Teva Learning Center

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Teva Learning Alliance
Industry Non-profit
Founded 1994
Headquarters New York City, USA
Key people
Nili Simhai
Alexandra Kuperman
(Assistant Director)

The Teva Learning Alliance (formerly Teva Learning Center) is a Jewish-based environmental education 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that teaches about Judaism and the environment at Jewish day schools, summer camps and Hebrew schools.[1] It is the only full-time year-round program dedicated to innovative, experiential Jewish education taught through the lens of the natural world.[2]

History and mission[edit]

The Teva Learning Center was developed in 1994 by the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center and Surprise Lake Camp.[3] Isabella Freedman has been Teva’s fall home since its founding in 1994.

The Teva Learning Center's educational approach,

seeks to create awareness among Jews about their connection with and dependence upon the natural systems that support life. The Center seeks “to renew the ecological wisdom inherent in Judaism” by “immersing participants in the natural world.”


The director is Nili Simhai, who won the 2009 Covenant Foundation award for Excellence in Jewish Education "for making significant marks in their communities, and for designing and using innovative educational approaches to achieve dramatic and lasting impact."[5] In 2014, Teva and its base, the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, merged with the Jewish environmental organization Hazon.[6]


The Teva Learning Center is a Jewish education group which engages in environmental education and activism through the context of Judaism.[7] Teva's education centers on the preservation of the environment through the eyes of Judaism.[8] Teva frequently, though not exclusively, caters to the educational needs of children in Jewish day schools and provides a hands on approach to environmental education.[9][10] Teva also teaches synagogues, camps and youth groups.[11]

Bring It Back To Our School[edit]

Teva provides workshops on the environment and outdoor experiences along the East Coast at 45 different schools.[12] They work with about 4,000 students annually.[13]

Part of this is teaching students that they are Shomrei Adamah ("Keepers of the Earth"):

Shomrei Adamah (“Keepers of the Earth”), is for fifth- and sixth-grade day-school students who visit a retreat center for four days and make a “brit adamah,” or covenant with the earth, to engage in environmental activity. The Center also runs a program for junior-high students, Achdoot (“Togetherness”), in which the teens camp in the wilderness, usually a state campground[14]

In June 2009, students from the Solomon Schechter Day School of Raritan Valley in New Jersey were presented with the "Kids for Clean Communities Award" for the recycling program they developed at their school after attending the Teva program.[13]

Birkat HaChamah[edit]

Teva recently purchased a bus previously owned by Ben & Jerry's founder Ben Cohen (businessman) for use in environmental classes.[15] The bus was incorporated into environmental awareness programs related to Birkat Hachamah or Blessing of the Sun.[15] However, Orthodox Talmudic scholar Rabbi J. David Bleich of Yeshiva University, a specialist in Birkat Hachamah has been critical of the interpretation of Judaism as a notably environmental faith. He argues that environmental problems are "issues in and of themselves and are totally unrelated to the blessing of the sun," as the blessing is an occasion to acknowledge the wonder of God's creations, not a political statement. "I suppose you can connect anything," he says. "You can draw dots and lines; you don't have to be logical.".[1]

Farm Fellowships[edit]

Teva offers a three month fellowship in environmental farming and Jewish values.[16][17]

Teva Seminar[edit]

An annual four-day program designed to train over 100 participants to develop programs in their "home" institutions.[18]


  1. ^ a b Wiener, Julie (3 April 2009). "Love the Earth? Bless the Sun". Wall Street Journal. 
  2. ^ Westchester Jewish Conference, Organizations and Synagogues Directory 2009-2010
  3. ^ "Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center". 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  4. ^ "D.C. News & Views: Faith Goes Green". Muslim Public Affairs Committee. 27 June 2008. Archived from the original on July 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-24. The Teva Learning Center, for example, seeks to create awareness among Jews about their connection with and dependence upon the natural systems that support life. The Center seeks “to renew the ecological wisdom inherent in Judaism” by “immersing participants in the natural world.” 
  5. ^ "News Article | The Covenant Foundation". Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Retreat mixes spirit with love of nature". New Jersey Jewish News. 13 November 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-24. They took part in the program at the Teva Learning Center in Falls Village, Conn., which integrates outdoor environmental education with Jewish concepts and values. 
  8. ^ Archived from the original on May 1, 2009. Retrieved July 24, 2009.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ "Site Map | Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Org of America". Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  10. ^ Ben Tepfer. "Using Religion to Save the Planet". JVibe. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  11. ^ "Digging Deep on Tu B’Shevat –". Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  12. ^ [1] Archived September 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ a b "School recycling effort earns state recognition | New Jersey Jewish News". 2009-06-23. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  14. ^ [2] Archived November 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ a b "Blessing of the Sun: A Teachable Moment –". Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  16. ^ "Farm School Brings Students Back to Their Roots –". Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  17. ^ Fishkoff, Sue (2008-12-30). "Jewish food movement comes of age | JTA - Jewish & Israel News". JTA. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  18. ^ "Organization: Teva Learning Center". Retrieved 2011-08-17. 

External links[edit]