New 'Synagogue Outdoors’ grant brings BAJC outside

BRATTLEBORO — The Brattleboro Area Jewish Community (BAJC) “Synagogue Outdoors” Project has won a $3,000 grant from the Gendler Grapevine Foundation for innovative work to connect community life with their 12 acres of land.

This Gendler Grapevine Grant enables BAJC to add welcoming, interpretive signs, new trails, benches, and outdoor gathering spaces for study, prayer, storytelling, meditation, and more.

The grant builds on the volunteer labor of BAJC members and friends who have already accomplished planting a vegetable garden, a heritage wheat garden, and a small orchard. They have built stairs and opened views that overlook woods and a stream. The trails on the BAJC grounds will be accessible to the general public as the town of Brattleboro links its own nature trails to the site.

David Arfa, a spiritual teacher, storyteller, and environmental educator residing in Shelburne Falls, Mass., says the community has much to celebrate in the grant:

“We worship and gather on 12 acres of field, woods, and stream. Partnership with the Gendler Grapevine allows us to take a giant step forward with new paths, inviting signs and outdoor gathering places. Visitors will be able walk, listen to the land, and who knows, maybe even feel the prophet Isaiah's cry: 'The whole world is filled with Glorious Presence.'”

Andi Waisman, a leader of BAJC's Building and Grounds Committee, agrees the offering is about community:

“Judaism is filled with environmental teachings, and our prayers and celebrations include the land. I want everyone to know that all are welcome here. The Quaker community enjoys using our site on Sunday mornings and it has been wonderful having their help working the land.”

Summer work on BAJC's “Synagogue Outdoors” project will culminate in a Sukkot Harvest Festival and open house on Sunday, Oct. 4, from 1 to 4 p.m. The trails will be open for walks and there will be varied activities, including a workshop exploring Judaism and sustainability.

BAJC welcomes all who are interested in participating together in religious, spiritual, educational, and cultural experiences.

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