Falls Village, CT

At Hazonthey strive to reach students where they are. While some students come to Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center for 4 days for an immersive experience, they are seeking to create new lesson plans that will provide teachers the opportunity to bring experiential learning into any setting.

Through their capstone project, Hazon will be expanding their lesson plans and developing curriculum that will be available for Teva schools, and free on their website for other Jewish communities. These classes will be built as stand-alone lessons, so they can more easily be incorporated into the school setting.

When we draw from the Jewish tradition and make connections to the living world, students are able to deepen their sense of connection to the divine and deepen their sense of responsibility in creating a more sustainable world. Hazon believes that the more connections we can weave into daily life, the more everyone will be able to see themselves as a part of the whole.

The reception for the Hazon projects previously supported by the Gendler Grapevine Project has been excellent, and the projects have substantially deepened their program’s ability to inspire and educate participants. Each season at Teva, 33 schools come to Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center with their students. While on-site, teachers participate in trainings such as pickling, farm-tours, and educational hikes. With the support of The Gendler Grapevine Project, Hazon staff will be able to share the curricula in educational workshops with the teachers while they are on-site, allowing them to be become familiar with the curricula, receive a copy to take home, and witness the lessons in action. They anticipate that this curriculum will also be used by other Hebrew schools and camps. Hazon receives regular calls from schools with requests for creative materials, and they are thrilled to not only create, but also share this resource free of charge from their website.

The proposed course development includes:


○ Exploring Natural Design with Perek Shira and Biomimicry

Students will look towards Judaism and Ecology for solutions to modern day problems through using the concepts of biomimicry and bioinspiration, as well as design theory.

○ Exploring the Water cycle of Israel and Holidays

Students will learn how the Jewish holidays relate to the water cycle in Israel.

○ Jewish Measurements

Jewish tradition is full of various measurement systems. In this activity, students will creatively engage in the topic and determine the volume of a Kiddush cup using eggs for volume.

○ Jewish Calendar

Looking at the Jewish calendar and to see how it aligns with the agricultural cycles where students live and in Israel.


○ Clay Mezuzot and Painted Silk Challah Covers

Clay mezuzot and Challah covers can be made easily in the classroom. Students will have the opportunity to learn about these ritual objects and make their own.

○ Creative Bracha Cards

Students will use collage and drawing to highlight the ideas of different brachot, resulting in a beautiful art piece that can be carried around. This lesson will include learning about the appropriate blessings for food, before and after meals, snacks etc.

○ Shiviti

Students will draw out meaning from Jewish prayer by creating meditative art using the verse, “I have set YHVH before me at all times.”ִשׁוִּיִתי יְהוָהְלֶנְגִדּיָתִמיד׃Shiviti YHVH l’negdi tamid. (Psalms )16:8

○ Siddur Art

They will delve into the Siddur to find poetic nature imagery. Each participant will find their own passage to illustrate.

○ Rosh HaShanah LaBehemot Art Project

Species preservation and Tzar Ba’lei Chaim are values laid out in the Jewish tradition. They will create a lesson to celebrate Rosh Hashana L’Ma’sar Behemot through learning about extinction and the value that even the most vulnerable creatures possess.

Text learning

Through reflection and discussion, students will make connections between Jewish narratives and environmental stewardship on themes including:

○ Shabbat as an environmental day

○ Noah and species preservation

○ Genesis and our relationship to trees

○ Careful use of resources and Baal Taschcit

○ Kindness towards animals and Tzar Baalay Chayyim

○ The cultivation of wonder and A.J. Heschel


They will also be adding a Gendler Grapevine Curricula section to the Teva webpage on their website, which will include their Gendler Grapevine Project initiatives.

○  Betzalel’s Workshop (Jewish eco-crafts for all ages)

○  Classroom teaching (Jewish ecological classroom activities for school teachers to use with their students)

○  Eco-Beit Midrash curriculum (A source-book for study and discussion of Eco-Jewish values for adults)