We work to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a healthier and more sustainable world for all.
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July 2014 | Tammuz 5774
In this issue
Can You Afford Going Green?
Ner Tamid Powered
by the Sun
My Eyes Were Opened
at the Teva Seminar
ReSources You Can ReUse!
The Jewish Greening Fellowship, a program of Hazon, aims to cultivate environmental change leadership, reduce the environmental impacts of Jewish organizations in the New York area and generate meaningful responses to global climate change while strengthening Jewish life.

Students contributed $700 to help Solomon Schechter School of Long Island purchase new water coolers so they can avoid the use of single-use plastic bottles.  At Math & Science Day parents and children learned about the negative impacts of plastic waste. The coolers count the number of bottles filled so students can measure their progress.

From the JGF Director
Can You Afford Going Green?
Mirele B. Goldsmith, JGF Director

“We can’t afford it.” That’s a common response when I suggest that Jewish organizations reduce waste and pollution, protect health and safety, and demonstrate leadership in the transition to a greener world. But the truth is - you can afford it.

It’s Free! Greenburgh Hebrew Center is saving money on electricity this summer, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by turning off the air conditioning in the social hall and holding the Shabbat kiddush in the lobby. Another no-cost step is to switch to green cleaning products that protect your members from toxic chemicals and reduce water pollution. They cost less because they are sold in concentrated form. The Jewish Community Relations Council, which rents office space in Manhattan, worked with the building management company to make the switch to green cleaning. Now all tenants benefit at no extra cost.

Get a Grant. Kane Street Synagogue replaced 200 incandescent bulbs in the historic sanctuary with LED bulbs with the help of a generous subsidy from Con Ed. The congregation will recoup the cost in one year and reap the savings in electricity costs for the 10-15 year lifespan of the bulbs. Find out about opportunities for your organization to receive free or reduced-cost upgrades by undergoing a free or subsidized audit from Con Ed, NYSERDA, NYSEG, or your energy provider.

Spend Less. Check your budget for recurring purchases. You can reduce waste while saving money. Last year the Abraham Joshua Heschel School spent $1,600 per month on paper cups. This year the school gave each teacher a personalized mug to reduce waste and save money. Similarly, at Shelter Rock Jewish Center a member purchased breakfast dishes for the Morning Minyan to eliminate the use of disposables. Be sure to track your savings from these projects so that you can invest them in more ambitious ones.

Make Money. Your expertise in greening is valuable. School groups are coming to Berkshire Hills Eisenberg Camp for green-themed retreats that generate income in the camp’s off-season. And spreading the word about your commitment to greening attracts donors. This year, Solomon Schechter of Long Island’s annual benefit, highlighting the School’s commitment to Jewish values of environmental stewardship, was the most successful ever. The theme was Shomrei Adamah (Guardians of the Earth.)

Finally, remember that your organization’s budget reflects your values. You don’t always opt for the cheapest solution. You make choices to pay your staff a living wage, provide health benefits, grant scholarships, and raise funds for programs that are central to your mission. Make the choice to go green. You can afford it.

Ner Tamid Powered by the Sun

Miriam Massen, Executive Director and Greening Fellow, Temple Israel Center White Plains

What has six points and is shaped like a star? Our new solar-powered ner tamid (eternal light). Over a year ago, our Temple Israel Center Green Team decided to convert the ner tamid in our Sanctuary to solar power. It has been a long journey since then.

Working through the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, we purchased a solar kit including a solar collector panel, electronics unit, solar charge controller, back-up battery charger, and electrical connection kit.

Our goal was to convert the ner tamid in our Main Sanctuary to solar power. However, we failed to consider that our Sanctuary ceiling is slanted and over 40 feet high, and the ner tamid is hard-wired right into the ceiling. It hangs about 20 feet from the top of that majestic, but hard-to-reach, ceiling. Furthermore, we had nowhere to safely install the solar collector panel. So we moved on to plan B – converting the ner tamid in our Chapel to solar power. We realized that that there was symmetry and synergy in using solar energy in the sacred space where we pray each morning with the rising of the sun, and each evening with the sun’s setting.

Thankfully, our Building Manager, Sandro Pillcurima, had just finished a course of study on electricity. The solar collector panel was installed on our gym roof, where it captures about 6 hours of sun each day. The wiring, neatly hidden in conduit, was run into the building to a heating panel near the front of the Chapel. The ner tamid was retrofitted for DC power using long-lasting LED lights. Finally, in mid-July we went live! The sun-powered ner tamid has been constantly lit since then, powered during the day by the sun and at night by the electric power stored in the batteries.

As we learned with Rabbi Lawrence Troster, who spoke to the Greening Fellows, “In a modern ecological context, we can continue to have our synagogue spaces reflect Creation by turning them into living, green, healthy buildings that support life rather than contributing to its destruction.” Our Temple Israel Center Green Team is proud to have transformed our ner tamid from a symbol of inspiration to an instrument of kedusha (holiness) and fulfillment of mitzvah (commandment) for our community.

My Eyes Were Opened at the Teva Seminar

Amy Kohen, 4th Grade Teacher, Solomon Schechter School of Westchester

At the Teva Seminar on Jewish Environmental, Food, and Outdoor Education, my eyes were opened to a whole new world.  I earned about sustainability, gardening, reducing waste, and so much more. As a Green Team member at my school, I was able to receive a grant from the Jewish Greening Fellowship to attend. This past year Teva educators visited our school and we kicked off recycling and composting. A session by Canfei Nesharim at the Teva Seminar introduced me to new ideas for educating kids about waste reduction. I also liked all the singing about the world and community and our effect on it. I would like to integrate these songs into my morning meeting. Now I hope to embark upon a year-long journey to educate children on minimizing food waste and thinking about their global footprint. What a wonderful experience!


To RSVP for these events, contact mirele.goldsmith@hazon.org

Wednesday, August 6, 5:30 pm
LI Summer Gathering at Camp Jacobson, Old Westbury
Tour the Camp’s garden to get ideas for gardening education and for teaching about the Shmita (Sabbatical) Year.  All welcome.

Sunday, August 24 – Tuesday, August 26
JGF Retreat at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center
Please note that Final Reports for organizations in the 2013-2014 JGF Cohort are due on August 8, 2014.

Monday, September 15, 5:00 – 7:00 pm
JGF Graduation at UJA-Federation of NY
Celebrate with the 2013-2014 Greening Fellows, Green Teams, and Senior Leaders.  All welcome.

Sunday, September 21
People’s Climate March NYC
March with the Jewish Climate Change Campaign.  Sign on now and use our resources to start publicizing the March and planning to bring a group of your members. 

ReSources You Can ReUse!

Rosh Hashanah is a great time to educate about bees. We depend on these pollinators for much of our food, and bees are in trouble for a variety of reasons.  Check out Hazon’s flyer you can use, Jewish sources, 15 Facts About Bees from National Geographic, and NYC Beekeepers Association, for more information. And check out Kane Street Synagogue’s annual honey fundraiser for inspiration.

Check DSIRE: Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency for funding opportunities across the US, listed by state.

Need to make the business case for planning for climate change to your board?  Jewish organizations, like governments, are prone to “short termism.”  Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States warns that it is time to factor climate change into long-term business decisions and create a plan to mitigate your exposure to risk.

Looking for a great way to engage teachers and students in environmental sustainability?  Check out this guide to organizing a School Green Day.

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We work to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a healthier and more sustainable world for all.
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