Q: Where will I live, and what does my living situation look like?
A: Apprentices will live in our brand new eco-cabin. The cabin has 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and will be shared by eight apprentices. Everyone will have a roommate, and each room comes with a bed, desk, dressers, and closet. The cabin is naturally insulated with recycled denim, and plastered with local clay so it stays cool in the hot summer. Right next to the cabin is the Mo’adon (Mo). The Mo is the apprentices’ living area and has a large porch and tables for eating, a full kitchen, laundry, and a second set of bathrooms.
Q: What will we eat?
A: Apprentices will prepare their own food together in the Mo kitchen. The apprenticeship community will have a shared budget for food of $25 per person per week. Apprentices will also receive a CSA share each week (once the land has begun producing for the season) that will provide a bounty of fresh produce.
Q: Is the Mo Kosher?
A: Yes, the Mo is Kosher and vegetarian. We realize there is a spectrum of the way people observe kashrut and as such have implemented a kashrut policy based on the input of many staff and community members over the years. Though Pearlstone’s dining hall is supervised by the Star-K, the Mo is not.
Q: Can my friends come to visit?
A: Guests are welcome to come and visit, stay with you, and volunteer on the farm. Our first priority however is the safety and comfort of those living and working at Pearlstone. All guests need to be approved by the apprenticeship coordinator and discussed with the apprentice community. If community members are uncomfortable with a guest, s/he may be asked to leave. Guests may stay up to 4 nights only.
Q: I’m not very religious. Will I feel comfortable at Pearlstone?
A: We pride ourselves on having a diverse and pluralistic Jewish community at Pearlstone. While we maintain a kashrut policy we hope will please everyone, we are excited about the many different expressions of Judaism that come forth in a pluralist environment. If you are the type of person who is ok stepping a little bit outside of the box, learning new things, and being respectful of the way others practice even when it is different than you, then you will feel comfortable here.
Q: Do I need a car?
A: No, you do not need a car to be an apprentice at Pearlstone. That being said, our campus is relatively secluded, about four miles from the nearest supermarket or convenience store. Many have found it helpful to have a car when living here.
Q: What will my work hours be?
A: The work of running and maintaining an educational farm and retreat center requires significant labor and a flexible attitude. At Pearlstone, we strive to maintain a 10 hour work day, though the hours may fluctuate from earlier to later start times based on the season. Furthermore, apprentices will have chores and responsibilities that extend beyond the standard work hours. Examples include: cleaning the Mo, evening animal feeding and closing, and grocery shopping. In addition to work blocks, the 10-hour workday may include educational workshops, community meeting, morning spiritual practice, and more. For a sample weekly schedule, click here.
Q: What will my work consist of?
A: The apprenticeship program aims to integrate all aspects of Pearlstone’s work into the experience of its participants. Though the majority of your work time will be spent on the farm, apprentices will also work in the retreat center’s kitchen, with maintenance, and educational programming. Pearlstone places a high value on collaboration, and as such, every member of the team often helps out in all different areas of the organization.
Q: What do the program’s learning opportunities consist of?
A: As an apprentice you will participate in formal and informal educational experiences in Jewish learning, agricultural skills, and more. These will include classes and workshops led by Pearlstone’s programming and farm staff as well as a host of Baltimore’s best Rabbis and educators. There will also be occasional field trips to local farms and educational sites. Participation in learning sessions is a vital component of the apprenticeship.
Q: What is Morning Spiritual Practice?
A: Each morning, as we rise together and prepare for the holy work of tending to the earth, we have the opportunity to raise more than just our bodies, because collectively we are capable of raising the whole world. Morning Spiritual Practice is a unique opportunity for apprentices and members of the Pearlstone staff to come together and start their day in community with song, prayer, meditation, and reflection. Throughout the season, everyone will have multiple opportunities to lead this special time. With each community member’s leadership, we will encounter a new experience grounded in the framework of our ancient Jewish tradition.
Q: What is a community meeting, what does that consist of?
A: Living in community is an incredible experience filled with joy and excitement, but it also takes work. Community meetings give the apprenticeship cohort the opportunity to work out issues that have arisen within the group, create space to talk about chores and responsibilities, and review the coming week’s schedule. These meetings are also an opportunity for us to check in with each other, share where we are, what is happening in our lives, and what support we may need from others
Q: Do I get days off?
A: Apprentices work 5 days a week. For the most part this means either a Monday – Friday or Sunday – Thursday schedule. Furthermore, apprentices have personal days throughout the season. While these are yours to use, you will need to submit a leave request to your supervisor at least two weeks in advance for the days off you wish to take. Apprentices also receive sick days throughout the season.
Q: What are Shabbat and Chagim (Jewish holidays) like at Pearlstone?
A: Shabbat is of great importance to us at Pearlstone. This sacred rest nourishes our bodies and souls so that we can continue to do our work together of building a more beautiful and sustainable world.
Throughout the season, the apprentice community is encouraged to create for themselves rituals and practices for celebrating Shabbat. Also, there will be community Shabbatot during which Pearlstone staff will join the apprentice community to celebrate. Chagim are much the same—a time for you to rest, celebrate, and worship in a way that feels best for you. Chol ha’moed are work days. Though you won’t have a full work day on Shabbat or Chagim, apprentices are responsible for caring for our animals during the season, which means that you will have a Shabbat and Chag (holiday) chore rotation. Each apprentice will be “on-duty” approximately one Shabbat per month and at least one chag during the season.