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Author Archive | Hazon

Meet the Hakhel Advisors: Noa

Hakhel is an incubator for Jewish Intentional communities, and as such it provides members with a support package for three years. This support includes funding, training, networking, Israel trips, and the crown jewel: a personal professional advisor! Hakhel advisors provide communities with cutting edge knowledge, vast experience, and insight into best practices in this work. Over the next few months, we’ll introduce some of Hakhel advisors.  First up, meet Noa Asher-Berkeley from Sderot, Israel! Hi! My name is Noa, and I live in Israel. I’m originally from a religious family, and now live as a proud secular Jew in the Migvan (literally “diversity”) community in Sderot. Migvan is an intentional community, an urban kibbutz, which runs a number of projects for young adults with disabilities. Do you mean Sderot near the Gaza envelope? What brought you there? Or shall we ask, what keeps you there? Noa: It might sound a bit naive, but it’s totally true. What keeps me here, in good and bad times, is my community. It’s the best energizer I could think of. And yes, intentional community is my passion, I can’t help it. That’s the way I choose to raise my children, and this also is […]

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Support Sustainable Agriculture Today!

A gritty but incredibly important process called ‘appropriations’ is currently being hammered out between the House and Senate agriculture committees. Encourage your representatives to fully fund programs that support sustainable agriculture! Read on to find out how you can spend five minutes making your voice heard. What’s going on with agricultural appropriations? At the beginning of summer, the House passed an agriculture spending bill with lots of wins in it for sustainable agriculture. The Senate passed their ag spending bill last week, which doesn’t support as many of our priorities. Now, the two bills are being combined into one through a process called Conference. This is a great time to weigh in to make sure that the wins from the House version end up in the final bill! Priorities: Along with our partners at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, we are asking for support for: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program – $45 million Food Safety Outreach Program – $10 million Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program – $10 million Local Agriculture Market Program – $20.4 million FSA Direct and Guaranteed Loans – Level Funding Conservation Technical Assistance – $741.36 million Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network – $10 million […]

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Building the Ark

By Rabbi Nate DeGroot In Parashat Noach, God promised to never destroy the earth again (Gen 8.21). But that says nothing of our precarious power as humans to jeopardize our own future1.  What could Noah have been thinking, we wonder2, as he built his ark, watching the people go by, knowing full-well God’s intent to wipe out land and flesh alike, and yet never reaching out to his neighbors or peers. No warning of what God has told him. No encouraging them to build their own arks. Or work together. No impetus to petition God. We’re told: נֹ֗חַ אִ֥ישׁ צַדִּ֛יק תָּמִ֥ים הָיָ֖ה בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו Noah was a righteous person, blameless in his generation. -Gen 6.9 A righteous person in his generation? Why does the text feel the need to qualify Noah’s righteousness? Couldn’t it have just identified Noah as righteous, and left it at that? Why “in his generation”? According to the rabbis (Sanhedrin 108a, Bereishit Rabbah 30:9), Noah was righteous, but only so much so. And certainly in another generation, he would not have even made the Top 10. Noah was not righteous like Abraham, who argued with God to spare the residents of Sdom and Gmorrah. And he definitely […]

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Shake Local

Hazon Detroit: Shake Local

Dear Friends, Our rabbis say (Tosafot, Suk. 37b) that when we shake the lulav and etrog on Sukkot, “the trees of the forest sing with joy.” So that got us to wondering, what are the conditions that might allow the trees around us to sing with the greatest amount of joy during this holiday season that just passed? Every year on Sukkot, the US imports upwards of 500,000 lulavim from Israel and Egypt so that we can construct our traditional lulavim bundles using the familiar palm fronds, willow, myrtle, and citron. This combination of species has become so definitional that most of us probably don’t even consider that a lulav could be constructed any other way. But the original text is not so clear. In Torah (Lev 23.40), where we’re first told about the four species, the text simply says: לְקַחְתֶּ֨ם לָכֶ֜ם בַּיּ֣וֹם הָרִאשׁ֗וֹן פְּרִ֨י עֵ֤ץ הָדָר֙ כַּפֹּ֣ת תְּמָרִ֔ים וַעֲנַ֥ף עֵץ־עָבֹ֖ת וְעַרְבֵי־נָ֑חַל וּשְׂמַחְתֶּ֗ם לִפְנֵ֛י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֖ם שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִֽים׃ On the first day you shall take the fruit of beautiful trees, fronds of palm-shaped trees, branches of woven trees, and valley-willows, and you shall rejoice before YHVH your God for seven days. Nowhere does it determine, at its linguistic core, the […]

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Recipe: Cilantro Chutney

This recipe comes to us from 2019 Hazon Food Conference Presenter Regina Mosenkis. Recipe from What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen by Divya Alter (Rizzoli, 2017) This chutney and its variations are my favorites for improving any type of indigestion. Cilantro is a super food and a heavy metal detoxifier, but it’s hard to get enough of it just as a garnish. Blending this potent herb into chutney is a delectable way to have more. You can serve this bright green sauce as a digestive aid with every meal. It will freshen up and invigorate basically everything savory: lentil soups, grains, vegetables, breads, cutlets. If possible, make the chutney just before serving, as its flavors and healing properties fade with time, even if refrigerated. The recommended serving is 2 to 3 tablespoons per person. Gluten free, Dairy free Makes ½ cup Prep: 5 to 10 minutes Ingredients 2 ½ cups coarsely chopped packed cilantro with stems 3 tablespoons water 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger 1 green Thai chile, seeded 1 teaspoon honey, maple syrup, or a pitted chopped date ½ teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon olive oil Preparation In […]

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Recipe: Almond Milk Chai

This recipe comes to us from 2019 Hazon Food Conference Presenter Regina Mosenkis. Recipe from What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen by Divya Alter (Rizzoli, 2017) When I lived in India, I learned that chai is one of the “as many cooks, as many recipes” dishes. The variations are countless. I can still hear the train vendors’ loud and yowling cries of “Chaaaiiii,” but I could never produce the same exact incantation. Chai means “tea” in Hindi. This recipe is my caffeine-free version of a traditional SV Ayurvedic masala chai that helps us digest carbohydrates and transform sugar into energy. It is especially good to drink when you want to counteract the effects of eating sweets. The almond milk is essential for balancing the pungent spices. Gluten free; Dairy free Serves 2 to 3 Cook time: 30 minutes Ingredients 4 cups water 10 black peppercorns 5 cardamom pods, crushed 5 whole cloves 4 slices fresh ginger 1 1⁄2 cinnamon sticks 1 star anise (optional) 2 tablespoons raw sugar or sweetener of your choice, or to taste (optional) 1 cup almond milk For Fiery digestion: Omit the black pepper. Reduce the ginger to 2 slices; add […]

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Recipe: Bumuelos

This recipe comes to us from 2019 Hazon Food Conference Presenter Susan Barocas. This is the only bumuelos recipe I’ve ever used, dating back over 50 years to growing up in Denver and modified only slightly since then. However, there are many versions online, in books and in people’s kitchens. Bumuelos are sometimes called the Sephardic or Turkish beignet, but nearly every cuisine and culture has some version of a deep fried, syrup-soaked, white flour dough perfect for Hanukkah. In Latin America, they are often called buñuelos and in India, jalebi, while in Morocco they are called sfenj. Syrian Jews make zalabieh, Persian Jews zoloobiah and for Iraqi Jews it’s zangoola. Italian Jews serve anise-flavored frittelle di Hanukkah. No matter the name, all are a good excuse to enjoy a sweet fried treat! Makes about 3 dozen Ingredients Dough 2 envelopes dry yeast 1 1/3 cups warm water 1 egg, well beaten ½ teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon oil 3 cups + 3 tablespoons flour Oil for deep frying Cinnamon to sprinkle Syrup: 1 cup sugar 1 cup honey 1 cup water 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 stick cinnamon Preparation To make the dough, dissolve the yeast in 1/3 cup warm water […]

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Recipe: Almond Milk

This recipe comes to us from 2019 Hazon Food Conference Presenter Regina Mosenkis. Recipe from What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen by Divya Alter (Rizzoli, 2017) I’ve taught this recipe to thousands of people and not a single student could restrain their amusement and joy: “Wow! Really, that easy?” Making almond milk is quick and uncomplicated. It takes less time to make it at home than to go buy it at the store. If you have been drinking boxed almond milk, you’ll taste a big difference with your fresh, homemade version. It’s simple; don’t panic at the lengthy directions below. I just want to give you all the practical, time-saving tips I can. I guarantee you that after milking your almonds a couple of times, making your own almond milk will become second nature, and you will never need to look at the recipe again. Use only raw almonds (ideally unpasteurized), not roasted or salted. Soaking is essential because it releases the digestive enzymes and makes the rich protein and fats of the almonds much easier to digest. You do not need a high-power blender for this recipe; even the cheapest blender works. Once I […]

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Recipe: Baklava Bites

This recipe comes to us from 2019 Hazon Food Conference Presenter Susan Barocas. Ingredients 1 cup walnuts, chopped ½ cup pistachios, chopped 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/8 tsp ground cloves 30 mini fillo shells Syrup: 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup water 1/2 cup honey 1 tbsp lemon juice Preparation Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, add walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves and pulse just enough to combine. Nuts can also be hand-chopped, then mixed in a bowl with the sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Cooking Place shells on a baking sheet. Spoon about 1 tsp of nut mixture into each shell, mounding the mixture slightly. Bake 10-12 minutes just until the shells start to turn golden brown. Make the syrup before making the bites or while they are baking. In small saucepan over medium heat combine the water, sugar and honey and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer on low for about 10- 15 minutes until the sauce thickens a bit. Stir in the lemon juice and remove the sauce from the heat. Either cool the syrup and pour it over the hot bites, or let the bites cool while you make the syrup and […]

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Why a Jewish Meditation Retreat?

by Rabbi Jay Michaelson Why do mindfulness meditation in a Jewish context? These days, there are seemingly endless ways to meditate: in secular contexts, like mindfulness-based stress reduction; in a wide variety of Buddhist communities; at yoga classes. So why do Jewish? It’s not because Jewish meditation practices are better, holier, or more effective than any others. Believe me, I’ve studied them for twenty-five years. There are some uniquely Jewish practices that can be helpful for some people – Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav’s hitbodedut comes to mind – but in fact, Buddhist traditions, coming from a tradition which placed meditation at the center of monastic life for two thousand years, actually tend to be more fully developed than Jewish ones, which don’t. That’s why, at the Hazon Meditation Retreat, we tend to focus on Buddhist-derived meditation practices like mindfulness and open awareness, and blend them with Jewish practices like davening and Shabbat. But there are a lot of reasons to meditate in a Jewish context, whether you’re Jewish or not. Here are four. First, there’s a powerful cultural resonance. Whether Judaism is in my genetic DNA or not, it’s definitely in my cultural DNA. Jews have special joys and oys; […]

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leah palmer

Hakhel Blog: Leah Palmer

Several years ago, I was in shul on the morning of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and the Rabbi stood up to speak. They opened with: “What is the difference between the Jewish New Year on Rosh Hashanah, and the New Year’s Eve on the 31st of December?” This was apparently the opening to a Jewish joke, but I never caught the punchline because the question itself landed me deep in thought. On both occasions, we reflect on the year gone by, gather with friends or family, overindulge and promise that next year will be better. In my eyes, the crucial difference is that on the 31st of December, we promise ourselves to do better, to make better decisions, to think about others, whatever it might be. On Rosh Hashanah, we promise these things to someone who will hold us accountable. And I think that is a great thing. The days after Rosh Hashanah are Judaism’s response to the January ritual of taking out a gym membership only to never actually rock up. To buying all the gear for starting a new hobby, but never getting around to taking it out of the box. To buying a bespoke planner […]

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Rosh HaShanah for Animals by Rabbi Aaron Philmus

Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5779 By Rabbi Aaron Philmus Temple Torat Yisrael, Rhode Island Sheep, goats, cows, camels and donkeys… Domesticated animals get almost as much air-time in the Torah as people do, yet we so rarely reflect on our relationship with them. We may have a soft spot for dogs and cats, but what about the animals that feed us and clothe us every day? What about the animals that give us parchment for Torah, wool for Tallit, and skin for tefillin? The Mishna tells us that along with Rosh Hashanah for the people and the trees, there is also a New Year for the tithing of animals on the 1st of Elul called Rosh HaShanah La-Behemah. Elul is also a time of cheshbon hanefesh (accounting of the soul), so when we hear the blast of the ram’s horn, let us attune ourselves to the cries of the animals who cannot advocate for their own welfare. As I type these words, my goats are crying out for me to take them on a walk in the woods. I can hear my chickens alarming, “buk buk buk buh-GAHK!” When I look out the window, there is a mob of crows dive-bombing […]

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Inner and Outer Climate Change by Rabbi Robin Damsky

Earth Etudes 2019 Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5779 By Rabbi Robin Damsky inthegardens.org Durham, NC It’s been a year of change. Not just a move, but a move to a new climate zone and a very new culture. I moved from outside Chicago to Durham, NC – the South. The trees here are glorious – pines everywhere, wisteria in April blooming in the wild, crepe myrtle in vivid fuchsia and pale pastels just now. It’s hot. Average days are in the 90s and one can almost swim in the humidity. A long growing season brought daffodils in February, while I just set my second planting of pole beans. I’ve been graced by many a critter – my welcome basket was in the form of a 10-inch turtle on my front steps. I see many toads, frogs, and praying mantises. The hawk that sits in my front tree visits regularly; as do so many species of birds that I hear and see living within the forest in my backyard. In a Dorothy moment, I would say to Toto: “We are definitely not in Kansas (Chicago) anymore.” Being in this location with so much nature around me is a balm down deep. Yet […]

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Getting in Sync with the Treasure of Elul by Rabbi Ora Weiss

Rosh Chodesh Elul, 5779 By Rabbi Ora Weiss Restorative Judaism Boston, MA One of the great gifts of Judaism is its exquisite ability to teach us to tune in and use the energy of each month. The energy of Elul offers us unique support. But, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page when we speak of energy – so, a short explanation: Everything – and I mean everything – is energy. Just in different forms, and different frequencies. When I say frequency, it is that everything is vibrating at different rates. The different forms of energy include matter – such as the earth (remember E=mc2? – matter is just densed-down energy), light, humans and thoughts. Time itself is not homogeneous, but rather flows with different qualities of energy, different frequencies, at different times. Judaism recognizes that each month has different energies and qualities. The Bnei Yissaschar notes that chodesh – month – can be understood as chidush – renewal, (or, even entirely new!) That is, something new comes into being with each month, different flows of energy from God given to us to affect change and growth. Elul has a very special energy: it gifts us with a […]

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Eikev and the Seven Species | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Sarah Rockford, JOFEE Fellow Cohort 4, Maine Jewish Food Network at Colby College Center for Small Town Jewish Life – Waterville, ME Parshat Eikev Fourteen years ago I read from parshat Eikev as a bat mitzvah. As I stood on the bimah and chanted my way through the aliyot, I reflected briefly that the eleventh-hour cramming I’d done over the past hours seemed to be paying off, but reading the final aliyah my concentration waivered, and I lost my place in the scroll. I continued to chant the Hebrew words I’d memorized while theatrically moving the lost yad along the rows of letters on the parchment. When I ran out of words in my head I stopped chanting and shot a desperate look at the rabbi—hoping he would reorient me so I could finish the portion. Our eyes met, he smiled, and congratulated me. I’d finished the aliyah from memory without realizing, and no one was the wiser for my mistake. Relieved and full of adrenaline I started to cry as the congregation began to sing Siman Tov U’Mazal Tov. I believe everyone thought I was having a profound spiritual moment, but these were tears of relief. I was just happy the […]

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