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Eco synagogues on recruiting drive for green project

Cross-communal venture will be launched next month

    Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
    Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

    Synagogues committed to tackling climate change and promoting positive environmental practices are urging other shuls to follow suit.

    Being formally launched next month, Eco Synagogue currently involves five congregations — New North London Masorti, Alyth and Finchley Reform, Finchley Progressive and Muswell Hill United.

    “This is not a denominational matter,” said New North London’s Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg. “We are all part of the same world and the issues of climate-change affect us all.”

    Synagogues that sign up will be assessed on their green credentials through an online survey.

    “It helps shuls look at all aspects of community life,” Rabbi Wittenberg explained. “How we teach and preach, heat and light our buildings and how we can change the lives of our congregants and local communities.

    “We are not asking for huge changes. We understand that if your building is huge and poorly insulated, it is a big move to change that. But there are other ways of helping the environment.”

    Small changes could include encouraging congregants to walk more and not over-ordering for kiddushim.

    Eco Synagogue has been developed in partnership with the founders of Eco Church, which has been operational for two years. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will be guest speaker at Eco Synagogue’s launch.

    Rabbi Wittenberg said hundreds of communities had signed up to Eco Church. “It would be great if we can get synagogues to engage in the same way.”

    He added that both the Board of Deputies and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis were supporting the initiative.

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