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Topic: Climate Change

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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Choosing our History | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Henry Schmidt, Shalom Institute Parshat Devarim The Torah may be our past, but Devarim, the shared name both for this week’s Torah portion and for the fifth book of the Torah, is our history. What is the difference between past and history? Our past is simply a chronology of events, one after another, that bring us to the present. It is what one may observe if they traveled back in time and watched things unfold. History, on the other hand, adds important layers; history is the past we choose to tell and how we tell it. The establishment of history is an inherently political process. Whoever has the most access to public discourse or public thought typically gets to shape the narrative of the people. In the case of Devarim, this power rests solely with Moses. Though he shall not see the promised land and must cede this honor to his successor, Joshua, he still possesses the most powerful role of this period for the Jewish people: he gets to tell them their own story. After all, Devarim translates to “the words,” and these are “the words” of the Jewish people. We already know that the Jews eventually receive […]

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Fear and Donkeys | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Henry Schmidt, Shalom Institute Parshat Balak I thought Balak was a story about a donkey. That is to say, when I sat down to write this blog post, I expected to write about the talking donkey we’ll soon meet. Understandably, a talking donkey tends to get a lot of attention. However, this time I found the ending of the parsha (Torah portion), an ending I had always overlooked, to be what especially spoke to me. Let’s start with an overview. Balak, King of Moab, sees the growing people of Israel and how they have conquered all of Moab’s neighbors, leaving Moab directly next to the potential threat of this dynamite group of nomads who seem to be on a roll. Worried about the Israelite’s winning streak, he summons Balaam, a pagan sorcerer, to come and curse the Israelites. “‘There is a people come out of Egypt; it hides the Earth from view, and it is settled next to me. Come then, put a curse upon this people for me, since they are too numerous for me; perhaps I can thus defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed […]

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To Kvetch or Not to Kvetch? | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Frances Lasday, Teva, Hazon Parshat Behaalotecha What strikes me most about this week’s parsha, Behaalotecha, is the kvetching. The parsha (Torah portion) spends an entire chapter retelling several instances where the Jewish people complained endlessly. So, what can we learn from this?   As an outdoor educator who works with children, and who supervises other educators, I too encounter whining. What interests me most about this parsha are the descriptions of the different ways in which Moshe and G!d react to their cranky people. I think that there is a lot to learn from how Moshe in particular, as leader, caretaker, and educator of the Jewish people, responds to the incessant whining. Before I go any further, full disclosure: I am totally a whiner. I get cranky, and I express it in ways that I am not always proud of. So I get it. I can’t imagine it was easy to wander aimlessly through the desert for 40 years, and there were probably lots of things to be cranky about. But, in Behaalotecha, the Children of Israel’s complaining takes on a whole new level. “The people took to complaining bitterly before Hashem and the Lord heard and was incensed.” […]

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Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods… and chicken coops

October 3rd, 2017 | 13 Tishrei 5778 Dear All, My family built our sukkah this past Sunday. I felt an uneasy juxtaposition between the joy of this holiday – freely choosing to create and decorate a temporary home in which we will share our abundance with friends – and the cruel fate of so many that now find themselves forced into temporary homes. From Puerto Rico and Florida to India and Nepal, the devastation and destruction from climate change is a new normal. We can’t let ourselves see this as a problem in some other place that someone else needs to fix. This planet is a permanent home – for all of us. We have estimated that the current carbon footprint of the US Jewish Community is about 86,920,000 metric tons.* As a community with less than 2% of the US population, we have a carbon footprint larger than 119 countries, including Denmark, Israel, Morocco, New Zealand, and Sweden. In addition to the personal impact that we are making from our lives, the American Jewish Community owns thousands of buildings across the United States. There are roughly 3,500 synagogues in the US, and thousands more day schools, camps, social service agencies, Federations, and […]

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Old Stones, New Ripples – Reflections on the Close of JOFEE Fellowship Cohort 1 | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Yoshi Silverstein – JOFEE Fellowship Director May 18th, 2017 | 22nd Iyar 5777 | 37th day of the omer | gevurah she’b’yesod 16 Organizations. 17 Fellows. Over 500 programs. An estimated 37,000 participants in Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming & Environmental Education (JOFEE) programs across the country. These are some of the incredible numbers emerging as we look back at our first JOFEE Fellowship cohort, who completed their closing seminar and siyum last week at our sister JOFEE organization, the Pearlstone Center outside Baltimore, MD. Behind those numbers are thousands of people encountering – many for the first time – the incredible power of a Jewish tradition steeped in deep cultural and spiritual connection with the earth, with place, with human communities and our surrounding ecosystems, with our food, and with each other.  A Jewish tradition that recognizes both the limits and abundance of the resources our home planet provides for us. A tradition that says this world is amazing – there is so much magnificence – and yet we have work to do – not to complete by ourselves, but neither to desist from doing our part. And wow did our JOFEE Fellows do their part! Here are a […]

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47 years… and the next ten days

From Nigel Savage April 20th, 2017 | 24th Nisan 5777 | 9th day of the omer; gevurah she’b’gevurah   Dear All, Nearly half a century ago, on April 22, 1970, twenty million people took to the streets for the first Earth Day – which happened to fall during Pesach, the holiday of mass protest against injustice. Within months, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts passed Congress, and the Environmental Protection Agency was born. America showed the world that industrial might could be paired with respect for the health of people and the planet. Hazon seeks to build a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a healthier and more sustainable world for all. We share many of the aims of those who brought about a transformation in our country’s approach to the environment 47 years ago. In our retreats and our immersive programs we touch people’s lives very directly, one by one, sometimes in profound ways. Our riders have raised several million dollars to support our work, to support the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, and in mini-grants that have gone to a wide range of organizations. Our curricula resources have underpinned educational work across the Jewish world, especially […]

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This Passover, Take Action for the Climate – D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Rachel Aronson – JOFEE / Sustainability and Community Engagement Fellow, Hazon  Jews across the world this week commemorated leaving Egypt to become free people for the holiday of Passover. Friends and family sit around the table together for the seder, celebrating freedom with comfy pillows to recline on and lots of kosher wine. Unfortunately, Passover can also represent something else: the holiday of waste. Those who keep kosher for Pesach (Passover) deep-clean our kitchens before the holiday, rooting out bread, tortillas, muffins, crackers, and every other kind of chametz (leavened or yeasted products) that’s sitting around the house. And to ensure that everything is kosher, we switch out our regular sets of dishes with a special set of only-for-Passover dishes. But who wants to keep an extra set of dishes around the house? It takes up storage space. It’s inconvenient. Understandably, many of us – out of convenience, or out of necessity – use disposable plates, cutlery, cups, and more. Ironically, many of us end up celebrating this holiday of freedom and liberation with trash bags full of styrofoam. Thankfully, Passover is also a holiday that reminds us of our ability to make change — as individuals and as a society. […]

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Prayer in Action: Upholding our Covenant for a Brighter Future | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Daniella Aboody, Wilderness Torah, Berkeley, CA Parashat Chayyei Sarah Editor’s Note: Welcome to D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog! Most weeks throughout the year, you’ll be hearing from the JOFEE Fellows: reflections on their experiences, successful programs they’ve planned and implemented, gleanings from the field, and connections to the weekly Torah portion and what they’ve learned from their experiences with place in their host communities for the year. Views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily represent Hazon. Be sure to check back weekly!  P.S. Interested in being or hosting a JOFEE Fellow? Applications for prospective fellows will continue to be reviewed as positions are available. The Torah portion for this week, Chayyei Sarah, begins with the death of our matriarch Sarah. We see Abraham mourn the loss of his beloved, and then immediately take action by purchasing her burial grounds—the cave of Machpela—and then sending his servant to go find a wife for their son, Isaac. Abraham says goodbye to her in an honorable way, and then makes moves to follow through on the covenant that God has made with him and Sarah—the promise of land and descendants. God makes this promise on several occasions, but only now, once Sarah […]

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What’s Mine is Yours, and What’s Yours is Yours | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Michael Fraade, Jewish Community of Louisville, Louisville, KY Parashat Vayera Editor’s Note: Welcome to D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog! Most weeks throughout the year, you’ll be hearing from the JOFEE Fellows: reflections on their experiences, successful programs they’ve planned and implemented, gleanings from the field, and connections to the weekly Torah portion and what they’ve learned from their experiences with place in their host communities for the year. Views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily represent Hazon. Be sure to check back weekly!  P.S. Interested in being or hosting a JOFEE Fellow? Applications for cohort two are now open for both prospective fellows and prospective host institutions and will continue to be reviewed as positions are available. Parashat Vayera opens with Abraham rushing to greet three guests who appear near his tent while he is sitting under a terebinth. “My lords,” he insists, “Let a little water be brought; bathe your feet and recline under the tree.  And let me fetch a morsel of bread that you may refresh yourselves.” He and Sarah prepare bread, milk, and a freshly slaughtered calf for their guests, who soon reveal themselves as angels and inform Abraham that Sarah will soon give birth […]

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Going Forth | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Eli Goldstein, Shimon and Sara Birnbaum JCC, Bridgewater, NJ Parashat Lech Lecha Editor’s Note: Welcome to D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog! Most weeks throughout the year, you’ll be hearing from the JOFEE Fellows: reflections on their experiences, successful programs they’ve planned and implemented, gleanings from the field, and connections to the weekly Torah portion and what they’ve learned from their experiences with place in their host communities for the year. Views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily represent Hazon. Be sure to check back weekly!  P.S. Interested in being or hosting a JOFEE Fellow? Applications for cohort two are now open for both prospective fellows and prospective host institutions and will continue to be reviewed as positions are available. There is an entire world around us if we just open our eyes, ears, and mouths. In our new enrichment nature class here at the Shimon and Sara Birnbaum JCC, we are working on using the learning cycle shared by our BEETLES Instructors during JOFEE Fellow training – Invitation, Exploration, Concept Invention, Application, and Reflection – to do just that. This is a class challenging on many levels for me and the students. When you think of nature you may […]

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Grappling with the Ark of Responsibility | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Bailey Lininger, Tamarack Camps, Bloomfield Hills, MI Parashat Noach Editor’s Note: Welcome to D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog! Most weeks throughout the year, you’ll be hearing from the JOFEE Fellows: reflections on their experiences, successful programs they’ve planned and implemented, gleanings from the field, and connections to the weekly Torah portion and what they’ve learned from their experiences with place in their host communities for the year. Views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily represent Hazon. Be sure to check back weekly!  P.S. Interested in being or hosting a JOFEE Fellow? Applications for cohort two are now open for both prospective fellows and prospective host institutions and will continue to be reviewed as positions are available. Some days, my job makes me feel like Noah, stocking his Ark full of animals before the flood, the weight of the world’s responsibility on my shoulders. Let me explain: At Tamarack Camps, where I’m placed as a JOFEE fellow, I have the good fortune of being the supervisor of Tamarack’s brand new nature center: The Teva Center. Just finished in June 2016, we’ve slowly but surely been filling with new animal residents ever since. Our goal is a nature center filled with […]

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