Shana Tova

This is a brief note to thank you for your support during this year that’s gone by, and to wish you and your family well in the coming year.

It has been a hard and complicated year for the world and for the Jewish people, and yet Sunday’s Climate March here in New York summed up what our response to challenge can be and should be: bringing people together with determination, idealism, and a shared commitment to a better future for everyone.

For Hazon this has been a remarkable year. We completed the merger between Hazon and Isabella Freedman. We delivered more than 26,000 person-days of immersive programs – and we published the JOFEE Report, substantiating the human impact of many of those programs. (Plus we added a vitally needed new acronym to the American Jewish lexicon: it stands for “Jewish Outdoor, Food & Environmental Education.”) Jewish Food Festivals are sprouting around the country. With the support of the Leichtag Foundation we hired our first staffer in southern California. We’ve hired a wonderful new director for Teva, and we continue to deepen and broaden our work in Boulder, Denver, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. We’ve had a further joyful crop of Adamah/Hazon/Teva weddings and babies. We delivered our first-ever rabbis’ retreat. We produced an amazing Shmita Summit in London. The provisions that Hazon and our partners lobbied for ended up in the Farm Bill (though I’m not sure that we particularly made a difference – huge kudos goes to Oran Hesterman’s Fair Food Network, on one side, and AJWS on the other.) We just published our first book – Shabbat Ha’Aretz, and, as the shmita year begins, our multi-year commitment to bringing shmita back into joyful observance is visibly paying off. And behind the scenes we’ve done important work building systems that should enable us to grow our impact substantially in the coming year.

The year that starts tomorrow night will be the shmita year, but it is not quite a year of rest here at Hazon. We had a fire at Isabella Freedman, and we have a new building to plan and build. We have a record number of people about to do our Israel Ride. We’re about to go into a planning/visioning process in which we’ll look at our strategy in NY (including our Jewish Greening Fellowship); our national strategy; and multi-year goals for the Jewish Food Movement, including our first-ever conference for Jewish people working professionally with food, in conjunction with Schusterman Connection Points. We’re deepening the working relationship between Adamah and Teva. We want to use the Freedman campus to serve communities in the New York area more deeply and more strategically. And we hope and intend that Sunday’s Climate March will be a springboard to deeper conversations in the Jewish community, over the coming year, about what the Jewish response to climate change could be and should be.

David Weisberg and I want to record our really enormous gratitude to our phenomenal staff and board members; this is a shared and growing accomplishment, and every day we get to experience and enjoy the idealism and commitment of those around us.

If you have supported us this last year, thank you very much indeed. If you are minded to give us a Rosh Hashanah gift, please click here; we need to raise at least a further $170,000 before the end of the year. With your help, we’re cautiously hopeful that we’ll succeed.

Finally: do join with us in celebrating the shmita year of 5775. You can get a copy of our Shmita Sourebook here. And we’d especially love to welcome you, your family, or your community at Isabella Freedman or at one of our other programs.

Shana tova – wishing you a healthier, happier, and more sustainable new year.