How Did They Do It? Stories of Successful Greening
Greening is a process of constant learning and growth. The rewards can be immense – saving money, helping the climate, and energizing your community. But the task can seem daunting.
Thankfully, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Staff, volunteers, and activists at Jewish organizations have already put into place countless successful greening projects. We invite you to learn from these organizations’ experiences as you green your institution.
In each of the four case studies, we explore a particular greening project and present relevant resources, education ideas, and Jewish values. You can also view a list of other projects undertaken across the Seal of Sustainability network.
Reducing Waste at Kane Street Synagogue
Saving Paper at the JCC of Staten Island
Building a Nature Classroom at Mid-Island Y JCC
Installing Solar Panels at Greenburgh Hebrew Center
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.