Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center (Hazon)

Hazon and Pearlstone are launching a new organization that will catalyze the JOFEE movement and the field of Jewish retreating for years to come.

Hazon, the largest faith-based environmental organization in the U.S., and Pearlstone, one of the largest Jewish retreat centers and Jewish outdoor education sites in North America, announced their boards of directors have unanimously approved a proposal to merge the two organizations.

Together they are launching a new organization that will catalyze the JOFEE movement (Jewish Outdoor Food Farming & Environmental Education) and the field of Jewish retreating for years to come. 

The new national organization will be called Hazon, with Pearlstone serving as national headquarters based in Baltimore and with offices in New York and additional major impact hubs at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut and Hazon in Detroit.

Hazon and Pearlstone logo

Both Pearlstone and Hazon have struck a deep chord engaging young children to senior citizens in immersive experiences integrating Jewish wisdom and inspiration, food and farm, song and spirit, community, sustainability and justice. The shared mission is to lead a transformative movement deeply weaving sustainability into the fabric of Jewish life.

Through its many programs and strategic partnerships across the U.S. and in Israel, Hazon and Pearlstone will catalyze significant culture change and multiply their impact locally, nationally and globally.

Hazon Detroit is a significant part of Hazon, and the new leadership team — who are based in Baltimore — are excited to explore the programmatic opportunities that arise from the similarities between Detroit and Baltimore. 

Jakir Manela, new CEO of Hazon, said, “These are two great cities, with two strong Jewish communities, two strong federations — and a slew of challenges on the ground — that Hazon Detroit and Pearlstone are addressing. I’m excited to work with Wren Hack and her team, and I plan to be in Detroit in the fall. I hope that we can apply in the Baltimore area some of the work of Hazon Detroit — and that we can offer to Hazon Detroit some of the things we’ve been doing in Baltimore and in the Chesapeake Bay.”

Wren Hack, director of Hazon Detroit, added, “I’m excited about the possibilities of this merger. And I’m especially delighted to see that Pearlstone’s work, in providing food to people in need during COVID so closely parallels what we’ve done these last 15 months.”

The merger is not premised on any job losses and it believes the combined entity will be more impactful.

The first board chair will be Marina Lewin of New York and the vice chair will be Aaron Max of Baltimore. Jakir Manela will serve as the organization’s inaugural CEO, beginning Aug. 1.

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