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Topic: Rides

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Reflections from Israel & a Critical Error of Omission in the American Jewish Community

By Nigel Savage Wednesday, November 13, 2019 | 15th Cheshvan 5780 Dear All, I got an inexpensive Airbnb near the marina in Ashkelon, to decompress for a day after the Israel Ride and to catch up with some work and write this email. Right now I’m in the marina. Totally deserted. There were more than 200 missiles shot out of Gaza, yesterday and today, and everything in the south – schools, shops, businesses – is closed. I’m one of just two customers in the only café open here. It is quieter, far quieter, than Israel on Yom Kippur. It is strange to sit in an apartment, as I was doing a couple of hours ago; hear a siren go off; and then walk a few feet into the room which is a miklat, a sealed shelter, as one is instructed to do. Then a few seconds later you hear a boom go off, quite close by, presumably an Iron Dome intercepting the incoming missile. Before walking to the marina I was asking a friend in Kfar Saba what the custom was if you’re in the street when a siren goes off. She said, look, you have to duck and try to get cover, because you may […]

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Endings and beginnings

 Significant staff changes at Hazon… Thursday, August 8, 2019 | 6 Av 5779 Dear All, In the Torah, this is an end, and then a beginning. We’re starting to read the book of Devarim. It’s the last book of the Torah, and a pivot which leads in one direction to the post-Torah books, Nevi’im and Ketuvim (the Prophets and the Writings) and, in a different direction, back again to the Genesis stories. In the Jewish calendar, this is the end of the three weeks. On Saturday night Tisha b’avbegins, and we re-enact our own deaths; on Sunday afternoon we start to come back to life, and in due course it will be Tu b’av, the festival of love, and then Elul and the beginning of a whole new year. And at Hazon much change also. Our strategic plan marks the end of one era, and the start of the next. It represents the belated completion of the three-way merger between Hazon, Isabella Freedman, and Teva. Legally that merger took place on the 1st of January 2014. But it is only now, in a sense, that we are finally committing to weave together the different parts of this organization towards a single clear goal – changing the nature of organized Jewish life, […]

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Strategy Update

Thursday, February 7th, 2019 | 2nd Adar I, 5779 We’re in the middle of our strategic planning process. I want to give you a sense of where we are and perhaps where we’re heading. First of all: a huge thank you to the significant number of people who have participated in this process. Nine people – five lay, four staff – are on the Advisory Committee that is leading this process, ably chaired by Jessica Haller.  We’re working with Wellspring consultants, and the key staffers there now feel like old friends. 298 people filled out an online survey (thank you!). 31 people did one-on-one interviews with our consultants. There have been three significant focus groups, and two weeks ago a six-hour meeting with 28 of our staff and the Wellspring folk. I believed before we began that this was going to be necessary and important. Now, though we haven’t yet landed, we have a much clearer sense of this – including one hugely significant consequence we hadn’t previously focused on. We’re not changing our mission and vision. We’re about “healthier and more sustainable.” We strengthen Jewish life – and help create a more sustainable world for all. We’re the Jewish […]

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Significant News in Relation to the 2019 New York Ride

Hazon as a whole is in the middle of a strategic planning process. We began it in the late summer of last year and intend to land it by late spring. It relates to all of our programs. The goal is to narrow our focus, increase our impact, and strengthen our business model. As I write it’s too soon to know exactly how the process will close, but there is a general sense amongst key stakeholders that we are making good progress. In recent years we’ve been absolutely thrilled at the human impact of the New York Ride, which has continued to be a joyous and impactful event. For those who were there in ’17, for instance, I still recall the extraordinary way that people rose to the challenge of extreme and unexpected weather. It literally brought out the best in everyone. But even as the human impact of the Ride has continued to be strong, we’ve struggled somewhat in recruitment and fundraising. Given this, we have decided not to produce the New York Ride this year. Instead we’ll go into a planning process for the Ride itself, and to some extent for “the Rides” overall. What are our overarching […]

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Pittsburgh/Israel

I’m in Israel with our largest ever Israel Ride – 219 participants, plus more than 60 crew and staff members. Six of our riders live in Pittsburgh, two are members of the shul that was attacked, and many more grew up in Pittsburgh or have spent much of their lives there. One person lost one of his closest friends. Two of our riders were married by someone who was shot and had an operation yesterday and is in hospital right now. So – we are a long way away, and it feels very very close. I and all of us send love and condolences to everyone in Pittsburgh and to everyone who is mourning. And, in a different sense, to everyone in the Jewish community and everyone in America who is appalled and shocked that we have reached this point. This morning we stood together overlooking Machtesh Ramon and we sang Eitz Chayim Hi – the words that we read before returning the Torah to the ark on Shabbat morning, the tune that is so beautiful and well-loved. Shuls will be packed next Shabbat morning, across America – shuls should be packed, next Shabbat morning, across America – and I suspect the most intense moment will be […]

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The Overstory: A First-Ever Hazon Book Club!

by Nigel Savage Thursday, August 9, 2018 | 28 Av 5778 Dear All, On Shabbat it’s the last day of Av and the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul. (And my grandma’s yahrtzeit.) Sunday morning – the second day of Rosh Chodesh, and the first day of Elul itself – is the first morning we blow shofar. (And this was also, though I didn’t realize this until he died, my father’s birthday.) So: the period of teshuva begins. With it I invite you to read The Overstory by Richard Powers. (Buy it from the Hazon Store by August 31 for 20% off with code Overstory.) I can’t say that it is the best book I’ve ever read, but I can’t think of another book that is better. It is rich, complicated, creative, intricate. Hard and tragic. Thought-provoking, and then some. It is as beautifully written as anything you’ll ever read. If you possibly can, don’t read anything about it. Don’t read a review. Don’t read the blurb on the book itself. At most you can read the table of contents, and wonder a little about that, and then turn to page 1. (After you finish the book you can – as I did – read the magisterial […]

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FUNdraising Tip #5: Say Thank You

After 5 weeks of FUNdraising tips, we hope you’ve been raking in the donations! Immediately after someone has donated to your Ride, send them a quick email or call them to thank them. Then, after the Ride, we recommend sending handwritten thank you cards. Going the extra mile will make your donors really feel appreciated and they’ll want to donate again next year!

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FUNdraising Tip #4: Show the Impact

Feel free to copy and paste some of the language below on social media and in your fundraising emails. WHERE THE MONEY GOES: Hazon Seal of Sustainability: Option 1: Through the Hazon Seal of Sustainability, Hazon works with Jewish communities and institutions across the US to help them embrace sustainability efforts that reduce waste, improve energy efficiency, increase renewable energy, and improve health. Many of these initiatives can help save thousands of energy dollars per year, and most importantly, can help significantly reduce the collective carbon footprint of the Jewish community. Option 2: Through the Hazon Seal of Sustainability, Hazon is helping to green over 60 Jewish institutions across the US, including synagogues, schools, camps, and JCCs. Many have started or significantly expanded composting programs and other efforts to raise awareness around food waste, diverting hundreds of thousands of pounds from the landfill each year. Several have installed energy efficiency upgrades that are already saving thousands of dollars per institution per year, including most recently Isabella Freedman! Most significantly, thousands of people who visit these institutions are learning about their greening efforts, and Hazon’s educational resources are permeating into communities around the country. Adamah: Adamah is a residential farming fellowship providing a crucial bridge for […]

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FUNdraising Tip #3: Spread the word

 Watch this short video from 2017 NY Ride honoree Ruth Messinger for some fundraising encouragement!   Although fundraising may seem intimidating at first, you probably know more people than you realize. To start your fundraising, you need to first make a list of who you will ask. And remember, people don’t give to support causes as much as they give to support people: your friends, family, and colleagues will donate to your ride because YOU are riding. Start by sending some emails and posting on social media and follow up in a couple of weeks.  

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FUNdraising Tip #2: Personalize it

This is an easy one and only takes 5 minutes: personalize your fundraising page with a photo and text about why you’re riding. Putting in a little bit of effort shows your donors that you’re serious about what you’re fundraising for and they will be more likely to support you. Log into your participant center here to update your page and create a custom URL. We recommend bookmarking this page.

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FUNdraising Tip #1: Set a Goal

Every Rider has a fundraising minimum, but we encourage you to aim higher. The higher your fundraising target, the more generous your supporters will be. When you are close to meeting your target, consider setting a higher one. Need some extra incentives? Take a look at what you can earn if you fundraise above your required minimum!

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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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