Pearlstone Announces Merger Plans with Hazon

By Alan Feiler | JMORE

The Pearlstone Retreat Center and Outdoor Education Campus in Reisterstown announced July 8 it has merged with the New York-headquartered Hazon, the largest faith-based environmental organization in the nation.

Jakir Manela has served as CEO of Pearlstone since 2012.

The organizations’ board of directors unanimously approved a proposal to merge Pearlstone and Hazon, with Jakir Manela serving as the inaugural CEO. Manela has served as Pearlstone’s CEO since 2012.

Manela helped launch Kayam Farm at Pearlstone in 2007 before taking over as Pearlstone’s executive director nine years ago. In his new role, Manela succeeds Nigel Savage, who served as Hazon’s founder and CEO for the past 21 years. Located at 5425 Mount Gilead Rd., Pearlstone is an agency of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore.

Beginning Aug. 1, Manela will assume leadership in working with board members and staff to begin operational integration and work toward final merger closing in 2022.

Pearlstone retreat center and outdoor education campus is located at 5425 Mt. Gilead Rd. in Reisterstown, Maryland.

The new national organization will be called Hazon, with Pearlstone serving as the national headquarters and with offices in New York and additional hubs at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Canaan, Connecticut, and Hazon Detroit.

A press release issued by Pearlstone and Hazon said the shared mission is to “lead a transformative movement deeply weaving sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life, in order to create a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable world for all. Through its own programs and a wide range of strategic partnerships, the merged organization will work to catalyze culture change locally, nationally, and globally.”

The combined organization will operate on an estimated $12 million budget, with more than 200 staff, and will engage nearly 50,000 program participants annually. The first board chair will be Marina Lewin of New York, and the vice chair will be Pikesville resident Aaron Max.

Said Emile Bendit, Pearlstone’s board chair:

“It is clear that Pearlstone and Hazon have deeply shared values, vision, mission, and culture. We have felt great resonance and aignment throughout the merger exploration and negotiations process, and we are all truly thrilled to see this merger come to fruition.”

In a statement, Manela said he is:

“deeply inspired to help lead a movement that can change many more lives now and into the future. The JOFEE movement (Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming & Environmental Education) is truly one of the most powerful forces in American Jewish life today, and together we are poised for exponential impact and culture change moving forward.”

In a joint statement, Pearlstone Center founders Richie Pearlstone and Josh Fidler, past board chair P.J. Pearlstone and Marc B. Terrill, president and CEO of The Associated, said:

“We’ve watched Pearlstone go from an idea to a retreat center to a thriving institution that we have long believed has significance beyond the boundaries of the Baltimore Jewish community. We are thrilled that Pearlstone will now be the home of what we expect and intend will become one of the most exciting institutions in American Jewish life in the coming decade and beyond.”

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