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New light, new ideas, new collaboration

From Nigel Savage

Dear All,

We’re going strong into 2017.

Hazon has had the best year in our history, and we have big ambitions for 2017 and beyond.

A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us this year (including the many of you who have given recent year-end gifts). Our work happens only because of the stakeholders who enable it. Huge thanks. Huge thanks.

And as the dust begins to settle on some of the changes in this country this year, some things are getting clearer. For Hazon, in 2017, we’ll aim to do all that we’re doing now – and then some.

  • We’re going to strengthen our Isabella Freedman campus. It’s a unique resource in American Jewish life, it’s an especially vital resource for the tri-state area, and it’s a place where magic happens. Coming up soon, we hope and intend: fresh investments in our staff and in our campus, and a master-planning process to imagine a renewed and rebuilt Freedman increasing its impact for the next two or three generations;
  • We’re deepening our work on the ground – in New York, in Detroit, in Colorado, in San Diego. We’re genuinely thinking globally and acting locally. Coming up in ’17: our first San Diego Ride; our second Michigan Jewish Food Festival; planning for a first New York Jewish Food Festival. An expansion of our Hazon Seal of Sustainability, which we piloted this year and will start to roll out in 2017.
  • Strengthening relationships with Israel. If an evil genius wanted to sow further discord in the American Jewish community, he could do no better than to nominate David Friedman as the new US Ambassador to Israel. Many in our community are thrilled beyond measure that he has been chosen; many more are appalled. All of us, regardless of our views on Israel, should be deeply nervous about the multiple chasms that are widening. In 2017 we’re planning for our biggest ever Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride; we’re doing a Sustainable Israel Tour; we plan to be in the Celebrate Israel Parade; and we’re trying to grow our Hakhel project. We’re working with Resetting The Table and – in civilian life – I’m co-chairing a four-day Encounter trip. 2017 is a year to lean in.
  • Amplifying our impact. We’re a Proud Partner of UJA-Federation of New York. We’re part of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable. We’re part of the Eden Village and Leichtag Jewish Community Farming Initiative. And we’re working closely with Pearlstone, Urban Adamah and Wilderness Torah to help to catalyze the JOFEE space – most recently we co-convened a productive and important call for leaders in our field to think about the post-election environment: how together we can have greater combined impact in 2017 and beyond. This will be a year of more education, more action, more advocacy – and more coordination, to amplify our voice within the Jewish community, and to amplify the Jewish community’s voice in the mosaic of America.

So for the new year, here are some things to think about or to put on your calendar:

Friday Feb 10th. That shabbat is tu b’shvat. Learn, celebrate. Think about trees – and water, and people, and eco-systems. The new administration is nominating Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA. Do we believe that, as head of the EPA, he will make our world healthier and more sustainable? Shabbat is always a day to rest, to step back and to dream and the shabbat of tu b’shvat is a time to celebrate the new year for trees. But after shabbat there is time to – for instance – pick up the phone to our elected officials to share our views and our concerns. Hazon’s themequote is: The Torah is a commentary on the world, and the world is a commentary on the Torah. If it’s true – and I believe it is – then it is our responsibility to breathe life into that truth.

March 13th – 19th. Our Sustainable Israel Tour. There are a few slots left. Be in touch with Meredith Levick if you’re interested.

Sunday April 2nd. Our first-ever Hazon San Diego Ride. It will be a blast. If you’re anywhere in southern California, you’re invited.

Monday April 10th. Seder night and the start of Pesach (and our Pesach retreat at Isabella Freedman.)

Saturday April 22nd. Earth Day falls on shabbat, and this year it’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. If you’re a rabbi or you lead a Jewish institution – now is the time to pencil that date into your calendar. How will this shabbat be different? Fifty is a resonant number in Jewish life: fifty is Shavuot, fifty is jubilee. This is a shabbat for all of our communities to learn together and to commit to weaving commitments to sustainability into Jewish life.

Saturday April 29th. A week later there’s going to be a global climate march in DC. Doing a march on shabbat isn’t great for people who are shabbat observant, and/but people in DC will host people who are observant and who want to be there. We expect and intend there will be a strong Jewish presence at the march.

May 30th – June 2nd. Shavuot – and our Shavuot Retreat at Isabella Freedman.

Labor Day weekend. Our 17th NY Ride, at Isabella Freedman. This year we’re planning our largest and most impactful ride ever. We want to raise a lot more money and we want to have a greater and deeper impact. If you’re interested in being involved, be in touch with Miriam Leichtling.

October 31st – November 17th. Our 17th Israel Ride. We’re planning for a record 200 participants, of whom more than 50 have already signed up, ten months before the ride sets sail. Email Jessie Karsif if you have questions.

These are just a few headlines – they’re a small fraction of what we have planned for 2017. Bring your school to Teva – or come and teach at Teva. Take three months off to be an Adamahnik. Speak to Yoshi Silverstein about becoming a JOFEE Fellow. Be in touch with Sue Salinger if you’d like to be part of the Michigan Jewish Food Festival. Speak to Eli Massel if you want to bring your organization to Isabella Freedman for a retreat.

And, finally, speak to me or to Gina Schmeling if you want to give a year-end gift to Hazon, or become a significant stakeholder in 2017. Speak to Richard Slutzky or me if you’d like to know more about our Campaign For The Future.

Our work is important. It’s more important today than ever before. Chanukah – light in the darkness – is a great tradition and a great motif. But it only comes to life if we actually light the candles.

So: Shabbat shalom, merry Christmas, happy Chanukah – and a happy new year to one and all.

Nigel