Topic: Nigel


Big News: Extending the Adamah Farm & Increasing Capacity at Isabella Freedman

By Nigel Savage Thursday, December 13, 2018 | 5 Tevet 5779 Dear All, With strong active staff and lay involvement, and support from Project Accelerate, Hazon’s board earlier this year signed off on a new master plan for Isabella Freedman. Isabella Freedman is a place that touches people’s lives individually and strengthens and thickens Jewish institutions. Through Adamah, Teva, the Hazon Food Conference, and our other national retreats it has had a profound impact across the American Jewish community. As Jessica Haller, one of our senior board members, says, “there are some places that do some of the things that this place does, but there are no other places that do all of the things that this place does.” So the master plan is critical not only to Isabella Freedman and Hazon but also, in fact, to the future of the American Jewish community. Isabella Freedman is a place where magic happens – but we need to increase capacity; we need to improve the quality and range of our accommodation and meeting space; and we also need more land to be able to grow our flagship Adamah program, and to enable us to use the land itself more lightly and more carefully. Happily, we believe that […]

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Big Questions

By Nigel Savage Thursday, November 29, 2018 | 21 Kislev 5779 Dear All, In 2000, a small group of people believed (a) that we had to try to address environmental sustainability in the world, including some big big – BIG – challenges; (b) that the Jewish community needed to be part of this process, and by the way (c) if we do it right it will strengthen Jewish life as well. We’re called Hazon (Hebrew for “vision”) because it seemed apparent, even then, that if we were going to put our attention on big, intractable, and depressing challenges, we would need to do it with a sense of positive vision. The good news, 18 years on, is that those beliefs are still good beliefs (in a moral sense) and true, practically speaking. The impact of Hazon has grown very dramatically these last 18 years. We’re delivering 35,000 person-days a year of immersive experiences. We’re supporting the Israeli environmental movement in significant ways. In Boulder and Denver and the Detroit area, we’ve started to create and connect the synapses of Jewish sustainability, so that a wide range of initiatives around food and sustainability are integrating into Jewish life in profound ways. […]

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Hazon. Important.

by Nigel Savage November 15, 2018 | 8 Kislev 5779 Dear all, In the last two weeks we’ve had the shivahs for the people who were murdered in Pittsburgh, the post-Pittsburgh Shabbat, and then the midterms. As I write, California is on fire and a record number of lives have been lost. The Gaza/Israel border is tense and there too lives have been lost. And for historical context we’ve commemorated a century since the end of the Great War and 80 years since Kristallnacht, essentially the start of the next one. So it feels like everything is accelerating and many things are deteriorating. A fine time to enter the month of Kislev, this time of light in the darkness. I want to write especially today about Hazon itself – our failures and challenges, our vitality and our necessity, against this tumultuous backdrop. In a factual sense there is, as ever, much going on. We delivered our largest-ever Israel Ride (registration is now open for 2019, and remarkably 120 people have already registered. We sold out in the spring last year, so if you’re thinking about joining us, sign up soon!), plus a separate tour of Israel’s intentional communities for our […]

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From then to now. And where next?

by Nigel Savage Thursday, October 18, 2018 | 9 Cheshvan 5779 Dear All, This is a blunter email than usual. For 18 years Hazon’s impact in the world has been partly predicated on not ‘banging people over the head,’ as I sometimes put it. We’re not here to make you feel bad. And not least because many of us aren’t feeling so great about the world right now, and thus don’t need anyone to make us feel worse. Pedagogically, personal or institutional change is not best effected by telling people what to do. And yet, that said, this is a moment in which I don’t have to tell you what to do. I just want to direct your gaze. I note that a significant number of Americans across the Florida panhandle are now homeless, or have wrecked houses, or are mourning the random deaths of loved ones. They could be you or me. They had the misfortune to find themselves in the way of a storm whose impact was greater than previous ones because of aggregate human behavior these last decades. And it happened just after the publication of the IPCC report, which makes absolutely clear that things are on track […]

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From Teshuva to Joy to Strategic Planning

Thursday, October 4, 2018 | 25 Tishrei 5779 Dear All, The holidays are over and it’s the start of the rest of our lives. I’ve been thinking about the end of the Jewish holidays, how the pieces fit together, what they mean and imply. I was very struck this year by the teaching implicit in going from Yom Kippur into Sukkot. In the ten days of teshuva we reflect and we feel bad about ourselves and we strive to atone and commit to do better. We work on ourselves. And hopefully, by the end of Yom Kippur, as the gates close, we think Yes! I am going to be better! I am going to do this and do that! And then we go into the openness and vulnerability of the sukkah, and the joy of the festival known as zman simchteynu, the time of our (shared) joy. I think I understood at a slightly deeper level, this year, that the tradition is teaching that these things are necessarily connected. The heaviness on Yom Kippur, the joy of Sukkot, and the quite different vulnerabilities (one emotional, one physical) that we experience in succession. And so as we come out of the chagim this week: it’s easy right now to […]

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Hazon Book Club, Sukkot, the Farm Bill and the midterms

Thursday, September 20, 2018 | 11 Tishrei 5779 Dear All, I hope you had a good and strong Yom Kippur. Someone yesterday asked me: how do we take all this intensity and good intentions and vulnerability and desire to change and actually integrate that into our real lives? And my immediate response – which, on reflection, I think was absolutely right – was that’s exactly what Sukkot is for. Because here is this festival – Sukkot – which literally celebrates our new openness. Instead of just walling ourselves off from other people and other issues we open ourselves to our neighbors and the world around us. And now, instead of teshuva done in a necessarily heavy way – noting our failures, apologizing, promising to do better – now we have a sense of our best selves and so we do teshuva from a place of joy and celebration. So – may your best intentions for yourself come to fruition. And if you fail – get back on the horse. And that’s literally the perfect segue to two things. First – the Hazon Book Club. I told you that for the first time ever we were inviting people to read a […]

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Five Ways to Prepare for Rosh Hashanah

by Nigel Savage Thursday, August 23, 2018 | 12 Elul 5778 Dear All,  Be brave and make plans to see people. Host people or reach out and ask someone if you can come over to them. We talk about the black fire and the white fire of the Torah (ie the letters, and the white space around them), but the white fire of the holidays is not what we do, but what we don’t do. Not being on email. Not reading the news. Not looking at a screen. The white fire is being with ourselves (sometimes a very hard thing to do) and being with others. Walking. Sleeping. Eating. So look at your calendar and host a meal, or host another meal, or make plans with family or friends. Don’t leave it to the last minute.  Read or reread Alan Lew’s This Is Real And You Are Completely Unprepared. It’s a beautiful beautiful book, and becoming better known with each passing year since his untimely death. And don’t just read it – plan on taking it to shul. It’s always good to take a book with you to services. That’s a fine thing to do.  We’re enjoying the bounty of the world […]

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The Overstory: A First-Ever Hazon Book Club!

by Nigel Savage Thursday, August 9, 2018 | 28 Av 5778 Dear All, On Shabbat it’s the last day of Av and the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul. (And my grandma’s yahrtzeit.) Sunday morning – the second day of Rosh Chodesh, and the first day of Elul itself – is the first morning we blow shofar. (And this was also, though I didn’t realize this until he died, my father’s birthday.) So: the period of teshuva begins. With it I invite you to read The Overstory by Richard Powers. (Buy it from the Hazon Store by August 31 for 20% off with code Overstory.) I can’t say that it is the best book I’ve ever read, but I can’t think of another book that is better. It is rich, complicated, creative, intricate. Hard and tragic. Thought-provoking, and then some. It is as beautifully written as anything you’ll ever read. If you possibly can, don’t read anything about it. Don’t read a review. Don’t read the blurb on the book itself. At most you can read the table of contents, and wonder a little about that, and then turn to page 1. (After you finish the book you can – as I did – read the magisterial […]

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Join us in Living the Change

Hazon is the leading Jewish partner in Living the Change – a worldwide, faith-driven, evidence-based initiative designed to address the growing environmental challenges for our shared home. Demonstrate on a global scale how your individual transportation, home energy use, and diet choices can make a difference. Join us in making a commitment for the new year.   Read below for more information about why this is so important. by Nigel Savage Thursday, July 26, 2018 | 14 Av 5778 Dear All, In London the Met issued a heat warning and advised people to “stay out of the sun.” In the fires around Athens, 74 people are dead, and countless are injured or have lost their lives. An essay in The Guardian makes clear that – as ever – this cannot solely be attributed to human behavior, but human actions are (a) contributing and (b) making things worse. The famous Talmudic injunction – “you’re not required to complete the task, but neither can you ignore it” (Pirkei Avot 2:16) – applies with full force to the environmental issues. For 18 years now, we’ve been doing all that we can, directly and indirectly, to integrate a commitment to sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life. […]

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What are we to do?

by Nigel Savage Thursday, July 12, 2018 | 29 Tammuz 5778 This is a fresh attempt to explicate the seeming tension between the “Jewish” impact of our work and the “environmental” impact of our work. The question is: “What is the purpose of Jewish environmentalism?” This is a longer essay than usual. I welcome your thoughts and comments.   Dear All, Tonight is the new moon of Av. This is the start of “the nine days,” the period of the Jewish year in which we contemplate death and destruction – and come out the other side with an important lesson learned. So this is a good moment to share a revised version of an essay I wrote for Shlomo Ravid in a recent edition of his Peoplehood Papers. I’m trying to address a question whose answer becomes less and less straightforward the more one digs into it: What is the purpose of Jewish environmentalism? I start simply by noting some of the global challenges. Rising oceans. Pollution, and concomitant rising asthma rates. Loss of biodiversity. Deforestation. Urban sprawl. Depleted fish stocks. Drought. Heat waves. Soil erosion. “Small-scale” wars that take large numbers of lives, turn millions into refugees; and in turn […]

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