Tuesday, September 15, 2020 | 26 Elul 5780 Dear All, We weren’t going to send an email this week. We figured there’d be enough in your inbox in the days before Rosh Hashanah. But I am prompted by the fires out West to write something I have been thinking about for some while. This isn’t an appeal email, it’s not really a “shana tova” email, but I hope you’ll take a few moments to read it. The fires out west go to the heart of so many of the challenges we presently face, and Covid has provoked its own further re-assessment for us as an organization. We intend that Hazon will come out of this stronger and more focused. But part of that focus is striving to be as truthful as we can about what is possible, what is necessary, and the relationship between the two – for the Jewish community institutionally and for each of us as individuals. What is possible: every single thing we do to help create a more sustainable world is arithmetically close to meaningless. One change in behavior. One fewer plane trip. One donation to NRDC, one vote for the more sustainable candidate. Individually […]
Dear Friends, When this pandemic began it was winter. You may remember it snowing while we were Safer At Home. Winter eventually gave way to spring, as it does, and life bloomed bright while we remained in quarantine. As the months rolled by, the heat quickly picked up and summer kicked into high gear. And now, with Coronavirus still present as ever, fall is here. Our days are getting shorter while the golden hued sunlight mimics the bashful change of leaves. On the Jewish calendar, these subtle changes in light and leaf mean that the High Holidays are just around the corner. Today we find ourselves squarely in the Jewish month of Elul, a month of introspection and penitence that leads up to Rosh HaShanah. We know that this period is one of intensity and spiritual work. We’re reminded of that each day of Elul, when the shofar (ram’s horn) is blown. We know it’s a time of teshuvah (return) and selichot (repentance), illustrated by the cheshbon ha’nefesh (soul accounting) that we’re instructed to do all month. And many of us attend religious services (virtually, of course, this year) more in the weeks ahead than we do the rest of […]
Thursday, June 18, 2020 | 26 Sivan 5780 Dear All, Isabella Freedman is closed as a retreat center, but the state of CT has reduced the minimum period for bookings, which now enables us – next week – to launch Isabella Freedman Getaways. If you’re interested in coming up and spending 5 or 12 days at Isabella Freedman – with three meals a day of (local, ethical) kosher food, in beautiful surroundings – look out for our email next week. We similarly had to take the very difficult decision to suspend the Adamah Fellowship for this summer – the first time since the program began, in 2003, when that has been so. But – but! – we’re now happy and excited to launch a new program: Adamah At Home. The program runs from July 6th to July 26th, and you can send in applications on a rolling basis from now through July 1st. It’s an exceptionally strong program encompassing practical skills, daily conversation and what we hope and intend will be a strong group. We’ll cover Jews ecological learning, garden mentorship, food systems and policy; also food choices, cheesemaking and regenerative farming. And we’ll also talk about structural racism in this country – […]
Wednesday, June 3, 2020 | 11th Sivan 5780 Dear All, I don’t feel like I have a lot of wisdom right now. This is hard. The lessons of Jewish history favor moderation, and striving to keep one’s balance. It is relatively easy for societies to become destabilized, and much harder to calm them down again. And yet, of course, we must also ask: what does “calm them down again” mean? In the sense that the protests are more than justified. Racism – personal, institutional, structural – has been wired into the fabric of this country since its very beginnings, an original sin for which there has been no systematic teshuvah. So this is a year’s rage, a decade’s rage, a century’s rage, and longer still, all boiling over. It is in the nature of being Jewish that we know what it is like to be an outsider, to be scared, to be an immigrant, a refugee, discriminated against. Many of us, most of us, grew up with that in our bones. And so it is unbearable to see persistent racism in this country, unbearable – after slavery, the civil war, a century of lynchings; after Goodman, Schwerner & Chaney… and Eric Garner… […]
Thursday, May 14th | 35th day of the omer – malchut she’b’hod Dear All, We’re ending the fifth week of this seven-week journey towards the giving of the Torah, and choosing a different kind of freedom. In the world of the kabbalists, today is associated with “malchut she’b’hod.” Hod is about beauty and simplicity and malchut is about getting out into the world and making things happen. So it’s a day to introduce the new Jewish Youth Climate Movement. Anyone under the age of twenty today could reasonably hope to be alive in 2100. What will the world look like then? We don’t know, but the decisions and choices of those of us who are older will decisively impact, for good or for ill, those who are younger. (If you want to see a very intense example of that, check out this chart, showing opinions on Brexit, by age, in the UK, in 2018.) This grows out of our long-term work at Teva, and out of the sense that an organization like Hazon ought to be trying, as much as we can, to support and empower and network the best of our young people. So… I hand you over now to a message from the teen board members of JYCM… […]
As farmers and ranchers across the country are feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, USDA is preparing to distribute $16 billion in direct aid to producers who have experienced financial losses. Applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will be open in early May, but the program as currently designed may leave out thousands of farmers. These are unprecedented times – now is the time to urge USDA to fix problems with the program so aid can get to all who need it. USDA’s plan isn’t set up to account for farmers who sell into local/regional markets, diversified farmers, or organic farmers, it doesn’t have a thorough outreach plan or reserved funding for underserved producers (including farmers of color), it doesn’t reflect realistic timelines for farmers’ losses or their increased expenses in addition to their losses, and it isn’t set up to focus aid on independent, family-scale producers who need help (instead of large corporate operations). USDA has not yet released full details on their program – so now is the time to ask questions and speak up to ensure the program works for all farmers in need of aid. Allies can be effective by advocating for the […]
Friday, April 3, 2020 | 9th Nissan 5780 Dear All, Seder is one night – in Israel. In chutz la’aretz – ie, outside of Israel – it’s two nights, so next Thursday night is the second night of seder. And for most of the Jewish world, as we know, these two nights are indeed going to be different nights, as we figure out how to do seders by Zoom, or in small (very small) groups, and so on. It will be weird. And there will be lots of riffs on plagues, lots of haggadah supplements to download, and so on. Hazon’s gift to you is a frame for the second night, for Thursday night. Normally, at the end of the evening – with kids running wild, the table in chaos, the meal just finishing, various people conked out because it is so late or they’ve eaten so much or drank so much – right then, we count the omer. No wonder we don’t properly pay attention to it. So our gift to you this year is – don’t bury it. Make it a conceptual focus of your second night seder. The first night – celebrate that you’re alive. That your family made […]
Thursday, March 19, 2020 | 23rd Adar 5780 Dear All, First: my heart goes out to everyone. This is unbearably painful. People are in hospital. People are losing their lives. People are losing their jobs. People are losing their savings. People are afraid. And as I wrote last week, Hazon is one of the organizations most directly impacted by this. We are especially exposed because we have had to close Isabella Freedman, our retreat center, for at least two months, and have thus lost all our revenue from the busiest time of the year. We’re reviewing options right now, from a tight place. (We’re writing separately to people to whom we will be returning retreat deposits. Some of you will feel unable to do so, and we will understand that, but to the extent that you are able to donate some or all of your deposits – we would appreciate that enormously.) I also want to let you know that we have begun gathering community resources for both inside and outside activities at hazon.org/stuckinside. We’re curating there all sorts of things to watch, to read, and to do. Check it out and bookmark it. But as well as coping with […]
Twenty five governors have joined the U.S. Climate Alliance. This coalition is taking on-the-ground actions to implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. If your state is in the list below, your governor has already taken the important step of joining the Alliance. Make sure to thank them! But there’s also more work to be done. Climate Alliance states are working to identify best practices to reduce GHG emissions and increase resilient carbon sequestration. Call the Governor of your state and ask them to embrace the potential of regenerative farming practices like cover cropping, investing in perennials, and reduced tillage. Whether or not they are already a member of the USCA, they need to hear that you think food and farming can be a big part of the climate solution! Current USCA Member States: CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IL, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, NV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, OR, PA, PR, RI, VT, VA, WA, WI. Find your Governor’s contact information here.
by Renee Ghert-Zand Every year, Ramah campers leave at the end of the summer having learned new things that they can incorporate into their lives at home. It could be more Hebrew, how to chant Torah, or how to do a layup on the basketball court. In the last decade, campers have also been coming away with a heightened awareness and deeper understanding about where their food comes from, and how their eating choices impact their bodies and the environment. “We are trying to lift the veil on where our food comes from,” said Rabbi Eliav Bock, director of Ramah in the Rockies, one of the Ramah camps at the forefront of making its food sourcing more transparent and helping children and young adults make more informed decisions in nurturing themselves and taking care of the earth. Ramah camps, as well as the USY on Wheels summer program, are increasingly incorporating experiential educational opportunities for learning about concepts like organic farming, ethically sourced meat, fair trade practices, farm to table eating, waste reduction, and composting — all couched within the outstanding Conservative Jewish educational framework for which these summer programs are known. A number of the Ramah camps have […]
Deadline January 13th Want to ensure a more sustainable food and farm future? Take action and help us encourage USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to prioritize what’s best for farmers and natural resources! NRCS is currently accepting public comments (input from farmers and concerned citizens like you!) on the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) interim final rule through January 13, 2020. CSP was established by Congress to reward farmers who implement advanced conservation systems that comprise truly sustainable agriculture. Unfortunately, the recent interim final rule undermines this purpose of CSP. Now it’s up to us “ag-vocates” to make sure that this vital conservation program is not weakened during the farm bill implementation process. Learn more and submit a comment here. and Support Justice for Farmworkers The Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019, HR 5038, passed in the House of Representatives in December and now awaits a vote in the Senate. The bill overhauls the current H2A guestworker program and would make 40,000 new green cards available to full-time agricultural workers. “Achieving compromise on complex, polarizing labor-management and immigration issues was possible because of the wide recognition that farmworkers are essential to our nation’s food and agriculture systems,” said Bruce Goldstein, President […]
Wednesday, November 27, 2019 | 29th Cheshvan 5780 Dear Hazon, This year at our JOFEE Network Gathering we learned about Joanna Macy, and her concept of “active hope.” She’s an 80-something eco-philosopher, Christian I think by background; a world apart, on the face of it, from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who is English and Jewish and a generation younger. And yet what she teaches about active hope jibed for me with what Rabbi Sacks has taught about hope in Jewish tradition. Each of them, in different ways, argues that hope is a choice, not a feeling. Optimism is the presumption that things will be better. Hope is the determination, the leaning in, to help make things better. So: this has been a hard year in many ways. I have lived my adult life in three countries – the UK, Israel, and the US – and this year it has too frequently felt like a mad and bizarre competition amidst the three of them as to which could melt down the most: “Our Prime Minister is having to give up the four different ministries he holds (!) because he’s just been indicted for corruption (!!).” “You were lucky!! Of all things, the Financial Times (!) had an op-ed titled ‘Boris Johnson’s […]
A gritty but incredibly important process called ‘appropriations’ is currently being hammered out between the House and Senate agriculture committees. Encourage your representatives to fully fund programs that support sustainable agriculture! Read on to find out how you can spend five minutes making your voice heard. What’s going on with agricultural appropriations? At the beginning of summer, the House passed an agriculture spending bill with lots of wins in it for sustainable agriculture. The Senate passed their ag spending bill last week, which doesn’t support as many of our priorities. Now, the two bills are being combined into one through a process called Conference. This is a great time to weigh in to make sure that the wins from the House version end up in the final bill! Priorities: Along with our partners at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, we are asking for support for: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program – $45 million Food Safety Outreach Program – $10 million Farming Opportunities Training and Outreach Program – $10 million Local Agriculture Market Program – $20.4 million FSA Direct and Guaranteed Loans – Level Funding Conservation Technical Assistance – $741.36 million Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network – $10 million […]
This is our last formal email before Rosh Hashanah. The year ends, the year begins. For Hazon, the year just ending is one of immense gratitude. One says that so lightly, as if it were obvious, but it is absolutely genuine.
Sadly I wasn’t at the New York Ride last weekend – because we didn’t do one this year. But I send love and gratitude to anyone who ever participated in the Ride, or led the Ride, or funded one of our riders.