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Gardening, Community, and Judaism

10/20/2021 03:28:03 PM


Rose Hornstein

There are few things in life that are more delectable than homegrown tomatoes, layered with freshly picked basil, drizzled in sweet balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and a dash of kosher salt (of course). Rodef Sholom congregant Nancy Mann  knows this type of satisfaction quite well. Nancy is a former graphic designer, wife, daughter, sister and mother of two. Nancy Mann grew up gardening, as she developed her love for plants from her mother. 

Nancy has carried these skills into her Greenbrae garden, which grows seasonal vegetables and fruit, like green beans, tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, chard, and a handful of citrus trees. Nancy’s garden has fed her family for more than 16 years, about as old as her two children, a 17 year old daughter and 19 year old son. “When my kids were very young, we would split open the pits of apricots and plant the seed into the ground. That same tree is now three feet tall, and each year produces about 12 apricots, blossoming in Spring and ripening in July and August.” explains Nancy. 

Every day, Nancy checks on her abundant garden. Each day brings new surprises for the dirt, sun, rain, seeds, fertilizer and food. From above, gardens need proper sunshine and water, from below they require rich soil and a temperate climate. Naturally, the garden also needs fertilizer and the appropriate hands to bring it all to life. 

For Nancy, gardening aligns quite well with Judaism. Family, food, supporting one another are evident Jewish qualities that relate to gardening. There are so many intergenerational connections that tie the family together, just like a green bean twists around a stalk!

“The act of exchanging food from the garden with my community builds connection. The act of giving aligns to Judaism. Growing, sharing, cooking and ultimately eating the abundant bounty.” states Nancy. Bet Zel Em Hom. Now let’s eat!

Tue, March 28 2023 6 Nisan 5783