Topic: Nigel

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 […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

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, […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

Here’s what you can do this Tu b’Shvat

From Nigel Savage Dear All, Tu b’Shvat, the Jewish celebration of trees, is observed this Friday night (February 10th) and Saturday (February 11th). This holiday offers us a midwinter moment to take stock of our relationship with Jewish tradition, the natural world, and one another – a process we need this year more than ever. When the Torah describes Jewish tradition as the “tree of life” it is saying not merely that trees in themselves are important but that they are a profound metaphor for the goodness of human civilization on this planet. Our Torah is a “tree of life” because, just as trees grow and flourish and nourish us, so too we hope that Jewish tradition and the Jewish people will grow and flourish and nourish the world. And this is a year in which we all need to step up so that these are not merely words. At Hazon, we’re striving to make a difference. We’re rolling out our Hazon Seal of Sustainability. We’re striving to reduce our own footprint. We’re providing resources to rabbis around the country. We’re partnering with a wide range of our fellow JOFEE organizations. And we’re working with and a wide range of […]

Continue Reading

Inspiration, aspiration, respiration…

From Nigel Savage   Dear All, In December we had a board meeting and took part of the time to discuss the election. One of our older and wiser board members said, people are moving too fast, right now. We need to let this administration get started, and see what happens. Well, here we are: six days into this administration, with 1,455 still to go. (0.4% of the time has passed, and 99.6% still remains.) Buckle your seat belts. Hazon’s task is not to lose focus, in relation to the vital and good things we are doing, things which at their heart are about helping us to be the people we aspire to be, helping the Jewish community to be the community that it aspires to be. So: a few suggestions and requests: The Hazon Seal of Sustainability. We’re patient. This is messianic. From 2007 to 2014 we did systemic work on the Farm Bill. And we worked to grow Jewish CSAs. And we were persistent in helping to bring shmita back to life. And now we’re in year two of a new seven-year cycle in Jewish life, and the Hazon Seal pilot we launched last year – in year […]

Continue Reading

Transitions & beginnings / a first-ever joint email…

Dear All, This past Shabbat, we read the last chapter of Bereishit, the book of Genesis. On Sunday and Monday, we celebrated MLK weekend. And this coming Shabbat, we start the book of Shmot, the book of Exodus. Bereishit is a story of individuals – a person, a family, a heritage. With Shmot, we begin the story of a people. We make this journey – from an individual to a family to a community – every year. It’s core to the Jewish narrative and to the human process – born into a family, individuating and figuring out our own unique journeys, then binding our own lives with those of others, in multiple ways. It’s the journey of our organizations, also, and that’s why this is the first email ever that is being sent out jointly by Hazon, Pearlstone Center, Urban Adamah, and Wilderness Torah. Each of our organizations has its own history, its own foundation myth, its own mission and vision. We have separate boards and staffs and CEOs. Yet we support each other in multiple ways, and we share many common values. We’re each involved in one or more of the elements that in acronym we summarize as JOFEE – Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming, […]

Continue Reading

Gratitude & practice

From Nigel Savage Dear All, It’s a hundred years since 1917. Technological change was accelerating. The promise of human-powered flight had turned into bombs raining down on the miserable soldiers in the trenches of the First World War. (One of them was my Zaydie, who took a bullet through his finger. It probably, in retrospect, saved his life.) The world was uncertain and scary. One of the books people were reading, a hundred years ago, was Walter Lippmann’s Drift and Mastery. Here’s a taste of it: “We are unsettled to the very roots of our being… We have changed our environment more quickly than we know how to change ourselves… We live in great cities without knowing our neighbors, the loyalties of place have broken down… We have to prepare children to face the unexpected, for their problems will not be the same as their fathers’ [sic]…” There is much in this vein, many pages of it, and of course I share it now because his observations, true then, have never in human history been more true than today. Over the holidays I read Andy Stern’s Raising The Floor. Andy joined the SEIU in 1977, and led it from 1995 […]

Continue Reading

New light, new ideas, new collaboration

From Nigel Savage Dear All, We’re going strong into 2017. Hazon has had the best year in our history, and we have big ambitions for 2017 and beyond. A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us this year (including the many of you who have given recent year-end gifts). Our work happens only because of the stakeholders who enable it. Huge thanks. Huge thanks. And as the dust begins to settle on some of the changes in this country this year, some things are getting clearer. For Hazon, in 2017, we’ll aim to do all that we’re doing now – and then some. We’re going to strengthen our Isabella Freedman campus. It’s a unique resource in American Jewish life, it’s an especially vital resource for the tri-state area, and it’s a place where magic happens. Coming up soon, we hope and intend: fresh investments in our staff and in our campus, and a master-planning process to imagine a renewed and rebuilt Freedman increasing its impact for the next two or three generations; We’re deepening our work on the ground – in New York, in Detroit, in Colorado, in San Diego. We’re genuinely thinking globally and acting locally. Coming […]

Continue Reading