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You are here: Home » GreenFaith in the Media » Press Releases » GreenFaith and Conservative Jewish Leaders Announce Sustainable Synagogues Initiative

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GreenFaith and Conservative Jewish Leaders Announce Sustainable Synagogues Initiative

Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Join Forces for the Environment

GreenFaith, the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, and The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism announce a major, denomination-wide initiative for the environment.

Oct 15, 2010

On October 15, the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the interfaith environmental coalition GreenFaith announced The Sustainable Synagogues Initiative, a partnership designed to educate and mobilize synagogues and members of the Conservative movement in North America on the environment.  Through the initiative, which represents a deepening of the movement’s environmental commitment, a range of resources to support environmental programming and action will be offered to Conservative synagogues and households.  “The initiative represents the most comprehensive, denomination-wide effort on the environment that we’ve ever seen,” said the Rev. Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith.  “We’re thrilled to be working with these leaders of the Conservative movement on this vital effort.”

 Three of the Conservative movement’s leading organizations have joined forces on the initiative, which grew out of initial conversations between FJMC’s Rabbi Charles Simon and GreenFaith’s Rabbi Lawrence Troster at the movement’s meeting in Israel in 2008.  In the following months, representatives of these two groups were joined by leaders from Women’s League and United Synagogue, and these four organizations are continuing to reach out to other Conservative leaders to build support for the initiative.  FJMC Chair Richard Gray said, “I am delighted with the movement partnership and our joining with GreenFaith. Being a guardian of the earth has long been a core value of the FJMC and the Conservative movement. Now that we are united we have the ability to spread the message to across the continent.” 

 “L’avdah ul’shamrah -- to plant and protect was God’s instruction to Adam when he was placed in the garden, in Genesis 2:14,” said Cory Schneider, president of the Women's League for Conservative Judaism.  “This directive is part of our ongoing covenant with the Creator.  This initiative helps us be partners in the process of creation and shareholders in its continued success.” 

 Dr. Jack Fein, co-chair of United Synagogue’s Public Policy and Social Action Commission, said, “United Synagogue has a unique opportunity through this initiative to foster and educate new leaders and exemplars in environmental preservation.  This partnership joins experts and organizations dedicated to good stewardship of our planet.”

 The initiative will consist of a number of interrelated activities over a three-year period.  The partnering groups will issue two free resources per year designed to help congregations and households address a range of environmental concerns.  The resources will focus on practical, cost-effective steps that congregations and households can take to create environmental benefits and solutions and to address pressing environmental concerns.  The first resource, to be released in December 2010, will focus on energy conservation and renewable energy.  Future resources will focus on topics including water conservation, sustainable food and how to green the kitchen, environmental justice, and more.  Each resource will include materials enabling congregations to integrate environmental concerns into worship, education, facility management, and legislative advocacy, while helping congregational members to make environmentally beneficial changes at home.  Each year, initiative representatives also will offer presentations at a range of movement events, highlighting environmental success stories, best practices, and environmental leaders from the Conservative movement. 

 Beginning later this fall, a yearlong webinar series hosted through the Jewish National Fund will give congregational leaders the opportunity for education and training on topics including “Getting Started on the Environment in your Synagogue,” “Energy Conservation for Synagogues,” “Israel and Water,” and more.  Information about the webinar series will be released in October.

 In addition, GreenFaith is offering partial scholarships to participate in the GreenFaith Certification and Fellowship programs to a select number of Conservative synagogues and leaders.  The Certification Program is the only comprehensive, multi-faith environmental certification program for houses of worship in North America, and the Fellowship Program is a unique religious-environmental education and training program for lay and ordained leaders from diverse denominations.  GreenFaith will announce details about this opportunity in October.

 The Sustainable Synagogues Initiative represents a multifaceted approach to the greening of an entire religious denomination.  With leadership groups working together with an experienced religious-environmental organization, the ingredients are in place for a successful effort.

 “When they grow up, I want to tell my two grandchildren that our movement did its part to ensure a healthy environment for future generations,” said Rabbi Troster, a Conservative rabbi, leading Jewish environmentalist, and director of the GreenFaith Fellowship Program.  “I’ve never seen a better chance to do that than the Sustainable Synagogues Initiative.” 

 

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The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC) is a partnership of over 250 affiliated clubs with more than 20,000 members across North America dedicated to involving Jewish men in Jewish life. FJMC empowers the men of Conservative/Masorti Judaism so that their passionate voices are heard in their communities and in the movement throughout North America and around the world.  www.fjmc.org

 

Women's League for Conservative Judaism is the largest synagogue based women's organization in the world. As an active arm of the Conservative/Masorti movement, it provides services to hundreds of affiliated women's groups in synagogues across North America and to thousands of women worldwide.  www.wlcj.org

 

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, founded in 1913 as the United Synagogue of America, is the association of Conservative congregations in North America. Our mission is to promote the role of the synagogue in Jewish life, and to create communities of educated and committed Conservative Jews.

 

Founded in 1992, GreenFaith inspires, educates and mobilizes people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership.  www.greenfaith.org

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