We work to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a healthier and more sustainable world for all.
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March, 2014 | Adar II, 5774
In this issue
Speak Up! Advocacy for Systemic Change
Relief Work Leads to Environmental Justice
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.
At the Abraham Joshua Heschel School, discarded worksheets used to be buried because they contained the name of God. Green Team member Vered Hugi revised every one so that now they can be recycled.
From left, Dana Heaven, Vered, Ariel Bailey, and Rabbi Anne Ebersman.
From the JGF Director
Speak Up! Advocacy for Systemic Change
Mirele B. Goldsmith, JGF Director

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 West Side, where the school is located. But when Ariel contacted the city, he found out that Heschel School was not eligible to participate. Ariel asked Ron to change the rule.


Ron had some good advice for Ariel. Your elected representatives want to hear from you. He told Ariel that he would be best able to help if he were to receive a request from a member of the City Council. Here are some more great tips about advocacy from our other speakers:

  • Environmental and social justice issues can be controversial. Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, advises getting started by making your community a safe place for people to share what they are concerned about from the heart. You’ll build stronger relationships along with motivation to get involved.
  • What’s in it for ME (mission enhancement)? Ya-Ting Liu, of the New York League of Conservation Voters, says that advocacy campaigns should build power for your organization and give you resources that will enhance your ability to fulfill your mission. Use your campaign to deepen relationships with lawmakers, attract new donors, and increase your credibility with reporters.
  • Joining a coalition-led campaign can increase your impact. Josh Kellerman, of Align NY , invited us to support the Transform Don’t Trash NYC campaign to require commercial waste haulers to meet environmental and labor standards. Check out Align NY’s Alliance for a Just Rebuilding and Caring Across Generations campaigns too. An important issue in NYS right now is the future of fracking for natural gas. Eric Weltman, of Food & Water Watch, can help you get involved.
  • Don’t be shy about getting involved in advocacy. Ron Soloway, Director of Government Relations for UJA-Federation of New York, reminded us that non-profit organizations are allowed to advocate. We should speak up about policy issues that are relevant to our communities on a non-partisan basis.

As the Greening Fellows discussed Esther’s state of mind, they realized it probably wasn’t easy for her. But to achieve her goal, she had to go beyond her comfort zone and speak up. You can do it too.

Relief Work Leads to
Environmental Justice

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 the CBE community, I decided to build on an issue in which we are already very much engaged: Hurricane Sandy relief work. Since Hurricane Sandy, CBE has been making and delivering sandwiches to impacted communities every day. While we are very aware of the needs of these areas, it is easy to forget that the cause is linked to something much greater--climate change. I'm currently planning a community bike ride in Red Hook that will bring awareness to the important link between climate change, environmental justice, and the city's resiliency plans for future natural disasters. I am eager to work with the Red Hook community to teach CBE members about the important connection between global warming and social justice.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014
6:00 pm 9:00 pm
If Not Now Benefit for Hazon
The Green Building, Brooklyn
Tickets and information

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
9:00 am 10:45 am
Seeds of Opportunity: Sharing the Findings
Explore the implications of a national study of Jewish Outdoor Food & Environmental Education
UJA-Federation of New York

Monday, May 12, 2014
9:00 am - 12:00 noon
How to Make Lasting Behavior Change: An Introduction to Community Based Social Marketing
Workshop in collaboration with the Wiener Educational Center of UJA- Federation of New York

June 9-13, 2014

Teva Seminar on Jewish Outdoor Food & Environmental Education
Get ready for camp with at the premier training program in gardening, wilderness skills, culinary arts, and experiential Jewish education.
Information and Registration

ReSources You Can ReUse!

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.

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917.679.2121   •   jgf@hazon.org
We work to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a healthier and more sustainable world for all.
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