Wilderness Torah

Berkeley, California, United States

Wilderness Torah’s mission is to awaken and celebrate the earth-based traditions of Judaism to nourish the connections between self, community, earth and Spirit.

The story began long ago, when we Jews were connected. We were connected to the land, to the seasons, and to the cycles of the sun and moon. We were connected to one another, as we wandered the desert and then settled and farmed, wandered and settled, wandered and settled. And many times, whether in the village or the shtetl, we planted our food together, and harvested it. We all came together for holidays and festivals, like a big family. In fact we were a big family that became uprooted, again and again, until that big family got splintered into many smaller families. Now, our close friends and family are often spread across the country, instead of living next door.

The village gave way to the suburb and the big city. And many of us, young Jews especially, are taking advantage of a wide variety of spiritual and communal offerings available today, from High Holy Days to yoga and meditation. We have privileges and luxuries we could never have previously imagined.

And yet, there’s something missing. Somewhere inside of us is this deep yearning for something we had back in the desert, back in the village, back when we were one big family. There is a yearning to connect that is all around us. It’s in the teenager’s phone lighting up with text messages, and the endless hours so many of us spend on Facebook, yearning to connect.

It’s at the bustling farmer’s market, where we meet our farmers and run into friends and taste fresh blueberries grown an hour away. It’s in the pile of mulch on our neighbor’s driveway… one of the millions of people who’s decided to tap into the ancient skill of growing food.

It’s the yearning for connection to what is truly real: To the earth, to the seasons, and to one another.

It’s in this yearning that Wilderness Torah was born.