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GrowTorah Celebrates Three Years Since Merger With Canfei Nesharim

(Courtesy of GrowTorah) On December 10, GrowTorah celebrates the third anniversary of its merger with Canfei Nesharim. A longtime thought leader in the Jewish environmental education world, Canfei Neshairm’s groundbreaking work in curriculum development for the Orthodox community was a major inspiration for the creation of GrowTorah. When Yosef Gillers (GrowTorah’s founder) was in college in 2007, he used materials from Canfei Nesharim to prepare large-scale Tu B’Shevat seder for a few hundred classmates at the Washington University in St. Louis Hillel. In 2016, he founded GrowTorah, bringing experiential and environmental Torah education to yeshiva day schools through school gardens. Soon thereafter, he began working with the Canfei Nesharim co-founders on various curriculum initiatives.

“In the spirit of Gathering the ‘Farmily,’ in 2019 we merged together, forming GrowTorah, Inc. to galvanize the Orthodox community toward environmental stewardship,” said Gillers. “Sustainability is not just about the environmental bottom line, but the social and the financial bottom lines as well—we brought together both our communities and all of our resources.

“We are incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished in the last three years,” Gillers continued, highlight a few of the programs:

“One major program that we grew substantially since the merger was our college internship. In the summer of 2019 we had two fantastic interns; in 2022 we had nine; and the program joined in partnership with the OU Impact Accelerator. The OU team provided our interns with professional development and networking opportunities. Part of this growth also involved securing funding for this initiative from EJF philanthropies, in memory of Rabbi Joseph Friedman, and renaming it The Inchwormship.

“Another area of growth has been our Tu B’Shevat offerings. GrowTorah took lesson plans that Canfei Nesharim had developed for Tu B’Shevat activities, and started offering them across the USA as interactive workshops. Baruch Hashem, in 2022, we brought these workshops to 25-plus organizations and over 3,000 individual participants!

“A third offering is the weekly divrei Torah. Canfei Nesharim brought together fantastic authors to write on environmental issues for every parsha of the year. The 2021 and 2022 GrowTorah inchworms updated the science and edited these divrei Torah, and hundreds now subscribe to this weekly subscription.

“In addition to the above expansions of existing offerings, the merger brought us significant depth in our curriculum development, strengthening the Torah lessons taught in our school programs at 25 partner school gardens, and our Camp GrowTorah at Cropsey Community Farm.

Gillers concluded: “We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the support we’ve received from the Farmily as they have learned and grown with us along the way. We are guided by the wisdom of our board and advisers, under our president, Ora Sheinson (co-founder of Canfei Nesharim), and we can’t wait to share our plans for 2023/5783. Stay tuned for an adult learning series to be launching this winter.”

Learn more about GrowTorah at https://www.growtorah.org/

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