Light In The Darkness, 801
The words added to the daily prayers during Chanukah celebrate the accomplishments of the few in the face of overwhelming odds. So the end of Chanukah feels like the right moment to share some of the successes of the Jewish Greening Fellowship, which is a determined and successful attempt to take on some very large challenges indeed.
JGF was kicked off by UJA-Federation of New York and Isabella Freedman in 2009. It represents the most persistent attempt in the American Jewish community to integrate the “hard” and “soft” sides of sustainability – focusing both on HVAC systems, on the one hand, and Jewish education and leadership development, on the other. UJA has re-upped twice since the program was initially launched, which itself is testament to the work of JGF’s Fellows, and the leadership since inception of Adam Berman (now at Urban Adamah), Rachel Jacoby-Rosenfeld (now at AJWS) and Hazon’s Dr. Mirele Goldsmith. I asked Mirele to say a little more about JGF, below.
I would add that JGF shows what is possible through persistent and strategic work of this sort. Over the next few years we hope to extend a version of JGF into other communities. Be in touch with Mirele or with me if you’re interested in that conversation.
Executive Director, Hazon
There is no greater challenge to Hazon’s vision of creating a healthier and more sustainable future than climate change. As individuals what each of us can do feels like a drop in the bucket. But those individual drops, taken together, start to have real impact.
This is the strategy of the Jewish Greening Fellowship. By engaging JCCs, schools, congregations, and social service organizations in greening, we aim to mobilize entire communities to create meaningful responses to climate change, and to strengthen our institutions in the process. We do it by engaging constituents in Jewish and environmental programs and education, by reducing waste and pollution in operations, and by reducing greenhouse gas emissions through becoming more energy-efficient. Since 2009, when the Jewish Greening Fellowship was launched with funding from UJA-Federation of New York, 55 organizations – touching over 100,000 people – have joined the JGF Network.
How does it work? Each organization forms a Green Team and appoints a Greening Fellow to lead it. The Fellow participates in leadership training on environmental issues and organizational change skills grounded in Jewish learning. Each organization completes a Sustainability Audit, the Hazon Food Audit, and an Energy Audit. The Green Team sets goals that are relevant and appropriate for the community. And Jewish values of stewardship become part of the community’s identity and everyday decision-making.
What are the results? Here are just a few examples:
- 8 JGF organizations have installed rooftop solar energy systems and 12 more are participating in a joint purchasing project to help them take this exciting step;
- Camp Jacobson established a Teva (Nature) Center, created an annual Teva Day, and built a beautiful garden that has become a centerpiece of the camp and a significant draw for enrollment;
- Not only has Riverdale Y’s Farmers Market become a source of healthy food and a way to support sustainable agriculture, it is also building community. The Farmers’ Market hosts educational programs for children in collaboration with New York City Urban Park Rangers;
- There is no more junk food at North Shore Synagogue. Children in the religious school can purchase healthy snacks and earn Metzuyan (excellence) Dollars that they can redeem for green prizes;
- Hundreds of families drop off their organic waste at the 14th Street Y so that it can be composted. Children in the Y’s afterschool program learn where their food comes from and where their waste goes. They made a video to tell their parents all about it.
These programs are having a significant and broad impact on their institutions. At one and the same time these programs are developing leadership skills, deepening Jewish learning, and in many cases crystalizing a sense of pride and identity in the host institution.
And – critically – these programs are also good for the bottom line. JGF organizations have successfully raised over $3,300,000 in federal, state and local grants for greening projects. For example, Jewish Home Lifecare secured a grant from New York State’s Environmental Facilities Corporation to pay for a green roof and therapeutic garden that residents will enjoy while they protect water quality. The JCC of Staten Island has reduced operating costs by $100,000 per year as a result of energy efficiency measures, elimination of printed catalogs, and the installation of a solar thermal energy system that heats water for the pool and fitness center.
Inspired by the words of the birkat hamazon, the blessing recited after meals, the members of the Green Team at the Solomon Schechter School of Long Island decided to call themselves the Meitiv Team. The blessing says that G!d “did good, does good (“meitiv”), and will do good for us.” The Meitiv Team chose this name because their members are proud to be doing good as G!d’s partners and agents working towards the vision of a more sustainable world.
Dr. Mirele Goldsmith / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Israel Ride is coming to a city near you! Now that registration for the 2014 Arava Institute & Hazon Israel Ride is open, info sessions are popping up all over the country. Join us at one of the following locations to hear from Israel Ride alumni about their experiences on the Ride, environmental challenges in the Middle East, and how the Ride supports both the Arava Institute and Hazon:
– 12/8 in Baltimore, MD
– 12/8 in Alameda, CA
– 12/11 in Atlanta, GA
– 12/12 in Manhattan, NY
– 12/18 in Evergreen, CO
– 1/5 in Rockville Centre, NY
More details for all of the events can be found on our Israel Ride info session blog.
Registration for the Israel Ride is currently set at early-bird prices. Sign up for just $275 and receive a customized Israel Ride fleece jacket!
Programming at the synagogue allows families to explore together the dynamic interplay of Jews, food, and our complex family lives. We are still looking for two NY-area schools to run this program beginning in January.
Contact email@example.com for more details.
Come enjoy an evening of rich conversation with Fred Bahnson, author of Soil & Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith, and local growers who are working to recover from the flood. KGNU 88.5 and The Collaborative Community Radio Show will be recording the event live for later broadcast and there will be delicious complimentary food donated by local restaurants.
This event is free and donations to the Front Range Farm Relief Fund will be accepted.
RSVP is encouraged.
Monday, December 9 at 6:00 p.m.
Impact Hub Boulder
1877 Broadway St #100
PA: Tomato Rabbis
Who picks the food that you eat? How much are they paid? Would you pay a penny more for better wages for the workers who pick your food? Every year, from September until May, millions of tomatoes are harvested by farm-workers in Florida and shipped all around the country. But their earnings have not changed in 30 years.
This panel discussion will cover the movement to prevent slavery in America’s tomato fields and how a group of rabbis have made this their mission.
Meet Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, Director of North American Programs for T’ruah (formerly Rabbis for Human Rights-NA) and Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann of Kol Tzedek as they discuss the Tomato Rabbis.
Wednesday, December 11 at
Kol Tzedek Synagogue
48th St. and Baltimore
West Philadelphia, PA