Topic: Israel


Hakhel Newsletter: September 2022

Dear Hakhel Communities, We have now entered the month of Elul – a time of introspection, where we review our deeds and our spiritual state this year and prepare for the upcoming “Days of Awe” of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. What has your community achieved this year? What is its spiritual state currently? Where do you hope to take your community in the next year? Elul is the time for teshuva (“returning” to G-d; repentance), for self-improvement, for thinking about one’s relationship with oneself, one’s family, community, and G-d. There are many Jewish conceptions of teshuva, how the concept of “returning” is relevant to us and plays itself out cosmically in our world. The mystic Rabbi Isaac Luria connected teshuva with tikkun olam, healing the world, since through teshuva and spiritual healing, Jews can improve and perfect G-d’s work. Teshuva is a process that only begins during the High Holidays. The real work will carry us through the coming year (at least!). We hope you and your communities are currently busy planning a meaningful High Holiday experience. If you are looking for resources, please check out Hakhel’s Resource Library, and if you would like to consult and think together, […]

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Od Lo Avdah Tikvatenu, Our Hope is Not Yet Lost

Today is Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, the 74th anniversary of the birth of the state of Israel in 1948. Yesterday was Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Day of Remembrance, a day for grieving the loss of 24,000 fallen Israeli soldiers and 4,000 civilians killed in terrorist attacks over the years. In Palestinian society, Yom Ha’Atzmaut is known as the Nakba-Catastrophe, mourning the 1948 loss of Palestinians’ homeland and the displacement of a majority of the Palestinian people. For me, these days–back to back and inside-out–are the most powerful holy day(s) of the year. And especially in the diaspora, how do we relate to this land, this country, and this time of year? Really, how do we orient to all of this? And not just personally but organizationally – for Hazon & Pearlstone – how do we approach our relationship to Israel, and Palestine? This is just the beginning of a long journey, but I want to take this opportunity to share our orientation to these important questions. Our mission is to lead a transformative movement deeply weaving sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life. We connect people to the earth and to each other, catalyzing culture change and systemic change through […]

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Hakhel Newsletter January 2022

Dear Hakhel Communities, This week’s Torah portion, Beshalach, is the scene of many incredible miracles that have captured the imagination of countless generations: the splitting of the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape Egypt; the manna that rained down from Heaven to provide them with sustenance in the desert, with a double portion on Friday in preparation for Shabbat; the water that emanated from the stone. Through all of these miracles, we feel the immense, special love and protection of G-d. In your lifetime, have you experienced any acts that seemed divine? What about your community, in what ways has it received love and protection that allowed it to grow and flourish? This Sunday, we celebrate Tu B’Shvat, the birthday of the trees. This is a wonderful holiday to celebrate with your community, as it comes with a unique Seder that is an interactive, sensory experience through the eating of specific fruits and nuts and the drinking of wine. It also carries with it powerful messages from Kabbalah and about our connection to and stewardship of the Earth. Regardless of how you choose to mark the day personally, we hope you will join Hazon in a special virtual […]

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Hakhel Newsletter December 2021

Dear Hakhel Communities, What do you believe will come of you in the days and years to come? What about your loved ones and community? Why is this your vision? These are just some of the questions evoked in this week’s parsha, Vayechi, as our Forefathers Jacob and Joseph are confronted with the end of their lives, when such questions must be considered. We all want to come to the end of our lives with the sense that it has been lived with purpose. It seems fitting that the Book of Bereishit (Genesis) ends on this note. With the end of the first book of the Torah, as well as the recent conclusion of our celebration of Chanukah (see photos from communities around the world below!), it seems like a good time to take stock of where we are with ourselves and our communities and where we see them going in the coming months and years. If you’re stuck on an issue and looking for some inspiration, why not consult with your Hakhel subnetwork (see more about that below)? Don’t forget that you have a global network of peer communities that will give you energy and advice (and who you […]

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Israel (5 of 7)

Friday, August 13, 2021 | 5 Elul 5781   Dear All, The second day of the 2005 Israel Ride was on Thursday, May 12th. The day before we had ridden from Jerusalem to Ashkelon. Now we were riding to Mashabeh Sadeh, alongside the northern tip of Gaza. That day was Israel’s Independence Day, i.e. a public holiday. And it was the year of the proposed “hitnatkut” – the withdrawal from Gaza.  So we rode alongside an enormous traffic jam of Israelis flying orange flags (the color associated with the Gush Katif settlements in Gaza), protesting against the withdrawal. Miles and miles of cars with orange flags. And it was important to see this. Most liberal American Jews, at the time, seemed to feel: “of course I support the withdrawal. What’s Israel doing in Gaza in the first place? The sooner Israel leaves, the better.” But huge numbers of Israelis were against the withdrawal; and the Israelis in favor of the withdrawal had a rather different perspective from the Americans: “on balance I’m in favor of the hitnatkut. But I pray that the Gazans, after we’ve withdrawn, don’t smuggle in heavy weapons. And if they do, and G!d forbid they lob a […]

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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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Reflections from Israel & a Critical Error of Omission in the American Jewish Community

By Nigel Savage Wednesday, November 13, 2019 | 15th Cheshvan 5780 Dear All, I got an inexpensive Airbnb near the marina in Ashkelon, to decompress for a day after the Israel Ride and to catch up with some work and write this email. Right now I’m in the marina. Totally deserted. There were more than 200 missiles shot out of Gaza, yesterday and today, and everything in the south – schools, shops, businesses – is closed. I’m one of just two customers in the only café open here. It is quieter, far quieter, than Israel on Yom Kippur. It is strange to sit in an apartment, as I was doing a couple of hours ago; hear a siren go off; and then walk a few feet into the room which is a miklat, a sealed shelter, as one is instructed to do. Then a few seconds later you hear a boom go off, quite close by, presumably an Iron Dome intercepting the incoming missile. Before walking to the marina I was asking a friend in Kfar Saba what the custom was if you’re in the street when a siren goes off. She said, look, you have to duck and try to get cover, because you may […]

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Hakhel Israel Trip – Communities of Israel

Reflections from Hakhel’s Israel Tour by Sephirah Stacey Oshkello At the beginning of November, members of Living Tree Alliance traveled to Israel with 20 other leaders of Jewish intentional communities in North America as part of Hazon’s Hakhel Jewish Intentional Communities Incubator Program. In the seven glorious days of our seminar we visited about 11 mission-driven communities and 6 projects, across Israel (map here) to learn from their successes and challenges. Through this journey, it has become evident that Living Tree Alliance is part of a growing movement of Jewish organizations around the world that are inspired to Redefine Community, Rejuvenate Land, and Revitalize Culture. This movement is about re-connecting people to the ancient teachings and traditions of Judaism that allows for a more meaningful life embedded in community filled with a deepening of relationships, creative expression, and connection. This movement provides innovative antidotes to modern society’s isolated individualism. With your incredible support through the years, and the collaboration of many local and international organizations, Living Tree Alliance has grown from a concept in 2010 to serving as a leader in this movement at home and abroad. Building meaningful, intentional Jewish community, connected to the land, inspired me to pilgrimage […]

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Korach: Disruptive Visionary or Disgruntled Rabble-Rouser? | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Eliezer Weinbach, Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Hazon Parshat Korach וַיֵּרְדוּ הֵם וְכָל-אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם, חַיִּים–שְׁאֹלָה And they and all their belongings went down, alive, into Sheol Numbers 16:33 I was traveling once, and my tour guide, a wizened Arab, asked me if I wanted to see the pit that swallowed Korach’s followers. Intrigued, I followed my guide through the desert. After some time, through a haze of heat and mirage, we saw smoke billowing from a fissure in the ground. My guide doused a towel with some of his water, and tied it to the tip of his staff. He cautiously approached the fissure, and held his staff over the smoking vent. To my surprise, the wet cloth began to burn. As he was walking back to me, I could hear voices carried on the warm desert wind. Faint voices, singing, or perhaps chanting. Softly enough that I wasn’t sure if I was hearing anything at all. “What are those voices?” I asked my guide. “Those are the children of Korach,” he replied. “They are slowly lowered into the hellish heat of the Earth and then raised back out, rotated like a roast on a spit. When they finish […]

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A Remarkable Four Days

by Nigel Savage Thursday, May 3, 2018 | Lag B’Omer 5778 | hod she’b’hod Jerusalem Dear All, How would it be if we only ate food that made us feel bad, day after day? And then only very occasionally ate food that was actually good for us? I was thinking about this yesterday, after a fourth day of fascination, perspiration, and inspiration, here on the Hazon Romemu Sustainable Israel Tour. This builds on a range of Sustainable Israel Tours that Hazon has done in the past, and adds into the mix Rabbi David Ingber and Netanel Goldberg, not to mention great participants from Romemu in New York and IJKL in Florida. Yesterday we were at Roots/Judur/Shorashim, just outside of the Gush Etzion roundabout, listening to Shaul Judelman and Noor A’wad. It was my fourth visit there. It is hard to convey the extent to which Shaul and Noor each told stories which involved recounting the (separate) tragic deaths of any number of Israeli Jews and Palestinians whom they each personally knew; and yet with an overall message that was powerful and inspirational. Their words engendered hope in a profound way. Shaul is Jewish, observant, orthodox, originally American, a Zionist, a “settler.” Noor is Muslim, Palestinian, a Palestinian […]

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When It Rains It Pours | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

by Ryan Kaplan, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta Parshat Chukat “Moses made a copper serpent and mounted it on a standard; and when anyone was bitten by a serpent, they would look at the copper serpent and recover.” Numbers 21:9 As I write this post, I sit in my office in Atlanta with the threat of rain clouds to my left and blueberry waffles, coffee, and a coworker’s copy of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) to my right. Georgia’s summer has been very wet thus far, and the promise of the coming downpour outside my window sets a looming melancholic tone for this week’s cinematic Torah portion: Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1). Much happens in the chapters of Chukat. In the interest of brevity: The wandering Israelites are taught in “the ways of the red heifer” (that is to say, they’re told how to purify themselves after coming into contact with a human corpse); Miriam dies and water becomes scarce; Moses and Aaron fall out of G-d’s good graces after striking a rock in search of water instead of speaking to it; Aaron follows Miriam in death and a 30 day period of mourning begins (up from the normal 7 days of Shiva); […]

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I hope to see you this Sunday at the Celebrate Israel Parade…

From Nigel Savage June 2nd, 2017 | 8th Sivan 5777 Dear All, It’s the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration this year. When Lord Balfour wrote to Lord Rothschild, on behalf of the British government, neither of them knew that, thirty years later, the United Nations would vote to establish a third Jewish commonwealth. (Nor that, in the intervening years, the Jews of Europe would be hunted down and massacred, country by country, family by family, for six years.) Though my grandparents were alive that day, the world seems unimaginably changed since then. This is not the Israel of Ben Gurion or Jabotinsky, it is not the Israel of Golda Meir or Yitzhak Rabin. This is the Israel of Barbie, by Static and Ben El Tavori, which I find strangely irresistible. Also of the new food scene, the growth of the haredi population, the burgeoning of an Israeli non-orthodox Judaism. The new/old train stations. The Mizrachi revival. Racisms, old and new. The dilemmas of the Israeli Palestinians, the flourishing of Be’er Sheva, the new airport in the Negev, Israeli TV shows on Hulu and Amazon, Etgar Keret, Leah Shakdiel, Moshe Halbertal, Ilit Azoulai and Sigalit Landau, veganism, food co-ops, urban […]

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This year in Jerusalem…

From Nigel Savage   April 6th, 2017 | 10th Nissan 5777 This year in Jerusalem… Dear All, The last year in which I didn’t set foot in Israel was 1984. My visits have encompassed the days of the asimonim, the devolution of the currency, and the tech boom of the last ten years; also being attacked in the first intifada, suicide bombs in Jerusalem, and the period after Rabin’s assassination. In relation to Israel, since 2003 Hazon has produced 16 Israel Rides, five Siach Conferences, a hike, two intentional communities trips, and three Sustainable Israel tours. That’s the backdrop to my trip last month, which was one of the more interesting I’ve made. I was there for a Hazon Sustainable Israel Tour followed by a four-day Encounter trip. Each involved meeting activists and leaders, learning, asking questions. These are some of my impressions. First: Israel is thriving, struggling, inspiring, complex. People live in such geographical closeness to each other, yet there is such radical cultural separateness – different religion, language, clothes, food, politics. While we were there we got a sense of what it is like to eat if you are blind (at Na La’Ga’at); we learned about the remarkable […]

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Israel / leaning in

Hazon will be in the Celebrate Israel Parade in New York this Sunday, riding bicycles alongside our Topsy Turvy Bus. Many people would not mind if we were not there; it’s 2016, nothing about Israel is uncontroversial, and for a growing number of Jewish leaders and institutions it is easier to change the channel. But I like the Sheryl Sandberg notion of leaning in. I think it’s intuitively right. And it applies to Israel, it applies to the Celebrate Israel Parade and it applies to what Hazon is trying to do more generally in relationship to Israel. Each one of us reading this has our own Israel history, our own Israel relationship, our own values, our own set of questions. Mine is pretty wide, though not necessarily wider than anyone else’s. I had a traditional Jewish education, and bounced against it. I was provoked by anti-Zionism in undergrad in England, and bounced against it. At Georgetown I overlapped with Hisham Sharabi and Jan Karski, and learned from both. I finished my MA at Hebrew U, and the best class I ever took in 20 years of full-time education was Jeremy Milgrom’s Politics and Religion in Jerusalem – visiting Jewish settlers […]

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Jewish Intentional Communities Tour of Israel: Day Seven (March 20, 2016)

Shir Yaakov Feit, Spiritual leader, Kol Hai: Hudson Valley Jewish Renewal in New Paltz, New Yor The Hakhel Tour opened my eyes, heart and mind to an Israel I’d never seen before. We heard an empowered and hopeful narrative about healing society by weaving community. The territory comes with it’s own language. Below are some new additions to my vocabulary. קְבוּצָה Kvutzah – group, collective גַּרְעִין Garin – seed, nucleus, core group of people הַמִּשְׁפָּחָה הַמֻּרְחֶבֶת Mishpacha Morkhevet – extended family שִׂיחָה Sicha – conversation תַּהֲלִיךְ Tahalik – process הַגְשָׁמָה Hagshamah – actualization, realization, manifestation or fulfillment; bringing the dream to life מְשִׂימָה Mesimah – mission, task, assignment (as opposed to jobs) חֲמָמָה Hamamah – incubator, greenhouse קְהִלָּתָנוּת Kehillatanut  – communitarianism, focusing on community and society, prioriting group goals over individual goals תְּנוּעָה T’nua – movement, often youth movement, often centralized עֲמֻתָּה Amutah – non-profit organization, association

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