Cultivating a Jewish Eco- Education Framework: The Toronto Heschel School’s Teaching and Learning Garden
Keywords:Jewish Ecology, School Gardens, Ecological Sustainability
Over the last century, global food systems have increasingly shifted towards a scientific, input-based industrial paradigm whose adverse ecological impacts are well documented. In response, global agricultural movements, such as the agroecology movement, have sought an integration of contemporary science and indigenous agricultural knowledges. Scholars in the field of Jewish ecology similarly propose that biblical Hebrew scripture may provide a framework for thinking about, and acting upon, issues of ecological sustainability in agriculture. In educational settings too, learning about ecology is increasingly approached in an intimate and tangible way in the form of school garden programs. In this work, we highlight the case of the Toronto Heschel School, a Canadian Jewish day school for children in which a Teaching and Learning Garden fosters student learning on ecology and their Jewish identity in tandem. Reporting the thematic results of qualitative interviews with two educators and five alumni from the Heschel School, this study highlights key similarities and differences between this school’s garden program and those taking place in secular school settings. Like secular school gardens, the Heschel program implements experiential, interdisciplinary learning activities within a scientific ecological knowledge (SEK) framework. That said, the Heschel program supplements and deepens these SEK activities with traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) rooted in Judaic traditional teachings. The resulting educational outcomes appear at once universally applicable while specifically relevant to the Jewish identities of learners.
Altieri, Miguel A.2004. "Linking Ecologists and Traditional Farmers in the Search for Sustainable Agriculture." Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment2, no.1 https://doi.org/10.1890/1540-9295(2004)002[0035:LEATFI]2.0.CO;2
Anderson, E.N.2014. Everyone Eats: Understanding Food and Culture. 2nded. New York, NY: New York University Press.
Beek, Kurt Alan Ver. 2002. "Spirituality: a Development Taboo." Development and Culture. https://doi.org/10.3362/9780855986919.005
Berkes, Fikret, Carl Folke, and Madhav Gadgil. 1995. "Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Biodiversity, Resilience and Sustainability." Biodiversity Conservation, 4: 281-99. Stockholm: Beijer International Institute of Ecological Economics. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-011-0277-3_15
Berlat, Norman, and Alena J.Strauss. 2006. "Engaging Eternity: A Jewish Approach to Death, Dying, Grief, and Bereavement."International Journal of Health Promotion and Education44, no.1 https://doi.org/10.1080/14635240.2006.10708059
Blair, Dorothy. 2009. "The Child in the Garden: An Evaluative Review of the Benefits of School Gardening." The Journal of Environmental Education40, no.2 (Winter). https://doi.org/10.3200/JOEE.40.2.15-38
Blanchard, Tsvi. 1998. "Can Judaism Make Environmental Policy? Sacred and Secular Language in Jewish Ecology Discourse." In Judaism and Ecology: Created World and Revealed Word, edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Cohen, Jeremy. 2001. "On Classical Judaism and Environmental Crisis." In Judaism and Environmental Ethics: A Reader, edited by Martin D. Yaffe. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Cooper, Levi. 2013. "The Assimilation of Tikkun Olam." Jewish Political Studies Review. 25, no. 3/4.
Daberkow, Stan G., and Katherine H. Reichelderfer. 1988. "Low-Input Agriculture: Trends, Goals, and Prospects for Input Use." American Journal of Agricultural Economics70, no.5. https://doi.org/10.2307/1241756
Davis, Ellen F.2009. Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511815041
Dewalt, Billie. 1994. "Using Indigenous Knowledge to Improve Agriculture and Natural Resource Management." Human Organization53, no.2. https://doi.org/10.17730/humo.53.2.ku60563817m03n73
Ehrenfeld, David, and Phillip J.Bentley. 2001. "Judaism and the Practice of Environmental Stewardship."In Judaism and Environmental Ethics: A Reader, edited by Martin D. Yaffe, 125-135. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Feir, Donna L.2016. "The Intergenerational Effects of Residential Schools on Children's Educational Experiences in Ontario and Canada's Western Provinces."International Indigenous Policy Journal7no.3. https://doi.org/10.18584/iipj.2016.7.3.5
Fink, Dan, and Ellen Bernstein. 2000. "Shabbat and the Sabbatical Year." In Ecology & the Jewish Spirit: Where Nature and the Sacred meet, edited by Ellen Bernstein, 112-120. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing.
Gaylie, Veronica. 2011. Roots and Research in Urban School Gardens. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.
Graham, Heather, Deborah Lane Beall, Mary Lussier, Peggy Mclaughlin, and Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr. 2005. "Use of School Gardens in Academic Instruction." Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior37, no.3. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1499-4046(06)60269-8
Harris, Marvin. 1987. The Sacred Cow and the Abominable Pig: Riddles of Food and Culture, A Touchstone Book. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Hazon, 2019. "The Jewish Lab for Sustainability." Accessed Sept. 5, 2018.
Higman, B.W.2012. How Food Made History. 1st ed., Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444344677
Hoffman, August John, ed. 2017. Creating a Transformational Community: The Fundamentals of Stewardship Activities. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Holt-Giménez, Eric and Miguel A. Altieri. 2013. "Agroecology, Food Sovereignty, and the New Green Revolution." Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems37, no.1. https://doi.org/10.1080/10440046.2012.716388
Horrigan, Leo, et al. 2002. "How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture."Environmental Health Perspectives110, no.5. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.02110445
Jewell, James Ralph. 1906. "The Place of Nature Study, School Gardens, and Agriculture in Our School System." 1906. The Pedagogical Seminary13, no.3 (1906). https://doi.org/10.1080/08919402.1906.10534365
Kaplan, Edward K.2002. "Reverence and Responsibility: Abraham Joshua Heschel on Nature and Self."In Judaism and Ecology: Created World and Revealed Word, edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Kass, Leon R.2001. "Sanctified Eating." In Judaism and Environmental Ethics: A Reader, edited by Martin D. Yaffe. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Kimmerer, Robin Wall. 2012. "Searching for Synergy: Integrating Traditional and Scientific Ecological Knowledge in Environmental Science Education." Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences2, no.4 (Fall). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13412-012-0091-y
Kirschenmann, Frederick L. 2005. "Spirituality in Agriculture." Leopold Center Conference Papers. 6.
Kraemer, David. 2002. "Jewish Death Practices: A Commentary on the Relationship of Humans to the Natural World." In Judaism and Ecology: Created World and Revealed Word, edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Krantz, David. 2016. "Shmita Revolution: The Reclamation and Reinvention of the Sabbatical Year."Religions7, no.8 (Summer). https://doi.org/10.3390/rel7080100
Krasny, Marianna E., and Keith Tidball, G.2016. "Community Gardens as Contexts for Science, Stewardship, and Civic Action Learning." In Urban Horticulture: Ecology, Landscape, and Agriculture, edited by Janaki Blum. Oakville, ON: Apple Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1201/b21180-17
Levine, Ellen. 1997. "Jewish Views and Customs on Death." In Death and Bereavement across Cultures, edited by Colin Murray Parkes, Pittu Laungani, and Bill Young. London, UK: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
Lin, Brenda B. et. al. 2012. "Effects of Industrial Agriculture on Climate Change and the Mitigation Potential of Small-Scale Agro-Ecological Farms." in Animal Science Reviews2011, edited by Davic Hemming. Wallingford, Oxfordshire: CABI International. https://doi.org/10.1079/PAVSNNR20116020
Mann, Thomas W.2013. "Not by Word Alone: Food in the Hebrew Bible." Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology67, no.4 (Fall). https://doi.org/10.1177/0020964313495515
Martínez-Torres, María Elena, and Peter M. Rosset. 2010. "La Vía Campesina: The Birth and Evolution of a Transnational Social Movement. " The Journal of Peasant Studies 37, no. 1. https://doi.org/10.1080/03066150903498804
Mauro, Francesco, and Preston D. Hardison. 2000. "Traditional Knowledge of Indigenous and Local Communities: International Debate and Policy Initiatives." Ecological Applications10, no.5. https://doi.org/10.1890/1051-0761(2000)010[1263:TKOIAL]2.0.CO;2
Meyer-Rochow, Victor. 2009. "Food Taboos: Their Origins and Purposes." Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 5, no.18 (June 29). https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-4269-5-18
Mt. Pleasant, Jane, and Robert F.Burt. 2010. "Estimating Productivity of Traditional Iroquoian Cropping Systems from Field Experiments and Historical Literature." Journal of Ethnobiology30, no.1. https://doi.org/10.2993/0278-0771-30.1.52
Northcott, Michael S.2015. Place, Ecology and the Sacred: The Moral Geography of Sustainable Communities. London, UK: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
Ohly, Heather, Sarah Gentry, Rachel Wigglesworth, Alison Bethel, Rebecca Lovell, and Ruth Garside. 2016. "A Systematic Review of the Health and Well-being Impacts of School Gardening: Synthesis of Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence." BMC Public Health16, no.1. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-016-2941-0
Ozer, Emily J.2006. "The Effects of School Gardens on Students and Schools: Conceptualization andConsiderations for Maximizing Healthy Development." Health Education & Behavior34, no.6 (December 21). https://doi.org/10.1177/1090198106289002
Pike, Kenneth L.1967. Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behavior. 2nd ed. The Hague, NT: Mouton & Co Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1037/14786-000
Pudup, Mary Beth. 2008. "It Takes a Garden: Cultivating Citizen-subjects in Organized Garden Projects."Geoforum39, no.3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2007.06.012
Rosenthal, Gilbert S. "Tikkun Ha-Olam: The Metamorphosis of a Concept."The Journal ofReligion85, no.2. https://doi.org/10.1086/427314
Schorsch, Jonathan. 2018. "Cosmological Cultures as Forms of Resistance." The Food Movement, Culture, and Religion: a Tale of Pigs, Christians, Jews, and Politics. Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-71706-7_5
Schwartz, Eilon. 1998. "Response. Mastery and Stewardship, Wonder and Connectedness: A Typology of Relation to Nature in Jewish Text and Tradition." In Judaism and Ecology: Created World and Revealed Word, edited by Hava Tirosh-Samuelson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Segal, Elana. 2010. "Cultivating Learning in the Teaching Garden." Think: The Lola Stein Institute Journal8 (Fall).
Silverstein, Shraga. n.d. "The Mishna with Obadiah Bartenura by Rabbi Shraga Silverstein.Mishnah Bava Kamma 7:7."Sefaria.org. Accessed Aug. 20, 2019.
Slow Food. 2015. "About Us." Accessed Sept. 5, 2018.
Swetlitz, Marc. 1998. "Living As If God Mattered: Heschel's View of Nature and Humanity." In Ecology and the Jewish Spirit, edited by Ellen Bernstein, 244-49. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing.
Thomas, David R.2006. "A General Inductive Approach for Analyzing Qualitative Evaluation Data."American Journal of Evaluation27, no.2. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098214005283748
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). n.d. "About the Commission." Accessed Sept. 5, 2018.
Wheaton, Elaine, and Suren Kulshreshtha. 2017. "Environmental Sustainability of Agriculture Stressed by Changing Extremes of Drought and Excess Moisture: A Conceptual Review." Sustainability9, no.6 (June). https://doi.org/10.3390/su9060970
Williams, Dilafruz R., and P.Scott Dixon. 2013. "Impact of Garden-Based Learning on Academic Outcomes in Schools." Review of Educational Research83, no.2. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654313475824
Zhang, Chaochun, et al. 2014. "Root Foraging Elicits Niche Complementarity-Dependent Yield Advantage in the Ancient 'Three Sisters' (Maize/Bean/Squash) Polyculture." Annals of Botany114, no.8 (January). https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcu191
Jewish Farm School. n.d. "Sustainable Agriculture Rooted in Jewish Traditions." Accessed Sept. 5, 2018.
How to Cite
Canadian Jewish Studies/ Études juives canadiennes is a journal dedicated to the open exchange of information; therefore the author agrees that the work published in the journal be made available to the public under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. The publisher (Association for Canadian Jewish Studies / Association des Études juives canadiennes) recognizes the author's intellectual property rights. The author grants the publisher first serial publication rights and the non-exclusive right to mount, preserve and distribute the intellectual property. The journal is digitized and published on the open access website http://pi.library.yorku.ca/ojs/index.php/cjs/index.