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You are here: Home » GreenFaith in the Media » Press Clips » Local Leadership Summit Kickstarts Sustainability Efforts

Local Leadership Summit Kickstarts Sustainability Efforts

By David Portnoe
Jewish Community Voice

Summit of Jewish leaders in Cherry Hill, NJ, gather to discuss and learn about sustainability.

Local Leadership Summit Kickstarts Sustainability Efforts

(from left), Camden County Freeholder Jeffrey Nash; Brad Molotsky, president of the Federation’s Jewish Community Properties; Lori Braunstein, Sustainable Cherry Hill; and Stacey Kennealy, GreenFaith. The event was held at the Jewish Community Campus


It was appropriate that leaders from the Jewish Federation and its family of agencies, area synagogues, and the local political world gathered Oct. 19 at the Jewish Community Campus for a Sustainability Summit. That was the day designated as Community Mitzvah Day in Southern New Jersey, and the leadership Sustainability Summit was about how the Jewish community could fulfill its obligation to take care of the land and resources God is allowing humanity to use.

Temple Emanuel’s Rabbi Lawrence Sernovitz opened the Summit by leading participants in a study of Jewish texts. He noted that Judaism views God as the true owner of the Earth. Humanity has an obligation to use the land, while at the same time preserving it for the next generation.

“If we don’t, it will be gone,” said Sernovitz. He noted that God has given us the power to create a better world.

The goal of the Community Leaders Sustainability Summit, according to organizer Brad Molotsky, president of Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Properties, was to create collaboration among the Federation, its agencies, and synagogues to better leverage resources. He outlined some of the key concepts involved in sustainability, including: “Green Building,” “Renewable Energy;” and “Green Practices.” He spoke about the $1.6-million conservation effort at the Jewish Community Campus, which is being paid for through energy savings and efficiencies. Molotsky also outlined the three “Rs”: Reduce usage, Reuse materials, and Recycle.

Camden County Freeholder Jeffrey Nash, a driving force behind county sustainability efforts, said that Camden County was the first county in the entire country to mandate recycling and that every one of the county’s 37 municipalities was registered with Sustainable New Jersey.

The gathering also featured Lori Braunstein, founder of Sustainable Cherry Hill, who discussed statewide and local sustainability efforts, as well as Stacey Kennealy, of GreenFaith, an interfaith environmental group.

Kennealy said that not only is sustainability a religious and spiritual concept that furthers the pursuit of justice, but “you can save a lot of money doing this stuff.” Kennealy encouraged those in attendance to create programs year-round that focus on how religious tradition teaches conservation. She suggested gardening projects, hikes, and clean-ups as well as ongoing educational efforts.

Also slated to speak at the Sustainability Summit was Rabbi Moshe Schwartz, head of school at Kellman Brown Academy. Schwartz, however, could not stay for the entire program due to a baby naming he was attending. In his absence, the group was informed of Kellman Brown’s successful efforts to become a nationally recognized Green Ribbon School.

The Sustainability Summit ended with participants breaking into groups and coming up with concrete ways to conserve resources—solar power, biodegradable products, waste reduction, composting, and having clergy and leadership be “environmentally-centric.” Several of the participating organizations resolved to begin immediately by using reusable ceramic cups and washable tablecloths at events.

Those present began the planning process to continue the conversation and effort into the future with ongoing action and future meetings.


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