Shmittah Summit 2012

Monday March 12 -to- Tuesday March 13, 2012

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Tentative Schedule (Subject to Change


8:00 am            Shacharit 

9:00 am            Breakfast

9:30am             Opening & Introduction

10:00 am           Envisiong Shmittah Society

Nati Passow—Jewish Farm School/Yigal Deutscher—7Seeds Project

11:15am            Shmittah, Energy, & Sustainability         

Rabbi Fred Dobb—Adat Shalom Congregation

Sybil Sanchez—Coalition on the Environment & Jewish Life

12:30                Lunch

1:30 pm            Panel: The Shmittah Coalition

Moderator: Rachel Jacoby Rosenfield—Jewish Greening Fellowship

Timi Gerson—AJWS

Nigel Savage—Hazon

Rabbi Steve Gutow—Jewish Council for Public Affairs

3:30 pm            How to Lobby on the Farm Bill

                                    Timi Gerson—American Jewish World Service

                                    RAC & JCPA representatives?

4:45 pm            Shmittah in the Street

Rabbi Arthur Waskow—Shalom Center

Nili Simhai—Teva Learning Center

6:00 pm            Dinner

7:30 pm            Open Forum—Continuing the Conversation—Jakir Manela

            Night Hike—Kayam Farm Staff

9:00 pm            Campfire


8:00 am            Breakfast

9:00 am            Depart for DC

10:30 am          USDA Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships 11:30                Lunch at USDA

1:00 pm            Advocacy appointments in Senate and House buildings

3:15 pm            Closing (on Capitol Hill, location TBD)

3:30 pm            Departure (from DC or optional ride back to Pearlstone)

Cost for Summit

Includes all meals, programming costs and the following options for lodging (per individual):

Family & Teen Center Dorm Room $100

Single Occupancy Lodge Room $200

Double Occupancy Lodge Room $150

Cabin (sleeps 10) $150

Kids age 1-12 $42

1 day Commuter $40

2 Day Commuter $80

Please note: If you are staying over Sunday from the Beit Midrash you must register for the extra night on the Beit Midrash website!


Entering its fourth year, the Kayam Farm Beit Midrash is a gathering of nationally renowned Jewish farmers, rabbis, students, scholars, and consumers for a weekend full of Jewish learning anchored in land, agriculture, and sustainability.  Over 200 participants are expected to attend our fourth annual Beit Midrash centered on the theme of Shmittah & Society.

            Kayam Farm is one of many organizations inspired by the concept of Shmittah.  COEJL has released a Shmittah Declaration establishing targeted goals for progress on climate change and renewable energy by the next Shmittah year, beginning Rosh Hashanah 2014.  Hazon has a 7-year Vision for what the American Jewish community should look like by the next Shmittah year as well, focusing particularly on issues of food, health, education, and agriculture.  Part of that vision is to create a Jewish impact on the Farm Bill, one of our nation’s most ominous and far reaching pieces of legislation.  Hazon is joined by AJWS in their mission to raise a cacophony of voices in order to impact federal policy as it relates to our food systems—both locally and globally.

            The intersection between these organizations is clear, and the Kayam Beit Midrash offers a unique and well timed opportunity to bring together a diverse group of participants for the Shmittah Summit.  This groundbreaking event, which begins with the weekend Beit Midrash program and culminates with an advocacy day in Washington DC, will focus on how Shmittah should actually be implemented, with particular emphasis on climate change and food and farming.


  1. Explore Jewish texts, contemporary issues, and current legislation in order to identify key methods towards applying the values and traditions of Shmittah in America, both now and during the next Shmittah year.
  2. Use Shmittah as a motivating force to build Jewish support and organizational capacity for climate change progress and food/agriculture issues
  3. Impact the Farm Bill and other relevant legislation through a broad coalition of progressive Jewish organizations.


Target Audience

The Shmittah Summit will attract both grassroots activists and grasstops leaders—not only college students, farmers, and educators, but also JCRC advocates, federation professionals, and congregational leaders will be targeted to attend.  The diversity of voices and perspectives will enrich the dialogue and ensure that the emerging ideas are both inspired and realistic and  able to be implemented in a variety of arenas—congregationally, communally, and politically.  


Advocacy Day

Some of the organizations above undertake political advocacy as part of their organizational mission; some do not.  For those organizations that engage in advocacy work, they may determine that there is great potential to organize and implement an Advocacy Day in Washington DC as part of this Shmittah summit.  That advocacy opportunity would enable the participants in the summit to apply their learning/experience directly in the political arena, and could bring a powerful new voice to political debates on climate change and the Farm Bill.


Lisa Bodziner
Special Programs Director 

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