Talking turkey

New York
November 17th / 20th Cheshvan

Dear All,

This is the period of giving thanks.

Thank you: to all the people who commented on (and re-circulated) the piece I wrote last week on Federations. There are various comments on our website, and also on Facebook and elsewhere. We welcome your further feedback.

Thank you: to the 17 participants in our second Israel Sustainable Food Tour, and to our partners on that tour at The Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership. We’re really psyched to be playing a role not only in developing more sustainable food systems in the US, but also in directly and indirectly both learning from and supporting some of the amazing work that’s starting to happen in Israel. You can see photos here. (And if you’re looking for an interesting Thanksgiving or Chanukah gift for someone – check out Negev Nectars.)

Thank you: to the 81 participants who successfully and safely completed our 11th Israel Ride, and to our partners at the Arava Institute for Environmental StudiesPhotos are posted here. A special shout-out to Terry Steen, who did the ride for his 70th birthday: nach hundert-zwanzig…

Thank you: to our good friend, chef Michael Solomonov. 13 months ago he donated his services to cater an incredible farm-to-table feast at the Dornstreichs’ farm, in Bucks County, PA. In the year since then, he contributed to the White House seder; was featured in the New York Times; won a James Beard award; and most recently was named to the Forward 50. On February 7th, he’s going to be the chef at our Tu B’Shvat Seder at the National Museum of American Jewish History honoring Marc Aronchick and Mark & Judy Dornstreich. Save the date!

Photo: And thank you to my dear friend, Rabbi Marc Soloway, who wrote a trenchant piece on Thanskgiving and turkeys, and gave us permission to republish it. Marc’s an alum of our rides, the co-chair of our last two Food Conferences, and he’s written a fascinating piece: it starts gently, and then packs a considerable punch. We’ve put it up on our website, and I warmly encourage you to read it. Here it is. Enjoy.

Finally: this is the week of parshat hayei sarah. It is such an amazing parsha. It reminds me of hiking with Bedouin guides in southern Sinai, and seeing what a biblical landscape – no electricity, no light pollution, no roads – really feels like; raw and spare and beautiful. It’s the parsha of “lasuach ba’sadeh” (Genesis 25:63), two words that partly launched the Jewish meditation movement. And it’s the week of Ketura: Avraham’s third wife (though a midrash says that it was Hagar, returned in a new name). Last Sunday our riders rode from Mitzpeh Ramon to the eponymous Kibbutz Ketura; this Shabbat morning, by kibbutz tradition, all of the services in shul will be led by members who were born on the kibbutz. An ancient name is reborn, in a place that’s now home not only to the kibbutz members but also to Israel’s largest solar power company (Arava Power) and to the Israeli Jews, Israeli Palestinians, Palestinians and Jordanians who together live and learn at AIES.

Shabbat shalom: may this be a week and season of health and gratitude.

Nigel

P.S. If you want to read a really beautiful reflection on the parsha, check out Rabbi Mishael Zion’s phenomenal new blog.

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