SHALOM CENTER PRESENTS FIRST "GREEN MENORAH AWARD" FOR ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISM TO CONGREGATION BETH SIMCHAT TORAH IN NYC
For Release December 21, 2006
Rabbi Arthur Waskow or Cathy Dodi
215/844-8494 (Shalom Center)
Russ Agdern (National Organizer, Shalom Center "Beyond Oil" campaign)
Liz Galst (chair of the Greening Committee, CBST)
On the first night of Hanukkah, Friday evening December 15, The Shalom Center presented the first Green Menorah Award to Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in New York City, for its pioneering work in moving the congregation and its members away from fossil fuels and to energy conservation and sustainable sources of energy.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of The Shalom Center, explained to CBST as he presented the Award:
"Why a Green Menorah? Because the first Menorah was modeled on a living tree, and because the Menorah and Hanukkah remind us of the ancient miracle: we were able to use just one day's oil to meet eight days' needs.
"If we are to heal the earth from the climate crisis of global scorching, we must renew that miracle. We must end our addiction to the over-use of oil and coal, and by 2020 America must be using only one-eighth the amount of oil we use today.
"This can be done – and Congregation Beth Simchat Torah is leading the way. You have arranged to receive 100 percent of your building energy from Con Ed Solutions/Green Power. You have become a member of the EPA's Green Power Leadership club. And you have organized your community so well that nearly 15 percent of your households have switched to green power. You involved your children, and they developed an extraordinarily creative and effective way of charting your progress."
The Shalom Center has organized a "Beyond Oil" campaign to move the Jewish community not only to shift its own use of energy to sustainable fuels but also to work for major change in social policy that will do the same for the country as a whole.
The Green Menorah Award presented by The Shalom Center to CBST included an actual green Hanukkah Menorah echoing the shape of a tree, and a $900 grant (50 x chai) to support a project to heal global scorching, to be planned by the congregation's 10-to-12-year olds.
In the future, Waskow said, "Each Hanukkah we expect to make a similar grant to the pre-Bat/Bar Mitzvah cohort or to the 13-to-17-year-olds in at least one pioneering congregation, to support their work to heal our planet.
"We intend to empower the next generation in order for us all to take on the task of Elijah the prophet: turning the hearts of the younger and older generations to each other, lest the earth be utterly destroyed."
For the text of the Green Menorah Covenant and other information on the Beyond Oil campaign, see –
Here are some of the things that CBST has done:
- 100 percent of their building energy comes from Con Ed Solutions/Green Power
- For their purchase of green power, they're a member of the EPA's Green Power Leadership club
- Organizing their community to get nearly 15 percent of their households to switch to green power.
- Working with the children to make this a community project
- Switching some of their paper goods to recycled goods.