I’m fascinated by photos from the Mars Rover. Of course, we could see photos of Mars, the whole red planet, for years, but I didn’t start to feel I had a sense of what the planet was like until I started seeing pictures from the ground level. And, of course, I keep hoping one of these times we’re going to see a Martian waiving “hello.” The action, should there be any, will most certainly happen at the local level.
I’m often asked, following the merger between Hazon and Isabella Freedman: “Just what is the new Hazon? Is it a national organization? Is it a local organization?”
And the genuine answer is: “Both.” Hazon is a national organization. We look to build a healthier and more sustainable world throughout the United States and beyond. But that work stems from creating healthier and more sustainable Jewish communities built of individuals, families, congregations, and organizations, and that – almost by definition – happens at the local level.
Just this month:
- I attended a one-day Philadelphia Hazon Bike Ride with 200 participants and crew.
- Our San Francisco Bay Area office held its 5th annual multi-day Bike Ride on the heels of a successful one-day Food Festival.
- Our Colorado office is prepping for its local Food Festival in less than two weeks that will launch a Teva Topsy Turvy bus tour that will visit summer camps across the country.
- We launched our new San Diego office, with new Director Gabi Scher, housed at the Leichtag Foundation’s beautiful ranch.
- We continued working with a cohort of New York-based organizations on sustainability efforts through our Jewish Greening Fellowship.
- Hazon CSA members across the country picked up their weekly produce shares.
- And a capacity crowd from far and wide came together for a spiritually transformative Elat Chayyim Shavuot retreat at Isabella Freedman in the Connecticut Berkshires with Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, while a new cohort of Adamah farming fellows arrived for our summer session.
Indeed, the merger has strengthened our impact both nationally and locally.
Isabella Freedman, Adamah, and Teva programs, once very site specific, are beginning to see an expanded reach, with designs to begin replicating some selected retreats in west coast communities, a new Adamah partnership with Carolina-based Wake Forest University, and Teva programming this past year in Georgia and Colorado.
And Hazon’s national work is having more and more of a local impact, including the infusion of Hazon educational resources in Isabella Freedman-based retreats attended by individuals, families, and congregations throughout the New York area, the northeast region, and beyond. To see a list of the great retreats you might attend this summer, click here.
While we can’t open a regional office everywhere, we continue to look for where and how we can make the greatest impact, understanding that the building of a healthier and sustainable world can only happen through building healthier and more sustainable communities.
Indeed, if you looked at a satellite photo of our planet, you can see the world in which Hazon is working to effect change. But you have to put a rover on the ground to see the amazing ways in which it’s actually happening.