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Topic: Reflections

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Od Lo Avdah Tikvatenu, Our Hope is Not Yet Lost

Today is Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day, the 74th anniversary of the birth of the state of Israel in 1948. Yesterday was Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Day of Remembrance, a day for grieving the loss of 24,000 fallen Israeli soldiers and 4,000 civilians killed in terrorist attacks over the years. In Palestinian society, Yom Ha’Atzmaut is known as the Nakba-Catastrophe, mourning the 1948 loss of Palestinians’ homeland and the displacement of a majority of the Palestinian people. For me, these days–back to back and inside-out–are the most powerful holy day(s) of the year. And especially in the diaspora, how do we relate to this land, this country, and this time of year? Really, how do we orient to all of this? And not just personally but organizationally – for Hazon & Pearlstone – how do we approach our relationship to Israel, and Palestine? This is just the beginning of a long journey, but I want to take this opportunity to share our orientation to these important questions. Our mission is to lead a transformative movement deeply weaving sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life. We connect people to the earth and to each other, catalyzing culture change and systemic change through […]

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Yom HaShoah | Legacy & Responsibility

Friends, Today is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. One of my early memories is the moment my father told me that almost all of our family–his parents’ families–were murdered in the Holocaust.  My grandparents, Saul & Lonia, grew up in Lodz, Poland. They lived through the ghetto and the camps, the death marches, and found each other in an American army-operated displaced persons camp in Germany after the war. They fell in love, got married, and had their first child–my aunt Blanche–while still living in the camp. Eventually, with support from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, they came to America, arriving at Ellis Island and then welcomed into the Pittsburgh Jewish community where they began a new life. That’s when my dad was born.  My legal name is Jeremy K Manela; my Hebrew name is Jakir (pronounced Yakir), because I am named after my great-grandfather, Jakir Kompel, Lonia’s father. Jakir died in the gas chambers at Birkenau. Grandma survived, and somehow found the strength with Grandpa to live on, find love, build a family, and give with all her heart all her life. I remember being at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Pittsburgh as a young child–we really loved that […]

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Freedom, Wandering, & Resilience

“In every generation, one must see oneself as if one had personally experienced the Exodus from Egypt.” – Passover Haggadah  Friends, Like our ancestors leaving Egypt – beginning the long desert wandering – we face daunting years and decades ahead. The Israelites rejoiced with the Song of the Sea: we’re free! And then we walked out into the wilderness, not knowing what lay ahead. Moshe, Miriam, and Aharon led us: first to the mountain, and eventually home. It was a long and winding trail, both traumatic and transformative. Today, we are horrified by war crimes in Ukraine, tyranny and fascism on the rise, and fossil fuel profits propping up a new Pharoah. So this Pesach, we celebrate spring renewal and commit to a deeper freedom – a global transformation of epic proportions. The fight for democracy and decarbonization is not going to be quick or easy; the path to freedom takes us through the wilderness. Science tells us that we are embarking upon a lot more than 40 years of wandering in the deserts of climate crisis. So as we enter this wilderness together, let us summon our will and our strength; our perseverance, resourcefulness, and resilience; our tenacity, our […]

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We Are One: Tu B’Shvat and MLK, Sustainability & Justice

Friends, We find ourselves immersed in another dark pandemic winter, a reality we could not have fathomed two years ago. And as the pandemic drags on, our social fabric continues to fray, while the climate crisis continues unabated. Then, into this moment comes the Texas synagogue hostage incident, thankfully unfolding without any hostage injuries or deaths, yet still traumatic for all involved, and for Jewish communities – and our allies – everywhere. It is difficult to avoid feeling overwhelmed and exhausted amidst times like these. Last night, we held an online event with hundreds of people from across the country, entitled We Are One: An Environmental Justice Tu B’Shvat Seder, honoring Tu B’Shvat– the New Year for the Trees – and Martin Luther King Jr Day, our American prophet of racial justice, civil rights, and nonviolent civil disobedience. During our seder, Janna Siller, Adamah Farm Director & Advocacy Coordinator, spoke of Tu B’Shvat as a deep accounting of our relationship with the Trees and with the Earth. MLK Day presents a similar obligation, to undertake a deep accounting of our society.  Such an accounting is called cheshbon hanefesh in Hebrew, an accounting of the soul. Tu B’Shvat demands a new year’s accounting […]

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Hakhel

Hakhel Newsletter January 2022

Dear Hakhel Communities, This week’s Torah portion, Beshalach, is the scene of many incredible miracles that have captured the imagination of countless generations: the splitting of the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape Egypt; the manna that rained down from Heaven to provide them with sustenance in the desert, with a double portion on Friday in preparation for Shabbat; the water that emanated from the stone. Through all of these miracles, we feel the immense, special love and protection of G-d. In your lifetime, have you experienced any acts that seemed divine? What about your community, in what ways has it received love and protection that allowed it to grow and flourish? This Sunday, we celebrate Tu B’Shvat, the birthday of the trees. This is a wonderful holiday to celebrate with your community, as it comes with a unique Seder that is an interactive, sensory experience through the eating of specific fruits and nuts and the drinking of wine. It also carries with it powerful messages from Kabbalah and about our connection to and stewardship of the Earth. Regardless of how you choose to mark the day personally, we hope you will join Hazon in a special virtual […]

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A few words from Hazon’s new Global Ambassador, Nigel Savage

Please make a gift to Hazon today. Every dollar received by the end of the year will be directly invested into our growing programs and deepening our impact. ​December 30, 2021 | 26 Tevet 5782 | Jerusalem   Dear All, For affording me this sabbatical, as I stepped down as CEO, I feel so blessed, so lucky, so grateful, to so many people at Hazon. Thank you to the staff, to the board, to stakeholders, to Marina Lewin (our amazing board chair), to Jakir – and to each and all of you. It has been a very rich four months, despite the craziness of the Covid-era intervening in various ways. I offer three brief vignettes. One was Yom Kippur. Normally I’m in shul all the way through. I love Yom Kippur, I’ve fasted every year since I was seven, I daven the whole thing. I kept Yom Kippur even in the five years when I kept hardly anything else. But this year I had bumped into Michal Deutsch, a week before, as she started an 8-day hunger strike, outside Beit Hanassi (the President’s residence) to call on the government to declare a climate emergency. She’s a law student, 20-something, secular, tattooed. […]

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COP26: Hope & Despair

Friends, I recently returned from COP26 – the United Nations Conference on Climate Change – and it was an unforgettable experience. The number of people, events, issues, spaces…it was truly one of the most complex, multifaceted, and profound events I’ve ever seen. Leaders and activists from across the globe, dozens of languages, a beautiful tapestry of faith communities  – negotiating, teaching, learning, and sharing – trying to turn the tide towards a sustainable future. Join us this Sunday, November 21st, 8pm ET, as we ask “Now What? A Post-COP26 Conversation with Elders.” Together we will take stock: what happened in Glasgow, where does that leave us, and where do we go from here? We will learn from our Elders  – Ruth Messinger and Rabbi Arthur Waskow  – and break out into small group discussions lead by an amazing cadre of Jewish environmental leaders. If ever there was a need for a movement-wide town hall, this is it. Please join us!  Throughout my journey, and since my return, I have been surprised to feel… hope. It started just before I left, when I saw this beautiful rainbow in the sky above Pearlstone: But hope is hard to come by these days. Leading […]

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Greetings from Glasgow, Scotland

Friends, I just arrived in Glasgow, Scotland for the United Nations Climate Change Conference known as COP26, happening today through Nov. 12. Many have said that this gathering of world leaders may be our last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change. Hazon’s visionary founder, Nigel Savage, will be meeting me there – he’s traveling from Israel – and together we will join about 25 other formal Jewish delegates from around the world, including Israel, as part of a massive crowd of 20,000 people attending the formal negotiations and side events, not to mention marches, protests, and other activities. Together we will bring a strong Jewish voice to this momentous gathering with such far-reaching implications. And we’ll also be hosting an Eco-Shabbat vegetarian dinner for the Jews at a nearby synagogue. My kids – and their future – are on my mind as I take this journey, along with young people everywhere. I was deeply moved and inspired by the moral clarity and passion shown by leaders of the Jewish Youth Climate Movement when I spoke with them Thursday night – watch the video here. But of course, this is not just about the Jews. Our Jewish delegation is part of […]

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jakir and jennie rosenn at climate protest sq

Climate Action NOW with Hazon & Dayenu

Friends, Hazon works alongside many strong partners across the Jewish world and beyond, and moving forward we are honored to feature our allies as guest writers for our newsletter. To start off this partnership series, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn introduces Dayenu and the critically important role we can all play in fighting for strong climate action now!  Jakir Manela CEO, Hazon After more than 20 years working as a rabbi mobilizing the American Jewish community around issues of social, economic, and racial justice issues, I have come to understand the climate crisis as the existential crisis of our time. And at its core, it is a question of equity and justice – even as climate change affects everyone, historically marginalized communities bear the brunt of its impacts. We launched Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Action 18 months ago, to help build a multi-generational movement of American Jews confronting the climate crisis with spiritual audacity and bold political action. We mobilize Jewish support for climate solutions, build collective power, and raise up a spiritual, religious, and moral voice in the national and global climate movements. A growing grassroots network and diverse partner organizations are joining Dayenu campaigns to advance comprehensive climate policy, leverage communal power in key moments, press candidates and elected […]

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Beginning a new chapter, together

Friends,  I step into the Hazon CEO role with deep gratitude for everything that has been built over the past 21 years, and with great appreciation for the amazing staff, boards, and supporters of Hazon, Isabella Freedman, and Pearlstone. Together, we have helped spark a transformative movement with powerful potential. The Jewish Environmental Movement is clearly one of the strongest, most vibrant streams in Jewish life today. We now have further reach than ever before, so as we face the global climate crisis, together we are poised to multiply our impact and catalyze social, environmental, and spiritual change across the Jewish world and beyond. Like a havdalah candle, our movement weaves together multiple interrelated strands: JOFEE, Jewish Retreating, the Jewish Food Movement, Jewish Community Farming, Climate Activism & Advocacy, the Jewish Youth Climate Movement, Jewish Intentional Communities, and more. Each strand has had tremendous impact already, and now we have a profound opportunity to manifest our ambitious mission: to lead a transformative movement deeply weaving sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life, in order to create a healthier, more sustainable, and equitable world for all. As we embark upon this new chapter and awesome task ahead, I want you to […]

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An Ending, and Two Beginnings (7 of 7)

Thursday, August 26, 2021 | 18 Elul 5781   Nigel: Hi! Jakir: Shalom!  You did it!  I’m not sure how you pulled it off, but you made it to the holy land! N: Yep. I’m now in bidud, the word the Israelis use for “quarantine” or “self-isolation.” It’s from the same root as hitbodedut, a type of personal meditation that traces back to Reb Nachman of Bratslav.  And bidud does feel like a kind of hitbodedut. Getting ready for Rosh Hashanah and for the shmita year – getting organized, getting clean.  J: Getting clean? N: Bidud-enforced cold turkey! Before I arrived, a friend brought to the apartment fruits, vegetables, some fish, some eggs. But: no booze, no caffeine, no sugar, no chocolate, no wheat; no dairy except for some goat yoghurt. And I’m not allowed to leave the apartment for seven days, so I’m committed, whether I like it or not. 🙂 J: That sounds…fun…I guess?!  Of course I have four kids, an incredible partner, and now two organizations to run, in the process of merging. So probably not a lot of bidud-self-isolation in my near future… N: Well, that’s true. But this is not your bidud moment. You’re in a […]

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Why does shmita matter? (6 of 7)

Friday, August 20, 2021 | 12 Elul 5781   Dear All, I admit that I am baffled by Jeopardy!, and why people care about it. (What’s wrong with University Challenge?) But Jeopardy does remind us to ask this: what questions does shmita come to answer?This led me, a couple of years ago, to amend my own observance. It is true that last time I didn’t buy any books, or any liquor, for the whole year. Doing this reminded me that it was the shmita year, and that I had enough.But then I realized that this failed, even metaphorically, even as just one individual, to address one of the central questions that shmita comes to answer: how do we reduce inequality?  Because shmita is not just about “letting the land go, letting it be.” (Shmot 23:11). It’s about doing this “that the needy of the people may eat.” (same verse). So for this forthcoming shmita year I’ve decided, bli neder, to  Not buy books, not buy liquor, and (after the last 17 months of covid-wear) not buy any clothes, but then also  To figure out roughly what I spend on these three things, in a normal year, and give that money to people […]

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Climate at a tipping point: What do we do? (4 of 7)

Friday, August 6, 2021 | 28 Av 5781   Dear All, You might think this email would for me be easy and obvious. But it has been the hardest one to write. I want to convey some seemingly contradictory ideas.  It has been right for the environmental movement not to overstate things (i.e. not to make wild claims beyond what we already know). But it’s been clear for some while that the numbers and the projected negative impact, in terms of temperature rise and concomitant impacts, were and are more likely to be worse, rather than better, than our median projections. And this summer has felt like a tipping point. 116 degrees in cool temperate Canada. People suddenly wanting air conditioners in Seattle. Flood deaths in Germany. Wildfires in California, Greece, Turkey. Here’s the Guardian today – 14 separate stories, led by “Last Month Was Worst July For Wildfires On Record.” The Covid pandemic is a parallel cautionary tale.  A lesson about how something out of kilter in one part of the planet can have impacts the whole world over. A reminder of the fragility of systems – and of human beings. An object lesson in the necessity of good […]

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Does Jewish tradition support my politics? (3 of 7)

Thursday, July 29, 2021 | 20 Av 5781   Dear All, There was the first time I went on this thing called Facebook. It asked my religion, so I wrote “Manchester United.” It asked my politics, so I wrote “Jewish.” We can talk some other time about commitment to Manchester United as an ancient familial tribal religion.  But in this email, I want to reflect a little about Jewish tradition and politics. Is Jewish tradition conservative? Well, yes. It’s a slow-moving tradition, it’s generally against change, its strong instinct is: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Is Jewish tradition moderate? Yes, strongly it is. It’s a very on the one hand / on the other hand tradition, almost definitionally so. Well then, is it liberal? Yes, of course it is, in a few senses of the word. It’s strongly open to new ideas. And Jewish thinking has been deeply interwoven with the evolution of civil liberties, democracy, the rights of the individual, and free enterprise.  Is it radical? Yes, strongly so. The notion that every human being is made in the image of (this unimaginably powerful) G!d –  is in and of itself, in a fundamentally unequal world, incredibly […]

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Some thoughts for funders (2 of 7)

Thursday, July 22, 2021 | 13 Av 5781  One big idea – and a few smaller ones. Dear All, First: gratitude. I don’t take anyone’s gift to Hazon for granted. (If it ever seemed like I did, I apologize.) We’re an imperfect organization, but as each year has gone by our impact has increased. Your support enables this. Whether you have given $36, or $3,600, or six and even seven-figure gifts and grants – thank you. When I started Hazon I had never fundraised, nor thought about it. But I have now spent 21 years (worrying about) fundraising, and so in the second of these stepping-down-as-CEO reflections, I want to share a few thoughts for funders. (Most of these comments are for foundations, federations, and the largest individual funders – though not all.) I don’t claim unique insight; I merely wish to add my voice to the weight of some of these arguments. These are, in many cases, things I’ve been thinking about for a while, but haven’t yet said publicly. 1. Please increase payout ratios. Most “normal” foundations have too low a payout ratio. 5% is a legal minimum, not a guideline. If you’re a foundation trustee or CEO and […]

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