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Hakhel Newsletter March 2022

Dear Hakhel Communities,

I hope you and your community celebrated a very happy Purim! We are now in the lull between Purim and Pesach (always shorter than you think!), but that doesn’t mean there’s an end to the work to be done. 

One thing that should be top of your to-do list is signing up for the Hakhel Israel Trip and Summit, taking place from May 9-15 in Israel. We may be fewer, due to the war in Europe, but we are strong as communities and as a network, and we are here to carve out the next phase of this work in person together even in hard times. 

Please sign up and have your community members sign up. Registration ends on March 31. See below for more details.

Our own efforts have been focused on supporting our communities in Ukraine at this terrible time – through sending Hakhel delegations and thousands of dollars of medical supplies and food. Read on below for more info about these efforts and how you can help.

In this week’s parsha, Shemini, we see a lot of divine activity – a fire issues from G-d to consume offerings on the altar, G-d’s presence comes to dwell in the Sanctuary, and Nadav and Avihu die due to offering a strange fire, which G-d commanded them not to. Where and when do you feel the divine presence in your life? Perhaps your community helps you feel more connected to the Divine – or perhaps you feel it in human connections you forge with other Hakhel community leaders at opportunities like the Summit!

At the Summit, we plan to consider how we can enter the coming year with a renewed focus on being of service, contributing to the greater whole, and supporting those who cannot be there in person with us.

Wishing you a good and productive month ahead, and hope I’ll see you in Israel!

Yours truly,

Deborah Fishman

Hakhel Network Manager

Pictured: A Marom Seminar

Meet Roni Levin of Marom

This month, Deborah Fishman sat down with Roni Levin from Marom, the Masorti (Conservative) movement branch serving those in their 20s-30s. She is new to the Hakhel team as a partner and advisor. 

Tell us about your background and how you came to your community-building work.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t looking for a position in community-building. But when I read the description of my current position, it seemed related to my past experiences with people and team building. I know to take a task apart and see who’s doing what. I know how to get people involved as volunteers. When I was a youth director and in my shlichut, I worked a lot at making people realize they are doing what they do because they are committed. Then you can get people on board with your idea, and that’s what I was looking for: something meaningful.

What is Marom and what do you do to build global Jewish communities?

Marom is an organization serving young adults in the Masorti movement. We wish to create a meaningful Jewish experience for young adults. This age group travels and moves a lot. They don’t stay too long in one position, and it takes them longer to settle. We created the Marom network to shift from being a locally-based to being a globally-based community, so people will have the opportunity to connect wherever they go. If they want to do Kabbalat Shabbat and continue with a meaningful Jewish experience wherever they choose to be, locally and internationally, they can stay connected.

What do Marom communities have in common and how do you promote this shared mission/values in the world?

Our communities are Masorti communities; we’re all looking for a Jewish experience and to be part of a community. People are looking for meaningful experiences, communities, and friends. What we have in common is people looking to celebrate their Judaism: from the simple things of Kabbalat Shabbat and holidays to getting deeping in limmud (learning) in chavruta (group of people studying together). It’s about being Jews together. 

What’s your vision for the international network of Marom?

Today we’re creating leadership that works together internationally. For instance, we’re building two volunteer programs in Uganda and Budapest, which people can come to from all over the world. My dream vision is Jewish couch surfing. I want people to tell me that being part of the Marom community made them look for the Jewish aspect of the locations they go to, such as seeking out the local synagogue for Kabbalat Shabbat or just to be Jews together, that it made their Jewish identity strong and confident.

What advice, lesson from your work, or Jewish wisdom do you have that might inspire Hakhel communities in their own Jewish community-building?

The advice: that the community always knows best.  Listen to what they have to say and how they go about things, what troubles them, what concerns them. You can talk to them a lot about the great ideas you have, but at the end of the day, it needs to be relevant to them; you need to give them hope. In the end, I always felt like I’m getting more than I gave back.


Hakhel May Israel Trip and Summit

Jewish intentional community leaders from around the world will gather in Israel from May 9-15 for Hakhel’s Israel Trip and Summit and to determine how Hakhel is going to look in the upcoming 7 years. Will you step up as a leader in shaping this emerging global movement of communities?

Here is how the summit is going to look:

Monday-Thursday: Israel trips touring inside the world of intentional communities

Thursday night: Exploring our global network.

Friday: Professional training (Community building, leadership and more).

Shabbat: Shabbat experience & Israel-Diaspora connection.

Sunday: Envisioning and strategizing the Shmita cycle of Hakhel.

Who should register?

We have very limited spaces at the Israel Summit and we want to ensure that the attendance is as diverse and global as possible. In particular, you are highly encouraged to apply if you are part of a Hakhel community and have not attended a Hakhel Trip in the past, and/or if you are veteran leader of a thriving Hakhel community and would like to participate as we envision and strategize together how Hakhel should look in the upcoming Shmita cycle (2023-2030).

Register today. Registration closes March 31! 

Our Efforts in Ukraine

Over the past 3 weeks, we met several times with Hakhel community leaders from Lvov and Kharkov. They asked for our help and we, all of us, have responded.

Thanks to the power of Hakhel’s group, we were able to purchase thousands of dollars worth of medications, and put them to use in those cities. We have also been able to send another shipment of food to Medzybudzh, with the help of our Cisco delegation in Warsaw.

This week we sent 2 more delegations, to Kishinev and to Warsaw, in close partnership with JDC, bringing the total number of delegations we have sent to 8. Additionally, 2-3 delegations are planned for next week as well. We are also working on getting urgent medical supplies to one of Kiev’s hospitals before the city is, God forbid, put under siege.

If you want to stay involved and informed, click here to join the WhatsApp group:

https://chat.whatsapp.com/JbstV8zuxHb32NM7NHgNz0

Or here for the email list:

https://forms.gle/Ak8ctK81PUTMpNft8

If you would like to contribute to these efforts, please click here:

https://donate.hazon.org/give/276717/#!/donation/checkout

Hazon Shmita Sourcebook

The Hazon Shmita Sourcebook presents a guided exploration of the history, concepts, and practices of Shmita, from debt forgiveness to agricultural rest, economic adjustment to charitable giving. The updated sourcebook explores texts and commentaries that build the framework of Shmita within the biblical and rabbinic tradition, as well as contemporary voices that speak to Shmita as it relates to our modern world.

This comprehensive, accessible sourcebook is well-suited for individual, partnered, and group study, with guiding text and discussion questions to enhance your learning, regardless of educational background. The Hazon Shmita Sourcebook offers a holistic understanding of Shmita, from the depth of Jewish tradition to the most pressing issues of our time.

Download here.

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