Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)

What you can do

“When a group of people are sailing in a boat, none of them has a right to bore a hole under his own seat.”

Israel Meir ha-Kohen

In the synagogue or institution

Greening your synagogue or Jewish institution includes conserving energy and the use of renewable energy, improving the environmental sustainability of operations, deepening the awareness of environmental stewardship in a Jewish context, and the encouragement of involvement in environmental advocacy. These steps will help transform your synagogue or institution into a center of environmental awareness, stewardship, and justice.

  • How to Conduct an Environmental Institutional Audit:
  • Buildings 
    Get Energy Star programmable thermostats, divided by zones, so you’re not heating or cooling the building beyond what’s necessary. Cutting back on the heat or A/C by just 1 degree saves an average of 3% on your utility bill -- and on your greenhouse emissions.
  • Grounds
    Plant native species around your building, which provide much-needed habitat for local birds and other creatures while also needing less water, and no chemicals.
  • Purchasing 
    Reduce, reuse, and recycle in the office: print fewer copies than needed and let people share them; keep a pile of clean-on-one-side paper for use in printers & copy machines; recycle used paper; and purchase paper with high post-consumer recycled content.
  • Programs
    With your social action committee or other group within the synagogue, plan events that are social, educational, and tikkuning-the-olam all at once – like Torah-nature hikes while picking up trash, or pulling non-native weeds from nearby woods.
  • Youth Education 
    Implement at least one of the many great curricula that teach our young people about nature and Judaism together – kids are ripe for it, and the materials are out there.
  • Adult Education 
    Teach a timely topic that conveys Creation care together with Torah teachings -- such as the shiurim (text studies) on Jewish responses to global climate change and biodiversity.
    For rabbis, take advantage of the sermon-starters and notes on integrating environmental concern into life-cycle events found here. For non-rabbis, feel free to do the same – and to tell your rabbi about these resources!