In January 2011, Rodef Shalom Congregation established an edible container garden and a Jewish education program for preschool children, religious school children and interested congregants as part of its Life Long Learning Program. This project is funded by an Incubator Grant from the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and follows the URJ Initiative “Green Table, Just Table”.  Based on “seed to table” principles, the container garden consisting of edible vegetables, plants, fruits and nuts is planted, tended to and harvested on the Deaktor Terrace and has a prominent spot near its world renown Biblical Botanical Garden. 

An edible container garden exemplifies the Jewish value of healthier and sustainable food choices and strengthens the traditional Jewish connection between food and social responsibility. The education and hands-on activities are designed to engage all generations and make use of the master-gardener resources the congregation has available among its current membership. 

Along with the edible garden, a composting program in line with the vision of the Jewish Food Movement has been implemented in two ways: worm composting for the preschool and backyard composting for the Rodef Shalom Congregation kitchen.


Recent Posts

A Jewish Blessing for the Edible Garden at Rodef Shalom

On Friday, May 27, 2011, Rodef Shalom Preschool held a Teacher Appreciation lunch. During this lunch, Harriett Green, one of our teachers, encouraged everyone attending to view our edible garden and to see how much the students have planted so far. Once the group was assembled in the garden area, Rabbi Aaron Bisno gave a short talk about what Jewish tradition says regarding planting. He indicated that there is a midrash the speaks about how each new seed gets it’s own angel, which encourages the seed to grow and flourish.
However, neither Rabbi Bisno, Rabbi Henry, nor Rabbi Hertz was able to find a blessing specifically for newly planted items. Rabbi Bisno indicated that he believes this is so because a Jewish blessing usually accompanies an action or an immediate result. When planting, we have to anticipate the future blessing of the adult plant, during the harvest. However, Rabbi Bisno did find a blessing that “thanks G-d for the continuous renewal of creation.” This blessing is transliterated as “Baruch ata Adonai Eloheynu Melech ha’olam oseh ma’aseh b’reisheet.”  Blessed are you G-d Sovereign of the Universe who continuously blesses creation.
After this lovely blessing, the group also said the “shehekianu” prayer which is said when one does something for the first time, moments we’ve anticipated and moments of celebration. “Baruch ata Adonai Eloheynu Melech ha’olam shekekianu vekeyamanu vehigianu lazman ha’zeh.” Blessed are you G-d, Sovereign of the Universe who has kept us alive and sustained us and brought us to this moment.

April Ohms, another preschool teacher, created a wonderful short movie of the event. Check out a video of the blessing here.

kids in the garden

All the families and teachers and guests admired the newly planted items such as the strawberries, tomatoes and pea plants. The garden will continue to get new plants and to be tended by the teachers and students over the summer.