Author Archive | Nigel Savage

Spring Cleaning & New Beginnings

Dear All, The sun is starting to shine and Pesach is around the corner. Now is the time to get rid of your chometz – metaphorical as well as literal. It’s not just breadcrumbs in the kitchen: it’s also old stuff in your closets, your garage, your attic. It’s old sauces in your refrigerator, or junk food in the freezer. Don’t let Pesach catch you by surprise – if you haven’t already, this weekend is the time to start your spring-clean. It’s good for your home, good for your soul, and it’s the preparation that Jewish tradition recommends in order to truly experience a sense of going free on seder night. And this time of new beginnings is a time to invest in your own health and happiness, personal and professional… If you’re in any way professionally interested in the JOFEE space – Jewish outdoor education; Jewish food education; Jewish environmental education – then please join us for this year’s 20th annual Teva Seminar, at Isabella Freedman, from June 9 – 13. Highlights include: A series of sessions on the background, practices, and spiritual significance of the Shmita tradition, as well as its rich potential to transform our lives Keynote […]

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The JOFEE Report & the Challenge of Asset Allocation

Dear All, What subsequently has become the JOFEE Report began with the Jim Joseph Foundation. They’re one of the largest Jewish foundations, they’re committed to renewing Jewish life, and they’re intensely data driven. (If you go to the “Evaluation & Research” section of their website, you’ll get a sense of the work they’ve been doing and the range and depth of it.) They were seeing more and more instances, and getting more and more requests, for funding in relationship to Jewish outdoor programming, garden, and farm programs. FJC, funded by them, launched new specialty camps in this space. And at a certain point, in a very JJF way, they rounded up a group of other funders to work with them and us and what turned out to be two independent research houses to try to answer some basic questions about this space. What’s going on? Is it growing, as it seems to be? If so, why? What impact is it having, if at all? And what could or should we be doing Before introducing the JOFEE report, and some of the key issues that arise from it, I want first to say a few words about research and evaluation, and […]

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Food: Our Connection to Torah and Today

Nigel Savage on the Jewish Food Movement Written for Moment Magazine by Lucille Marshall In the past ten years, the Jewish community experienced an expansion of Jewish farms, Jewish CSA’s, and Jewish agricultural education around the country. Many Jews have discussed Kashrut laws in terms of environmental sustainability; implemented energy-saving techniques in their synagogues; and volunteered in ecological restoration projects with their youth groups and summer camps. Food, the environment and its connections to Jewish tradition surround us. What do we call this recent development, and what does it mean for our future? Nigel Savage, the president and founder of Hazon, calls it the Jewish Food Movement. Hazon is a nonprofit organization that works to promote healthy, sustainable communities in the Jewish world through bike rides, environmental education, food conferences and more. “I went into Google this afternoon, and in quote marks I typed ‘Catholic Food Movement,’ and there was one hit. I typed ‘Christian Food Movement,’ and there were two hits,” Savage said last week at the Jewish Theological Seminary, during the kickoff event for Hazon’s new Jewish Environmental Ethics Series. “I typed ‘Jewish Food Movement,’ and there were 81,300 hits.” Savage expressed his regard for the swift success […]

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JOFEE Experiences Show Increased Potential for Jewish Engagement

National Study Offers Insights on Participants, Programs, and Professionals NEW YORK, NY — Experiences that blend Jewish learning with the outdoors, food, and environment are attracting a growing number of diverse Jews to meaningful and inspiring Jewish life, reports the first-ever national survey on Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education (JOFEE) —Seeds of Opportunity: A National Study of Immersive Jewish Outdoor, Food, and Environmental Education (JOFEE). The report, released today by a group of six major funders and Hazon, examines the history, programs, professionals, and participants that comprise JOFEE experiences. Leaders of JOFEE are eager to share the key findings and continue a conversation about its potential for growth and for Jewish engagement. “For the last decade, a growing number of young Jewish people have been connecting Jewish tradition, on the one hand, with food, the environment and the outdoors, on the other,” said Nigel Savage, president of Hazon. “What the study makes clear is that these programs are having an enormously significant impact – on people’s individual identity and Jewish commitment; on leadership development; and, in relation to food and the environment. JOFEE programs are strengthening Jewish life, and are having a significant viral impact as last year’s program […]

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Paying for the community we believe in.

Dear All, It’s not true that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. There are free lunches – but, in every case, someone pays for them. Each of us has at some point been the recipient of a free lunch. And each of us needs to learn to pay for the free lunches for others. And so it is with Jewish life in the second decade of the 21st century. We’re facing an asset-allocation challenge in Jewish life, and each one of us – in different ways – holds in our hands the power to ameliorate it or make it worse. Here are three things to think about – or to act upon – depending on your perspective: 1. Individuals: Write a check to Federation. I continue to believe that this counter-cultural action is right both in principle and in practice. This is a behavior that needs to be encouraged because otherwise we won’t do it. Before the start of the 20th century, people did not give away a quarter of their income to help create a better world for all. Yet nowadays we live in a better world because that “giving” has been enforced. That’s what central governments […]

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A unique experiment: today, tomorrow, Pesach…

Dear All, We don’t usually send out emails on the Sunday of a holiday weekend. But we’ve chosen to do so today to make it easier for you to participate in a unique online experiment that’s taking place today, tomorrow, and Tuesday. It’s an “online jam,” and it proceeds from a unique conference that I attended in Jerusalem in November (and which I wrote about in this email.) Following that gathering, seven groups proceeded to flesh out ideas for what we could/should do to renew Jewish life, in a partnership between the government of the State of Israel and diaspora Jewish communities. The intent is to commit $200m+ to one or more projects arising from this process, with the government putting in $100m (already fairly firmly committed, subject only to final budget ratification next month) and with diaspora communities contributing at least a further $100m+. (That latter number is a little iffier; can the money be found or raised? That will itself probably hinge on the ideas that come out the other side of this [vegan] sausage machine.) That’s where you come in. An “online jam” has now begun, and will run through Tuesday. All the draft papers have been […]

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Getting down and dirty

Dear All, Last week I was at the Leichtag Ranch in Encinitas, CA. The Leichtag Foundation bought this 67-acre ranch in 2012, and they’re developing it as a hub for the Jewish community of North County. It’s a remarkable thing to see unfold, and it’s a fascinating way of thinking about what the letters “JCC” stand for: the Ranch is about “Jewish,” it’s about “community,” and it’s very much a “center,” yet the evolution of what takes place there – and of what could or should take place there – is far from what we think of when we think of a JCC. At its heart is an understanding of how relationship to land and to place is capable of renewing Jewish life in the 21st century in significant new ways. Then earlier this week, I was emailing with Steven Wynbrandt. Steven is in LA, and I didn’t get to see him this trip. But he is one of the remarkable young leaders in this generation – an incredible inspiration in all that he does, and how that he does it. I first met him as an Adamahnik (applications now open for Spring and Summer Adamah), and he is not […]

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Wine jugs, worms, priests, and hospitality

In August 2012, inspired by Yosh Schulman and David Rendsburg, I started to learn a page a day of Talmud as part of the new daf yomi cycle – the page-a-day learning that takes you through, as it were, the whole megillah of the Talmud. There are 2,711 pages in the Talmud, so the whole cycle takes seven-and-a-half years. It’s been a fascinating experience thus far, and one of the reasons I’m writing today is that we’re thrilled to announce that Arthur Kurzweil will be teaching his amazing Talmud retreat as part of our 2014 Elat Chayyim program. I first met Arthur many years ago, and he has a remarkable gift for bringing the Talmud to life, especially for those who may (legitimately) be intimidated by it. If you have never spent time delving into the Talmud, or you have but want to dive deeper, then you’re warmly invited to join Arthur at Isabella Freedman for the Talmud Circle Institute. Join us as spring begins to emerge during Session 1 (March 17 – 21) and/or when the sun should be shining during Session 2 (July 21 – 25). For me, daf yomi has been really fascinating. (I’m not in fact […]

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New year, new vision, new programs… new organization!

January 6, 2014  |  5 Shvat 5774 Makom Hadash, NYC  |  Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Falls Village, CT Dear All, It’s a new year and, legally, we’re now a new organization: this is the first email from the post-merger Hazon. After a long process, we’re excited to bring together the strengths, resources, and communities of the three organizations that, two years ago, separately comprised Hazon, Isabella Freedman, and Teva.  A huge thank you to the many of you who gave us year-end gifts. Your support, and that of so many of the people reading this email, enable us to do the many things that we do. The time since we announced our merger has been focused both on strengthening our systems internally and growing our programs and resources externally. The links below go to our new website, which should give you a sense of the depth and breadth we now have to offer. If you want to read an overview of the new organization, click here. If you’re interested in participating in one of our multi-day events this year, you’re warmly invited: In Israel we have both a bike ride and a sustainable food tour. (The Israel Ride is […]

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Annuals, Perennials, Rides…

Annuals, Perennials, Rides… Dear All, I’m at Isabella Freedman, which is a winter wonderland right now – the lake is frozen and everything is blanketed with snow. Very beautiful. I’m here for Hazon’s first-ever Rabbis’ Retreat, and it has been a wonderful, fascinating and inspiring experience. We’ve been thinking about shmita – the sabbatical year – in the broadest sense, and it’s led to a series of rich conversations. The shmita year starts in September 2014, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer that shmita is both a relatively unexplored and rich part of Jewish tradition. Here’s one thing for you to start to think about, coming out of a tour of the Adamah Farm that Dr. Shamu Sadeh led yesterday: What’s the relationship between annuals and perennials in your diet? (Annuals are wheat, corn, tomatoes – things that have to be planted each year. Most of our grains and vegetables are annuals. Perennials include berries, nuts, and a few other things; at Adamah they’ve recently planted Jersualem artichokes, which are perennials.) The question arises because the shmita prohibition includes harvesting annual crops on a large scale. So it makes sense, in a society that is observing shmita, to eat far […]

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