Diverse gathering of Jewish leaders celebrate Tu B’Shevat by setting goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 14% by 2014
The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) announced on Monday that a group of community leaders spanning the Jewish religious and political spectrum 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’Shevat, 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.” The full declaration is at: http://www.coejl.org/jecc/declaration/.
“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.”
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.
The 50 signers of the declaration include leaders from a wide range of Jewish movements and organizations, including the OU.