By Zhanna Beyl, Director, Bukharian Teen Lounge, Jewish Child Care Association
The youth at JCCA’s Bukharian Teen Lounge have not heard much about Greening before this year. In the Bukharian Jewish community, environmentalism is not yet the hot item on the agenda as there are many other challenges to overcome for this new immigrant group. Thanks to the Jewish Greening Fellowship, we were able to offer our teens a Teen ACTION Goes Green program that introduced environmental issues into our service-learning initiative. Meeting on Sundays at the Lounge, the teens learned about food ethics, waste management, ethical consumption, recycling, planting and beautifying while exploring powerful connections to Jewish teachings and participating in hands-on service activities. Naomi Krikhely, a social work intern from NYU was the enthusiastic facilitator who engaged the teens. An alumna of the Lounge herself, Naomi is a committed Jew and a passionate social worker. She was completely new to dealing with environmental issues. Naomi educated herself and inspired others to be mindful consumers and strong guardians of their community.
Now that the teens at JCCA’s Bukharian Teen Lounge have begun their journey on the road to a healthier community, the adults ought to follow the example set by the youth. To help the staff take on environmental commitments in the spirit of the Jewish value of tikkun olam or repairing the world that JCCA enthusiastically champions, the Services in the Jewish Community Department of JCCA leads the way. At a recent all staff meeting, the Director of Bukharian Youth Services, who is the current Greening Fellow, made a presentation introducing her coworkers to the basic concepts of sustainability and invited the staff to reflect on the personal and work-related practices that use resources efficiently and promote a healthier environment. We at JCCA are very grateful for this chance to learn and grow through the Jewish Greening Fellowship.