We’re delighted to announce that the Pearlstone Center, Hazon, and the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center are launching a Jewish Intentional Communities Initiative.
Together we share a vision that over the next 3-10 years, new Jewish intentional communities will bloom across the country—from urban kibbutzim to rural moshavim, suburban co-ops, and more—and that these dynamic and vibrant new Jewish communities will become inspiring catalysts in an ongoing renaissance in American Jewish life. (more…)
From Rabbi Yaakov Reef
Our Sages say that the month of Nissan is the most joyous month of the year. I disagree. Elul is, for me, the most joyous. When Rosh Chodesh Elul arrives my heart floods with love and happiness for the chance to retreat to, reflect on, and reconnect with the Eternal One. Elul is my favorite month on the Jewish calendar for this very reason.
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (ז’’ל) says that during Elul the Eternal One descends from the throne to be among the people. He recalls the practice of ancient monarchs who would grant an opportunity for commoners to meet and celebrate festivals with them by coming to the fields where they worked.
He believed that G-d’s desire during Elul is to meet us where we are at in our personal journeys, lending us support along the way. G-d comes to be our partner in creating the future. This is the part that makes Elul the most joyous month for me. G-d comes to me and takes my hand so that we may walk side by side into the New Year. Such a unique and awesome time in our yearly cycle!
I find it hard to take the time to do this kind of deep introspection. Elul is not free of work. We still have our busy lives: the schedules we have to keep, our daily to-do lists and chores, and all the unexpected things we didn’t plan that just pop up. Still, it is very important that we do take the time for spiritual reflection and preparation for the High Holidays during Elul.
And so our challenge for Elul is to find the time to reconnect with our deepest selves, with each other, and with the Eternal. This year, let’s meet G-d in the fields. Meditate, take a hike, go kayaking, find a friend and have a one-on-one conversation. Find some way to make it out into nature and communicate with the Eternal. Perhaps even join us at Isabella Freedman for an Elul Shabbat Experience!
May your Elul be blessed with insight and introspection as we all return to our most authentic selves and to the Holy and Eternal One.
This post was written by Aharon Varady, of OpenSiddur.org, in honor of the ancient tradition of a Jewish New Year for Animals, which was counted on the new moon of Elul. As we are nearing Rosh Hashana 2013 (5774)- one year away from the next Shmita- this is an opportunity to begin thinking of an aspect of Shmita that is somewhat overlooked: the way Shmita informs and directs our human relationships with animals, both domesticated and wild. Read on for more about the Rosh Hashana La’Beheimot (New Year for Animals):
Judaism has a New Years festival for animals. I’ll repeat: Judaism has a NEW YEARS FESTIVAL FOR ANIMALS!
When I first learned this, in 5th grade, studying the Mishna, I was floored. Really? I had just learned that Judaism had a New Years festival for Trees. A universal day of healing for the Tree of Life, Tu Bishvat, a former tithing day for dedicating first fruit offerings to the Temple, had been recovered by Jewish mystics 1500 years after the destruction of our Temple. Jews, especially the historic rabbis I admired, were creative thinkers, lovers and poets, like Rabbi Moshe Cordovero who in 1588 wrote in his work the Palm Tree of Devorah (Tomer Devorah), “This is the essence: to have compassion on all living creatures.”
My religion was awesome. A year before my family adopted our first stray cat from a no-kill shelter in Cincinnati. We accepted him into our Jewish family completely. I hadn’t learned about it in school, but in a book my mother brought back from our JCC’s Jewish Book Fair, I read that Judaism had an important mitzvah: to be mindful of the suffering of all living creatures. In Hebrew the mitzvah was called tsar baalei ḥayyim. From this commandment, I was obligated to feed my cat before myself at breakfast. I really appreciated that Judaism was mindful enough to speak for creatures that had no voice of their own. This all helped to convince me that Judaism, regardless of whatever boring or annoying social experiences I had in day school, was essentially a good religion, thoughtful and caring. It was up to me to live up to its peaceful and compassionate vision.
Later, when I was 18, in the first month of my first year in Israel, I got a strong flavor from my Lithuanian-style yeshiva of what the period preceding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Elul Zman, could really feel like… the increasing sense of urgency to repair and correct all of my relationships was intense and heartbreaking. (Isolated in a fairly monastic institution in a disputed corner of Israel, I was despairing what few personal relationships I had to repair.) Elul Zman was a month for a practice called ḥeshbon nefesh – making an accounting for one’s soul and it began with Rosh Ḥodesh Elul, the new moon festival coincident with the New Years festival for Animals. What was the connection between the two days?
In this journal, please share the journey of Rabbi Amy Katz and her son, Gabriel, on the 2012 Israel Ride.
by Amy Katz
We began our ride in northern Israel. There are a total of 60 riders, Gabriel is the youngest and the oldest rider is 69. While many riders come from Massachusetts, others come from 13 other states in the US, Mexico, Australia, Israel and Canada.
Today we rode 52 mile and climbed a total of 2600 feet. We are holding our own and did not have to get in the SAG wagon today. That was our goal for the first day of riding. The ride was stunning. The weather was great ranging between the low 60s, high lower 80s.
After a short bus ride to the heart of the Upper Galilee we officially launched our bike ride at 6:30 am. Gabriel read the traveler’s prayer in Hebrew and one of the crew read the prayer in Arabic and the oldest rider read the prayer in English. The shofar was sounded and we were off. We rode through the forests of the Galil, passing by small rural communities on the Lebanese border.
We descended into the Hula Valley, and visited the bird sanctuary. November is prime bird migration season. Alon Tol, Israel’s leading environmentalist, explained how the swamps that were dried up by the early pioneers have been brought back through the efforts of the government, JNF and local farmers. Alon’s explanation of how this all came to pass was fascinating. After our tour of the area we rode to our hotel, in the far north of Israel near the waters of the Jordan. There were many rolling hills and with a few hard climbs.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the Israel ride is spending time with the crew, either the lead riders, or the people who make sure that at each rest stop there is food and water. The crew are all students of the Arava Institute, a small school in the Negev that is dedicated to protecting the precious land of Israel while also creating models of coexistence. It is fascinating to spend time with Palestinians, Jordanians, Israelis who work together, respect one another and are eager to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. I especially enjoy the way the students relate to one another. It is clear they care for one another and they trust each other. Their back and forth is truly refreshing.
Day Two: Goshrin to Bet Shean
Today’s ride was absolutely beautiful and exhausting. We rode a total of 67 miles and climbed 3700 feet. We left our Hotel at 6:30 am and we rode to the lower slopes of the Golan Heights. This 13 mile climb was the most challenging uphill I have ever done. I kept telling myself slow and steady, slow and steady. Gabriel took the hill a bit more easily than I did, that is he rode faster. Main thing — we both rode our bikes for the entire climb.
While enjoying a rest stop at the ancient city of Qatrin, which is the primary home of many Israeli wineries. We had a wonderful discussion about the modern history of the Golan Heights. In addition, we explored various sources of Israel’s primary water — the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee. Gabriel and I both commented multiple times that the terrain in northern Israel is absolutely gorgeous. Hadas, our tour guide, explained that there are some Israelis who would consider returning the Golan Heights to Syria, if that were to insure a true peace with Syria. We all agreed there is no simple solution to this problem but enjoyed discussing the various possibilities.
After eating, drinking, resting and learning about the Golan Heights we rode to the Kinneret. That 15 mile ride from the Golan to the Kinneret was easier but we have both learned for every up, there is a down! Lunch on the Kinneret was breathtaking. The water is so calm and peaceful. It was exactly what we needed after riding 40 miles. While many of our co-riders jumped into the Kinneret, Gabriel and I enjoyed the quiet, and I must admit I dosed off for a bit.
In the afternoon we rode along the majestic Kinneret and then we made our way to Beit Shean, one of the oldest cities of the world. That ride was exhausting. There was a strong headwind and also the weather was unseasonably hot. Today was in the high 80s. Gabriel and I both felt physically overwhelmed — but neither of us wanted to get in the van. So we persevered! One of the lead riders was in awe of Gabriel’s determination. Today’s ride was 67 miles. At mile 63, Gabriel decided he had had enough and it was time to get in the van. There he discussed Israeli and American politics with the other riders.
Of course as soon as we arrived in the hotel, Gabriel was listening to podcasts and enjoying a quiet evening resting. We both had a great day.
This itinerary is wonderful because it allows us to explore Israel and learn about the country and we both feel physically challenged, and very proud that we are able to do this ride.
Day 3: Yerucham to Mitzpe Ramon
We spent Thursday night at the youth hostel in Bet She’an. The timing of Friday was somewhat off, as we first took a bus from Bet She’an to a small development town in the Negev, known as Yerucham. We only began riding our bicycles at about 9:30 am and already it was 90 degrees outside. The weather is unseasonably warm and that made the ride very difficult for many riders today. After launching our ride in Yerucham, we rode to Ben Gurion’s grave at Sde Boker.
As we rode through the desert, we noticed how different the terrain is. While the Galilee is very lush with beautiful trees and some breathtaking flowers, the Negev is very brown.
On Friday we rode 48 miles and climbed 3600 feet. The hills were less steep, but the heat was intense. So that made for some difficult riding. By 3:00 when we arrived in our hotel at Mitzpe Ramon, we were absolutely exhausted.
Gabriel suffered some heat exhaustion on Friday and as a result he got in the van around 1:00 in the afternoon. He was very disappointed to miss the last 20 miles, but it was too hot for him and I wanted to prevent his getting really sick. In the van, Gabriel spent a lot of time speaking to the bike mechanic about Israeli politics and environmental issues in Israel.
We have both enjoyed meeting our co-riders. In the course of the day we rode next to so many interesting people, who care very much for Israel. We have so much to talk about with our fellow riders.
Shabbat was nice, quiet and very relaxing.
Day 4: Mitzpe Ramon to Kibbutz Ketura
Sunday was a great ride. We rode 65 miles and climbed 3200 feet from Mitzpeh Ramon to Kibbutz Ketura. We had significant downhills and lots of rolling hills. The ride began with a spectacular descent into Makhtesh Ramon. Afterwards we traveled across the heart of the ever-changing Negev landscape. We stopped for lunch at a desert Ashram and an organic cafe.
The terrain is mostly rolling hills — so it was really great riding. We stopped at another organic farm for some homemade ice cream and then enjoyed one last dramatic descent to the Arava Valley. At the bottom of the descent there is the THE MOST GORGEOUS GROVE OF DATE TREES. We arrived at the Kibbutz around 3:00 and had a chance to learn about the academic research of the Arava Institute.
Hard to believe that tomorrow is our last day of riding.
One other special part of today’s ride. The organizers of the Israel Ride brought along a very small Torah (the kind that kids carry on Simhat Torah, the Torah is about the size of my hand from the bottom of my palm to the top of my longest finger). Each day someone else in the ride is invited to carry the Torah and talk about what that experience meant to them. This morning, some of our fellow riders gave the small Torah to Gabriel. They explained that it is important to make sure that the next generation has access to the Torah and they believed Gabriel represented the next generation. Gabriel and I had some nice conversations about what it means to carry the Torah. I know he was honored to be given the Torah and that made Sunday’s riding that much more special.
There was an important lesson for me in Gabriel’s carrying the Torah. I had my own ideas about where Gabriel should put the Torah while we were riding in the desert. He insisted on doing it his way. As parents, Ken and I have devoted much of our energy to making sure our children have access to Torah. But as they become more mature, we have to let them practice Judaism in their own way. Our job as parents is to teach about Judaism, to be very clear about why Judaism is important to us. As our children grow older we have to allow them to hold on to to Torah in their own way. Throughout our ride on Sunday I thought about Gabriel’s and my brief conversation about how he should carry this small Torah.
Day 5: Kibbutz Keturah to Eilat
Gabriel and I had a great final day of riding. We rode a total of 48 miles and climbed 3200 feet in the course of the day. Most of the ride on Monday was along the Egyptian border. It was strange for me. I have cycled this ride five times already. And there was never a fence on the border between Egypt and Israel. In fact, in the past I have marveled that if one wanted it would be easy to go back and forth between Israel and Egypt. I learned that this border has been the source of many problems for Israel. On at least one occasion Egyptians tanks wandered into Israel and attacked an Israeli bus. In addition, more than 60,000 African migrants have walked into Israel in recent years, some seeking work and others refuge. These illegal migrants have stirred fear for public order and demographics. For these two reasons the Netanyahu government has built a fortified and closely patrolled fence between Israel and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.
The ride on Monday was difficult. In the morning there was a very strong headwind and we were riding up a gradual hill. There were rest stops every 8 or 10 miles. Gabriel and I needed each break! Mid-morning, the wind died down, the sun came out and the riding became much easier. After lunch we enjoyed a stunning descent into the city of Eilat, where Gabriel led the group through the city to the beach. After a swim in the Red Sea we packed our bicycles and enjoyed a final dinner.
We left for Jerusalem on Tuesday morning and spent a couple of days there before flying home late Wednesday evening.
As we reflect upon our travels, we both observed that the different landscapes in the north and south are stunning. The north is so lush and beautiful and the desert is so barren. Also we noted that the bodies of water we visited look and feel so very different. Within 6 days we had a chance to dip in the Mediterranean Sea, the Kinneret, and the Red Sea. We both felt that cycling around Israel is a perfect way to enjoy the land. The scenery is stunning and we were able to focus on our surroundings in a way we would not have, had we been in a car or bus. We also enjoyed the exercise and feel incredibly proud of ourselves. This was a difficult ride and we did it!
On a different note, both Gabriel and I felt great about the Arava Institute. We were so impressed by the projects that are researched and implemented by the Arava Institute and its graduates. The Arava Institute is protecting the natural resources of the land of Israel and really making a difference. The projects are too complicated to be described in an email, but if you are interested in learning more about the work of the Arava Institute check out www.arava.org.
I should add that seeing Jordanians, Israeli Jews, Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the West Bank learn together gives me hope for the future. I thought you would enjoy the following cute story. Later that evening, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem approached one of the leaders and asked why we didn’t use the right tune. He has been attending Shabbat dinner weekly, since as a student at the Arava Institute he lives on Kibbutz Ketura. Mohammed has learned to appreciate Jewish rituals and enjoys Friday night traditions. And of course, he now has his favorite tunes!
I love that at the Institute, Palestinians live with Israelis and and learn about Jewish customs. I also love that Israelis are forced to learn about the Palestinians’ claim to the land of Israel. In my opinion, peace will never come until both sides don’t learn to honor and respect the other.
Gabriel is a bit more pessimistic. He worries that the Institute is too small to really make a difference. I feel that whenever we are able to, we should support communities of coexistence, especially when the narrative of both the Jews and the Israelis is being honored. I want to change this world one soul at a time.
While on the ride we also learned a great deal about the work of an organization in the United States known as Hazon. Gabriel was really inspired by Hazon. He goes to Ramah Outdoor Adventure and he spends a lot of time learning about the environment and the foods that we eat. As an ideological vegetarian, the message of Hazon spoke to Gabriel.
As Jews, we’ve been thinking about kashrut – about what is “fit” to eat – for nearly 3,000 years. And a growing number of people today realize that our food choices have significant ramifications – for ourselves, our families and the world around us. Hazon stands at the forefront of a new Jewish Food Movement, leading Jews to think more broadly and deeply about our own food choices. We’re using food as a platform to create innovative Jewish educational programs; to touch people’s lives directly; to strengthen Jewish institutions; and in the broadest sense to create healthier, richer and more sustainable Jewish communities.
One final thought, I especially loved that as we were cycling in the Negev, the Torah portions we are reading describe Abraham’s journey in the land. The text seemed relevant in a new way. One small example, the Torah portion read last Shabbat includes a description of Abraham sending his handmade Hagar and their son Ishmael off into the desert. The text tells us that Hagar worried that they did not have enough water and that at one point she sat down in despair, worrying that they would not survive the harsh environment. The Torah tells us that Hagar was especially worried about Ishmael. I related to Hagar in a way I never had before. Throughout our ride, I was constantly filling Gabriel’s camelback. I was so worried that at some point he would forget to refill his camelback and he would become thirsty and there would be no water around. I worried about Gabriel in a way I never had before. And honestly, I worried much more about Gabriel than I did about myself!
Throughout the ride, I reminded Gabriel about the Torah portions from Genesis. It was really important to me that this bike ride was not just about physical accomplishment, but that it also was a way for Gabriel to relate to the Torah. I think that the Israelites’ wandering in the desert for 40 years and Abraham and Isaac’s experiences in the land are more accessible to Gabriel now that his has spent time cycling in the land himself.
The trip has been terrific and we are both excited ready to come home., albeit just for a week!
It’s great to be at Isabella Freedman. Adamah Farm Vacation is underway – parents and kids hanging out here and having a whale of a time. I picked some of the last of the raspberries. I learned about the minimum temperature for a compost pile to legally be certified as safe to use (over 130 degrees, for at least two weeks). And I saw a tomato hornworm for the first time and learned about the wasp larvae that eat the hornworms – and thus enable the tomatoes to grow without having pesticides sprayed on them to kill the hornworms.
And meanwhile, even as it’s the start of August and the middle of summer, it’s also about to be the start of the Hebrew month of Elul.
I’m particularly conscious of the timing because my Grandma died – ten years ago this month – on the last day of Av. Confusingly the last day of Av is the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul; ie the day before the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, which is in fact the first day of Elul. That in turn is the first day we blow shofar, and thus the official start of the season of teshuva – of returning to our best selves.
So, in honor of my grandma, and lest the holidays catch you unawares, a few things to think about in the forthcoming season of teshuva.
First: I don’t want to mythologize either our grandparents, or the world in which they grew up. They were human, which is to say no less flawed than we are ourselves. I have no desire to go to a dentist of 60 years ago. I don’t wish to smoke as they smoked. I’m glad I have google maps – even though I know it lessens my already weak sense of direction. I wouldn’t have wanted to be gay when my grandparents were my age now. I don’t mythologize living through the Great Depression or the Second World War – let alone the Great War that all four of my grandparents lived through, and that my father’s father was injured fighting in.
But with these caveats, it’s worth thinking, I think, about aspects of their lives that they took for granted, that many of us need to learn or relearn, and that underpin the building of healthier and more sustainable communities. Here’s one in particular that I’ve been thinking about:
A sense of duty and obligation. I think the single greatest difference between my grandparents’ generation and mine is in relation to a sense of duty and obligation. I don’t think they were all great, and I don’t think that we’re not. And duty and obligation have their downsides. Nevertheless: there is something corrosive and damaging about how we relate to many institutions of Jewish life today (and, indeed, to many institutions in the wider society). Jewish tradition’s foundational questions are not “is this meaningful to me?” or “what will I get from it if I go to services on Rosh Hashanah?” Jewish tradition starts not with rights but with obligations; not with the search for personal meaning, but with ol malchut shamayim – the notion of taking on certain responsibilities, even certain burdens, because the tradition expects them of us.
One of my favorite parts of the traditional morning service is that, very early on, you say a bracha (a blessing) for learning Torah and then – because you’ve said the bracha and you need, as it were, to complete it – you then learn a series of Torah texts. One of them is from the Talmud, 127a:
“These are the things which someone performs and enjoys their fruits in this world, while the principal remains in the world to come: honoring one’s parents; doing acts of lovingkindness; going early to the house of study, morning and evening; welcoming guests; visiting the sick; accompanying the bride; escorting the dead; focus within prayer; and bringing peace between someone and their fellow; and the study of Torah is equal to all of these.”
So I love a whole slew of things about this text, but I want to share just two:
- I love that it doesn’t just say you have to do them. Rather the text is saying: these are really good things to do – they’re so good that you’ll be, as it were, doubly rewarded for doing them. But the obligation to do them is still, in some sense, internalized. We have a choice. Do we choose to do these things – or not?
- I love the mix. Things that divide out very clearly in contemporary life are all mixed up together here. Visiting the sick, acts of loving-kindness – those things are “social justice” – doing good by others. Focus in prayer – isn’t that about my personal spiritual journey? Making peace between two friends who’ve argued – that’s not religion, that’s being a good friend, surely? Going early to shul – whose business is it if I go early to shul or not? The rabbis of the Talmud didn’t draw such sharp distinctions.
And, even as I’m writing this, I suddenly remember something I had learned from Reb Shlomo Carlebach z”l, which I’d forgotten. In reference to this text, I once heard him say: “If it’s a mitzvah to accompany the dead, how much more so is it a mitzvah to accompany those who are alive – but really struggling…”
So as the sun beats down, and the farmers pick our food for us, it’s not too early to think about Elul, and your grandparents, and the lead-up to Rosh Hashanah and the Jewish New Year. What are those aspects of your grandparents that you want to emulate? And which are the mitzvot that you choose to take on, or to take more seriously — not simply for what you might get from them — but for what you might give?
Shabbat shalom, chodesh tov,
Executive Director, Hazon
Yossi (pictured) and I got married last summer, so training for the Ride didn’t make it to our pre-wedding to-do list. But we each had family and friends participating as riders, so we didn’t want to miss out on the experience. At the last minute we signed up as crew, not really sure what it would be like. We knew and appreciated the crew members who staffed our rest stops when we rode together the year before. They made us sandwiches, pointed us to the bathroom, and told us which snacks were the good ones. They cheered for us and encouraged us and reminded us that we were riding for an important cause with their full support. But what no one really tells you is that the crew members are actually having a lot of fun doing all of those things and even more that riders don’t get to see. There are cowbells to ring and whistles to blow, big vans to drive and spray paint to mark the turns, and there are maps, walkie-talkies, reflective vests, and team colors for each crew team. The Hazon staff made sure we had all the information and support we needed to do our jobs well, and they encouraged us to really have fun with it. —Maddy Hoffman
Did you know that your company’s matching gift program could make your charitable donations go even further? Many companies have programs through which they match the charitable contributions made by their employees. Through a charitable gift matching program, your employer can multiply your gift to Hazon – sometimes even doubling or tripling your initial donation! It’s a simple way for your gifts to make an even bigger difference. Hazon participates in over 20 corporate matching gifts programs- ask your company today!
Today, the Cross-USA Ride arrives in Lafayette, Indiana. We hope you’ll join us as the Ride journeys to DC. Enjoy a meal with the riders in Columbus at Agudas Achim on August 6th, or for Shabbat dinner at Congregation Beth Shalom in Pittsburgh on August 9th. And you don’t have to participate as an outsider! Join the Ride to truly experience the adventure of cycling for a good cause. You can also celebrate with us at our closing ceremonies in Washington, D.C. on August 15th.
A few nights ago, we stayed at KAM Isaiah Israel, the synagogue across the street from the Obama residence in Hyde Park. We heard from Robert Nevel, the local architect and member of KAM, who convinced the synagogue to tear up part of their lawn to make way for a garden to grow vegetables for local soup kitchens and shelters. KAM has partnered with churches in the neighborhood to grow vegetables on their land as well, creating a unique interfaith partnership that is now producing over 4500 lbs of healthy, organic produce a year in the middle of an urban food desert.
The Boulder JCC Flatiron Tribe (young Jewish professionals) and Hazon are teaming up for a Happy Hour to remember. Join us at Oliverde for an EXCLUSIVE tasting of local tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil with a variety of olive oils. Once you’ve tried it all, create your own perfect caprese salad! Then, we’ll head over to Shine for a drink and to support a local, Jewish-owned establishment!
Thursday, August 15
Caprese tasting: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Oliverde, 2027 Broadway, Boulder, CO
Happy Hour 7:00 p.m. til late at Shine, 2027 13th Street, Boulder, CO
The Boulder JCC Flatiron Tribe (young Jewish professionals) is teaming up with Hazon for a night of hiking and microbrews! August 20th is the full moon, and we’ll meet at the Marshall Mesa Trailhead for an easy, multi-sensory, moon-lit hike, and then head over to local brewery Southern Sun for a late night happy hour drink.
Tuesday, August 20, meet at Marshall Mesa Trailhead
5258 Eldorado Springs Dr., Boulder, CO, at 8:00 p.m.
Should arrive around 9:30 at Southern Sun, 627 S. Broadway, Boulder, CO.
Colorado: Become a Harvest Sponsor at Ekar
Become a Harvest Sponsor at Ekar Farm. For $180 you can cover the cost for 1 family to receive a whole season’s worth of organic vegetables grown at Ekar. In addition, Harvest Sponsors are invited to join us twice a week in harvesting and take home vegetables for their own enjoyment.
California: Sukkot on the Farm with Wilderness Torah
Wilderness Torah invites you to gather in multi-generational community for the seventh annual Sukkot on the Farm Festival—a three-night camp-out and celebration of the fall harvest—featuring tracker, mentor, and author Jon Young. Come co-create our village and enjoy all or part of the long weekend. Reawaken the Water Festival, Simchat Beit Hashoevah. Apply for Avodah and work in exchange for a discounted ticket. Join our village and celebrate the season at Sukkot on the Farm!
September 19 – 22, 2013
Green Oaks Creek Farm, Pescadero, CA
by Carl Jacobs
We will be doing a lot of hill climbing (sorry, it is just the nature of the geography here). Sometimes it seems like you climb all the way to Eilat, but that is not the case. There are some absolutely spectacular downhill runs that make up for all the intermediate climbs. Riding into the Maktesh on Sunday is a real treat (an 1100 foot decent) and another 1100 decent at the end of the day into Ketura…. Definitely highlights that you will remember for a very long time.
For those of you who like (?) climbing, and I know there is a group that does you may have the opportunity to climb back those last 1100 feet Monday morning depending on the final itinerary. The climb back up to the Negev Plateau from the ARAVA Valley is a memorable event for everyone who is challenged to do it. I think the most intriguing climb back was done by a recently married couple on a tandem; the climb is not for the faint hearted, but is certainly doable, you just have to like climbing.
Thinking about the Maktesh at Mitzpeh Ramon reminds me to say something about our Riding Tour Guides. Bill Slott will certainly dissuade you from ever calling the Maktesh a Crater, it is not. It is a unique geological formation (of which there are very few around the world). Bill does an excellent demonstration of what happened and Hadas Karmon (another guide) does a great demo with an Israeli confection (a Krembo) that sort of looks like a cream filled cupcake that models geology in a strange fashion. Take advantage of the pre-Ride Jerusalem tour, if you have not been here before it is a good overview and if even if you have been before the tour is informative and you get to meet other riders and walk at your own pace.
We are now inside the 100 day mark to the start of the Ride. I hope everyone is slowly increasing their saddle time and distance. Five or six hours a day can stretch into a very long time if you are not prepared and while the SAG bus is always there and available for a pick up and a/c cool down you really came to ride. So get out the sun screen and water bottles and ride; as often and as long as you can (and your significant other and family will allow).
(Sidebar: if you have not done so you should check out web sites for Bike NashBar, Performance Bike, Primal Wear and LongCycle; these places sell all kinds of bike related clothing and equipment. I would not recommend buying bikes or bike components from them if you do not know how to install or assemble. Your local bike shop is where you get your mechanical stuff done; there are all sorts of witty shop owner responses to the question “would you please install my new “fill in the blank” that I purchased on-line?” I will leave the witty replies to your imagination. Clothing prices are usually better than bike shop prices.)
Some things to consider investing in: A good pair of Spandex riding shorts, a pair with a really good chamois (pad); some cheaper shorts have a “felt-like” pad that gets sweaty and starts to feel like a wet diaper… better pads do not. Some riders prefer bib type shorts, I personally do not. Men wearing them for the first time may want to consider Band-Aids for their nipples … yep, you do not want a blister there; it will really be a downer. Some riders (and I am in this category) ride with a tee shirt under their jersey, UnderArmour© or a “technical” cloth that is designed to wick moisture off your skin.
I wrote about hydration and how much water you should be drinking, another thing to consider besides the water you are sweating (and you will sweat in the desert and not realize it because the humidity is so low) is how much salt you are losing in that sweat. If you find that the your spandex riding shorts have white streaks after you ride you are also losing a lot of salt and need to replace that; there are several different electrolyte replacements that can be added to a water bottle to help. I use a product called NUNN©, but there are others and some are marked as being Kosher.
For first time riders Spandex shorts are worn without underwear, you don’t need all the chaffing and discomfort (see my previous comment about Butt Cream) and as long as you don’t get Lululemon spandex everything is fine.
Get a pair of riding gloves, open finger-tips are fine, full gloves tend to be very hot; padded palms also help distribute weight on your hands.
Sunglasses for riding; they curve around and protect your eyes from the side; you don’t want your contact lenses to dry out. If you need corrective lenses to see there are several different companies that make cycling glasses that can have your Rx ground into them or insert lenses that fit inside the sunglasses. Just ask your bike shop owner or optician for recommendation. Nonprescription Riding glasses are also available on line (they don’t need to shop assembled).
And one final link for you to look at:
For Hard Core Riders and people who just want to know…
- The Kabbalah of Baseball by Arthur Kurzweil – Huffington Post
- An Interfaith Food Collaborative: Reflections on the Hazon Food Conference – The Jew & The Carrot
- Just harvest: Hazon Jewish Food Festival offers a full plate of workshops, tastings – on JWeekly.com
- Enlightening the world through a garden – on JWeekly.com
- Hardly Strictly Bagels | Jewish Food Festival mantra: Healthy or not, here I come – on JWeekly.com
- benefits & social events – on JWeekly.com
- Festive about food – on JWeekly.com
- Nosh and Learn at S.F.’s Jewish Food Festival – on SFWeekly.com
- At the Intersection of Food and Jewish Life: the Hazon Jewish Food Festival at the JCCSF – on 3200 Stories.org
- Hazon Jewish Food Festival Brings the Shuk to the JCCSF – on 3200 Stories.org
- Frozen Kuhsterd at the Hazon Jewish Food Festival on March 17th - on FrozenKuhsterd.com
- A Consumer’s Right To Know: Business Ethics, Halakhah and GMOs – on Forward.com
- Hazon Jewish Food Festival: Day of Learning and Celebration – on SFGate.com
- Review: Kinish was king at Jewish Food Festival in San Francisco – on Digital Journal.com
Yossi (pictured) and I got married last summer, so training for the Ride didn’t make it to our pre-wedding to-do list. But we each had family and friends participating as riders, so we didn’t want to miss out on the experience. At the last minute we signed up as crew, not really sure what it would be like. We knew and appreciated the crew members who staffed our rest stops when we rode together the year before. They made us sandwiches, pointed us to the bathroom, and told us which snacks were the good ones. They cheered for us and encouraged us and reminded us that we were riding for an important cause with their full support.
But what no one really tells you is that the crew members are actually having a lot of fun doing all of those things and even more that riders don’t get to see. There are cowbells to ring and whistles to blow, big vans to drive and spray paint to mark the turns, and there are maps, walkie-talkies, reflective vests, and team colors for each crew team. The Hazon staff made sure we had all the information and support we needed to do our jobs well, and they encouraged us to really have fun with it.
The first day, my crew teammate and I rode in a huge 15-passenger van behind the last rider on one of the routes. Try looking inconspicuous to a bike rider when you’re driving 8 miles an hour behind them in an enormous van! We had a blast. We stopped at every rest stop and hung out with riders, encouraging the ones who were riding at the back of the pack and needed the extra enthusiasm to get them through. We really got to see the whole route through a different perspective, since we could enjoy the scenery and take it in slowly while cruising in our enormous black van behind the riders. And did I mention I had the best teammate ever? My mom!
I wasn’t really sure who else would be on the crew, and it turned out there are whole variety of reasons people choose to be on crew. Some are riders who tried something different that year. Some come to support spouses, siblings, children, or other family and friends who are riding. Some are new to Hazon or to riding and want to get a taste for the event without committing to all the training and fundraising involved in riding. And some have no interest in riding but want to contribute to an amazing program and to the wonderful work that Hazon and its partners do year round. It really is a special group with a place for everyone who wants to give it a try. All it takes is a big smile on your face and the sense that you are participating in something much larger than any one person’s contribution. Who knew that cheering for other people’s accomplishments could be so rewarding personally?
So if you’re thinking about coming to the Ride this year but aren’t quite sure how to get involved, I highly recommend going for crew. It’s a whole lot of fun and a great way to contribute both to the Ride and to Hazon’s year-round work. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll leave fulfilled and energized and proud to have participated.
Maddy is a 2-time NY Ride Rider and a 1-time NY Ride Crew member who enjoys the great outdoors and thinks the guy in the pea pod suit is pretty cute. She works as an Associate Producer of educational software for Scholastic and lives in New York.
Announcing the first-ever Conference
on Jewish Intentional Communities
We’re delighted to announce that the Pearlstone Center, Hazon, and the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center are launching a Jewish Intentional Communities Initiative.
Together we share a vision that over the next 3-10 years, new Jewish intentional communities will bloom across the country—from urban kibbutzim to rural moshavim, suburban co-ops, and more—and that these dynamic and vibrant new Jewish communities will become inspiring catalysts in an ongoing renaissance in American Jewish life. To launch the initiative, we are convening a national conference on Jewish Intentional Communities at Pearlstone, November 14-17th, 2013. We anticipate participants from across the country, including people who are already members of intentional communities as well as folks who are just curious and excited by the idea. We hope to learn from and share with each other, vision together, and plant seeds for communities to come.
- Learn about the Jewish historical and cultural roots of intentional communal living
- Build relationships through learning, prayer, meals, and rituals
- Learn from successful communities – urban and rural, Jewish and diverse
- Learn tools and gain skills for your own communal application
- Join an international network cultivating Jewish intentional community
- Build skills in non-violent communication; ecological sustainability and community design; and community economics and finances
- Meet with a diverse and pluralistic Jewish community
- Celebrate community culture
After this first year’s conference at Pearlstone, next year’s event (2014) will be at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center; we plan to alternate conference locations back and forth between Pearlstone and Isabella Freedman each year. Click here to learn more and register!
|Nigel SavageExecutive Director,
|Jakir ManelaExecutive Director,
| David WeisbergExecutive Director,
Jewish Retreat Center
and Josh E. and Genine Macks Fidler
Come join the Hazon Cross-USA riders for a free BBQ dinner at Agudas Achim!
The Hazon Cross-USA riders will cycle from Springfield, OH to Columbus on August 6th. After settling in and showering (a must!), the riders will enjoy a wonderful BBQ dinner at 6:30 pm, sponsored by our ethically-produced kosher meat sponsor, Grow and Behold. And we hope you’ll join them!
Please RSVP so we know
how much food to make!
You can also join us on the road!
Ride with Hazon into Columbus, from Columbus to Coshocton, or any other part of the Ride until it ends in D.C. on August 15th. We encourage anyone riding for one day to donate $50 to Hazon to help support the educational work Hazon does in order to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community.
A very special thank you to Agudas Achim for hosting our riders and helping to sponsor dinner. Our riders very much appreciate warm hospitality as they live a nomadic lifestyle for the summer.