Jewish Leaders Convene for Sustainability Summit

imageLeaders from the local Jewish community gathered at the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill in October to discuss efforts to promote sustainability in Southern Jersey.  The event, organized by Brad Molotsky, president of Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Properties, with support from Sustainable Cherry Hill and Stacey Kennealy from the interfaith environmental non-profit group, GreenFaith, sought to create collaboration among the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, its agencies, and area synagogues to better leverage resources and inspire action.

Temple Emanuel’s Rabbi Lawrence Sernovitz began the day with a study of Jewish texts; providing a meaningful context for the practical conversations that would follow.  Attendees learned the basic tenets of sustainability, practical ways they can”green” their agencies and organizations and about some of the exciting work already happening in the South Jersey Jewish community. A  $1.6-million conservation effort is  underway at the  Jewish Community Campus; paid for through energy savings and efficiencies. Kellman Brown Academy recently received the prestigious U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon School designation.

Local and regional sustainability initiatives, such as those embraced by Cherry Hill Township, Cherry Hill Public Schools and Camden County and Sustainable Jersey’s municipal certification program were also presented.  Stacey from GreenFaith spoke about how, in addition to saving money and the planet, any religious sustainability initiative must also be spiritual, address justice and have a systematic process for completion.

The Sustainability Summit ended with attendees breaking into small groups to work on a collective Jewish vision for sustainability and creating some concrete action steps for the future.  Common themes that emerged include resource conservation, solar power, waste reduction, organics composting and the possibility of leveraging collective purchasing and/or leadership around this issue.  Participants agreed to meet again to continue the conversation.

Check out this article about the October Summit in The Jewish Community Voice of Southern New Jersey .

Stay tuned for more information about a  larger, interfaith Sustainability Summit in 2015.  We will be seeking members for our planning committee!

Resources and Presentations from the event are available below:

Making Common Cents of Going Green (Brad’s Presentation)

GreenFaith Presentation

Sustainable Cherry Hill Presentation

Resource List

Greening Your Religious Institution