Barmitzvah where green is the theme

By Jessica Elgot, November 3, 2011
Barmitzvah boy Asher Levy had his celebrations planned in a eco-friendly fashion by mum Candice Woolfson

Barmitzvah boy Asher Levy had his celebrations planned in a eco-friendly fashion by mum Candice Woolfson

When organising a simcha, eco considerations might not have the same priority as hiring a venue, booking a caterer, choosing a band or selecting an outfit.

But "ethical" simchas need not require much addition to the "to do list", says United Synagogue Chesed director Candice Woolfson. They can even slice a bit off the budget.

Ms Woolfson and husband Stuart Levy organised their son Asher Levy's barmitzvah, held at the weekend, with an emphasis on reflecting the family's values on the environment and tikkun olam.

"We made Asher's barmitzvah as environmentally friendly and ethical as we could," Mrs Woolfson explained. "That's how we try to lead our lives all the time. He knows that's how I am and he just indulges me!

"But seriously, I believe it's part of our Jewish responsibility and this is something that I want Asher as a Jewish adult to always be aware of.

We made the simcha eco-friendly - that's how we live

"His parashah was Noach which I've always thought is quite a sad parashah. God made a promise not to destroy the world again and I think it's up to us to act positively to ensure our actions don't damage the world and we're never faced with that situation."

For Asher, a JFS pupil, a green barmitzvah did not seem remotely unusual. "It's like being Jewish. Being good to the environment is how I have been brought up. You do have to put a bit more effort in but if everyone did it, it would make a big difference."

Eco-friendly elements included using disposable biodegradable vegeware for a family Shabbat lunch after the service at Finchley Synagogue. There were Fairtrade kippot for the party at the Palm Hotel and carbon-neutral bottled water Belu. Ms Woolfson said: "The decorations were twigs on the table - more environmentally friendly than balloons or flowers, they look beautiful, and can be re-used at another simcha."

Paperless Post was used for the invitations. "I thought that it was a bit weird at first," Asher said. "It wasn't something my friends had done. But it turned out to be cool."

His mother added: "I don't think for one minute that we will change the world but that's not a reason not to bother. If lots of us take these small actions we'll make a difference."

Last updated: 11:59am, November 3 2011