Topic: Siach

Siach for the Seas

By David Krantz Imagine a Siach that isn’t just for Jews, but isn’t secular — a Siach that’s wholly religious and spiritual, but involving many religions —  and you’d have a conference run by the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care. With financial support from Siach, NYU’s Hannah Engle Memorial Travel Fund, and generous individual donors, I traveled to Camp Mokuleia on the Hawaiian island of Oahu as the Green Zionist Alliance representative — and the only Jewish voice — in the first NRCCC conference to develop an interfaith ethic of the seas. While we all came from different faiths, we shared the same core values as well as the belief that our religions compel us to protect the Earth. And the most-neglected and least-understood place on Earth is the aquatic ecosystem that covers nearly three quarters of the planet. We know more about the moon’s surface than about the seafloor, more than 95 percent of which remains unexplored. Israel, of course, is home to four seas — the Dead Sea, the Galilee, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea — and since both the majority of people and the majority of Jews worldwide live near the sea, we as Jews […]

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Reflection on Law Society Human Rights Conference

By Simone Abel On 10 December 2012, I was privileged to attend the annual Law Society Human Rights Conference in London on a Siach Stipend.  The focus of the conference was the impact of human rights principles on discrimination law, particularly in the context of cases concerning discrimination against minority groups. As the conference explained, the European human rights system endeavours to protect the rights of all people by virtue of their humanity, but at times this requires taking positive steps, such as reasonable accommodation, in order to ensure that certain people or groups of people are not placed in an objectively worse situation on account of their minority background.  This gives rise to all kinds of legal complexities and allegations of reverse discrimination.  It is therefore important that minority groups have a grasp of the relevant human rights principles and how to effectively put them to use in advocating for the full attainment of their rights. In most parts of Europe these days, including the UK, Jews are considered to be an ‘upwardly mobile minority’, having managed to overcome (sometimes against tremendous odds) the barriers to equality in the societies in which they live.  At René Cassin, we use […]

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Tu B’Shmita: Jewish Energy Guide Released

By David Krantz NEW YORK (Jan. 16, 2014) — The next Shmita year is scheduled to begin in September, so we need to get ready! The Jewish Energy Guide is designed to help the Jewish community become more environmentally sustainable and help reduce our energy consumption in preparation for the next Shmita year. And in honor of Tu B’Shvat, the Green Zionist Alliance and the Coalition for the Environment and Jewish Life are releasing the complete Jewish Energy Guide as a PDF today. The 100-page Jewish Energy Guide features articles by fellow Siach members Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, Mirele Goldsmith, Einat Kramer, Jakir Manela, Evonne Marzouk, Rachel Jacoby Rosenfield, Rabbi David Seidenberg, Rabbi Lawrence Troster and Gail Wechsler, as well as Siach advisory-board member Naomi Tsur. Other contributors include Al Gore, Bill McKibben and Rabbi Arthur Waskow. Siach means conversation, and although the Jewish Energy Guide is being released today, the publication began simply with a conversation between me and COEJL Director Sybil Sanchez at the first Siach in 2011 at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. So this Tu B’Shvat, read the Jewish Energy Guide, begin preparations for Shmita, and start a conversation with someone new about Jewish environmentalism. Because […]

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Having a gay old time from Freedman to Eshbal… a cave man’s song not a cave man’s attitude!

A group of activists from North America, Israel and Europe who met at the first Siach conference at Isabella Freedman Retreat Centre, have been collaborating on a couple of projects since we left the lentils, goats and lake behind in May. The first of these projects engaged young Jewish leaders from Central and Eastern Europe with social justice in Israel when MiNYanim Central-Eastern Young Jewish Leadership program (run by Tamas Buchler from Hungary) visited Kibbutz Eshbal and had a workshop with Zohar Avigdori from the  ’Hechalutz’ educational center of the ‘Dror Israel’ movement. This brought together Jewish students from Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Germany and Israel to see examples of projects acting for a more just society.  This partnership emerged out of the personal connection between the two who met at the conference, had breakfast in Chinatown the morning after the conference, and that connection grew even stronger as they met once again a month later over a plate of Hummus in Akko, when Tamas visited Israel.  They realized that the two of them have a very similar vision, beliefs and ideology when it comes to Zionism and activism in Israel and the Diaspora and their collaboration seemed a natural fit. […]

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René Cassin Fellows Program

When Simone Abel of Rene Cassin and Rabbi Sid Schwartz of CLAL first ran into each other at Limmud, they had the sense that they might enjoy working together. But it wasn’t until the Siach Conference that they found the time to meet, get to know each other, sit down and start seriously discussing ideas for trans-Atlantic collaboration. The idea for the René Cassin Fellows Program (RCFP) was born out of that conversation. RCFP will be a unique educational experience for Jews in their 20s and 30s from North America, Israel, Europe and the U.K. with an interest in social justice. The program will offer participants a year-long course on human rights, social justice and international relations which will be presented by experts in these fields. The program will culminate in a two-week educational trip to visit courts, legal systems and human rights organizations in Strasbourg, the Hague, New York, Washington DC and Jerusalem, where participants will have the opportunity to meet their cohorts from other regions of the world and to visit key international social justice and Jewish institutions. The RCFP would capitalize on the large number of Jews who are pursuing careers in the fields of law, politics, […]

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Siach Collaboration Spreads as Far as India

By Yonatan Glaser, Director, B’Tzedek, (and Manager of the joint initiative in India), and Nir Lahav, Director, Project T.E.N. and the Director of Young Activism Unit, The Jewish Agency For Israel It is with great excitement that the Jewish Agency’s Project T.E.N. and B’Tzedek recently announced their partnership to create a volunteer center for service learning and international development in India. The Directors of T.E.N. (Nir Lahav) and B’Tzedek (Yonatan Glaser) met for the first time at Siach. The T.E.N.-B’Tzedek center will serve Jewish young adults from around the Jewish world (including Siach’s ‘Israel, North America and Europe’ formulation). The program will embody and build Jewish peoplehood, engage in service projects based on the insights and principles of international development, and deepen and carry forward the agenda of Tikkun Olam. It will launch with the first cohort on August 6, 2012. Siach’s objective of deepening networks amongst people working in Jewish environmental and social justice work was of unique value to us. Siach created a space for us to come together to learn and network. The informal yet ‘electrified’ Siach setting had a formative impact on the formation and trajectory of our relationship. The opportunity to meet in a small […]

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Spotlight on a Siach Partnership: Rosh Hashanah LaBehema

Aharon Varady (The Open Siddur Project, USA) has joined forces with Yossi Wolfson (Ginger, Israel) and Shmuly Yanklowitz (Uri L’Tzedek, USA)  to revive the Mishnaic idea of Rosh Hashana LaBehama, Rosh Hashana for animals. So what is “the New Year for Animals”? According to the Mishnah (Rosh Hashanah, Chapter 1, Mishna 1) the first of the month of Elul is “the new year for tithing of beasts,” the same source that tells us that Tu B’Shvat is the New Year for trees. Originally, Tu B’Shvat served as a marker of time for taxation and tithes for trees and it has transformed into a spiritual/activist holiday relating to the celebration of the environment and the natural world surrounding us. The hope is that the first of Elul can also become a holiday celebrating our relationship with animals. Whereas tithing animals is not relevant nowadays – cruelty to animals in agriculture is harsher than ever. Jewish teachings about our duties to animals are thus more relevant than ever, and a day dedicated to the issue is a pressing need. By renewing and reclaiming the first of Elul in this manner, we can take a day that was once connected to sacrifice of […]

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