Author Archive | Lisa Kaplan

Big Questions

By Nigel Savage Thursday, November 29, 2018 | 21 Kislev 5779 Dear All, In 2000, a small group of people believed (a) that we had to try to address environmental sustainability in the world, including some big big – BIG – challenges; (b) that the Jewish community needed to be part of this process, and by the way (c) if we do it right it will strengthen Jewish life as well. We’re called Hazon (Hebrew for “vision”) because it seemed apparent, even then, that if we were going to put our attention on big, intractable, and depressing challenges, we would need to do it with a sense of positive vision. The good news, 18 years on, is that those beliefs are still good beliefs (in a moral sense) and true, practically speaking. The impact of Hazon has grown very dramatically these last 18 years. We’re delivering 35,000 person-days a year of immersive experiences. We’re supporting the Israeli environmental movement in significant ways. In Boulder and Denver and the Detroit area, we’ve started to create and connect the synapses of Jewish sustainability, so that a wide range of initiatives around food and sustainability are integrating into Jewish life in profound ways. […]

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Hazon. Important.

by Nigel Savage November 15, 2018 | 8 Kislev 5779 Dear all, In the last two weeks we’ve had the shivahs for the people who were murdered in Pittsburgh, the post-Pittsburgh Shabbat, and then the midterms. As I write, California is on fire and a record number of lives have been lost. The Gaza/Israel border is tense and there too lives have been lost. And for historical context we’ve commemorated a century since the end of the Great War and 80 years since Kristallnacht, essentially the start of the next one. So it feels like everything is accelerating and many things are deteriorating. A fine time to enter the month of Kislev, this time of light in the darkness. I want to write especially today about Hazon itself – our failures and challenges, our vitality and our necessity, against this tumultuous backdrop. In a factual sense there is, as ever, much going on. We delivered our largest-ever Israel Ride (registration is now open for 2019, and remarkably 120 people have already registered. We sold out in the spring last year, so if you’re thinking about joining us, sign up soon!), plus a separate tour of Israel’s intentional communities for our […]

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Hakhel Israel trip – Day 1

Monday, November 5, 2018 By Gil Landau, Kfar B’ir, Washington DC Monday morning, we stood on a mountaintop overlooking the Kineret and the place where the earliest Kibbutzim were established. After hearing our guide James tell his moving personal story of coming to Israel and building an intentional community, we discussed each group’s goals, dreams for the future, and three questions we needed to answer during this trip to move our communities forward. Our community, KfarDC, an urban co-housing community to be built in downtown DC, discussed our goal of reducing loneliness caused by modern society, our dreams of creating a model for Jewish co-housing in America, and the need to learn about how to recruit serious volunteer and financing housing in a high-cost urban environment. We then went down the mountain and heard from Muki Tzur, a pioneer of the kibbutz movement. Muki explained that the core principle for building just communities is to balance freedom and equality. All theory aside, Muki stressed that we need to stop discussing and start building. This was a lesson that was reinforced when we visited the Hadar neighborhood of Haifa and the young intentional communities there. We met with Shai Felbnik, who […]

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Detroit Newsletter: Drops of water

Dear Friends, Last night at sundown, we concluded the Jewish lunar month of Cheshvan, the first month following High Holidays and the only month on our calendar without a Jewish holiday. For this reason, there’s a tradition dating back to the Mishnah(~200 CE) of calling this month Marcheshvan, meaning “bitter Cheshvan” (mar like marror on Passover). This bitterness seems to have been reflected all around us these last thirty days. Here in Michigan, the leaves started turning, and then falling. We turned our clocks back, and all of the sudden it’s dark by 5:30pm. There’s a chill in the air we haven’t felt since the final snow melted late last winter. And most bitter of all, we’ve faced numerous heartbreaking tragedies as a Jewish community and a country. However, there is another interpretation of mar that may provide us some clarity and hope – mar can also mean “drop,” as in a drop of water. During this month, mar is our prayer for rain and the month when Noah’s flood swept through the land. When read with this in mind, we begin to understand that we must act and live with a sense of sacred responsibility, adding our drop to the turbulent waters of this historical moment, trusting that with enough drops comes […]

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Hakhel Israel trip – Day 2

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 By Elie Benhiyoun Divorced with three kids and nowhere to go, Sara made the trek north to Afula. When she arrived, the first thing she did was get on a bike, find whatever odds and ends she could get her hands on and sell them at the shuk, the local market. She did this every day for a few years until she was finally able to have a stall of her own. Today, 35 years later, this impossibly slight woman with an indomitable spirit told us her story, some of us with tears in our eyes. The Afula Market, or “shuk” in Hebrew, was the heartbeat of this small northern town only a few decades ago. It was utterly vanquished by the neighboring department stores and has since become a hive of underworld activity. Thankfully, Sivan, an Afula local artist, didn’t see it that way. These dilapidated walls were the ideal canvas for art and the opportunity to empower creative teenagers in Afula. It now boasts a dazzling display of murals, making the shuk burst with life. We had the privilege to speak with Sivan and her friends Gili and Mor on our first stop after […]

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From then to now. And where next?

by Nigel Savage Thursday, October 18, 2018 | 9 Cheshvan 5779 Dear All, This is a blunter email than usual. For 18 years Hazon’s impact in the world has been partly predicated on not ‘banging people over the head,’ as I sometimes put it. We’re not here to make you feel bad. And not least because many of us aren’t feeling so great about the world right now, and thus don’t need anyone to make us feel worse. Pedagogically, personal or institutional change is not best effected by telling people what to do. And yet, that said, this is a moment in which I don’t have to tell you what to do. I just want to direct your gaze. I note that a significant number of Americans across the Florida panhandle are now homeless, or have wrecked houses, or are mourning the random deaths of loved ones. They could be you or me. They had the misfortune to find themselves in the way of a storm whose impact was greater than previous ones because of aggregate human behavior these last decades. And it happened just after the publication of the IPCC report, which makes absolutely clear that things are on track […]

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NYC Jewish institutions: Take the lead on eliminating food waste! 

Food waste is a major problem. Minimizing waste diverted to landfills is crucial for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as the world battles the effects of global warming. See this resource by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for more info about its magnitude and urgency. The future seems grim, but each of us can be that little drop in the bucket that will eventually be a critical mass. Every vote matters, every voice elevates the communal song, every action counts. And remember, first we reduce, then we reuse, and only THEN – we recycle/compost!   Get inspired: Watch composting up close at B’nai Jeshurun and Hannah Senesh Community Day School, two Hazon Seal of Sustainability participants. To start collecting organic waste for composting:  (*Already composting? – scroll down and see how you can make a bigger difference!) Submit an online inquiry here. After submitting an eligible inquiry, you will be contacted by a DSNY representative, to schedule a site visit at your location. Eligible inquiries may come from full-time staff members, board members, other parties appointed by an abovementioned qualified representative, or other appropriate parties on a case-by-case basis.  Schedule a site visit with a DSNY representative. After receiving your organization’s application, we will be in touch shortly to schedule a visit. During the visit, we will […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: Bible Raps

Bible Raps joined Hakhel in the summer of 2018, and looks to fuse the two rarely overlapping worlds of Hip Hop and Torah. Here is how they do it… Rappers and Rabbis: An Unreasonable Obsession With The Word By Matt Bar I know there is some obvious concern to be raised when bringing hip hop into sophisticated adult Torah study. I mean, the one is lewd, misogynistic, full of killers and concubines and the other is hip hop. Ba-dum-bum-CHING! Over the past 18 months, Bible Raps has been facilitating retreats, podcasts, and curriculum that bring together a diverse group of rappers (street-wise lyricists who have honed their craft rap-battling on subway trains) and rabbis (book-wise teachers who have cut their teeth dueling it out in the Beit Midrash). Bible Raps has been serving as the anvil upon which these two word-loving communities let their lyrical hammers loose against the yellow-hot steel of Torah. And boy have the sparks been flying! Our podcasts and events are turning out razor-sharp-edged analysis amid steam-explosions of laughter. The hammer blows coming out of the Bible Raps Smithy have been hitting some powerfully deep frequencies. The rumblings are already being felt throughout the Jewish Adult Education […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: MoEd

MoEd is… The place you should have been going after school when you were a kid. It just wasn’t around, so you couldn’t… A fun-loving kids’ community, where kids come to meet and play and talk – and learn (without realizing it)! A Hebrew-speaking Jewish afterschool, where every participant defines their space, their role, and what they want to learn. We do our best to give the kids a set of tools, a bag of skills… and a world of questions. They have to connect the dots, draw the lines, and come up with their very own definition and identity. We are a community of kids, backed by a community of families. We come together in the evening to make shakshuka from a recipe written in Hebrew, or watch The Band’s Visit and have a long discussion about the meaning of ‘center’ versus ‘periphery’ and everything in between. Members contribute their skills and knowledge to a growing, engaged community that learns about the Dead Sea Scrolls from a parent who is a professor, or about second-language acquisition from another parent who is a language specialist. MoEd is located in Chevy Chase, Maryland and serves the greater DC area. We have […]

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Mira Niculescu

The Silence After Love: The Gift of Space in the Month of Cheshvan

By Mira Neshama Niculescu On Elul our anticipation grows, as we hear the shofar blow every morning in the synagogues, as we hurry to examine our deeds, as we call each other to say “I’m sorry”, and “I love you.” Then comes the two days where we celebrate the birthday of the world. As the month of Tishri triumphally starts, the doors of the sky open, we crown the source of life as king of the world, and we dip apples in honey, wishing each other a year of “goodness” and of “sweetness.” Just about ten days later, we all dress in white, rehearsing our death while calling for our rebirth, on the day of atonement, yom ha kippurim. When the night comes after that long journey throughout which we’re prayed to be inscribed in the book of life, we’re barely still drinking our warm tea after the fast, that it’s time to start planting the first pole of the booth we are getting ready to inhabit for seven days, resting under the palms through which we see the stars, feeling both our vulnerability and our gratitude towards the source of life whose natural bounty is everywhere around us. Sukkot, […]

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