chanukah

Topic: Hazon Seal of Sustainability

Updates on the Hazon Seal of Sustainability

The Miracle of Chanukah: A Lesson on Longevity

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 students and faculty – some perplexed, some intent on finding answers – try to guess the rate of decomposition for a variety of items for the prize of a reusable water bottle or mug. Placed on two long tables were numerous objects: paper towels, banana peels, orange peels, plastic bags, batteries, plastic bottles, diapers, glass containers, electronics, and tin foil (purposely put in order from shortest to longest decomposition rates, unbeknownst to the participants). Some participants intuitively knew that the fruit on the table decomposes – decays or breaks down into simpler matter – faster than, say, a cell phone. […]

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Ten New Sites Get the Green Light!

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 course of the certification process.   Whether they decide to serve higher-welfare eggs and meat for their Yeshiva program like Mechon Hadar, an educational institution in New York City, or expand their existing composting program to all school buildings, like Allegheny College Hillel aims to do at their Pennsylvania campus, the 10 Fall 2017 sites will commit to three sustainability projects that will have a lasting impact on their institutions. By participating in the Hazon Seal, sites will have the opportunity to transform their institutional food policies, remodel their waste practices, or even re-energize their buildings with solar power! Joining […]

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Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods… and chicken coops

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 planet is a permanent home – for all of us. We have estimated that the current carbon footprint of the US Jewish Community is about 86,920,000 metric tons.* As a community with less than 2% of the US population, we have a carbon footprint larger than 119 countries, including Denmark, Israel, Morocco, New Zealand, and Sweden. In addition to the personal impact that we are making from our lives, the American Jewish Community owns thousands of buildings across the United States. There are roughly 3,500 synagogues in the US, and thousands more day schools, camps, social service […]

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Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods… and chicken coops

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 planet is a permanent home – for all of us. We have estimated that the current carbon footprint of the US Jewish Community is about 86,920,000 metric tons.* As a community with less than 2% of the US population, we have a carbon footprint larger than 119 countries, including Denmark, Israel, Morocco, New Zealand, and Sweden. In addition to the personal impact that we are making from our lives, the American Jewish Community owns thousands of buildings across the United States. There are roughly 3,500 synagogues in the US, and thousands more day schools, camps, […]

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In the News: Styrofoam Bans, Paw Paw Trees, and a Home for the Chickens

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,  3 May 2017 “Emanuel Synagogue Green Team launches new sustainability initiatives,” West Hartford News, 26 April 2017    

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When It Rains It Pours | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

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 Torah portion: Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1). Much happens in the chapters of Chukat. In the interest of brevity: The wandering Israelites are taught in “the ways of the red heifer” (that is to say, they’re told how to purify themselves after coming into contact with a human corpse); Miriam dies and water becomes scarce; Moses and Aaron fall out of G-d’s good graces after striking a rock in search of water instead of speaking to it; Aaron follows Miriam in death and a 30 day period of mourning begins (up from the normal 7 days of Shiva); a […]

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Sign | Seal | Deliver

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 the congregation’s electricity bill by more than $7,000 per year. Fast forward four years, and the 62 organizations Hazon has partnered with on greening in the NY area are now estimated to save at least $8.3 million over the next 10 years. Leading these reductions are solar energy projects like GHC’s, or the 103 kW solar PV installation at the JCC of Staten Island, which saves an amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to planting 63 acres of trees. The Hazon Seal of Sustainability is a national effort to connect environmentalism and Jewish values and to put sustainability at the forefront […]

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Cutting our waste – with compostable knives

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 successful at getting all of the compostable utensils in the correct bin. Tzachi Flat, a JOFEE fellow and member of OFJCC’s Green Team, has also spread knowledge about the importance of composting in the local community.  Tzachi “spoke to our local high school, Kehillah Jewish High School… about the shift and how they can play an important role by throwing trash in the correct bins.”   In addition to their excellent composting efforts, OFJCC installed low-flow showerheads and three water bottle filling stations at their fitness center.  They have also recently installed two electric car charging ports! Kol HaKavod […]

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Recycling at Adat Shalom

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 throughout the entire building was not just a sustainable practice itself, but it provided learning opportunities for members of Adat Shalom.  During Adat Shalom’s Annual Volunteer Day in December 2016, the synagogue hosted Hazon representatives who worked with youth to create recycling boxes for every classroom. In addition to their exceptional recycling work, Adat Shalom is updating their lighting to run more efficiently, and they are hoping to replace all fluorescents and CFL lighting with LED and/ or energy cost saving lighting. Kol HaKavod to Susan Shevrin and the rest of the Green Team at Adat Shalom for their […]

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Old Stones, New Ripples – Reflections on the Close of JOFEE Fellowship Cohort 1 | D’varim HaMakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

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 power of a Jewish tradition steeped in deep cultural and spiritual connection with the earth, with place, with human communities and our surrounding ecosystems, with our food, and with each other.  A Jewish tradition that recognizes both the limits and abundance of the resources our home planet provides for us. A tradition that says this world is amazing – there is so much magnificence – and yet we have work to do – not to complete by ourselves, but neither to desist from doing our part. And wow did our JOFEE Fellows do their part! Here are a […]

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