ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal is excited to soon launch the second cohort of our Earth-Based Judaism Certification Program through our virtual seminary.
Earth-Based Judaism is a vital approach to Torah for our age, imbuing Judaism with a “Gaian consciousness” as Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l taught us, to see ourselves as cells within the living body of the earth. We awaken an earth-based perspective to Judaism through a four-worlds approach that emphasizes integration of body, emotions, thought and spirit. Our approach fosters a relational way of being that brings ancient wisdom to bear on our modern world, learning oriented to Judaism’s earth-based traditions, and earth-based Jewish ceremony that awakens the spirit through the elements.
UPDATE: The EBJ program has shifted to one 3-year cohort model from a rolling cohort model. Applications for the next cohort will open again in 2023.
- Learn Jewish tradition through an organic, relational perspective in order to inspire deep connection to all life on earth and action in today’s ecological crisis.
- Enliven Torah and ritual with ancient approaches that are rooted in deep ecology, feminism, and a relationship with the elements.
- Activate our human nature through nature connection and our relationship to cyclical time, seasonal festivals & human life cycle rites.
- Inspire ecological Tikkun Olam, and gain tools to become active in the work to protect our beautiful world.
PROGRAM STRUCTURE AND COST
The earth-based track is completed over a three year period. Please stay tuned for more information about how to apply to the second cohort of the EBJ program.
- 6 semester length ALEPH courses (fulfilling AOP course areas)
- 3 four-day retreats in late summer or fall
- Monthly cohort community building Zoom sessions with faculty
- Optional mentoring or spiritual direction sessions with EBJ faculty
- Occasional webinars and classes with faculty and guest teachers
Tuition for the Earth-Based Judaism Certification costs $3,475 per year. This sum includes a 3% obligatory T’rumah (offering) to support the AOP student scholarship fund. Tuition includes two EBJ courses and one retreat per year. This tuition structure is highly subsidized by ALEPH and grants from the Lasko Family Foundation and the Jews of Color Initiative. Thanks to a grant from the Jews of Color Initiative, we have up to five (5) spots available that would reduce the program fee to $1175 for Jews of Color. In addition, Jews of Color will be provided with a spiritual director at no cost. A limited amount of other scholarship funds are available.
Required Coursework (*also fulfills AOP credit in course areas)
To successfully complete the EBJ Certificate, one must complete 6 courses in earth-based approaches to Tanakh, Rabbinic Texts, History, Mysticism (2 semesters) and Thought. One equivalent course may be substituted by approval of core faculty.
The titles and instructors are subject to change. For detailed course descriptions, please see this document.
Currently these are course being offered:
1. Leviticus: Pathways to an Earth-Based Perspective on Tanakh (*Tanach) Rabbi Natan Margalit
2. Sefer Yetzira: Renewing Creation (*Mysticism) Rabbi Jill Hammer
3. Kabbalah and Ecology (*Mysticism) Rabbi David Seidenberg
4. Modern and Jewish Eco-Theology (*Thought) instructor TBA
5. Jewish Earth-Based History: From Goddess Worship to JOFEE Movement (*History) Rabbi Zelig Golden
6. Organic Torah of Rabbinic Texts: (*Rabbinic) Rabbi Natan Margalit
To learn more about which courses will be offered over the coming semesters, please see the Earth-Based Judaism Course Grid.
Who Should Apply
This certificate program is offered at a rabbinic school academic level, and open to anyone who aims to teach and lead earth-based Jewish approaches, including ALEPH ordination program students, ordination students from other seminaries, Jewish clergy as well as non-clergy educators, leaders and activists.
In considering applicants for admission to the EBJ program we will take into account criteria including:
1. Potential for becoming or growing into your role as a leader, teacher, or advocate for an earth-based approach to Judaism.
2. Ability and preparedness to study in classes together with rabbinical students.
3. Contribution to a balanced and diverse cohort of students
4. Comfort with learning in nature, learning on a spiritual as well as intellectual level, and in learning together with a group.
Rabbi Dr. Tirzah Firestone is an author, Jungian psychotherapist, and Rabbi Emerita of Congregation Nevei Kodesh in Boulder, Colorado. She received her smicha from Reb Zalman z”l in 1992, and was instrumental in bringing our beloved Rebbe to Colorado for the last 20 years of his life. She is widely known for her groundbreaking work in Kabbalah, Depth Psychology, and the re-integration of the feminine principle in Judaism.
Rabbi Zelig Golden is the Executive Director of Wilderness Torah. He received rabbinic ordination from ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, supported by the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, and was previously ordained Maggid by Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi z”l. Rabbi Zelig holds a Masters in Jewish Studies from the Graduate Theological Union. He previously worked as an environmental lawyer protecting food and farms and has long guided groups into the wilderness. Zelig lives in Occidental, CA, with his wife, Rachel, and his kids, Emma and Ilana.
Rabbi Jill Hammer, Ph.D., is the co-founder of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute and the Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion. She is the author of essays, poems, rituals and stories, and of seven books including Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women, The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons, The Omer Calendar of Biblical Women, The Hebrew Priestess (with Taya Shere), Siddur haKohanot: A Hebrew Priestess Prayerbook (with Taya Shere) and The Book of Earth and Other Mysteries. She lives in Manhattan with her wife and daughter.
Rabbi Natan Margalit, Ph.D was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He received rabbinic ordination at The Jerusalem Seminary in 1990 and a Ph.D. in Talmud from U.C. Berkeley in 2001. He has taught at Bard College, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College. Rabbi Natan is Founder of Organic Torah, a non-profit which fosters holistic thinking about Judaism, environment and society. Natan is a member of the Va’ad (steering committee and core faculty) of the ALEPH Ordination Program. He lives in Newton, MA, with his wife, Ilana, and their two sons.
Rabbi David Seidenberg is the creator of neohasid.org and the author of Kabbalah and Ecology: God's Image in the More-Than-Human World. One of the foremost scholars in the world on Jewish ecotheology, David teaches on ecology, animal rights, the Torah of dance, astronomy, and Chasidic song, and leads rituals adapted from the "work that reconnects" and the ecospirituality movement. David has smicha from both the Jewish Theological Seminary and from Reb Zalman.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Ph.D., D.H.L. (hon. causa), is the founder and director of The Shalom Center, a prophetic voice in the Jewish, multireligious, and American worlds for justice, peace, and healing of the Earth. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1963, and was a residential fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies from 1963-1977. He is the author of the pivotal 1969 Freedom Seder--a cross-racial gathering of 800 Jews and Christians just one year after the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The Freedom Seder revolutionized the Passover haggadah for a new generation and world. He is also the author of Godwrestling, Seasons of Our Joy and 20 other books. From 1982-1989, he served on the faculty of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. In 2014, he was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award as a Human Rights Hero from T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. He holds an honorary degree in the Doctor of Humane Letters from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He is now a pioneer in theology practice and advocacy in Eco-Judaism.
Please direct any questions about the Earth-Based Judaism application process to Jake Sapon at firstname.lastname@example.org. For questions about program content and structure, please email Rabbi Natan Margalit at email@example.com.
The Earth-Based Judaism Certification Program is made possible thanks to a grant from the Lasko Family Foundation.