Prominent Jewish alumni include:
- Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Dr. Gerald Edelman;
- Retired Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, Dr. Ismar Schorsch
- Former President of Montefiore Medical Center and past Chairman of the Ursinus Board of Trustees, Dr. Spencer Foreman;
- Biotechnology leader, Dr. Mitchell Sayre
- Former Chairman of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philip Berman
- Former Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, The Honorable Judith Yaskin;
- Noted author of The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
Alumni Spotlight: Carly Freedman 2010
Since Carly Freedman graduated with a joint Environmental Studies and Biology major in December of 2010, she has been on a peripatetic farming journey that has taken her across the country and across the world. At Ursinus she was president of Hillel, so it’s no surprise that many of her adventures have involved creating intentional Jewish communities. I caught up with her in Cheltenham at a Korean soup restaurant. Here is some of what she had to say about her farming, Jewish life, and the link between the two.
Can you tell me all the agricultural places you’ve farmed in or visited since graduating from Ursinus?
I spent some time traveling around Spain and volunteering on different farms. Then I went to Israel and lived with a friend on Sage Farm, where he grew medicinal herbs and ran a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Next I embarked on a self-guided environmental farming tour of Israel—goat herds, eco-villages in the south, goats and permaculture farming in the north.
Soon after I returned from Israel I headed out to Oregon for the summer, which I spent on homestead that sold blueberries and raised goats, sheep and chickens. They taught me animal husbandry, which I had started to learn at Eden Village (an environmental Jewish summer camp. That’s where I first learned to milk a goat).
Right after Oregon I went to Brandeis Bardin and worked with Gabe Goldin. He had spent years learning from a Native American, so he passed on all these Native American survival skills to me. I was teaching different Hebrew School groups, retreats, and conferences—I would do programs on gardening, crafts, basketry, hiking. Taking people out into the hills, night hikes. But I missed the farming, and I wanted it to be Jewish farming this time. So I came to Kayam, a farm run out of the Pearlstone Center near Baltimore—a Jewish retreat and environmental education center. We ran a 40 share CSA with 7 dairy goats, and lot’s of chickens. I was running their animal program and we also did education. After that I decided I wanted to learn production farming so I came to Blooming Glen Farm in Bucks County. It was 35 acres of vegetable production, no animals. I finished out the growing season there this past November.
Why did you get into farming in the first place?
My first agricultural experience was at Kayam Farm through the Jewish Farm School. Kayam was the first time I ever really had a farming experience. I had gone to Hillel during Pesach, and Nati Passow spoke about the cycles and Judaism and the environment and farming. I was completely blown away. I had no idea that this was related—that my connection to Judaism and my ancestry had anything to do with my innate feeling I had for motherhood and protection of nature. That was eye opening because I wasn’t taught that in Hebrew school—even though I went 3 days a week for 10 years. So I went to Kayam at the Pearlstone Center for a couple of weeks and did this intensive program where we learned (Jewish texts) and we farmed, and we had Shabbes. I had a really important Shabbes there. I grew up having Shabbes dinner with my entire extended family, but it stopped when I got older, so at that point I had no connection with Shabbes. My first real Shabbes was at Kayam. We had been working all week in the field, and putting in posts for a fence, washing vegetables and pulling weeds. We had Kabbalat Shabbat on this hill overlooking the whole field where we had worked all week, and we sat up there with a bunch of people and sang and looked over the field and it was beyond meaningful—being able to look over the work—that was the agricultural roots of Shabbes—you toiled in the field all week and then you rested—you really needed it. I felt it was a holistic, ancient connection that we were having this experience of really having a Shabbes, and that led me to get involved in Ursinus Hillel, cooking Shabbes dinners and getting into the whole environmental movement.