Green Growth Going Mainstream
Jewish institutions in county pressing the sustainability issue as tikkun olam.Published: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 By: Merri Rosenberg Source: The Jewish Week
Greenburgh Hebrew Center officials on the synagogue’s roof during dedication of its solar panels
Going green has gone mainstream for many Jewish organizations in Westchester. No longer considered a fringe practice, being environmentally conscious is now seen as both an economic and moral imperative.
“We’re concerned with reducing our carbon footprint,” said Cantor Melanie Cooperman of the Community Synagogue of Rye. “We want to be an example for our members. The motto for our green team is from Kohelet: ‘One generation goes, another generation comes. The earth remains forever.’ It’s a huge tikkun olam piece. We want to give people the tools to partner with God in healing the world by taking care of the earth.”
To help encourage sustainable practices, UJA-Federation of New York launched its Network Greening Initiative in 2009. Originally targeting JCCs and summer camps, since 2011 the initiative has expanded to synagogues, schools and other community institutions, like social services agencies. In Westchester, these include the Rosenthal JCC of Northern Westchester in Pleasantville; the JCC on the Hudson in Tarrytown; Temple Israel Center in White Plains, Temple Shaaray Tefila in Bedford Corners; Solomon Schechter of Westchester; Community Synagogue of Rye; Greenburgh Hebrew Center in Dobbs Ferry and Jewish Home Lifecare.
Through Hazon’s Jewish Greening Fellows Program, designated staff members at beneficiary agencies, like Cantor Cooperman at the Community Synagogue of Rye, take leadership roles in moving their organizations to more sustainable initiatives. The awards average between $7,000-$15,000, depending on the scope of the project.
Sustainability “is one of the greatest moral crises of our time,” said Mirele Goldsmith, director of the Jewish Greening Fellowship. “We’re helping local Jewish community organizations take meaningful action.” There are four areas that the program targets: Jewish environmental education, energy efficiency audits, sustainable operations and integrating sustainability as part of the mission of the organization. By connecting the organizations to resources that already
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