Sowing Seeds, Braiding Community
The URJ recently announced our 2012 Incubator Grant recipients, which help our congregations implement new programs to further engage current members and attract new members. We’re also thrilled to follow up on the good work of one of our 2011 Incubator Grant recipients, Congregation Bet Ha’am in South Portland, ME, which has documented its program Sowing Seeds, Braiding Community in a short documentary available on the synagogue’s website.
Through an exciting new program called Sowing Seeds, Braiding Community, Congregation Bet Ha’am has successfully engaged diverse constituencies from within our congregation and the greater Jewish and non-Jewish communities in Portland – and beyond.
This program was made possible by a special Incubator Grant from the Union for Reform Judaism, and with it, the Bet Ha’am Garden Committee has realized the goal of organically growing ancient, “heritage” biblical wheat varieties on our very own soil.
The project began with a kickoff event in early April 2011 called “The Mystery of Matzah: Jewish Teachings on Farming, Food and Community,” and featured a full weekend of hands-on learning geared toward a diverse range of interests. Read more about the event in this Portland Press Herald article.
Our weekend study circles were led by Elisheva Rogosa – scholar, organic farmer, artisan baker, and founder of the Heritage Wheat Conservancy. For more on Elisheva, visit her website at www.growseed.org.
We planted our first crop of spring wheat shortly after the “Mystery of Matzah” event and tended to it throughout the summer. After harvesting our beautiful wheat in the fall, we dried it, threshed it, ground it into flour, and made two hearty loaves of challah, which were shared on Sukkot.
We also planted our second crop of wheat (called “winter” wheat) in the fall, and we look forward to watching it shoot skyward — a symbol of our continuing cycle of growth and learning with Sowing Seeds, Braiding Community.
What follows is a short documentary on the year-long Sowing Seeds, Braiding Community project at Congregation Bet Ha’am.