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10 Years Ago in Postville, Iowa / Shabbat Hazon

14th July 2010

Dear All,

Hazon is ten years old this year. We’re working hard in multiple ways to bring forth our vision – a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a healthier and more sustainable world for all. We’re proud that our 45 Hazon CSAs (Community-Supported Agriculture programs) are now the largest faith-based system of CSAs in the country. This fall, as well as our 10th NY Ride and our 10th Israel Ride, we’re launching a new CSA Conference (at Isabella Freedman) and a Food Leadership Forum (at Walker Creek, in CA). We’re developing Makom Hadash, our shared-space for second-stage Jewish non-profits. We’re planning our second CA Ride – and a second Israel Food Tour, with the Heschel Center. Meantime, New York’s DOT is planning the protected bike lane in the Upper West Side that we organized for. The Alliance for Religions & Conservation is working on a Sacred Cities initiative that grew out of our Jewish delegation last year. And we’re proud of the extraordinary success of Wilderness Torah and Jewish Farm School, the two organizations that we’re fiscal sponsor to. JFS has established a new home at Eden Village Camp, one of the most remarkable new institutions in American Jewish life. (If I do really well in this life and I’m reincarnated for one more, I hope I’ll get to be a 10-year old at Eden Village, in due course. If you want to experience a taste of Eden Village for yourself, sign-up for the NY Ride, this Labor Day weekend – for the first time we’re cycling to Eden Village, and staying there on the Sunday night of the Ride.)

But all of this began, ten years ago, with our Cross-USA Jewish Environmental Bike Ride – the event that literally put us on the map. It was really an extraordinary experience, life-changing for all of our participants. I’ve been re-reading the route updates that I sent out during the Ride. Today there are over 50,000 people on Hazon’s email list, but in the summer of 2000, with the organization just a few months old, there were barely a few hundred. So most of you probably haven’t had a chance to read them. If you have a moment, you may find them interesting, in a variety of ways.

I’m writing now, because it’s Shabbat Hazon in two days’ time. I thought you might be interested in the 8th Route Update, sent on erev Shabbat Hazon from the Ride, ten years’ ago. 8 years before federal authorities raided the Agriprocessors’ plant in Postville, Iowa, 7 years before we schechted three goats at our food conference, 6 years before Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma was published, and 4 years before we launched the first Jewish CSA, we went to visit the Agriprocessors’ plant. For me, I think that the visit crystallized and focused some of what has led to the flourishing of the Jewish Food Movement. Ten years’ on the issues that were raised then have not been resolved; but there has been fundamental change in our communities, much of it good, much of it still evolving. In 2012 the Farm Bill will again come to Congress, and I hope that, for the first time, the Jewish community, as a community, will have what to say on topics that are vital to this country and to the world. The “vision” within Shabbat Hazon is a negative one, but negative prophecy in Jewish tradition exists to spur us to better behavior, and it’s consonant with the idea that mashiach – the messiah – will be born on the afternoon of Tisha B’Av. So I hope you’ll find this ten-year-old letter of interest, and be inspired to think anew about living healthily and sustainably.

Route Update 8, Chicago, IL, 4th August 2000 / Erev Shabbat Hazon, Av 5760

Shabbat shalom,
Nigel

PS: We’re hoping that our NY Ride will raise a record $360,000 this year, to support our work and that of our partners. Every donation really makes a difference. Go to hazon.org/nyride to sign up for the Ride or for more information, including a list of participants and info on the route; or just click on http://hazon.kintera.org/2010nyride/savage to make a donation to sponsor me in the Ride, which I would appreciate enormously.

 

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