Author Archive | Nigel Savage

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Hazon Book Club, Sukkot, the Farm Bill and the midterms

Thursday, September 20, 2018 | 11 Tishrei 5779 Dear All, I hope you had a good and strong Yom Kippur. Someone yesterday asked me: how do we take all this intensity and good intentions and vulnerability and desire to change and actually integrate that into our real lives? And my immediate response – which, on reflection, I think was absolutely right – was that’s exactly what Sukkot is for. Because here is this festival – Sukkot – which literally celebrates our new openness. Instead of just walling ourselves off from other people and other issues we open ourselves to our neighbors and the world around us. And now, instead of teshuva done in a necessarily heavy way – noting our failures, apologizing, promising to do better – now we have a sense of our best selves and so we do teshuva from a place of joy and celebration. So – may your best intentions for yourself come to fruition. And if you fail – get back on the horse. And that’s literally the perfect segue to two things. First – the Hazon Book Club. I told you that for the first time ever we were inviting people to read a […]

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The Paris Accords – Now What?

From Nigel Savage June 2nd, 2017 | 8th Sivan 5777 Dear All, Jewish tradition isn’t just for kids and it isn’t just for synagogues and it isn’t just about bagels or dressing up on Purim. This last week, across the Jewish world, we celebrated Shavuot, “the giving of the Torah.” It’s called the time of the giving of the Torah, and not the receiving of the Torah, because Jewish tradition, fundamentally, is about choice, and responsibility. We choose whether to receive this gift, and in what ways we receive it. It’s an act of responsibility and of obligation to take on the injunctions of Jewish tradition and to use them not merely to be good Jews or good people, but to create, day by day, a better world. In every country of the world in which Jewish people live, their government has endorsed the Paris Climate Agreement. Every religious faith community spoke up for it. I went to Paris in 2015 to represent the Jewish community in the lead-up to the negotiation of those Accords; alongside senior religious and governmental leaders – Ségolène Royal, then-President Hollande, Cardinal Turkson, Vandana Shiva, Mary Robinson, and so on – to say that the Jewish people […]

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I hope to see you this Sunday at the Celebrate Israel Parade…

From Nigel Savage June 2nd, 2017 | 8th Sivan 5777 Dear All, It’s the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration this year. When Lord Balfour wrote to Lord Rothschild, on behalf of the British government, neither of them knew that, thirty years later, the United Nations would vote to establish a third Jewish commonwealth. (Nor that, in the intervening years, the Jews of Europe would be hunted down and massacred, country by country, family by family, for six years.) Though my grandparents were alive that day, the world seems unimaginably changed since then. This is not the Israel of Ben Gurion or Jabotinsky, it is not the Israel of Golda Meir or Yitzhak Rabin. This is the Israel of Barbie, by Static and Ben El Tavori, which I find strangely irresistible. Also of the new food scene, the growth of the haredi population, the burgeoning of an Israeli non-orthodox Judaism. The new/old train stations. The Mizrachi revival. Racisms, old and new. The dilemmas of the Israeli Palestinians, the flourishing of Be’er Sheva, the new airport in the Negev, Israeli TV shows on Hulu and Amazon, Etgar Keret, Leah Shakdiel, Moshe Halbertal, Ilit Azoulai and Sigalit Landau, veganism, food co-ops, urban […]

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Light in the Darkness

Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5776 I got back to the US on Tuesday, after a swirling Israel trip that was rich and intense and thought-provoking. I share with you a few provisional thoughts, many of them self-contradictory: The self-reinforcing mirror worlds we live in cause damage in the real world. It’s far too easy to read op-ed pages we agree with and to like things on Facebook in a narrow range. Resist the urge to do so! I had rich and fascinating (and long) conversations this trip with a strong AIPAC supporter; with a Palestinian from Akko (her self-definition, by the way: not Israeli; not Israeli Arab; not Israeli Palestinian. Our conversation was in Hebrew); with parents from Talpiot, just across from the bus that was attacked; with a Jordanian from Amman; with a friend whose son is an anarchist and another whose son is in Sayeret Matkal. I had dinner with someone who didn’t want to go on vacation to Norway “because I just wouldn’t want to go to Oslo…” (!). And, more formally, an Encounter trip to Beit Jala; our Israel Ride with students from the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies; our Siach conference with a range of Israeli […]

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Being in Israel this Week

I’m tired but feeling good. We rode today from Jerusalem to Ashkelon – 162 riders, on the first day of our 2015 Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride. It was a good start. We took precautions against both rain and terrorism. As of the time of writing – Wednesday afternoon in Ashkelon – it’s happily been a quiet day on both fronts. A couple of reflections on the last week: Hamatzav (“the situation.”) I was thinking about the famous line in Mishnah Sanhedrin: anyone who saves a life, it is as if he saves an entire world. It’s preceded by the slightly less famous bit: one who takes someone’s soul; this is like destroying an entire world. In this most recent period that amplification of human power – taking one life, destroying a world – has played out not only the sense in which the Talmud intended (that each life has infinite significance) but also in the broader sense, that one or two individual acts of destruction can do existential damage on a far far larger stage. It is sad and tragic that there are young Palestinians so full of hate and despair that they would risk their lives – in […]

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Towards a New Paradigm

The name of this week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, means both “go forth” or “go out” and, more literally, “go to you.” It’s the week in which Avraham and Sarah begin their great odyssey towards a new land and a new paradigm. They leave their comfort zone for the unknown. Their journey gave birth not only to a family but – in the end – three world religions. So, despite the headlines, it feels like a good day to have landed in Israel. I’m out here for our annual Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride, followed by our Siach gathering for social justice and environmental leaders. This Sunday I’m squeezing in an Encounter trip to Bethlehem, which I’m also looking forward to. I don’t think I’m any less sad, or angry, about some of what’s happening here in Israel, or in the region, than anyone reading this email. But, despite everything, I don’t feel completely hopeless. Governments can negotiate the absence of war. But actual peace – as impossibly far off as it may seem – can only arise through people, by building relationships of respect among those who disagree. The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies – our lead-partner on the […]

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Seven Years

My Bobbie, as we called her in Manchester when I was a kid, (my father’s mother, z”l) was born on this day – in 1892. How crazy is that? That’s as far distant from today as the year 2138 – a number that seems more like the 4–digit combination for a bike lock than an actual calendar year. 12 days from now I’m going to the New York dinner for the 500th anniversary of my high school. It was founded in 1515 by Hugh Oldham, 94 years before Henry Hudson sailed up the river that now bears his name. Will MGS be around to celebrate the next 500, in the year 2515? And so I wonder: what are the cycles of time that make sense to us, and why? This coming Sunday is the last day in a 7–year cycle of Jewish life that began the evening of Monday September 29th, 2008. Sunday night – Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year – starts a new cycle that ends on the last day of the next shmita year, which will be September 25th, 2022. Thus more so than most years, now is a time for looking back and looking forwards. For […]

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Recent staff changes

Recent staff changes (in alphabetical order!):​ Mark Bailey came on board in June as our new Design Fellow (in the Marketing & Communications branch)​ Judith Belasco is now Hazon’s Chief Program Officer Julie Botnick shifted to the position of Program Associate on August 3rd. Jac Cohn has re-joined the Hazon family as our Adamah Marketing Apprentice. Drisana Davis and Nia Taylor will be leaving Hazon as of October 31, as we undertake a Bay Area transition and de-staffing. Jessie Katz is currently shifting to the new position of Director of Outreach, moving over to this new role full-time after the NY Ride. Among her responsibilities, Jessie will staff a New York Regional Advisory Board. Miriam Leichtling has been hired as our new Director of Rides, beginning August 11th. Meredith Levick has been hired for the new role of Associate Director of Education) and began work on August 3rd. Becca Linden, while not changing titles, will be shifting a significant amount of her focus towards leading our new Hazon Seal of Sustainability program. Nati Passow left Hazon as of July 31st to focus on Jewish Farm School, with Leah Lazer becoming lead staff person in the Philadelphia region; David Rendsburg is […]

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Hazon in the Bay Area…

I’m writing to Hazon stakeholders in the Bay Area to thank you for your support in the past and to let you know about the next evolution of our work here. Our work here began when I was in San Francisco in September 2001, hoping to launch Hazon events in the Bay Area. My meeting with key leaders in the Jewish community was scheduled for 10am… on the day of 9/11. That meeting became a footnote to a very different sort of day than the one we were expecting. But the determination to build what came to be known as Jewish Outdoor, Food & Environmental Education (JOFEE, for short) remained with me and with Hazon. In 2008, backed by the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, we started our first regional office in the Bay Area. Our goal was to start to renew Jewish life, and to create a more sustainable world for all. We started off by moving the multi-day Hazon Food Conference from Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT to Northern California. In total, more than 1,500 people came to the Food Conference over the next three years. It laid the groundwork for the last seven years […]

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Three Gifts from Jewish Tradition

Nigel Savage’s address at the Summit of Conscience for the Climate, Paris, 21st July 2015 | 5th Av 5775 Friends, I’m honored to be here, part of this incredible group of people. This has been a fascinating, inspiring, thought-provoking day. I want to say a personal thank you to Cardinal Turkson, and through you to His Holiness the Pope. I think I am not the only Jew who feels that this Pope speaks for me. I hope you will take this as a compliment if I say that he is not only an extraordinary Pope and a wonderful man, but in my language a great rabbi, and even a tzadik. Thank you so much to you and to him for inspiring us and challenging us and for modeling what is possible. I’m here today because for 15 years I’ve been leading an organization called Hazon, Hebrew for vision. We’re working within and beyond the Jewish community to create a healthier and more sustainable world for all. You could argue, of course, that the Jewish people have been thinking about sustainable energy ever since God spoke to Moses out of a bush that was burning but never consumed. Moses might have […]

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