Pearlstone Receives National Honor

 Jakir Manela, executive director of Pearlstone Center (Photo by Justin Tsucalas)
Jakir Manela, executive director of Pearlstone Center (Photo by Justin Tsucalas)

Pearlstone Retreat & Conference Center, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, was the recipient of the Lippman Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom in the “Local” category on Wednesday, Dec. 14.

As one of 200 applicants  nationwide, the honor was  bestowed upon representatives of Pearlstone at the Jewish  Futures Conference in New York City.

A component of its celebratory 50th anniversary, this was the first time the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah presented its auspicious new award that included an $18,000 prize for its winners in each of six categories.

The foundation supports and promotes “Judaism as a powerful, evolving wellspring of accumulating wisdom and sensibilities that enriches people’s lives and helps create a better world,” according to its news release.

It has worked toward this goal by means of “a strategic portfolio of grantmaking, thought-partnerships and other collaborative actions.”

Pearlstone executive director Jakir Manela and board president Rachel Steinberg Warschawski received the award on behalf of the center that has existed as a bucolic conference/retreat haven on the outskirts of Baltimore for the past 15 years and as an organic farm for the past 10.

“We really bring to life the Jewish calendar and Jewish ethics around land stewardship,” Manela said, “How we treat animals, how we treat the earth in a very tactile way.”

Manela believes that Pearlstone’s experiential education programs — a means of teaching about harvesting, tithing and what he calls “food justice” in giving back both to the land harvested and to needful charities in the community — is “an application of Jewish wisdom that’s unfortunately very rare but really important to help us understand the depth, power and relevance of our heritage.”

Revealing that the prize money will largely go toward continuing to “bring the message of Jewish education to the community in a more public and accessible way,” Manela said he hopes that Pearlstone will also be able to bolster its invitation toward all members of the area, Jew or gentile, to experience the 165-acre estate’s bounties.

“We’re just getting started, and we have a lot more to come,” Manela said. “We’re really excited to continue this great work.”

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