Asher Edes and Alexander Grace win Kesher Award

ALEPH wishes to extend a hearty congratulations to Kesher alumni Asher Edes and Alexander Grace on their recent recognition in the form of the annual Kesher Award.

Now in its fifth year, the Kesher Fellowship unites young adults in a learning community focused on Jewish Renewal philosophy, spiritual practice, ritual leadership, and mentorship – all within a co-created communal container. Guided and facilitated by the program’s co-directors, Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife and Joshua Blaine, the fellowship centers around embodied, earth-based, personal and collective experiences of Judaism tied to the cycles of Jewish time and themes.

The Kesher Award, honoring outstanding members of each cohort, was presented at ALEPH’s Annual Virtual Cabaret. This year’s award recipients, Alexander Grace and Asher Edes, developed their collaborative connection after being paired as chevruta during their time with the Kesher Fellowship’s 2021 cohort. Their collaboration resulted in the development of Shmita Hives, a network of community care that is guided by the Jewish calendar. The curricula offers options for participants to study together, practice rest and collective care, access play and embodiment, identify needs in their local communities, and collaborate on social/environmental justice projects.

In addition to co-authoring the Shmita Hives curriculum, Alexander Grace is a flower essence practitioner, focusing on how we can best resource ourselves for transformation and connection with the plant world. His practice, Bloom & Root, offers ritually-crafted potions for moments of support, healing, and celebration. In addition to his work with the plant world, Alexander is a performance clown and a long time educator, most recently working in farming and food advocacy. He leverages each of his different roles as entry points to somatic practices for transformation. He is keenly focused on transforming institutional trauma through somatic practices and care work.

Also the co-author the Shmita Hives curriculum, Asher Edes is a student in ALEPH’s Earth-Based Judaism Program. Asher works at Yesod Farm+Kitchen, bringing their love of community-based art and experiential learning to connect people with embodied Jewish experiences. They are a member of Don’t You Feel It Too?’s activist dance company SEED, and Jewish Studio Project’s Creative Facilitator Training cohort. In addition, Asher assists the nightly virtual gatherings offered by the Nechama Minyan, where people form community across denominational lines and share nechamah (comfort) beyond time and space.

When asked for comment, both Asher and Alexander reflected on their time in the Kesher Fellowship. “Participating in ALEPH’s Kesher Fellowship was a life-changing experience that fed my curiosity about Jewish Renewal,” said Asher. “I felt welcomed into relationships where friends and mentors encouraged me to grow, ask questions, and offer leadership.” 

Alexander added, “The Kesher Fellowship was an opportunity to learn that my version of Judaism and my offering of Judaism is complete, total, unique and valuable. I never would have considered myself as having enough knowledge or skill to write a year long curriculum about Shmita without the container of the Kesher Fellowship. It was an exciting space to be a queer and trans jew with several other queer and trans jews and find a more expansive community within that.”

Both awardees celebrated their collaborator. “Asher is a person who teaches me so much about possibility and teaches me to listen to my capacity and listen to my boundaries,” said Alexander. “They were just a perfect collaborator.”

“I learn from Alexander that starting from relationship and presence is fruitful. Our collaboration has taught me to trust emergence, and I look forward to seeing what comes next,” added Asher.

Congratulations Asher and Alexander on all you have accomplished!