At Temple Jeremiah, we are so excited to be embarking on an initiative to make our community more “green.” Click on the links below to learn more about this special project.
A letter from Rabbi Emily Segal:
Midrash teaches, “When God first created human beings, God led them around the Garden of Eden and said, ‘Look at my works! See how beautiful they are — how excellent! For your sake, I created them all. See to it that you do not spoil and destroy My world; for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it'” (Kohelet Rabbah 1 on Ecclesiastes 7:13).
All of creation is sacred and Torah teaches that it is our duty to tend the garden. Together we must plan for generations to come by creating more sustainable practices and reducing wasteful ones.
It is with great hope and pride that I share with you that our Temple Jeremiah board of directors has voted that we will embark on an environmental initiative as part of a select cohort of URJ congregations in a two-year green certification program through the GreenFaith Initiative in partnership with the URJ and the RAC (the Religious Action Center). GreenFaith is an interfaith organization that guides houses of worship and other religious organizations to be more “green” through a certification process. GreenFaith is endorsed by the URJ and the RAC as well as many other national Jewish organizations, and includes synagogues, churches, and mosques of all varieties.
We will educate ourselves and our families to make green practices simple and easy for those interested. We will evaluate our congregation’s practices, enhance our worship with ecological themes, pursue environmental justice through action and awareness, and communicate safe and easy practices that will help each of us green our homes and family practices if we so choose.
In hopeful anticipation of our acceptance into GreenFaith’s certification program, a strong base has already been created for the “Green Team” that will lead the way in our greening efforts. If you are interested and passionate about food, energy, water, waste, environment, and sustainable practice, please join this effort! If you want to be a part of the team, please contact Barry Slotnick (firstname.lastname@example.org) or me (email@example.com) for info on our next meeting or just to learn more.
We are looking forward to an exciting and valuable two years with GreenFaith. Please feel free to ask us questions and volunteer to be a part of the Green Team. We will be sure to keep everyone informed throughout our efforts.
Rabbi Emily E. Segal
Want to eat healthier and encourage your family to do so? Want to eat delicious, nutrient-filled fruits and vegetables ripened on the plant? Want to support a local farm that follows Jewish values and sustainable, organic practices? Want to reduce your carbon footprint and support a cleaner environment through your eating? Then join the Jeremiah CSA through Sandhill Family Farms!A CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) is a farm share program in which individuals and families have the opportunity to purchase a weekly (or in some cases, bi-weekly) share of produce directly from a local farm during the harvest season, from June through October. The box of produce is brought to a pick-up location — in this case, conveniently located in the temple on Wednesdays — where shareholders pick up their weekly supply and bring it home to enjoy.
Shareholders will receive weekly e-mails describing happenings at the farm and what will be included in the weekly share in order to plan ahead, and at times information like recipes and serving suggestions for the fruit and vegetables in the share. There will also be opportunities to visit the farm for educational programming, holiday events, and farmstead dinners.
We are growing a garden near Temple Jeremiah’s south parking lot. Help us plant vegetables to be donated or use this as a quiet reflecting space. For more information, contact Rabbi Heaps or Gary Stolberg.
Our Green Team is working hard to find ways to make our building more environmentally friendly and to teach our congregants the values of being good to our earth. For more information about the committee, contact Barry Slotnick or Rabbi Heaps.
“What’s new with the Green Team?” (from the Temple Jeremiah Covenant, July 2013)
We have had an exciting first six months as part of the GreenFaith Initiative’s certification program. We wanted to update you on our progress and our goals.
Did you know, even before we were accepted into GreenFaith’s certification program, Jeremiah had been going green for some time?
Here are some of the ways Jeremiah was already protecting the environment:
Beginning last fall, burnt-out bulbs were and are being replaced with CFL or LED bulbs.
We have an eco-conscious Integrated Pest Management system that is implemented both in our building and on our grounds.
Our landscaper, Guy Scopelliti, uses only native plant species that he sources from a local nursery, and he uses organic fertilizer.
Jola Dabala and the rest of our maintenance staff use eco-friendly cleaners that are Green Seal certified.
We do not use disposable plates, cups, or flatware; instead we use china, glassware, and silverware.
We place a sign outside during pick-up and drop-off times for Religious School and Hebrew School urging drivers not to idle their cars.
In the first six months of our participation in the GreenFaith certification program, we have:
Conducted audits of our building, operations, and programming
Created a Green Team mission statement and action plan for the next two years
Placed monthly “green tips” in the Covenant
Sent one of our Green Team members to the Religious Action Center in Washington, D.C., for their Consultation on Conscience
Held two adult learning programs relating to the environment, a showing of the movie “No Impact Man,” and “A Rooted Judaism” taught by Elan Marguiles of Pushing the Envelope Farm
Created a Jeremiah Garden
Began a partnership with Primrose Valley Farm; Jeremiah is a new delivery site for CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) shares and our congregants have access to these deliveries which began on Wednesdays in June
Our Club 345 youth group members went to Pushing the Envelope Farm where they made matzah from scratch, made cheese, met the animals, and learned about Judaism’s connection to the land and agriculture
Replaced the water-heating urn in the staff kitchenette with an electric tea-kettle to conserve energy
Began using reusable K-cups in the Keurig machine in the staff kitchenette
Replaced cut bimah flowers with baskets of non-perishable items as a symbol of a donation made to The ARK rather than spending money on flowers for the bimah each week, except when especially requested by the family of B’nai Mitzvah or other celebrations
Began efforts in the temple office to reduce energy use by turning off electronics overnight, configuring electronics to go into sleep mode during periods of latency during the day, and turning off lights when leaving room
Began efforts in the temple office to decrease paper use through reusing paper, double-sided printing, and cutting back on printing generally
Our hopes for the next six months:
Ensure that a real vegetarian entree option is available at every meal
Be certain that plastic water bottles are completely eliminated from temple functions
Order only 100% recycled white paper and partially recycled color paper
One item at each oneg Shabbat will be local and/or organic
We will have a Kabbalat Shabbat service outside by the Garden, weather permitting, on July 12 (more information on page 9)
Bring in expert to conduct energy audit
Install water bottle filling station
Replace trash bins with dual trash-recycling containers in temple lobby; ensure every office, classroom, and gathering area has appropriately labeled recycling bin
Begin to serve only fair trade coffee
Install rain barrels to be used for landscaping and the garden
Install special signage designating parking spaces for hybrid and electric vehicles
Host two adult education classes on topics relating to the environment
Begin to use ENERGY STAR’s portfolio manager tool to monitor the temple’s energy use
Hold a fall colors bike tour
Install motion sensors for lights in bathrooms and office workroom
Automate of HVAC system based on building usage with an eye toward energy efficiency
Host a Styrofoam collection & recycling day after Chanukah
Ensure that next contract for energy is from 100% renewable sources
Monthly “green” tips
Each month, in the Covenant, our monthly newsletter, we publish a tip for how you can be more environmentally friendly. Please enjoy these tips here and use them to help make our world a better place.
August 2014: Most of us are not happy receiving thousands of pieces of junk mail each year. Adding insult to injury, most of the junk mail is printed on virgin paper and is not recycled. Time to make lemonade out of lemons: Reduce your junk mail by following some of the tips offered on www.junkmailstopper.com. Even one less piece of paper in circulation can help our environment
July 2014: Did you ever notice those small white warning flags on lawns? Those warning flags indicate that a lawn has been sprayed with pesticides that could be harmful to children and pets. Reduce the exposure to you and your loved ones, and improve the environment, by eliminating chemicals on your lawn. And encourage your neighbors to do the same. See www.safelawns.org for more information. If you use a lawn care provider, choose one that specializes in natural lawn care, such as NaturaLawn: http://www.nl-amer.com/.
June 2014: According to the organization Environmental Defense, the average two-worker household saves approximately $6,000 annually by taking public transportation instead of driving a car. Check out the mass transit routes near your home. Maybe try the PACE bus for that next trip to the mall. Where public transportation isn’t feasible, try other sustainable methods of transportation: walking, riding a bike, or carpooling. You’ll feel better if you do!
May 2014: Did you ever notice those small white warning flags on lawns in your neighborhood? Those warnings indicate that a lawn has been sprayed with pesticides that are harmful to children and pets. Reduce your exposure, and improve the environment, by eliminating chemicals on your lawn and encouraging your neighbors to do the same. See www.safelawns.org for more information. If you use a lawn care provider, you can choose one that specializes in natural lawn care.
April 2014: The U.S. is responsible for 45% of the world’s total global warming pollution from vehicles. Purchasing a fuel-efficient car is one of the most effective environmental choices you can make. When it comes time to purchase a vehicle, aim for one that is rated at 36 miles per gallon or higher. For more information, visit www.fueleconomy.gov. And if you are in the market for a fuel efficient car, contact Temple Jeremiah for the names of people who have been driving these cars and ask them their experiences.
March 2014: Recycling one – that’s right, just one – aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours. Save energy and resources by recycling your glass, aluminum, plastic, and paper – it’s easy to do! Just consult your city or town’s website or recycling guide to find out what materials are recyclable in your area. Did you know…Temple Jeremiah recycles! Look for recycling bins in the lobby, kitchen, classrooms, and offices. We have single stream recycling; place your plastic, glass, paper, cans, and cardboard in these containers at temple to help reduce our waste and stay “green.”
February 2014: In our ever-expanding global economy, goods are often produced without the environment or workers in mind. In some sense, your dollar is your vote. You may choose to “vote” for fair wages and a healthier environment by choosing products that are Fair Trade Certified. This certification ensures that the workers making the products were given a fair wage, and that the item was crafted sustainably. Look for Fair Trade coffee, chocolate, teas and other artisan products at www.transfairusa.org.
January 2014: Did you know that the average home spends about $2,000 on energy bills every year? By changing to appliances that have earned the Energy Star rating, you can save approximately $75 per year in energy costs. Energy Star-rated appliances use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models over their lifetime, making a big difference for the environment and your budget.
December 2013: Did you know that the average U.S. home has enough air leaks to equal one open window? Sealing and insulating your home can save you up to 20% on heating and cooling costs, and upwards of 10% on your total energy bill. Find an experienced certified contractor, or follow Energy Star’s do-it-yourself guide to sealing and insulating at http://www.energystar.gov.
November 2013: Do you know how much oil it takes to make the typical plastic bottle of water – you know, the ones we buy from Costco by the pallet? Well, fill up a plastic bottle of water ¼ of the way and you’ll find out! According to the Sierra Club, adding up the plastic used, the energy required to collect and clean the water, and the fuel it takes to ship the bottles to stores, equates to millions of barrels of oil each year. The numbers are staggering. Kick the bottled water habit by installing a water filter on your faucet and purchasing a reusable water bottle. Aim for a water bottle that does not leach chemicals. Look for one that says “BPA Free,” or choose one made from stainless steel. And fill it up at our new Temple Jeremiah water station in the lobby!
October 2013: Did you know that 10 seconds of idling in your car uses more fuel than turning the engine on and off? Try turning your engine off when you are sitting for more than 10 seconds — for example, in the Temple Jeremiah Hebrew school or Sunday school car line — and especially near children and in urban areas where pollution levels are already high.
September 2013: If every U.S. household replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an Energy Star rated fluorescent light bulb (CFL), it would prevent greenhouse gasses equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars. A CFL bulb uses 1/4 of the energy of an incandescent light bulb and will pay for itself within six months (Energy Star). Start small by installing Energy Star-rated CFLs when a light bulb blows out, or make a big change by installing CFLs in all of your lights!
August 2013: According to UN Environment Programme, only 1% of the water on Earth is drinkable, with more and more water sources drying up each day. Try to reduce your water usage and your water bill immediately by installing a low-flow showerhead and aerators on all water faucets. Look for devices that are EPA Water Sense labeled at http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/.
July 2013: Did you know that plastic can take up to 600 years to break down in a landfill? And Styrofoam never breaks down. For your next get-together, why not try reusable dinnerware? Start small with reusable utensils, since they can be easily collected and washed. You can also try recycled-content paper and/or bio-compostable dinnerware. For more information, check out www.worldcentric.org.
June 2013: As much as half of the energy used in your home goes toward heating and cooling. Start saving money and energy immediately by adjusting your thermostat — in winter, be sure to lower the thermostat by at least 10 degrees when you are not home or are sleeping, and in summer be sure to raise your thermostat by 10 degrees when you are not home or are sleeping.
May 2013: The average American creates 4.5 pounds of garbage each day, much of which is food waste. Starting an indoor or outdoor compost bin is easy, smell-free, and turns food waste into nutrient-rich soil. Learn how easy it is at: www.howtocompost.org.
April 2013: As much as 40 percent of the energy used in the food system goes towards the production of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Can’t afford to eat everything organically? Some fruits and vegetables are sprayed with more pesticides than others, and cannot be cleaned of pesticide residues as easily — start small by choosing organic for these “Dirty Dozen” fruits and vegetables that fit this category: peaches, apples, bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, grapes (imported), carrots, and pears.
March 2013: A typical carrot travels 1,838 miles to reach your dinner table. Support your farmers close to home and reduce your carbon footprint by visiting farmers’ markets or participating in Community-Supported Agriculture like the CSA Jeremiah will be hosting this summer and fall (see above). You can locate CSAs and farmers’ markets at: www.localharvest.org.