As we worked on the Hazon Seal, I was tremendously amazed by how our Hillel was able to find new students who had felt left out in other Jewish spaces because of their sustainable ideals. And as I learned more, I was personally surprised by the extent to which Jewish ideals really align with sustainability.
Would you like your synagogue’s weekly kiddush to be healthier, more delicious, and less wasteful? Want to cut the energy costs of an aging building? Advocate for clean energy in your community as part of an interfaith coalition? Or reignite students’ curiosity about Jewish tradition through hands-on, outdoor learning?
Many institutions want to engage in healthier, more humane, and more sustainable behaviors, but don’t know where to start. Others have already begun – be it starting a garden, composting food waste, or installing LED light bulbs – but don’t know how to keep up the momentum. The Hazon Seal of Sustainability provides a roadmap to advance sustainability-related education, action, and advocacy in the Jewish community and beyond.
From 2016 – 2017, the Hazon Seal of Sustainability engaged over three dozen organizations across the country. Synagogues, day schools, camps, social service agencies, Hillels, and other Jewish institutions each made meaningful, measurable steps towards increasing their sustainability.
Check back soon to apply for the Spring 2018 cohort of the Hazon Seal of Sustainability.View application questions
Special Recent Posts
March 13th, 2018
by Jenny Koshner, Program Coordinator, Hadar Institute Hadar empowers Jews to create and sustain vibrant, practicing, egalitarian communities of Torah, Avodah, and Hesed. They are a Hazon Seal of Sustainability site based in New York, NY. This past year at Hadar has been a transformative year for us. As an educational institution in New York City that empowers Jews of all ages to build and sustain vibrant, practicing, egalitarian communities of Torah, tefillah (prayer), and chesed (service), we have always cared deeply about integrating our lives of study and ritual practice with living according to our tradition’s principles. Since our founding a little over ten years[...]
February 6th, 2018
To start off the secular new year with sustainability in mind, the Hazon Seal launched its first monthly sustainability challenge! Open to everyone, participants are given the opportunity to challenge themselves to bring sustainability into their lives in engaging, creative ways. The monthly challenge demonstrates a range of simple projects to integrate environmental practices and values in individuals’ lives; achievable for sustainability beginners and experts alike! The topics include a range of environmental issues tied to Jewish learning and holidays — for example, January’s challenge encouraged participants to upcycle plastic containers into planters in celebration of Tu b’Shvat, the Jewish[...]
December 12th, 2017
Wondrous as it is, the miracle of Chanukah, in which an oil flask meant to last one day instead lasted eight, seems dwarfed in today’s world of everlasting products: plastic bottles, diapers, aluminum foil, electronics, to name a few. But its essence remains, teaching us the importance of valuing what we have. On the eve of Thanksgiving, I attended an event at John Jay College of Criminal Justice on behalf of Hazon. The college’s Hillel and environmental club teamed up to hold an hour-long “decomposition activity” to shed some light on just one of many environmental issues: waste. I witnessed[...]
October 31st, 2017
A warm welcome and mazal tov to the Fall 2017 Seal of Sustainability Cohort! We are excited that these 10 new sites - from the east coast, west coast, and in between - are joining the Seal Network on a journey toward sustainability! As part of the Seal of Sustainability, sites will proverbially, and in some cases literally, plant the seeds that will flourish into the institutions’ green visions. Each site leader will form a Green Team that will serve as the organization’s roots to support the three branches - or greening projects - that will be implemented over the[...]
October 3rd, 2017
by Judith Belasco October 3rd, 2017 | 13 Tishrei 5778 Dear All, My family built our sukkah this past Sunday. I felt an uneasy juxtaposition between the joy of this holiday – freely choosing to create and decorate a temporary home in which we will share our abundance with friends – and the cruel fate of so many that now find themselves forced into temporary homes. From Puerto Rico and Florida to India and Nepal, the devastation and destruction from climate change is a new normal. We can’t let ourselves see this as a problem in some other place that someone else needs to fix. This[...]
October 2nd, 2017
by Judith Belasco October 3rd, 2017 | 13 Tishrei 5778 Dear All, My family built our sukkah this past Sunday. I felt an uneasy juxtaposition between the joy of this holiday – freely choosing to create and decorate a temporary home in which we will share our abundance with friends – and the cruel fate of so many that now find themselves forced into temporary homes. From Puerto Rico and Florida to India and Nepal, the devastation and destruction from climate change is a new normal. We can’t let ourselves see this as a problem in some other place that someone else needs to[...]
August 14th, 2017
Across the country, over forty Jewish organizations are committing to making a better world through the Hazon Seal of Sustainability. Local papers nationwide have highlighted Seal organization's innovative sustainability initiatives. Read on for stories about planting of paw paw trees, building chicken mansions, urban farming initiatives, and more! "Going Green," Hillel News, 26 May 2017 "Shaarey Zedek, B’nai Moshe and Hazon partner to provide organic produce," Detroit Jewish News, 16 June 2017 “Hazon Seal, Louisville Grows grant to be parts of J’s enhanced sustainability," Jewish Louisville, 26 May 2017 "Congregation Bonai Shalom Awarded 2016 Hazon Seal of Sustainability," Boulder Jewish News,[...]
July 6th, 2017
Ryan Kaplan, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta Parshat Chukat “Moses made a copper serpent and mounted it on a standard; and when anyone was bitten by a serpent, they would look at the copper serpent and recover.” Numbers 21:9 As I write this post, I sit in my office in Atlanta with the threat of rain clouds to my left and blueberry waffles, coffee, and a coworker’s copy of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) to my right. Georgia’s summer has been very wet thus far, and the promise of the coming downpour outside my window sets a looming melancholic tone for this week’s cinematic[...]
June 29th, 2017
from Judith Belasco June 29th, 2017 | 5th of Tamuz, 5777 Dear all, Last year, from the bimah at Greenburgh Hebrew Center, a shul outside NYC, there was a reminder to attend the annual meeting and vote to approve the budget. I overheard the whispers of two men discussing the budget: “We are saving money on our electric bill…” “Really?” “We actually have solar panels on our roof…” I couldn’t help but smile. In 2013, with help from Hazon, Rabbi Barry Kenter led Greenburgh Hebrew Center to install 200 solar panels on its roof. The panels meet more than half of GHC’s annual electricity demand, reducing[...]
June 19th, 2017
The Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto, CA is a haven for green-focused Jewish community. Already OFJCC’s campus is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certified for its environmentally progressive features, and they’ve continued their environmental leadership with their diverse projects as a member of the Seal of Sustainability Cohort 2016! OFJCC’s switch to purchasing only compostable utensils in September 2016 has made a large impact on their 2,000 daily visitors to their cafe, afterschool program, camps, preschool, and events. They plan to run a full-time 3-bin system for trash, recycling, and compost collection, and so far they’ve been[...]
May 22nd, 2017
During their first year, Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, MI has proven itself to be a real asset to the Hazon Seal of Sustainability Cohort 2016! From their efforts towards implementing better recycling policies, to using only recyclable paper products at events, we’re excited to continue supporting their progress over the next year. Much of Adat Shalom’s sustainability work focuses on community participation and awareness. “Our focus is to make members more aware of the importance of taking care of the environment in which we all share,” says Susan Shevrin, Congregation Liason. Increasing awareness of recycling and improving recycling procedures[...]
Old Stones, New Ripples - Reflections on the Close of JOFEE Fellowship Cohort 1 | D'varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog
May 18th, 2017
by Yoshi Silverstein - JOFEE Fellowship Director May 18th, 2017 | 22nd Iyar 5777 | 37th day of the omer | gevurah she’b’yesod 16 Organizations. 17 Fellows. Over 500 programs. An estimated 37,000 participants in Jewish Outdoor, Food, Farming & Environmental Education (JOFEE) programs across the country. These are some of the incredible numbers emerging as we look back at our first JOFEE Fellowship cohort, who completed their closing seminar and siyum last week at our sister JOFEE organization, the Pearlstone Center outside Baltimore, MD. Behind those numbers are thousands of people encountering - many for the first time - the incredible[...]
May 17th, 2017
Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, MI is setting the bar for sustainability high with their excellent work as a member of the Hazon Seal of Sustainability Cohort 2016! Between planning their first Green Kiddush, to using only glass mugs and recyclable paper products at events, there seems to be no limit on what they can achieve. After completing the Hazon Seal Audit, the Green Team at Shaarey Zedek immediately replaced all Styrofoam cups in the Berman Center of Education with glass cups that the congregation had in storage. They also made sure that the congregation’s clergy team spoke about the Green[...]
May 8th, 2017
As a member of the 2016 Hazon Seal Pilot Cohort, B’nai Jeshurun (New York, NY) is going above and beyond with their sustainability practices! As one of their projects for the first year, B’nai Jeshurun implemented Green Kiddush practices each Shabbat. The Green Team ensures that there are bins at every kiddush to separate waste appropriately and ensure that nothing that isn’t recyclable, reusable, or compostable ends up in the trash. B’nai Jeshurun also started a Composting Initiative at their congregation. According to Larissa Wohl, Tzedek Program Manager and member of BJ’s Green Team, “There is a composting page on our website[...]
April 14th, 2017
By Zach Goldberg, JOFEE Fellow at Ramah in the Rockies and Bonai Shalom Ramah in the Rockies started a Bokashi composting system as part of their participation in the Hazon Seal of Sustainability, a roadmap for Jewish institutions to become more sustainable. Learn more about the Hazon Seal of Sustainability. On the way from Philistine to Beersheba, Isaac digs a series of three wells that were previously excavated by his father, Abraham. At the first well, Isaac meets some people who claim the water as their own. Isaac names it esek, “contention.” At the second well he digs, they meet people who[...]
March 15th, 2017
Moishe House Boulder set up three community members with bikes and helmets as part of their participation in the Hazon Seal of Sustainability. Already a force in the Moishe House platform as one of the most sustainable and intentional communities, Moishe House Boulder (aka “MoHoBO”) continues to build its reputation in the world of sustainability through their Hazon Seal projects. Focusing primarily on sustainable living practices, MoHoBo’s Seal projects involve education about bike maintenance and safety and events around food, animal welfare, and how Jewish history relates to current events. This past year, MoHoBo helped set up three community members with bikes[...]
January 17th, 2017
As part of their three Hazon Seal Sustainability projects, Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn, NY is expanding their compost program. Notably, they've purchased a second composting barrel; this barrel allows students to set one batch of compost aside to decompose, while still being able to add new food scraps to the other barrel. Though Hannah Senesh has composted for a few years, they previously had no choice but to take breaks from collecting scraps when their single barrel filled up. Their new system allows the school to keep the cycle of composting consistent throughout the school year, keeping[...]
January 5th, 2017
Hannukah, New Year's Eve, AND hundreds of Jewish foodies and environmentalists... all at the Hazon Food Conference. Last week, six Seal sites -- DU Hillel, CSU Hillel, Moishe House Boulder, B'nai Jeshurun, Ramah in the Rockies, Congregation Bonai Shalom -- joined together to learn, share, and celebrate Jewish food and sustainability. The conference included an in-depth session about the Hazon Seal and the first in-person meeting for Hazon Seal sites from across the country. Hody Nemes, Manager of Greening and Climate Initiatives at Hazon, said, "At the beginning of 2016, the Hazon Seal was just an exciting dream. Now, after hundreds of[...]
October 27th, 2016
Two weeks ago, right after Yom Kippur, families and communities began erecting beautiful Sukkot. Decorated with gourds, topped with bamboo, tree branches, or corn stalks, these sukkot have provided a temporary home for Jews across the world for eight days. That was yesterday. Today, those Sukkot are coming down-- along with tons of schach, organic material that covers the top of the Sukkah. On the Upper West Side in New York City, twelve congregations, organized in partnership with Hazon Seal site B’nai Jeshurun, are doing good with their post-Sukkot waste. Through a unique partnership with the New York City Department[...]
October 19th, 2016
At the Colorado State University Hillel, sustainability is coming full circle. The C.S.U. Hillel’s Green Team is improving their food sourcing and starting a composting program to support green meals and programming at Hillel. In September, Green Team members Alex Amchi and Nevan Mandel, along with other C.S.U. students and volunteers, planted a small food bearing garden. According to Nevan, “It is growing well, and we can expect kale and other delicious goodness within a few weeks.” C.S.U. also received a donated CSA share, which has allowed them to source much of their produce locally. The Green Team at the C.S.U. Hillel[...]
The Hazon Seal of Sustainability provides guidance and support to advance sustainability-related education, action, and advocacy in the Jewish community. Participating institutions receive:
- A roadmap to healthier food, less waste, meaningful JOFEE education, a lower carbon footprint, and more
- A network of Jewish and other faith-based organizations committed to sustainability, learning with and from one another
- An annual certification to celebrate success and highlighting the progress of leaders in the field of sustainability
Why join the Hazon Seal?
- Be at the forefront of a movement in the Jewish community and beyond towards a healthier and more sustainable world
- Excite existing community members and bring new members in the door
- Save money through increasing efficiency and attract new donors for sustainability work
- Improve your organization’s brand through publicity, awards, and recognition
Frequently Asked Questions
- Resources to help meet their improvement goals:
- Access to our three innovative online audits
- Consulting with national experts on food, facilities, and more
- Discounts on green products, including compostables
- Individualized support and planning with Hazon greening staff
- Cohort training events, including webinars on greening topics
- Scholarships to Hazon conferences
- A cohort of peers to learn with and from
- National publicity
- Eligibility for Hazon Seal of Sustainability certification
- Publicly announce your participation in the Hazon Seal of Sustainability
- Pay a sliding scale fee to Hazon to offset program costs
- Build a Green Team or strengthen an existing team. The green team should include one specific Hazon Seal point person who is ideally a staff member
- Complete at least 1 of the 3 Hazon Seal audits
- Accomplish at least 3 substantive sustainability projects
- At year’s end, commit to new sustainability projects for 2018
Institutions participating in the Hazon Seal pay a sliding scale fee based on their annual budget:
- Institutions with budgets under $500,000 pay $180
- Institutions with budgets $500,000 – $1 million pay $500
- Institutions with budgets $1 million – $2.5 million pay $1000
- Institutions with budgets over $2.5 million are determined in consultation with Hazon
However, cost should not be a barrier to participation. Scholarships are available to reduce or waive the fee if necessary. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if cost is a concern.
- Rabbis, cantors, executive directors, programming directors, teachers
- Board members and lay leaders
- Non-profit Jewish communal organizations in the United States such as synagogues, JCCs, social service agencies, camps, foundations/federations, and schools.
- Institutions that both own and rent their buildings/spaces.
Timeline & important dates for sites applying to the Winter 2018 Cohort:
- January 12: Applications close
- January 22: Applicants notified of status
- February 12: Deadline for returning signed LOA and payment
- February 13, 3-4 PM Eastern: Orientation webinar
- March 13: Deadline for first Green Team meeting
- April 10: Deadline for taking an audit
- February – March: First consulting call
- February – December: Project implementation
- October – December: Second consulting call
- January 11, 2019: Deadline for submitting renewal forms
See below for a detailed explanation of the Hazon Seal certification process. We encourage you to read through all of this material.
- Pay a Sliding Scale Fee to Hazon to Offset Program Cost
- Form a Green Team – Build a green team, or strengthen an existing team. The green team should include one specific Hazon Seal point person who is ideally a staff member.
- Choose an Audit – The green team and/or leadership choose which of the three audits (food, energy, or ecosystems) will be most helpful to the institution, based on its needs and goals. Of course, you may take two or three, but you are only required to take one.
- Take an Audit – The audit benchmarks the institution’s current performance and highlights its stronger and weaker areas, while providing ideas and inspiration for new sustainability projects. Each audit has 50-75 potential activities/projects.
- Consulting Calls with Hazon staff – The organization participates in at least two phone calls with Hazon staff to review progress and receive support and resources.
- Publicize your participation – An executive leader (rabbi, ED, principal, etc) announces participation in the Hazon Seal to members, the board, and other constituencies. Organization publicizes its participation and sustainability work, including posting the Hazon Seal logo, to community via social media, website, and/or newsletter. Organization commits to writing 1-2 blog posts for publication on Hazon website and beyond.
- Implement three substantive sustainability projects – The green team, in conjunction with institutional leaders, commits to and executes at least three substantive sustainability projects.
- Cohort training webinars – Join greening support and training webinars with other Seal institutions to learn about a variety of sustainability topics.
- Track impact – Collect statistics on project impact, such as number of people affected, amount of food composted, etc. Document your work through photos and video.
- Renewal and Evaluation – Submit an end-of-year progress report (with photos) to confirm that you have successfully completed your projects, or made substantive progress in executing them. Your organization commits to three sustainability projects for the following year, and has the opportunity (strongly encouraged) to continue participating in the Hazon Seal of Sustainability.
Institutions that take a Hazon Seal audit gain access to a menu of education, action, or advocacy project ideas. In order to receive Hazon Seal certification, institutions need to complete three projects with lasting impact on their institution. Sample project ideas include:
Food, Animal Welfare, & Food Justice
- Hillel Day School (Farmington Hills, MI) is expanding their garden to provide fresh produce throughout the winter to supply their salad bar and feed the entire school population. Students and staff are working together to assemble the protected winter garden as a community-building exercise. The school received a mini-grant from Hazon to buy the necessary equipment, including seeds, soil, and pots and is receiving guidance with a nearby farm. The fruits of their labor will hopefully include local, organic spinach, lettuce, radishes, and even strawberries.
- Colorado State University Hillel (Fort Collins, CO) is working to source the majority of its food, including eggs, from local farms — and their own backyard. They built a small vegetable garden and received a donated CSA share. Students are participating in trainings to prepare for building a chicken coop and raising egg-laying hens, with guidance from the Jewish Initiative for Animals (JIFA). Over 300 students benefit from this more sustainable food served at Hillel meals…and the scraps end up in Hillel’s new composter.
- B’nai Jeshurun (Manhattan, NY) started hosting regular Green Kiddushes after Saturday morning services. They purchased reusable tablecloths, silverware, and dishware, which will save thousands of dollars and prevent the use of 26,000 disposable paper plates, 5,800 single-use tablecloths and 24,000 pieces of plastic cutlery from going to the landfill annually. The purchase of the reusable items was funded by their sustainability-themed #GivingTuesday campaign, which was designed with input from Hazon staff. B’nai Jeshurun also completed an LED lighting upgrade.
Facilities & Energy
- Adat Shalom Synagogue (Farmington Hills, MI) changed all the lights in their main sanctuary to LED bulbs, saving money, energy, and carbon emissions. To continue the upgrade, they will be swapping out the older energy-intensive lights on their Yizkor memorial wall to energy-efficient LEDs.
- Oshman Family JCC (Palo Alto, CA) purchased all compostable utensils across campus, and created consistency among all garbage and composting receptacles. After learning about the importance of signage on a Hazon Seal webinar, staff and campers created catchy signs that encourage recycling and composting. These changes will allow them to properly dispose of compost during large-scale events on campus.
- Greenburgh Hebrew Center built solar panels on-site as part of Hazon’s Jewish Greening Fellowship, thereby saving money, cutting its contribution to the climate crisis, expressing its commitment to Jewish values of stewardship, and setting an early example for families and other congregations.
- Moishe House in Boulder, CO led a learning series for young Boulder Jews promoting biking as a sustainable form of transportation. The series included a “Bike for Beer” event in partnership with a local brewery, an event on bike safety and maintenance, and a “Tour de Boulder” which included a tour of the city to encourage biking.
- Hebrew Institute of Riverdale’s (Bronx, NY) green team researched eco-friendly, chemical-free options in renovating their kids’ play areas. They provided their youth department with resources about purchasing green playground equipment, toys, and art supplies. They also hosted an e-waste collection event to help congregants responsibly dispose of toxic electronics and lightbulbs.
- Hannah Senesh Community Day School (Brooklyn, NY) began its first-ever school recycling and composting program. Middle school students collect food waste at lunch and are responsible for processing the compost on site in a rotary composter in their back garden. Through the Hazon Seal, they are also working on creating a second, food-bearing garden to incorporate into their elementary and middle school curriculum.
- Jewish Family Service of San Diego started exclusively using toxin-free green cleaning products across its facilities.
- Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center (Falls Village, CT) created a “JOFEE” map for visitors to explore its beautiful campus, highlighting sustainability features like solar panels, barnyard, and hiking trails. Isabella Freedman is also installing insulation in the attics of several buildings to reduce energy use.
- Adat Shalom Synagogue, Farmington Hills, MI
- B’nai B’rith Beber Camp, Mukwonago, WI
- B’nai B’rith Perlman Camp, Lake Como, PA
- Camp Zeke, Lakewood, PA
- Congregation Bonai Shalom, Boulder, CO
- B’nai Jeshurun, New York, NY
- Congregation Shir Tikvah, Troy, MI
- CSU Hillel, Fort Collins, CO
- Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Southfield, MI
- Eisner Camp, Great Barrington, MA
- Habonim Dror Camp Galil, Ottsville, PA
- Hazon, New York, NY
- Hillel Day School, Farmington Hills, MI
- Hillel DU, Denver, CO
- Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, Bronx, NY
- Hannah Senesh Community Day School, Brooklyn, NY
- JCC of Staten Island, Staten Island, NY
- Jewish Family Service of San Diego, San Diego, CA
- Moishe House Boulder, Boulder, CO
- Oshman Family JCC, Palo Alto, CA
- Pearlstone Center, Reisterstown, MD
- Ramah in the Rockies, Denver, CO
- Yad Ezra, Berkley, MI
Spring 2017 Sites
- B’nai Havurah Denver, CO
- Congregation Nevei Kodesh Boulder, CO
- Congregation Shir Shalom of Northern Westchester and Fairfield Counties Ridgefield, CT
- The Emanuel Synagogue Hartford, CT
- Congregation B’nai Moshe Bloomfield, MI
- Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue Detroit, MI
- Jewish Ferndale Ferndale, MI
- Temple Beth El Bloomfield Hills, MI
- Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation New York, NY
- CSI – Briarcliff Briarcliff, NY
- Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion New York, NY
- Makom Hadash New York. NY
- Moishe House Upper West Side New York, NY
- Moishe House Park Slope Brooklyn, NY
- Repair the World NYC Brooklyn, NY
- Beth Sholom Cherry Hill, NJ
- Congregation Kol Ami Elkins Park, PA
- Congregation Ohev Shalom Wallingford, PA
- Mishkan Shalom Philadelphia, PA
- Oregon Hillel Foundation Eugene, OR
- Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta Atlanta, GA
- Jewish Community of Louisville Louisville, KY
- Kenesset Israel Torah Center Sacramento, CA
Fall 2017 Sites
- Allegheny College Hillel Meadville, PA
- Ben Porat Yosef Paramus, NJ
- JDC New York, NY
- Kibbutz Detropia Detroit, MI
- Mechon Hadar New York, NY
- SAR Academy Bronx, NY
- Shalom Institute Malibu, CA
- Temple Beth Shalom (FL) Vero Beach, FL
- Temple Sinai Saratoga Springs, NY
- Temple Solel Hollywood, FL
- UVM Hillel Burlington, VT
- Weber School Atlanta, GA
Winter 2018 Sites
- Edlavitch JCC Washington, DC
- Temple Beth Hatfiloh Olympia, WA
- Congregation Har Shalom Potomac, MD
- Congregation Ohav Shalom Albany, NY
- UChicago Hillel Chicago, IL
- Hillel Community Day School Rochester, NY
- Hillel at Virginia Tech Blacksburg, VA
- Detroit Jews for Justice Detroit, MI
- Temple Kol Ami West Bloomfield Township, MI
- Repair the World Detroit Detroit, MI