THE KOL NEFESH GREEN TEAM
& ECO-SYNAGOGUE INITIATIVE
Kol Nefesh was one of the first members of the EcoSynagogue initiative – a movement, based on the blueprint of EcoChurch, that encourages environmental awareness and change in religious organisations within the UK. The aim of EcoSynagogue is to help shuls assess and improve their behaviour in broad domains of activity: how we use any buildings or land we own or care for; how we eat and consume; how we use the opportunities of the liturgical year; how we teach and preach; and how we change the behaviours of our congregations. Masorti Judaism in the UK, under the leadership of Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, launched the EcoSynagogue movement in January 2018.
Logo design by Shmu Glantz.
Kol Nefesh officially launched our own EcoSynagogue activities in April 2018. With the help of our Green Team, we are actively engaged in or planning the following:
Using reusable or biodegradable cutlery and crockery;
Recycling the containers and bottles we can't avoid using;
Buying local, seasonal food to avoid air miles;
Running informational programs and activities for all ages;
Getting involved in local clean-up;
Working with Langdon College, our landlords, to improve our energy use.
The Kol Nefesh Green Policy approved by our community on 28 June 2022 can be found here.
In addition, we are now offering members a chance to purchase a Green Token – a way to offset our shul-related carbon emissions. For more details, click here.
If you'd like to join our Green Team or have ideas as to how we might collectively reduce our environmental impact, please get in touch through the shul office, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on EcoSynagogue, visit ecosynagogue.org/ or click the logo:
Kol Nefesh is proud to have earned a Bronze Award from EcoSynagogue in recognition of our work bringing our daily practice in line with ecological principles. Here's Green Team leader Daniel Preter receiving the award from Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, we began holding talks with experts and invited guests on Zoom, and many of these have been recorded. Highlights can be accessed below.
The Green Team invited Avigail and Noah Morris to talk about The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, based at Kibbutz Ketura. The recording from April 2nd 2023 is here.
Marking Tu B'Shevat, Tom Hill, a lead Adviser for the National Trust’s Trees & Woodland consultancy team, shared his insights from the world of tree and woodland conservation on Jan 13th. The recording of this Green Team event is here
Environmentalism in Israel - a talk by Sam Daniel from Greenpeace Israel on 7th October 2021, a KNM Green initiative event. Click here for the recording.
Creating a Home for Wildlife in Your Garden
We enjoyed a talk from Mathew Frith of the London Wildlife Trust on creating a home for wildlife in your garden. Click the box to watch a recording of this talk. (If you're on a phone or tablet you may have to scroll down.)
Amy Clarke and Neil Hill from Tribe Impact Capital answered our questions on how to invest ethically. Click the box to watch the recording (on a phone or tablet you may have to scroll down).
Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel
Jay Shofet from SPNI, the Society for Protection of Nature in Israel, spoke about the challenges facing Israel, and what is being done now. You can watch the talk here.
Find out more about supporting SPNI from the UK at their website, UKSPNI.org. Membership of UKSPNI is only £25 per year and keeps anyone interested in nature connected with Israel. Click here to donate.
Did You Know...?
The principle on which Jewish environmental ethics is based is Bal Tashchit, "Do not destroy". The term comes from Deuteronomy 20:19–20, which forbids cutting down fruit trees when laying a siege during wartime. The rabbis later expanded the concept to prohibit any needless destruction. Today, it is the foundation of any discussion of environmental issues in the context of Jewish law and practice.
READY TO GO GREEN?
It's easy to become discouraged about how ordinary people can help fix problems that are global in nature.
But every individual can help make a difference. Here are some simple things you can try at home:
Avoid plastic packaging and other plastic items. As an example, many cotton buds are made from plastic sticks, which easily pass through sewerage systems and into the oceans. If you do want to use cotton buds, buy those with card or paper sticks (apparently Boots have switched over to them already).
Buy glass containers with lids for storing leftovers, rather than covering them with aluminium foil or wrap. You can also buy recycled aluminium foil or wrapping materials such as Bees Wrap as alternatives.
Buy local and seasonal food, ideally organic. This is not only better for you, but the food growing standards are higher and the impact on the soil and wider environment is smaller.
Use soap bars rather than plastic pump dispensers, to avoid yet more plastic waste.
Recycle all that’s recyclable.
Walk or cycle; leave the car at home. If you need to take the car, try to group your errands.
Save energy by switching off lights, computers and other items on standby when not needed.
Switch to a green energy supplier using renewable energy sources, such as Ecotricity.
Compost your food waste (no animal products or fat). This reduces waste and produces great compost for your garden.
Have a reusable coffee cup on you to avoid another one going in the bin (of the 2.5 billion [!] that are thrown away every year in the UK alone!).
Turn off taps when they're not needed - e.g., until you're ready to rinse when brushing your teeth, or while you're stacking dishes in the dishwasher. Consider boiling a kettle for hot water to use in hand-washing. If you do run the tap to get hot water, consider collecting some of the colder water in containers, to use for rinsing, for plants, and for other household chores.
Only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need at that time.
When the heat's on, consider turning off the radiators in rooms not being used.
Get involved in a local conservation group. It helps the local flora and fauna, is a great way of socialising, and keeps you fit!