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 Rabbi Suzie Jacobson, Executive Director Dan Deutsch, Librarian Ann Abrams, Director of Administration and Facilities Julia Pollard, and Assistant Director of Social Justice Engagement Tali Puterman.
The Postcard Project, Now Online!
In honor of Cantor Roy Einhorn
Temple Israel’s Green Team launched The Postcard Project in February to give our community a chance to perform two mitzvot:
1. The postcards, designed by artist and congregant Deb Putnoi, provide a place where we can let Cantor Einhorn know how much his gifts of music, kindness, and love have meant.
2. There’s also room to list three things you will do, in Cantor Einhorn’s honor, to help heal the planet. Cantor Einhorn is a lifelong environmentalist and the combination of good wishes for him and good deeds for the earth will mean a lot as he begins his retirement.
The postcards will be hung in the Atrium for the Cantor’s Celebration in September, and then included in a Memory Box. In this new landscape, it is no longer feasible to get physical postcards to—and back from—interested congregants by mid-August, so we have moved it online!
GreenFaith Energy Shield
Temple Israel just became the first Reform congregation in New England to receive the GreenFaith Energy Shield Certification!
Temple Israel of Boston is the first Reform congregation in New England to have earned the Energy Shield, an environmental merit badge conferred by GreenFaith, an interfaith environmental organization. The goal of the GreenFaith Energy Shield program is to engage faith communities on the topic of energy conservation and make tangible advances in five areas:
- Reducing the carbon footprint of the congregation’s building;
- Enlisting 15% of congregants to sign a pledge that requires improving sustainability practices in their homes and lives in general;
- Developing environmental educational programming for every age group;
- Including prayers and readings about the earth and our obligation to care for it in worship services; and
- Participating in advocacy activities at the city, state, and/or federal levels.
Many of these changes have successfully reduced Temple Israel’s carbon footprint and as well as its energy costs. If you are interested in learning more about this program, please email Joan Rachlin or Jill Hahn,Green Team co-chairs.
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.