Hakhel Newsletter: October 2022

Dear Hakhel Communities,

I hope you had a wonderful chagim season filled with beautiful community, spiritual moments, and important new beginnings on a personal and collective level.

Speaking of new beginnings, Simchat Torah marks the start of reading the Torah anew, and we continue this week with the story of the righteous Noah (Noach) and the ark he built to prepare for a global flood. As community leaders we can likely relate to Noach, who spends a copious amount of time (120 years, according to Rabbinic tradition!) preparing for this big event, when he was to make two of every kind of animal in existence feel at home. This in fact proved to be a taxing task, as during the entire year spent in the ark during the flood, Midrash relates that Noach and his sons were sorely overworked, spending all their time feeding the animals according to each one’s personal specifications. It seems Noach’s conscientious efforts paid off, as after the flood, God made a covenant with Noach and his descendants, symbolized by a rainbow.

A midrash relates that during those long 120 years of preparation, God designed Noach’s ark-building as a strange project that would attract attention – which was accentuated even more by having Noach build the ark not at the seashore, but on top of a mountain! This way people’s curiosity would be aroused and they would engage with Noach in a conversation about the global crisis, what he was doing, and why. Perhaps then they would change their evil ways, and a flood to wipe out the world would not be necessary.

This story has contemporary implications. These days we are also in multiple worldwide crises – global warming is one that comes top of mind. What are we doing about our crises – are we reaching out to influence others, or are we building insulated arks around ourselves in order to ignore the problems of society? Will we have 120 years to set the world on a better track?

We hope you and your community are seriously considering the significant role you can play through your community’s mission that can help repair the world in some way. Beginning this Friday, our Climate Leadership Coordinator, Craig Oshkello, will be hosting a series of Zoom meetings to discuss and refine Hahkel’s plans for action. If you, or people you know in your community are motivated to take on this role, either at a local level or on the global stage, be sure to tune in to one of these informational meetings. To register for a meeting please contact Craig, craig.oshkello@hazon.org. 


Deborah Fishman

Hakhel Network Manager


Greetings from the women’s community “Naomi” from Karaganda, Kazakhstan.

We loved celebrating Sukkot and today we would like to share memories from an event that took place some time ago.

Typically the weather in our area is already very cold on Sukkot, but two years ago it was warm and sunny. We built a sukkah in one of our member’s houses, decorated it, and prepared tasty food with a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables from our gardens.

As usual, we acknowledged traditions of the day, and told the stories connected with Sukkot. There was a quiz presented, and in the evening we sang songs. The time flew by.

Ladies prepared little gifts, and one of them was a pomegranate. A pomegranate is a symbol of Judaism. A pomegranate is similar to the Jewish community. There can be a lot of different groups inside a community, for instance: kids, teenagers, young adults and elderly. This is the case in Karaganda, and “Naomi” takes part in helping each group in Karaganda.

From Naomi,

With love.



Hakhel’s work to support the development of Jewish Intentional Communities worldwide aims to strengthen the connection between Israel and World Jewry. To do so, Hakhel has partnered with the Oshman Family JCC Z3 Project – which promotes this connection through modeling how Zionism can evolve and how Jewish communities can come together for meaningful discussions about the Diaspora and Israel – and the Varda Institute for Community Building, led by Dr. Sara Shadmi. Together we will build upon the success of Z3 and develop a model that ties together the Z3 approach, community-building principles, and knowledge and experience of our Hakhel Communities. 

Our communities can benefit from mapping out what this model will look like in their local context, identifying and approaching local Jewish institutions and other partners and stakeholders to participate in the discussions, and holding mini Z3’s in a way that builds and benefits the local community.

The process kicks off at a seminar at the Z3 Conference, taking place December 8-11. To learn more, contact Moshe Samuels at moshe.samuels@hazon.org. 

Hakhel Creative Gathering Trip to South Africa

The Hakhel Creative Gathering Trip is happening November 28-December 5 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The content of the program will be derived from a workshopped process of identity and cultural exploration, culminating with the group putting on a general art showcase together. Participants will be exposed to different South African communities and, as an integral part of the program with support from Shalom Corps, will volunteer with Creative Arts Space, an outdoor organization that specializes in arts, engineering, science, craft etc., with the aim to connect all artists around the world to share their work experience with kids. Further, participants will explore topics and ask questions relating to Israel, Diaspora relations, the environment, the South African Rainbow Nation and  reconciliation, and see if it can be applied to the concept of the Israel mosaic. If you are interested, please contact Deborah Fishman at deborah.fishman@hazon.org.

Toolkit from the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of British Columbia (ANHBC)

We wanted to share this fantastic resource from the ANHBC They appreciate the immense value Neighbourhood and Community Centres have for our communities. They offer incredible and useful insights into creating and sustaining Centres.

Developed in 2017, this toolkit outlines in detail each step towards starting and continuing the operation of a neighbourhood house/centre developed through the voice of the people.

Download here.


Last weekend, Hakhel partnered with Moishe House at a retreat near Barcelona, with 35 amazing young leaders from Europe. The partnership between Hakhel and Moishe House is a natural one. We have been discussing it for a long time, but then Covid came along. Now we’re finally able to restart it. Can Moishe House leaders become Hakhel community leaders later on? We surely believe so!

By the way, the theme of the retreat is Hanukkah, and we opened with the famous piece from Friends, so say Shabbat Shalom to the Holiday Armadillo!!


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