.

Jewish groups coming together to become ‘keepers of the earth’



Jewish groups coming together to become ‘keepers of the earth’

Wilber Roberts helps inaugurate Temple B’nai Abraham’s Pe’ah Garden.

BEVERLY – A verse in Genesis recounts how, “The Lord God took the man, and He placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it.” Out of this verse comes the Hebrew words shomrei adamah – “keepers of the earth” – which is an apt name for the upcoming festival at Temple B’nai Abraham in Beverly that will showcase sustainability initiatives by local synagogues and environmental organizations.

“We’re not here to do whatever we want to the earth, but to care for it,” said Rabbi Alison Adler of Temple B’nai Abraham, which has partnered with the Lappin Foundation, the Syna­gogue Council of Massachusetts, Beantown Jewish Gardens, the Jewish Climate Action Network, the Jewish Teen Initiative, and several local synagogues for the March 31 event. “The idea was to continue to bring issues of the environment and sustainability more to the forefront in the Jewish community, but also that a lot of congregations are already doing things, and for us to really have the ability to share what it is that we’re doing with each other.”

The Shomrei Adamah Festival shows the wide variety of ways that Jewish organizations have been promoting environmentalism in a host of ways. During the second half of the free event, attendees will travel through an interactive shuk (Hebrew for “marketplace”) that will showcase the diversity of Jewish responses to environmental challenges. Organizations with space at the shuk will include the Epstein Hillel School, the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Climate Action Network, the Jewish Initiative for Animals, and Beantown Jewish Gardens, a Boston organization that helps groups and schools set up educational gardens, runs hands-on workshops on healthy, sustainable Jewish foods, and organizes the annual Boston Jewish Food Conference.

The conference served as a model for the Shomrei Adamah Festival, and Beantown Jewish Gardens played a large role in planning the upcoming event.

“It’s a super exciting initiative because six congregations are coming together to address issues of sustainability both with their communities, and simultaneously as a North Shore Jewish community at large,” said Leora Mallach, the cofounder and director of Beantown Jewish Gardens. In addition to B’nai Abraham, the other participating synagogues are Temple Ahavat Achim of Gloucester; Congregation Ahavas Achim of Newburyport; and Temple Tiferet Shalom, Congregation Sons of Israel, and Temple Ner Tamid, all of Peabody.

The shuk also will showcase the work of a number of secular environmental organizations, such as Resonant Energy, which helps bring renewable energy to nonprofits; 350 Mass, which lobbies for environmental legislation; and Change is Simple, which runs environmental education workshops in public schools.

Because the fair is for both adults and children, there will be a variety of interactive activities. Guests will be able to plant seeds with the Epstein Hillel Green Team; make sauerkraut with Pigeon Cove Ferments of Gloucester and bath salts with City Garden Goods of Newton; fashion reusable bags out of T-shirts with Kevin MacDonald of Beverly, the winner of the Derek M. Sheckman Teen Leadership Award; or tour B’nai Abraham’s Pe’ah Garden, which teaches children about tending the earth and supporting people in need (much of the produce grown is donated to Beverly Bootstraps, a local food pantry).

For the first hour, guests will choose a workshop. Children will be able to bake their own matzah, while adults can learn about how to invest money in a socially conscious way, how to “green up” their kitchens, or how to use locally grown plants for nutrition and healing.

“The earth isn’t something separate from us – we’re of it,” said Adler. “Everything that’s going on in terms of environmental issues is going to affect everybody. People can get overwhelmed by it. [The festival] can teach us how we’re all working on this and making a commitment as a Jewish community.”

The Shomrei Adamah Festival will take place from 3 to 5:30 on March 31 at Temple B’nai Abraham at 200 E Lothrop St. in Beverly on March 31. Admission is free. To learn more and register, visit www.eventbrite.com.

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