How does the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, repair of the world, fit into your life and the life of your community?

How is it expressed?

What is missing?

We know that you are already working to heal the world. Todah rabbah! Thank you so much!

Now, JCAN and the state of our planet are asking you to do more.

You can be an agent of change by responsibly, radically reducing the carbon footprint of your community, your home, and your business. Together, in the spirit of klal yisrael, a community of Jews working together, we can change the world. We can achieve the deep reductions in energy usage critical to the future, for ourselves, and our children, and we can strengthen our spiritual and emotional well-being, build stronger, more resilient communities, support vulnerable populations, and in general build the world of our dreams.

To assist you on your journey, JCAN's Holistic Sustainability Program provides you with a template for change. It is presented as being for a  synagogue community, but you may wish to begin at home or with a small group. There is no particular order for the areas of transformation, so we invite you to start with whichever topic feels right for you or your community.

In order to fully transform your community in a world-sustaining way, the Jewish Climate Action Network suggests the following 10 areas of assessment and opportunity for reducing your carbon footprint and fostering spiritual and psychological resiliency. For each of these areas, we offer a simple tool that you can use to record your baseline, compare your community to other communities, and, over time, to be able to look back see the changes in your level of sustainability.

Some of these tools are data driven and some are more subjective. Some are more precise and some are less precise. We offer them to you as a way to get a visual and numerical reading of the status of your's synagogue's level of sustainability and resiliency.

NOTE: Except for the Energy Bentschmarking Tool, these tools are new and subject to revision. Please send any comments and suggestions to JCAN.

Spirituality

Ruchaniyut רוּחֲנִיוּת

Confronted by the existential crisis of climate change, which carries with it the question of the very survival of the human species, people's responses can range from denial to eco-despair. Most communities hold among their members a wide range of emotional and spiritual responses.

Know that when a person prays in a field, all of the plants together come into the prayer, and they help the person and give the person strength within the prayer. (Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav)
All of Israel are responsible for each other. (BT Shevuot 39a)

How to get started

Use JCAN's new Spirituality Bentschmarking Tool to assess and record your community's current spiritual response to climate change.

Set a Climate Wellness Goal: Decide how thoroughly you want to integrate spirituality related to the Earth into the life of your community.

Resources

Click [link to come] to find resources and ideas for integrating spirituality related to the environment and climate change into the life of your community, or contact JCAN.

Teaching

Hora’ah הוֹרָאָה

Many people are concerned about climate change, but many people don't know enough about it to grasp its implications. In addition to understanding the science of climate change, Jewish texts and tradition can speak to us in this time of extreme climate.

Just as a person is obligated to teach one's own child, so, too, is one obligated to teach one's grandchild, as (Deut. 4:9) commands: "And you shall teach them to your children and your grandchildren." [Furthermore, this charge is not confined] to one's children and grandchildren alone. Rather, it is a mitzvah for each and every wise person to teach all students, even though they are not one's own children, as (Deut. 6:7) states: "And you shall teach them to your children..." The oral tradition explains: "Your children" these are your students, for students are also called children, as (II Kings 2:3) states: "And the children of the prophets went forth." (Mishneh Torah, Sefer Madah, Hikhot Talmud Torah 1:2-3)

How to get started

Use JCAN's new Education Bentschmarking Tool to assess and record your community's current spiritual response to climate change.

Set a Climate Education Goal: Decide how thoroughly you want to integrate education about the environment and Jewish teachings related to the Earth into the life of your community.

Resources

Click [link to come] to find resources and ideas for integrating Jewish and secular teachings related to the environment and climate change into the life of your community, or contact JCAN.

Energy

Energia אֶנֶרְגִיָה

Our dependence on fossil fuels is institutional and systemic and we are all participants. We need to change the system to renewable resources from the ground up.

Rav Zutra said: He who covers an oil lamp or uncovers a naphtha [lamp] infringes the prohibition of wasteful destruction. (BT Shabbat 67b)

How to get started

Use JCAN’s energy Energy Bentschmarking Campaign to assess your current energy usage.

Set an Energy Climate Goal: Once you've completed benchmarking, it is time to Set Climate Goals.

Resources

For assistance with setting goals and determining how to achieve them, contact JCAN.

Sign up for a Benchmarking Webinar. Email JCAN for dates and times.

Sign up for a Climate Goals Webinar. Email JCAN for dates and times.

Click [link to come] to find helpful resources for achieving your energy-reduction goals, including possible hidden sources of energy consumption.

Finances

K’safeem כְּסַפִים

Without even realizing it, you and your community may be supporting the fossil fuel industry and even profiting from it in ways you don’t realize, depending on where your money is stored.

Raba said: When a person is brought for judgment on Judgment Day he is asked 'Did you do your business honestly…’ (BT Shabbat 31a)

How to get started

Use JCAN's new Financing Bentschmarking Tool to assess and record your community's current financial status.

Set a Climate Finance Goal: Decide what percent of your portfolio you want to have invested in fossil fuel related companies.

Resources

Sign up for a Climate Finances Webinar. Email JCAN for dates and times.

Click [link to come] to find resources to help you divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in renewable energy, or contact JCAN.

Food, Purchasing, and Waste

Ochel, K’niot, U’f’solet אוֹכֵל, קְנִיוֹת, וּפְסוֹלֶת

Paying attention to the food in your institution is another way to reduce its carbon footprint. In addition, you can insure that everyone who enters eats food that is kosher (literally “fit”) in ways that go beyond a traditional hechsher, or certification, and are eco-kosher.

Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai taught: This may be compared to the case of people on a ship, one of whom took a borer and began boring beneath the seat. The other travelers said: "What are you doing?" The one with the borer replied, "What does it matter to you - am I not boring under my own seat?" They said, "[It matters to us] because the water will come up and flood the ship for us all." (Midrash Rabbah, Vayikra 4:6)

How to get started

Use JCAN's new Food, Purchasing, and Waste Bentschmarking Tool to assess your community's current food and waste status.

Create a Climate-Conscious Food and Waste Policy: Decide what percent of the food in your community you want to be locally sourced, organic, and vegan. What percent of your community's paper do you want to be !00% recycled? How much waste is the minimum you want to produce? What else is important to your community?

Resources

Click [link to come] to find resources to help identify the strengths and weaknesses of your institution’s food and waste policies and practices and to develop an action plan for improvement, or contact JCAN.

Transportation

Tachburah תַחְבּוּרָה

The exhaust from cars is a major source of carbon in the atmosphere and a contributor to many health issues, yet it is one of the thorniest issues to deal with.

What is the reason [olive trees and grapevines were not burned in the Temple fires]? It is not because they are ash producing. It is because they make too much smoke. (Rabeinu Gershom to Babylonian Talmud Tamid 29b)

How to get started

Use JCAN's new Transportation Bentschmarking Tool to assess your community's current dependence on combustion engine vehicles.

Resources

Click [link to come] to find resources to help your community reduce its carbon footprint due to transportation issues, or contact JCAN.

Ecosystems

Ma’arachot ekologiot מַעֲרָכוֹת אֶקוֹלוֹגִיוֹת

Diverse and rich ecosystems sequester carbon, taking it out of the air and storing it in the soil, where it doesn't impact the climate. At the same time that we can reduce our carbon emissions, we can also enrich the diversity of species to pull carbon out of the air, and also to provide food for wildlife and people.

And God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass:" God decreed that there should be in the propagation of the earth a potential of growing and producing seed, so that the [various] species will exist forever. (Ramban to Genesis 1:11)

How to get started

Use JCAN's new Ecoystem Bentschmarking Tool to assess your community's land use.

Resources

Click [link to come] to find resources to diversify your ecosystem or build gardens, or contact JCAN.

Water/Mayyim

Mayyim מַיִם

Life on Earth depends on water, and of all the water on the planet, only 2.5% is fresh. Keeping fresh water clean and available is critical for life.

Rabbi Tanchum Ben Chiyya taught: The sending of rain is an event greater than the giving of the Torah. The Torah was a joy for Israel only, but rain gives joy to the entire world including animals and birds. For as it is said: You take care of the Earth and irrigate it (Psalm 65:10). (Midrash Tehillim to Psalm 117)

How to get started

Use JCAN's new Water Bentschmarking Tool to assess your community's land use.

Resources

Click [link to come] to find resources to help your community reduce its water usage, or contact JCAN.

Environmental Justice

Tzedek Svivati צֶדֶק סְבִיבָתִי

Climate change impacts everyone, but the impacts are not equal. The poor and people of color are more quickly and more profoundly impacted and less likely to have the resources to recover.

Justice, justice, you shall pursue. (Deuteronomy 16:20)

How to get started

Use JCAN's new Environmental Justice Bentschmarking Tool to assess your community's land use.

Resources

Click [link to come] to find resources to help your community engage in environmental justice projects, or contact JCAN.

Advocacy

Sanegoriya סַנֵגוֹרְיָה

The ultimate key to our society moving off of fossil fuels is systemic change through the change in policies at the local, state, and national levels.

All who can protest against [something wrong that] one of their family [is doing] and does not protest, is held accountable for their family.[All who can protest against something wrong that] a citizen of their city [is doing and does not protest], is held accountable for all citizens of the city.[All who can protest against something wrong that is being done] in the whole world, is accountable together with all citizens of the world. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 54b)

How to get started

Use JCAN's new Advocacy Bentschmarking Tool to assess your community's land use.

Resources

Click [link to come] to find resources to help your community reduce its carbon footprint due to transportation issues, or contact JCAN.