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 […]
It is by the grace of many people reading this email that Hazon exists. Though I do not say it specifically in every email, I want those of you who support Hazon – individual supporters; foundation staffers; federation donors; board members; staff members – to know that I think about this each day. A non-profit is a trust, in which many people come together, loosely and in all sorts of different ways, in order to accomplish something in the world – to touch people’s lives, to bring new ideas to fruition, to shift the nature of what it means to be Jewish or American or Israeli, to help us live more carefully on this our only planet. In leading Hazon I’m aware of both the fragility and the potential durability of a non-profit, as a vessel for the hopes and the visions of so many. I gave a donation for Manchester Grammar’s 500th anniversary this year: my school survived the English Civil War unscathed, even though the English monarchy did not. I don’t know if the USA will exist in 2136, but I imagine that Harvard, which is due to celebrate its 500th birthday that year, and which has an […]
by Liz Savage What an incredible week; we’ve met such an amazing and diverse collection of people and institutions all around the country, all with their individual takes and structures about and around intentional communities. I don’t know quite what my expectation was going into this trip- maybe just touring around the dusty remnants of a bygone era- but the reality far surpassed all of what I imagined. The tour began in the wake of the election results here. For the 30% who voted for Netanyahu it was a great result. But the mood for some, myself included, was depressed. There was a real sense of gloominess in Tel Aviv, a place that overwhelmingly voted for fresh ideas and perspective. Israel has so very much to offer the world; its grit, its heart, its innovation, its beauty, and the notion that this election would further distance and divide the Jewish community in America was gut wrenching. And so with somewhat of a heavy heart, the tour began. First we went to the north, to learn about the beginnings of kibbutzim movement at Chatzer Kinneret and Degania. There, overlooking the glimmering Kinneret, we heard some history- Kibbutz 101, as it were-which […]
by Gavriel Meir-Levi As an Israeli who served in the IDF with Druze soldiers, it was a great privilege to visit the village of Beit Ja’n. Our guide and interlocutor was a young woman named Maya, herself a success story of the Druze community organization Ofakim L’Atid. Ofakim L’Atid means future horizons, and has branches in 8 out of Israel’s 18 Druze villages, with 2-3 more villages likely joining in the near future (note: this does not include the Druze populations of Ramat HaGolan which are in a separate category). Their activities include bike rides, distributing food to the needy, classes in nutrition and youth lounges for thousands of participants throughout Israel. Unlike any of the other communities we visited, the Druze Ofakim L’Atid community is run ENTIRELY ON A VOLUNTEER BASIS. No one is paid for their work, in fact often the organizers proudly pay out of their own pocket to help make sure a program is successful. The initial core group was made up of Druze IDF officers, but has since grown to over 100 male and female community leaders of various ages. Maya, our guide, participated in the youth programs as a teenager and then joined the […]
by Hart Levine of the Beis Community in Washington Heights, New York After a brief morning visit to Jerusalem, we visited two urban kibbutzim in Gilo and Lod. Bet Yisrael is a more or less pluralistic urban kibbutz in Gilo. Kibbutznikim in Bet Yisrael are all interested in leading a spiritual, Jewish life, but not necessarily in a formally observant community. Members work for the most part outside of the community. Some 9 core families pool wages. Many others live in the community, participate in some of the social action projects and learning with the bet Yisrael kvutza. About half the families are drawn from the mechina (service learning) year prior to army service. Bet Yisrael’s key social projects revolve around the education of youth with preschools as a primary focus uniting members from Bet Yisrael with other residents in Gilo. Bet Yisrael’s community version of Jewish practice was unique among the groups we visited, and spoke to many of us in the HAKHEL network. At its core, the et Yisrael community searched for the essence of Judaism to unify the secular seekers among them with the religiously observant members. Their solution was to emphasize Hillel’s Torah on one foot—clearly […]
by guest authors Roger Studley of Berkeley Moshav and Jeff Levy of the Jewish Community Housing Initiative (Boulder, CO) Today was about crisis and renewal. We woke to a beautiful day at Kibbutz Yizreel, had coffee overlooking a verdant valley, breakfast with marmalade made from produce from the kibbutz, and prepared for our day. The night before we’d learned about Kibbutz Yizreel, how they were one of the few kibbutzim to emerge strong from the crisis that decimated most of the 270 classic kibbutzim that had been created between the 1930s and 1980s. Today at breakfast and on the bus, we learned about this crisis. By the 1980s, the purpose of the original kibbutzim had largely been fulfilled: The swamps had been drained, the roads had been built, the borders of the country established, an economy and army had been created. Youth movements in Israel (such as Dror Yisrael) and the diaspora (such as Habonim Dror) were still cultivating young Jews and instilling in them the values of the movement: Love of Israel, collective responsibility, socialist ideals. But these young Jews no longer felt compelled to actualize these ideals by joining kibbutzim, largely because the mission of these kibbutzim no […]
by guest author Sara Shalva, Lev B’Lev member What a day! Continuing our exposure and exploration of the history of the development of communal life in Israel, today we visited and toured 3 urban kibbutzim. In the morning, we woke from our home stays with families Garin Ometz and in the bus shared that we were so impressed and inspired by the generosity and openness of our host families. We then dealt with some hard questions about Zionism and the nature of many of the mission driven intentional communities located in the periphery of Israel, dedicated to helping at risk populations. Much of the discussion was in the shadow of the recent elections and the reality that many of us were very disappointed with the results and concerned about the future of Israel under this leadership. Our first Kibbutz visit was to Mishol, an urban kibbutz in Nazareth Illit. Now the largest urban kibbutz, we had a lovely home made breakfast and a wonderful tour and presentation. I was most interested in learning that kibbutz functions in small groups, makes decisions based on consensus and works hard to differentiate between methods and values. For example, Mishol uses consensus as […]
Follow our groups around Israel with the Hakhel Israel trip itinerary. Check our blog daily to see reflections from participants and photographs.
by guest author Harriet Schiffer, Berkeley Moshav member Our first day was a feast of new ideas and perspectives. In our first meeting with James he gave us a key to help us framework our journey. He entreated us to seek out the stories of the lives of the people in each place we visit and use those stories for inspiration and tachlis… Tachlis. A new word for me meaning, practicality. We were to use others’ stories to inspire us and to help discover the tools that worked in each community facing unique challenges. We traveled to Degania, the Mother of the Kibbutzim. Degania was the historical and classical springboard for all kibbutzim to come. We heard about young men (and some women) 16-18 making their way to Palestine to fulfill their Socialist Zionist dreams. Young, passionate, idealistic and determined. I thought about my grandfather who had travelled east across the Eurasian continent in those same years. He was escaping the same pogroms. In both situations, these young men had tough options before them and their lives seemed harsh. In both cases they were leaving family and all that was familiar behind. But my grandfather was completely alone and these young Socialist Zionists […]
by guest author Sara Zebovitz, GariNYC founder and member Tonight, we spent some time with residents of Kibbutz Yizreel, a kibbutz built in 1948 and still going strong. My personal connection to this kibbutz is strong – Yizreel was founded by Habonim Dror, the movement I am a product and part of. Kibbutz Yizreel was described today by a few people as a utopia. Here, families of all generations live side by side, working through issues together, supporting each other, creating a safe and comfortable community for all who pass through, and sharing their lives financially, emotionally, and physically. The children have a sense of independence and also feel supported. The members have the opportunity to work outside of the kibbutz in the work in which they are passionate. The kibbutz, though it has struggled in the past, is financially well-off. Money is not a stress factor for the most part in the day-to-day operations of the kibbutz, as finances are shared and equal. Decision-making power is shared, but priority is given to the younger generation – to the future. For the past 15 years, I have learned about the evolution of the kibbutz movement. I have learned about the […]
Today’s posts comes from Robert Rosenbaum’s blog “From the Seat of My Bike.” This year Robert participated in his fifth Israel Ride
Rabbi Lev Herrnson, 2014 Israel rider, explores his experience on the Israel Ride and his connection to the wilderness of Israel’s south.
Thinking about registering for the 2015 Israel Ride, but not sure what it will be like? Read below for first hand accounts of day by day riding! Today’s blog features a post from Betsy Diamant-Cohen
Marcy Perlman Tardio rode on the 2014 Arava Institute & Hazon Israel Ride. She is a mother, grandmother, and homebirth midwife living in Brooklyn. This piece was originally published online at Haaretz.com on December 1st, 2014. Many within my multi-cultural circle of family and friends refused to support my participation in a charity bike ride in Israel, an ‘oppressor’ and ‘colonialist’ state. The year following my kidney transplant, over a decade ago, I rode in the Hazon charity bike ride in New York. I rode then to honor my older son, who had gifted me the kidney, and to celebrate my new-found health. Through the organizers I learned of a counterpart ride that took place in Israel; several weeks ago, I returned from the Hazon-Arava bike ride, where I completed 230 miles from Jerusalem to Eilat. Despite the challenges of the heat and the terrain, my most unexpected difficulty had emerged before I even sat in the saddle: Persuading my peers to donate to a charity effort that would take place in Israel. At the time of my first ride I had joined a synagogue. My younger son already attended Jewish day school. I, the daughter of culturally Jewish, left wing, secular […]
Missing the 2014 Israel Ride?…Wondering what it would be like to join us on the 2015 Israel Ride? Read below for first hand accounts of day by day riding!