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Topic: Jewish Intentional Communities

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The Ashamnu Prayer in the Year of Environmental Teshuva

Yom Kippur 5780 An Invitation by Leah Palmer, Hakhel Administrative Director The “ashamnu” prayer from the Ashkenazic Yom Kippur service is once of the most iconic moments of the High Holiday prayers. The congregation stands in silence, beating their chests in regret for a list of sins which appear in the book in front of them. A list canonized several centuries ago. A list containing a number of words I’d need to look up in a dictionary- which themselves are a translation of Hebrew words normally considered to be synonyms of each other. Many a rabbi has explained that even if you personally have not committed each of these sins (personally, I’ve not spent a lot of time trespassing this last year, but that’s just me), we are repenting for the Jewish people as a whole. Whilst this is a nice explanation, I know that I’m far from perfect, and would like to spend some time on Yom Kippur repenting for the things that I actually have done.  Whilst reading this prayer in preparation of Yom Kippur I was surprised to find myself relating line after line to by regrets over my poor stewardship of the environment, so I started […]

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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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Hakhel Spotlight: Zooz, Melbourne

Zooz is a community in Melbourne, Australia which is run by for and young Jewish adults, aiming to provide these individuals with a framework for meaningful engagement with Judaism, Israel, and the wider community. Zooz members meet weekly on Wednesday nights to engage with their Jewish identity and connect with like-minded people. This is achieved through peer-run sessions and community leaders lending their time to teach, inspire, and encourage the next generation of young Jewish people. Zooz also has a shul where services are run every Friday night and on chagim. The Zooz shul is highly regarded in the community as a place of meaningful tefillah (prayer) and beautiful singing. Zooz Members are constantly involved in leadership within a range of Jewish schools in the community, helping out as madrichim on camps and as part of other programs. Zooz also hosts a range of communal events throughout the year, most notably their famous Tikkun Leil Shavuot, which brings hundreds of people together in community and is a place for learning. With a strong core leadership, good governance, and proud members Zooz is very excited for what the future holds. We plan to increase our reach in the community and hope […]

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New Jewish spaces, community, and the power of colocation

by Nigel Savage Thursday, June 27, 2019 | 24th Sivan, 5779 If you’re involved in leading a Jewish institution do please read this… Dear All, Hazon is moving offices today. This marks at least the temporary end of Makom Hadash, our shared office space, in its current form. As of Monday morning you can find us at 25 Broadway – working within the offices of our new landlords, JFNA, and alongside JCPA and possibly in due course one or two other organizations. We are looking forward to connecting with our new colleagues. But there’s no question that this is bittersweet. We’re leaving the offices of the Forward, and our now old “new space” that we have so happily shared with Lab/Shul, with Avodah, and, over the years, with a range of smaller groups, including Art Kibbutz, Eshel, Limmud NY, as well as NY-based staffers of groups such as Keshet, Moishe House, Moving Traditions, and Svara. So today is an appropriate moment to reflect on four different overlapping initiatives that Hazon has helped to create or that we sponsor, even as we ourselves transition both physically and strategically. In doing this I want to make some quite specific suggestions to people involved in leading Jewish institutions. […]

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Hakhel Blog: Aharon Ariel Lavi

by Aharon Ariel Lavi This week we start reading Sefer Bamidbar, also known as “The Book of Numbers.” A strange name for a book, is it not? It derives from the fact that the first portion of the book, as well as other parts later on, deal primarily with counting, classifying and organizing the People of Israel back in the Sinai desert. The text gives a pretty detailed account of the numbers of men in each tribe, and using some simple calculations we can estimate that anywhere between 4-6 million Hebrews lived in the world at the time. The funny thing is that after this general census it was actually forbidden to count the People of Israel again, so the exact number of Hebrews, and later Jews, will remain a mystery. However, Jews don’t always do as they’re told, right? About 500 years later, King David made another census and was severely punished for violating this law (Chronicles I, 21). If we use the same kind of calculation we will find that the nation has pretty much multiplied itself, to 8-9 million people. Do the math, and you will discover that under normal conditions the Jewish people should have been […]

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Hakhel Blog: Craig Oshkello

by Craig Oshkello The local farm supply store, a seventh generation family business, left a message for me on Shabbat. Probably not aware that it was the fourteenth day of the counting of the Omer, they let me know the barley has arrived. I am one of a growing number of Jews that are leading a lifestyle based on environmental stewardship and social justice. As a Jew in the diaspora this path had yielded deeper meaning in my spiritual growth and a stronger connection to/ longing for the land of Israel. It is now Motzei Shabbos (Saturday night) and there is a buzz on the farm. Although the north faces of the 4000 foot mountains on the horizon are still under 65” of snow, the first flowers are blooming here at 800 feet above sea level at our home in the valley. Colts foot, Trout Lily, Marsh Marigold, Trillium, Lady’s Slipper and Blood Root are all of the first to bloom. They are “ephemeral” species whose bloom and foliage will disappear in a month. First to flower among the trees, the White Poplar, has a distinctly hairy looking flower locally referred to as “Popple Fuzz”, is now joined in a […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: FED

FED is a community where people from diverse backgrounds, professions, and walks of life come together for open and honest dialogue; delicious, vegetable-forward food; and the creative energy and ideas of others in attendance. Each event provides motivational, entertaining content that exposes you to ideas, art, and stories that you may not have previously considered, including through FED talks (akin to TED talks in length and style), musicians, comedians, dancers, or other artistic performers. FED is a vision for an ideal Jewish community that is powered by the Jewish values of hospitality, openness, and dialogue, and explores and incorporates Jewish themes, holidays, and experiences. For instance, we recently held two Passover seders (pictured here) with a specially written haggadah, focusing on taking guests on a journey toward creativity and empowerment through incorporating storytelling, improv techniques – and amazing food, of course! This creativity with the tradition and how it can inspire reflection, help us find and realize a sense of purpose, and be our best selves is what Judaism (and FED) is all about. FED is based in New York City and has also hosted gatherings in Be’er Sheva, Paris, San Francisco, and Boston. This week, FED is traveling to […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: Israeli Community Barcelona

The Israeli Community Barcelona was established in October 2016 by a group of local Israelis who sought to join together in order to create a framework for social activities. The activities take place in Hebrew and revolve around Jewish holidays and Israeli culture. The opening event was a Hanukkah party, which brought together 120 Israelis to a celebration of light and joy. Later, events for adults were also held and most of the holidays were celebrated in a traditional but non-religious manner, with the participation and assistance of the entire community. In September 2017, the community education center was established – an Israeli cultural home for children ages 2-8. The children meet twice a month and learn about the holidays, Israeli songs and stories, movement, music, acting, and more. What connects all activity is the Hebrew language and Israeli culture. The children play in Hebrew and enrich their vocabulary, taste Israeli culture and are curious to continue exploring beyond the activity. At the same time, the holiday traditions continued to grow, bringing local Israelis closer to an exciting and colorful cultural celebration. In addition, a group was established to support women in the first month after birth, by bringing home-cooked […]

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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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Hakhel Spotlight: Hashomer Hatzair USA

Hello from Hashomer Hatzair USA! We are a socialist zionist youth movement that has a sleepaway camp in the summer and year-round activities for our kenim (branches). We are excited to be here as first time members in the Hakhel community! We use experiential and collaborative education as a tool to further social justice and peace. Over the past year or so, we have begun a process for building a life movement for our bogrim (movement members that are college-aged and older). People have started thinking about what it would really look like to live their lives communally and actualize their ideals. As a result we have organized and run a handful of seminars around the topics of economics and allyship, and have built a framework to continue the learning process. This new chapter of our movement holds strong roots and is making steady progress. We are looking forward to having a special seminar in Israel to help us learn from communities successful in hagshama (self-realization), and to learn more about our relationship to Israel-Palestine. Additionally, a hub of bogrimot will be starting to live communally next year, and will host cultural gatherings and learning events. It is exciting to […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: Kehila Ivrit Amsterdam

Kehila was established by Israelis living in the Netherlands who teamed up to create a joint framework for cultural, social, and educational activities in the Hebrew language. Kehila is based on its members’ active participation and involvement in the spirit of pluralism and cooperation. Indeed, in the context of intentional communities, this is very obvious to expect people to give a hand and carry out all community needs and ventures, but, still this community is revolutionary for many of the members. Fans of community life see the power of devotion so clearly. Volunteering, co-creating is so basic. And yet, there are so many people out there who fear this level of intimacy, who rarely dare to step in a social circle. It is mainly fear which holds people back from attaching, not ideology. And there you go, a group of Israeli parents who can’t stand aloneness any more and feel the need of warmth and tribal power as part of their parenthood. They live the ultimate urban life Amsterdam has to offer, they are not used to being part of anything. For many of them, this step was confronting and scary. Once you feel how much love and warmth melt […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: FED, Harlem

FED – an intentional community based in Harlem, NYC – feeds you with delicious food, inspirational art and ideas, and the creative energy of others you find here. For the first time, this year FED will be offering services and meals for the Jewish High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. There is a universal need for spiritual experiences, for a sense of community and belonging. FED offers a platform for creativity and dialogue where those from a variety of backgrounds feel welcome and included. It so happens that creativity with the tradition and how it can inspire reflection, help us find and realize a sense of purpose, and be our best selves is to me what Judaism – and FED – is all about. For Rosh Hashanah on September 9-11, Hadar Cohen will lead us in interactive services incorporating sound and movement, and two delicious dinners will mark the start of the Jewish New Year. For Yom Kippur, we are hosting a service on September 18 at 7pm called Kol Nidre, perhaps the most dramatic, significant and powerful service in the Jewish calendar, which launches the Day of Atonement. In a participatory music theatre take on the Jewish ritual, […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: Sadeh, UK

This past July at Sadeh, we organised our first summer camp.  Rooted in Jewish values Sadeh cultivates community, grows food, and sows the seeds of change.  Sadeh, which means field, is the first UK Jewish farm and environmental community of our generation. Our summer camp was a week long day camp for children ages 5 – 10 and we had a great mix of children from our Jewish community and our local community. This was one of the first events both specifically for children and to encourage local people to come to our site. It was a massive success and we are already planning next year’s event! Three practical tips we learnt from this event that I want to share: – We definitely needed all 4 staff for 15 – 20 children. – Don’t be afraid of doing morning Jewish songs with non – Jewish participants. Everyone loved it! – We planned every second of the week but a lot of the time at least some of the children just wanted to play on the obstacle course or colour in by themselves which we let them do. Free play is so amazing and otherwise they might as well be in […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: Shana Tova from Hakhel!

Dear friends, Shana tova, Happy New Year! Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot are upon us again. It is the month of the year the Jews all over the world most look to their communities for meaning, connection and personal acceptance. Much has been written about the Jewish Holidays being like an ascending spiral: although the Holidays repeat year after year, those celebrating them ascend rather than return around the circle as they find deeper and more personal connections to the festivals each time they come by. The same can be said of many of the communities which have grown through Hakhel – as the only Jewish Intentional Communities incubator. We map out growth of communities which may run the same programming year after year- communal prayers, Rosh Hashanah dinner, a picnic at sukkot, but it is a great honour to see that through those activities, communities deeper their internal connections to each other, find more meaning in their interpersonal relationships, and give of just a bit more of themselves into the collective spirit with every year that goes by. Benedict Allen, the jungle explorer famed for crossing the Amazon basin by foot, describes his philosophy saying, “exploration isn’t about […]

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Hakhel Spotlight: Frum Farm, Colorado

Experience a real Old West wilderness adventure for Sukkot, in the beautiful Rocky Mountains! Rustic but comfortable accommodations, delicious Glatt kosher food, stunning views and fun activities, on a Colorado family homestead! Come relax and re”jew”vinate in a more simple way of life. Bring your family, or perhaps find your shidduch! For complete details, email us at shaare_shamaim@yahoo.com. Facebook page   Frum Farm is a Hakhel community. Learn more about Hakhel – the first-of-its-kind Jewish Intentional Communities Incubator

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