Hakhel Newsletter February 2022

Dear Hakhel Communities,

What makes the world holy, and how can we increase the holiness of the world together? In this week’s Torah portion, T’tzaveh, the Israelites learn about how to organize a community with Torah at the center, in a way that truly elevates the mundane to the holy. For instance, the brilliant priestly garments – with precious stones and metals donated by the community – and the rite of priestly consecration are described, as well as the garb of the High Priest, complete with Stones of Remembrance bearing the names of the 12 Tribes for his shoulders.

It is clear from these instructions that we live in an interconnected ecosystem, where resources, people, and places can be given sacred meaning and influence one another through channels of mutual obligation and responsibility. In today’s context where we face environmental destruction and human suffering, how can we apply these lessons to repair our world and allow it to flourish?

February 20 is the World Day of Social Justice (as referenced in the graphic above). We hope you find inspiration to take this opportunity for your community to engage in social justice projects locally or globally, or even simply to have some of these important conversations about your community’s role in, and impact on, the wider ecosystem.

We look forward to seeing how these conversations develop and how we can work together to change the world. Let’s talk about it – for instance, at the upcoming Israel Trip & Summit in May! See important registration details about this opportunity below. We hope to see you there. 

Until then, yours truly,

Deborah Fishman

Hakhel Network Manager

This month, we feature an interview with Lina Abadi of LAZOS Mexico! Read on here to learn how through LAZOS Lina offers “spaces to get out of the ‘mold’ and live a Jewish life congruent with the wishes and needs of each person.” Want to be the community leader interviewed next? Email Deborah at deborah.fishman@hazon.org! 

Tell us in a few words about your community and what is special about it.

Lazos in México is special because it serves a very important opportunity area for young adults of the Jewish community in México: There are few spaces for those ages, and young people of that profile are not involved, so Lazos generates very important local and international network that strengthens their Jewish identity and their connection with other Jewish youngsters. Also, we offer spaces to get out of the “mold” and live a Jewish life congruent with the wishes and needs of each person. In Lazos we attract profiles that are outside the community sphere and do not identify with that life model either. We seek to strengthen their Jewish identity and ties.

What put you on this path to be a community builder and leader?

My passion for thinking about the future of the Jewish generations, for adapting to the new times, for offering new community models that activate and involve young adults, besides attending to their current needs.

How is Judaism part of your community’s life and identity?

Judaism is transversal, it is in every activity and in every space. It is a fundamental part of what we do because the links between the members provide a new meaning in relation to Judaism and their new ways of perceiving themselves as modern Jews adapted to new challenges.

What is one takeaway or lesson from your work that you would like to share?

I like to know that I can build new models of Jewish leadership that go beyond the typical institutional model, something that is also a new way to activate the youth of today. It is a modern model that does not exist in México and has been very successful for being innovative. I am very happy to bring this to México and teach new models for young people to participate and strengthen their Jewish identity instead of walking away. 

I also believe that I am building new paths to live a life that does not fit into a single conventional model. I believe in models that allow people to be congruent with themselves and be happier, without having to give up their Judaism and their identity.

Hakhel Israel Summit – May 9-15, 2022

Register for the Trip & Summit!

Please join us in Israel for the Hakhel Israel Trip and Summit! Does what happens at the Israel Summit stay at the Israel Summit? For answers to these and more questions you may be wondering about to determine whether it’s the right opportunity for you, please read the following interview with Hakhel’s Director of Israel Programs Gabe Axler.

I hear there’s a Hakhel Israel Trip and Summit in May! Tell me more…

Yes! We’re so excited to have an in-person gathering of global Hakhel communities hailing from so many different places and backgrounds! This is a tour of Israeli intentional communities (May 9-13) plus Summit (May 13-15) package providing you with practical knowledge and inspiration that you can take back home. The Israel trip will offer an in-depth look at existing, thriving intentional communities in Israel and allow you to visit them and hear from the leaders themselves. We will be offering tracks in order to focus on specific community styles, cultures, and expertises (i.e., Arts & Culture, Russian and Spanish-speaking, etc). Then, the Summit will give you many opportunities to learn from and with peers in similar positions to your own, but located around the world! It’s a unique opportunity to delve into real-life community-building concepts and gain concrete tools and insights. 

Most importantly, we hope that what happens at the Israel Summit… won’t stay at the Israel Summit… but rather that our dear community leaders will feel both personally re-energized and also inspired to take home that individual experience for the benefit of their local community.

What happens at the Israel Summit?

The Summit will use the Five Pillars of Hakhel as our guide star as we dive into: Community Development and Building; Leadership Development; Jewish Life & Literacy; Israel Connection; and JOFEE (Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming & Environmental Experiences). We will address these Five Pillars in unique, experiential ways. For instance, we will have deep conversations about the complex Israel-Diaspora relationship, develop tools for your community-building tool box, and have the opportunity to celebrate Shabbat with people coming from lots of different traditions. First and foremost, we will be utilizing the talents within our network and highlighting that unique knowledge that we hold as a network – as well as bringing in many experts from different fields connected to community-building.

Why is the Summit happening in Israel?

Geographically and also ideologically, the relationship to Israel is a linchpin of what Hakhel rests on and a guide for how we are building our own network. In addition, there’s an important opportunity this year to experience Shmita in Israel, where it is traditionally exclusively observed. Shmita – the Sabbatical year happening every seven years – is a unique concept for talking about how to sanctify communal time, space and land and how that plays out in our relationship to the land and to community.

What about COVID?

We acknowledge that we are still living in a time of pandemic. Rest assured that we will be operating according to all government guidelines, and you will have medical coverage as part of this experience. 

Any further questions or concerns, please talk to us! You can contact Gabe anytime and wherever you are in the world, at gabe.axler@hazon.org

Looking for Resources for Jewish Learning?

If so, good news! Hakhel is building a partnership with IYUN, a cohort-based Jewish learning experience for adults facilitated by local educators, which builds community through the study of Torah. Through this partnership, IYUN will provide Hakhel communities with 8-10 weeks of curricular content for Jewish text study, polished marketing materials, teacher training, and ongoing Help Desk support. If you are looking for a well-structured and accessible opportunity for your community to engage in learning – with the partnership of an expert team of Jewish educators and trainers – please contact your advisor for more information. (Currently this program is offered at no cost to Hakhel communities.) We hope this partnership will support our communities in building a thicker social fabric and a shared common language for the rhythms and big questions at the heart of contemporary Jewish life and practice. 

Hazon Shmita Sourcebook

The Hazon Shmita Sourcebook presents a guided exploration of the history, concepts, and practices of Shmita, from debt forgiveness to agricultural rest, economic adjustment to charitable giving. The updated sourcebook explores texts and commentaries that build the framework of Shmita within the biblical and rabbinic tradition, as well as contemporary voices that speak to Shmita as it relates to our modern world.

This comprehensive, accessible sourcebook is well-suited for individual, partnered, and group study, with guiding text and discussion questions to enhance your learning, regardless of educational background. The Hazon Shmita Sourcebook offers a holistic understanding of Shmita, from the depth of Jewish tradition to the most pressing issues of our time.

Click here to download the sourcebook.