We hope that our Israel Ride community across the globe is in good health and spirits. In recognition of the impact of COVID-19 and current recommendations, we want you to know what we’re doing in regards to the 2020 Israel Ride.
The safety of our riders is always of the utmost importance to the Israel Ride. At this time, we are moving ahead with the dates for the 2020 Israel Ride as scheduled. We are closely monitoring the situations in both the US and in Israel, where, in particular the country is now beginning to carefully re-open. Our professional and lay leadership will continue to review the situation, keeping in mind the safety of our riders and staff. Read more about our updated 2020 cancellation and fundraising-rollover policies, and please contact us with any specific questions or concerns.
The Israel Ride was founded as a show of solidarity and support. Building on this mission, we hope that our virtual opportunities to gather, learn, and share provides solidarity and support to our Israel Ride community. If you or a loved one has been affected by COVID-19, please contact us. We’d love to reach out with our support, and connect you with alum from your Israel Ride year. As we continue to be mindful about how we can best support our community, we are planning ahead, and looking forward to future rides.
Additionally, we want to provide updates on what our beneficiaries are doing at this time. This year has brought much uncertainty, but one thing that’s certain is these two organizations have a crucial place in building a sustainable world, now, today, and in the future. We are especially proud of the support they are providing to those who are most impacted during times like these. Please see below for more information.
The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies
As the links between emerging diseases and climate change emerge, the Arava Institute’s commitment to environmental justice becomes more important than ever. Off the grid and disadvantaged communities need access to clean water, renewable energy, and sustainable agriculture to fight disease and build sustainable communities. The Arava Institute pursues its work – pursuing peace and addressing environmental challenges – to support those who are most impacted during times like these.
Academics: The Arava Institute’s semester academic program for Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians and international students has continued with the safety of students in mind. Classes are online and student who have remained on the remote campus observe social distancing requirements, on a kibbutz with no diagnosed cases of COVID-19. Importantly, the Institute is also creating new ways to pursue dialogue support through online programming, more important than ever during times of physical distancing.
Research: The Arava Institute’s research on climate change has become more active during this time of less movement. In partnership with the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Arava Institute is the Middle East station for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Authority’s Earth System Research Lab Global Monitoring Division cooperative network. As part of that the Arava Institute is collecting baseline data on greenhouse gasses, which will tell us how our movement, or lack of it, is affecting our environment.
Cross-Border Environmental Solutions: The Arava Institute’s Track II Environmental Forum, pursuing cross-border solutions to the region’s environmental challenges, continues to move forward. Just prior to Israel’s crisis shutdown, the Arava Institute held an important gathering in Tel Aviv of 80 Israeli, Palestinian, Jordanian and UK experts partnered with the EU and Oxford University on Climate Change Stress and Regional Risks. Now, the Arava Institute is moving forward with its partners to bring clean drinking water technology to Gazans, clean greywater for agriculture to the West Bank and, and solar technology to off the grid communities throughout the region.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Hazon has stepped up key areas of our work, and pivoted others. Some of this looks like:
-Hosting #SoundtheCall on the 50th Earth Day, the leading faith-based event on the official Earth Day website. 1,000+ participants enjoyed inspirational speakers, songs, and the opportunity to make some noise (using shofars and instruments) – signaling our prayers for healing and a more sustainable Earth;
-Gathering resources and activities on our new Hazon at Home webpage (updated on an ongoing basis);
-Introducing live virtual gatherings including morning prayers, meditation, and yoga;
-Fostering local food security through our Regional offices – and doing so in ways that actively network, engage, and strengthen Jewish communities. In 2019, we donated over 9,000 pounds of produce through Hazon Colorado. In 2020, we aim to double that
Hazon Relief Garden Initiative: Learn More
- We are providing compost, seeds, and gardening resources to individuals who agree to grow vegetable gardens;
- We ask that they grow an extra 10% of produce for donation to those in need, which we will pick up and deliver to food pantries and hungry neighbors;
- People who are food insecure are growing just for themselves and their families;
- We are networking growers with one another for mentorship, and to provide social connection that breaks isolation;
- We are providing Relief Garden members with online Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming, and Environmental Education (JOFEE) resources;
- There are now over 100 people currently participating, and we estimate that 80% of them are Jewish (as mentioned above, engaged via their Hazon Seal of Sustainability sites);
- Four of these gardeners have volunteered to grow 300 seedlings of hot weather plants (tomatoes, peppers, etc.). These will be distributed to Relief Gardeners in a round-2 distribution to amplify yields;
- Additionally, Tamarack Camps (a Hazon Seal site) has re-hired their farmer, who is producing food full time to feed those in need. (Tamarack’s farmer, Alex Rosenberg, has received Hazon fellowship funding for several years running, which helped her to develop her agricultural skillset.)
Expanding the Relief Garden Initiative Beyond Detroit
Detroit serves as our “community Lab” piloting innovative on-the-ground programs which we can then scale into other frameworks, and we are now in the process of doing that with the Relief Garden Initiative.
- We are currently collaborating with National Cooperative Gardening Network and Jewish Farmer Network to increase awareness and response to food insecurity in time of crisis, and to create at least 100 new gardens for donations this season.
- We are working with our 17 Seal of Sustainability and MiniGrant partners to plant up their gardens and expand them – working on maintenance plans now.
- Hazon Colorado is piloting a similar program, and aiming to grow twice as much food at Ekar Farm.
Mutual Aid Group
The Hazon piloted multi-organization mutual aid group includes Hazon and seven other organizations – including two Hazon Seal sites – who collaborate to get food to those without it. Volunteers help us to transport food (with appropriate social distancing), and get it to those in need.
- Avodat Lev – first piloted by Adamah, and then used at our leadership training gatherings such as the JOFEE Network Gathering – is a beloved form of prayer among young adults. Virtual daily prayers are being held by and attended by various community members from across the country, many of whom are alumni of Hazon’s programs.
- Adamah already donates fresh produce directly to families, and through partnering organizations in Falls Village, Canaan, and Torrington. This year, we received a first-time grant to support these efforts, allowing us to increase the amount of food we can provide to those experiencing new levels of financial hardship.
- Teva is providing an updated curriculum that is being adapted into virtual programming. Watch daily educational live videos with tips, resources, and outside activities.
- Hazon at Home is a dedicated page providing resources and opportunities for nourishment and connection during shelter-in-place.
- COVID-19 Response Circle for Spiritual Leaders, is held weekly on Wednesdays, and led by Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein, MSW, Hazon’s Rabbi in Residence. Spiritual leaders are tasked with leading their communities through this crisis. This virtual gathering allows these leaders to come together around the crisis to study texts, make music, talk, listen and share.
- Spiritual Morning Fuel for Spiritual Leaders, is held weekly on Sundays, and led by Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein. It’s about spiritual practice: specifically, about using spiritual practice to stay centered and uplifted during this crisis. We use Jewish traditional texts on & prayer as a springboard for modern ritual practice conversation, and then we relate that to our lives and our spiritual practice.
- Pre-Shabbos Live is a pre-Shabbat Facebook Live webcast with Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein, which focuses on Torah tid-bits from the Parsha, as well as music and prayer. As this event is now routinely receiving approximately 1,000 views on Facebook, we are in the process of moving it to Zoom, which will allow us to better understand who our primary audience is, and to make it more interactive and meaningful for participants. Stay tuned for updates.