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Or Atid News for July


By Lynn Landesman and Alison Litvin

Congregation Or Atid had a phenomenal beginning to the summer months!

We were excited to have three B’nai Mitzvah celebrations.  Mazel Tov Emory Brown, Alec Coffey and Cady Bunce!  Their families and the congregation watched with pride as these students led services with competence and confidence.

We began our in-person services again in June.  As we continue to hold both in person and virtual services, we are looking ahead to a full re-opening.  If you are interested in attending a service with us, please reach out to the office for more information by calling (804) 740-4747.  Visit us online at www.oratid.org for more information and updates.

Gan Chesed

Gan Chesed provides a hands-on learning experience for all ages and abilities.

Students in the Helen and Sam Kornblau Religious School are updating the outdoor space at Congregation Or Atid, building a new garden and play area with help from the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond. As proud recipients of a 2021-22 Programmatic Grant, Or Atid families are eager to come together this summer to build Gan Chesed: The Kindness Garden.

The garden has been a work in progress for the past two years, with the pandemic shining a new light on the importance of outdoor gathering spaces. Once fully completed, the garden will offer a unique place for learning, playing, and exploring Jewish culture. Congregation Or Atid is establishing a new Gan Chesed committee to oversee development of the garden, headed by the passionate founder of the project, Alison Litvin.

Exploring Jewish Values

Gan Chesed aims to create a space where students want to learn. The Teaching pavilion provides a safe, outdoor classroom for the school and community events.

Exploring Jewish values through agriculture, the unique garden layout will follow the Jewish calendar to connect various plants and produce to Jewish holidays. Corn planted at the end of the school year in May will eventually form the borders for a natural, plant-based Sukkah, offering students a unique opportunity to celebrate and appreciate the harvest during Sukkot. The garden will also boast eight raised beds for produce, growing fresh fruits and vegetables to donate to local food banks. Working with FeedMore, Or Atid aims to donate 100 pounds of fresh, locally-grown produce to families.

The Gan Chesed project includes plans beyond the garden, extending into the playground to create new, sensory-based activities. Taking advantage of vertical space, interactive wall stations will be attached to the brick-wall border to create additional play opportunities for students of all ages and abilities. A sensory path made of a variety of materials will wrap around the playground and along a line of 9 candle-shaped evergreens.

Fitted with lights, these trees will form a live, plant-based menorah.  Or Atid looks forward to hosting congregational and community events to celebrate Judaism in the outdoors, together.

To learn more about Gan Chesed, please contact Alison Litvin at litvin.alison@gmail.com, or call Congregation Or Atid at (804) 740-4747.


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