Two ways to feel better this summer (or maybe three)

Thursday, July 16, 2020 | 24 Tammuz 5780

Dear All,

Wave upon wave of change and challenge.
For the Jewish community, as for the world, there have been overlapping responses since early March. Understanding what this thing was. Changes in behavior, in what you could do, where you could go.
A focus on kids, and on parents.
A whole series of organizational pivots. Health and human services, people in need. Schools, and what should they do? Summer camps, and could they open?
Funding challenges and choices and decisions.
Then Black Lives Matter. (Just as the coronavirus didn’t come out of thin air, “BLM” is short-hand for four centuries’ of inequity that needs to be addressed.)

I start with this because I want to reiterate a stark omission in this list of priorities. “The climate crisis,” which very few people, and very few institutions, have any bandwidth to think about right now, remains the defining – chronic, life-threatening – issue of our time. We care about the coronavirus because it threatens life and health, and because it challenges our normal life. And we care about BLM because we want to live in a world of equity and justice, and BLM makes clear that that’s not the reality for so many people right now. And yet it is against this backdrop that “the climate crisis” – chronic, rather than acute – dwarfs both issues. Choices that will be made in the coming years will be consequential for the life and health of hundreds of millions of people.

So for Hazon, this period has had an extra layer of weirdness. We had to cancel our Hakhel trips to Israel; cancel our planned retreats at Isabella Freedman; cancel our 2020 Israel Ride. But above and beyond that, the key long-term focus of our work – striving to catalyze the American Jewish community to really make sustainability a central commitment of Jewish life – has moved further to the back of the bus. Other than the most dedicated of activists, hardly anyone has time, energy, focus, bandwidth, to think about this issue right now.

But that’s the prelude to my gift, and my invitation to you, this summer.

First: I believe that most people – certainly most people reading this email – want to feel themselves to be on the right side of this issue; to be doing something that is a step in the right direction.

And secondly – and now entirely separately – now is a time, wherever you are, to focus on your health. With all the additional stresses and weirdnesses upon us, the temptation is to… temptation; more booze or more ice cream or whatever you go for.

So that’s why – for both these reasons – I want to invite you to join our 2020 Vision Rides this summer.


It’s a chance to do two things:

  1. Give a gift to Hazon (it doesn’t have to be huge….though we’d love it if it is!) and, ideally, ask at least a few people that you feel close to to do so also – because our work is critically important, and one way or another there’s another $360,000 we must raise between now and the end of the year to maintain our core work and programs; and
  2. Between now and Labor Day (and, really, between now and the chagim), get active.

Because without any additional fundraising commitment, once you register you have the chance to track miles that you run, or walk, or ride on a bike, and to see others also. We hope and intend it will be a boost and an incentive to push yourself a little, to create or kickstart a commitment to health. And – along the way – an encouragement to bike or walk to the store and not drive there.

So – detailed info is here. If you have questions or suggestions, be in touch.

But – seriously – if you sign up, right now, then (1) you will feel, I hope, that you are at least a small part of the solution; and (2), genuinely, we want to help and encourage you to become more active. There is no better time to start than… right now.

I said in parentheses that there’s a third way we could help you feel better. We are opening Isabella Freedman up for a small (socially distanced) group of people for a season of 5 and 12-day Getaways. The first people are there right now – and it is going well, and smoothly. Freedman is beautiful. The food is kosher, local – and superb. The Berkshires are in full bloom. The lake awaits you. So if you’d like to come up and escape from whatever city you’re in, you can register here. Register before 11:59pm this Sunday, July 19, with discount code “getaway” for $100 off the total price of Getaways.

Finally: we’re in The Three Weeks. Don’t allow this gift of Jewish tradition to be appreciated only by those who are most “orthodox,” however defined. The Three Weeks, like all of Jewish tradition, is a gift, for us to appreciate or not, as we choose. If we embrace it, this is a time to think of destructions in the world, and how human behavior has caused them. It is a time to consciously consume less – no new clothes; no meat; no booze. And it is a time to give tzedakah – to do rightly – and to be extra-kind and considerate to those around you. May it be so.

Shabbat shalom,


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