Hazon, the Jewish Lab for Sustainability, has reached a record 90th participant in its national Hazon Seal of Sustainability program, a comprehensive education and outreach program designed to help Jewish organizations to reduce waste and encourage healthier living. Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex, based in Caldwell, N.J., joined the program in time for the final U.S. climate strike of 2019 that is planned for Dec. 6.
“This has been the year that a critical mass of people have started to really take the climate crisis seriously. It’s an issue in the U.S. elections. It’s an issue in the U.K. elections. Joining the Hazon Seal of Sustainability program demonstrates that Jewish institutions are stepping up to take responsibility and have committed to making changes. Synagogues, churches, and not-for-profits generally produce an excess of waste. Think about all the Styrofoam cups and plates, mountains of plastic silverware, and uneaten food that is thrown into landfills. The Hazon Seal of Sustainability incorporates education, action and advocacy. Education means learning about the consequences of our behaviors. Action means changing them. And advocacy means speaking up more widely,” said Hazon Founder and CEO Nigel Savage. “We are excited that Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex and its visionary rabbinic and lay leadership has joined us at the forefront of fighting the environmental crisis.”
The Hazon Seal of Sustainability is an annual program that provides guidance and support to advance sustainability-related education, action, and advocacy for Jewish institutions, organizations and the community more broadly. Hazon provides a roadmap to healthier food, less waste, lower carbon footprint and more. It has created a community of like-minded individuals who together are creating the Jewish response to the climate crisis. Institutions participating in the Hazon Seal of Sustainability program first audit their environmental impact then commit to making significant and long-lasting improvements.
Congregation Agudath Israel has planned a plethora of activities including environmental Shabbats, sustainable kiddushes, an interfaith Tu B’Shvat gathering, speakers and a Jewish cemetery cleanup. The congregation led by Rabbi Alan Silverstein intends to educate congregants about environmentally conscious practices throughout the year.
In addition to Congregation Agudath Israel, 20 other Jewish institutions have recently joined the program. They include: Boulder Jewish Community Center (Boulder, CO); Congregation Beth Ahm (West Bloomfield, MI); Elon University Sklut Hillel Center (Elon, NC); Farber Hebrew Day School-Yeshivat Akiva (Southfield, MI); Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island (Providence, RI); Jewish Community Center of Metro Detroit (West Bloomfield, MI); Jewish Family Service of Metro Detroit (West Bloomfield, MI); Temple Israel (West Bloomfield, MI); Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit (Bloomfield Hills; MI); Rabbinical School of Hebrew College (Newtown, MA); The Board of Jewish Education DBA The Jewish Education Project (New York; NY); The Center for Small Town Jewish Life at Colby College (Waterville, ME); West Marin Jews (Forest Knolls, CA); Woodstock Jewish Congregation (Woodstock; NY); and Young Israel of Southfield (Southfield, MI).
Five new member organizations are supported by Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago: Beit Yichud (Chicago, IL); SketchPad (Chicago, IL); Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership (Chicago, IL); Fiedler Hillel at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL); Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue & Kol Sasson Congregation (Skokie, IL).
Hazon has set a goal of tripling the number of program participants within the next three years.
Founded in 2000, Hazon is the largest faith-based environmental organization in the U.S. The organization has created a comprehensive program to inspire, activate, educate and support the Jewish community’s commitment to mitigating climate change. The Hazon Seal of Sustainability guides Jewish organizations and their members to become healthier and more sustainable. For more information, visit: https://hazon.org/.