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Topic: In the News

Getting down to bedrock

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 | 14 Sivan 5781   Dear All, Many of the arguments that divide contemporary Jewish life come down to different readings of what it means to be Jewish. I want to offer some of my own thoughts on this. Before I do, let me preface these remarks with the reminder that Hazon, institutionally, doesn’t take “positions” on things. You can support Hazon, or work for Hazon, or attend any of our programs, whether you agree with what I write here, or disagree, or for that matter are baffled by what I write. In these emails I am thinking through some of the things that animate my own work, and sometimes providing context for things we do or don’t do, but you’re entirely free to disagree with anything I write. I strive to respond politely and thoughtfully to every person who replies to one of these emails, and I know from that experience that the range of views on a list as long as Hazon’s is considerable. Which is as it should be. And so to our current struggles. It may be that to be Jewish is to (a) strive never to distinguish between one human being […]

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Take action for a just and climate-smart food system

Take action for a just and climate-smart food system… even if you aren’t following all the complexities taking place on Capitol Hill! We are tracking opportunities for the Jewish community to tip the scales toward effective policy. Join our advocacy alert list and we’ll call you to action (well, we’ll email you to action) whenever a groundswell of grassroots voices would make a difference. Sign up here to receive Hazon’s Advocacy Alerts! Does calling your legislator and asking them to support, or oppose, an upcoming bill sound intimidating? We’ll make it easy by providing a clear script. You don’t need any prior understanding of what a filibuster is or what political infighting is happening in which relevant subcommittees! Does commenting on a Department of Agriculture rulemaking process sound kind of boring? We’re not going to lie, it is. But with our help, it will take only five minutes or less out of your day! Jewish heroism has never been limited to the story of young David with a loaded slingshot or Judah Maccabee with his shield. Our work on behalf of a just and abundant future has mostly manifested as stories of individuals joining together to collectively do the small, […]

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Darkness, and light – from the United Nations

Wednesday, December 9, 2020 | Erev Chanukah   Dear All, First: a huge thank you to every single person who has supported us in 2020. A record number of people supported us on Giving Tuesday. I and we appreciate it. This year we survived, we thrived, we’ve touched people’s lives. And we hope to catapult into 2021 and beyond. If you want to be a stakeholder in Hazon, please click here to give a year-end gift. Second: practically the last thing I did, pre-Covid, was attend a superb Tu B’Shvat gathering in Seattle, organized by Lisa Colton and Rabbi Josh Weisman and a bunch of their friends.  Now with them and with a growing number of partners we’re happy to announce the launch of The Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest, over Tu B’Shvat in late January – one week after the inauguration. Go to the website for info or – better yet – to propose sessions you’d like to deliver. Third: Campus at Camp looks like it’s happening. Registration closes tomorrow. If you want to join us, click here. The remainder of this email I give over to António Guterres – the Secretary General of the UN. He gave a speech at Columbia University last week […]

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The fires this time: public goods, the Jewish community, different time horizons

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 | 26 Elul 5780   Dear All, We weren’t going to send an email this week. We figured there’d be enough in your inbox in the days before Rosh Hashanah. But I am prompted by the fires out West to write something I have been thinking about for some while. This isn’t an appeal email, it’s not really a “shana tova” email, but I hope you’ll take a few moments to read it. The fires out west go to the heart of so many of the challenges we presently face, and Covid has provoked its own further re-assessment for us as an organization. We intend that Hazon will come out of this stronger and more focused. But part of that focus is striving to be as truthful as we can about what is possible, what is necessary, and the relationship between the two – for the Jewish community institutionally and for each of us as individuals. What is possible: every single thing we do to help create a more sustainable world is arithmetically close to meaningless. One change in behavior. One fewer plane trip. One donation to NRDC, one vote for the more sustainable candidate. Individually […]

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Isabella Freedman Update and Summer Getaways

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 | 47th day of the omer, hod she’b’malchut Dear All, Normally at this time of year we share updates on our plans for a vibrant summer at Isabella Freedman. As we all know, this year is a different kind of year, and this announcement is a different kind of announcement. Covid-19 has changed how we will be able to gather for the foreseeable future. It has become increasingly clear that retreats are unlikely to be able to run with the same participation numbers and pricing that they have in the past, even as Covid cases have begun to fall. As a result, we will be cancelling all retreats through the end of 2020. But even as we cancel retreats, we are hard at work trying to ensure that other programs can still take place at Isabella Freedman. Our campus is beautifully located. We exist to serve our clients, to offer rest and renewal outside the city, and to do so in a way that nourishes and inspires people. We can’t do that, this year, with our traditional retreats. It may not be possible to do anything at all. But we are exploring whether we can enable at least […]

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Introducing the Jewish Youth Climate Movement

Thursday, May 14th | 35th day of the omer – malchut she’b’hod Dear All, We’re ending the fifth week of this seven-week journey towards the giving of the Torah, and choosing a different kind of freedom. In the world of the kabbalists, today is associated with “malchut she’b’hod.” Hod is about beauty and simplicity and malchut is about getting out into the world and making things happen. So it’s a day to introduce the new Jewish Youth Climate Movement. Anyone under the age of twenty today could reasonably hope to be alive in 2100. What will the world look like then? We don’t know, but the decisions and choices of those of us who are older will decisively impact, for good or for ill, those who are younger. (If you want to see a very intense example of that, check out this chart, showing opinions on Brexit, by age, in the UK, in 2018.) This grows out of our long-term work at Teva, and out of the sense that an organization like Hazon ought to be trying, as much as we can, to support and empower and network the best of our young people. So… I hand you over now to a message from the teen board members of JYCM… […]

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Noon, Wednesday April 22nd (Please read this.)

Thursday, March 19, 2020 | 23rd Adar 5780 Dear All, First: my heart goes out to everyone. This is unbearably painful. People are in hospital. People are losing their lives. People are losing their jobs. People are losing their savings. People are afraid. And as I wrote last week, Hazon is one of the organizations most directly impacted by this. We are especially exposed because we have had to close Isabella Freedman, our retreat center, for at least two months, and have thus lost all our revenue from the busiest time of the year. We’re reviewing options right now, from a tight place. (We’re writing separately to people to whom we will be returning retreat deposits. Some of you will feel unable to do so, and we will understand that, but to the extent that you are able to donate some or all of your deposits – we would appreciate that enormously.) I also want to let you know that we have begun gathering community resources for both inside and outside activities at hazon.org/stuckinside. We’re curating there all sorts of things to watch, to read, and to do. Check it out and bookmark it.  But as well as coping with […]

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Now what? / An update from Hazon

Monday, March 16, 2020 | 20th Adar 5780 Dear All, As well as everything else we’re enduring right now, it is becoming ever clearer that the range of impacts of the virus is extraordinarily varied. This is true in relation to health, but even more so in relation to organizations. For individuals: although there are exceptions, kids seem in general to be fine, and many young adults are fine also. (But if you get the virus it (a) could still be seriously injurious to you and (b) even if it is not, you could unawarely kill someone else by passing it on. So don’t be sanguine.) On the other side, as we have seen: for people who are old, or for people with weakened immune systems and so on – these are the people who are in intensive care and who are dying, and their numbers will grow. So the range of outcomes if you get the virus is indeed very wide. This is true in a different way for companies. Mask manufacturers are super-busy. Food retailers and food manufacturers are doing fine. Conversely – and to give just one example – Gotham Bar & Grill closed its doors for […]

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Now’s the time to plan a cleanse!

Thursday, March 5, 2020 | 9th Adar 5780 Dear All, The coronavirus is spreading, and it will get worse before it gets better. Batten down the hatches, wash your hands, follow public safety advice, be considerate to others – and don’t freak out. And the aftermath of the Israeli elections and the ongoing US elections – same advice… But as the velocity of travel, literally, starts to slow, I want to argue that we – you, me, all of us – do a cleanse in the next few weeks. And I get this idea from thinking carefully about the deep lessons from the Jewish calendar right now: First: Purim isn’t an isolated holiday. It comes to help us get ready for Pesach, existentially as well as physically. Purim is “the world turned upside down.” No mention of G!d in the story. Getting drunk. Cross-dressing. Purim comes to shake us out of false certainties. It comes to question the components of our identity, the relationship between inner and outer, the tension between who we are and what we have. And Purim does this because it kicks off an eleven week period from Purim to Shavuot. Seder night is the fulcrum of the whole period. And seder night is the […]

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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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Not our hazon, and not in our name – Hazon statement

Thursday, March 7, 2019 | Rosh Chodesh Adar II, 5779 A new organization called “hazon” has suddenly appeared in Israel. They are using our name – and they have very different values from us. We want to make clear not only that we have no relationship with them but also that we have issued a cease-and-desist letter to them in relation to our name. For more on this, read on… The word “hazon” means “vision.” There are many things that need fixing in the world and thus many different visions of what could be or should be. Recently a new organization called “hazon” put up billboards around Israel. Were these to protest against poverty or inequality? Against climate change, or species loss, or our human mistreatment of animals? Against discrimination towards minorities? Oh, no, none of those. It spent money to attack people who are lesbian or gay or transgender or queer. A number of people pointed out to us a recent story about them in The Jerusalem Post. Then yesterday, for good measure, the group, now described as a “hardline national-religious organization” called for demonstrations against Women of the Wall at the Kotel tomorrow morning. Then Arutz Sheva published an op-ed critiquing this […]

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Press Release: Not our hazon

For immediate release Hazon, the leading American Jewish environmental organization, this week issued a strong response to a new Israeli organization, also called “hazon”, that has published a series of inflammatory billboards attacking gay, lesbian and transgender Israelis, and then also attacked Women of the Wall. Hazon, based in New York, and with staff in five locations in the US, as well as two staffers in Israel, has worked for nearly twenty years to strengthen Jewish life and to work for a more sustainable world for all. Hazon has a legal trademark for the name “Hazon,” and its Israeli lawyers issued a cease-and-desist letter to the new Israeli “hazon” earlier this week, demanding that the Israeli group immediately cease using the name “Hazon.” Hazon’s CEO, Nigel Savage, said “Hazon works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a more sustainable world. We’re proud of our work and of our good name. It is frankly distressing to see our name being attached to billboards and pronouncements that so radically stand against all that we have done, and all that we have tried to do, since our founding in 2000.” Aharon Ariel Lavi, Hazon’s senior staffer in Israel and […]

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Pittsburgh/Israel

I’m in Israel with our largest ever Israel Ride – 219 participants, plus more than 60 crew and staff members. Six of our riders live in Pittsburgh, two are members of the shul that was attacked, and many more grew up in Pittsburgh or have spent much of their lives there. One person lost one of his closest friends. Two of our riders were married by someone who was shot and had an operation yesterday and is in hospital right now. So – we are a long way away, and it feels very very close. I and all of us send love and condolences to everyone in Pittsburgh and to everyone who is mourning. And, in a different sense, to everyone in the Jewish community and everyone in America who is appalled and shocked that we have reached this point. This morning we stood together overlooking Machtesh Ramon and we sang Eitz Chayim Hi – the words that we read before returning the Torah to the ark on Shabbat morning, the tune that is so beautiful and well-loved. Shuls will be packed next Shabbat morning, across America – shuls should be packed, next Shabbat morning, across America – and I suspect the most intense moment will be […]

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Farm Bill Update

A few weeks ago we wrote about the hugely important Farm Bill. Well, the 2014 Farm Bill has now expired and our legislators have postponed taking any action until after the mid-term elections. This means several valuable programs are immediately unfunded and the direction that our food system takes in the coming years depends hugely on who wins in November. We encourage you to read the brief update that we’ve pasted below from the National Young Farmers Coalition and take action on this important issue, and to make sure you and your community are all registered and ready to vote. We’ll continue to keep you updated when Congress picks the Farm Bill back up. On September 30th Congress allowed the 2014 Farm Bill to expire without a new bill in place or an extension passed. Thus, the following key programs, among others, will no longer be funded: Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (2501) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP) Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) Program National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP) Rural Microentrepreneur […]

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Changing the Way Animals are Raised for Food

Hazon joins Bon Appetit, UC Berkeley, Airbnb and other organizations as a leader in animal welfare in food service supply chains. Hazon was invited to join Farm Forward’s Leadership Circle for the eggs we serve to the thousands of guests who visit our home each year in the Connecticut Berkshires—Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. Farm Forward announced the launch of the Leadership Circle, a new institutional purchasing program that leverages the buying power of businesses, universities, and civic and religious institutions to change the way animals are raised for food. The program increases the public’s understanding of higher-welfare farming, supports a network of farmers who are third-party certified, and meets the demand among American consumers for products bearing animal welfare certification labels with meaningful standards. Further, the Leadership Circle encourages institutions to adopt a “less meat, better meat” approach by sourcing higher-welfare meat, poultry, and eggs while incorporating more plant-based proteins to lower costs and improve public health, the environment, and animal welfare. Founding members of the Leadership Circle include Bon Appetit Management Company, Airbnb’s Portland office, Cal Dining at the University of California Berkeley, Dr. Bronner’s, and Hazon, the largest Jewish sustainability organization in North America. These institutions are leaders in ethical and sustainable […]

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