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Topic: Israel

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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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Jewish Intentional Communities Tour of Israel: Day Six (March 19, 2016)

by Eliahu Ebrahimi currently living in Tzfat and developing a vision for an eco-village in California Shabbat in Shuva I had the pleasure of spending a Shabbat in . After already having spent a week together, the Hakhel group had become a community in its own right. We were warmly absorbed into the community of Shuva, a moshav near Sderot, for a weekend. On Friday afternoon, I was invited to immerse myself in a mikvah in the middle of a field. I changed into my Shabbat clothes and was ready to transition into 25 hours of much-needed rest. Our group congregated on the back porch of one of the community member’s homes where we joined the Shuva-ites as they welcomed the Shabbat with song and dance. After nightfall, we made our way to an intimate indoor space where sat around a communal table sharing Torah insights, songs and stories for several hours while enjoying the delicious home-cooked meal. The following day, we all met at a community bris which was followed by an outdoor picnic outside of the synagogue. Parents, children, elderly, dogs, cats, peacocks — all coexisting in a chaotic harmony unlike anything I’ve seen. This was a normal […]

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Jewish Intentional Communities Tour of Israel: Day Five (March 18, 2016)

by Morriah Kaplan Member of GariNYC: Brooklyn, NY We started off the day early at the Waldorf-Hassidic school that the community ‘garin’ within Moshav Shuva built. Their pedagogy is inspired by teachings of the ancient commentator Rabbi Chiya, who insisted on teaching the Torah to his students in an experiential way. We spoke with the kindergarten teacher, who described how they teach the students to appreciate and honor individual differences, to have patience that success won’t come in a single day, and to connect with their world – including their religion – in an emotional and experiential way, rather thing simply using their intellect. Building this school was a huge accomplishment of the Shuva community, and it’s brought more young families to the area, particularly those who wish to teach their children Hassidic values along with a solid secular education.   We then traveled to Be’er Sheva to enjoy a delicious breakfast and conversation at Café Ringelblum, a coffee shop run by a community called Kehillat Kama which emerged a decade ago to revitalize the Daled neighborhood of Be’er Sheva. The café employs youth-at-risk, and has graduated over 60 youth with a high success rate of employment retention, educational attainment, […]

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Jewish Intentional Community Tour of Israel: Day Four (March 17, 2016)

by Tamar Fendel currently living in Jerusalem, member of Berkeley Moshav in Berkeley, California This morning started out on a different note than the earlier days of the tour. Instead of having breakfast together at our hostel and then heading out to visit an intentional community, we woke in homes scattered throughout Jerusalem, after a lovely night of home stays in the Horesh community in Kiryat Yovel or with friends. We reunited at a lovely cafe, where we met with two staff members from the Ministry of the Diaspora of the State of Israel. This is one of Israel’s newest executive agencies, which is focused on supporting Jewish communities throughout the world. It is a bold new concept that Israel can have a role in developing Jewish life in the Diaspora, in conjunction with Jewish communities in the Diaspora supporting Israel financially and politically. We had an opportunity to learn about the ministry’s forward thinking global efforts and share about each of our projects. It would be wonderful to continue this collaboration between Hakhel and the Israeli government moving forward. Our next stop was in Lod, where we met with Garin Elyashiv, a community committed to acts of hesed. The […]

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Jewish Intentional Communities Tour of Israel: Day Three (March 16, 2016)

by Gulienne Rollins-Rishon Work at Home Mom & Pop: Brooklyn, NY Wow. I’ll start with wow. This trip has been incredible so far. I’m beyond exhausted but in the best possible way. Today we switched gears a little bit. We’ve been experiencing non-Orthodox Jewish intentional communities so far, some of them more Jewish because they’re Israeli and composed at least mostly of people who are of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, and some of people who are intentionally intricately weaving Jewish practice, spirituality, and identity into their communal lives. I’ve loved everything I’ve seen so far, but was wondering where I, as a person who values adherence to halakha as a part of my manifestation of my Jewish identity, could fit into a community so warm, trusting, and intentional. Maybe not me myself exactly, but someone like me at least. Where was this level of intentionality, trust, and ability to be authentically and fully onesself and discuss that self with what’s basically an extended warm, unconditionally loving and accepting family, in a space where if that self also wanted to keep kosher and be shomer Shabbat, it would be fully integrated with the community life? Today, I got some answers. We began […]

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Jewish Intentional Communities Tour of Israel: Day Two (March 15, 2016)

by Geulah Finman   In the summer of 2011, I found myself half-awake attempting to sleep while my mind drifted to the scene around me. Guitar strumming mingled with the sound of young passionate voices engaged in a dialogue. The social protest movement that gripped Tel Aviv and the rest of Israel felt hopeful but confusing and at the time directionless. What were we asking for? What did we really want? In the first two days of Hazon’s Jewish Intentional Communities tour, I met individuals who are living in Israeli society and responding with meticulous intent to these social, economic challenges that in fact plague our entire globe. “We as humans, we as Jews, are in a state of peril” says Muki Tzur, the famous Kibbutz historian. He presses on further, “Do not accept collectivism as a form of activism or individuality as a negative source of ego.” Being in community is not enough. How are we helping those beyond ourselves? In what ways can intentional community fill the gaps we no longer depend on our governments to solve? Today we met young people filled with a deep sense of conviction speaking of the past. Revolution needs to occur in […]

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Introduction to Intentional Communities in Israel: Day One (March 14, 2016)

by Rabbi Deborah K. Bravo, Founder and Spiritual Leader of Makom NY: A New Kind of Jewish Community Today was our first full day of learning about intentional communities at the Hazon Hakhel Israel Seminar 2016. We came together as a group of individuals of varying ages and backgrounds from across the Unites States and Israel, representing a variety of very different intentional communities at home. Not only did we spend the day getting to know one another and our communities, but we were also introduced to the framework of intentional communities in Israel. We began the day by visiting the Kinneret Courtyard, where we learned from Muki Tsur, a giant in the history and understanding of the Kibbutz movement. We had the opportunity to really understand and discuss the beginnings of the Kibbutz movement, which truly are the basis for intentional communities in Israel today. We then drove on to Kibbutz Degania Aleph, the first Kibbutz to be opened in 1910. Though the Kibbutz movement today is nothing like it was then, it planted the seeds and thoughts for what would be created nearly a century later. Our afternoon conversation began with a discussion about Makom, the umbrella organization […]

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Shmita, like Shechina, Goes Global: Reflections from a Hammock on This Shmita Year

By Amichai Lau-Lavie A year ago I was laying in a hammock on a Brazilian beach, planning a year’s worth of Shmita study and action that will rebrand this ancient sustainability practice rooted in the Land of Israel for new digital generations all over the world. Hovering between earth and sky provided the perfect setting to what I was designing: An adaptation of the Shmita concept beyond its original halachic, geographical and agricultural settings so that it will prove useful and meaningful to so many more of us. Now that the year is almost up and FallowLab, the project I designed, is starting its descent, it’s time to get back into the hammock and reflect on lessons learned and theories tested. Many creative projects and conversations emerged this year with varying degrees of success at wrestling with Shmita and offering ambitious renditions and new traditions. What sticks for future? Did we live up to the values of Shmita, did this year live up to expectations? Luckily I don’t have to go back to Brazil to find a reflection-friendly hammock. When I got back home last summer I set up a shmita garden in my Manhattan backyard: Stripped the garden of […]

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