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Topic: Nigel

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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Death & life; a cemetery; eating animals…

by Nigel Savage Thursday, June 28, 2018 | 15 Tammuz 5778 Dear All, Monday I went to see Eating Animals. Tuesday I went to a (quite moving and inspiring) funeral. Tonight I’m off to England. Then this Shabbat it’s the 17th of Tammuz. But we don’t fast on Shabbat, so this Sunday will be the fast of the 17th of Tammuz, which inaugurates a three-week period of semi-mourning in the Jewish calendar. And then – since you don’t do an unveiling on a fast day – this Monday will be the unveiling of my Dad’s gravestone. So: I’m thinking about life and death and mourning and values and choices. First: I affirm the richness of Jewish mourning traditions. When my father died I simply let go, trusting that the mourning rituals and the community would hold me. As a fairly observant and not-unlearned Jew I have nevertheless been astonished by how rich these traditions have been from the inside, how strong, how good, how humane, how helpful. I thank, again, all those who sent condolences at the time of my Dad’s death. And I send love – and wish long life – to everyone who has come after me in this cycle of mourning the loss of […]

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Hazon: The Jewish Lab for Sustainability…

by Nigel Savage Thursday, June 7, 2018 | 24 Sivan 5778 Dear All, This week we were gratified to be listed in the Slingshot guide, the annual compilation of the most inspiring and innovative organizations and programs in the North American Jewish community. We’re proud to be one of only two groups (the other is Ikar, in LA) who have been in every Slingshot guide since inception. So this is an exceptionally good moment to share with you a key challenge that we faced going into this year – and the answer we’ve come up with. The challenge is that we do incredible work spanning many different areas, and yet we are faced with the same questions time and again: Tell me again what you guys do?! What’s your elevator pitch? How do you explain Hazon?? And so on. It is and was a big problem because we do a lot of different things in the world. Our stakeholders – staff members, board members, donors, participants – have struggled with how to answer these questions. So we brought in an outside consultant (the wonderful Scott Osman), and Amy Hannes, our Director of Marketing & Communications and I worked on this with a […]

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A real gift / pass this on…

By Nigel Savage Thursday, May 17, 2018 | 3rd Sivan 5778 | 47th day of the omer | Hod she’b’Malchut Dear All, This email is intended to be a gift, a series of gifts. I offer you – variously – the chance to get in better shape; the chance to spend joyous time with old friends, and to make new ones; the chance to give and to learn; and the chance to do good in the world. You acquire these gifts by doing one or more of the following things: Ride in our New York Ride, this coming Labor Day weekend, or Crew in our New York Ride, and/or Send this email on to someone you know – or a whole bunch of people you know – who might like to ride with us, and/or Click here to sponsor me or any one of our riders in this year’s Ride. I want to say straightforwardly: there’s no irony or humor or jokiness intended in what I’ve just written. These are gifts, real gifts, for you and/or someone you know, and I invite you sincerely to accept them. The Ride began in 2001. This will be our 18th consecutive ride. For some, certainly for me, […]

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A Remarkable Four Days

by Nigel Savage Thursday, May 3, 2018 | Lag B’Omer 5778 | hod she’b’hod Jerusalem Dear All, How would it be if we only ate food that made us feel bad, day after day? And then only very occasionally ate food that was actually good for us? I was thinking about this yesterday, after a fourth day of fascination, perspiration, and inspiration, here on the Hazon Romemu Sustainable Israel Tour. This builds on a range of Sustainable Israel Tours that Hazon has done in the past, and adds into the mix Rabbi David Ingber and Netanel Goldberg, not to mention great participants from Romemu in New York and IJKL in Florida. Yesterday we were at Roots/Judur/Shorashim, just outside of the Gush Etzion roundabout, listening to Shaul Judelman and Noor A’wad. It was my fourth visit there. It is hard to convey the extent to which Shaul and Noor each told stories which involved recounting the (separate) tragic deaths of any number of Israeli Jews and Palestinians whom they each personally knew; and yet with an overall message that was powerful and inspirational. Their words engendered hope in a profound way. Shaul is Jewish, observant, orthodox, originally American, a Zionist, a “settler.” Noor is Muslim, Palestinian, a Palestinian […]

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70 photos of the Empire State Building

by Nigel Savage Yom Ha’atsma’ut 5778 | Hod she’b’Tiferet | 19th day of the Omer | 19th April 2018 Dear All, Something I read somewhere, recently: Every book begins with a thought. Every company begins with a thought. Every building begins with a thought. Every political party. Every new conscious thing in the world – it begins with an idea. This is a really amazing observation. Maybe it had occurred to you, but it had never occurred before to me. Hamlet and Hamilton and Hagia Sophia and the Hudson Yards. Apple and Google and Facebook.  Everything starts with an idea, a thought. With someone, somewhere, having an idea or a thought. Words have meaning and thoughts have consequences and the world is changed by our speech and by our imagination. And so to the 70th birthday of the state of Israel (today) and the 49th Earth Day (this Sunday). Each of them is an idea brought to life, seizing (in very different ways) people’s imagination, and summoning us to life and engagement. They are not analogous, and the State of Israel is far more consequential (thus far at least) in its impact. But they are important and they are now […]

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Be nice to your rabbi…!

By Nigel Savage Thursday 5th April | 5th Day of the Omer | Hod she’b’Chesed Dear All, Disclosure: It is true that some of my best friends are rabbis. But this email is all my own work, and I didn’t discuss it beforehand with any of them. I just wanted to write – during this week of chesed, of kindness, the first week of counting the omer – be nice to your rabbi. Be nice to your rabbi. Being nice includes many things. Listen to them. Encourage them. Show up. Offer support. Ask them for advice or something you wanted to understand about Jewish tradition. (Rabbis are designed and built for the asking of questions to them, and it makes them sad if you don’t ask them questions.) Perhaps it was never easy to be a rabbi, but it feels uniquely hard today. Every part of a rabbi’s job has become a specialty – teacher, therapist, counselor, prayer leader, communal leader, organizational head, fundraiser, someone who is good with little kids and teens and young couples and empty nesters and disabilities and aging and end of life and death. Life cycle events. Tragedies. Interfaith. Politics. Israel. No one person can be […]

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Not just “Counting the Omer;” also making it count…

By Nigel Savage Friday, March 30, 2018 | 13 Nissan 5778 Dear All, Sefirat Ha’Omer – the counting of the Omer – is rooted in the Biblical mitzvah of counting the 49 days between the Jewish holidays of Pesach and Shavuot, when the first sacrifices of the barley and wheat offerings were made. The kabbalists of Sefad added their own psycho-spiritual overlay to it. Now, here in 2018, we have the chance to take this ancient tradition and breathe powerful life into it. Counting the Omer is the journey from “freedom from” to “freedom to.” This has never been more salient than in the West in 2018. We have – many of us – the blessings of “freedom from.” From totalitarianism or starvation or civil war. But the question of “freedom to” – freedom to what end; how do we use our freedoms; how do we not hurt ourselves from the cumulative impact of our freedoms… these are the big questions of our era. So Saturday night – second night seder, for those of you who are sedering outside of Israel – is the start of this seven-week period. Let’s make it count. ​​ These suggestions are rooted in all of Hazon’s work. Week 1 (April […]

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Four Real Questions

By Nigel Savage Thursday, March 22, 2018 | 6 Nissan 5778 Dear All, Here are four questions in the lead-up to the Pesach Seder. Feel free to think about these yourself, and/or discuss at the seder table. What’s the relationship between getting rid of “chametz” and becoming “free”? It’s an important question – in the lead-up to Pesach, and on seder night, and coming out of seder and into the omer. If you’re observant: as well as literal chametz, take the opportunity to clear out as much junk as you can. Take things to goodwill. Give them away. Get rid of clothes you don’t need. Unclutter your closets. And if you’re not traditionally religiously observant – if you don’t really mind if you have breadcrumbs in your kitchen or not – do exactly the same things. The tradition, as I steadily learn, is wiser than we are; wiser than I am. I’m convinced that the more we give away and throw out, the better we’ll feel. Now that it’s 2018: what kinds of media do we count as chametz? Which should we “throw out” and how? This question is already a cliché, and/but how we answer it is anything but. In the three weeks after […]

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Trusting the tradition? / Remembering Naomi Rabkin, z”l

Thursday, March 8, 2018 | 21 Adar 5778   Naomi Rabkin funeral and shiva: The funeral will be on Thursday, March 8 at 1:00 PM at El Camino Memorial Park chapel followed by burial at El Camino (5600 Carroll Canyon Rd, San Diego, CA 92121). All are welcome. Shiva will be on Thursday at 6:30 at the Leichtag Foundation (441 Saxony Rd., Encinitas) and again on Saturday and Sunday. With tremendous gratitude to Naomi’s Leichtag Foundation family for providing us space to mourn. Naomi’s memory will be a blessing. She asked that donations be made in her honor to a charity you feel represents her values. She was particularly grateful to the Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) Support over the past several months. Any foundation that supports research into Triple Negative and/or Inflammatory breast cancer, which are poorly understood and particularly devastating types of breast cancer, could use more support. For example: tnbcfoundation.org. Baruch Dayan haEmet.   By Nigel Savage Dear All, A little after I wrote this email – partly on the subject of death and mourning in Jewish tradition –  I learned that Naomi Rabkin had died. Her funeral takes place in just a few hours’ time. Naomi was […]

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