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Author Archive | Lisa Kaplan

Nigel 2018 Color_square_web

What is Tu B’Shvat and Why Do We Celebrate It?

by Nigel Savage Introduction to the new Hazon Tu B’Shvat Haggadah You can trace the recent history of  Tu B’Shvat seders like branches on a tree. The first one I went to, in London in 1986, was hosted by Bonna Haberman z”l and Shmuel Browns, mentors to me and many others in the renewal of Jewish ritual. I made my own seder the following  Tu B’Shvat, and I’ve made or attended one every year since. Seders, like trees, grow branches, and the branches sprout fruit in all directions. Historical Roots The roots of Tu B’Shvat stretch back to the beginnings of organized Jewish life. We learn from the Mishnah (Tractate Rosh Hashanah) that “the New Year of the Trees” divided the tithing of one year’s crop from the next – the end and start of the tax year, so to speak. After the expulsion from the Land of Israel, Tu B’Shvat went underground, like a seed, ungerminated, lying beneath the soil of Jewish thought and life. The expulsion from Spain in 1492 scattered Jews in many directions, and some landed in Tzfat. Like a forest fire that cracks open seeds dormant for decades, Tzfat’s kabbalists rediscovered Tu B’Shvat and began […]

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One Water, All Lives: Teva Over Greenland

By Mike Tintner 2018 Teva Educator On the plane flying from Moscow to New York City, returning from Israel, I had the chance to bless. After standing up for the first time in hours on the long flight I stumbled to the window, where I saw a spectacular sight. For as far as my eyes could see was white. Below me were the glaciers of Greenland I have seen so many times on the news and in documentaries. I met someone wearing a black kippah journeying from Israel to New York for his sister’s wedding. We talked about the blessing of beauty, Maaseh Breshit, and proceeded to say the full Hebrew blessing. I told the Orthodox appearing man about my work teaching the connection between Judaism and nature to kids at Teva. As I said these words I wondered what he must think. First: There is such a program? Second: What qualifies you to teach this? The truth is I was the one judging myself. I usually am proud of my work and sometimes I struggle to explain it. In my 107 seasons on Earth, I have witnessed a lot. I have been part of the movement of water protectors […]

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Big News: Extending the Adamah Farm & Increasing Capacity at Isabella Freedman

By Nigel Savage Thursday, December 13, 2018 | 5 Tevet 5779 Dear All, With strong active staff and lay involvement, and support from Project Accelerate, Hazon’s board earlier this year signed off on a new master plan for Isabella Freedman. Isabella Freedman is a place that touches people’s lives individually and strengthens and thickens Jewish institutions. Through Adamah, Teva, the Hazon Food Conference, and our other national retreats it has had a profound impact across the American Jewish community. As Jessica Haller, one of our senior board members, says, “there are some places that do some of the things that this place does, but there are no other places that do all of the things that this place does.” So the master plan is critical not only to Isabella Freedman and Hazon but also, in fact, to the future of the American Jewish community. Isabella Freedman is a place where magic happens – but we need to increase capacity; we need to improve the quality and range of our accommodation and meeting space; and we also need more land to be able to grow our flagship Adamah program, and to enable us to use the land itself more lightly and more carefully. Happily, we believe that […]

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What is our theory of Jewish journeys?

Commencement speech by Nigel Savage Spertus Commencement, Sunday, December 9th 2018, 7th day of Chanukah, 5779 Watch the full video here. Nigel starts speaking at 00:36. Download a pdf transcript here. Dean, Keren, Hal, Tal, Elana, Rabbi Bauman, graduates, family members and friends, A huge mazal tov to all of today’s new graduates, and to your family members and teachers and everyone here today. Want to say a special word of thanks to Tal Rosen – you and your wife and your father have each been dear friends to me and partners to Hazon over many years. Thank you so much for who you are and all that you do. Now, first: some of you may have assumed that today is the first day in 25 years that I’ve worn a cap and gown. Not so: Liz and I dress like this every Sunday to watch Downton Abbey and then the Queen. But thank you so much for inviting me. These are unique programs, in a unique institution, and a unique city. I’m delighted and honored to be here, and especially since I’m from Manchester, the Midwest of England. It’s so important that Jewish leadership doesn’t just come from New […]

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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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