Parents sending their kids to a Jewish day school are looking for an education that is interesting and vibrant. At parent-teacher conferences, parents tell me that their children are coming home full of enthusiasm for what they are doing at school. The greening projects are stimulating students’ interest in their academic subjects, and also teaching them how to make a difference.
Get started by forming a Green Team with people who have different roles in your organization and have different kinds of knowledge. Identify areas you would like to work on and set measurable goals. Try to find some projects that you can implement quickly, and that are highly visible, to generate momentum. There are many tools available to help you assess your organization’s current practices and identify opportunities to improve. Implementing such “audits” is also a way for your Green Team to learn about your organization’s environmental impacts. All JGF organizations complete an energy audit (link to energy audit resource) and the Hazon Food Audit.
The JGF is an 18 month program that is open to Jewish organizations. Fellows are nominated by their organization. The most recent JGF cohort was launched in February, 2013. Sign up here to receive information about applying to participate in a future cohort.
The JGF is currently open to JCCs, summer camps, synagogues, health and human service organizations, and day schools, as well as national organizations with New York City offices, operating in the UJA Federation of NY catchment area of the 5 boroughs of New York City, Long Island, and Westchester.
While the challenges we face today are unprecedented, Judaism has always been concerned with what we now describe as building a “sustainable” society integrating social, environmental, and economic concerns. In the Jewish Greening Fellowship we explore how essential Jewish ideas such as tzedakah (the pursuit of justice), gemilut chasadim (our responsibility to perform acts of lovingkindness), and bal tashchit (the commandment to avoid waste), can inform our pursuit of a healthy and just world in balance with nature. Jewish traditions and rituals, many of which have roots in ancient agricultural practices, provide meaningful opportunities to educate about our connection to the earth. On a practical level, while as individuals we may feel that our actions are insignificant, acting together as Jewish communities we have the power to implement constructive solutions. At the same time, engaging with greening can enrich our experience of Judaism as it offers opportunities to find new meaning in ancient rituals and to put our values into action.
Climate change is already having an impact on our health, economy, and security in diverse ways. Perhaps the most visible impact involves the increase in extreme weather events Hurricanes, blistering heat waves, and frozen winters are linked to the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. You may be noticing the following in your community: damage to coastal habitats and infrastructure due to sea levels rising, declining drinking water quality, increased agricultural costs, and degradation in air quality. Click here for more about the local impacts of climate change. Jewish organizations can play an important role in fostering the resiliency that communities will need to cope with these changes and in encouraging action to address the causes of climate change.
We welcome you to get involved as an individual or by forming a Green Team in your community. Good starting points are to sign up for the JGF newsletter and attend a Greening Seminar co-sponsored by the JGF and the Wiener Educational Center of UJA-Federation of New York. Hazon also sponsors many events at which you can learn more about the connection between Judaism and environmental sustainability and about how to green your community.