185 N. Mountain Ave Ashland, OR 97520 541.488.7716

Wisdom Garden for All Young Teens

Wisdom Garden’s Social Action, Ecology Program Opens to All Young Teens, starts October 14

The Havurah Synagogue’s Wisdom Garden program provides a hands-on early teen educational program, geared toward 11-14 year old Jewish and non-Jewish students. The program’s curriculum is based on making the world a better place and includes outdoor and social action components. The focus of the curriculum is to give young teens the confidence to be the best they can be by helping make the world and the planet a better place.

Students will learn values and ethics, rooted in Judaism and universally applicable, that offer guidance in the stewardship of the earth, social action, and encouraging the cultivation of a universal approach to spirituality.  The 1-2 year program culminates with a transformational, coming-of-age sacred ceremony for the non-Jewish participants and a bar or bat mitzvah for the Jewish students.

Ayala Zonnenschein, Executive Director of the Havurah, says, “We’ve been so successful in guiding Jewish children and their families when we realized that the teachings are universal and would be a valuable resource for all families, regardless of spiritual background. We want to bring children together to learn to grow and thrive in our ever-challenging world. Families of all backgrounds are encouraged to participate.”

Jewish and non-Jewish participants alike will learn and experience the link between social action, nature, and spirituality. Although rooted in Jewish spiritual values the program will be a welcoming and exciting environment for young people from all spiritual traditions, or whose families are not affiliated with any particular religion at all.

Amy Rhine, the primary teacher, is a Waldorf educator who lives with her husband and toddler on a mountain homestead raising a dairy goat herd as well as their own food. Amy participated last year in the Wilderness Torah Teacher Training Institute in the San Francisco Bay Area and will host the students in the Wisdom Garden program on her land, bridging wilderness skills with Jewish teachings, three times during the school year.

In addition to the core program for all the students, there will be a separate component for Jewish students working toward bar or bat mitzvah. Rabbi David Zaslow, spiritual leader of the Havurah Synagogue will teach prayer, and Ayala Zonnenschein will teach Hebrew in ways that are fun and engaging. Rabbi Zaslow says, “this is a unique program that teaches the future generation about the interconnection between religion, nature, and social activism. Plus as beautiful as much as individual spiritual traditions need to be supported we are living in an age where interfaith, universal spiritual education rooted in care for the earth needs to be made available for our adolescents. We are doing just that with the Wisdom Garden in what just might become a national model for integrated learning. ”

Ayala Zonnenschein, Executive Director of the Havurah, says, “Our school will offer an intimate experience where children connect to spirituality in a way that is meaningful, builds self-esteem and prepares them to engage in the world around them with integrity.” Call 541-488-7716 for more information.