Temple Solel (FL)
By Stephanie Jofe and Ariel Marantz
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Being that Temple Solel is located only a few miles from the ocean and many of our congregants live even closer than that, the issue of sea level rise and the health of our oceans is of existential importance to us. Therefore, many of Tikkun Olam Committee’s activities have focused on climate change, sea level rise and protecting the oceans. Toward that end, Temple Solel has:
Formed the Sea Level Rise Solutions Group, an interfaith organization that works to educate the community about sea level rise.
Our major annual program is our King Tide Event where over 100 community members – including Temple Solel congregants, Broward College students, several local elementary school through high school students, local politicians and community members – come together during the King Tide to observe, measure and learn about the sea level rise in our community. We have also compiled a “how to” document for other synagogues (or any group) to hold a similar event. Click HERE for our Planning a King Tide Event guide.
Formed the Higher Ground Initiative (HGI), a national consortium of Reform temples which seeks to educate the Reform Jewish Community about climate change and sea level rise.
The HGI wrote and sponsored a Climate Change Resolution that was passed unanimously by about 6,000 participants at the last URJ biennial. The resolution enumerated a list of actions for synagogues to undertake to help mitigate climate change.
Initiated an annual Parshat Noah Shabbat.
Our Parshat Noah Shabbat included a veggie potluck dinner, emphasizing the value of cutting back on meat intake and demonstrating for congregants a variety of delicious vegetarian dishes available for them to try. We use metal utensils, which we now have for all our programs and we are using paper goods made from recycled products. The dinners have been followed by Rabbinical sermons on climate change. After the service we have computers available for congregants and outside guests to find the elevation of their homes and businesses at various levels of sea rise using the Florida International University’s Eyes on The Rise App.
Held an annual Mitzvah Day in conjunction with Tu B’Shevat – the birthday of the trees.
In 2018, about 150 adults and students from our religious school gathered at our local state park on the ocean where we planted sea oats and coastal plants to deter further beach erosion. We also learned about sea turtles and plastics in the ocean. In addition, we made recycling bins for every room in our temple to minimize our own plastic waste going to landfills.
Initiated an annual Earth Day program for our students and adults.
The first year we had Delaney Reynolds, an amazing high school senior who has won numerous national awards, was featured in the documentary “Years of Living Dangerously”, and has done incredible work educating people about the dangers of sea level rise, speak to our students and adults about this issue and the ways that they could help to mitigate climate change. At this program we kicked off the GreenFaith Pledge program. After this presentation, we ran a weekly pledge/checklist site in our “enews” to encourage our congregants to sign the pledge and begin the job of making the necessary changes in their homes to complete their checklists by Sukkot. Our religious school students decorated and signed their own individual pledges to mitigate climate change. This past year, our Earth Day program focused on microplastics in the ocean. We had a student group from a local school enlighten our students about this issue and about the products that contain microplastics.
Participated in various local marches.
Most recently, our religious school students went with our Rabbi to lobby our congressional representatives about climate change. We have also participated in Tidal Town Halls to question local candidates for political offices about their positions on climate change and sea level rise.
Temple Solel’s great work was featured in the following publications – see below to read more:
- Bringing Environmental Advocacy to our Synagogues: Sea Level Rise Shabbat – January 2017
- Our City Hollywood March (page 33) – February 2017
- Temple Solel is Always Doing Their Part to Make the World a Better Place – April 2017
- King tides in Hollywood spark flooding, but also concern over sea level rise – November 2017
- During King Tide, Two Feet of Seawater Flooded Hollywood’s Streets – October 2016
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