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Topic: Activism

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Hold the Center

“I have often said that a vote is a kind of prayer for the world we desire for ourselves and for our children. It is faith put in action. It is the sober recognition that we pray not only with our lips but with our legs.” – Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock, Dec 6, 2022 Friends, Over the past few months, I have been traveling and speaking to hundreds of Jewish leaders and institutions across the spectrum of Jewish life. Federations and summer camps, day schools and congregations, social service agencies, social justice organizations, Israeli & Arab & Muslim & multifaith partners, leaders of all Jewish denominations and yes, a variety political persuasions as well. In each conversation, leaders and institutions lean in to partner with us, in many cases representing their first steps in prioritizing climate and sustainability. Slowly but surely, we are building a broad and deep coalition–including and transcending our “base.” By engaging the mainstream Jewish world, we are inspiring and empowering a new network of allies and partners, multiplying our impact. Hazon leadership has lead or will lead discussions on sustainability and climate at the following conferences, November through January: Meanwhile, the midterms (and the Georgia finale […]

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COP27, Mount Sinai, and Flora of Vanuatu

Friends, This year, thanks to support from the Jewish Agency for Israel and several supporting foundations, our first-ever Jewish Youth Climate Movement delegation traveled to COP27: ten Jewish climate activists from campuses across North America, and ten Israelis from the educational youth village, Nitzana. We were there alongside 35,000 participants from all over the world.  I was honored to speak about our work on Friday November 11th at a session called Faith Communities Leading on Climate–you can see the recording here. It was inspiring to connect with multifaith allies at that session and throughout the conference.  I traveled with Nigel Savage (Hazon’s founder), Yossi Abramowitz (American-Israeli CEO of Energiya Global Capital and co-founder of the Arava Power Company), David Miron-Wapner (board chair of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development), and Sue Surkes (British-Israeli reporter for the Times of Israel). We drove to a small bedouin village at the foot of what locals believe to be Mount Sinai, or as it’s known in Arabic, Gebel Musa. We woke at 1:30am and spent the night hiking up the mountain, arriving at the summit just before dawn. The Sinai wilderness is majestic and awe-inspiring, beautiful beyond words, and quite powerful to be on […]

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Israel & the Diaspora: The View From a Bike

Friends, The last few weeks of travel have been intense and amazing. Over the next few weeks I’ll share stories and learnings from my journey. I began in Chicago at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. Living and working in the Baltimore Jewish community, I’ve developed a deep understanding and appreciation for Jewish federations, so it was with great excitement and gratitude that we led our own session at the GA featuring federation leaders from the Associated, UJA-NY, and Vancouver —all investing in climate and sustainability as an important aspect of their work. We also featured JFNA leadership in this arena as well as the Jewish Agency for Israel. Our goal is to grow federation partnerships nationwide—help us connect with your local federation leaders! Then I flew to Israel, where I participated in the Arava Institute-Hazon Israel Ride, such a beautiful way to experience the country and support both our work and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, a global leader in the movement to build peaceful coexistence through environmental cooperation. I rode 180 miles over four days, including a beautiful Shabbat in Mitzpeh Ramon along the way. I was deeply moved by the beauty of the land and […]

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Raising Up Our Voices in the Midterm Elections

Friends, At Hazon-Pearlstone, we are dedicated to making the planet and the Jewish people more healthy and whole. Foundational to these efforts in the United States is a thriving democracy that responds to the people it represents. We are stronger as a nation when each voice is heard, and we are blessed with the opportunity to raise our voices with each election. We are proud to support staff and our wider community in participating in fair and free elections. We do not endorse any particular party or candidate, and our commitment is undertaken in a spirit of nonpartisanship and seeks to promote free, fair, safe accessible elections. This year Hazon-Pearlstone is partnering in the following ways to engage with voters on the values that matter most to us: creating a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable world for all. Get Out the Vote (GOTV) Hazon’s Jewish Youth Climate Movement (JYCM) is co-hosting phone banks this fall, as part of Dayenu’s Chutzpah 2022 campaign to encourage Jewish climate-concerned voters to participate in the upcoming midterm elections. Join JYCM teen leaders on Tuesday November 1 from 6:30-8:30pm ET. Check out the full roster of phone-bank sessions here. Volunteering Hazon-Pearlstone & JYCM have […]

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Elul, Shmita, & Culture Change

Friends, We find ourselves in the month of Elul, a time for introspection and checking in with ourselves, a time to confront all the ways in which we missed the mark this past year, and a time to reflect upon who we want to be in the year ahead. We prepare with anticipation of the holy days coming soon, and we begin the work of teshuvah, tfilah, and tzedakah–repentance, prayer, and justice–so that we may transform ourselves and our world. But this is not just any Elul. This is the end of the Shmita year, and as Rav Kook teaches us, “What the Sabbath does for the individual, Shmita does for the nation.” So now is the time to ask ourselves both individually and collectively, communally, and globally: What does repentance, prayer, and justice mean for all our people, and for all our planet? Hazon-Pearlstone’s mission is to lead a transformative movement deeply weaving sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life, catalyzing culture change and systemic change through Immersive Retreats, Jewish Environmental Education, and Climate Action. Through education, we seek to create the culture change that Shmita beckons of us, changing lives and building a new kind of Jewish culture […]

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We Rise

“We Rise. Humbly Hearted, Rise. Won’t Be Divided, Rise. With Spirit to Guide Us, Rise. In Hope, In Prayer, We Find Ourselves Here. In Hope, In Prayer, We’re Right Here. We Rise.”  –Batya Levine Friends, Two days ago, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, the culmination of what some have called a “political miracle,” rescuing enormous climate progress from the jaws of defeat just a few weeks ago. Progress IS possible, people power DOES matter, and there really IS vast societal change unfolding all around us. Yet we cannot deny the difficulty of the work ahead. “Glaciers in Europe are experiencing the most severe melting on record,” reports the Washington Post today, and that “Researchers say the melting is ‘off the charts’—and the season isn’t over yet.” So this is a moment for gratitude, strength, and recommitment to the transformative work ahead. With wind at our backs and a long, long way to go. So we rise, as a choice, as an act of faith, as a way of life. Amid this historic moment, leaders of our Jewish Youth Climate Movement (JYCM) gathered at Pearlstone last week for a week-long retreat. JYCM teens led workshops and programs building trust and friendship, developed organizing skills, and […]

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Hope in the Dark

The Jews gave to the world this idea of time as a narrative of hope, which meant that what is lost can be regained, what is destroyed can be rebuilt, and what disappears may one day return. – Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, “On Tisha B’Av For Our Time” The future is dark, with a darkness as much of the womb as the grave. – Rebecca Solnit, “Hope In the Dark” Friends, This past weekend we observed Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Hebrew calendar, when we fast and mourn the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem along with other disasters that fell on this day over time. Many in our movement lament not only our loss as a people on this day, but also our loss as a planet: grieving climate change, environmental racism and injustice, massive species extinction, and countless other traumas we have wrought upon ourselves, people and planet. So it is with tearful gratitude and earnest hope that we watched a minor miracle unfold over the weekend – on Tisha B’Av – when the United States Senate passed the largest investment ($370 Billion) towards combating climate change in our nation’s history! The Inflation Reduction Act is not […]

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A Prayer for our Country

Friends, Today, the Supreme Court of the United States, in their ruling on the West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) case, stripped the EPA’s authority to limit carbon pollution from power plants, drastically reducing our ability to fight climate change. This ruling takes us in the exact opposite, wrong direction: increasing emissions and accelerating climate catastrophes. And though we are all impacted, those hit hardest by this ruling are our most vulnerable fellow Americans: low-income Black & Brown communities living near power plants and harmed by environmental injustices. We find this court’s ruling – gutting the EPA’s ability to curtail the existential threat of carbon emissions – to be morally and religiously unconscionable. And this comes, of course, on the heels of a rather devastating few days, as last week the Supreme Court first eroded states’ abilities to enact gun safety regulations, and then overturned Roe vs Wade, effectively ending the federal protections for the right to an abortion. We are rocked by these rulings, and want to share the Jewish Council for Public Affairs statement on gun safety here, and invite you to join us in supporting our partners at the National Council for Jewish Women. So it’s […]

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Support our Partners in Ukraine

Friends, “War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.”  – Thomas Mann We are heartbroken and outraged as Putin’s merciless war on Ukraine continues. We will not be silent, and we will do all we can to support our partners impacted on the ground. At Hazon and Hakhel, we have a three-part strategy in responding to this crisis: Local Leadership: Ukrainian leaders know their landscape and their needs. We are following the lead of Hakhel community leaders inside Ukraine and local rabbis working with refugees on the borders. Collaboration & Partnership: We are partnering with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the European Council of Jewish Communities, Reut, the Jewish Peoplehood Coalition, and more, coordinating our collective crisis response efforts. Global Response: We can all do something to help. The situation is rapidly evolving, both in terms of needs and solutions, all of which require resources and support. Sometimes our Ukrainian partners need volunteers, sometimes they need equipment, and throughout the process they need financial resources. Here are just a few examples of what this strategy looks like on the ground: Following up on our weekly meeting with our Ukrainian partners, we received the list of needs from the Lvov […]

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How We Can Help Our Partners in Ukraine

Friends, We have watched, horrified, as Putin’s Russia has invaded Ukraine, causing bloodshed, destruction, and hundreds of thousands of innocent people fleeing. What you may not know is that Hazon operates a global Jewish intentional community network called Hakhel that includes communities in Ukraine. For the past five years, the Hakhel network has engaged leaders and innovative communities doing great things in Ukraine, in all major cities: Kiev, Harkov, Lvov, Odessa, and Dnepro. They were there before this crisis and they will outlast it, doing amazing things in Jewish education, community building, culture and social activism. Friday morning, our Hakhel Director, Aharon Ariel Lavi, organized a call for the Hakhel network to hear directly from these Ukrainian Jewish leaders. You can watch the entire meeting here. If you read Hebrew, you might also like this piece on yNet, Israel’s largest news website, covering our efforts. If you would like to get involved and stay informed, please register here. These action items emerged from that call: Supporting Refugees: A delegation is going tomorrow to Kishinyev, Moldova, to support the local Rabbi in attending over 500 refugees, 200 of whom are children. We expect to receive more requests for delegations. Hakhel communities […]

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We Are One: Tu B’Shvat and MLK, Sustainability & Justice

Friends, We find ourselves immersed in another dark pandemic winter, a reality we could not have fathomed two years ago. And as the pandemic drags on, our social fabric continues to fray, while the climate crisis continues unabated. Then, into this moment comes the Texas synagogue hostage incident, thankfully unfolding without any hostage injuries or deaths, yet still traumatic for all involved, and for Jewish communities – and our allies – everywhere. It is difficult to avoid feeling overwhelmed and exhausted amidst times like these. Last night, we held an online event with hundreds of people from across the country, entitled We Are One: An Environmental Justice Tu B’Shvat Seder, honoring Tu B’Shvat– the New Year for the Trees – and Martin Luther King Jr Day, our American prophet of racial justice, civil rights, and nonviolent civil disobedience. During our seder, Janna Siller, Adamah Farm Director & Advocacy Coordinator, spoke of Tu B’Shvat as a deep accounting of our relationship with the Trees and with the Earth. MLK Day presents a similar obligation, to undertake a deep accounting of our society.  Such an accounting is called cheshbon hanefesh in Hebrew, an accounting of the soul. Tu B’Shvat demands a new year’s accounting […]

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COP26: Hope & Despair

Friends, I recently returned from COP26 – the United Nations Conference on Climate Change – and it was an unforgettable experience. The number of people, events, issues, spaces…it was truly one of the most complex, multifaceted, and profound events I’ve ever seen. Leaders and activists from across the globe, dozens of languages, a beautiful tapestry of faith communities  – negotiating, teaching, learning, and sharing – trying to turn the tide towards a sustainable future. Join us this Sunday, November 21st, 8pm ET, as we ask “Now What? A Post-COP26 Conversation with Elders.” Together we will take stock: what happened in Glasgow, where does that leave us, and where do we go from here? We will learn from our Elders  – Ruth Messinger and Rabbi Arthur Waskow  – and break out into small group discussions lead by an amazing cadre of Jewish environmental leaders. If ever there was a need for a movement-wide town hall, this is it. Please join us!  Throughout my journey, and since my return, I have been surprised to feel… hope. It started just before I left, when I saw this beautiful rainbow in the sky above Pearlstone: But hope is hard to come by these days. Leading […]

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Moments of Truth: Climate, Antisemitism, & Justice

Friends, We arrive at a moment of truth, and we must push through. Join us for one final effort, calling for transformative climate investments in emerging federal legislation, on our Day of Action this Thursday, October 28th. We pray that our elected officials get this done. World leaders are gathering for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland (COP26). Many say this is our last chance to avoid runaway climate change and the pain and suffering, social and economic upheaval it will bring.  Join us Thursday night for a COP26 Conversation with the Jewish Youth Climate Movement. Then, Nigel Savage and I will be broadcasting a Sound the Call podcast series from the conference in Scotland, sharing highlights and interviewing leaders of our multifaith climate movement. After COP26 ends, join us to debrief and process through a Conversation with leaders of the Jewish environmental movement, Sunday evening, November 14th. Together we will gain perspective from veterans of our movement, with breakout rooms for more intimate small group discussion. And there is another truth we must face together: antisemitism on the rise and in our midst. A week ago, the DC Chapter of the Sunrise Movement – a climate justice […]

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Climate Action NOW with Hazon & Dayenu

Friends, Hazon works alongside many strong partners across the Jewish world and beyond, and moving forward we are honored to feature our allies as guest writers for our newsletter. To start off this partnership series, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn introduces Dayenu and the critically important role we can all play in fighting for strong climate action now!  Jakir Manela CEO, Hazon After more than 20 years working as a rabbi mobilizing the American Jewish community around issues of social, economic, and racial justice issues, I have come to understand the climate crisis as the existential crisis of our time. And at its core, it is a question of equity and justice – even as climate change affects everyone, historically marginalized communities bear the brunt of its impacts. We launched Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Action 18 months ago, to help build a multi-generational movement of American Jews confronting the climate crisis with spiritual audacity and bold political action. We mobilize Jewish support for climate solutions, build collective power, and raise up a spiritual, religious, and moral voice in the national and global climate movements. A growing grassroots network and diverse partner organizations are joining Dayenu campaigns to advance comprehensive climate policy, leverage communal power in key moments, press candidates and elected […]

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Hazon Detroit: Food Rescue Update

One year in, we’ve rescued over 250 tons – or 500,000 pounds – of food! Hazon Detroit’s Food Rescue and Redistribution work continues to be a major focus for us, as we try to help reduce the amount of food insecurity in our neighborhoods and provide the most basic kind of sustainability – sustenance – to those hit hardest by the Coronavirus. One year into the pandemic, with the help of countless incredible partners, we have rescued and redistributed over 250 tons – 500,000 pounds – of food! But numbers tell only a sliver of the story, because this work is truly about the individuals and families that benefit from the food we rescue. Read the message below from one frontline volunteer about the impact that this food has for those who receive it: Dear all, I want to share some news, observations, and thanks to each of you! I am the one who greets our friends and generally has a brief (and sometimes long) chat with the vast majority of them! We help over 300 families each month and now average nearly 75-80 each week! We have lost a few because life did get better and are now providing […]

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