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Topic: Climate Change

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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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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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Greetings from Glasgow, Scotland

Friends, I just arrived in Glasgow, Scotland for the United Nations Climate Change Conference known as COP26, happening today through Nov. 12. Many have said that this gathering of world leaders may be our last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change. Hazon’s visionary founder, Nigel Savage, will be meeting me there – he’s traveling from Israel – and together we will join about 25 other formal Jewish delegates from around the world, including Israel, as part of a massive crowd of 20,000 people attending the formal negotiations and side events, not to mention marches, protests, and other activities. Together we will bring a strong Jewish voice to this momentous gathering with such far-reaching implications. And we’ll also be hosting an Eco-Shabbat vegetarian dinner for the Jews at a nearby synagogue. My kids – and their future – are on my mind as I take this journey, along with young people everywhere. I was deeply moved and inspired by the moral clarity and passion shown by leaders of the Jewish Youth Climate Movement when I spoke with them Thursday night – watch the video here. But of course, this is not just about the Jews. Our Jewish delegation is part of […]

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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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Beginning a new chapter, together

Friends,  I step into the Hazon CEO role with deep gratitude for everything that has been built over the past 21 years, and with great appreciation for the amazing staff, boards, and supporters of Hazon, Isabella Freedman, and Pearlstone. Together, we have helped spark a transformative movement with powerful potential. The Jewish Environmental Movement is clearly one of the strongest, most vibrant streams in Jewish life today. We now have further reach than ever before, so as we face the global climate crisis, together we are poised to multiply our impact and catalyze social, environmental, and spiritual change across the Jewish world and beyond. Like a havdalah candle, our movement weaves together multiple interrelated strands: JOFEE, Jewish Retreating, the Jewish Food Movement, Jewish Community Farming, Climate Activism & Advocacy, the Jewish Youth Climate Movement, Jewish Intentional Communities, and more. Each strand has had tremendous impact already, and now we have a profound opportunity to manifest our ambitious mission: to lead a transformative movement deeply weaving sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life, in order to create a healthier, more sustainable, and equitable world for all. As we embark upon this new chapter and awesome task ahead, I want you to […]

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The Economy, Krugman, Healthcare, Pesach – and Power, Ethics & Ecology in Late Jewish Antiquity

March 18, 2021 | 5 Nissan 5781    Dear All, The whole world we live in, right now, is “both/and” rather than “either/or.” Everything happens simultaneously. Everything and its opposite is true. Things overlap and repeat, fold in upon themselves. I feel this strongly in relation to the economy, as well as so much else. It is good that the federal government has learned some of the (negative) lessons of 2008, and before that of Herbert Hoover. Paul Krugman has argued repeatedly that it’s wrong to fear inflation in a deflationary environment. If the government were not printing money – had not printed money this last year – then millions and perhaps tens of millions would be out of work, perhaps homeless, perhaps hungry. And it is always those who already have the least who suffer the most. So: printing money is good. And the American Rescue Plan is especially commendable because, for the first time since perhaps Lyndon Johnson, there’s a (somewhat) focused attempt to get the most help to those who are poorest. This is what the Torah enjoins. And yet one other consequence of this is that all sorts of bubbles are developing. From GameStop to the […]

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Food and Farm Advocacy: Recommended Reading

The Jewish practice of determining what is “fit to eat” (a literal translation of “kosher”) is complex in this age of global food systems. It is not simply upon us to find the purest ingredients for our tables at any financial cost to ourselves, but rather to weigh in on the systems that determine what food is available and what the consequences of its production will be. Integral to influencing whether we have ethical, healthy, climate-smart options on the table is a deeper understanding of how the policies work. Check out the articles below to gain some of that insight. Where to Start in Taking Action A Matter of Degrees Podcast: What Can I Do?  How to Find Joy in Climate Action Food and Farm Policy Background: How 2 Save a Planet Podcast: Soil: The Dirty Climate Solution How 2 Save a Planet Podcast: The Beef with Beef How 2 Save a Planet Podcast: Is Your Carbon Footprint B.S.? World Resources Institute: Creating a Sustainable Food Future Here’s how America uses its land What is the Farm Bill? Staying Up to Date on Food and Farm Policy Happenings: October 2022 On big federal legislation: What the Historic Climate Bill Means […]

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Thoughts on this Tu B’Shvat

Thursday, January 28, 2021 | Tu B’Shvat 5781   Dear All, One of the questions underpinning the entire Jewish environmental movement is the question: to what end? If we want to make a difference in the world, can’t we – shouldn’t we – just support 350.org, or the Sierra Club? And my answer is that we should – and Hazon, over the years, has partnered with both organizations, and many others outside of the Jewish community. But we’re half way through an 8-part series, learning with Rabbi Yedidya Sinclair about masechet ta’anit, and reading ta’anit closely to develop from it a sense of what a contemporary Jewish climate theology might look like. And in this week’s class, I really did have a deep moment of clarity, which I want to share with you, on Tu B’Shvat. Tu B’Shvat, of course, is “the new year for trees.” This year we’re one of the anchor partners for the Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest, and we hope you’ll join us for one or more of the 160+ sessions that are happening from now through Sunday. One can talk – and we have, and we will – about the history of Tu B’Shvat, how […]

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