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Topic: Climate Change

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Eikev and the Seven Species | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Sarah Rockford, JOFEE Fellow Cohort 4, Maine Jewish Food Network at Colby College Center for Small Town Jewish Life – Waterville, ME Parshat Eikev Fourteen years ago I read from parshat Eikev as a bat mitzvah. As I stood on the bimah and chanted my way through the aliyot, I reflected briefly that the eleventh-hour cramming I’d done over the past hours seemed to be paying off, but reading the final aliyah my concentration waivered, and I lost my place in the scroll. I continued to chant the Hebrew words I’d memorized while theatrically moving the lost yad along the rows of letters on the parchment. When I ran out of words in my head I stopped chanting and shot a desperate look at the rabbi—hoping he would reorient me so I could finish the portion. Our eyes met, he smiled, and congratulated me. I’d finished the aliyah from memory without realizing, and no one was the wiser for my mistake. Relieved and full of adrenaline I started to cry as the congregation began to sing Siman Tov U’Mazal Tov. I believe everyone thought I was having a profound spiritual moment, but these were tears of relief. I was just happy the […]

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Summer and wilderness and complaining

Thursday, July 11, 2019 | 8th Tammuz, 5779 Dear All, In this week’s parsha, the children of Israel are in the wilderness of Tzin. A small smile arises as I read it because it’s not just a line in the Torah; it’s also a road sign we pass on the Israel Ride each year. (When I read it I think of the Ride and the place, and when I cycle past it and through it I think of the Torah. This is as it should be.) And in the Torah the children of Israel are complaining: “Why have you taken us out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place, not a place for seeds or fig trees or grapevines or pomegranate trees – and there’s no water to drink!”  (On the Israel Ride very occasionally this becomes an accidental riff on the Torah – “I’m on vacation, and this is amazing – but how long to the next rest stop?!”) But this week I found myself thinking about this complaining in the wilderness as a larger metaphor for the world we live in today. We have indeed left slavery. We’re not defenseless against pogroms, as we were in the middle ages; […]

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Harvesting and Baking our Heritage | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Hannah Fine – Hazon Detroit Parshat Shelach In parshat Shelach, Moses sent twelve spies to scout out the land of Canaan and report back to the Israelites. All of the spies returned with the same objective report. It was a land of milk and honey brimming with fruit and sustenance. There were grapes, and figs, and pomegranates which they even brought back to show Moses and the Israelites. The spies also reported that the inhabitants of the land were mighty and intimidating. While all twelve spies saw the same land and shared the same observations, they were split between two opposing conclusions. Ten of the spies were convinced that the formidability of the inhabitants meant certain demise for the Israelites. Doom was a foregone conclusion so it was not even worth trying. The other two spies, Caleb and Joshua, had a different interpretation. They were confident that, despite the strength of the peoples and societies in Canaan, the Israelites could overcome it. Caleb and Joshua contended that the greatness of the Promised Land was worth the challenge.  At Hazon Detroit, we are working to overcome a formidable structure that exists in our land: the lopsided nature Michigan’s grain industry. […]

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A Real Question

by Nigel Savage Thursday, June 13, 2019 | 10th Sivan 5779 Dear All, Do we strive to change the world through fear or through a positive vision? This is not a fake question, or the set-up for an obvious answer. I’m more confused by this question, at the moment, than at any time in my life. I used to feel that the answer was “through a positive vision.” The word hazon is Hebrew for vision, and our name symbolized this view. Yes, we needed to tackle complex and depressing issues; but we would do this by inspiring people, and by sharing a positive vision for change. And now I’m not so sure. Most people most of the day simply get on with our lives. This is the nature of being human. It’s rare that there is an acute incident – a heart attack, a traffic accident, a major fire, an act of terrorism in our own community – that really cuts through normal daily life. Other than that we toggle between obligations and celebrations, work and play, family and friends and work and study. But the climate challenge that faces the world right now is absolutely real, and it is worsening. A report from […]

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Hazon Detroit: Will We Change?

Pictured above: Rabbi Nate and other food justice leaders from across the country. Dear Friends, Last week, Hazon Detroit’s Rabbi Nate DeGroot presented at the Center for Earth Ethics’ annual clergy conference, focused this year on the intersection of food and climate change. Rabbi Nate taught on our unified connection to nature and the earth as Jews, and on Jewish practices related to gratitude and food justice. Other speakers at the conference included Former Vice President Al Gore, Center for Earth Ethics Director Karenna Gore, world-renowned soil scientist Dr. Rattan Lal, and many more. Mr. Gore’s presentation – similar in style and inspiration to An Inconvenient Truth and An Inconvenient Sequel – focused on three main questions in the face of our changing climate: 1) Must we change? 2) Can we change? and 3) Will we change? 1) Must we change? We must. Mr. Gore said he likes to keep his presentations relevant, and so he included images and videos of historically abnormal flooding all around the world that has happened in just the last week alone. We know this is severely impacting the midwest region, including right here at home, where excessive rainfall has led to significant crop losses and delayed planting amongst close partners of Hazon […]

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Where do we begin? The Hazon Food Conference

Thursday, May 16, 2019 | 26th day of the omer; hod she’b’netzach by Nigel Savage Dear All, This is indeed a global environmental crisis – indeed, a series of crises. “Climate change” is not only a thing in itself; it is also shorthand for multiple different ways that (a) our daily behaviors are literally unsustainable; (b) we’re already seeing profound negative consequences; and (c) things are on track to get worse before or if they have any chance of getting better. And Jewish tradition compels us to respond.  How we do that goes to deep questions that we’re thinking about, and that will influence our work these next coming years. What’s the relationship between education, action, and advocacy? How can any one person or institution make any measurable difference? Do we effect change through a positive vision or fears of a dyspeptic future – or maybe both? Hazon recently completed a strategic planning process that has refined our focus on the ways in which food and climate change and Jewish life intersect. We’re doing this because it builds on our work thus far, and is intended to focus and amplify it, quite considerably. All of this work crystallizes around a […]

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Visions for Our New Land

Thursday, April 4, 2019 | 28th Adar II, 5779 Dear All, I had asked Janna, Rebecca, and Shamu – leaders of our Adamah program – to write something for all of us, about the new land we have been able to buy at 181 Beebe Hill Road, contiguous with our existing Adamah land at Isabella Freedman. They’ve written an extraordinarily beautiful piece, and I hope you enjoy it and are inspired by it as much as I am. In the Jewish tradition of fractal sevens, between the seven days of Shabbat and the seven years of shmita, we have sefirat ha’omer, seven weeks of seven, starting the second night of Pesach. Seder night – just two weeks from now – is our gateway to this journey. I hope that what they have written offers wisdom for all of us. Shabbat shalom, chodesh tov, Nigel “Our design at 181 deepens the resilience of our farm while nurturing the land and a community. And maybe it will offer inspiration to you ahead of Pesach…” As we walked on the new land across crusty snow this January, we were tempted to shout out and point: Put fences here! Plant trees there! Fix that […]

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Farm Bill: Update and Action

It is springtime on the farm which means that seedlings are sprouting in the greenhouse, the peepers are singing at dusk in Lake Miriam at Isabella Freedman, and lovers of food and earth are calling congress about agricultural appropriations. Thanks to millions of grassroots actions, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed with many important programs for sustainable agriculture and healthy eating. However, many of those programs need to be funded annually by Congress through the appropriations process. Appropriations is a process full of nitty-gritty details and back-and-forths so it can seem off-putting to engage with. However, urging a healthier and more sustainable world for everybody hinges on it and you can participate without going cross-eyed with the fine print! Below is a script that we at Hazon recommend you use when calling your member of Congress. You can read more about each of the issues, however, you don’t have to to make a difference and call! While your individual Senator or Representative might not be on the agricultural appropriations committee and thus might not have influence over the draft appropriations bill, it is very useful for them to know where you stand as a constituent so they can make public […]

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Testimony: Proposed Revised Supplemental Finding for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards and Results of the Residual Risk and Technology Review

On March 18, 2019, Dr. Mirele B. Goldsmith testified at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of the Jewish Climate Action Network for stronger mercury standards. Below are her remarks. My name is Dr. Mirele B. Goldsmith. I am a member of Congregation Adat Shalom in Bethesda, MD, a leader of Jewish Climate Action Network, and an environmental psychologist. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify. In this time of deep division in our country, I’m proud to be here with a group of 20 leaders of different faiths who will testify today.   We have our differences, but when it comes to the mercury rule we all agree that it would be immoral to weaken the current life-saving standards. The current leadership of the EPA claims that the cost of this rule is not worth the benefits. What are those benefits? According to the EPA itself, the current mercury pollution standards avoid up to 11,000 premature deaths, along with heart attacks, asthma attacks and brain damage to infants and children exposed to mercury in the womb. In one of the most famous lines in the Talmud our ancient rabbis also discuss cost-benefit analysis, but their conclusion is […]

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Food and Farm Policy: Update and Action

Important food and farm policy work moved forward this winter amid all of the daunting political news. On December 20th the 2018 Farm Bill became law. The law’s passage was a win simply in that it allowed the continued function of crucial programs that address issues like hunger prevention and price stabilization. Thanks to widespread public advocacy, there were also specific wins for sustainability. Keep reading to learn more about the good and bad of the law, about the work ahead in influencing implementation, and crucial action steps you can take today. If you don’t have time or energy to absorb the details of our update but want to join the throngs of individual citizens nudging those in power toward a more equitable and climate-friendly food system, you can skip to the script at the end and call your legislators! The overwhelming state of our national politics won’t stop the Jewish community from participating in the greatest work of our generation: combating climate change and inequity. Update Passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which became law on December 20th, was critical to the continued basic functions of the farming and food systems in the U.S. Hazon applauds lawmakers for slugging their […]

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Light In The Dark | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Ilana Unger, Pearlstone Center Parshat Vayeishev In parshat Vayeishev (Genesis 37:1-40:23), lands on the third Shabbat of Kislev, we connect deeply to this Jewish month of actualization and revelation. For example: Vayeishev is the Hebrew word for “and he lived” (actualization) and nine out of the ten dreams that we read in the Torah are in this month (revelation). To recap the many things that happen in this parsha: Joseph is exiled and sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers. Joseph is then falsely accused of sexually assaulting Potiphar’s wife and is sent to the Pharaoh’s prison where he becomes an overseer in the prison. He is joined in prison by the Pharaoh’s butler and baker. They say they have had vivid dreams and are looking for an interpreter. Joseph interprets their dreams and accurately does so, predicting that the baker be hanged while the butler will be restored to his job duties. As Joseph is literally in a dark place in the prison, he is selfless and wants to hear and listen to how he can help the butler and baker. Kislev, which derives from the Hebrew word kesel (כֶּסֶל), means either “security,” or “trust.” Joseph seems to […]

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Big Questions

By Nigel Savage Thursday, November 29, 2018 | 21 Kislev 5779 Dear All, In 2000, a small group of people believed (a) that we had to try to address environmental sustainability in the world, including some big big – BIG – challenges; (b) that the Jewish community needed to be part of this process, and by the way (c) if we do it right it will strengthen Jewish life as well. We’re called Hazon (Hebrew for “vision”) because it seemed apparent, even then, that if we were going to put our attention on big, intractable, and depressing challenges, we would need to do it with a sense of positive vision. The good news, 18 years on, is that those beliefs are still good beliefs (in a moral sense) and true, practically speaking. The impact of Hazon has grown very dramatically these last 18 years. We’re delivering 35,000 person-days a year of immersive experiences. We’re supporting the Israeli environmental movement in significant ways. In Boulder and Denver and the Detroit area, we’ve started to create and connect the synapses of Jewish sustainability, so that a wide range of initiatives around food and sustainability are integrating into Jewish life in profound ways. […]

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From then to now. And where next?

by Nigel Savage Thursday, October 18, 2018 | 9 Cheshvan 5779 Dear All, This is a blunter email than usual. For 18 years Hazon’s impact in the world has been partly predicated on not ‘banging people over the head,’ as I sometimes put it. We’re not here to make you feel bad. And not least because many of us aren’t feeling so great about the world right now, and thus don’t need anyone to make us feel worse. Pedagogically, personal or institutional change is not best effected by telling people what to do. And yet, that said, this is a moment in which I don’t have to tell you what to do. I just want to direct your gaze. I note that a significant number of Americans across the Florida panhandle are now homeless, or have wrecked houses, or are mourning the random deaths of loved ones. They could be you or me. They had the misfortune to find themselves in the way of a storm whose impact was greater than previous ones because of aggregate human behavior these last decades. And it happened just after the publication of the IPCC report, which makes absolutely clear that things are on track […]

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Hazon Book Club, Sukkot, the Farm Bill and the midterms

Thursday, September 20, 2018 | 11 Tishrei 5779 Dear All, I hope you had a good and strong Yom Kippur. Someone yesterday asked me: how do we take all this intensity and good intentions and vulnerability and desire to change and actually integrate that into our real lives? And my immediate response – which, on reflection, I think was absolutely right – was that’s exactly what Sukkot is for. Because here is this festival – Sukkot – which literally celebrates our new openness. Instead of just walling ourselves off from other people and other issues we open ourselves to our neighbors and the world around us. And now, instead of teshuva done in a necessarily heavy way – noting our failures, apologizing, promising to do better – now we have a sense of our best selves and so we do teshuva from a place of joy and celebration. So – may your best intentions for yourself come to fruition. And if you fail – get back on the horse. And that’s literally the perfect segue to two things. First – the Hazon Book Club. I told you that for the first time ever we were inviting people to read a […]

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Join us in Living the Change

Hazon is the leading Jewish partner in Living the Change – a worldwide, faith-driven, evidence-based initiative designed to address the growing environmental challenges for our shared home. Demonstrate on a global scale how your individual transportation, home energy use, and diet choices can make a difference. Join us in making a commitment for the new year.   Read below for more information about why this is so important. by Nigel Savage Thursday, July 26, 2018 | 14 Av 5778 Dear All, In London the Met issued a heat warning and advised people to “stay out of the sun.” In the fires around Athens, 74 people are dead, and countless are injured or have lost their lives. An essay in The Guardian makes clear that – as ever – this cannot solely be attributed to human behavior, but human actions are (a) contributing and (b) making things worse. The famous Talmudic injunction – “you’re not required to complete the task, but neither can you ignore it” (Pirkei Avot 2:16) – applies with full force to the environmental issues. For 18 years now, we’ve been doing all that we can, directly and indirectly, to integrate a commitment to sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life. […]

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