Welcome to the extraordinary world of Jewish Environmental Education!
Thousands of years ago our ancestors lived with a keen awareness of their
dependence on the natural systems that support life. Through their daily
interactions with soil, water, and air, they developed a great respect for
the Earth and sensed the presence of the Divine within all of Creation.
Although many Jews today have lost this connection, our ancient relationship
with nature is nevertheless reflected in Jewish law, in our prayers, in the celebration
of our holidays, and in the core values of our tradition.
The Teva Learning Center exists to renew the ecological wisdom inherent in Judaism.
By immersing participants in the natural world and providing structured activities which
sensitize them to nature's rhythms, we help them develop a more meaningful
relationship with nature and their own Jewish practices. This process also facilitates
personal growth, community building, and a genuine commitment to tikkun olam,
healing the world. All Teva programs are built on a thematic progression - from
Awareness to Interconnectedness to Responsibility.
We thank you...for your miracles that are with us each day, and for your
wonders and goodness that are with us every moment.
As students make the transition to nature's classroom, they become aware of
the miracles within Creation. Brachot, tefillah, and hitbodedut (blessings, praryer, and reflection),
are essential components of Teva programs. They not only allow us to pause and notice the fleeting and
overlooked - a shooting star, a stand of wild edible grapes, a camouflaged
salamander - but they also instill in us a continual sense of awe (yirat shamyim) and gratitude (ahavat shamyim).
I never knew God made so many incredible things without motors.
Student, age 10
Solomon Schechter of Newton, MA
Even those Creatures that you deem superfluous in this world, such as flies,
fleas and gnats, nevertheless have their allotted task in the scheme of
Shemot Rabbah 10:1
While exploring the relationships between bears and red oaks, mosquitoes and
blueberry bushes, and mushrooms and soil, participants come to realize the unique role of each creature and element within
the ecosystem. we study texts about the integrity of
each creature. Discovering the rhythm of nature's cycles keeps us in tune with the daily, monthly, and yearly
cycles that infuse Jewish tradition.
When the Holy One, blessed be God, created the first human...God said to
Adam, 'See my works how good and praiseworthy they are? And all that I have
created I made for you. [But] Be mindful then that you do not spoil and
destroy My world - for if you do spoil it, there is no one after you to
Kohelet Rabbah 7:13
The phrase "l'ovdah u'l'shomrah" from Genesis 2:15
summarizes humanity's responsibility for the Earth - work/serve and to guard/conserve. We must simultaneously work the land
and protect the Earth. Fulfilling these mandates in this era of ecological crisis is a greater challenge
for our generation than for any which has preceded us. Teva students study a wide range of age-appropriate
environmental topics and explore ways in which they, individually and as a community, can become better
better stewareds of Creation. At Teva, environmental responsibility is viewed through the lens of Jewish ethics,
history, aggadah (narrative), and halacha (law).
The Torah cannot be acquired except in fellowship.
Talmud, Berachot 63b
In our pursuit of tikkun olam (repairing the world) we must work on healing
not only the discords between humans and the natural world, but also those bein adam l'havero -
between one another. Teva places a strong emphasis on developing communities and leadership skills through
overcoming group challenges, structured group building initiatives, ropes courses, work, play, and
discussion of Jewish visions of community.