Synagogues’ Experiences of Green Shabbat
Rabbi Hannah Kingston reported: “At Alyth we did quite a lot to mark Green Shabbat. We held a Green Kiddush as we did last year, a shiur on veganism and we have an exciting guest preacher – Caroline Russell. Caroline has been a member of the London Assembly since 2016 and is the Chair of the Assembly’s Environment Committee, and she gave the sermon on Saturday 6 July.
Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogues
Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah followed up their Tikkun Leil Shavuot on Climate Change, by marking Green Shabbat on 6th July with a ‘Green Quiz prior’ to the Shabbat morning service and a Green Kiddush and buffet lunch.
Finchley Reform Synagogue
At the beginning of the Service the Rabbi spoke at length about EcoSynagogue and the Green Kiddush. He is from Israel and is working with us while our Senior Rabbi is on Sabbatical. We were celebrating a Bar Mitzvah and. later when addressing him, our Rabbi linked the significance of the environmental crisis which the planet was facing with the hopes of a happy future for him and his generation which we were all wishing on this occasion.
We also had an alternative Service which was lead by a young member. She has been working tirelessly and brilliantly for “Extinction Rebellion” and spoke movingly of the significance of this initiative and the links with the EcoSynagogue idea.
FRS is a founder member of EcoSynagogue and received a plaque at the first anniversary of EcoSynagogue for its leadership in meeting the environmental challenge. The Synagogue is in the midst of planning a complete rebuilding of the Synagogue and has set its sights on achieving the highest possible environmental standards, known in the trade as the Passivhaus system. At the end of the Service, Adrian Sieff, the Chair of our Green Group, who can use his own house as a model, addressed the congregation on what this entailed, to end a memorable morning – not forgetting the Green kiddush.
On the EcoSynagogue Facebook page, Nikki Sender Glantz shared their Green Shabbat story: “how amazing it was that Ezra Sharpe, one of Kol Nefesh’s youth, came and gave such a powerful and eloquently delivered drash about climate change that had the whole shul engaged and awed. This is Ezra’s blog – https://grassrootsclimatechange.blog/2019/06/21/gender-and-climate-change/ – and he is happy to speak at other synagogues.”
Kingston Liberal Synagogue
KLS had a screening of David Attenborough’s ‘Climate Change: The Facts’ followed by Chaverah Supper and a discussion led by member and EcoSynagogue coordinator, Andree Frieze. This covered what they can do both as individuals and as a community to reduce their carbon emissions and waste. They’ve already made steps by transforming an unused space in our synagogue grounds into a wildlife haven with water butt and composter and swapped plastic Kiddush wine glasses for glass ones, but there is still plenty more to do.
The Lincolnshire Jewish Community
“We embraced the great idea of a #Green Shabbat and invited a speaker and arranging for a film to be shown after the service,” writes Gillian Levene Renaud. “Unfortunately the Speaker had to cancel – and he was bringing the film with him. Not to be defeated, immediately after kiddush the community sat and discussed what we as individuals could do in our lives and as a community to help the environment – now!
“Ideas ranged from political campaigning to buying locally produced vegetables not wrapped in plastic – not original but practical, that we can and will do today.
“The discussion was so positive that we decided to have a Green Page in our newsletter for more positive suggestions AND hold Green Shabbats – on the first Shabbat of EVERY month.”
Michele Benn told us that on Green Shabbat, they cut food and plastic waste with a Green Kiddush. They also had a discussion on Jewish responsibility to climate action instead of a Torah service, followed by a bring-and-share vegan lunch. We came up with a proposal to green our synagogue which will be presented at our next AGM to include:
1) moving towards plant- based monthly community meals;
2) joining other local faiths group for climate action, a “community Ark”;
3) children’s activities leading to an “ask” during Rosh Hashanah service;
4) registering to become an EcoSynagogue.
Mill Hill United Synagogue
For their regular Ten Minute Talks on Saturday 6 July, Mill Hill invited EcoSynagogue coordinator, Andree Frieze to give a talk on “How to contribute to being Eco friendly to safeguard our Planet”. They have been taking steps to get rid of disposables and have introduced ‘Green Kippah’, which are 100% biodegradable. These wonderful kippot are infused with wildlflower seeds, so they can be planted in the garden or used for ‘guerilla gardening’ to support pollinators.
New North London Synagogue
We were glad to mark Green Shabbat at the New North London Synagogue. We included a special prayer for the environment (which it was then suggested we say on a regular basis). There was a strong sermon by Rabbi Wittenberg, highlighting the cross-communal feature in the Jewish Chronicle and calling on us to change our attitudes and behaviour. Following the publicity a day earlier about the report on the key importance of planting a trillion trees (originally published in Science Magazine), he included a request to the community to make a serious commitment to planting trees through rewilding organisations local and worldwide with a sound ecological record. We were joined for a session after the service by special guest Deborah Colvin, who guided the environment work of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, the only church in London to date, to receive an Eco Church gold award. There was a strong sense of commitment across the community. We were well represented three days later at the follow-up meeting for green teams hosted by Rabbi David Mason at Muswell Hill Synagogue.
Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue
Rabbi Lea Muehlstein not only pledged to hold a Green Shabbat and to preach on the topic, which you can read here, she also promised to switch their synagogue to an Eco Energy Supplier.