Jewish Time As a Spiral, Both Cyclical and Progressively Forward Moving: Interview with Yoshi Silverstein
Yoshi is a Jewish educator and most recently Director of the JOFEE Fellowship at Hazon, through which he supported the growth and leadership of over 60 emerging professionals working in the realm of Jewish relationship to land, food, culture, climate, and community.
Amanda connected with Yoshi when she was a JOFEE fellow, and many of her experiences in the fellowship inspired and informed The Jewish Planner, from its beginning. We were grateful for Yoshi’s support on last year’s Kickstarter and excited to hear his impressions, now that he’s been using the planner for a few months.
“As someone who trains Jewish nature professionals and plans much of my year around the Jewish calendar, having a well-designed planner with both the Hebrew and Gregorian year was an exciting and highly compelling idea.” Yoshi first heard about The Jewish Planner when it was just that – an idea. Yoshi told us,“I loved this idea when Amanda first mentioned it at our opening JOFEE Fellowship training and remember us being so surprised that nothing like it even existed yet because it feels like such an obvious need.”
Once The Jewish Planner became real and Yoshi received his very own copy, he was really excited! His first impressions? “Really nicely made, great design, lots of small and thoughtful details that really add to the user experience.”
When we launched The Jewish Planner last year, a few people asked us why we thought it was needed, since Google Calendar has a Hebrew dates option and there are several other digital tools out there for tracking Hebrew dates. We felt confident we were doing something different, and now that the planner has been around and in the lives of hundreds of people, we can hear from them what’s unique and needed about The Jewish Planner.
Here’s what Yoshi has to say about that, “When I first started using the planner I defaulted to linear to-do lists, similar to how I’ve used other planners. But when I tried to ‘grid’ out important dates and time blocks, I realized it just didn’t work well against the circular design of the planner pages. This allowed me to step back and rethink how to use this tool and I found I really enjoyed the opportunity created by its design to think differently about how I represent a given planned week of my life.”
Yoshi’s response is so insightful and expresses the internal shift that happens as we adjust our relationship to time and begin to align with the natural cycles. Yoshi also realized that “I didn’t need another grid-calendar – I already use GoogleCal for work and personal schedules – but the ability to bring some art and creativity into my planning was really refreshing.”
“I love the idea of Jewish time as a spiral – it’s both cyclical and progressively forward moving.” Yoshi said, “This in turn mirrors life and movement on all scales, from the atomic to the galactic, and I’m always amazed at how much our earliest thinkers and philosophers and spiritual leaders were able to discern and distill into the wisdom represented by the Hebrew calendar.”
“In my personal life,” Yoshi continued, “these forward-moving cycles are like rings on a tree. Even as I cycle back through the same seasons, holidays, weekly and monthly and annual events, I’m also learning and growing in what it means to be a Jew and a human. Being in relationship with the Hebrew calendar allows me to recognize, appreciate, and build on this pattern in ways that connect me to the earth, my ancestors, and Jewish tradition.”
We are inspired by Yoshi’s connection to nature and Jewish wisdom, as well as his ability to put into words many of the feelings and motivations behind The Jewish Planner.
If you think Yoshi is as cool as we do, you’ll be excited to hear that he’s launching a new venture! Mitsui Collective builds resilient community through embodied Jewish practice and multiracial justice work. Yoshi explains, “Staying grounded in Jewish traditions and wisdom is core to the work of rooting ourselves in communities of practice for movement, wellness, and nature connection.”
If you want to get involved or to learn more about Jewish approaches to wellness and resiliency building, please be in touch with Yoshi! You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and check his new venture out on social media: