Author Archive | Nigel Savage

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meditation

Light in the Darkness

Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5776 I got back to the US on Tuesday, after a swirling Israel trip that was rich and intense and thought-provoking. I share with you a few provisional thoughts, many of them self-contradictory: The self-reinforcing mirror worlds we live in cause damage in the real world. It’s far too easy to read op-ed pages we agree with and to like things on Facebook in a narrow range. Resist the urge to do so! I had rich and fascinating (and long) conversations this trip with a strong AIPAC supporter; with a Palestinian from Akko (her self-definition, by the way: not Israeli; not Israeli Arab; not Israeli Palestinian. Our conversation was in Hebrew); with parents from Talpiot, just across from the bus that was attacked; with a Jordanian from Amman; with a friend whose son is an anarchist and another whose son is in Sayeret Matkal. I had dinner with someone who didn’t want to go on vacation to Norway “because I just wouldn’t want to go to Oslo…” (!). And, more formally, an Encounter trip to Beit Jala; our Israel Ride with students from the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies; our Siach conference with a range of Israeli […]

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Being in Israel this Week

I’m tired but feeling good. We rode today from Jerusalem to Ashkelon – 162 riders, on the first day of our 2015 Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride. It was a good start. We took precautions against both rain and terrorism. As of the time of writing – Wednesday afternoon in Ashkelon – it’s happily been a quiet day on both fronts. A couple of reflections on the last week: Hamatzav (“the situation.”) I was thinking about the famous line in Mishnah Sanhedrin: anyone who saves a life, it is as if he saves an entire world. It’s preceded by the slightly less famous bit: one who takes someone’s soul; this is like destroying an entire world. In this most recent period that amplification of human power – taking one life, destroying a world – has played out not only the sense in which the Talmud intended (that each life has infinite significance) but also in the broader sense, that one or two individual acts of destruction can do existential damage on a far far larger stage. It is sad and tragic that there are young Palestinians so full of hate and despair that they would risk their lives – in […]

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Towards a New Paradigm

The name of this week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, means both “go forth” or “go out” and, more literally, “go to you.” It’s the week in which Avraham and Sarah begin their great odyssey towards a new land and a new paradigm. They leave their comfort zone for the unknown. Their journey gave birth not only to a family but – in the end – three world religions. So, despite the headlines, it feels like a good day to have landed in Israel. I’m out here for our annual Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride, followed by our Siach gathering for social justice and environmental leaders. This Sunday I’m squeezing in an Encounter trip to Bethlehem, which I’m also looking forward to. I don’t think I’m any less sad, or angry, about some of what’s happening here in Israel, or in the region, than anyone reading this email. But, despite everything, I don’t feel completely hopeless. Governments can negotiate the absence of war. But actual peace – as impossibly far off as it may seem – can only arise through people, by building relationships of respect among those who disagree. The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies – our lead-partner on the […]

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Seven Years

My Bobbie, as we called her in Manchester when I was a kid, (my father’s mother, z”l) was born on this day – in 1892. How crazy is that? That’s as far distant from today as the year 2138 – a number that seems more like the 4–digit combination for a bike lock than an actual calendar year. 12 days from now I’m going to the New York dinner for the 500th anniversary of my high school. It was founded in 1515 by Hugh Oldham, 94 years before Henry Hudson sailed up the river that now bears his name. Will MGS be around to celebrate the next 500, in the year 2515? And so I wonder: what are the cycles of time that make sense to us, and why? This coming Sunday is the last day in a 7–year cycle of Jewish life that began the evening of Monday September 29th, 2008. Sunday night – Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year – starts a new cycle that ends on the last day of the next shmita year, which will be September 25th, 2022. Thus more so than most years, now is a time for looking back and looking forwards. For […]

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Recent staff changes

Recent staff changes (in alphabetical order!):​ Mark Bailey came on board in June as our new Design Fellow (in the Marketing & Communications branch)​ Judith Belasco is now Hazon’s Chief Program Officer Julie Botnick shifted to the position of Program Associate on August 3rd. Jac Cohn has re-joined the Hazon family as our Adamah Marketing Apprentice. Drisana Davis and Nia Taylor will be leaving Hazon as of October 31, as we undertake a Bay Area transition and de-staffing. Jessie Katz is currently shifting to the new position of Director of Outreach, moving over to this new role full-time after the NY Ride. Among her responsibilities, Jessie will staff a New York Regional Advisory Board. Miriam Leichtling has been hired as our new Director of Rides, beginning August 11th. Meredith Levick has been hired for the new role of Associate Director of Education) and began work on August 3rd. Becca Linden, while not changing titles, will be shifting a significant amount of her focus towards leading our new Hazon Seal of Sustainability program. Nati Passow left Hazon as of July 31st to focus on Jewish Farm School, with Leah Lazer becoming lead staff person in the Philadelphia region; David Rendsburg is […]

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Hazon in the Bay Area…

I’m writing to Hazon stakeholders in the Bay Area to thank you for your support in the past and to let you know about the next evolution of our work here. Our work here began when I was in San Francisco in September 2001, hoping to launch Hazon events in the Bay Area. My meeting with key leaders in the Jewish community was scheduled for 10am… on the day of 9/11. That meeting became a footnote to a very different sort of day than the one we were expecting. But the determination to build what came to be known as Jewish Outdoor, Food & Environmental Education (JOFEE, for short) remained with me and with Hazon. In 2008, backed by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, we started our first regional office in the Bay Area. Our goal was to start to renew Jewish life, and to create a more sustainable world for all. We started off by moving the multi-day Hazon Food Conference from Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT to Northern California. In total, more than 1,500 people came to the Food Conference over the next three years. It laid the groundwork for the last seven years […]

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Three Gifts from Jewish Tradition

Nigel Savage’s address at the Summit of Conscience for the Climate, Paris, 21st July 2015 | 5th Av 5775 Friends, I’m honored to be here, part of this incredible group of people. This has been a fascinating, inspiring, thought-provoking day. I want to say a personal thank you to Cardinal Turkson, and through you to His Holiness the Pope. I think I am not the only Jew who feels that this Pope speaks for me. I hope you will take this as a compliment if I say that he is not only an extraordinary Pope and a wonderful man, but in my language a great rabbi, and even a tzadik. Thank you so much to you and to him for inspiring us and challenging us and for modeling what is possible. I’m here today because for 15 years I’ve been leading an organization called Hazon, Hebrew for vision. We’re working within and beyond the Jewish community to create a healthier and more sustainable world for all. You could argue, of course, that the Jewish people have been thinking about sustainable energy ever since God spoke to Moses out of a bush that was burning but never consumed. Moses might have […]

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Bonna Devora Haberman, z”l

I first met Bonna in London in late 1985. She and Shmuel and Tiferet were living on the attic floor of an old house in Hampstead while she finished her Phd. I had never met a couple like Bonna and Shmuel before. They moved to their own beat. They were quirky, charming, funny, eclectic. I couldn’t locate them on any axis of people I had met before in my life. In February, 1986, they invited me to a Tu B’shvat seder in their flat. Gilah and Mickey Rosen (z”l) were there, and Sammy Barth, and someone from the American Embassy. There was a huge long haggadah that they had written, somehow printed in English and Hebrew and Rashi script from a computer (I had never seen that before, either). I didn’t understand half of it but it is a measure of Bonna and Shmuel’s impact on me that I have hosted or attended a Tu B’shvat seder in every year since. I told Bonna when I last saw her, just a few weeks ago, that this year was indeed my 30th consecutive seder since her first one. And just as they introduced me to Tu B’shvat, so too they introduced […]

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2022 Vision / The Pope on Yom Kippur

I’m here at Isabella Freedman, learning about shmita with a group of Israelis and Americans, and noting in relation to shmita that the next few months has an interesting conjunction of events. Next Thursday sees the release of Laudato Sii (“Praised Be To You”), Pope Francis’s first encyclical. We don’t know what he will say; but the presumption is that he will bring to bear his distinctive voice, and his very considerable moral authority, on two closely related topics: how we treat this planet; and the consequences of how we treat this planet on poor and vulnerable people around the world. And meantime, the shmita year is drawing towards its close; this Rosh Hashanah will mark the start of a new 7-year cycle in Jewish life. When I first started thinking about shmita, in late 2007, I thought that we would spend several years preparing for the shmita year. Only a year or so ago, as the start of the shmita year came clearly into view, did I understand for the first time that the opposite is also true: the shmita year is a time to step back and reflect on the last six years, and to imagine and vision […]

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Oral Torah of a different sort…

Facilitation 501: How to construct and deliver a panel The Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah are supporting Hazon (and, I think, some other organizations) in our “oral Torah” project – helping us to harvest some of our accrued wisdom over these last fifteen years. It’s a fascinating process, reflecting on some of the things that we feel we have learned or do well, and starting to codify them. Most of this is focused on framing Jewish tradition: how, and why, and in what ways, we draw connections between Jewish tradition and the world that we live in today. Allowing Jewish tradition out of the small boxes we sometimes place it in. But marinating in Jewish tradition like this – allowing it out, as it were, to roam more widely – also can and should enable us to see aspects of contemporary life with a Jewish sensibility also. And so it is, therefore, that I offer you today a very different kind of “oral Torah.” I have earned it and learned it slowly, by trial and error, over 20 years. It consists in ten rules to help you construct, produce and deliver superb panels at conferences and events. At our […]

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