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One other vote on November 8th

by Nigel Savage All eyes on November 8th are on the presidential election. To many of us it feels the most consequential choice, with the starkest consequences, of any in our lifetime. As the CEO of a non-profit, I have no official view on our choice, other than the prayer and the hope that Americans vote wisely. But there is a smaller decision on November 8th that will be, in its own way, a significant marker in the evolution of this country, and on this I do have an official view. Voters in Massachusetts will vote on “Question 3”, a ballot initiative that would prohibit the sale of eggs, veal or pork from a farm animal confined in a space too small for it to move. One of the reasons that Hazon has grown as an organization is that we have been, in a general sense, deeply resistant to banging people over the head and telling them what to do. Environmentalists do it and Jewish leaders do it and too frequently it feels to me both pedagogically ineffective and intellectually arrogant. Shivim panim l’Torah – seventy faces of the Torah – reflects the breadth of our tradition and the caution […]

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The power of retreat

Shana tova – happy new year. I was in shul and I was wondering: if a social psychologist could somehow track the behavior of all the Jewish people in the world, relative to a/ our own behavior the rest of the year and b/ everyone else’s behavior this week, would there be some statistically significant measure of our somehow being better? Kinder, more thoughtful, more generous? I hope that would be the case. I do actually believe that that is the case. If the steady drip, drip of a religious tradition doesn’t make us better people then it’s not in either sense of the word a good religion – not morally good, not practically useful. Before Rosh Hashanah, I sent out the recent Andrew Sullivan essay on the need to step back from technology. If you haven’t read it, it’s really worth reading. If not before, print it out for the afternoon of Yom Kippur. But I also wanted to share the journal published ten years ago by Michael Steinhardt’s foundation on “The Power & Potential of Jewish Retreats.” The essays make interesting reading after a decade’s reflection. The power of retreats has, if anything, increased, as day-to-day life becomes […]

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Shana tova / The year in wider perspective…

This is our last email of the first year of this shmita cycle. Rosh Hashanah – a week on Sunday night, October 2nd – marks the start of year two. It has been a good and productive and impactful year for Hazon, and I am so grateful to our staff, our board members, our funders, our participants. Just doing one thing makes a difference. Being kind, offering advice, pitching in, being brave, stretching, supporting. We each of us influence myriad others, each day, directly and indirectly. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your ideas. Thank you for showing up. As good as it has been for Hazon, it has been an unsettling year for the Jewish community, for America and for the world. We were refugees or immigrants once, every one of us reading this – we or our ancestors, known or unknown. “Civilization” is a grandiose term for the ups and downs of our day-to-day life, all that we take for granted. Water from the tap, medicines, decent schools. Food from around the world, just down the street. All this technology. Bike lanes. GPS. All these practical things and a thousand others we rely upon each day […]

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