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Topic: Reflections

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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Nigel Headshot 2021

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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Leadership and failure (1 of 7)

Thursday, July 15, 2021 | 6 Av 5781    Dear All, As I step down as CEO, this is the first of seven emails, reflecting on a range of different topics, to the Hazon list, roughly weekly from today. That’ll take us from now through August 26th – and it will give Jakir a chunk of August to settle in, before he starts to share some of his own opening reflections. Thank you to the many, many people who sent gracious messages after the announcement last week. People said kind things about Hazon, about Pearlstone, about Jakir, about the merger; and about me. It was proverbially like hearing parts of your own funeral eulogy. (The analogy may be especially apt because funeral eulogies, I note, skew to the generous.) I’m proud of Hazon. I’m proud to have worked hard to bring it into existence; and proud also that, despite bumps along the way, we are still in existence, and Isabella Freedman too. This should not be taken for granted. I’m delighted at so many of the things that, together, we have accomplished. I feel so lucky and so blessed to be able to have vision and to bring fresh ideas to […]

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Getting down to bedrock

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 | 14 Sivan 5781   Dear All, Many of the arguments that divide contemporary Jewish life come down to different readings of what it means to be Jewish. I want to offer some of my own thoughts on this. Before I do, let me preface these remarks with the reminder that Hazon, institutionally, doesn’t take “positions” on things. You can support Hazon, or work for Hazon, or attend any of our programs, whether you agree with what I write here, or disagree, or for that matter are baffled by what I write. In these emails I am thinking through some of the things that animate my own work, and sometimes providing context for things we do or don’t do, but you’re entirely free to disagree with anything I write. I strive to respond politely and thoughtfully to every person who replies to one of these emails, and I know from that experience that the range of views on a list as long as Hazon’s is considerable. Which is as it should be. And so to our current struggles. It may be that to be Jewish is to (a) strive never to distinguish between one human being […]

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Shmita & Parshat Behar Bechukotai 5781

Please enjoy this week’s video newsletter message. Full text transcript is below.  We were thinking we might try and send out some videos as well as just written words, and this week’s parsha seemed like a great time to begin. (Leviticus 25:1) “Vayedaber adonai el moshe behar sinai leymor,” “And God speaks to Moses on Mount Sinai saying” “Daber el bnai yisrael”, “Speak to the children of Israel,” “V’amarta elehem,” “and say to them,” “Ki tavo el haaretz asher ani noten lachem,” “When you come to the land which I give to you,” “Veshavta haaretz shabbat laadonai,” “The land should be at rest, a shabbat for God,” “Shesh shanim tizra sadecha,” “six years sow your field,” “V’shesh shanim tizmor carmecha,” “Six years gather from your vineyard,” “V’asafta el tvuata,” “And harvest your produce,” “U’v’shana hashviit,” “And in the seventh year,” “Shabbat shabbaton,” “It should be a full shabbat,” “Shabbat shabbaton yihiyeh la’aretz,” “for the land,” “Shabbat ladonai,” “And a Shabbat for God,” “Sadcha lo tizra,” “Don’t plant your fields,” “V’charmcha lo tizmor,” “Don’t prune your vineyard.” Later on, by the way, in the same parsha, famously, we’ve got (Lev. 25:10) “V’kidashtam at shnat ha’chamishim shana” “You should sanctify the fiftieth year,” “U’kratem dror […]

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Different Jewish narratives in relation to place

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 | 24th day of the omer – tiferet she’b’netzach   Dear All, Tomorrow is Earth Day, and there’s lots happening. I hope you will attend some of the many events that are taking place, including our second annual #SoundTheCall. And tune in this Friday for the first episode of a new 6-part series that we’ve produced with EarthX – Jewish Life & Planet Earth. I wrote two weeks ago about Earth Day as a “secular chag.” My point was that it makes sense for us to use ritual, and to leverage the calendar, to really think about how we live on this planet – and how we change how we live upon it. Last week at our staff meeting I took this in a different direction. There are essentially three different contemporary narratives for someone who (for instance) is Jewish and thinking about relationships to ha’aretz – to the earth. I want to sketch these out, for us all to think about. One is Israel – the land of Israel, and nowadays the state of Israel. It’s where we entered human history. Our synagogues face towards it. Three times a day, we point ourselves in its direction – […]

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