DATE: December 25, 2007
Contact: Sara-Malka Laderman, Program Director, Jacob's Ladder Farm
410/655-6777; Email to:
Ecological Workshops Make Torah Come Alive!
Shhh! Four-year-old Dani is putting his small chick down for a nap. He
cradles it close to his tummy to keep it warm, watching as its eyes close
in the comfort of its new-found Mom. In his caretaker role, Dani experiences
the meaning of stewardship over Hashem's creatures.
The happy clatter in the lunchroom nearby must be Lissie and her classmates
whacking at anvils, punches, and dapping blocks. They are decorating
and reshaping copper squares into bowls to explore how Bnai Yisrael
(Children of Israel) reused the Egyptians' precious metals to build the
At the milking stand, three-year-old Simi squirts goat milk—a renewable resource symbolizing
the Land of Milk and Honey's fertility—into a large container. Older kids will then stir Milk and
Honey into re-usable containers and make Kick-the-Can Ice Cream for Simi and their families.
Five-year-old Chanoch befriends the sheep. He sings her Adon Olam, picks daisies for her to
eat, and tells her she's a beautiful sheep. Friend Shmuel, clutching wool he sheared by himself,
runs to show his teacher his “gozez” (shearing). His wool will join 19 other bits of the renewable
resource for “melaben” (cleaning), and he will go on to spin, dye, and weave on looms under
his own “steam.”
Since 1995, Jacob's Ladder Farm has, according to one mother, changed the lives of Baltimore's children with
hands-on, start-to-finish Torah workshops. “It made a huge impact” on Sharon Freundel's 11th and 12th
grade students, says the rebbetzin, who in 2001 invited Jacob's Ladder Farm program
director Sara-Malka Laderman to teach a two-hour program
called “Sheep to Shawl: 9 Melachot Related to Sheep.” The
rebbetzin expresses the amazement all felt by seeing a loom, spinning
wheel, and raw wool up close. “Seven years later, they’re still talking
about it,” says Freudel. “I’m blown away by what you do.”
Freundel’s experience is not unusual. Jews are hungry for Torah of all sorts, and Laderman
has found the workshops to be an excellent vehicle for parent education and kiruv (outreach).
A large Jewish but not religious group once scheduled a 5-day preschool visit for the “Bracha
“Word got out,” said one attendee: By the third day all the preschool personnel wanted to come
and so many parents signed on they rented an extra bus. “The adult-to-kid ratio was 1-to-1, and
one mother paid to come twice,” notes Laderman, who peppers her explanations to the kids with
additional information of adult interest. “There is a need for Torah programs that reach people
on various levels.”
New in 2008 is a collection of workshops that better highlights sustainable agriculture, renewable
resources, and other ecological practices. For details on Jacob’s Ladder Farm programs,
see www.jacobsladderfarm/wtca.html (regular Torah programs), www.jacobsladderfarm/ecotorah.
html (ecological Torah programs), or www.jacobsladderfarm/events.html (upcoming events).
Jacob’s Ladder Farm travelling programs are available Jan. 20-Feb.12 and June-Rosh Hashana,
2008, and similar time periods for 2009. To schedule a program for your school, synagogue,
summer camp, or special event, please contact Mrs. Laderman at 410/655-6777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.