Jewish Farm School




Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2020):

Revenue: $50,508
Expenses: $67,348
Assets: $7,457


Environmental Advocacy




Nathaniel Passow

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The Jewish Farm School (JFS) was a nonprofit gardening and agriculture training center based in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area until it shut down in 2019. Founded in 2005, the school aimed to teach farming skills as part of a broader project to instill its variety of Jewish values and environmentalist views in its participants. The JFS also hosted events and retreats where it promoted left-of-center resource distribution and urban development policies to educators, students, and activists. The school received its financial support from national and regional Jewish grantmaking organizations. 1 2

Since its closure, the school’s remaining resources have been used to support several new, similar projects in Pennsylvania. 3

Nathaniel Passow, a co-founder of the JFS, has connected his environmentalist politics to his Jewish background, even as he himself has indicated that he no longer identifies with his upbringing in Orthodox Judaism. 4 Since the end of his time running the school, Passow has gone on to work for a left-of-center Jewish anti-conventional-energy activist group. 5 Passow said in a 2019 interview that the school was closed because of his changing professional goals, the “exhausting” nature of running a group that was “under-resourced,” and the board’s concern that no other organizations would want to take on the Farm School’s mission. 6


The Jewish Farm School was co-founded by several people, most of whom have continued to be involved in Jewish-related activism and ministry.

Nathaniel Passow

Nathaniel Passow was executive director of the JFS and its main spokesperson. He grew up in Orthodox Judaism but drifted away from the tradition later in his life, more recently calling Judaism “part of my main focus professionally.” 7 Passow has endorsed restructuring American agriculture and infrastructure to be in line with left-wing principles of resource distribution. He has also called for religious organizations to become more involved in environmentalist advocacy. 8

After JFS shut down, Passow became the director of operations and finance for Dayenu, a Jewish environmental activist group which has received funding from the anti-Trump administration and anti-conventional-energy Righteous Persons Foundation. 9 He was also a professor at, and a member of an advisory committee for, Temple University. 10

Passow was a speaker at a 2018 Duke University “Food & Faith” event that brought various religious leaders to speak about how their religious backgrounds influence environmentalist philosophies. 11 At this event and in a 2010 interview about the expansion of Jewish farm schools, he directly endorsed farm schools and concern for the environment as being part of “progressive” Jewish worldviews and “social justice work,” respectively. 12

Simcha Schwartz

Simcha Schwartz was involved with JFS for six years. As of 2023, he leads a small nonprofit which supports Jews in Ethiopia. 13

Rachel Tali Kaplan

Rachel Tali Kaplan was the subject of a 2009 documentary about being a female Jew who went into farming. 14


In 2018, the year before the Jewish Farm School shut down, it received just over $130,000 in contributions and ended the year with less than $25,000 in net assets. The school’s revenue peaked in 2013, and had grown steadily since 2015, with executive director Nathaniel Passow’s compensation more than doubling during this time. In 2019, the JFS continued receiving contributions and ended the year with more than $50,000 in revenue. By 2020, however, the school was earning no revenue. 15


  1. Jesse Bernstein. “Jewish Farm School to Close.” Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. July 11, 2019. Accessed June 18, 2023.
  2. “JCF Seed Packet.” Jewish Farm School. Accessed June 18, 2023.
  3. Ken Knickerbocker. “Shalem Farm in Doylestown to Become Education Site for Jewish Sustainable Agriculture.” BucksCo Today. February 12, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2023.
  4. Allison Futterman. “Nati Passow: Combining Judaism and Food Justice.” Jewish Journal. August 30, 2018. Accessed June 18, 2023.
  5. [1]“Who We Are.” Dayenu. Accessed June 18, 2023.

  6. Jesse Bernstein, “Jewish Farm School to close,” Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, July 11, 2019. Accessed June 19, 2023.
  7. Allison Futterman. “Nati Passow: Combining Judaism and Food Justice.” Jewish Journal. August 30, 2018. Accessed June 18, 2023.
  8. Nati Passow. “Resource: Food, Faith, Land & Sustainable Agriculture.” Duke Sanford World Food Policy Center. November 13, 2018. Accessed June 18, 2023.
  9. “Who We Are.” Dayenu. Accessed June 18, 2023.
  10. Advisory Committee, Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. Accessed June 19, 2023.
  11. Nati Passow, “Resource: Food, Faith, Land, & Sustainable Agriculture,” Duke Sanford World Food Policy Center, November 13, 2018. Accessed June 19, 2023.
  12. Jewish Journal, “Jewish farm school movement heads west,” Jewish Journal, September 28, 2010. Accessed June 19, 2023.
  13. Simcha Schwartz LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn, Accessed June 19, 2023.
  14. Christine Anthony, Owen Masterson, “You’re a what?” IMDB, 2009. Accessed June 19, 2023.
  15. Jewish Farm School.” ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer. Accessed June 18, 2023.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 2014

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2020 Jun Form 990 $50,508 $67,348 $7,457 $50 N $39,176 $5,532 $0 $44,338 PDF
    2019 Jun Form 990 $183,126 $169,659 $40,596 $16,349 N $130,017 $36,774 $0 $72,589 PDF
    2018 Jun Form 990 $166,162 $174,601 $20,010 $8,759 N $108,724 $57,438 $0 $73,838 PDF
    2017 Jun Form 990 $128,874 $153,210 $27,284 $7,594 N $100,486 $28,388 $0 $68,625 PDF
    2016 Jun Form 990 $92,821 $90,267 $49,543 $5,517 N $82,488 $10,333 $0 $55,000 PDF
    2015 Jun Form 990 $68,505 $41,151 $41,727 $1,192 N $51,889 $16,566 $0 $18,000 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $130,965 $112,782 $29,847 $16,666 N $102,965 $27,800 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $261,560 $287,254 $14,295 $19,297 N $184,880 $76,680 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Jewish Farm School

    5020 Cedar Avenue
    PHILADELPHIA, PA 19143-1653