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Promoting environmental Jewish communities

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” a proverb says. For countering climate change, every step can help.

EcoSynagogue and the Board of Deputies of British Jews are supporting Jewish places of worship in the UK with the tools to help combat the climate crisis. Especially in light of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow on October 31 – November 12, 2021. The world is currently not on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. If temperatures will carry on rising, it would bring even more catastrophic flooding, bush fires, extreme weather, and destruction of species. Strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change.

EcoSynagogue is helping synagogues assess how they can be more eco-friendly. By forming Environmental Impact Teams and creating a synagogue eco-policy – such as recycling, reducing packaging, using energy-efficient lightbulbs, composting, planting a community garden. By talking about environmentalism in sermons and in ‘shiurim.’ By hosting environment-centered programs and discussions for congregants and youths. Their EcoShabbat program in November 2021 has a range of events, such as an alternative vegan Friday night dinner, with vegan recipes for traditional Jewish meals.

Every community is different: Some operate in rural areas; some urban; some in old buildings; and some in new buildings. But every community can play a part in reducing their carbon footprint. “Judaism teaches that every species matters,” Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, a co-founder of EcoSynagogue, says regarding the initiative. “And that we are responsible not only for other human beings, but for the rich biodiversity of our planet.”