08 Oct 2015 Tivnusletter: Tivnu 2.0 Launches
Tivnu’s in the News!
New York Times best-selling author William Deresiewicz wrote a great piece about Tivnu in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Check it out for inside information about founder Steve Eisenbach-Budner, past and present participants, and our gap year program in Portland, Oregon connecting Judaism and social justice.
Also check out our first participant blog post of the year, by Nadav Furgang of Newton, Massachusetts. Next up on our blog: Hadara Goldsmith from Chevy Chase, Maryland.
“Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing for joy together”
The Tivnu program is lucky enough to be situated in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, not far from countless places of natural beauty. So far this year, we’ve already had two multi-day excursions.
We spent four days and three nights in the Willamette Lake National Forest on the banks of Scott Lake as part of our group orientation process. We hiked over 20 miles in two days, sang songs and roasted marshmallows around the campfire, cooked nutritious and delicious meals, and saw some beautiful sights (forests! lakes! snow-capped mountains and a short snowfall! lava fields and obsidian shards! a rainbow!). But more than that, we learned that we can rely on one another, we took the time to appreciate – and say blessings for – both the natural beauty of the wilderness and the comforts of our homes, and we drew our community closer together.
Many Jews now see Sukkot as an opportunity to explore themes of shelter, food justice, and the environment in a Jewish context. Tivnu Two spent the first days of the holiday at the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center connecting with nature and each other. We built a sukkah in the woods and welcomed traditional and personal ushpizin (virtual guests) to join us and remind us of ideals and qualities we value. Observances of the holiday included two styles of walking meditation, a songful Hallel service in the sukkah, a beautiful hike, text study, and of course, delicious meals. Participants also ran a no-mic open mic where we all shared hidden talents. We learned about Opal Creek’s storied history of preservation and its off-the-grid solar and hydroelectric energy system. After hiking out to a closing Havdalah together, everyone agreed that this was not a typical Sukkot celebration.
We’ve loved getting to know each other and Oregon through orientation and celebrating the Jewish holidays together, but now we are excited to get to work. A full week of placements, internships, and swinging a hammer on a Habitat for Humanity site? We’re ready!
What do these three activities have in common?
- Creating a b’rit bayit (house covenant) and filling an alternative mezuzah with our own inspirations for our hearts, souls, and might?
- Eating our way around a seder plate for the first night of Rosh haShanah, with our own riff on this Mizrahi (Eastern) tradition?
- Using the words of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) to discuss whether we should be eating more chocolate cake, while sitting by a waterfall in the Opal Creek Ancient Forest?
They make up my job description!
I’m Adinah Miller, the new Program Director for Tivnu: Building Justice, and I am delighted that this is what I do: along with the intelligent, thoughtful, and passionate gap year participants, I create opportunities for everyone to engage with Jewish texts, traditions, and ideas in new ways. (And if you’d like to know more about any of these or other Tivnu programs, please contact me.) Together we have created our shared rituals and made space for individual exploration of Judaism and Jewishness, and there’s lots more of that to come.
I also have the privilege of working with Portland’s finest social justice organizations in my capacity as facilitator of the gap year internships and placements. (In upcomingTivnusletters, watch for more in-depth information about our participants’ work at Sisters of the Road, JOIN, Portland Youth Builders, and more.) And I get to work with the committed and talented Founder and Executive Director Steve Eisenbach-Budner, Madrichah (house supervisor and AVODAH alumna) Rebecca Mather, and Construction Trainer Erik Brakstad in addition to the wonderful participants. Who could ask for a better job?
SPREAD THE WORD!
EXPANDING TO 18 PARTICIPANTS FOR 2016-17 COHORT
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