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Topic: Judith

Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods… and chicken coops

by Judith Belasco October 3rd, 2017 | 13 Tishrei 5778 Dear All, My family built our sukkah this past Sunday. I felt an uneasy juxtaposition between the joy of this holiday – freely choosing to create and decorate a temporary home in which we will share our abundance with friends – and the cruel fate of so many that now find themselves forced into temporary homes. From Puerto Rico and Florida to India and Nepal, the devastation and destruction from climate change is a new normal. We can’t let ourselves see this as a problem in some other place that someone else needs to fix. This planet is a permanent home – for all of us. We have estimated that the current carbon footprint of the US Jewish Community is about 86,920,000 metric tons.* As a community with less than 2% of the US population, we have a carbon footprint larger than 119 countries, including Denmark, Israel, Morocco, New Zealand, and Sweden. In addition to the personal impact that we are making from our lives, the American Jewish Community owns thousands of buildings across the United States. There are roughly 3,500 synagogues in the US, and thousands more day schools, camps, […]

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When 6,500 people come together

by Judith Belasco September 7th, 2017 | 16 Elul 5777 Dear All, Dreams (and dreamers) are being seemingly pushed aside. Storms are raging wilder and fiercer as the climate changes. Difference is being aligned with fear. We must find ways to open our doors to each other even more widely. We need to create more entry points to connect with each other and with those whom we might think of as other. Last week, when 6,500 people came together in Detroit for the 2nd annual Michigan Jewish Food Festival, we aimed to let the whole community in. Here is more from Sue Salinger, Director of Hazon Detroit, about the festival. — As we do our inner preparations during Elul – our return-to-who-we-are, our repair work between each other – according to our teacher Reb Zalman zt’l, we’re already building the world to come: the world we want to live in. Sometimes if we pay enough attention, we get to catch a glimpse, a hint of that world. August 27, 2017 was the second annual Michigan Jewish Food Festival, and what a delicious taste we got of the world as it could be! An estimated 6,500 people came together from across Metro Detroit […]

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Building a world I want to live in

by Judith Belasco August 10, 2017 | 18 Av 5777 Dear All, We are more wired together – yet more disconnected from each other – than ever. It is hard to understand. A recent Atlantic article explored the sharp generational changes that are already surfacing. The first kids who are growing up with the power of a smartphone in the palm of their hand are physically safer, but may also be on the edge of a mental-health crisis. Israel strives to be a light unto the nations while the government is creating – or working to create – policies that seemingly push back on basic civil rights. David Lehrer, ED of the Arava Institute wrote a powerful piece about his concerns. The freedoms of speech, of protest, and of religion, which are covered by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, are not guaranteed in the Israel Constitution. And then there is healthcare, challenges to affirmative action, and all the other real issues that don’t surface because tweets are center stage. I find the humor of John Oliver to be my balm of Gilead these days. But my fleeting laughter just covers the pain of a confusing world. With this backdrop, Hazon strives to connect to Jewish tradition […]

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Make an investment in happiness

by Judith Belasco   July 13th, 2017 | 19 Tamuz 5777 Dear All, On Tuesday, we began what is known on the Jewish calendar as “the Three Weeks.” This is a time of decreasing happiness which culminates in Tisha B’av, a commemoration of the destruction of Jerusalem, its Temple, and the expulsion of Jews from ancient Judea. It is accordingly a particularly poignant time to think about the sources of happiness and meaning in our lives. It is well-researched that we derive longer lasting happiness from our experiences than we do from our things. It turns out that we build up our store of happiness not only during an experience, but even in our anticipation of its arrival beforehand and in our reflections upon it long afterwards. Even a bad experience fills our buckets: we might laugh for years recalling that night the rain poured into our new tent. And yet the tent itself – that we were once so excited to buy – quickly grows old. My father knew this long before the psychology studies came out. When my siblings and I turned our allowance money into concert and show tickets, Dad approved. As we were growing up, he taught us that […]

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Sign | Seal | Deliver

from Judith Belasco June 29th, 2017 | 5th of Tamuz, 5777 Dear all, Last year, from the bimah at Greenburgh Hebrew Center, a shul outside NYC, there was a reminder to attend the annual meeting and vote to approve the budget. I overheard the whispers of two men discussing the budget: “We are saving money on our electric bill…” “Really?” “We actually have solar panels on our roof…” I couldn’t help but smile. In 2013, with help from Hazon, Rabbi Barry Kenter led Greenburgh Hebrew Center to install 200 solar panels on its roof. The panels meet more than half of GHC’s annual electricity demand, reducing the congregation’s electricity bill by more than $7,000 per year. Fast forward four years, and the 62 organizations Hazon has partnered with on greening in the NY area are now estimated to save at least $8.3 million over the next 10 years. Leading these reductions are solar energy projects like GHC’s, or the 103 kW solar PV installation at the JCC of Staten Island, which saves an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to planting 63 acres of trees. The Hazon Seal of Sustainability is a national effort to connect environmentalism and Jewish values and to put sustainability at the forefront […]

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A few first words from me, as Hazon’s acting CEO…

From Judith Belasco June 13th, 2017 | 19th Sivan 5777 Dear All, I joined Hazon in July 2007 as the Associate Director of Food Programs. I was a vegan and my first day on the job, Nigel mentioned that I needed to organize our first-ever shechita (ritual slaughter) at the Hazon Food Conference. It was clear from day one that working at Hazon would be filled with growth and opportunities – both personally and professionally. Since then, my title has changed as our programs have grown. I launched our work on the west coast with a Food Conference at Asilomar, developed curricula, started regional offices in the Bay Area, Denver-Boulder, Philly, San Diego, and Detroit, launched Siach – an international social and environmental justice conversation, stewarded Seeds of Opportunity: The JOFEE Report, and now as Chief Program Officer, I lead an incredible staff of people who are creating powerful, transformative experiences that directly reach over 25,000 people a year. And, as of Monday, I’m Hazon’s Acting CEO, while Nigel’s on sabbatical. Over the next four months I’m not planning to write all of these emails myself. As Nigel does occasionally, I want to give voice and a platform to some of our other […]

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