The house that helped build our home...

November 26th, 2014 | 4th Kislev 5775

view online
fb twitter you tube
In this issue
Hazon COO Search: Click here if you're interested in becoming Hazon's new COO
MJE Shabbat Dinner
Blues for Challah
Hazon Food Conference
Elat Chayyim
Meditation Retreat
In the News
From our Friends
Upcoming retreats
and events
Febraury 16 - 20
Talmud Circle Institute
December 12 - 14
Blues for Challah
December 21 - 28
Elat Chayyim
Meditation Retreat
Dec 29 - Jan 1
Hazon Food Conference
February 23 - 26
Rabbis' Retreat

Giving Thanks, and a Very Different Kind of Recycling

Dear All,

Tomorrow it’s Thanksgiving. On Friday night – hodu sheini – many of us will eat some of the leftovers. That kind of recycling is good, and so is recycling boxes or bottles or turning plastic into toothbrushes. We could all do more to lessen our footprints.

But Hazon, this month, has been the recipient of a very different kind of recycling. I wanted publicly to give thanks for it; to make an observation deriving from it that is important and worth thinking about; and to issue a public request that I hope may hit a chord with someone, somewhere.

The story begins in the summer of 1974, when Cherie Koller-Fox and some friends rented a ski lodge, and nearly forty people came out during Elul to spend time together. The following year, and coming out of this experience, a group of friends established what they called Beit Havurah – a house that they bought as a shared Jewish gathering place; a bayit in which to celebrate, to hang out, to fall in love, to express a new sense of Jewishness, and in general to explore and expand the nature of Jewish life in the 20th century.

In all of this they succeeded, very considerably. The group waxed and waned. People married, had kids, got divorced, became grandparents. People joined; people moved away. Some became more observant, some less observant. It was a great incubator for Jewish ideas: Sarina Berlow, one of the Beit Havurahnikim who were at our Jewish Intentional Communities Conference last week, told me “CAJE, for instance, first arose at the Beit Havurah kitchen table.”

But in the last ten years or so, the group gradually shrank in size. People’s lives moved on. New needs arose. And so earlier this year – unbeknownst to us – the members decided to donate the house to another Jewish institution, so that the proceeds of its sale would support programs and values that were consonant with those of Beit Havurah. There were apparently 15 suggested recipients, and they decided in advance that they wanted to agree by consensus, not by majority vote. And after due process they did indeed agree unanimously that they wanted to donate the house – to Hazon.

First, therefore, on the eve of Thanksgiving, we offer great and public thanks to the members of Beit Havurah who gave us this gift. It is significant to Hazon in a material sense and will support our work in a profound way.  

Secondly, we welcome members of the Beit Havurah family – current and former – into the larger family of Hazon. We had five Beit Havurahnikim at the Intentional Communities conference last week. It was a genuinely remarkable gathering in its own right, and not least for the sense of mutuality – 20-somethings learning from 60-somethings, but also 60-somethings learning from 20-somethings. Israelis and Americans each remarking on how deep was the learning, one group from the other, back and forth. But it was especially great to have the Beit Havurah folk at the retreat. We hope that many more Beit Havurahniks will join us in the future at Freedman. We’re hoping to pick a retreat next year – perhaps at Shavuot – to invite back alumni and formally to affix the old Beit Havurah sign at Isabella Freedman.

But beyond these thanks, and this invitation, I want to talk about a very different kind of recycling in Jewish life – the very needed recycling of assets. I have talked in the past about the extent to which the present crises of American Jewish life are made worse by a very profound asset allocation challenge. We have young organizations on one side that are rich in people, ideas, programs and ruach – but have no balance sheet, no assets, no endowment, no reserves. Hazon is one such organization, though we are far from the only one. And on the other side – like Beit Havurah – Jewish institutions that financial or quasi-financial assets, but who indeed have become poorer in people, ideas, programs and/or ruach.

That is why Beit Havurah’s decision is so brave, so generous, so important, and I hope so inspirational to others in practical and specific ways.  As a broader Jewish community, we need to increase the number and velocity of such transfers. There is, and probably can be, no central mechanism to do so. But someone reading this email is the trustee of a synagogue building, or a school, or a camp, or of a fund, that has slowly lost its constituency. People have moved away. Needs have changed. Please consider starting a process to donate your asset to a young organization that is vital and growing and could put your asset to great great use. Certainly Hazon would love to be the recipient of such a transfer, and David Weisberg or I would be delighted to have a conversation with you if you’d like to discuss such a gift. But it is not just Hazon: the same applies to Avodah, Eden Village, Footsteps, Hadar or Keshet, for instance, to name just five organizations each of which is young, growing, has a strong board, great staff, and is touching people’s lives – and needs deeper and more substantial support.

I want to end with one last, absolutely extraordinary thing that I learned last week. It derives from Sarina’s casual line, which I quoted above, about CAJE starting around the Beit Havurah table. Here’s the scoop:

  • Hazon arose from my experience with Limmud in the UK. I attended Limmud for more than ten years, I was actively part of its community, and I began – but did not finish – a Phd exploring the reasons for its impact. Without Limmud there would have been no Hazon;
  • Limmud, in its turn, began when four guys from Britain (Rabbi Sammy Barth; Alastair Falk; Clive Lawton; and Rabbi Mickey Rosen z”l) went to CAJE. They had a great time and decided to do something in Britain – and they called it Limmud. Without CAJE there would have been no Limmud;
  • And, as I learned this weekend, CAJE began as an idea around the Beit Havurah kitchen table. Without Beit Havurah, there would have been no CAJE.

And so you see the remarkable punchline: without Beit Havurah, it is quite possible that Hazon itself would never have come into existence.

This is, indeed, a remarkable chain of causation and influence. It is actually a quite challenging story, in one sense; because it throws into relief the conversations we have about metrics and outcomes and measuring success. We should be striving to do this, better and better; but the greatest and most long-run impact that we have may not become apparent for years, and in this case, decades.

This indeed may be the most profound recycling of all. There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come; and few things more satisfying than to see people and ideas cross and criss-cross, touching lives directly, nourishing eco-systems, planting seeds that lie dormant and then flourish years later.

So I give thanks – genuine sincere thanks – to all those who came before me; to the people on whose shoulders I sit; and to the institutions that directly and directly have nourished Hazon, as together we renew Jewish life, and create a better world for all.

Finally: Huge thanks to Cheryl Cook, as she transitions in a couple of months to become the new Executive Director of AVODAH. The full announcement is below. And if you'd like to be Hazon's next COO please click here for more information – and be in touch....

Happy Thanksgiving – Shabbat shalom,


Special Announcement
Cheryl Cook to Lead Avodah!

Please join us in congratulating Cheryl Cook, Hazon's Chief Operating Officer, who will be stepping into the position of Executive Director of AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps in late January 2015. Cheryl originally got involved with Hazon as a ride participant in 2002 and was chair of the ’05 NY Ride, setting up the first century ride for Hazon, which she proudly rode. Over the course of her 9-year professional tenure with Hazon, Cheryl helped shaped the financial resource development, operations, and human resources of Hazon. Cheryl has over twenty years of leadership experience as a manager, fundraiser and program planner in the Jewish community. Learn more and stay tuned for a message from Cheryl in the coming weeks.

Hazon & MJE Special Event, New York, Friday, December 5
A Farm-to-Fork Shabbat Dinner

Friday, December 5, 7:00pm
Manhattan Jewish Experience
86th and Columbus

MJE and Hazon are teaming up to bring you a Shabbat dinner sure to delight the senses, featuring Farm-to-Table food from Adamah Foods and Grow & Behold. Young Jewish Professionals from both organizations will be there to mingle, sip specialty cocktails, and most importantly soak up the wonderful Shabbat atmosphere. Guest speaker Teva Director Elan Margulies will speak on Judaism, sustainable communities, and how the two fit together. This is one of our most popular annual dinners of the year!

7:00 pm - Beginner Friendly Services
8:00 pm - Dinner
10:30 pm - Dessert

Register today

Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, December 12 - 14
4th Annual Jewish Grateful DeadFest

Our fourth annual presentation of Blues for Challah, the Jewish Grateful DeadFest, explores and celebrates the universe inspired and embodied by the Grateful Dead – and makes the connections between that universe and our Jewish tradition and culture. It’s not a stretch – a wandering tribe forever transformed by peak experiences, centering around transcendent music, communal food, and joyous celebration – sounds familiar right? This year, join renowned Grateful Dead photographer Robbi Cohn for a special gallery and Q&A session, as well as a screening of the new hit documentary "Kabbalah Me" and discussion with the director focusing on his Jewish journey that took him through many a show into the heart of Jewish spirituality. Egalitarian and Orthodox Shabbat Services and a wide range of activities and learning provides a welcoming and inclusive environment for all participants. Register today.

Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, Dec 29, 2014 - Jan 1, 2015
Food Conference Scholarships

The Hazon Food Conference is the only place in the world where farmers and rabbis, nutritionists and chefs, vegans, omnivores, and you come together to explore the dynamic interplay of food, Jewish tradition, and contemporary life. Check out our website for "What's New in 2014", scholarships for first time participants, teens, rabbinical students, and individuals from Colorado, Detroit & San Diego. Early bird rates only last until November 30! Follow us on Facebook for bonus conference previews and other fun info connected to the conference. Register today.

Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, December 21 - 28
Elat Chayyim Meditation Retreat

The Elat Chayyim Meditation Retreat is a weeklong silent meditation retreat – an opportunity to slow down, to live simply, and to explore the fullness of your own being. Each day will include several hours of formal sitting and walking practice, contemplative morning davenning (chanted prayers) in a Jewish Renewal style, group interviews, yoga, and instructional periods with opportunities to ask questions. Retreat leaders include Rabbi Jay Michaelson, Beth Resnick-Folk, Rabbi Naomi Mara Hyman, and Shir Yaakov Feit. For beginners, this retreat is an excellent opportunity to explore meditation in a supportive, warm, and non-judgmental environment. Register now

Hazon in the News

Behind Social Entrepreneurship, a Surprising Force
by Dara Weinerman Steinberg, JTA, November 25, 2014

Local Events & Special Announcements
From Our Friends
GUILT FREE GELT - Fair Trade and Kosher!

Fair Trade Judaica and T’ruah are excited to partner with Divine Chocolate, to promote their fair trade milk and dark chocolate coins as Chanukah gelt.  New this year, they have OU Kosher dairy certification.  The purchase of Fair Trade Chanukah gelt moves us a step closer towards ending labor abuses and modern slavery around the world. Place RETAIL orders here (you can purchase 1 bag of 13 coins, a 10 pack or a 30 pack).  Place WHOLESALE orders (box of 30 bags) here. Please use promo code GUILTFREEGELT at checkout to assure that Fair Trade Judaica receives 10% of sales to support their educational work. Learn more about Fair Trade Judaica's educational resources, prayers, recipes, and songs.

Buy a New Menorah and Support Hazon
Celebrate your Jewish passion for the earth with Fair Trade Judaica's new Gardening Menorah.  Made with wire and beads by fair trade artisans in Cape Town, South Africa, it features a variety of pollinators, including birds, butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.  You can also celebrate your love of bicycle riding with Fair Trade Judaica’s wire and bead Bicycle Menorah.  Check "Hazon" when you're asked how you heard about Fair Trade Judaica, and they'll give Fair Trade Judaica a 10% commission to support their work.  Happy Chanukah!
We work to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community,
and a healthier and more sustainable world for all.
NEW YORK Makom Hadash, 125 Maiden Lane, Suite 8B, New York, NY 10038 | 212.644.2332
ISABELLA FREEDMAN JEWISH RETREAT CENTER 116 Johnson Road, Falls Village, CT 06031 | 860.824.5991
BOULDER 303.886.5865
DENVER 303.886.4894
PHILADELPHIA 877.537.6286
SAN DIEGO & NORTH COUNTY 441 Saxony Road, Encinitas, CA 92024
logo bot
isabell adamah
elat teva
adamah   teva

Unsubscribe from receiving email, or change your email preferences.

powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software