Those of you who know me well, know that I have ADD. That is to say I often struggle to get things done, to do them on time, or in some instances to remember them at all. And yet perhaps because of that, I find that in at least some respects, I’m planning further and further ahead. With that in mind, and with Tisha B’Av now behind us, here are a mixed few things to think about and plan ahead for: some from the calendar, some from Hazon’s work. In chronological order this short-ish list runs from this Shabbat to Rosh Hashanah in 2022.
This Shabbat. It’s actually not just this Shabbat (which is Shabbat Nachamu), it’s actually any Shabbat. I’ve just been thinking about going to shul a lot recently: when I go, when I don’t go, why I go, (why I don’t go), all that stuff. This is worthy of a longer essay, but for now I simply want to say that a) I think shuls are under some pressure these days, and that when we go (and when we join, even if we don’t go), the act of doing so is a mitzvah. And to those who run shuls: I think we can and should be doing more to blow the doors wide open. Services often work for the x% of people who for whatever reason do go. But the y% who don’t go is in most places way more people. Anyway: if you were half thinking about it, just go to shul. Really.
Tu B’Av. Tu B’Av is on Sunday night. It’s the full moon of Av, and the biblical festival of love. Check out the moon. Ask someone out on a date. Wear a white dress. Take your beloved out for a treat. (And whether you’re single or paired and thinking about love and relationships, check out our BeLoved retreat with Rabbi Efraim Eisen at Isabella Freedman on August 5 – 11.
Elul. Rosh Hodesh Elul this year starts on the evening of Monday August 5. That means that Wednesday August 7 is the first day of Elul, the starting bell – actually, the starting shofar blast – for the period of reflection that peaks at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and finally ends on Simchat Torah. Buy a new journal. Or get some new app. Clear the crap out of your cupboards. Or spend a week on the beach (leave the cellphone and iPad at home). Because Elul is the start of returning to our best selves.
Labor Day weekend. If you have plans, then I wish you a great Labor Day weekend. If you don’t – come to Isabella Freedman for the 13th Hazon New York Ride!!! We still have space available. Last year we had a 12-year-old thrill himself and his mother by setting out to do 75 miles, and completing a full century (100 miles). And we were greeted at ride’s end by not one but two babies born to two couples who had each met at the NY Ride. August 30 – September 2.
Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkahfest at Isabella Freedman. That’s three separate holidays and three separate events. I’ve been at Isabella Freedman for both Rosh Hashanah and Sukkahfest in the past. This year I plan to be there for Sukkahfest. It is so glorious to be in the country – with hot and cold running kosher goat cheese – and the lake, and the mountains, and by Sukkot the leaves starting to turn.
Sometime between now and Simchat Torah. Give a new or increased donation to Hazon! For 13 years we’ve steadily worked hard and creatively both to renew Jewish life and genuinely find ways to create a more sustainable world for all. We do this on a tight budget, with little margin for error; and this year two foundations have provided funds to match new or increased gifts to Hazon. So a) it’s a mitzvah to give tzedakah in the lead-up to the chaggim and b) we really need your help and c) this year your gift (or the increase on your gift) will be worth double. And a huge thank you to everyone who has given a donation – including sponsored one of our riders – already this year.
October 20 in Philadelphia. Our first-ever Philadelphia Jewish Food Festival!!!!! Put it in your calendar. Great sessions, great people… great food.
December 9 – 12 is our first ever Rabbis’ Retreat. Details to follow, but if you’re a rabbi – or know one and love one – pencil this in your or their calendar. We intend that it’s going to be really amazing, with great food, yoga twice a day (for those who want), rich learning, spirited davening. Watch this space.
Spring 2014: The JOFEE Report. The Jewish world has been lacking… a new acronym. Yup. You heard it here first. So in spring 2014 we plan to be launching the JOFEE Report. JOFEE stands for Jewish Outdoor, Food & Environmental Education: the burgeoning field that includes not only our work but that of people like Eden Village, Ganei Beantown, Pushing the Envelope Farm, Ramah Outdoor Adventures, Urban Adamah, and Wilderness Torah, to name just six. We’re working with five funders and two outside research houses to document the development and impact of this field. Next spring we plan to publish that report and, we hope, initiate a conversation about how JOFEE programs can, could, or should strengthen Jewish life across the country – and help the Jewish community create a more sustainable world for all.
The start of the next shmita year: September 24, 2014. Yup – only 434 shopping days from today until the next shmita year begins. Early next September, we’re planning to publish our first book – more details on that in the spring. But seriously, instead of letting shmita come upon us: here is this gift from Jewish tradition that invites us to think about – amongst other things – our relationship to land and food, inequity, debt, and rest, to name just a few. If you’re a rabbi or organizational leader – if you sit on a board – if you’re involved in a school or Hillel or a business, now is the time to start a conversation about shmita. Let’s put the shmita year – and the shmita cycle – back into the frame of Jewish life. How could or should we eat differently that year? What are our goals for our institution? What if we planted fruit trees together – between now and then – so that we could enjoy them in the next shmita cycle? What’s our sabbatical policy, and what should it be? What if we framed the full shmita cycle – from Rosh Hashanah in 2015 to the day before Rosh Hashanah in 2022 – into Jewish life? What would that look like? What could it or should it look like?
So, anyway, this is some of what I’ve been thinking about. And we’re planning our next Israel Sustainable Food Tour for Fall 2014. Book now: tickets selling out fast!
Enjoy the summer,
Executive Director, Hazon
Top 10 Reasons Why I Ride With Hazon
By Rabbi Valerie Lieber
10. The motivation of training for a two-day ride (in my
case 60 miles per day) is the only way I can get inspired to exercise
regularly. This is peer pressure of the most positive kind.
9. For me, the fundraising is enjoyable and absolutely
addictive. Every time a new email rolls in from Hazon reading “Congratulations!
You have just received a donation on your personal page!” my heart beats more
quickly. I view fundraising as a chance to provide my family, friends,
co-workers and congregants an opportunity to do a mitzvah, to make the world a
better place. Some people feel like it is schnorring, but the money doesn’t go
to me, so I feel like it is providing a gateway to holiness.
8. Each year I have honored or memorialized someone
important with my ride. First I rode in memory of my father who loved long bike
rides, gardening and nature. The following year I rode in honor of my mom who
had just gotten on her bike again after recovering from hip replacement
surgery. Last year I rode in honor of my 8 nieces. This year I’m riding in
honor of my wife Leah Kopperman. This is in honor of our 20 years together, our
10 years as a married couple (with a ketubah and chuppah, but no civil
document), our 1 year anniversary of being legally married (by Judge Devin
Cohen, husband of Hazon COO Cheryl Cook) in New York State, and now last month
becoming legally married federally with the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA. Riding
to bring honor to these people elevates my ride even further.
7. I love getting to spend a long weekend with intelligent
passionate people who take Judaism seriously and care about the connection
between food and environment. They also enjoy the outdoors. I have had
innumerable interesting conversations over meals, at study sessions and just
sitting in the grass.
6. I have learned a huge amount about biking, bicycle
equipment, stretching, staying hydrated, and cycling vocabulary (like bonking)
from my Hazon riding buddies and the staff. What an excellent non-threatening
way to go from being a cycling novice to a cycling…well…non-novice.
5. The community on the New York Ride is wonderfully
diverse. The Hazon ride community is the most welcoming, accepting Jewish
community with which I’ve spent time. Whether you are Conservative, Yiddishist,
secular Atheist, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform, your way of being a Jew
4. Spending time out in the countryside is spectacular.
3. It’s really fun.
2. Even when I think I don’t have much more to learn about
sustainability, I’m always wrong and learn lots of new stuff.
1. Labor Day has gone from being my least favorite holiday
(end of summer, start of the school year, etc.) to one of my most favorite
holidays. I look forward to the weekend and the ride all year long.
Rabbi Val Lieber is
riding in her fourth New York Ride this year. Val lives in Brooklyn with her
wife Leah and her cats Eddy and Patsy.
Do you know an engaged, environmentally conscious young adult who is approaching their bar or bat mitzvah? Hazon’s B’nei Mitzvah program is the perfect opportunity to connect teens to both the larger Jewish community and the food and environmental movements. By raising funds for Hazon in honor of their bar or bat mitzvah, teens are able to put their footprint on the important work that we do. For more information, please contact Jessie Karsif at email@example.com.
The Cross-USA Ride Comes to the Midwest
Join the Cross-USA Ride as it crosses the midway point of its journey, from Seattle to Washington DC. Cycle with our mobile Jewish community for one day, a few days, a week, or even a month! Or simply join us to meet the riders on their adventure: Twin Cities (this Shabbat!), Madison (7/24), or Milwaukee (7/26). Also, you can join us for the exciting volunteering activities and incredible riding we’ll be doing in Chicago (7/28-7/31)
Stories of Change at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival
Join Hazon in attending the 33rd Annual San Francisco Jewish Film Festival for Stories of Change on July 26th at the Castro Theater. SFJFF will be showing a full day of award-winning documentaries that offer us the opportunity to repair the world through our actions (the Jewish practice of tikkun olam). These powerful stories reveal the real people behind the issues we care about. We’re co-sponsoring two films that we’re most excited to see:
“Rafea: Solar Mama” is about a Bedouin Jordanian grandmother who is offered the opportunity to attend Barefoot College in India where she is trained to harness the sun’s energy to help her rural community thrive through applying sustainable solar energy solutions. (7/26/13, 12:00pm, Castro Theater).
“American Commune” is about two women who return to the hippie commune where they grew up in the 1970s. Members forked over their savings, grew their own food, delivered their babies at home and built a self-sufficient society. Raised in this alternative community by a Jewish mother from Beverly Hills and a Puerto Rican father from the Bronx, the filmmakers reflect on their upbringing in this utopian, socialist, intentional community. (7/26/13, 8:55pm, Castro Theater).
Hazon & MJE Shabbat Dinner in NYC
Manhattan Jewish Experience and Hazon are teaming up for an amazing Friday night experience. Farm to Table food, warm and inviting setting, fantastic mix of YJPs from both organizations plus guest speaker and Hazon founder, Nigel Savage, promise to make this an incredible summer experience!
Friday, July 26th at Manhattan Jewish Experience
Prayers: 7:30 pm
Dinner: 8:00 pm
Ways to Get Involved with Ekar Farm in Colorado
The 4th annual Tour De Farm has arrived! A 16 mile bike ride from Ekar Farm to Delaney Farm and back along the High Line Canal Bike Path. A fun family ride “through the breadbasket of Denver!!”
Sunday, July 28th
Meet at Ekar Farm at 8:00 am