How many places of religious worship sell free-range eggs from a chicken coop? Congregation Sons of Israel (CSI) of Briarcliff Manor does. In fact, the 370-family synagogue cleared land last year to accommodate a 1.5-acre farm, which includes ten chickens, organic produce, fruit trees, flowers, and grape vines.
“We decided to build the farm,” says CSI’s Rabbi Steven Kane, “so that we could expand the idea of what it means to belong to a synagogue community.” Rabbi Kane explains how Jewish values are reflected in organic farming: “It gives both children and adults a greater appreciation of the value of all life and the necessity to give thanks for what we have,” he says. Through donations of both time and resources by congregants and friends, CSI was able to create the farm in just one year. In the past, the Briarcliff synagogue had purchased organic produce, herbs, and spices to sell at its farmer’s market, but this is the first time members have planted and grown their own produce on the grounds, which will be sold at CSI’s farmer’s market later this fall.
“The farm will be used for teaching children and adults about the relation of Judaism to the environment,” says Susan Eisenstein, a member of the synagogue and its Organic Farm Committee. CSI has hosted programs for the congregation and the local community on ecology, agriculture, nutrition, healing, health, and cooking. In the fall, CSI will use the produce grown to teach a healthy cooking class at Ossining Children’s Center, which will be available to the public.
Once enough food has been harvested, the synagogue hopes to donate 10 percent of its produce to local food banks, in accordance with Jewish tradition and Biblical law.
Free-range eggs are currently available for purchase from CSI’s farm. The synagogue’s farmers’ market is open to the public on Sundays beginning September 10 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
For info, contact Rabbi Steven Kane or Synagogue Director Ellen Green Johnson at 914.762.2700, or visit CSIBriarcliff.org.
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