Jewish Greening Fellowship
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The goal of the Jewish Greening Fellowship (JGF) is to mobilize meaningful responses to climate change motivated by Jewish values of stewardship. Organizations participating in the JGF take steps to engage community members in Jewish environmental education, reduce waste and pollution in their operations, and become more energy efficient while strengthening Jewish life.
Greening Fellows receive intensive training in environmental change leadership and their organizations receive funding and other support to achieve their greening goals. Participating organizations include JCCs, summer camps, congregations, health and human service organizations, and day schools, in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester. Following the Fellowship period, organizations and Senior Fellows continue to participate in the JGF Network.
The JGF is generously funded by the Jewish Community Development Task Force of the Commission on Jewish Identity and Renewal of UJA-Federation of New York.
To date, the 55 organizations participating in the Jewish Greening Fellowship have:
- Seeded nearly 150 new educational programs
- Raised more than $3.3 million toward energy efficiency, solar, green roofs, and green programs
- Implemented energy efficiency upgrades that will save over $1,000,000 in the next decade
"UJA's vision for encouraging network agencies to use greening and sustainability to enhance Jewish communal meaning and experience, make positive change in the world, and spark fiscal growth has had a huge impact on our center."
—Dr. Stephen Hazan-Arnoff, Executive Director, 14th Street Y
14th Street Y: Composting Builds Community
With support from JGF, the 14th Street Y introduced a community composting program, utilizing the Y's afterschool program to make a video introducing the project. 200 families now regularly drop off their food waste at the Y with over 2.5 tons having been collected! At the Y's day camp, children participate in Jewish learning and living by exploring the value of bal tashchit—avoiding waste—while they collect food waste for the compost bin.
Camp Jacobson at Robin Hood: Nature Education Attracts New Campers
Camp Jacobson established a Teva (Nature) Center, created an annual Teva Day, and built a beautiful garden that has become a centerpiece of the camp and draw for enrollment. The garden hosts family programs, school groups, and community events throughout the year. Camp Jacobson's nature educator is a parent who received training in Jewish environmental education thanks to a JGF grant.
Friedberg JCC: Energy Efficiency Reduces Operational Expenses
The Friedberg JCC completed an energy audit and implemented the recommended upgrades, including the installation of new lighting and motion sensors. One year later, the JCC has saved over 100,000 kWh from (941,000 to 833,000 kWh) and about $ 15,000—exceeding the entire cost of the upgrades to the JCC.
Riverdale YM-YWHA: Farmers Market Encourages Healthy Eating
Riverdale Y's Farmers Market is a source of healthy food, a way to support sustainable agriculture, and builds community. Marti Michael, Executive Director, says that "Our greening work has had a tremendous impact on the community and the brand of the Riverdale Y as a leader in this area." Riverdale Y's efforts have allowed other groups to use the market as a venue for outreach and education. This summer a JGF Alumni Grant supported a series of hands-on nature and cooking programs at the Farmers Market for young children, presented in collaboration with the NYC Urban Park Rangers.
- The Staten Island JCC is installing a solar thermal system and was awarded $550,000 from the Staten Island Borough toward a solar PV installation.
- The Central Queens Y was awarded $40,500 by NYSERDA toward energy efficiency upgrades at its facility and has held its second annual Earth Day Fair attracting 600 community members.
- The Kings Bay Y Teen Green Team lobbied elected officials in Washington D.C. about environmental legislation. According to one teen green team leader at the Kings Bay Y: "We had awareness before, now we've implemented change ourselves. This is a big confidence booster for teens, each of whom now knows: 'my voice can be heard, I can make a change.'"
- The 14th Street Y underwent a green theater renovation and and was just awarded $125,000 by the New York City Council to install a green roof.
- The Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center has enriched its Teva specialty at camp and started a vegetable garden and a CSA.
- Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village of the Samuel Field Y has implemented a full-scale recycling program and is eliminating disposables from both its dining halls.
- Eden Village Camp installed solar panels and introducing a "Solar Shabbat" program.
- Surprise Lake Camp installed an interactive kiosk to help campers understand and track the savings for its new solar panels.
- The Hebrew Educational Society launched a garden and composting program.
- The Riverdale Y installed an eco-friendly salt water pool and launched its own community farmers market.
- Teens at the planned and implemented a 10-day environmental extravaganza including an Earth Day Fair, classes, and a green Shabbat dinner.
- The YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood held its second annual Earth Day Fair for hundreds of local residents and launched a CSA.
- Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center created a green tour of their very green facility.
- Ramapo for Children created an interactive ecology program for children to learn about soil, water, local ecology and human impact at their site.
- The Marks JCH of Bensonhurst made sustainability a key theme of their camp programs.
- The Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds, Inc. on Long Island launched a full-scale composting program that serves the entire camp.
- The Sephardic Community Center held its first Earth Day Fair and has launched a new Teva program at its camp.
- The Samuel Field YM & YWHA launched "Operation Awareness" to build staff and member awareness of energy efficiency measures on site and started a raised-bed garden for their adult day care participants.
- The Rosenthal JCC camp installed a new educational garden of native plants with the help of its campers.
Learn how the Jewish Greening Fellowship is transforming communities in the New York area! Monthly updates feature highlights from the JGF training program and examples of the Greening Fellows' environmental change work in the field.
Click here to send us an email if you'd like to receive our monthly updates!
Abraham Joshua Heschel School
Associated Camps, Inc.
Berkshire Hills Emanuel Camp
Boro Park YM-YWHA
Bronx House JCC
Bronx-Riverdale YM & YWHA
Camp Jacobson of the Sid Jacobson JCC
Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village of the Samuel Field Y
Central Queens YM & YWHA
Community Synagogue of Rye
Congregation Ansche Chesed
Congregation Beth Elohim
Eden Village Camp
Edith and Carl Marks JCH of Bensonhurst
Greenburgh Hebrew Center
Hebrew Educational Society
Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds Long Island
Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds Pearl River
Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center
JCC of Manhattan
JCC of Staten Island
JCC on the Hudson
Jewish Association Serving the Aging (JASA) Brighton Beach Housing
Jewish Child Care Association's Bukharian Teen Lounge
Jewish Community Relations Council of New York
Jewish Home Lifecare
Jewish Theological Seminary
Kane Street Synagogue
Kings Bay YM & YWHA
Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty
Mid-Island Y JCC
Mount Sinai Jewish Center, Washington Heights
New York Service for the Handicapped - Camp Oakhurst
North Shore Synagogue
Ramapo for Children
Richard G. Rosenthal JCC of Northern Westchester
Samuel Field YM & YWHA
Sephardic Community Center
Shelter Rock Jewish Center
Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton-Manhattan Beach, Inc.
Sid Jacobson JCC
Solomon Schechter of Long Island
Solomon Schechter School of Queens
Solomon Schechter School of Westchester
Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center
Surprise Lake Camp
Synagogue for the Arts
Temple Israel Center White Plains
Temple Shaaray Tefila, Bedford Corners
The Educational Alliance - Sirovich Center
The Educational Alliance/14th Street Y
The Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore
The Reform Temple of Forest Hills
YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood
JGF In the News
Jewish Organizations Fight Climate Change
Greener Day for Jewish Community
Suffolk Y Saves $75,000 and Inspires Politician
Training the Green Team
Jewish Greening Fellow JR Rich Wins Staten Island Green Award
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a question to read the answer.
How can I get started on greening my Jewish organization?
Get started by forming a Green Team with people who have different roles in your organization and have different kinds of knowledge. Identify areas you would like to work on and set measurable goals. Try to find some projects that you can implement quickly, and that are highly visible, to generate momentum. There are many tools available to help you assess your organization's current practices and identify opportunities to improve. Implementing such "audits" is also a way for your Green Team to learn about your organization's environmental impacts. All JGF organizations complete an energy audit (check the DSIRE website for incentives available in your state) and the Hazon Food Audit.
Can my organization apply to participate in Jewish Greening Fellowship? Can I apply?
The JGF is an 18-month program generously funded by UJA-Federation of NY. Our third cohort launched in February, 2013 and will run until September, 2014. Information on future cohorts will be posted towards the end of 2014. Fellows are nominated by their organizations. After the Fellowship period, organizations remain active in the JGF Network, pursuing new greening projects and sharing their expertise.
What geographic areas do you serve?
The JGF is currently open to JCCs, summer camps, synagogues, health and human service organizations, and day schools, as well as national organizations with New York City offices, operating in the UJA Federation of NY catchment area of the 5 boroughs of New York City, Long Island, and Westchester.
What is Jewish about greening?
While the challenges we face today are unprecedented, Judaism has always been concerned with what we now describe as building a "sustainable" society integrating social, environmental, and economic concerns. In the Jewish Greening Fellowship we explore how essential Jewish ideas such as tzedakah (the pursuit of justice), gemilut chasadim (our responsibility to perform acts of lovingkindness), and bal tashchit (the commandment to avoid waste), can inform our pursuit of a healthy and just world in balance with nature. Jewish traditions and rituals, many of which have roots in ancient agricultural practices, provide meaningful opportunities to educate about our connection to the earth. On a practical level, while as individuals we may feel that our actions are insignificant, acting together as Jewish communities we have the power to implement constructive solutions. At the same time, engaging with greening can enrich our experience of Judaism as it offers opportunities to find new meaning in ancient rituals and to put our values into action.
How is climate change influencing my community?
Climate change is already having an impact on our health, economy, and security in diverse ways. Perhaps the most visible impact involves the increase in extreme weather events Hurricanes, blistering heat waves, and frozen winters are linked to the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. You may be noticing the following in your community: damage to coastal habitats and infrastructure due to sea levels rising, declining drinking water quality, increased agricultural costs, and degradation in air quality. Click here for more about the local impacts of climate change. Jewish organizations can play an important role in fostering the resiliency that communities will need to cope with these changes and in encouraging action to address the causes of climate change.
Can I participate in the JGF if I am not a Greening Fellow?
We welcome you to get involved as an individual or by forming a Green Team in your community. Good starting points are to sign up for the JGF newsletter and attend a Greening Seminar co-sponsored by the JGF and the Wiener Educational Center of UJA-Federation of New York. Hazon also sponsors many events at which you can learn more about the connection between Judaism and environmental sustainability and about how to green your community.
Mirele B. Goldsmith, Director, Jewish Greening Fellowship