By Amit Weitzer, Director of Adamah Detroit

In late 2021, the Pearlstone and Hazon boards of directors approved the merger of our two organizations and, over the last year, we have been deeply involved in a process of reflection and strategic visioning about our next chapter. While honoring and building on the 20-year history of both organizations, in some ways, we were creating something entirely new. The name of our new entity is Adamah and Adamah Detroit is our local hub! 

This word- adamah (ah-dah-mah)- is an infusion of the Hebrew word for person (adam) and earth (adamah), a powerful expression of the unity and spirit that motivates our work. At Adamah and Adamah Detroit, we cultivate vibrant Jewish life in deep connection with the earth. Every day, we inspire and empower people to feel that connection, activate Jewish identity, build inclusive community and work towards a more sustainable future.   

While our name and logo have changed, our local initiatives and programs and our commitment to enriching Jewish life in Southeast Michigan through environmental education and action are steadfast! Over the last year, our Detroit team has been facilitating a parallel and aligned process of organizational development, reflecting on the opportunities for how to best meet this moment, deeply integrating environmental education, stewardship and action into Jewish life in Southeast Michigan. Relationships and community connection underpin all our work, and we’re excited to have a new name that highlights our focus on developing vibrant Jewish life in deep connection with the Earth.  We’re also thrilled to begin this new chapter in partnership with our Adamah Detroit Advisory Council. 

Adamah Detroit spent the first Sunday of Spring helping to plant trees with The Greening of Detroit.  After a snowy morning of hard work, the team had managed to plant over 20 trees in the area surrounding Cesar Chavez Middle Elementary School.

Adamah Detroit lives out Adamah’s global mission at a local scale: connecting people and planet in Southeast Michigan by enriching Jewish communities with nature-connected environmental education, stewardship and action. Our work is focused in three major areas: 

First, we support a community of Jewish organizations through the Adamah Detroit Seal of Sustainability – all working to integrate environmental education, action and nature connection into their institutions – and we connect local organizations to the Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition. We’re honored to be in partnership with over 40 diverse Jewish organizations, coordinating community building opportunities, offering program collaborations and technical support for sustainability initiatives as we work to integrate environmental values into Jewish life and cultivate the next generation of Jewish environmental leaders. 

Second, Adamah Detroit provides meaningful opportunities for Jewish environmental and climate action. Our Shomrei Adamah (Guardians of the Earth) initiative builds community and connection through rich dialogue about Judaism, Jewish identity and the climate crisis, and supports organizations as they implement environmental initiatives. Additionally, we coordinate environmental stewardship programs – cultivating community while caring for our planet.  

Third, we coordinate programs and intiatives focused on cultivating connection to – and responsibility for – the planet.  With seven organizational partners during the 2022-2023 school year, our Nature Chuggim program aims to engage and inspire children and families through joyful Jewish environmental education, all developed to cultivate vibrant Jewish identity and community while inspiring a life-long responsibility for the environment.  

Dor Hadash students spent Sunday morning, December 4th, at Palmer Park where they learned about Havdalah and made Havdalah kits. Program participants gathered herbs found in the garden, and used a mortar and pestle to make the besamim. Participants rolled beeswax to make twisted candles, and hand squeezed grapes to make grape juice. When done, participants used the new kits during a Havdallah service. 

In past years, we’ve been proud to convene the Michigan Jewish Food Festival – a spirited celebration of Jewish community, culture, food and sustainability. This spring and summer, we’ll be coordinating a robust series of programs and events, all focused on Jewish community building in deep connection with the earth. We hope you can join us: 

For Earth Day 2023, we’ll be partnering with the Greening of Detroit for a tree planting at Marjorie Street Garden. Marjorie Street Garden is adjacent to the historic B’nai David Cemetery on Detroit’s east side and was created to restore dignity to a neglected cemetery and bring natural beauty to the neighborhood. We hope you can join us in stewardship of this special this little corner of Detroit, while honoring and exploring the Jewish history in the adjacent cemetery. 

In June we look forward to a family canoe day on the Huron River to enjoy the scenery and sounds of nature on the water! Accompanying our paddle, will be an exploration of Jewish values, our relationship to water and some new songs to learn. 

In July, in partnership with J Family, we will be hosting Tot Shabbat in Nature on July 8th at Heritage Park in Farmington Hills. Together, we will take a gentle hike on the trails, exploring themes of Shabbat through nature exploration, play and singing songs. 

Inspired by the Jewish ritual of Tashlich, and in partnership with Tikkun Hayam, Adamah Detroit gathered a group to help remove litter from the environment rather than tossing pebbles or bread into a river. Here, the group is pictured taking a break to engage in the practice of forest bathing in Detroit’s Palmer Park.

In August,  Adamah Detroit will host a Jewish Environmental Educator training on August 20th at the J. This day-long training experience will bridge the connection between Judaism, community and the natural world through hands-on, thoughtful and engaging Jewish environmental education content across different ages and Jewish backgrounds. We anticipate a dozen organizations joining together to support a new cohort of Jewish educators who will bring spirited, joyful Jewish environmental learning into local religious school programming during the 2023-2024 school year.  

And, throughout the summer, we’ll be working closely with our partners at the JCC Day Camp to provide Jewish Environmental Education training to key staff and provide complementary nature-based programming, working to develop the next generation of Jewish environmental leaders.  

For Tu Bishvat 2023, Adamah Detroit gathered with  community friends and partners for an evening of nourishment, learning and collective action. Using a hand-crafted Haggadah, the Adamah Detroit team, together with partners RTW-Detroit, The Well and IADS, hosted a seder for 60 individuals in Metro Detroit area with Jewishly inspired environmental content and conversation. 

For details and to RSVP for our collaborative community programs, visit our website and keep in touch with us on Facebook and Instagram. 

Our team is grateful to be doing this work together and we feel proud to continue the legacy of Hazon Detroit’s work as Adamah Detroit.  We look forward to continued and deepened partnership as Adamah Detroit. 

– The Adamah Detroit Team (Amit Weitzer, Carly Silverman, Julia Cunnien & Ari Cohen)