The New York-based Jewish nonprofit Hazon, has issued a cease and desist letter to a new Israeli organization using the same name. Founded 20 years ago, Hazon (vision) bill itself as a “Jewish Lab for Sustainability” and has legally trademarked the name.
The nonprofit’s Israeli law firm issued the letter earlier this week to the new Israeli organization, which recently published a series of billboards attacking the Israeli LGBTQ community and the Women of the Wall group.
“Hazon works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a more sustainable world. It is frankly distressing to see our name being attached to billboards and pronouncements that so radically stand against all that we have done, and all that we have tried to do, since our founding in 2000,” Hazon’s Chief Executive Officer Nigel Savage said in a statement to the Journal.
The New York-based Hazon is an agency of UJA-Federation of New York and a member of the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable. It has offices in Connecticut, Detroit, Boulder, Denver and Israel.
Hazon’s senior staff member Rabbi Aharon Ariel Lavi, said in a statement that the New York Hazon stands for connecting people of all sectors in order to build sustainable communities. “We believe that the sustainability of Israel and of our faith lies in honest conversation, despite deep disagreements, not in attacking people for their identity or their beliefs or anything else,” Lavi said. “This new Israeli Hazon is doing exactly the opposite of this. I hope that they will end this campaign.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, the new Israeli group said its goal is “returning the Jewish character to the national agenda in Israel.”
The new group recently released a banner titled, “A father and a mother = a family.” The poster was later taken down after LGBT activists complained.
Former American Jewish World Service CEO Ruth Messinger, who was also a Hazon trustee said in as statement, “Hazon has consistently been on the side of so much that is good and right in Jewish tradition, and it has, as well, a longstanding commitment to pluralism and inclusive community. It is quite awful that this group in Israel is inciting bigotry, let alone in the name of Jewish tradition. I hope that anyone who opposes this—as I and my colleagues strongly do— will go to Facebook and like the Hazon page, to make clear that this organization does not in any way speak in our name.”
JTA reported that Rabbi Dror Aryeh, one of the leaders of the Israeli group, told the publication Srugim, that the new organization is dedicated “to the Temple, to health, to purity.” Aryeh added that the new organization has collected 123,000 signatures in 36 hours and gained the support of major rabbis on a petition to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.