Nigel Savage, founder and primum mobile (look it up!) of Hazon, the preeminent Jewish environmental organization, will be visiting the JCA for a scholar-in-residence weekend next week: from 1/27 to 1/29.

This is a great opportunity for the JCA, and the wider community.

I’ll admit to you that I have some concern over the fact that it has not yet seemed to fire the imaginations of the JCA, or the wider community, judging by the number of registration forms currently on file in the JCA office.

I’ve spent some time thinking about why this might be the case–a speaker with less name recognition, publications, or star power than last year’s speaker–Art Green? A topic that might present a conundrum: Torah and food? environment and religion? a late start in publicity owing to Nigel’s prolonged sabbatical? a sluggish winter mentality? a desire to spend that special off-weekend between the conference championships and the Super Bowl at home with family?

I would be glad for more input on this: if you are on the fence about this event, or have consciously chosen not too attend, I’d be grateful if you shared your thoughts with me.

Beyond that, I want to strongly encourage you to take the time to register and attend the weekend–something you can do right now through the JCA website:

Here’s why:

*Nigel is a dynamic and passionate speaker, and his Torah and organization really do represent some of the thinking on the cutting edge of Jewish discourse today: how will Jewish tradition respond as a well of inspiration to the crisis and challenge of our time.

*It is also a fascinating way of considering Jewish tradition in and of itself, as not just something abstract and intellectual, but as a body of wisdom that really does meet us on the level of the physical basis of our lives.

*Hazon has proven particularly adept and effective at reaching a younger generation of Jews, formulating new and compelling visions for how to live a vibrant and relevant Judaism in the real world. You should hear, in particular, about the fantastic long-distance bike rides and weekend retreats that the organization puts on every year.

* And, finally: I really want us to be good hosts to this national figure. If nothing else grabs you, please consider subscribing to the event, and attending, to insure that the JCA retains and intensifies its growing reputation as a Jewish intellectual hub, and an important regional site for Jewish issues of national relevance. All the more so when it comes to Judaism and agricultural–this is an area where we are particularly poised to make our mark.

Let me put it a little more plainly: when all is said and done, I’m concerned about offering an embarrassingly small reception for a national Jewish figure who has expressed excitement about coming to visit us. As our grandmothers would say, let’s avoid a shandah!

Back to the positive: this will be an inspiring weekend of crucial Torah learning, with great food cooked up by our own Karen Loeb, and–this just in–including produce donated graciously to the JCA, for this special occasion by local CSAs, who are delighted to be supporting us in this project of mutual interest.

So, please take the time to register right away, and join us for this great event.