Rekindling the Flame of Earth-Based Judaism

Judaism is an ancient, earth-based tradition. Due to historic discontinuities, Judaism became estranged from its ancient origins. Today, waves of younger Jews are flocking back to Judaism through nature’s doorway, which offers a critical answer to Judaism’s continuity concerns, at a time when environmental responsibility have never been more urgent.

(ו) אֵ֗שׁ תָּמִ֛יד תּוּקַ֥ד עַל־הַמִּזְבֵּ֖חַ לֹ֥א תִכְבֶֽה׃ (ס)

(6) A perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar, not to go out.

(ו) וַיַּעֲבֹ֤ר אַבְרָם֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ עַ֚ד מְק֣וֹם שְׁכֶ֔ם עַ֖ד אֵל֣וֹן מוֹרֶ֑ה

Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, until the teacher oak tree.

(א) וַיָּבֹ֣אוּ בְנֵֽי־יִ֠שְׂרָאֵל כָּל־הָ֨עֵדָ֤ה מִדְבַּר־צִן֙ בַּחֹ֣דֶשׁ הָֽרִאשׁ֔וֹן וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב הָעָ֖ם בְּקָדֵ֑שׁ וַתָּ֤מָת שָׁם֙ מִרְיָ֔ם וַתִּקָּבֵ֖ר שָֽׁם׃ (ב) וְלֹא־הָ֥יָה מַ֖יִם לָעֵדָ֑ה וַיִּקָּ֣הֲל֔וּ עַל־מֹשֶׁ֖ה וְעַֽל־אַהֲרֹֽן׃

(1) The Israelites arrived in a body at the wilderness of Zin on the first new moon, and the people stayed at Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there. (2) The community was without water, and they joined against Moses and Aaron.

ר' יוסי בר' יהודה אומר שלשה פרנסים טובים עמדו לישראל אלו הן משה ואהרן ומרים וג' מתנות טובות ניתנו על ידם ואלו הן באר וענן ומן באר בזכות מרים עמוד ענן בזכות אהרן מן בזכות משה מתה מרים נסתלק הבאר שנאמר (במדבר כ, א) ותמת שם מרים וכתיב בתריה ולא היה מים לעדה (במדבר כ, ב)

Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Yehuda, says: Three good sustainers rose up for the Jewish people during the exodus from Egypt, and they are: Moses, Aaron and Miriam. And three good gifts were given from Heaven through their agency, and these are they: The well of water, the pillar of cloud, and the manna. He elaborates: The well was given to the Jewish people in the merit of Miriam; the pillar of cloud was in the merit of Aaron; and the manna in the merit of Moses. When Miriam died the well disappeared, as it is stated: “And Miriam died there” (Numbers 20:1), and it says thereafter in the next verse: “And there was no water for the congregation” (Numbers 20:2).

(א) וּמֹשֶׁ֗ה הָיָ֥ה רֹעֶ֛ה אֶת־צֹ֛אן יִתְר֥וֹ חֹתְנ֖וֹ כֹּהֵ֣ן מִדְיָ֑ן וַיִּנְהַ֤ג אֶת־הַצֹּאן֙ אַחַ֣ר הַמִּדְבָּ֔ר וַיָּבֹ֛א אֶל־הַ֥ר הָאֱלֹהִ֖ים חֹרֵֽבָה׃

(1) Now Moses, tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, drove the flock to the farthest end of the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.

(ה) וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אַל־תִּקְרַ֣ב הֲלֹ֑ם שַׁל־נְעָלֶ֙יךָ֙ מֵעַ֣ל רַגְלֶ֔יךָ כִּ֣י הַמָּק֗וֹם אֲשֶׁ֤ר אַתָּה֙ עוֹמֵ֣ד עָלָ֔יו אַדְמַת־קֹ֖דֶשׁ הֽוּא׃

And God said, “Do not come closer. Remove your sandals (unlock yourself) from your feet (from your habits), for the place where you stand is holy ground."

(ז) וַיִּיצֶר֩ יְהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהִ֜ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֗ם עָפָר֙ מִן־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה וַיִּפַּ֥ח בְּאַפָּ֖יו נִשְׁמַ֣ת חַיִּ֑ים וַֽיְהִ֥י הָֽאָדָ֖ם לְנֶ֥פֶשׁ חַיָּֽה׃

God formed earthling from the dust of the earth. God blew into its nostrils the breath of life, and earthling became a living being

Aaron David Gordon, “Logic from the Future” (1910)

"When you will return to Nature—on that day your eyes will be open, you will gaze straight into the eyes of Nature, and in the mirror you will see your own image. You will know that you have returned to yourself, that when you hid from Nature, you hid from yourself."

אָמְרוּ, כָּל מִי שֶׁלֹּא רָאָה שִׂמְחַת בֵּית הַשּׁוֹאֵבָה, לֹא רָאָה שִׂמְחָה מִיָּמָיו:

They [the Sages] said: one who has never seen the rejoicing at the place of [water] drawing, has never seen rejoicing in all one's days.

Wilderness Torah awakens and celebrates the earth-based traditions of Judaism by nourishing the connections between self, community, earth, and Spirit.

Wilderness Torah's distinctive programs include multi-generational holiday retreats in nature; K-12 outdoor Jewish education; young adult leadership training; joyful Jewish ritual; and conscious development of socially engaged, diverse community. In 2016, Wilderness Torah launched the Wilderness Torah Training Institute, training 50 leaders from across the U.S. and Israel in our innovative methods for community-building and nature connection, through the lens of Judaism.

Wilderness Torah's approach—bringing forward a culture shift through immersive experience, participatory community, and mentorship-based education and leadership development—resonates deeply for thousands, who report deep connections to Jewish tradition and the natural world after its immersive programs.

Learn More about Wilderness Torah by visiting

Check out this 3 minute video about Wilderness Torah's annual pilgrimage to the desert, Passover in the Desert:

SEEDS OF OPPORTUNITY: A National Study of Immersive Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education (JOFEE) is the the first-ever national survey on JOFEE. The report, released by the Jim Joseph Foundation, Leichtag Foundation, The Morningstar Foundation, Rose Community Foundation, Schusterman Family Foundation, UJA-Federation of New York, and Hazon, examines the history, programs, professionals, and participants that comprise JOFEE experiences.The report was funded to learn more about the emerging field and the potential to create and support more Jewish learning experiences. Examples of the vast array of JOFEE experiences include Jewish farming programs, wilderness celebrations of Jewish holidays, multi-day Jewish bike rides, and a sustainable food tour of Israel.

Read the report by following this link:

JOFEE stands for Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming & Environmental Education. JOFEE experiences connect people to Judaism, community, and the natural world through hands-on, thoughtful and engaging Jewish content across different ages, Jewish backgrounds, and religious approaches. JOFEE experiences connect people to Judaism, community, and the natural world. JOFEE programs engage participants of many different ages, Jewish backgrounds, and religious approaches. Tens of thousands of people engage in JOFEE activities every year, from learning about Jewish harvest rituals to starting a CSA. Combining methods from existing secular models with Jewish learning, wisdom, and traditions, JOFEE programs create entry points to Jewish life and social action. The number of people participating in immersive (multi-day) JOFEE activities is growing explosively, from about 2,500 in 2012 to more than 6,000 participants last year. Day programs have reached over 36,000 participants since January 2016 with the help of our JOFEE Fellowship. From young adults at Wilderness Torah, children at Teva, teenagers at Ramah Outdoors, and kids at Eden Village, JOFEE is changing lives.