Author Archive | Hazon

Urban Kibbutz meeting

Urban Kibbutz – San Francisco

By Sara Linden, Hakhel Fellow of Urban Kibbutz-San Francisco and Associate Director of Admissions at Jewish Community High School of the Bay June 26, 2018 DIY Kibbutz – Diaspora edition Is this what if felt like to emigrate to Israel in the 1940s? Ready to build community with like-minded strangers who speak different languages, arriving at a new destination, and probably a little discombobulated from a well-worn journey (trains, planes, automobile style). Fast forward, June 2018, we are a pluralistic bunch of Jewish community inspired zealots arriving from 10 different countries to our weekend sanctuary, Camp Pearlstone Retreat Center, for Hazon’s 5th Annual Jewish Intentional Community Conference all doing our best to communicate in one language “Hebr-ish” (English with a side of Hebrew-based fervor). About 150 participants in total are here. Of the group, half of us are representing two new cohorts: The Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs in partnership with Hazon is sponsoring the Hakel JIC (Jewish Intentional Communities Incubator) program, an initiative convening leaders from newly forming intentional communities across the Diaspora, and Makom is the umbrella organization connecting the leaders of the Kibbutz 2.0 Movement, known as mission-driven intentional communities in Israel. Since I’m in the Hakhel […]

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Jewish Community Farming gathering_square

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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Tu b’Shvat is not just for kids

Tu b’Shvat is “the new year for trees.” But, above and beyond the history – the tax year in temple times; the kabbalists in Safed; the JNF; the contemporary Jewish environmental movement – the deeper question is, what can, could, or should Tu b’Shvat mean to me today?

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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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Siach Collaboration Spreads as Far as India

By Yonatan Glaser, Director, B’Tzedek, (and Manager of the joint initiative in India), and Nir Lahav, Director, Project T.E.N. and the Director of Young Activism Unit, The Jewish Agency For Israel It is with great excitement that the Jewish Agency’s Project T.E.N. and B’Tzedek recently announced their partnership to create a volunteer center for service learning and international development in India. The Directors of T.E.N. (Nir Lahav) and B’Tzedek (Yonatan Glaser) met for the first time at Siach. The T.E.N.-B’Tzedek center will serve Jewish young adults from around the Jewish world (including Siach’s ‘Israel, North America and Europe’ formulation). The program will embody and build Jewish peoplehood, engage in service projects based on the insights and principles of international development, and deepen and carry forward the agenda of Tikkun Olam. It will launch with the first cohort on August 6, 2012. Siach’s objective of deepening networks amongst people working in Jewish environmental and social justice work was of unique value to us. Siach created a space for us to come together to learn and network. The informal yet ‘electrified’ Siach setting had a formative impact on the formation and trajectory of our relationship. The opportunity to meet in a small […]

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Jewish Intentional Communities Tour of Israel: Day Seven (March 20, 2016)

Shir Yaakov Feit, Spiritual leader, Kol Hai: Hudson Valley Jewish Renewal in New Paltz, New Yor The Hakhel Tour opened my eyes, heart and mind to an Israel I’d never seen before. We heard an empowered and hopeful narrative about healing society by weaving community. The territory comes with it’s own language. Below are some new additions to my vocabulary. קְבוּצָה Kvutzah – group, collective גַּרְעִין Garin – seed, nucleus, core group of people הַמִּשְׁפָּחָה הַמֻּרְחֶבֶת Mishpacha Morkhevet – extended family שִׂיחָה Sicha – conversation תַּהֲלִיךְ Tahalik – process הַגְשָׁמָה Hagshamah – actualization, realization, manifestation or fulfillment; bringing the dream to life מְשִׂימָה Mesimah – mission, task, assignment (as opposed to jobs) חֲמָמָה Hamamah – incubator, greenhouse קְהִלָּתָנוּת Kehillatanut  – communitarianism, focusing on community and society, prioriting group goals over individual goals תְּנוּעָה T’nua – movement, often youth movement, often centralized עֲמֻתָּה Amutah – non-profit organization, association

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Jewish Intentional Communities Tour of Israel: Day Six (March 19, 2016)

by Eliahu Ebrahimi currently living in Tzfat and developing a vision for an eco-village in California Shabbat in Shuva I had the pleasure of spending a Shabbat in . After already having spent a week together, the Hakhel group had become a community in its own right. We were warmly absorbed into the community of Shuva, a moshav near Sderot, for a weekend. On Friday afternoon, I was invited to immerse myself in a mikvah in the middle of a field. I changed into my Shabbat clothes and was ready to transition into 25 hours of much-needed rest. Our group congregated on the back porch of one of the community member’s homes where we joined the Shuva-ites as they welcomed the Shabbat with song and dance. After nightfall, we made our way to an intimate indoor space where sat around a communal table sharing Torah insights, songs and stories for several hours while enjoying the delicious home-cooked meal. The following day, we all met at a community bris which was followed by an outdoor picnic outside of the synagogue. Parents, children, elderly, dogs, cats, peacocks — all coexisting in a chaotic harmony unlike anything I’ve seen. This was a normal […]

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Jewish Intentional Communities Tour of Israel: Day Five (March 18, 2016)

by Morriah Kaplan Member of GariNYC: Brooklyn, NY We started off the day early at the Waldorf-Hassidic school that the community ‘garin’ within Moshav Shuva built. Their pedagogy is inspired by teachings of the ancient commentator Rabbi Chiya, who insisted on teaching the Torah to his students in an experiential way. We spoke with the kindergarten teacher, who described how they teach the students to appreciate and honor individual differences, to have patience that success won’t come in a single day, and to connect with their world – including their religion – in an emotional and experiential way, rather thing simply using their intellect. Building this school was a huge accomplishment of the Shuva community, and it’s brought more young families to the area, particularly those who wish to teach their children Hassidic values along with a solid secular education.   We then traveled to Be’er Sheva to enjoy a delicious breakfast and conversation at Café Ringelblum, a coffee shop run by a community called Kehillat Kama which emerged a decade ago to revitalize the Daled neighborhood of Be’er Sheva. The café employs youth-at-risk, and has graduated over 60 youth with a high success rate of employment retention, educational attainment, […]

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