Topic: Nigel

The Paris Accords – Now What?

From Nigel Savage June 2nd, 2017 | 8th Sivan 5777 Dear All, Jewish tradition isn’t just for kids and it isn’t just for synagogues and it isn’t just about bagels or dressing up on Purim. This last week, across the Jewish world, we celebrated Shavuot, “the giving of the Torah.” It’s called the time of the giving of the Torah, and not the receiving of the Torah, because Jewish tradition, fundamentally, is about choice, and responsibility. We choose whether to receive this gift, and in what ways we receive it. It’s an act of responsibility and of obligation to take on the injunctions of Jewish tradition and to use them not merely to be good Jews or good people, but to create, day by day, a better world. In every country of the world in which Jewish people live, their government has endorsed the Paris Climate Agreement. Every religious faith community spoke up for it. I went to Paris in 2015 to represent the Jewish community in the lead-up to the negotiation of those Accords; alongside senior religious and governmental leaders – Ségolène Royal, then-President Hollande, Cardinal Turkson, Vandana Shiva, Mary Robinson, and so on – to say that the Jewish people […]

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I hope to see you this Sunday at the Celebrate Israel Parade…

From Nigel Savage June 2nd, 2017 | 8th Sivan 5777 Dear All, It’s the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration this year. When Lord Balfour wrote to Lord Rothschild, on behalf of the British government, neither of them knew that, thirty years later, the United Nations would vote to establish a third Jewish commonwealth. (Nor that, in the intervening years, the Jews of Europe would be hunted down and massacred, country by country, family by family, for six years.) Though my grandparents were alive that day, the world seems unimaginably changed since then. This is not the Israel of Ben Gurion or Jabotinsky, it is not the Israel of Golda Meir or Yitzhak Rabin. This is the Israel of Barbie, by Static and Ben El Tavori, which I find strangely irresistible. Also of the new food scene, the growth of the haredi population, the burgeoning of an Israeli non-orthodox Judaism. The new/old train stations. The Mizrachi revival. Racisms, old and new. The dilemmas of the Israeli Palestinians, the flourishing of Be’er Sheva, the new airport in the Negev, Israeli TV shows on Hulu and Amazon, Etgar Keret, Leah Shakdiel, Moshe Halbertal, Ilit Azoulai and Sigalit Landau, veganism, food co-ops, urban […]

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“Time Is So Precious…”

From Nigel Savage May 25th, 2017 | 29th Iyar 5777 | Erev Rosh Chodesh Sivan | 44th day of the omer | gevurah she’b’tiferet “Time Is So Precious…” Dear All, That’s a lot of dates on the dateline above. And we’re also: three days after the terrorist murders in Manchester; the day after yom yerushalayim; and four days away from the start of Shavuot. And it’s raining here in New York. So we live our lives by different calendars and different rhythms. Some of these are national, some communal/religious, some organizational, some familial, some personal. The rhythm of these has changed radically over human history. The invention of the clock was a significant change; so too the telegraph. 150 years ago different parts of a country kept time to their own rhythm, within each day. Jess Berlin – one of the first cohort of JOFEE Fellows, and a Hazon staffer – was talking to a group of us recently about the experience of living at Isabella Freedman for a year. She pointed out that animals and trees and other living things change their rhythms in response to the seasons – and in ancient days, probably human beings did too. Now […]

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Changing the world, one (JOFEE) Fellow at a time…

From Nigel Savage May 18th, 2017 | 22nd Iyar 5777 | 37th day of the omer | gevurah she’b’yesod Changing the world, one (JOFEE) Fellow at a time… Dear All, 16 partner organizations. 17 JOFEE Fellows. Over 500 discrete programs. And an estimated 37,000 participants in Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming & Environmental Education (JOFEE) programs across the country. These are some of the numbers emerging as we look back at our first JOFEE Fellowship cohort. Their closing seminar and siyum was held last week at the Pearlstone Center outside Baltimore, MD. The JOFEE Fellowship grew from Seeds of Opportunity, the research that substantiated the extraordinary growth of this field over the last 15 years. One of the things that became clear is that we needed to create pathways into professional leadership in this world. The JOFEE Fellowship program, backed by the Jim Joseph Foundation, was one of the outcomes of the research. Behind the program data from our first year are many thousands of people encountering – some of them for the first time – the incredible power of Jewish tradition, when you connect it with the earth, with human communities and our surrounding ecosystems, with our food, and with […]

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Halachah and Aggadah

From Nigel Savage May 4th, 2017 | 23rd day of the omer; gevurah she’b’netzach | 8th Iyyar 5777 Halachah and Aggadah Dear All, Let me start at the end. Shavuot this year falls midweek. It is one of the most glorious times of the year at Isabella Freedman. The sun, we hope, will shine; the goats will parade; much Torah will be learned; and much cheesecake consumed. We have a truly remarkable group of teachers and leaders for this year’s Shavuot Retreat, including Shir Yaakov Feit, Rabbi Dr. Jill Hammer, Rebbetzin Eve Ilsen, Rabbi David Ingber, Shoshana Jedwab, Yael Kornfeld-Mlotek, Rabbi David Evan Markus, Rabbi Avram Mlotek, Rabbi Mike Moscowitz, and Arna Poupko-Fisher. I was thinking about when JFK hosted a group of Nobel laureates for dinner and began with the famous line – “this is the most extraordinary collection of talent that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone…”  I say that because we will miss Reb Zalman, z”l, who for so many years led the Shavuot retreat, and his spirit and his memory and his teachings will be with us. And/but this really is a quite […]

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47 years… and the next ten days

From Nigel Savage April 20th, 2017 | 24th Nisan 5777 | 9th day of the omer; gevurah she’b’gevurah   Dear All, Nearly half a century ago, on April 22, 1970, twenty million people took to the streets for the first Earth Day – which happened to fall during Pesach, the holiday of mass protest against injustice. Within months, the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts passed Congress, and the Environmental Protection Agency was born. America showed the world that industrial might could be paired with respect for the health of people and the planet. Hazon seeks to build a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a healthier and more sustainable world for all. We share many of the aims of those who brought about a transformation in our country’s approach to the environment 47 years ago. In our retreats and our immersive programs we touch people’s lives very directly, one by one, sometimes in profound ways. Our riders have raised several million dollars to support our work, to support the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, and in mini-grants that have gone to a wide range of organizations. Our curricula resources have underpinned educational work across the Jewish world, especially […]

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This year in Jerusalem…

From Nigel Savage   April 6th, 2017 | 10th Nissan 5777 This year in Jerusalem… Dear All, The last year in which I didn’t set foot in Israel was 1984. My visits have encompassed the days of the asimonim, the devolution of the currency, and the tech boom of the last ten years; also being attacked in the first intifada, suicide bombs in Jerusalem, and the period after Rabin’s assassination. In relation to Israel, since 2003 Hazon has produced 16 Israel Rides, five Siach Conferences, a hike, two intentional communities trips, and three Sustainable Israel tours. That’s the backdrop to my trip last month, which was one of the more interesting I’ve made. I was there for a Hazon Sustainable Israel Tour followed by a four-day Encounter trip. Each involved meeting activists and leaders, learning, asking questions. These are some of my impressions. First: Israel is thriving, struggling, inspiring, complex. People live in such geographical closeness to each other, yet there is such radical cultural separateness – different religion, language, clothes, food, politics. While we were there we got a sense of what it is like to eat if you are blind (at Na La’Ga’at); we learned about the remarkable […]

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Significant news from Isabella Freedman…

From Nigel Savage March 23rd, 2017 | 25th Adar 5777 Significant news from Isabella Freedman… Dear All, How do we maintain balance in the 24/7 news cycle? How do we mediate social media and real life – and does the latter need airquotes (“real life” – as if to say, do we know what real life is, anymore, absent social media?) And how do we engage and deepen our relationship to Jewish tradition, if so many of its presumptions – about the nature of community, learning, relationship to language, practice – seem so far apart from so many of the rhythms of contemporary life? That’s the backdrop to Isabella Freedman. What does it mean that it is a “Jewish Retreat Center?” I no longer know when first I went there, but it was some time in the 1990s. I was there when Michal Smart was running it, and then Avital Rech; and maybe I was there when Eric Robbins was running it, though I don’t now remember. As an English Jewish guy, based at that time in Israel, I found it to be a remarkable place. The rhythms of it. The people wandering around. The Jewish relaxedness of it. The […]

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hamantaschen_Purim

Yom hafuch / eating treif…

From Nigel Savage Dear All, “Hafuch” means something like “upside down.” If you order a “café hafuch” in Israel you’ll get the Israeli version of a cappuccino. One of my favorite phrases, from the same root, is “mamash l’hefech” “exactly the opposite.” So what’s “yom hafuch?” Well, it’s the name given to a well-known Jewish holiday by a friend of mine (who shall be nameless, but he is Canadian, and an academic, and in Toronto) a dozen years ago. It was the night of Purim, and this was in the days of JDub, z”l. It was some while after 1am, and many things had been ingested. We were both more than a little the worse for wear. This was the conversation: –    Where did you hear the megillah? –    I went to a late megillah reading –    How come? –    Well, first I went for my treif dinner –    ? –    [beat] –    How treif? –    Well, I had a crab salad to start with, and then pork, and then I had… –    ???!!! –    [beat] –    Just remind me: how observant are you? (thinking I roughly knew the answer to this) –    Well, I’m shomer Shabbat, I keep kosher, […]

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When they go low, we go deep…

From Nigel Savage February 23rd, 2017 | 27th Shvat 5777 Dear All, There’s a lot going on. In recent weeks I was at the Jewish Community Farming gathering at the Leichtag Commons in Encinitas – one of the best gatherings of its sort that I have ever attended. A clear sense of a field that is deepening and broadening, with strong leadership from Andrew Gurwitz and Charlene Seidle, amongst others. In Boulder I got to see the extraordinary new JCC – home to Milk & Honey Farm, making it the first JCC in the country to open with an integral educational farm. Kudos to two generations of the remarkable Weaver family for making that happen, plus Jonathan Lev and the Boulder JCC team and active hands-on support from the amazing Julie Shaffer. And a beautiful Tu b’Shvat seder, starring twins – Gabrielle & Noah Shapiro – who were celebrating their bar and bat mitzvah that Shabbat. The best hope for the world, I often feel, is some of the truly inspiring young people that I get to meet. In Detroit I held meetings with communal leaders and rabbis, which was fascinating and thought-provoking. And we hosted a phenomenal Tu b’Shvat […]

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