Topic: Featured

The day after the election

From Nigel Savage I had a very strange day today: I rode out of Jerusalem, on the first day of our Israel Ride, with our largest ever group of participants, on a beautiful day. The day went smoothly and easily. The sun shone – but not too much. No accidents. Our crew – Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian, and American alumni of the Arava Institute – were amazing. They’re an inspiration to everyone who spends time with them. They give of themselves in all sorts of ways because they believe that when people engage across difference they can create a better world for all. So: a wonderful day. And somewhere between our ride launch and our first rest stop, it was confirmed that Donald Trump would be the next president of the United States. As you know, we’re a non-profit, and we don’t endorse candidates for office. But I wanted to say a few words to everyone. First: there are many thousands of people on this list, so by definition there must be some of you who are delighted at the outcome of the election. To you I send congratulations and mazal tov. Those of you who did not vote for Donald […]

Continue Reading
The finished Sukkah frame - ready for skach and people! | Photo credit: Jewish Farm School

To See and Be Seen – D’Varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

Liora Lebowitz, Jewish Farm School – Philadelphia, PA Parashat V’zot Haberachah + Sukkot & Simchat Torah Editor’s Note: Welcome to D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog! Most weeks throughout the year, you’ll be hearing from the JOFEE Fellows: reflections on their experiences, successful programs they’ve planned and implemented, gleanings from the field, and connections to the weekly Torah portion and what they’ve learned from their experiences with place in their host communities for the year. Views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily represent Hazon. Be sure to check back weekly!  P.S. Interested in being or hosting a JOFEE Fellow? Applications for cohort two are now open for both prospective fellows and prospective host institutions! Priority Deadline is October 31! Together with the holiday of Simchat Torah, V’zot Haberacha, the final parsha of the Torah, marks the transition from the end of a cycle to beginning anew. From beginning to end, the readings of Torah follow the Jewish calendar, and there are strong parallels between the cycle of the Jewish calendar and the corresponding seasonal and agricultural cycles of the year. During Simchat Torah, we ready ourselves to read the final parsha of the Torah – to celebrate our accumulated knowledge and […]

Continue Reading
Decorating the Sukkah for Sukkahfest at Isabella Freedman | photo: Hazon

Listen and Gather: Jewish Rain Makers – D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

Jessica Berlin, Hazon: Transformative Experiences, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center – Falls Village, CT Sukkot and Parashat Ha’azinu Editor’s Note: Welcome to D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog! Most weeks throughout the year, you’ll be hearing from the JOFEE Fellows: reflections on their experiences, successful programs they’ve planned and implemented, gleanings from the field, and connections to the weekly Torah portion and what they’ve learned from their experiences with place in their host communities for the year. Views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily represent Hazon. Be sure to check back weekly!  P.S. Interested in being or hosting a JOFEE Fellow? Applications for cohort two are now open for both prospective fellows and prospective host institutions!  On a hot summer day in late August, I led a group of young adults on a tour of the Adamah farm on BeeBee Hill at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. The inscription above the gateway, “And God saw that it was good,” reminds us of a classic JOFEE interpretation of the Genesis creation story: that the interdependent relationships found in nature are fundamentally good; and that by emulating these relationships, humans can learn to create more sustainable relationships with one another and the land. We […]

Continue Reading
Now that's a challah! Displayed by Chabad of Lakeview's David Kotlarsky / JCC Chicago

Open your heart, Open your hand – D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

Becky Adelberg, JCC Chicago Parshat Re’eh Editor’s Note: Welcome to D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog! This is our inaugural post. Most weeks throughout the year, you’ll be hearing from the JOFEE Fellows: reflections on their experiences, successful programs they’ve planned and implemented, gleanings from the field, and connections to the weekly Torah portion and what they’ve learned from their experiences with place in their host communities for the year. Be sure to check back weekly! PS Interested in being or hosting a JOFEE Fellow? Applications for cohort two are now open for both prospective fellows and prospective host institutions! And now, on to Becky’s post …  I’m thrilled for this opportunity to write about one of my favorite events of the year: Shabbat on the Lake. To me, Shabbat on the Lake is more than an event. It is a mindset, a movement, a gathering of all corners of the Jewish community;  it’s a tapestry of various affiliations, ways of engaging with Judaism and the possibility of a Jewish community who focuses on things that unite us as opposed to what divides us. Shabbat on the Lake’s inception at JCC Chicago arose six years ago to show young Jewish adults various ways […]

Continue Reading
sukkah-top
sukkah-square

Because Sometimes it Rains on Your Sukkah

Geshem Be’ito (Acceptance of Rain in Its Time) The following essay will be published in the forthcoming book of teachings “Good Noticing” published by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. The rhythms of the Jewish calendar may not coincide with your particular climate. At times, our traditional rituals may range from the impractical to the impossible. For example, in the Northern Hemisphere, calling upon light in the darkness of Chanukah in Kislev/December always resonates, but singing about blossoming trees in Shevat/January may not make sense. How can we stay true to our tradition when the weather doesn’t cooperate? And as mindfulness practitioners, how might we elevate the news of undesirable weather? Those of us who live in the Northeastern United States are usually blessed with bountiful precipitation year-round. Furthermore, our religion is no longer based on the careful balance between following God’s laws and receiving in return enough rain for our crops to survive. The Reform movement even removed the second paragraph of the Shema from prayer books to make the bold statement: we are modern Jews—we do not believe that we can influence God to change the weather by keeping the commandments of our tradition. Recent evidence suggests that even […]

Continue Reading
mars-rover-landing-sequence-landed_57831_600x450

Is Hazon Local or National? Yes.

I’m fascinated by photos from the Mars Rover. Of course, we could see photos of Mars, the whole red planet, for years, but I didn’t start to feel I had a sense of what the planet was like until I started seeing pictures from the ground level. And, of course, I keep hoping one of these times we’re going to see a Martian waiving “hello.” The action, should there be any, will most certainly happen at the local level. I’m often asked, following the merger between Hazon and Isabella Freedman: “Just what is the new Hazon? Is it a national organization? Is it a local organization?” And the genuine answer is: “Both.” Hazon is a national organization. We look to build a healthier and more sustainable world throughout the United States and beyond. But that work stems from creating healthier and more sustainable Jewish communities built of individuals, families, congregations, and organizations, and that – almost by definition – happens at the local level. Just this month: I attended a one-day Philadelphia Hazon Bike Ride with 200 participants and crew. Our San Francisco Bay Area office held its 5th annual multi-day Bike Ride on the heels of a successful one-day […]

Continue Reading

Budapest

In March of 1944 the Nazis invaded Hungary. There were by then almost 800,000 Jews here. In a period of eight weeks, starting in May that year, the Nazis rounded them up, deported them, and took them to Auschwitz to be murdered. About 437,000 people were killed. That’s a bit more than every man, woman, and child in Minneapolis today. It’s like killing every single Jew in London, Montreal, Detroit, and Cleveland, combined. That’s what was going on here, this June day, seventy years ago. Seventy years on I’ve been here for a retreat, funded by the Schusterman Foundation, produced by Connection Points, and led brilliantly by Tomi Buchler and Limor Friedman, titled “From Me To We: Between Tribal and Global” – a gathering of young environmental and social justice leaders from three networks: Minyanim (a project backed by UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Agency For Israel), ROI (Schusterman), and Siach (itself a partnership led by Hazon and Heschel and supported by UJA). It has been an indescribably rich experience. I find myself with thoughts that are disparate and contradictory: The Shoah is over. Those most obsessed by the Shoah should let it go. Read something else. History […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading
weisbergs-banner
weisbergs-banner

Join the People of the Bike

Dear Friends, While I’m not a farmer myself, I have deep admiration and appreciation for the work that farmers do: how beautiful it is, the glory of hard work transforming into harvest, the ways that it gives life to our community. I am similarly not a biker; and yet for years now I’ve had the honor and pleasure of witnessing – and supporting – the many members of our community who have participated in Hazon bike rides. Since 2008, I, personally, have served as a crew member to Hazon bike rides in New York, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in Israel, watching community members just like you (and perhaps including you) traverse amazing vistas, experience life-changing transformations, and support sustainable communities, a healthier environment, and – in the case of the Arava Institute & Hazon Israel Ride – a more peaceful world. And perhaps the most surprising thing to me about attending Hazon bike rides is how they’ve left me feeling that one day I might be a participant myself. Indeed, most Hazon bike riders don’t look like they just came off the Tour de France. Participants come in all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, religious backgrounds, and levels […]

Continue Reading