By Zhanna Beyl, Director, Bukharian Teen Lounge, Jewish Child Care Association The youth at JCCA’s Bukharian Teen Lounge have not heard much about Greening before this year. In the Bukharian Jewish community, environmentalism is not yet the hot item on the agenda as there are many other challenges to overcome for this new immigrant group. Thanks to the Jewish Greening Fellowship, we were able to offer our teens a Teen ACTION Goes Green program that introduced environmental issues into our service-learning initiative. Meeting on Sundays at the Lounge, the teens learned about food ethics, waste management, ethical consumption, recycling, planting and beautifying while exploring powerful connections to Jewish teachings and participating in hands-on service activities. Naomi Krikhely, a social work intern from NYU was the enthusiastic facilitator who engaged the teens. An alumna of the Lounge herself, Naomi is a committed Jew and a passionate social worker. She was completely new to dealing with environmental issues. Naomi educated herself and inspired others to be mindful consumers and strong guardians of their community. Now that the teens at JCCA’s Bukharian Teen Lounge have begun their journey on the road to a healthier community, the adults ought to follow the example set […]
Topic: Jewish Greening Fellowship
Seniors at the Boro Park Y just harvested their third crop of lettuce in the lobby! Everyone who comes into the Y is intrigued and excited by the new hydroponic garden. And the garden is growing more than produce – it is growing questions. “We had to ask a rabbi what blessing to say over it, because the lettuce is grown in water, not in the earth,” reports Ellie Kastel, Director of the Y. “Now we teach the children to say the blessing of she’ha’kol.” Ellie continues,“ The lights and the greenery have made the lobby a nicer environment. Teachers are bringing their classes to the Y to see the garden. Visitors are asking if they can do this at home. It is hard to convey the incredible impact this is having at the Y.” At the Sephardic Community Center, the Inter-generational Garden is growing relationships. This garden is planted in containers on the JCC’s patio and roof. Linda Eber, Greening Fellow, describes how children and seniors participate together. “One day a senior who does not speak English, and rarely interacts with others, came to the garden. We were able to match the senior with children who speak Arabic and […]
Do you need funding for an environmental justice project? Apply for a Jewish Social Action Month Grant from UJA-Federation of New York for a project to take place in Heshvan (October-November, 2014.) The deadline to apply is May 9, 2014. Chai Ve’Kayam Curriculum Guide from the Pearlstone Center features experiential lessons on the Jewish agricultural laws. It includes the Hebrew Calendar Garden, a dynamic outdoor Jewish experience of time, space, earth, and spirit. Thinking of planting perennial food plants this summer to prepare for the upcoming Shmita Year? Gotham Orchards helps organizations in NYC plant fruit trees in public spaces. Contact Erik Baard at firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out videos and books on the subject of perennials from Chelsea Green. Many JGF organizations have hosted Bash the Trash, the group that builds musical instruments from ordinary stuff that you would normally throw away. Spanning genres as well as generations, Think Big is their first album, with songs and music written during 25 years of non-stop performing. Jess Gold’s Animated Earth Concert Tour is coming to the East Coast of the US from England in October, 2014. Check the video here, the website here, and multi-media school resource here. Jacob Siegel is […]
Ruth Calderon, a member of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), has a great idea for next year. No fishing will be allowed in the Sea of Galilee in order to allow the fish to recover from years of over-exploitation. Why next year? Because 5775, which begins this coming Rosh Hashanah, is a Shmita (Sabbatical) Year. Ruth’s idea for the Sea of Galilee is a contemporary application of the biblical instructions for Shmita. The basics of Shmita are straightforward: Those fortunate enough to control the use of resources are commanded to let the land lie fallow and release all debts. These commandments embody a profound truth, that unceasing work degrades both land and people. This degradation will eventually lead to oppression and inequality. The Shmita Year puts a brake on this process every 7 years, calling on us to invest in the sustainability of ourselves, our communities, and our society. I heard about Ruth’s proposal at the Siach Shmita Summit, a gathering of social justice and environmental activists from Israel, Europe, and the US, that took place just before Passover. All of the participants are finding ways to renew and reimagine the Shmita tradition. I came back from the Summit with […]
Wondering how you can green your lawn, save money, and build community, all at the same time? The Sounds and Smells and Costs of Urban Ecosystem Servicing will challenge you to think deeply about the possibilities. Attend the Just Food Conference, April 5-6 at Columbia University, to learn about national farm and food issues, CSA trends, and cooking and food preservation techniques, as well as ways to mobilize communities in order to increase access to farm-fresh, locally grown food. This June, 18-24 year olds can participate in a Green Israel Trip with Taglit-Birthright and the Green Zionist Alliance. Do you want to achieve zero waste? Collect hard-to-recycle items in a box in the lobby and ship them free of charge to Terracycle. They will upcycle or recycle them. Share this exciting report on the impact of Jewish Environmental, Outdoor, and Food Education with your leaders to help them understand the value of the hands-on, values-based experiences you are creating.
by Laura Landau, Revson Fellow for Community Organizing, Congregation Beth Elohim Park Slope In August, when I started my new job, my very first meeting was with two community members who were concerned that greening was getting lost in Congregation Beth Elohim’s long list of social justice initiatives. As an area of focus, this coincided well with my goals and values. I was eager to re-engage the community on this important issue, but was not so confident that I had the tools to do so on my own. That’s where the Jewish Greening Fellowship came in. Attending several JGF trainings has connected me with leaders who work in similar positions, and has given me the resources to begin to build a new Green Team at CBE. We’ve built on the progress that CBE had already made in environmentalism, and have begun to look at ways that we can get involved as activists in the fight for environmental justice. One of my goals with the new Green Team is to emphasize the importance of environmental advocacy as a method of social change. Too often when we think of greening, we forget to think of the communities that are most affected. To engage […]
What was Queen Esther thinking when her uncle Mordechai told her to speak up to King Achashverosh? Many readers of the Purim story have tried to answer this question with midrash (stories written to fill gaps in Torah texts.) One intriguing story claims that Esther hid for 4 years before the King’s agents found her and brought her to the palace. In this telling of the story, Esther wasn’t some firebrand eager to stand up against the ruling powers. She preferred to stay completely out of view. But when Mordechai told her it was up to her to go to the King, she stepped up to advocate for her community. There is a certain amount of greening that we can accomplish on our own. But eventually we realize that we’re part of a system. We need to change the system to accomplish our goals. At that point, like Esther, we have to speak up and advocate for what we believe in. At a recent JGF session, Ariel Bailey, Greening Fellow at the Heschel School, had a chance to speak up to Ron Gonen, the NYC Deputy Commissioner of Sanitation. NYC has a compost collection program for schools on the Upper […]
Melanie Cooperman, Cantor and Greening Fellow, and Irene Lustgarten, Executive Director, Community Synagogue of Rye Community Synagogue of Rye places a high value on environmental stewardship. The motto for our green team is from Kohelet: ‘One generation goes, another generation comes. The earth remains forever.’ As a member of the Jewish Greening Fellowship, the synagogue has reviewed and updated its energy audit with the NYS Energy and Research Development Authority, and received a grant which has been used to upgrade energy efficiency, increase recycling, and create a nature trail for educational programming. We also accepted the invitation to participate in the JGF Solar Energy Community Purchasing Project. We are very proud to report that Community Synagogue of Rye will be installing solar panels on the roof over the next 6-8 months with the goal of generating clean energy and reducing the amount of pollution. The solar panels are expected to reduce our energy costs by about 15% and the cost for the solar energy will always be less than the cost of purchasing the same amount of energy from ConEd. As a not-for-profit, Community Synagogue of Rye cannot directly take advantage of the tax credits offered for solar. The solar […]
Four years after Miriam Massen proposed replacing the carpet in the social hall it was finally time to approve the project. But before a vote could be taken, a member of the Executive Committee had one more question about the new flooring: “But is it green?” Looking back, Miriam realized that her decision to talk about the congregation’s commitment to Jewish values of environmental stewardship at every opportunity had changed the culture. The leaders of Temple Israel of White Plains were now on board. Miriam, the Executive Director and Greening Fellow at Temple Israel, shared her story as part of a workshop on Leading Change at our most recent JGF training day. Influencing the culture of an organization takes time, and it can feel painfully slow when you are aware of the urgent need for change. In the workshop the Fellows made timelines of their greening journeys to enable them to reflect on how change is happening in their organizations and to recognize the progress they have made. In preparation for the workshop I spoke with several Senior Fellows about turning points in their organizations’ greening journeys. Their stories illustrate that you can only identify a turning point in hindsight. […]
Have more fun and reduce waste on Purim with a costume swap. Or cut down on unhealthy eating by sending your friends carbon offsets for mishloach manot (gifts of food) instead of cookies and candy. You can offset with the Good Energy Initiative in Israel which helps low income Israelis replace water heaters powered by polluting kerosene with solar heaters. For more Purim tips go to Canfei Nesharim. Thinking even farther ahead, this year Earth Day falls on the 8th day of Passover, April 22, 2014. Celebrate appropriately with sustainability tips from Hazon, and resources from the Earth Day Network. Fair Trade Judaica, Equal Exchange, and T’ruah are collaborating to bring you fair trade, kosher for Passover, chocolate. Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore sold out on fair trade Hannukah gelt this year. We are always looking for resources on organizational change that can help green leaders. Recently the JGF Fellows read John Kotter’s, Our Iceberg is Melting. This is a short book that addresses the steps in the change process. Read it together with your Green Team. Shira Kline, Jewish educator and performer, brings eco-music to a new generation with her CD: Earth Worm Disco. At a recent JGF […]
Send a group of teens to the Youthbridge Teen Summit on March 7, 2014 to launch their own environmental justice project. Contact the Chas. C. Hart Seed Co. to request a donation of free seed for your garden. Bring Teva to your community for a winter eco-workshop (Jan-March) on Recycled Paper-making, Worm Bin Exploration, or Recycled Musical Instruments. Spring outdoor workshops, which can be held in a park near you, include Meet a Tree, Shma Sound Map, and Food Pickling & Preservation. Staff training and consultation are also available. Contact Yishai.Cohen@hazon.org. Aharon Ariel Lavi is a founder of Garin Shuva A Jewish Eco-Mission-Driven Community in the Negev. He speaks on Judaism, economics, social justice, and environmentalism. He is currently a Tikvah Fund Fellow in New York. Contact email@example.com
by Adeline Medeiros, Director – Brooklyn Initiatives, The Center for Community Leadership at JCRC-NY, Greening Fellow When I first started the Jewish Greening Fellowship and took an inventory of all the changes that had to be made around our office, it was overwhelming. There were infrastructure updates, policies to be written, office culture to be changed, a larger building management team to get on board, and the integration of greening into our community work. How on earth was I supposed to do this on my own? I soon realized I couldn’t and I didn’t have to. My experience in JGF has helped me connect with my coworkers in a new way. Prior to my involvement, I had no idea how many of our staff members gardened, composted, and shopped at their local farmer’s markets. I didn’t know that our office manager had fought to equip our office with reusable dishes and a dishwasher two years ago, unsuccessfully. But now we had a secret weapon: We had a team to get behind the cause! From our first green team meeting to our official greening kick-off, I’ve been supported, encouraged, and emboldened by my eco-minded coworkers. The overwhelming work I was first […]
Have you ever dreamed about taking a sabbatical? Well now is your chance. Next year is the Sabbatical year, the Shmita, that the Torah commands us to observe every seventh year. But before you sign up for a cruise, take note that the Shmita of the Torah is not a year off. It is a year to reset our relationship to the earth and to each other. It is the original prescription for sustainability. Shmita calls on us to build communities that are healthy and just in three ways – socially, environmentally, and economically. With just a few more months until Rosh Hashanah 5775, now is the time to start thinking about how your community will observe the Shmita year. Here are seven ways to get started: 1. Let everyone know that Shmita is coming. A countdown clock is ticking in the main lodge at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center. 2. Start learning with your leaders. Bring a text about Shmita to your next Green Team, staff, or social action committee meeting. Go to ShmitaProject.org for resources. 3. Introduce Shmita to your community. At Solomon Schechter of Long Island, Rabbi Joshua Rabin prepared a Tu B’shvat seder on the theme […]
Tu B’Shvat , the Jewish Earth Day, is on January 16, 2014. Plan a Tu B’Shvat Seder with resources from Hazon and Canfei Nesharim. Looking for other ideas? Check our Updates to learn how JGF organizations have celebrated Tu B’Shvat in the past. Shawn Shafner, founder of the POOP Project, has a trove of stories, texts, pedagogy, art, and activities to share with adults and children that transform participants from “waste”-making consumers into resource-conscious creators. We loved his presentation on the Asher Yatzar, the prayer for going to the bathroom. Bash the Trash builds, performs, and educates, with musical instruments made from recycled materials. They put on an astounding performance while demonstrating the value of what we consider to be waste. Arrange your own Environmental Justice Tour by contacting WEACT or an environmental justice organization in your community. To find environmental justice organizations, check the website of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance and Environmental Justice for All.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. —Leviticus 19:18 That which is hateful to you, do not do unto another. —Hillel The Catholic Climate Covenant asks a great question: “Who’s under your carbon footprint?” The question is a reminder that the environmental harm we cause has an impact on real people. This is something that is easy to forget when we talk about “the environment,” “the earth,” and “the atmosphere.” (Your carbon footprint is the amount of harmful emissions generated by your activities that are released into the atmosphere to worsen climate change.) A few weeks ago the JGF Fellows went on an environmental justice tour with Charles Callaway, Community Organizing and Outreach Coordinator at West Harlem Environmental Action (WEACT.) WEACT Charles showed us around his neighborhood; including the many dangerous and polluting facilities that are located there. West Harlem has a waste transfer station, a natural gas plant, and several bus depots. As Charles explained, waste has to go somewhere. And a lot of it ends up in low-income communities and communities of color that don’t have the economic and political influence to keep it out. This is the social justice issue at the heart of the environmental crisis. […]