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You are here: Home » GreenFaith in the Media » Press Clips » Temple Puts On Its 'GreenFaith'

Temple Puts On Its 'GreenFaith'

By Philip Sean Curran
South Orange Navigator

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange joins 8 synagogues in the Greening Reform Judaism pilot program. The Program is a partnership between the Union for Reform Judaism and GreenFaith, with collaboration from the Religious Action Center (RAC). Jordan Millstein from Temple Sinai is also cited in this article.


As the senior rabbi of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, Dan Cohen can cite passages of Torah and Talmud about being good stewards of the environment.
Those teachings will be put into practice in a big way, with the synagogue hoping to lead by example.

Sharey Tefilo-Israel is one of eight Reform synagogues in New Jersey and four churches nationally participating in a two-year certification program through GreenFaith, a New Brunswick-based interfaith organization concerned about the environment.

Among the requirements, the synagogue must have three worship services that have an environmental theme, take steps to make their buildings “green” and get involved in environmental advocacy and justice.

There is also a strong education component. Cohen said a main goal is to influence the roughly 900 to 1,000 households which make up his congregation to put into practice environmentally friendly steps.

“Part of our responsibility is to be in balance with the world, and we’ve thrown off that balance,” he said from his office with a window view of Scotland Road.
Phil and Sue Hoch, two members of Sharey-Tefilo Israel, went to Cohen about participating in the GreenFaith project.

Cohen said there is a strong emphasis within Reform Judaism about social responsibility, of getting involved in larger social issues. He pointed to the involvement of Reform rabbis in the civil rights movement. The environment, he said, is “probably one of the most important challenges facing us today.” He looks with concern at the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and says now is the time for a national energy policy that takes the country off its reliance on oil.

The synagogue, home to a volunteer “Green Team,” already sees itself as environmentally friendly. It plans to change over its light fixtures to higher energy-efficient models. Recycling bins will also go into the classrooms of its preschool and Hebrew school. “We want our kids to see us model it,” he said.

The Union for Reform Judaism, the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism and Greenfaith jointly announced what has been billed the “Greening Reform Judaism Pilot Program.”

During a conference call June 3, Rabbi Jordan Millstein of Temple Sinai of Bergen County said the Torah speaks of tilling and tending to the earth. He said the Torah teaches people to respect God’s world and be the good stewards “we were meant to be.”

The Rev. Fletcher Harper, director of GreenFaith, said interest about the environment is running high in the “faith community” and that houses of worship have a role to play.
Philip Sean Curran can be reached at 908-686-7700, ext. 116, or at

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