Today is Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, the 74th anniversary of the birth of the state of Israel in 1948. Yesterday was Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Day of Remembrance, a day for grieving the loss of 24,000 fallen Israeli soldiers and 4,000 civilians killed in terrorist attacks over the years.
In Palestinian society, Yom Ha’Atzmaut is known as the Nakba-Catastrophe, mourning the 1948 loss of Palestinians’ homeland and the displacement of a majority of the Palestinian people.
For me, these days–back to back and inside-out–are the most powerful holy day(s) of the year. And especially in the diaspora, how do we relate to this land, this country, and this time of year? Really, how do we orient to all of this? And not just personally but organizationally – for Hazon & Pearlstone – how do we approach our relationship to Israel, and Palestine? This is just the beginning of a long journey, but I want to take this opportunity to share our orientation to these important questions.
Our mission is to lead a transformative movement deeply weaving sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life. We connect people to the earth and to each other, catalyzing culture change and systemic change through immersive retreats, Jewish environmental education, climate action, and strategic partnerships.
So what’s Israel got to do with it? Well, for starters:
- Israel is the source of our ancestral land-based wisdom. Our culture-change educational work draws from this deep wellspring in order to build a new Jewish paradigm for the 21st century.
- Israel represents a tiny fraction of global greenhouse emissions, yet is ahead of the curve on green and climate technology. So in order to mobilize climate action across the Jewish world – at pace and at scale – we must learn from and partner with allies in Israel.
- This may sound familiar from my prior messages, but it really is foundational for us: At Pearlstone and Hazon, we start with Love. We are committed to inclusive community and open dialogue across difference – throughout the Jewish community and beyond. And so, from a place of love, we invest in our sacred connection to Israel, and we also support a just peace for both Israelis and Palestinians.
As we think about these connections, we are inspired by our many allies and partner organizations doing amazing, important work building peace and sustainability in Israel. These two are particularly special; please donate to support their work:
The Arava Institute, an environmental and academic institution in the Middle East, dedicated to preparing leaders from Israel, Paelstine, Jordan, and around the world to cooperatively solve the regional and global challenges of our time.
Shorashim Roots, fostering a grassroots movement of understanding, nonviolence, and transformation among Israelis and Palestinians, and envisioning a social-political reality founded on dignity, trust, and a mutual recognition and respect for both peoples’ historic belonging to the Land.
Hazon and Pearlstone have tried to follow the example set by our partners, cultivating grassroots relationships across cultural divides. We connect people to people through the Hazon-Arava Israel Ride and Shlichim-Israeli educators at Pearlstone. And with generous support from the Israeli Ministry for Diaspora Affairs, we have helped create Hakhel, a global network of Jewish intentional communities.
We hope to bring more Israeli Jewish Outdoor Food Farming & Environmental Educators (JOFEE) and climate activists to engage North American communities in the years ahead, and we also hope to help bring North American JOFEE educators & climate leaders to Israel. And, we are deeply committed to learning from and collaborating with aligned Palestinian partners as well. We want to strengthen and support each other as educators and activists, sparking collaboration, exchange, learning, and action across the Jewish world. We are thinking about the American Jewish community’s intensive travel to Israel – and the immense carbon footprint that entails – and we are considering with our partners what a climate response might look like.
There is so much good we can do together. All of us, investing in Jewish Peoplehood & Planethood. Choosing love. For as HaTikvah, Israel’s national anthem, says:
“Od lo avdah tikvatenu, עוד לא אבדה תקותנו Our Hope is Not Yet Lost.”
Chief Executive Officer