Like many of us, I remember the day very clearly. I was in the Bay Area, due to fly back to NY the next day. (I had a meeting planned for 10 am that morning, to meet with five leaders of the Bay Area Jewish community, to discuss launching a Hazon Ride in California. The meeting never took place, of course; we finally launched the Ride in 2010. It took nearly nine years from inception to first launch. Sometimes things take a while.)
I remember the attempted phone calls, the TV footage, the conversations. Being turned back from the airport on Wednesday and Thursday. Finally getting back to NY just before Shabbat – looking out the window, seeing the hole in the skyline. Candles everywhere. A huge line outside BJ. On Shabbat morning we walked as far south as one could go – I think Washington Square. The whole plaza was filled with random circles of New Yorkers, every age, every color, every religion, and in the center of each circle someone with a guitar, playing “Hey Jude” or “Imagine.” It struck me very clearly that those two songs had become the hymns of our age. No conventionally religious song was shared by all these different New Yorkers, but Lennon & McCartney, between them, united people in song and allowed the tears to flow.
Then that Sunday night it was Rosh Hashanah. It was sometime on Monday morning when, in synagogue after synagogue, Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, ultra-orthodox, the hazzan would start to sing the unetaneh tokef – who shall live and who shall die, who by fire and who by water… – and the voice quavered and tears came to people’s eyes.
There is an awful purity in the remembrance. Would that Clinton had bombed Al Qaeda’s leaders two years earlier; it is not merely the three thousand lives that might have been saved; we might then have averted the subsequent convulsions, the money spent on destruction rather than building, the victory, to some extent, that the terrorists genuinely won – making America a little crazy. (I think of that line by Arnold Toynbee – ‘America is like a large dog in a small room. Every time it wags its tail, it breaks something…’)
And so to this year. I have had a very good Rosh Hashanah, in considerable part because of Hazon’s New York Ride (Take a look at the great photos from the ride weekend.) Normally the chagim come along and I am woefully unprepared. But this time we literally rode into Rosh Hashanah. We took Rosh Hashanah as the central theme of the Ride. On Friday night Rabbi Steve Wernick talked about the unetaneh tokef. On Shabbat afternoon we had a lovely panel about teshuva with Erika Davis, Rabbi Val Lieber and Ruth Messinger. Amichai Lau-Lavie and Aryeh Bernstein each led selichot. By the time I finally made it to shul on Wednesday evening I really felt ready. So apart from anything else, by this email, I personally want to thank everyone who made the Ride possible – the chairs, the planning team, Hazon’s and Isabella Freedman’s staff, every rider, every crew person, and the very many of you who sponsored someone in the Ride. The weather was the worst since 2003, but the ruach was remarkable. Thank you. (Thank you also, separately, to everyone who attended, staffed or led the Rosh Hashanah retreat at Isabella Freedman. I was not there, but I heard wonderful things about it. As I write there is still space left for Yom Kippur. You are warmly invited.)
And to anyone reading this: let’s all try to prepare better for things. I know that that sounds so anodyne. But it’s such a good kavannah. I’m speaking, of course, especially to myself, but I know that the advice must be useful to some other folk as well. It is certainly true in Jewish tradition – when we prepare properly we more readily bridge between the architecture of the tradition and the specific texture of our own life. That understanding is central to Hazon’s theme-quote – the Torah is a commentary on the world, and the world is a commentary on the Torah. Connecting the richness of the tradition with the complexity of our lives is central to becoming our best selves, to renewing Jewish life, and to building a better world for all.
And it’s why, by the way, we’re talking now about the shmita year. Rosh Hashanah means that it is now one Jewish year away. Don’t plan for it next September; start to think about it now. How might you rest, broadly construed, that year? How will your synagogue, your day-school, your Hillel, your college campus, your home, your business, be different? Will you relate to food differently – if so how? What if Hazon, for example, didn’t launch any new project during that year; just reflected on all that we’ve done, and prepared for the following year? What if I didn’t get on a plane that year – stayed in the northeast, bounded my travel by the range of trains?
These are, as it were, preparatory thoughts. There will be more on shmita during the year, and more during the shmita year on the full seven-year shmita cycle which will follow. For now: gmar chatima tova. It is not just that today is the 12th anniversary of 9/11; Friday night is also, of course, the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. May you and your family be inscribed for a good, healthy and happy new year. May we all prepare better – for everything. And may we enjoy beautiful clear-blue early fall days in peace and tranquility, here, in Israel, and around the world.
Shabbat shalom, shana tova,
Executive Director, Hazon
The start of this new year means we’re officially one year away from welcoming the next Shmita year, the seventh year of the biblical sabbatical cycle. Shmita, which literally means ‘release’ and is more widely known as the ‘sabbatical year’, was a yearlong period when land was left fallow, debts were forgiven, foods were distributed fairly, and a variety of other agricultural and economic adjustments were made to ensure the maintenance of an equitable, just and healthy society.
Comparing the Shabbat and Shmita cycles with one another, you can say we have just now entered the ‘Friday’ of this current Shmita cycle. There is a saying by the Rabbis, ‘Those who prepare before Shabbat will eat on Shabbat; those who did not prepare before Shabbat, what will they have to eat on Shabbat?’ (Avoda Zara 3a). We are getting close to a yearlong Shabbat. How will you prepare to welcome this period of release?
Join us over this year as we learn about the impacts that the Shmita tradition could have on Jewish communities and on ecological/economic sustainability. What might this Shmita year look like in today’s world — for yourself, for your community, and your organization? Learn more about Shmita in this collection of educational resources, and by joining our Shmita Project network.
Enjoy peak New England foliage while you spend the day on the largest Jewish educational farm in North America. With activities for all ages, you’ll get to meet our goats, use our old-fashioned press to make your own apple cider, and turn cabbage into sauerkraut. Enjoy face-painting, attend a demonstration of how we run our delivery truck on used vegetable oil, or just relax by the lake or on one of our beautiful hiking trails.
Sunday, September 22, 2011
11 am – 4 pm at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center
View the Facebook event page.
Wanna get dirty? Come harvest organic veggies for donation to the Jewish Family Service Food Pantry. Then stick around for beer and a BBQ!
Wednesday, September 11, 5:30 pm til dark
181 S Oneida St, Denver CO
Join us for a day with Philadelphia-area foodies, rabbis, chefs, farmers, vegans, and omnivores alike to learn, explore, and celebrate the intersection of healthy food, sustainability, and Jewish life. The day’s activities include a panel discussion and keynote speech led by Senator Daylin Leach, DIY skill shares on beekeeping and healthy eating, and sessions on food justice, Torah, and Being Jewish in Philadelphia. There will be a dynamic shuk (market) for your enjoyment. Be a part of the 1st Annual Hazon Food Festival in Philadelphia and make history.
Registration Fees: $36 Adult, $18 Children, Student (with valid ID), & Seniors (62+).
Sunday, October 20th, 9:30am – 5:30pm
Rodeph Shalom – 615 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19143
Shift gears, shake the lulav, and share good food with friends! Pick from one of two beautiful routes through Boulder County and visit several community sukkahs and enjoy community, conversation, and delicious, freshly-prepared, kosher food at each stop. Registration is $10 – $30. Join us!
Sunday, September 22, 2013. 8:00 am arrival, 9:00 am departure. Riders will meet in the overflow lot of Congregation Bonai Shalom, Boulder, CO.
Back by popular demand for its third year, Urban Adamah is pleased to bring you Eat Pray Lulav, a Sukkot Harvest Festival. Join us on Sunday, September 22, for UA’s biggest family event of the year! Deborah Newbrun, Bay Area Director of Hazon is one of three special guest speakers who will present on Shmita (italicized): the Sabbatical Year.
Featuring live musical performances by Octopretzel and East Bay Community Music Project! Goats, goats and more goats * Storytelling * Cob building * Farm tours * Crafts * DIY Pickling * Make your own salves * Face painting * Worm composting demonstrations * Grinding wheat into pita * Seed Planting * Chicken coop tours * Local, kosher, organic food available for purchase.
Tickets on sale through Urban Adamah’s website
Sunday September 22, 2013 1:00pm to 4:00pm at Urban Adamah
1050 Parker St. Berkeley CA
Do you want your family to eat healthier? Are you open to Jewish learning?
Join Setting the Table, Hazon’s seven week learning program for families with children ages 4-6 living in the Bay Area’s South Peninsula. Led by educator Nechama Langer-Levin, in a cohort of like-minded families, you will learn healthy eating and lifestyle skills guided by Jewish values.
Enjoy time as a family with interactive classes that will stimulate the senses: Cook delicious, healthy recipes even the pickiest eater will love as you discuss how to make the world more sustainable for all; Learn blessings to bring gratitude and mindfulness to every meal; Create ritual objects to use at home through fun and easy crafts; Meet and build community with other parents while developing your own family traditions around food.
No previous background knowledge assumed. This program is specifically focused towards families with limited experience in Jewish learning. Jewish, interfaith, and religiously unaffiliated families are welcome.
Thanks to a generous grant from the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, the program fee is just $126 per family.
Sundays October 17 through December 8th at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto.
Since Mechon Hadar launched 7 years ago, we have often been asked to bring the compelling Torah taught by our faculty (including many Wexner fellows!) to a much wider audience. Now, we are proud to do just that, and we are inviting you to be a part of this effort.
Click here to sign up for Rabbi Held’s weekly Dvar Torah.
The Shtetl Skills workshop series provides city dwellers with practical skills to live more sustainably. Topics will include building a Sukkah from reclaimed materials, financial permaculture, and preserving the harvest. Each workshop will be framed by traditional and not so traditional Jewish values and concepts, and then followed with a hands-on experiential component. Workshops are held in West Philadelphia at the Ahimsa House, and are co-sponsored by Hazon in partnership with Kol Tzedek and What is Your Food Worth?
September 15, September 29, October 13, 1:00pm-4:00pm
Ahimsa House of Philadelphia – 5007 Cedar Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19143
Become a Harvest Sponsor at Ekar
In addition, Harvest Sponsors are invited to join us twice a week in harvesting and take home vegetables for their own enjoyment.
Clicvk here for more info and to sign up.
High Holiday Resources
Hazon & The Social Justice Roundtable
Hazon is proud to join with the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable to present Hineni – Here I Am. This inspiring video, built around a speech by President Obama, calls on Jews to renew our commitment to our values and take action to pass immigration reform.
Sukkot on the Farm is just days away!
Join Wilderness Torah for the 7th Annual Sukkot on the Farm at Green Oaks Creek Farm & Retreat in Pescadero, CA, September 19–22, 2013.
year features teacher–tracker–mentor Jon Young in conversation with
Maggid Zelig Golden, plus renowned musician Yuval Ron, storyteller
extraordinaire Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, and the Tevat Teva Jewgrass band.
Come co-create our village and enjoy all or part of the long weekend. Reawaken the Water Festival, Simchat Beit Hashoevah.
Apply for Avodah and work in exchange for a discounted ticket.