Topic: Jewish Greening Fellowship

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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This Passover, Take Action for the Climate – D’Varim Hamakom: The JOFEE Fellows Blog

Rachel Aronson – JOFEE / Sustainability and Community Engagement Fellow, Hazon  Jews across the world this week commemorated leaving Egypt to become free people for the holiday of Passover. Friends and family sit around the table together for the seder, celebrating freedom with comfy pillows to recline on and lots of kosher wine. Unfortunately, Passover can also represent something else: the holiday of waste. Those who keep kosher for Pesach (Passover) deep-clean our kitchens before the holiday, rooting out bread, tortillas, muffins, crackers, and every other kind of chametz (leavened or yeasted products) that’s sitting around the house. And to ensure that everything is kosher, we switch out our regular sets of dishes with a special set of only-for-Passover dishes. But who wants to keep an extra set of dishes around the house? It takes up storage space. It’s inconvenient. Understandably, many of us – out of convenience, or out of necessity – use disposable plates, cutlery, cups, and more. Ironically, many of us end up celebrating this holiday of freedom and liberation with trash bags full of styrofoam. Thankfully, Passover is also a holiday that reminds us of our ability to make change — as individuals and as a society. Nowhere is […]

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NY Finalizes Major Initiative to Expand Solar Access

From the Press Office of Vote Solar Diverse Coalition Applauds Cuomo Administration’s Commitment to Improving Community Health, Resiliency, Opportunity through Clean Energy Albany, NY – July 16, 2015 – Today the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) established an innovative Shared Renewables program that will expand consumer access to local solar, wind and other clean energy resources, particularly among low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. More than 70 local and national organizations join together in applauding state leaders for their commitment to a healthier, more resilient clean energy system that creates opportunities for all New Yorkers to thrive. “Solar is working for the Empire State in a big way. Record numbers of New Yorkers are harnessing sunshine to save on their energy bills, which is creating local jobs and reducing the need for traditional polluting power. This new program will empower even more communities, families and businesses to participate in that great solar success story,” said Sean Garren, Northeast Regional Manager for Vote Solar, a national solar advocacy organization. “We thank Governor Cuomo, his administration and the PSC for making equal access to solar a priority and for speeding our transition to a healthier, more resilient clean energy system.” New York […]

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Community members at the 14th Street Y share stories on jars of pickles.

Shmita Galore!

“Something miraculous happens when we stop. We get to experience the power that nature knows called dormancy…” – Rabbi David Ingber, sermon on Shmita, Hazon’s Shmita Sourcebook This year, Jewish communities in New York — and all across the world — embraced the biblical concept of Shmita. And JGF institutions led the way. With the help of JGF alumni shmita grants, Fellows created a variety of programs and events that highlighted Shmita values like releasing debt, eating thoughtfully, and reducing waste. Local Food and Gardening One of Shmita’s core teachings is to let the land lie fallow every seventh year, encouraging us to become more in sync with the earth’s natural cycles. In keeping with this message, many institutions developed programs centered around local food and gardening. Garden cultivation relieves stress and anxiety and improves memory. At Jewish Home Lifecare’s Sarah Neuman Center, a horticulture therapist led a workshop on garden-to-table eating. Seniors learned to grow vegetables and herbs, which provided not only fresh produce, but also healing. The JCC of Staten Island hosted its first Shmita Seder, using the Passover seder format to educate participants about the connections between Jewish and environmental values. A specially designed “Haggadah” guide walked participants […]

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Raise a Glass to Greening: Creating a Sustainable Kiddush

Greening often happens in supply closets. On roofs. In the boiler room. Out of sight. To bring greening out of the shadows, it’s important to make it a visible part of your programming. For synagogues, weekly kiddushes offer the perfect opportunity to highlight greening work already underway and demonstrate that greening is a Jewish value. Kiddush, which means sanctification, was intended as a way to sanctify Shabbat and remind us to take a rest from our workday labors and enjoy the beauty of creation. But what could be a better way to sanctify the day than creating a healthier, less wasteful kiddush? Organizing a sustainable kiddush is an ideal first step for synagogues that have little experience in greening: it’s easier than a facility upgrade and requires less up­front effort and investment… but it can help the congregation get into better habits and build momentum for additional projects. For synagogues already steeped in greening, the kiddush – with its large, captive audience – offers an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of existing greening measures. Hosting a sustainable kiddush also provides a way to pilot changes in operations, testing their feasibility and congregants’ opinions as a springboard for broader change. […]

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Leading Green!

At JGF’s Leading Green conference, held February 10th in collaboration with the Wiener Educational Center of UJA-Federation of New York, we celebrated the New York Jewish community’s response to climate change and gave practical tools to Jewish communal leaders interested in starting the greening process. The conference was a resounding success, with over 100 people in attendance from a broad range of institutions and greening backgrounds. Times of Israel covered the event. UJA-Federation of New York CEO Eric Goldstein, faith and climate scholar Karenna Gore, and solar entrepreneur Yosef Abramowitz praised the greening work undertaken by the Jewish community and encouraged the audience to continue their greening efforts. Wendy Seligson (14th Street Y), Aliyah Vinikoor (Jewish Theological Seminary), and Rabbi Jason Nevarez (Temple Shaaray Tefila) described how greening has both transformed their institutions and changed their own lives for the better. Many other JGF fellows shared their expertise during small table conversations about specific greening topics (e.g., composting, solar power, and greening with kids) and breakout sessions on facilities, environmental education, and greening/disaster preparedness for vulnerable populations. Participant feedback has been quite positive, and many attendees have expressed interest in starting to green their institutions or in being part of […]

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Greening Efforts Strengthening Jewish Life, Identity, and Institutions

During this last seven-year shmita cycle, UJA-Federation of New York has invested nearly $2 million in Hazon’s Jewish Greening Fellowship. It was brought into existence by Adam Berman and Rabbi Deborah Joselow and it has been very ably led, in succession, by Rachel Jacoby-Rosenfeld, Dr. Mirele Goldsmith and now Becca Linden. This week’s Leading Green gathering at UJA-Federation of New York was a moment simply to note how much has been accomplished. JGF organizations have raised roughly $3.6 million from mostly state and local sources for green improvements and programs, and they will save – at minimum – at least $2 million over the next decade through increased energy efficiency and reduced waste. So just in financial terms, the program has been remarkably successful, at a time of significant financial stress across Jewish non-profits. But the financial impact is only a part of it: 70 Fellows at 55 organizations have participated in leadership training, intensive workshops, and field trips that have enabled them to green their institutions and communicate how Jewish values are informing our response to this central challenge of our time. More than 600 people have participated in Green Teams, roughly 33,000 have participated in educational programs, and […]

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Become An Energy Maccabee

Hanukkah is a holiday about a small band of revolutionary activists who, against all odds, routed the Assyrian Greek Empire, retook control of the Temple in Jerusalem, and there witnessed an energy miracle: a vial of oil kept the Temple’s menorah aflame for eight days instead of one.  In short, Hanukkah is a holiday about energy use, rededicating our buildings, and rebelling against the established system — the perfect holiday for all of us dedicated to greening our institutions and our lives. This Hanukkah we celebrate the rededication of buildings with cleaner and more efficient ways of using energy, like the following: Temple Israel Center of White Plains uses solar energy to power its ner tamid, the eternal light at the front of the sanctuary that recalls the ancient menorah rekindled on Chanukah. With the help of the JGF, staff members from JASA Brighton Beach, Friedberg JCC, Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, and Temple Israel Center of White Plains recently attended a GPRO training on how to retrofit and maintain a green building. For more information on future GPRO trainings, visit Solar One. On November 20, JCC of Staten Island rededicated itself to using clean energy by installing a 103 kW […]

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SS of Westchester Compost Crew

Compost Team

By Ann Berlstein, Greening Fellow, Teacher, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester When the Schechter Westchester Lower and Upper Schools selected “reducing waste in the lunch program” as our project for the Jewish Greening Fellowship, we were thinking about garbage.  Trash.  Piles of empty,  half-pint milk cartons.  Mounds of uneaten pizza slices.  We were not focused on giving struggling students a reason to turn up at school every morning or unearthing hidden leadership skills in fourth graders. So nobody was more surprised than I was when our trash-reduction project became the vehicle for several third and fourth graders to organize themselves into a student-run “compost crew,” complete with job assignments, checklists, badges, protective gear, and –  most importantly – “cool kid” status in the halls of the Lower School.  In the upper elementary grades, it seems, kids look up to kids with clipboards and big shovels.  And for some of our students, that recognition could not have come at a better time. At the time we decided to recruit students to work on the snack-composting plan, one of our boys – let’s call him Aaron – was going through a hard time.  He often did not want to come to school […]

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Thousands of Jews March for Climate Action and Keep Going

Thousands of Jews from over 100 communities joined 400,000 people of all faiths in the People’s Climate March on September 21. It was an inspiring day that revealed the public’s concern about climate disruption, and growing understanding of the need for serious action. We need to keep the pressure on political leaders at every level, from local communities to the US Congress, to follow through on measures that will limit greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and accelerate the transition to renewable energy. Here are some ways that you can engage your members who were inspired by the March and are ready to keep going: Educate Your Community Hannukah, the festival of light, is a great time to learn about different sources of energy and their impact.  COEJL’s Hannukah Energy Scavenger Hunt is a fun place to start. Show Disruption, the exciting film that tells the story of the People’s Climate March. Do your members know what you are doing to make your organization more energy efficient? Share your progress with your board of directors and in your newsletter. If you need to start tracking your energy use, learn how to use EPA’s Portfolio Manager. Help Members Take Concrete Action […]

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