The JRC Garden

The "JRC Gardeners" are a hands-on group that helps to beautify the synagogue landscape. The Garden Committee has a number of ongoing projects to support and maintain our grounds.

Support the JRC Garden and beautify your own green spaces by buying some tulip and flower bulbs in our Spring Bulb Sale! 

Read the JRC Garden's five-year plan.

Bee in the Spiderwort by Rich KatzSince 1984, the JRC Gardeners have been working together to create and maintain a welcoming place for the JRC family in the landscape around JRC. Because Jewish tradition is closely tied to the circle of the year, we focus on trees, shrubs and perennials that reflect the changing seasons, that provide fruit, color or a wonderful scent at different times of year, and that attract butterflies, birds and bees. From the beginning, our garden has been chemical-free, mostly native, needing little or no watering. For all these years, the JRC garden was supported primarily by donations and our annual sale of spring-flowering bulbs (tulips, daffodils, etc.). Learn more about the history of our garden>

When JRC built our new building, we also rebuilt our garden. But not entirely! "Foster Plant Parents" dug up treasured perennials, shrubs and trees from JRC and cared for them until they could be replanted in the new garden. During the planning period, JRC Gardeners worked closely with the Green Team to meet the landscape requirements for LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification, and the building and garden eventually won the highest LEED status, Platinum. LEED requirements continue the commitments the JRC Garden had since 1984 - a sustainable garden, with draught tolerant plants that support native wildlife and do not need irrigation. Although we focus on native species, there is some flexibility. Use this handy pictorial guide to play Find That JRC Flower>

Today, the all-volunteer JRC Gardeners continue to work together to create and maintain a welcoming place for the JRC family in the landscape around JRC. Larry Goldberg, our Head Gardener, and his team of Garden Hands are in charge of the down-and-dirty work to support and maintain a sustainable garden. You've likely seen Larry and the Garden Hands out in the garden mulching and digging out weeds (invasive, aggressive plants), and the results have been spectacular. Esther Kaplan coordinates the annual bulb sale. As liaison between the garden and JRC's Religious School and Early Childhood Center, Becky Block works closely with our teachers to provide mitzvah opportunities for individual kids, class groups and families to help JRC build and maintain our garden, as well as to plan special school projects in which kids can experience the thrill of participating in nature.


Jerry Herst delivers the mulch by Dick BlockTHERE ARE MANY WAYS TO SUPPORT JRC'S GARDEN
Sign up for a Garden Day. Our annual garden calendar begins in early spring with the Spring Cleanup, and ends in the fall with the Fall Cleanup and bulb planting. In between, we have periodic Garden Days about once a month. These are great opportunities to learn about the garden, get to know the Garden Hands, and help keep the garden healthy. If you want to be notified about Garden Days, contact Larry Goldberg, Also see the JRC Calendar for Garden Days, and drop in.

Buy spring-flowering bulbs in the annual JRC Bulb Sale. You will not only contribute to beautifying your neighborhood, but also contribute to sustaining JRC's garden. Two mitzvot in one - such a deal! Each spring, be sure to order your bulbs from Esther Kaplan for delivery when it is time to plant them in the fall.

Make the garden your B'nai Mitzvah tzedakah project! Becoming part of the Garden Hands team means that you commit to working in the garden for a number of days from early spring through the first frost in October, helping to do whatever the garden needs doing, and learning about what it takes to maintain and continue to build a sustainable landscape at JRC.


March-April: Spring Garden Cleanup. Digging weeds, mulching, evaluating the garden. Many hands make light work!

April 15 (or closest Sunday not Pesach): JRC Garden Spring Planning Meeting. Decide our goals for the year. Any new plantings? Should plants be thinned and transplanted in another part of the garden? What spring-flowering bulbs should we order (we get them wholesale!)?

April 23 (or closest Sunday not Pesach): Celebrate Earth Day in the JRC Garden! Take a tour of the JRC Garden, led by a garden docent; bring your garden hat and gloves and help the Garden Hands maintain our garden; find out about spring-flowing bulbs and place your order in the JRC Garden Bulb Sale.

May: Spring Garden Days. Spring planting of new or transplanted plants, following the JRC Garden long-term plan.

May 15: Deadline for Bulb Sale orders.

June-July-August: Summer Garden Days. Responsible Garden Hands keep an eye on weeds and mulch, take care of new or transplanted plants.

Welcome to JRC by Dick BlockSeptember 15 (or closest Sunday not conflicting with the High Holidays): Bulb Pickup Day. Doornbosch packs up each individual order with bulbs straight from the Netherlands, and sends them to JRC when it is time to plant. Pick up your Bulb Sale order.

September 15 (or closest Sunday not conflicting with the High Holidays): Fall Garden Cleanup. Planting of JRC's bulb order. Possible fall planting.

October: Garden Days. Put the garden to bed for the winter. Many hands make light work.

October 15 (or closest Sunday): JRC Garden Fall Planning Meeting. Evaluation of the past year; pointers and things to remember for next year.


Photo Credits:
"Bee in the Spiderwort" by Rich Katz
"Jerry Herst delivers the mulch" by Dick Block
"Welcome to JRC" by Dick Block

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Our enriching and diverse preschool program is based on progressive Jewish values, is open to families of all religious backgrounds, and focuses on the importance of relationships between students, teachers, and families. 

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The Religious School provides JRC children with the building blocks they need to engage throughout their lives in Jewish exploration, community and activism.

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The Green Synagogue and the Pillars of Chai


In 2008, we built the first platinum LEED-certified green synagogue in North America. The construction required 18 pillars - the number in Hebrew that also means "chai" or "life." 

Now, more than ten years later, JRC has launched the Pillars of Chai Campaign to raise $4.4m to wholly own our beloved building. 


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