Report from JCAN/Ganei Beantown forum on sustainable synagogues

On January 10, more than 30 people representing 13 synagogues gathered at the first ever Sustainable Synagogues event. Sponsored by the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts and hosted by Temple Beth David of Westwood, the evening showcased the work of the Jewish Climate Action Network and Ganei Beantown -- Boston Jewish Gardens, and Organic Torah.

Topics include the concept of Holistic Bentshmarking, JCAN's Bentshmarking Tech Study Campaigns, an explanation of how Organic Torah connects to web of Jewish teachings to the living organic web of life, and (pointing to the upcoming Boston Food Conference) all kinds of options for gardening, composting, and cooking with local foods. Rabbi Katy Allen and Fred Davis spoke on behalf of JCAN. The atmosphere wa lively as participants asked questions, heard usefu answers from h four peakers, and offered information about programs they are holding, successes they've ha, or hurdles they've encountered in greening.

During the evening, three new synagogue signed onto the JCAN Bentshmarking Campaign, and attendees committed to a variety of other steps toward making their synagogues more sustainable. People came from as far as Worcester, Fall River, and Acton.

A form handed out at the meeting listed seven follow-up steps, each checked off by 4-9 synagogues:

  • Assign someone to attend JCAN Leadership Meetings approximately once per month
  • Find someone to attend Rabbi Margalit’s course, starting January 30
  • Get on the JCAN Bentshmarking Campaign list
  • Find representative to send to the May 7 Tech Study program
  • Schedule a JCAN Program for Congregants
  • Schedule a Decarbonizers peer-to-peer program
  • Organize a group to attend the People's Climate March April 29

JCAN is excited by the synergy of this event, and the Synagogue Council hopes this will be the "first" not the only event like this. Thanks to everyone who helped make the event happen.