About Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple, New Brunswick, NJ
Pre-Pilot Greening Efforts Prior to joining the program, our congregation went through some of the typical efforts of trying to demonstrate a few green habits. This included some recycling, informal conversations, mentions of current environmental news in sermons and green themes in education.
Our Green Team We did not have a Green Team before joining the Pilot. Presently, we have approximately 15 active members on our Green Team. Included from our staff and leadership are clergy; religious school teachers; Education, Finance, Youth and Buildings & Grounds committee members, Board of Trustee members; and administrative staff. In addition, we are pleased that a majority of our congregants are interested in greening, though they don't serve in formal roles.
Our Energy Audit The members of the Buildings and Grounds Committee will conduct the energy audit, with some input from the Finance Committee.
Areas of Focus
Environmental Worship and/or Holiday Programming Every year during the High Holy Days, we distribute brown paper bags with information about Mazon and ask congregants to fill the bags and drop them off at the synagogue. This year, we will be distributing reusable bags with our congregation's logo, the GreenFaith logo and our new slogan: shomrei emet shomrei adamah (Protectors of Truth, Protectors of the Earth). It will contain information about our green initiatives; information about a mosquito net program for developing countries; and instructions for bringing food for Mazon in the reusable bags. (Of course, those can be kept for future shopping!)
Additionally, we will have a Green suggestion box out during the holidays for feedback from congregants. On the second day of Rosh HaShanah, Rabbi Epstein will give a sermon focusing on our Green Team, green initiatives and "eco-news." We also plan on having a green-themed Mitzvah Day (December 24th), and we will be incorporating more eco-conscious choices into our holiday celebrations.
Environmental Education One of the immediate changes is that there will be a High School elective called Jewish Ethics and the Environment. Here is the course description: For over 5700 years, there has been an intersection between Judaism and ecology. In this elective, students will delve into our longstanding covenant with God as being stewards of Creation. Through text and video of events past and present, we will explore our responsibilities as Jews in the 21st century. Students will take environmental actions and apply these ideas to the greening of our community in conjunction with our GreenFaith initiative. We also have students involved with the greening of the religious school.
Action Plan Summary For our first year in the program, we have decided to focus on our immediate community and see where we can make improvements at the congregation. Individuals are already investigating options for solar energy, as well as other areas in which we can be more energy efficient. Clearly, education and worship are two main areas of focus, and we also plan on focusing on recycling and waste management. Beyond that, we are looking at our communications with congregants through our newsletter and our website. We feel that a more electronics-based communication strategy will make a visible and viable impact. After addressing these immediate concerns, we plan on focusing on more outreach so we can work with other religious organizations to learn what is working for them and where we can improve.
Major Goals As our new Green Mission Statement reads: The Anshe Emeth congregation honors its responsibilities as the stewards of Creation. With an abiding love and respect for tradition and Jewish values, our congregation will make a commitment and investment towards a sustainable spiritual and ecological future. Our major goal is do whatever we can to make sure our impact on the environment is more positive than harmful, making us role models of practicing what we preach.