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A Lyon Synagogue fights climate change

When Rabbi Daniela Touati finished her studies and assumed leadership in France, she formed a group to create an eco-synagogue – and invited local Muslim and Christian groups to participate. On June 20, the garden of Lyon’s Progressive Keren Or synagogue (www.kerenor.fr) was inaugurated. 

In Jewish belief, the Creator loved all his creations: Plants, animals, and humans. The Bible tells us that the earth is given to humankind “to use and protect.” In this era of climate change, more and more Jewish communities realize that they must play their part.  

The Lyon synagogue partnered with a local NGO called “The Green Hands” and began gardening. Fruit, vegetables, and herbs are planted. The plan is to have two growing seasons, spring and fall. Each month, a dozen participants from the synagogue, church, and mosque meet to work on the garden. Although most of the products will be donated to charities, the synagogue plans to consume some for interfaith picnics. 

Keren Or aims to become a full-fledged “eco synagogue.” In addition to the garden, it has held conferences on subjects such as digital pollution to inform the community about the challenges of tackling climate change. Rabbi Touati plans to use the synagogue for much more than food production. In this era of lockdown restrictions which limit synagogue participation inside, she is using the garden to lead services for the cheder, hold kiddushim, and other synagogue events. “All religions can share this green faith,” she says. Her community’s garden is living proof.