The Green Team was launched in 2015 by a group of congregants, clergy, and staff committed to mitigating the effects of climate change and making climate justice and preservation of the earth core values of the Temple. It advances this mission by improving TI’s sustainability efforts, educating the congregation about individual environmental responsibility, and by working with other faith communities to advance systemic change on a wide range of environmental issues.
The Torah teaches that we are stewards of the earth and that it is our job to preserve and protect it. We are also motivated by the knowledge that climate change is a social justice issue, as it disproportionately affects poor, minority, and other vulnerable communities. Finally, we are motivated by our responsibility to help repair the world, and, in the case of current and future climate disasters, Tikkun Tevel, to heal the earth.
The Green Team is co-chaired by Temple Israel members Joan Rachlin and Jill Hahn, and includes congregants Jen Bender, Sharon Bort, Leon Glicksman, Roger Gottlieb, Susan Israel, Andrew Klein, David Lowe, Marc Maxwell, Harvey Michaels, Hannah Stern-Pait, Daniel Rabinovitz, and Steve Subrin. Clergy and staff members include Cantor Roy Einhorn, Rabbi Matt Soffer, Rabbi Suzie Jacobson, Executive Director Dan Deutsch, Librarian Ann Abrams, Director of Administration and Facilities Julia Pollard, Social Justice Educator Tali Puterman, Director of Membership & Engagement Dekel Luban, Executive Coordinator Traci Laichter, and Facility Rentals and Reservations Coordinator Jennifer Cinnante.
Defying Darkness and Climate Change: Be part of TI’s Mitzvah Lights Chanukah Campaign!
We need your help to defy both darkness and climate change and it’s an easy and risk free “ask:” At Chanukah, we tell the story of how, at a moment of catastrophic challenge, a determined community of Jews rose up and prevailed against overwhelming odds. We now find ourselves at another historic moment. It has been almost two months since the UN report predicted global catastrophe if we do not take dramatic action on climate change in the next dozen years. As a result of this and other similar warnings, it’s easy to feel that we are up against impossible odds. But, along with all the bad news, comes the good news: if we, like the Maccabees, rise up, we can overcome.
The Green Team plans to offer a number of easy, no risk, and high impact ways that TI members can engage in collective action. Mitzvah Lights is our first campaign, since lighting accounts for about 10% of electricity use in homes and businesses. Unfortunately, 80% of our lights are still less-efficient bulbs, so replacing incandescents or CFLs will save about 1 metric ton of carbon per year (which is how much carbon an average car puts out in 9000 miles of driving). Better yet, LEDs will save you money! They are inexpensive ($1-2), and each one will save you up to $100 over its lifetime.
Okay, now back to Chanukah for a moment…The holiday commemorates the purification of the Temple following the defilement caused by a powerful enemy. You know the story: when the Jews re-entered the Temple, they found one jar of oil, sufficient only for one day. Yet that jar of oil burned for eight days. That jar of oil sounds like the ancient equivalent of an LED light bulb! LED bulbs use 1/8 the electricity of standard bulbs and can last much more than 8 times as long, a modern-day Chanukah miracle.
So in the spirit of Chanukah, defy the darkness and join Temple Israel’s Mitzvah Lights campaign! Between now and the end of Chanukah:
- Go through your house and identify all the light bulbs that are on for more than an hour per day;
- Replace those bulbs with LEDs (at least those for fixtures that are easy to find and inexpensive);
- Let the Green Team know what you’ve done (even if you’ve already converted your bulbs before reading about Mitzvah Lights), so we can tally up and celebrate our impact!
- Finally, please let us know if we can include your name in ChaiLights when we acknowledge and thank our Green Team Campaign Corps.
We need you! The solutions to climate change are not out of reach if we tackle them together.
Green Team Actions
The Green Team’s primary focus to date has been on reducing the facility’s carbon footprint and improving its energy efficiency. Among its projects, some in collaboration with the Building and Grounds Committee, are:
- Replacing over 1,400 lights and fixtures and replace with LED technology;
- Purchasing certified green energy from a wind farm in TX;
- Increasing the number and visibility of recycling bins in the building, including the addition of clear and customized signage;
- Identifying air leaks and sealing them via weatherstripping and caulking;
- Improving HVAC controls so as to condition only those rooms in use;
- Exploring solar opportunities for the Temple roof;
- Planting bee- and butterfly-friendly flowers;
- Purchasing kiddush and grape juice glasses so as to reduce the use of plastics;
- Starting a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program;
- Developing a Green B’nei Mitzvah option;
- Committing to a composting program and working toward zero waste events;
- Donating unused food to a homeless shelter for women and children;
- Co-sponsoring a climate-change film series with other reform synagogues;
- Launching an anti-idling campaign aimed at those who pick students up from religious school.
GreenFaith Energy Shield
Among our proudest undertakings is the campaign to earn the Energy Shield, a certification conferred upon green congregations by GreenFaith, a national environmental organization that works closely with the Religious Action Center (RAC).
If successful, Temple Israel will be the first congregation in New England to earn the credential. Although the campaign is well underway, congregants who have not yet signed The Pledge are still encouraged to do so. Please leave your signed Pledge and/or Checklist at the reception desk, or mail it to Traci Laichter, 477 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02215.
The items covered by the Pledge are low cost, low effort, and high impact. There are 10 categories and each congregant must choose five. The categories are:
- Change some of your most frequently used bulbs to LEDs
- Have a home energy audit
- Install a smart thermostat or reprogram your programmable ones
- Caulk, insulate, and weather strip
- Improve the efficiency of your appliances
- Conserve hot water
- Kitchen and food waste
- Explore solar
- Transportation – buy or lease a hybrid or EV and do more walking, biking, or taking public transportation
- Participation in advocacy efforts