- The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life has brought a Jewish voice to public debates on environmental issues. Consensus positions are formulated through the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, a coordinating body for 13 national and 120 local Jewish public affairs organizations. COEJL has led or participated in several issue campaigns:
- Operation Noah: Defending God's Endangered Species and Habitats, was launched in 1996.
- A national Tu B'Shvat Campaign to Protect Forests was also initiated that same year.
- In 1997, COEJL mobilized Jewish support for a strong U.S. position to address global warming at the negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol.
- COEJL has played a leading role in the Interfaith Climate and Energy Campaign, established in 1999, which has involved more than 1,200 religious leaders in 21 states in advocating a sustainable energy policy.
- The faith community's campaign to protect roadless areas in National Forests was led by COEJL, and COEJL activists testified at Forest Service hearings around the U.S.
- COEJL participates in Driven by Values, an interfaith campaign to raise fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.
COEJL has a Washington, D.C., office and a legislative action alert network that sends out emails to inform members of current issues on which they can make their voice heard. Find out more about COEJL's advocacy work.
- The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington, D.C. office of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), and the Central Conference of American Rabbis. The URJ first called for the conservation of natural resources in 1965, and in 1991, passed a comprehensive resolution on the environment. Read more about the Religious Action Center's work on environmental policy.
Read Jewish statements on particular environmental policy issues.
- COEJL has a Washington, D.C. office and a legislative action alert network that sends out emails to inform members of current issues on which they can make their voice heard. For more information on COEJL’s advocacy work, click here.
- The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis. The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) first called for the conservation of natural resources in 1965. In 1991, the URJ passed a comprehensive resolution on the environment calling upon the governments of the United States and Canada to ensure the continuation of animal and plant species; protect and create new wilderness areas; ensure the protection of our water and air environments and resources, including protection from significant threats such as global warming; institute comprehensive recycling programs; and prevent environmental injustice to poor and minority communities. This resolution also called upon the URJ and other bodies in Reform Judaism to provide specific environmental guidance to congregations and congregants to modify their behavior in order to preserve the planet; and resolved to promote environmentally sound behavior throughout the URJ. For more information…
- Redwood Rabbis is an informal group that came together to protect Headwaters Forest in Northern California, the last unprotected old growth redwood forest. The group has joined with others in keeping vigil and protesting Pacific Lumber’s excessive logging practices, which threaten the regeneration capacity of the forest, jeopardizing its long-term ecological health and economic stability. To celebrate Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish New Year for Trees, the Redwood Rabbis held a traditional seder meal at an old growth park near Headwaters Forest on January 26th. This was part of an all-day event for 250 people, and included scientific and religious presentations, an afternoon worship service, and the planting of redwood seedlings on Pacific Lumber property.
To learn more...
- Temple Emanuel, a Reform congregation in Kensington, Maryland, has made a commitment to the Chesapeake Bay as an ongoing advocacy project. The Chesapeake is the largest estuary in the United States and is beset by pollution from air, farms, waste treatment plants and urbanization itself. The Green Shalom committee, aided by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, has added the Temple’s voice to advocacy for waste treatment upgrades, higher pollution standards, and related legislation. [Obtain & insert photo of fourth grade class on CBF boat trip.] To learn more...
- In 2003, Temple Beth Israel, Eugene, Oregon, hosted award-winning documentary film maker, Judith Helfand, for a four-day residency and two showings of her film Blue Vinyl. [Link to Poster for Helfand Residency.] The film showings attracted over 600 people. At the second film showing, TBI arranged to have a panel of distinguished experts in "green" building and toxics use reduction join with Helfand for more in-depth discussion. Helfand spoke at three events at the University of Oregon, and twice at TBI; once for children and once for members of the Board of Directors and Committee chairs
Other Models of Engagement from the past decade of the Partnership:
- Jewish Community Action of Minneapolis Minnesota is providing tools and assistance to catalyze Jews throughout Minnesota to address the roots of social, economic, and environmental problems by honoring Judaism’s ethical, cultural, and spiritual commitments. Founded in 1995, Jewish Community Action has been working in coalition with congregation-based organizing projects in Minneapolis-St. Paul, focusing on reclaiming polluted land for job creation, and on transportation and other environmental issues related to urban sprawl.
- Elinor Weiss, chair of the Social Action Committee at Temple Beth El in East Amherst, New York, has linked breast cancer and environmental concerns, organizing legislative meetings in support of pesticide registry and protecting environmental regulations for air and water.
Other Models of Engagement from the past decade of the Partnership:
- In 1993, Congregation Ansche Chesed in New York, New York, co-sponsored a forum on incineration issues in the New York area, which provided a Jewish analysis of New York City’s solid waste disposal plan. Members of the congregation later testified on behalf of their synagogue at public hearings, met with officials, and encouraged city-wide Jewish organizations to take public positions on the issue.
- The education and advocacy program of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Center provides information to children and adults on a personal and institutional level. As a result of this environmental education, the Jewish community initiated a petition campaign to urge the city of Indianapolis to provide curb-side recycling. There have been several neighborhood clean-ups, and an after-school Environment Club has been formed.
Click here for Jewish perspectives on particular environmental advocacy issues.
Note: Programs and leadership of congregations and other organizations change over time, and the above information may not fully reflect current activities.