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Topic: Holidays

leah palmer

Hakhel Blog: Leah Palmer

Several years ago, I was in shul on the morning of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and the Rabbi stood up to speak. They opened with: “What is the difference between the Jewish New Year on Rosh Hashanah, and the New Year’s Eve on the 31st of December?” This was apparently the opening to a Jewish joke, but I never caught the punchline because the question itself landed me deep in thought. On both occasions, we reflect on the year gone by, gather with friends or family, overindulge and promise that next year will be better. In my eyes, the crucial difference is that on the 31st of December, we promise ourselves to do better, to make better decisions, to think about others, whatever it might be. On Rosh Hashanah, we promise these things to someone who will hold us accountable. And I think that is a great thing. The days after Rosh Hashanah are Judaism’s response to the January ritual of taking out a gym membership only to never actually rock up. To buying all the gear for starting a new hobby, but never getting around to taking it out of the box. To buying a bespoke planner […]

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#EnvironmentalTeshuva

Thursday, September 5, 2019 | 5th Elul 5779 Dear All, 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. Watch this space in 2020 for next steps on the Rides. (We’re making two significant hires at the moment, and if you’re interested, or know someone who might be a good fit, here are the job descriptions: Director of Special Events and Manager of the Israel Ride. Also – the last tiny handful of slots are available for the Israel Ride, if you want to join us this year.) But instead, I was able to be at our fourth JOFEE Network Gathering. (JOFEE = Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming & Environmental Education). It was a remarkable and strong experience. I don’t have good language to explain the nature of it. I could say that it involved learning, and professional development and networking. Honestly – those words are true, to a point, but they convey so little about what we really did. Prosaically: we brought together 170 or so people who are professionally involved in the JOFEE world. That number, […]

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Recipe: Wild Alaskan Salmon

Want a bigger taste?  Join us this summer at the Hazon Food Conference! 4 6-ounce wild salmon filets (from Alaska), skin off 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives Olive oil Salt and pepper Pat dry the salmon filets. Combine the fresh herbs in a bowl. Press the herbs on to the “presentation “side of the salmon (non-skin side). Salt and pepper the fish on both sides. Place a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Place the salmon filets, presentation side down, in the pan. Here is the hard part-Don’t touch the fish for at least 3-5 minutes until the fish has browned and is not sticking to the pan. If it sticks, it has not browned enough. The browned fish will be crispy and firm and will loosen itself from the pan. Turn the fish over and turn off the heat. Cover the pan and the fish will continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Your fish will be a perfect medium rare. If you want it well done (I don’t recommend it) keep the […]

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Recipe: Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Pie

Want a bigger taste?  Join us this summer at the Hazon Food Conference! Vegan Peanut Butter Cup Pie This recipe & photo come from The Minimalist Baker Prep time: 25 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Total time: 40 minutes Servings: 10 Ingredients Crust 1 sleeve graham crackers (or sub a similar gluten-free cracker/cookie) 4 1/2 Tbsp melted vegan butter or coconut oil Pie 12 ounces firm silken tofu (slightly drained and patted dry) 1/2 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter 1/4 cup agave nectar or maple syrup (or sub honey if not vegan) 1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk OR coconut cream (1 can yields ~1 3/4 cups // chilled overnight // no shaking the can – you want the cream and liquid to remain separate) Chocolate Ganache Topping 1 cup semisweet dairy-free chocolate chips 1/3 cup non-dairy milk Instructions Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and lightly oil a standard glass pie pan (8 inches x 1 1/4 inches). Add graham crackers to a food processor and process until you achieve a semi-fine meal. A little texture is OK, just remove any large pieces that didn’t get ground. Add melted butter and pulse to combine. Add to greased pie pan and press down with your fingers to flatten. You can lay a piece of plastic wrap over […]

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Recipe: Garlic Herb Vegan Cheese

Want a bigger taste?  Join us this summer at the Hazon Food Conference! Garlic Herb Vegan Cheese This recipe & photo come from The Minimalist Baker Serves: 32 For the Cheese 2 cups (240 g) raw cashews 2 garlic cloves, minced (1 Tbsp or 6 g) 1/2 tsp garlic powder, plus more to taste 1 lemon, zested 2 lemons, juiced (1/4 cup or 60 ml) 3/4 cup (180 ml) water 2 Tbsp (6 g) nutritional yeast 1/2 tsp sea salt 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil For Serving 2 Tbsp (8 g) finely minced fresh dill Instructions Place cashews in a bowl and cover with cool water. Cover with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator to soak for 12 hours. If you can’t get to them right away, drain, place back in bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. They will keep refrigerated for 24-36 hours. Once soaked, drain cashews thoroughly and add to food processor. Add minced garlic, garlic powder, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, nutritional yeast, salt, and olive oil. Process until very creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Then taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more lemon zest for tartness, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, […]

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Food and Freedom: Our Relationship with Food, Ethical Consumption and Responsible Recycling

  Dear Hazon Seal Sites, Earth Day is this coming MONDAY, April 22! Here is another themed listserv email to get you all excited! As we come together around the Seder table this Passover, we invite you to take this opportunity to explore your relationship to food. If this is not new to you, we invite you to dive a little deeper. During this time of year we celebrate our freedom and remember times of inhumane treatment and abuse. We are elevated by appreciation for our liberty to choose and, if we are fortunate, the abundance of modern times. This year Shabbat coincides with Passover, making this Shabbat exceptionally holy. Let us take a look at our Seder table and ask ourselves: Does this table represent me and my values? In this modern industrial world, it is hard to shop and eat without perpetuating suffering in some form or fashion. But we can try. Let’s ask ourselves: How can I better celebrate without perpetuating harm or suffering? We have the freedom to choose, but do we choose wisely, kindly? Our tradition compels us to care for our environment and to take animal suffering seriously. In our food choices we have […]

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Hazon Detroit: Growth Ring Blessings

Dear Friends, At sunset this Sunday, January 20th, we will usher  in Tu B’Shvat, one of the four new years on the Jewish calendar. Just like our secular calendar has multiple year cycles—think calendar year, fiscal year, school year—so too, our Jewish calendar has multiple year cycles: birth of the world, birth of the Jewish people, the first of Elul, and Tu B’Shvat. Tu B’Shvat, named for its calendrical date – the 15th of Shvat – celebrates the birthday of the trees. Just like our birthdays mark a year of growth for us, in a symbolic way, Tu B’Shvat serves the same purpose for trees, marking another year of their growth. Regardless of when during the year a particular tree was planted in ancient times, its first birthday was always tallied on its first Tu B’Shvat. In this way, Tu B’Shvat might be considered the day when a tree symbolically forms its next ring. We have reached the cold months of winter when, like us, trees actually slow down for a period of internal hibernation. In cold winters, growth within a tree slows to a slogging crawl, before picking back up again when the temperatures rise. In fact, it is […]

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Tu B’Shvat: Bonna Haberman, MLK, Jim Joseph and my Dad…

My first Tu B’Shvat seder was with Bonna and Shmuel Haberman Browns, in London, in 1986. Bonna z”l was an amazing woman, who died too young. (This was my tribute to her that The Forward published at the time of her death.) It was memorable and beautiful enough that I hosted or attended a seder every year from then until last year. And then last year, half an hour after we got back from my 33rd annual Tu B’Shvat seder, my mother phoned to say that my father had died. So Tu B’Shvat has always been important to me, and its implicit themes about cycles of life have now been reinforced for me by the inextricable ways that its memory is bound up for me in memories of my Dad and of Bonna. Eight years ago Devora Joseph Davey gave us funding, through the foundation created in her father’s name, to create a Tu B’Shvat haggadah, and we’ve republished that every year since. This year, both in honor of my father, and because Tu B’Shvat in 2019 falls on MLK weekend, we’ve substantially revised our haggadah. Lisa Kaplan, Elan Margulies, David Rendsburg, and Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein led the charge, and my great thanks go […]

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What is Tu B’Shvat and Why Do We Celebrate It?

by Nigel Savage Introduction to the new Hazon Tu B’Shvat Haggadah You can trace the recent history of  Tu B’Shvat seders like branches on a tree. The first one I went to, in London in 1986, was hosted by Bonna Haberman z”l and Shmuel Browns, mentors to me and many others in the renewal of Jewish ritual. I made my own seder the following  Tu B’Shvat, and I’ve made or attended one every year since. Seders, like trees, grow branches, and the branches sprout fruit in all directions. Historical Roots The roots of Tu B’Shvat stretch back to the beginnings of organized Jewish life. We learn from the Mishnah (Tractate Rosh Hashanah) that “the New Year of the Trees” divided the tithing of one year’s crop from the next – the end and start of the tax year, so to speak. After the expulsion from the Land of Israel, Tu B’Shvat went underground, like a seed, ungerminated, lying beneath the soil of Jewish thought and life. The expulsion from Spain in 1492 scattered Jews in many directions, and some landed in Tzfat. Like a forest fire that cracks open seeds dormant for decades, Tzfat’s kabbalists rediscovered Tu B’Shvat and began […]

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Turning Yom Kippur into Action

Dear friends — If you’re like me, you probably spent some of your Yom Kippur last week thinking about how to better live up to your ideals — how to be kinder, more just, more in touch with the sacred. Well, here’s an advertisement for how to put that resolution into practice. Having spent twenty-five years exploring spirituality, therapy, meditation, medication, self-help, human potential, sacred sexuality, entheogens, and a dozen or so paths to the holy, I think that meditation retreat has been the single most effective tool in the never-finished project of becoming more alive, more awake, and more invested in pursuing justice. I’m sure this isn’t true for everyone, but it has definitely been true for me and for many of the “spiritual friends” and teachers who have inspired me along the way. In my experience, no awesome spiritual state, no study, and no political action can transform the mind and heart the way that meditation does — and no amount of daily meditation can do the work of a multi-day meditation retreat. That’s true whether you’re suffering and looking for healing, or comfortable and interested in doing more with your one, precious life. Contemplative neuroscience has now […]

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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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Listen Ya’ll! | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Alex Voynow, Jewish Farm School  Parshat Haazinu [NOTE: Applications for the next JOFEE Fellowship cohort are open now through October 5! Apply today!] In Ha’azinu, Moses sees the Israelites for who they are: humans, scarred by 40 years of impatient wandering and in no mood to listen obediently. Moses is 120 years old and holds so much wisdom; this is the last day before his death, and he has some things to say. He has the story of his life to tell, which in his epic personal union with the Israelite people is also the story of God. He needs them to understand, like the tender, concerned patriarch that he is, how to live in God’s favor so they can blossom into the promised land and not mess up this covenant (fast-forward: oops).   What he has to say is so important that he does something that really resonates with me. Moses speaks language that heaven and earth themselves will understand, and in a language that will more likely move the people: in song. He launches into a 48-verse poem doing his damnedest to sum up his life’s spiritual learnings. I’m not going to get into it because it’s densely […]

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Five Ways to Prepare for Rosh Hashanah

by Nigel Savage Thursday, August 23, 2018 | 12 Elul 5778 Dear All, Be brave and make plans to see people. Host people or reach out and ask someone if you can come over to them. We talk about the black fire and the white fire of the Torah (ie the letters, and the white space around them), but the white fire of the holidays is not what we do, but what we don’t do. Not being on email. Not reading the news. Not looking at a screen. The white fire is being with ourselves (sometimes a very hard thing to do) and being with others. Walking. Sleeping. Eating. So look at your calendar and host a meal, or host another meal, or make plans with family or friends. Don’t leave it to the last minute. Read or reread Alan Lew’s This Is Real And You Are Completely Unprepared. It’s a beautiful beautiful book, and becoming better known with each passing year since his untimely death. And don’t just read it – plan on taking it to shul. It’s always good to take a book with you to services. That’s a fine thing to do. We’re enjoying the bounty of the world […]

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Indigenous Rights and Reconciliation | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Jared Kaminsky, Shoresh Parshat Shoftim The parsha of the week is Shoftim, which means Judges. As Moses nears the end of his life, he wants to ensure there is a system of governance in society. Shoftim gives detailed ordinances on many topics of law, including appointing judges, laws that kings should follow, creating cities of refuge when crimes are committed, and the rules of war. For example, the parsha states that appointed judges are forbidden from taking bribes and there must be two credible witnesses for a conviction. Another ordinance demands that kings must not have too many horses and must always carry around two Torah scrolls to remind them that G-D is above them. The Torah even provides a city of refuge for those who accidentally murdered someone to live in safety! While many of these laws do not apply to modern society, there are some important insights into preventing corruption and treatment of humankind that we can still learn from. Moses recognized that every generation has the obligation to critically examine and apply the laws of the Torah. As Jews we should examine the laws that govern the places we live and work to protect the rights of […]

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The Binary of One | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Sofia Marbach, Wilderness Torah Parshat Re’eh I set before you today a blessing and a curse; The blessing, that you will heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn away from the way I command you this day, to follow other gods, which you did not know. — Deuteronomy 11:26-28 Yikes! The first lines of Re’eh present us with a terrifying binary: choose to follow closely each commandment or consider yourself cursed by God. If we opt out of the choosing, what does Judaism leave for us? The text goes on to list detailed instructions for violence against those who might persuade you to worship the gods of other peoples, and against the idols of those who tended your land before. This is the kind of violence that mirrors and reinforces patriarchal systems of dominance and oppression lived today and throughout history. So how do we grapple with guidelines for patriarchal violence in our holiest book — a violence that divides us into binary understandings of the world? How do we connect to tradition as “People of the […]

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