Leaders across the political and religious spectrum celebrate Tu B’shvat by setting goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 14% by 2014.
— by Vicki Stearn
The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) today announced that a diverse group of community leaders has joined its Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign by signing the “Jewish Environment and Energy Imperative” declaration. Rabbis from the Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform and Renewal movements and other communal leaders set the goal of significantly lowering greenhouse-gas emissions, advocating for energy independence and security, and reducing the Jewish community’s energy consumption 14% by 2014. The official signing ceremony at Manhattan’s 14th Street Y preceded Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish new year for trees.
The declaration states:
The need to transform the world’s energy economy while addressing global climate change is not only a religious and moral imperative, it is a strategy for security and survival.
Each of us — as Jews, people of faith and Americans — has a personal responsibility to work toward lowering greenhouse-gas emissions and decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, COEJL co-chair, and president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “This responsibility starts in our hearts and from there we must care for our homes, places of worship and institutional buildings.
More after the jump.
COEJL Director Sybil Sanchez said,
The Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign commits our leadership to take concrete action on climate change and energy security. Reducing our energy use by 14% by 2014 is our first step toward the national goal of an 83% reduction of 2005 greenhouse gas levels by 2050.
The year 2014 is the next ‘sabbatical’ or seventh year in the Jewish calendar, a traditional time to refrain from impacting the earth.
“Greening and sustainability are areas where the Jewish community has both an opportunity and an obligation to take a leadership role in the neighborhoods where Jewish institutions thrive,” said Stephen Hazan Arnoff, 14th Street Y executive director.
Since participating in the Jewish Greening Fellowship program, the Y has reduced energy usage with new systems and equipment, and adopted sustainable practices to reduce and reuse materials, especially in the Y’s theater, where the ceremony took place.
Among the 50 signers of the declaration are:
- Robert Barkin, president, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation;
- Rabbi Yosef Blau, chair of Rabbinic Advisory Board, Canfei Nesharim;
- Rabbi Steve Gutow, president and CEO, Jewish Council for Public Affairs;
- Nancy Kaufman, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women;
- Karen Rubinstein, executive director, American Zionist Movement;
- Sybil Sanchez, director, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life;
- Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism;
- Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president, The Rabbinical Assembly;
- Rabbi Arthur Waskow, executive director, the Shalom Center;
- Rabbi Steven Weil, executive vice president, Orthodox Union; and,
- Rabbi Steven Wernick, executive vice president and CEO, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.
The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life deepens and broadens the Jewish community’s commitment to the stewardship and protection of the earth. Through a network of 27 national organizations and 125 community agencies, COEJL is mobilizing the Jewish community to address today’s energy and climate change crisis. COEJL is an initiative of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
About the 14th Street Y
The 14th Street Y builds community in the heart of Manhattan’s East Village. The Jewish center embraces people of all ages, faiths and backgrounds, offering health and fitness, education, art and recreational programs for people and families of all ages. The 14th Street Y is part of a network of 44 programs at 27 sites provided by The Educational Alliance.