B’nai B’rith to Host Top Israeli Biofuel Researchers


Fuel prices in Germany in Euros per liter.
US equivalent would be $4.87/gallon for bio-diesel and $5.51/gallon for diesel.

Today, B’nai B’rith International will host a welcome reception for 15 of Israel’s top biofuel researchers as they kick off a week-long scientific dialogue in the United States. The visitors, winners of the U.S.-Israel Bio-Energy Challenge, will begin their program with a briefing at the White House, followed by the event at B’nai B’rith headquarters.

Sponsored and coordinated by two not-for-profit organizations, The Israel Energy Partnership (TIEP) and the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation (USISTF), the U.S-Israel Bio-Energy Challenge fosters a scientific exchange between Israeli experts and their counterparts in U.S. government agencies and private industry. The goals are to build bilateral energy cooperation between the two countries and to spur research and development on alternative fuels that can replace fuels derived from imported oil.

“We applaud the organizers of the Bio-Energy Challenge and we’re excited to be hosting some of Israel’s top minds in the field of biofuel research at our event,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said.

Israel is a global leader in cutting-edge R&D in this area, so we hope the dialogue they begin with American experts during their trip here will help both countries advance their common goal of independence from traditional fossil fuels.

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The Israeli delegation’s trip will includes stops in Washington, D.C., Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Emeryville, Calif. The visitors will meet a number of senior officials from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, NASA and other agencies, as well as top private and academic researchers.

“It’s important the United States and Israel work on this issue together,” B’nai B’rith Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.

For too long, the U.S. and its allies have relied on fuel from countries whose interests are adverse to our own. This oil dependence threatens our national security and we welcome increased cooperation between the U.S. and Israel in tackling this issue.

New Jewish Energy Partnership For Tu B’Shvat


— by Benjamin Suarato

New York City — Today, January 24, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) and Canfei Nesharim, an organization that focuses on sustainable living inspired by Torah, will begin a new strategic collaboration to promote advocacy and action on energy policy and conservation in the Jewish community. COEJL’s Jewish Energy Guide and Canfei Nesharim’s Year of Action will be launched in time for Tu B’shvat, the Jewish New Year for Trees. Marrying action resources with implementation tools, this collaboration will reach across multiple denominational and organizational spectra of Jewish life.

More after the jump.

As part of COEJL’s broader Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign, the Jewish Energy Guide and accompanying Canfei Nesharim Year of Action serve as blueprints for the Jewish community to achieve a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by September of 2014, the next Shmittah, or sabbatical, year in the Jewish calendar. With 18 organizational partners committed to using and distributing the Jewish Energy Guide, participants will have access to a comprehensive approach to the challenges of energy security and climate change. Contributors to the guide include notable figures from the Jewish and environmental worlds, such as Bill McKibben of 350.org and Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Naomi Tsur.

Canfei Nesharim’s Year of Action will provide tools and resources to empower the Jewish community to take action on energy conservation and reduce food waste, including action tips and a calculator on Jewcology, a web-based social media portal for the entire Jewish environmental community, where participants can report their actions and see their results — as well as the results of the entire Jewish community. The program follows their 2012 Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment and continues through Tu B’Shvat 2014. New actions will be posted throughout the year.

The year 2013 marks the 20th anniversary of COEJL and the 10th anniversary of Canfei Nesharim.  Together, these Jewish environmental organizations will inspire the Jewish community to take immediate action and make a meaningful impact this year.  

GOP Votes Against US-Israel Energy Funding

— by David Streeter

Thursday,  nearly all House Republicans voted against a measure that would have increased funding for joint U.S.-Israeli energy cooperation. Among the “no” votes was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Pennsylvania Congressmen  Mike Fitzpatrick, Jim Gerlach, Tim Murphy, and Pat Meehan. . National Jewish Democratic Council President and CEO David A. Harris said:

“Yesterday’s vote by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and his Republican caucus against an initiative to increase funding for joint U.S.-Israel energy cooperation is just the latest instance in which Republicans have let partisan politics stand in the way of advancing the U.S.-Israel relationship. Israel is a shining example of a country seeking energy independence through research in clean technologies and the United States has everything to gain by forging a deeper partnership in this area with our strongest ally in the Middle East. It is very disheartening that so many pro-Israel Republicans who believe in American energy independence voted the way they did yesterday.”

The Motion to Recommit with Instructions that Republicans voted down yesterday contained a specific proposal to allocate an additional $1,000,000 for joint U.S.-Israeli energy cooperation. That funding would have been a significant investment in researching cleaner technologies and the use of renewable energy sources.

Jewish Leaders Commit To Reduce Energy Use


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.

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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.

About COEJL
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.

A Lesson in Sustainability from the Makers of Notre Dame

— Dr. Daniel E. Loeb

My writing has been scarce recently because of a family vacation to France for my niece’s Bat Mitzvah. However, an important lesson occurred to me yesterday while cruising down the Seine on a charming bateau mouche.

First, I was reminded that the Cathedral Notre Dame took nearly 200 years to construct (1163-1345 CE). Building such an enormous edifice without modern technology is a monument to the dedication and vision of the people and the church at that time.  Bishop de Sully devoted most of his life and his wealth to a project whose fruition he would never witness. However, the logic of time inspired people to attain immortality by devoting themselves to works of timeless grandeur.

Today, consumers demand immediate satisfaction for their desires. CEOs look no further than the balance sheet on their next quarterly report. And politicians are concerned only with the upcoming election (as well as the quarter-to-quarter fundraising battle and the daily poll tracking numbers associated with it).

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Conservationists warn that the world may already have hit peak oil production, but business interests counter that this problem may still be 30 or 40 years out.  They conclude that we do not have to worry about it. How short-sighted is that? Even if we had enough oil to cope with exponentially growing consumption over the next 200 years, then what? How egotistical would it be for us to conclude that we do not have to prepare for a post-fossil fuel economy.

Those who have faith in the invisible hand as conceived by Adam Smith are doomed to waste our resources and our environment with little concern for future generations. In my article, Every Economic Cloud Has A Silver Lining, I explained how narrow-minded profit maximization leads us to destroy resources unless their sustainable yield is superior to the interest rate. How foolish is it for us to tie fate of our planet’s bounty to the interest rates set by Central Banks!

It is taken as axiomatic that the economy is suffering if our consumption does not increase 5% year upon year. Yet who truly believes that our current level of consumer demand is sustainable? Where will our planet be in 200 years?

Upon returning to the port, we saw the iconic Eiffel Tower and learned that Gustav Eiffel only had a permit for the tower to stand for 20 years. The tower had been built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (the World’s Fair celebrating the centennial of the French Revolution), and it was intended to be demolished around the turn of the century.  However, those plans were set aside and the building stood as the tallest man-made structure in the world until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was built in New York City. Today, the Eiffel Tower still dominates the Paris skyline. Such a feat in our era of planned negligence is unheard of. Who today would bother designing a structure capable of weathering the elements for over 120 years when he only had a 20-year permit!

According to Annie Leonard:

What percentage of total material flow through our system is still in product or in use six months after being sold in North America? 50 percent? 20 percent? NO. One percent.
One! In other words, 99 percent of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport-99 percent of the stuff we run through this
system is trashed within 6 months. Now how can we run a planet with that rate of waste.


Tinkerers and pot-menders are long gone as simple devices make way for more complicated appliances which are no longer designed to be repaired and replaced, but rather to be thrown out and replaced. Replacement is an accomplishment for those who venerate the GDP, but an eye-sore and a health hazard for those concerned by our environment.