Nigel Savage

Nigel Savage, originally from Manchester, England, founded Hazon (Hebrew for “vision”) in 2000. Hazon’s mission is to bring joy and meaning to people’s lives, to build community, to renew Jewish life and to foster a better world for all, particularly through outdoor and environmental education. In 2000 Nigel led Hazon’s first major project, a 3000 mile Cross-USA Jewish Environmental Bike Ride, in which participants cycled from Seattle, WA to Washington, DC. They ended at the White House where they received an award from the EPA. Hazon now produces annual New York and Israel Environmental Bike Rides, as well as a multi-week pluralistic Beit Midrash, and a series of other events. This summer Hazon launched Tuv Ha’aretz, the first Jewish Community-Supported Agriculture project in New York. Nigel has taught in a variety of settings, including the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities, the Wexner Heritage Conference, the UJA Young Leadership Conference, the leadership retreat of the Dorot Fellows in Israel and the World Union of Jewish Students. His articles have appeared in various publications including the Forward and the Jerusalem Report. Before founding Hazon Nigel was a professional fund manager in the English equivalent of Wall Street, where he worked for the Rothschilds and was co-head of UK Equities at John Govett & Co. He has an MA in American Jewish History from Georgetown, and learned at Pardes, Yakar, Hebrew University and Jerusalem Fellows. He is Vice-President of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, a member of the Teva Learning Center Advisory Board, and a professional member of UJC’s Renewal and Renaissance Pillar. Nigel is infamous in the UK for his cameo appearance in the cult Anglo-Jewish comic movie, Leon The Pig Farmer, and was Executive Producer of the British independent movies Solitaire For 2 and Stiff Upper Lips. He is also believed to be the first English Jew to have cycled across South Dakota on a recumbent bike.

Nigel Savage's Website »

Schrodinger’s Goat, scapegoats, and the goats of Yom Kippur

Erev Yom Kippur / 20 / September 2007

Dear All,

goat.jpgI had one of the most astonishing and fascinating conversations of my life over Rosh Hashanah. It was about killing two goats, and I wanted briefly to share it with you ahead of Yom Kippur and Succot.

I spent Rosh Hashanah at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, and – after visiting the goats there – I sat down with Aitan Mizrahi, Freedman’s very own goatherd and the founder of the Adva Goat Dairy and Rachel Gaul, another goatherd friend of Aitan’s.  This Yom Kippur will be exactly a month since I posted a piece on The Jew & The Carrot, titled Schechting a goat at the Hazon Food Conference? The conference will be at Freedman, and the key part of the conversation went roughly as follows:

-You know, of course, that if you want to schecht two goats at the Food Conference [in early December], you’ll have to pay to feed them from October till December.
-Well, because otherwise they’ll be killed in October – that’s when bucks [male goats] get slaughtered.
-Why’s that?
-Well, goats give birth in the spring. The kids in due course give milk, so they live for a good number of years; but the bucks have no use, so they’re fed during the summer, when food is abundant, and then typically they’re killed in October, ahead of the winter.
-That’s unbelievable! That’s just incredible! You’re telling me that if we schecht two goats at the food conference, we’ll actually be extending their lives by two months – because otherwise they’d be killed in October?
-Yeah, Nige. You know – “no dairy without death.”

Shechting a goat at the Hazon Food Conference?


On the Friday night of last year’s Hazon Food Conference I said, “put your hands up if you eat meat – but would not do so if you had to kill it yourself.” And a good number of hands went up.

Then I said: “put your hands up if you’re vegetarian – but you would eat meat if you killed it yourself.” And a different group of hands went up. And after a brief pause, everyone laughed.

They laughed because the two responses revealed what a self-selected group we were – and how fascinating our different distinctions. The first group were essentially saying, “I do like eating meat – but I know the process of killing it is awful – it’s actually so awful that if I had to kill it myself, I just wouldn’t eat meat.”

The second group were essentially saying “I’m vegetarian because I hate everything about how animals are raised and killed in our industrial food economy. But if I actually took responsibility for killing an animal myself, I would feel I was acting with integrity, and in accordance with my beliefs – and therefore, in that instance, I potentially would eat meat.”

And my response, when the laughter died down, was to say “Great: next year we’re going to shecht (slaughter according to kosher law) an animal here at the Food Conference..”

And people went: “Oooohhhhhh..”

Local & organic: this is what you need to know.

Marks & Spencer announce their stores are going carbon-neutral; Tesco announces it’s carbon-labelling all its food products; and Whole Foods buys Wild Oats – and announces micro-loans for farmers, and $30m pa of investments in artisinal food startups.

Now here comes the March 12th cover story from Time magazine. This is an _outstanding_ piece; pretty much all you need to know, right now, on local vs organic – and why you should join a CSA…


And may your hamentashen be local… and your Slivovitz potent: a happy Purim to one and all…


The close of Latkes to Lattes…

A conference about Jews and food might cause some to think of people trading chicken soup and brisket recipes. But this was a different kind of conference, and a different group of Jews.

Organic, sustainable and compost were the buzzwords, with most participants saying they wouldn’t eat chicken soup unless it was made with ethically-raised, free-range chickens. And brisket? Only if the cows were grass-fed, leaving kosher consumers with few options.

Hazon convened this group of 150 people, chefs and farmers, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members, educators and food enthusiasts to talk about how the every-day decision of what to eat is loaded with numerous consequences, and how eating organically is not only the health-conscious choice, but the environmentally-sound one as well.