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Author Archive | Daniel Morchy

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Hakhel, Heathlands, Jewish Community Farming…and the evolution of “community” in the 21st century

by Nigel Savage Thursday, January 25, 2018 | 9 Shevat 5778 Dear All, I and we struggle to explain what Hazon is and why we do the things we do. Partly this is our fault, and we must try to fix that; we’re working on it at the moment. But partly this is not our fault. The boxes we all use for different categories of contemporary life are faulty, in my view. When people think of “environmental sustainability” they think fairly immediately about any or all of – eg – recycling; composting; solar power; clean tech; climate change; and so on. These are important things, and as an organization, directly or indirectly, we work on them. This month we welcomed another 10 organizations into Hazon’s Seal of Sustainability, taking us now to 60. In Michigan this week 20 clergy, executive directors and layleaders from 12 of our 13 Seal sites came together to share progress and best practice – a phenomenal day. Nearly all have taken major steps towards robust recycling, energy and food projects, plus a number of outdoor environmental projects. Deeply gratifying.  Our medium-term goal is to have at least 360 organizations in the Hazon Seal, by the end of […]

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Reb Zalman z”l and the Tree of Life

by Nigel Savage Wednesday, July 9, 2014 | 11 Tammuz 5774 Dear All, As the week goes on, and despite events in Israel and so many other things, I remain profoundly aware of the death of Reb Zalman, may his memory be for a blessing. A sense of him and the memory of him is never far away. He had such a beautiful voice, his beautiful accent, and those twinkly eyes. He was irrepressible, joyous, and a font of ideas and connections. It was a pleasure and a challenge to try to keep up with him and his richly associative mind. His presence continues to echo. I will miss him very much. He was intimately involved with Hazon and our programs over many years. The staff at Isabella Freedman loved him; he made it a habit always to meet with the behind-the-scenes staff, not just front-of-house folk. He taught at Shavuot, was a central figure at Elat Chayyim since its earliest days, was a very special presence at our benefit last year, and came to England with us for a climate change conference a few years back. He was deeply interested in, and supportive of, our work on shmita. And he and […]

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Why go on a Jewish meditation retreat?

by Rabbi Jay Michaelson Wednesday, December 6, 2017 | 18 Kislev 5778 In large part, the answers are the same as to why one would go on a meditation retreat in general: greater awareness of how we thrive and how we suffer, recharging the mind and heart so we can live more vividly and more compassionately, deep insights that lead to profound shifts in consciousness. But there are plenty of meditation retreats – why a Jewish one? Here are a few answers. First, there’s what some people call the “morphic field”: the community, the sense of connection, and the set of cultural practices, ways of being, and traditions of being Jewish. We’re not a traditionally religious retreat, but for our students, that’s not the point. Rather, they feel more comfortable with the Jewish ‘morphic field’ than with other forms, and feel a sense of connection, tribe, heart-opening, integration, or other positive emotions. It helps set the tone. Second, while the core meditation practices we teach are not indigenously Jewish – more on that in a bit – there is a lot about the retreat that is very Jewish indeed. For one, if we believe that experiences of the sacred are valuable (as opposed […]

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The Ceremony of Innocence

by Nigel Savage November 2, 2017 | 13 Cheshvan 5778 Dear All, I rode into work the day before yesterday, as I do many days of the year, on a beautiful bike path on a beautiful day. Hazon worked quite hard, for several years, to increase the number of protected bike lanes in NYC. We’re proud of that work, and I sometimes say to people, “and the statistics show that protected bike lanes reduce fatalities and injuries, both for bike riders and pedestrians…” But of course those statistics didn’t allow for a day like Tuesday. A few hours after I rode in (and several of the people in our offices rode in, also) a crazy guy (but not randomly crazy; with ideological method to his murderousness) mowed down a bunch of people who happened to be on the path at that moment. As we know, eight of them never got up. I rode home, an hour later, past the police and the barricades and the camera crews. Also two little kids – wee high, three feet tall if that – in cute white Star Wars Stormtrooper outfits. May The Force Be With All Of Us, I thought. Then just a few hours after that […]

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Unique Boulder Collaboration Leads to Big Food Rescue Wins

The juxtaposition of the Jewish community’s commitment to addressing hunger issues and the reality of literal tons of prepared foods being wasted after events was too much for Hazon’s Boulder Director, Becky O’Brien, to handle. She observed that the Jewish community was generous with donating to food drives but it was stumped with how to handle the abundance of delicious perishable foods leftover from events like Shabbat luncheons or bar mitzvah parties. On the donor side of the equation, the Boulder Jewish Community Center (JCC) was eager to be a guinea pig. The JCC’s Event and Rentals Manager Sara Guttman was seeing firsthand how much untouched prepared food was being wasted or composted after major events, everything from crudite trays, to boxed lunches, to expensive cheese platters. While the desire to donate was there, the JCC didn’t have the knowledge or time to research appropriate ways to donate. Sara reflected, “Sustainability is an important priority for the Boulder JCC. We represent this in our new LEED-certified facility, by having a Farm and Sustainability Director, as well as by hosting food drives, and composting. One of the challenges we faced when we moved into our new larger facility in September of 2016 […]

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Siach for the Seas

By David Krantz Imagine a Siach that isn’t just for Jews, but isn’t secular — a Siach that’s wholly religious and spiritual, but involving many religions —  and you’d have a conference run by the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care. With financial support from Siach, NYU’s Hannah Engle Memorial Travel Fund, and generous individual donors, I traveled to Camp Mokuleia on the Hawaiian island of Oahu as the Green Zionist Alliance representative — and the only Jewish voice — in the first NRCCC conference to develop an interfaith ethic of the seas. While we all came from different faiths, we shared the same core values as well as the belief that our religions compel us to protect the Earth. And the most-neglected and least-understood place on Earth is the aquatic ecosystem that covers nearly three quarters of the planet. We know more about the moon’s surface than about the seafloor, more than 95 percent of which remains unexplored. Israel, of course, is home to four seas — the Dead Sea, the Galilee, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea — and since both the majority of people and the majority of Jews worldwide live near the sea, we as Jews […]

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Tu B’Shmita: Jewish Energy Guide Released

By David Krantz NEW YORK (Jan. 16, 2014) — The next Shmita year is scheduled to begin in September, so we need to get ready! The Jewish Energy Guide is designed to help the Jewish community become more environmentally sustainable and help reduce our energy consumption in preparation for the next Shmita year. And in honor of Tu B’Shvat, the Green Zionist Alliance and the Coalition for the Environment and Jewish Life are releasing the complete Jewish Energy Guide as a PDF today. The 100-page Jewish Energy Guide features articles by fellow Siach members Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, Mirele Goldsmith, Einat Kramer, Jakir Manela, Evonne Marzouk, Rachel Jacoby Rosenfield, Rabbi David Seidenberg, Rabbi Lawrence Troster and Gail Wechsler, as well as Siach advisory-board member Naomi Tsur. Other contributors include Al Gore, Bill McKibben and Rabbi Arthur Waskow. Siach means conversation, and although the Jewish Energy Guide is being released today, the publication began simply with a conversation between me and COEJL Director Sybil Sanchez at the first Siach in 2011 at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. So this Tu B’Shvat, read the Jewish Energy Guide, begin preparations for Shmita, and start a conversation with someone new about Jewish environmentalism. Because […]

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Having a gay old time from Freedman to Eshbal… a cave man’s song not a cave man’s attitude!

A group of activists from North America, Israel and Europe who met at the first Siach conference at Isabella Freedman Retreat Centre, have been collaborating on a couple of projects since we left the lentils, goats and lake behind in May. The first of these projects engaged young Jewish leaders from Central and Eastern Europe with social justice in Israel when MiNYanim Central-Eastern Young Jewish Leadership program (run by Tamas Buchler from Hungary) visited Kibbutz Eshbal and had a workshop with Zohar Avigdori from the  ’Hechalutz’ educational center of the ‘Dror Israel’ movement. This brought together Jewish students from Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Germany and Israel to see examples of projects acting for a more just society.  This partnership emerged out of the personal connection between the two who met at the conference, had breakfast in Chinatown the morning after the conference, and that connection grew even stronger as they met once again a month later over a plate of Hummus in Akko, when Tamas visited Israel.  They realized that the two of them have a very similar vision, beliefs and ideology when it comes to Zionism and activism in Israel and the Diaspora and their collaboration seemed a natural fit. […]

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René Cassin Fellows Program

When Simone Abel of Rene Cassin and Rabbi Sid Schwartz of CLAL first ran into each other at Limmud, they had the sense that they might enjoy working together. But it wasn’t until the Siach Conference that they found the time to meet, get to know each other, sit down and start seriously discussing ideas for trans-Atlantic collaboration. The idea for the René Cassin Fellows Program (RCFP) was born out of that conversation. RCFP will be a unique educational experience for Jews in their 20s and 30s from North America, Israel, Europe and the U.K. with an interest in social justice. The program will offer participants a year-long course on human rights, social justice and international relations which will be presented by experts in these fields. The program will culminate in a two-week educational trip to visit courts, legal systems and human rights organizations in Strasbourg, the Hague, New York, Washington DC and Jerusalem, where participants will have the opportunity to meet their cohorts from other regions of the world and to visit key international social justice and Jewish institutions. The RCFP would capitalize on the large number of Jews who are pursuing careers in the fields of law, politics, […]

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