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Rest, Reset, Restore: Getting Ready for Shmita 5775

So:

Want to release some stress, reset your inner operating system,  restore balance and wellness to your life? 
Imagine an entire year devoted to precisely that.  It’s coming up, just six months away.
I got back this morning from an inspiring  four day conference in London, created by HazonSiachJhubHeschel Center and several other international Jewish environmental and social justice organizations. The conference was dedicated to exploring radical new ways of activating one of the oldest systems for personal renewal, communal justice and global progress. 

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It’s called Shmita, a Hebrew word that means ‘release’ and a biblical concept that calls for a social Sabbatical every seven years. We are now in year #6. 
Historically, Shmita mandated leaving all lands fallow for the entire year, releasing all debts, and freeing people from cycles of poverty. It was a sort of Utopian fantasy, an agricultural and fiscal national re-boot that bolstered a basic small-holders capitalist free-market economy with punctuated periods of economic and personal renewal, preventing entrenched poverty and concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. 
But that was then, this is now. Our frenetic 21st century post-industrial society poses huge challenges to the biblical model, in Israel and beyond including (but not limited to): sustaining our environment, creating just and healthful food systems, achieving more optimal work-life balance, shrinking the socio-economic gap,  and creating stronger and vibrant communities. Shmita presents intriguing and imaginative new directions for thinking about solutions to these 
and other issues. But more than giving us ready-made answers, the idea of shmita calls us to ask disquieting questions about our lives,our relationship to land, to Israel, to our society and our economy, which are maybe  more urgent now than they were three thousand years ago.
The next Shmita cycle begins this upcoming Rosh Hashana – September 24, 2014. At the conference, leaders and thinkers from all over the world came up with amazing new ideas to turn this ancient recipe into a new and transformational tool in our lives. 
Want to know what I proposed? Stay tuned.. I want to write it up in careful detail, but I’ll say for now  that Lab/Shul will serve as a local hub for a global project – a radical new way of releasing some of our dependency on digital and technological devices, co-creating a healthier community and re-creating a year of rest, reset and restoration.  
We will launch our year of release way ahead of Rosh Hashana –  our 
SHABBAT AM ON MAY 10 at City Winery. 
I can’t wait. 
For now – with gratitude to the teachers, colleagues, fellow dreamers, courageous activists and new friends I spent this past week with – I send you all restful Sabbath greetings from sunny Jerusalem. See you soon back in NYC! (April 19 – The Last Seder, followed by brunch – hope to see many of you then.)
Sabbath and Bliss,
Amichai