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Topic: Nigel

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Isabella Freedman: an update, and an invitation

Thursday, June 23, 2020 | Rosh Chodesh Tammuz 5780 Dear All, I want to explain how and why Freedman has been closed, and also to invite you to join us for an “Isabella Freedman Getaway” – a 5- or 12-night stay at Isabella Freedman. An amazing opportunity to escape from the city – or wherever you are – and hang out in a beautiful place, with kosher food, space for kids, and great hikes, trails and trips nearby. And I’m delighted, separately, to share with you the launch of a Virtual Camp Isabella Freedman for adults ages 55+, for the week of July 6th – 10th; and to remind you that registration for our first ever cohort of Adamah At Home is now open. We hope and intend that each and all of these will be very special experiences. To learn more about each, click here for Getaways, here for Adamah At Home, and here for Virtual Camp Isabella Freedman. To explain how these three programs arose, I want to give an update on Isabella Freedman in the last four months. On February 25th, we set up a coronavirus task force. On March 3rd, I left Freedman after a superb and impactful Kenissa retreat led by Rabbi Sid Schwarz. And on […]

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The launch of Adamah At Home, and thoughts about M4BL

Thursday, June 18, 2020 | 26 Sivan 5780 Dear All, Isabella Freedman is closed as a retreat center, but the state of CT has reduced the minimum period for bookings, which now enables us – next week –  to launch Isabella Freedman Getaways. If you’re interested in coming up and spending 5 or 12 days at Isabella Freedman – with three meals a day of (local, ethical) kosher food, in beautiful surroundings – look out for our email next week. We similarly had to take the very difficult decision to suspend the Adamah Fellowship for this summer – the first time since the program began, in 2003, when that has been so. But – but! – we’re now happy and excited to launch a new program: Adamah At Home. The program runs from July 6th to July 26th, and you can send in applications on a rolling basis from now through July 1st. It’s an exceptionally strong program encompassing practical skills, daily conversation and what we hope and intend will be a strong group. We’ll cover Jews ecological learning, garden mentorship, food systems and policy; also food choices, cheesemaking and regenerative farming. And we’ll also talk about structural racism in this country – […]

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Perspectives

Wednesday, June 3, 2020 | 11th Sivan 5780 Dear All, I don’t feel like I have a lot of wisdom right now. This is hard. The lessons of Jewish history favor moderation, and striving to keep one’s balance. It is relatively easy for societies to become destabilized, and much harder to calm them down again. And yet, of course, we must also ask: what does “calm them down again” mean? In the sense that the protests are more than justified. Racism – personal, institutional, structural – has been wired into the fabric of this country since its very beginnings, an original sin for which there has been no systematic teshuvah. So this is a year’s rage, a decade’s rage, a century’s rage, and longer still, all boiling over. It is in the nature of being Jewish that we know what it is like to be an outsider, to be scared, to be an immigrant, a refugee, discriminated against. Many of us, most of us, grew up with that in our bones. And so it is unbearable to see persistent racism in this country, unbearable – after slavery, the civil war, a century of lynchings; after Goodman, Schwerner & Chaney… and Eric Garner… […]

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Isabella Freedman Update and Summer Getaways

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 | 47th day of the omer, hod she’b’malchut Dear All, Normally at this time of year we share updates on our plans for a vibrant summer at Isabella Freedman. As we all know, this year is a different kind of year, and this announcement is a different kind of announcement. Covid-19 has changed how we will be able to gather for the foreseeable future. It has become increasingly clear that retreats are unlikely to be able to run with the same participation numbers and pricing that they have in the past, even as Covid cases have begun to fall. As a result, we will be cancelling all retreats through the end of 2020. But even as we cancel retreats, we are hard at work trying to ensure that other programs can still take place at Isabella Freedman. Our campus is beautifully located. We exist to serve our clients, to offer rest and renewal outside the city, and to do so in a way that nourishes and inspires people. We can’t do that, this year, with our traditional retreats. It may not be possible to do anything at all. But we are exploring whether we can enable at least […]

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Risk.

Friday, May 22, 2020 | 43rd day of the omer; chesed she’b’malchut Dear All, Things are fragmenting, and our old fragmentations are now fragmenting further. Different countries have different policies. Different states are opening up in different ways. Different sub-cultures have their own distinct rhythms and norms. And different political tribes turn out, once more, to have not just different views but even different facts. Underneath all this are different understandings of the nature of risk. As a society we lack functional numeracy, and it is not a surprise that we are not good at weighing different probabilities in relation to risk. (Michael Lewis’s The Undoing Project, about the work of Kahneman and Tversky is a fine thing to read, for starters.) When the coronavirus was a cloud on what seemed like a distant horizon, in general most of us underreacted to the actual risk. (On Feb 25th I suggested to someone that Hazon needed to prepare for the coronavirus, and got back the reply I am disinclined to put time into such a remote possibility. Exactly one week later the first Hazon staffers were in quarantine – and so it began…) Now, three months’ later, I fear that we are over-reacting, in various ways, partly because we are conflating […]

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Introducing the Jewish Youth Climate Movement

Thursday, May 14th | 35th day of the omer – malchut she’b’hod Dear All, We’re ending the fifth week of this seven-week journey towards the giving of the Torah, and choosing a different kind of freedom. In the world of the kabbalists, today is associated with “malchut she’b’hod.” Hod is about beauty and simplicity and malchut is about getting out into the world and making things happen. So it’s a day to introduce the new Jewish Youth Climate Movement. Anyone under the age of twenty today could reasonably hope to be alive in 2100. What will the world look like then? We don’t know, but the decisions and choices of those of us who are older will decisively impact, for good or for ill, those who are younger. (If you want to see a very intense example of that, check out this chart, showing opinions on Brexit, by age, in the UK, in 2018.) This grows out of our long-term work at Teva, and out of the sense that an organization like Hazon ought to be trying, as much as we can, to support and empower and network the best of our young people. So… I hand you over now to a message from the teen board members of JYCM… […]

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After Zoom?

Friday, May 8, 2020 | 29th day of the omer – chesed she’b’hod Dear All, Lots of people aren’t on Zoom. Subway workers, farmers and food distributors, the police and the armed forces and the fire brigade, everyone in a hospital, people cleaning the streets – all these people are not on Zoom, and many more. But some of us are on Zoom a lot these days. The benefits are significant. Being able to see and talk with friends and family in different places. Zoom seders. At a different scale, our #SoundTheCall event had 32 presenters in 28 different locations, not to mention more than 1,500 people watching it. We couldn’t have done these things without Zoom. As a society, we had no idea how relatively easily our offices could migrate online. The consequences of this on where people live and how they work will have enormous ramifications in the next decade. For Hazon, just one small but significant example. We did a consequential Shmita Summit in London in April 2014, and were planning something similar this winter. Now, instead, we’re doing a Shmita Summit next month, online, likely the first of several. The cost of doing it online will […]

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Five things that will make you feel better

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 | Yom Ha’atsma’ut | 20th day of the omer – yesod she b’tiferet Read through to the end, because there is an amazing treat in store when you get there….! Dear All, First, just a brief Hazon news update. The Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center is closed and, like lots of organizations, we don’t know when or how or in what way we will re-open. We’re using this time to figure out not only how to maximize impact in the near term, but also how to use this crisis to clarify and strengthen our work in the longer-term. And, meanwhile, Hazon staffers are working hard and well in this challenging moment. Teva’s Arielle Aronoff is helping day schools with online teaching. We’re planting and preparing at Adamah. Mike Davino and his crew are starting to make some needed repairs at Isabella Freedman. In Detroit, Wren Hack and Rabbi Nate DeGroot and our team have been helping on the ground, providing food, and help in growing food, for people and communities in need. And last week’s #SoundTheCall clearly hit a chord. The feedback was amongst the strongest from anything we have done. Hazon has a strong record of bringing new ideas and […]

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#SoundTheCall – huge thanks!

Dear All, Well over a thousand participants joined us live yesterday on our livecast, #SoundTheCall, to celebrate the 50th Earth Day. We had high hopes for the event, but as it turned out, they were significantly exceeded. What we were most delighted with is that it very clearly struck a chord with many people. We’ve had the strongest positive public response to this of anything we have done as an organization in recent memory. To everyone who was involved in it – participants, attendees, speakers, singers, staff – huge huge thanks. If you were part of it or viewed it and would be willing to share your feedback by filling out this quick survey we would greatly appreciate that.  We scrambled for this, like lots of things in the world at the moment, and we’ve certainly never done anything remotely like it (people coming in live from 24 locations on three continents, plus two taped segments). In certain ways it was quite scrappy. But we think the reason people most loved it is that, in the end, it manifested Hazon’s values and vision in quite a deep and serious way. People like David Gergen, Amy Larkin, and Bill McKibben were inspiring and strong, […]

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Chad gadya, a raccoon in the park, and a second chasidic story.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 | 13th Nissan 5780 Please join us for a series of weekly online conversations: “After the Plague: An Omer Conversation Series.” Our first call is noon ET this Sunday with Yossi Abramowitz and Rabbi Susan Silverman. Join us on Facebook Live on Hazon’s Facebook page. Learn more. Dear All, There’s an old chasidic story about someone who fears that the angel of death is coming for them, at a particular place and a particular time. Quickly they change their plans. They go to a different village… and then of course the angel of death is right there, in that different village, waiting to meet them, exactly at the appointed time. And the message of the story: when our time is up, our time is up. I wish for all of us long life, for sure. But it’s not unhelpful to be reminded of our mortality. For most of human history we knew that we were vulnerable, we saw death. We lived without penicillin. Women died far more frequently in childbirth. We died of polio and malaria, we died when the wrong flea bit us, we died of an abscess or a ruptured appendix. Only when I was writing a hesped for […]

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Next Thursday night — and #soundthecall on April 22nd

Friday, April 3, 2020 | 9th Nissan 5780 Dear All, Seder is one night – in Israel. In chutz la’aretz – ie, outside of Israel – it’s two nights, so next Thursday night is the second night of seder. And for most of the Jewish world, as we know, these two nights are indeed going to be different nights, as we figure out how to do seders by Zoom, or in small (very small) groups, and so on. It will be weird. And there will be lots of riffs on plagues, lots of haggadah supplements to download, and so on. Hazon’s gift to you is a frame for the second night, for Thursday night. Normally, at the end of the evening – with kids running wild, the table in chaos, the meal just finishing, various people conked out because it is so late or they’ve eaten so much or drank so much – right then, we count the omer. No wonder we don’t properly pay attention to it. So our gift to you this year is – don’t bury it. Make it a conceptual focus of your second night seder. The first night – celebrate that you’re alive. That your family made […]

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Seven brief thoughts at the end of a long seven days.

Friday, March 27, 2020 | 2nd Nissan 5780 Dear All, These are seven very different thoughts, on very different topics…. Number 1: At Hazon and Isabella Freedman we’re hanging on, and thank you to everyone who has supported us in the last week.  Isabella Freedman, like all places of gathering, is closed, for at least two months. We haven’t yet let any of our staff go, though like many non-profits we’re in a very exposed place. The federal bailout plan may be very significant for us, and we’re poised to apply for support from that as soon as we are able. Meantime, board members, donors, foundations, participants, and our own staff have all stepped up in quite extraordinary ways over the last two weeks. My great great thanks go to each and all of you. It is a cliché that crises often bring out the best in people. Every single day this week I have seen that to be true. Number 2: It is not too soon to draw conclusions from the different infection and death rates in places like Germany and New Zealand, on one side, and the USA, very sadly, on the other.  Having universal health care makes […]

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Noon, Wednesday April 22nd (Please read this.)

Thursday, March 19, 2020 | 23rd Adar 5780 Dear All, First: my heart goes out to everyone. This is unbearably painful. People are in hospital. People are losing their lives. People are losing their jobs. People are losing their savings. People are afraid. And as I wrote last week, Hazon is one of the organizations most directly impacted by this. We are especially exposed because we have had to close Isabella Freedman, our retreat center, for at least two months, and have thus lost all our revenue from the busiest time of the year. We’re reviewing options right now, from a tight place. (We’re writing separately to people to whom we will be returning retreat deposits. Some of you will feel unable to do so, and we will understand that, but to the extent that you are able to donate some or all of your deposits – we would appreciate that enormously.) I also want to let you know that we have begun gathering community resources for both inside and outside activities at hazon.org/stuckinside. We’re curating there all sorts of things to watch, to read, and to do. Check it out and bookmark it.  But as well as coping with […]

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Now what? / An update from Hazon

Monday, March 16, 2020 | 20th Adar 5780 Dear All, As well as everything else we’re enduring right now, it is becoming ever clearer that the range of impacts of the virus is extraordinarily varied. This is true in relation to health, but even more so in relation to organizations. For individuals: although there are exceptions, kids seem in general to be fine, and many young adults are fine also. (But if you get the virus it (a) could still be seriously injurious to you and (b) even if it is not, you could unawarely kill someone else by passing it on. So don’t be sanguine.) On the other side, as we have seen: for people who are old, or for people with weakened immune systems and so on – these are the people who are in intensive care and who are dying, and their numbers will grow. So the range of outcomes if you get the virus is indeed very wide. This is true in a different way for companies. Mask manufacturers are super-busy. Food retailers and food manufacturers are doing fine. Conversely – and to give just one example – Gotham Bar & Grill closed its doors for […]

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Now’s the time to plan a cleanse!

Thursday, March 5, 2020 | 9th Adar 5780 Dear All, The coronavirus is spreading, and it will get worse before it gets better. Batten down the hatches, wash your hands, follow public safety advice, be considerate to others – and don’t freak out. And the aftermath of the Israeli elections and the ongoing US elections – same advice… But as the velocity of travel, literally, starts to slow, I want to argue that we – you, me, all of us – do a cleanse in the next few weeks. And I get this idea from thinking carefully about the deep lessons from the Jewish calendar right now: First: Purim isn’t an isolated holiday. It comes to help us get ready for Pesach, existentially as well as physically. Purim is “the world turned upside down.” No mention of G!d in the story. Getting drunk. Cross-dressing. Purim comes to shake us out of false certainties. It comes to question the components of our identity, the relationship between inner and outer, the tension between who we are and what we have. And Purim does this because it kicks off an eleven week period from Purim to Shavuot. Seder night is the fulcrum of the whole period. And seder night is the […]

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