JRF, RRC and the RRA are sponsoring organizations of The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL's) 2012 Jewish Environmental and Energy Imperative Declaration. Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, the Director of the social justice rabbinic training program at RRC was there signing on our movement’s behalf as were numerous other Jewish leaders from among the 50 signing leaders. Among the signers are Bob Barkin, interim EVP of JRF and Rabbi Richard Hirsh, Exec-Dir of the RRA (see http://coejl.org/jecc/signatories/).
In signing the Jewish Environmental and Energy Imperative Declaration, leaders committed to take many significant steps, including: Setting the personal goal of reducing emissions by 14% by September 2014, which is Judaism’s next sabbatical year (Shmittah year). Setting the community-wide intention of reducing greenhouse gases by 83% of 2005 levels by 2050 (a goal set by the US government), with a communitywide approach to greening homes and buildings. For the full text of the Declaration, see http://coejl.org/jecc/declaration/.
Meanwhile, including but reaching beyond COEJL, there has emerged an amalgam of Eco-Jewish organizations called the Green Hevre, which has recently received an important grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Rabbi Liebling and Rabbi Shawn Zevit are also Recon representatives on the group which emerged after a special gathering of leaders of Jewish environmental groups, organizations and movements a few years ago- http://jrf.org/Sustainability_Conference.
Among its fifteen active and activist members are groups committed to one or more of four ways of dealing with our planetary crisis in Jewish terms: hands-on greening of synagogues, JCC’s, and Jewish households; the awakening of ecological themes in Jewish practices like the festivals and life-cycle events and the ”kosher” consumption of food and other fruits of the earth; the creation of alternative communities, especially Jewish organic farms; and public advocacy for change in public policy.
“If we are to have a viable future as a Jewish People, we need to build on Kaplan’s formulation of Judaism as an evolving religious civilization to include a globally sustainable approach to living in faith community. A globally sustainable, evolving religious culture will also include interdependent and healthy economic, social, political, environmental and spiritual systems. There may be no more important issue to engage in and face than the issue of global sustainability in the 21st century. Our collective work is to raise awareness and encourage concrete action, with every JRF community being part of the tikkun of the planet across the sustainability spectrum.” Rabbi Shawn Zevit, JRF Director of Congregational Services and Tikkun Olam.
For updated resources on Judaism and the environment please see http://jrf.org/Sustainable_Synagogue_Resources.
Additional calls and webinars have been offered through our PEARL leadership series. See the Sustainability programs at www.jrf.org/pearl/archive and additional resources through our partnership with the interfaith environmental organization Greenfaith: www.jrf.org/greenfaith