Environment a Priority for World's Largest Jewish Convention
Green is the color of choice for the Union of Reform Judaism's 70th Biennial Convention, which will take place November 4–8 in Toronto. In an effort to make the 2009 Biennial the most sustainable yet, the Reform Movement is taking steps to reduce energy, water, and paper use, increase recycling and use of recycled materials, and incorporate environmentally conscious themes into the convention programming.
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NEW YORK, October 20, 2009 Green is the color of choice for the Union of Reform Judaism's 70th Biennial Convention, which will take place November 48 in Toronto. In an effort to make the 2009 Biennial the most sustainable yet, the Reform Movement is taking steps to reduce energy, water, and paper use, increase recycling and use of recycled materials, and incorporate environmentally conscious themes into the convention programming. The Biennial exhibit hall will feature eco-friendly products and reminders to participants to green their behaviors at Biennial and beyond.
Several environmentally themed learning sessions will provide attendees the opportunity to discuss policies that address climate change and energy issues, and teach tangible ways for synagogues to effectively mobilize their congregants to get involved in local and global greening.
· At "Save Green by Going Green: Greening URJ Synagogues, Camps, and Homes," experts from the congregational and camping fields will provide real examples and best practices for cost-effective ways to green both buildings and behaviors.
· "Green Advocacy: Going Beyond Greening Your Actions" will teach congregants, clergy and lay leaders how to champion economic and environmental justice issues in state, national, and international policy-making processes.
· At "Real Dilemmas --Reform Judaism Looks at Hot Topics in the Political Arena," Rabbi David Saperstein, named #1 on Newsweek's 2009 list of "most influential rabbis," and Al Vorspan, dean of American Jewry's social justice activism (and Vice President Emeritus of the Union), will address issues of environmental sustainability, exploring the intersection of Jewish and American values and interests.
The Biennial is home to the Union's General Assembly, the Reform Movement's highest decision-making body, which will consider, debate and vote upon a "URJ Resolution on Climate Change and Energy." The proposed resolution urges Reform Jews across North America to "take action toward integrating an ethic of environmental stewardship into every aspect of Jewish life." The resolution may be viewed at biennial.urj.org/resolutions. The Reform Movement will also promote the launch of the Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign, a community-wide effort spearheaded by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. The Covenant Campaign encourages Jews to make commitments in their personal, communal, and public lives to use less, conserve more, and collectively serve as an example to society of a sustainable community.
Biennial convention attendees are encouraged to "travel justly" by taking steps to reduce their environmental impact and 'offset' the carbon footprint of the Biennial. To facilitate this effort, the Union has created a new Environmental Sustainability Fund, which attendees can contribute to at www.rac.org/travel. These contributions will counteract carbon emissions by funding renewable energy, reforestation, and other greenhouse gas reducing projects in Israel and around the world.
The Reform Movement's decision to host the Biennial at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, a venue celebrated as one of the most environmentally friendly meeting places in North America, underscores its commitment to sustainable actions and policies. The Convention Centre's energy-efficient lighting systems, multi-acre green roof, and modern heating and air conditioning systems are an exemplar of environmental responsibility. More info at www.mtcc.com/planners/green.cfm
To learn more about the Reform Movement's greening efforts beyond the Biennial, visit the Greening Reform Judaism web portal at urj.org/green.
The Union for Reform Judaism is the synagogue arm of Reform Judaism and the largest Jewish movement in North America, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 920 congregations across the United States and Canada.