By Deirdre Gabbay As we move through liturgical time, we are called upon to embody the various mindsets that Torah wishes specifically to cultivate. During Pesach we meditate on the meaning of slavery and freedom, and in particular on freedom as being a fundamental embodiment of Divine intention for us, as intrinsic as life itself. I believe that as we move through the liturgical period of Shmita, we are called upon to embody an awareness of the earth as belonging to God, and to reflect and elaborate upon the implications that arise from this particular axiom of faith. In Parashat B’hukotai, God reveals with utter transparency the purpose of the earth. We learn that the earth itself will bring forth the reward for building the society envisioned in Torah, by means of its rains, its soil, its vegetation. A hospitable climate leads to productive landscapes. Sufficiency and contentment allow us to be numerous and healthy, at peace internally, and so strong that our neighbors do not threaten us. As a result we find ourselves in possession of the inner and outer peace that we are told is the highest blessing that God wishes to confer on us, and for which […]
Tag Archives | Shmita Project
reIMAGINE Society: Behar Happenings in the Bay Area
On the weekend of May 3-4, Jewish communities read the Torah portion of Behar, which contains the teachings of Shmita. To honor the Shmita values of abundance, resiliency, and redistribution, Hazon invites you to join us for a full day of great events on May 5, 2013 in Berkeley and San Francisco, CA. In the spirit of Shmita, we are offering most aspects of this community day on the basis of donations, though some of the workshops may cost money. Please share what you can. Shmita Skillshare & Swap Meet Urban Adamah – 1050 Parker Street, Berkeley, CA Edible & Medicinal Plant Walk Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA Afternoon Exchange Market & Skillshare Exchange Market – 1:00 – 5:00pm Do you have perfectly usable items lying around your house that you no longer use? Let other community members enjoy them, and find other items you need. Clothing, books, toys, childcare items, kitchen appliances, electronics, tools, art, plants/seeds, etc…Donate what you can and receive what you need! If you’d like to make a gift of your time by volunteering before or during the afternoon events, please contact email@example.com. Community Skillshare – 2:00 – 5:00pm Backyard Chickens @ 2pm Worm Composting @ 3pm Come celebrate and explore the art […]
Shmita in Action: Israel
This is one article in a seven-part series, recapping a shmita study group, sponsored by Hazon and Kevah. You can find other posts in the series on the shmita blog. Shmita (the sabbatical year), on the theoretical level, is a radical movement towards social equality, awareness of land ownership, understanding of good agricultural practices, and a major reconsideration of a monetary system. Sounds like an interesting thought-experiment, right? Well, Shmita is also a real-life system that is currently implemented in Israel, the only place where following the laws of Shmita are traditionally required. The various systems in place in Israel right now are quite complex. There are essentially four options to choose from when a farmer is deciding in what capacity he will follow the laws of Shmita: Continue life as normal Use the rabbinical tool of Heter Mechira Use the rabbinical tool of Otzar Beit Din Import food from outside of Biblical Israel For someone just trying to buy food, this could get quite confusing. Do I follow the laws of Shmita? Do I trust the Heter Mechira certification? Should I just be extremely safe and buy only imported food (despite the harm to the Israeli economy). Why so many options? Why can’t […]
Transforming Ancient Laws into Concrete Practices
By Mirele Goldsmith This is the third article in a seven-part series, recapping a shmita study group, sponsored by Hazon and Kevah. You can find other posts in the series on the shmita blog. In this session we focused on how the rabbis translate the lofty ideas of Shmita into concrete practices. Ari compared what the rabbis do with Shmita to what they do with Shabbat. They take the general idea expressed in the Torah that we are to rest on Shabbat, and develop specific rules based on associations with similar concepts and textual references. He told us that in the Talmud the rabbis acknowledge that the laws of Shabbat are like a “mountain hanging by a hair.” Similarly, the rabbis take the very general admonition that the people are not to work the land, and that the land itself is to rest on Shmita, and develop it into a long list of halachot (laws). Download the source sheet here (more…)
What If Farming Is Actually A Curse?
By Anna Hanau The next shmitta (sabbatical) year is two years away. At Hazon we’re gearing up for it already by doing some weekly learning on the topic with Rabbi Ari Hart, and recently, a look at some of our foundation stories in the Torah – Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel in particular – led us to unexpected realizations. Download the source sheet from shmita session two. Such as: What if Jewish tradition sees farming as a lower, compromised, even “exiled” state? And what is the point of a cycle – whether it is seven days of Shabbat and the week, or seven years of a Sabbatical year cycle – if they keep simply repeating themselves? For a roomful of Jewish foodies who have in some way embraced the Jewish farmer fetishes that farming and growing food is a way to truly connect to the land, the seasons, to God, and gratitude, etc., these Bible stories were a little disconcerting. Farming = exile? How so? Where does that leave our vision of an ideal relationship between people, land, and God? (more…)
Shmita Study Group Convenes in New York
On September 20, 2012, twelve people gathered at Makom Hadash for the first of a seven-part shmita study group, which was coordinated by Kevah with Rabbi Ari Hart as our educator. The first session focused on understanding biblical texts with a focus on how shmita has evolved over time and what we can learn from comparing and contrasting analysis of different Biblical references. Download the study sheet. With the next shmita year starting Rosh Hashanah 2014, some might ask, why run a shmita study session now? But with less than two years until the next shmita year begins, now is the exact right time to think and plan for that year. As we can’t properly prepare for Shabbat 5 minutes before it begins, we cannot properly plan for the shmita year just as it arrives. So, what is shmita all about? (more…)
Shmita & the Unified Religious Personality
Hazon, together with the Jewish Farm School, invite you to be a part of the Shmita Project, whose purpose is to consider the role of Shmita, the Sabbatical year, in our lives. Shmita Project encourages people to do that in two ways: through using the laws and values of Shmita as the conceptual framework for creating a more sustainable Jewish community and a more sustainable world. Second, to encourage practical application of Shmita laws among individuals and communities. In honor of this week’s Torah portion which discusses the laws of Shmita, I would like to explore some of the themes behind the laws. There are three things which the Torah calls “Shabbat Shabbaton.” The first is Shabbat itself, the second is Yom Kippur, and the third is Shmittah. These three concepts: Shabbat, Yom Kippur and Shmittah, can be seen as pathways to the unification of the spiritual/religious personality. On an ordinary weekday it is all too easy to maintain the distance between our spiritual life and what we might mistakenly consider our ‘secular life.’ We are caught up in the decidedly non-spiritual routine of the workplace, the highway, and the shopping mall. On Shabbat however, we are granted a sanctuary […]
Hazon Food Programs: What’s Happening?
“Does every Jewish institution need a farmer?” The question struck me a few weeks ago when I was at the Long Island Hazon Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) site for a “Meet the Farmer” night. Rabbis, cantors, and educators are usually seen as necessary staff in a Jewish organization; and in this room full of CSA members, some new and some returning, it seemed that a farmer should be considered essential as well. For the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens and the Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore in Long Island, Maggie, from Golden Earthworm Farm, is their farmer. Maggie spoke about the time, attention, and thought that went into building each member’s box of vegetables each week. In addition, she felt privileged that through the support of these institutions, she was able to live her life as a farmer. Since 2004, when Hazon launched the first CSA site in the Jewish community, Hazon has been on the forefront of the new Jewish Food Movement. In 2008, when 560 farmers, rabbis, educators, students, chefs, and foodies attended the Food Conference, Hazon became the home of this movement. The Food Conference, like all of Hazon’s Food Programs, examines food through the […]