Shalom Center Presenets: Green Menorah Award to Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, Evanston


At a celebration of Tu B'Shvat, the midwinter Jewish festival for the rebirthing of trees and nature, on Friday evening February 6, 2009, The Shalom Center presented its annual Green Menorah Covenant Award to the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation of Evanston.

The Green Menorah Covenant Award honored JRC for construction of an extraordinarily "green" energy-saving congregational building, the only religious structure in America to be considered "platinum level" in energy conservation.

Previous recipients of the Green Menorah Covenant Award have been Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in New York City and Temple Emmanuel in Kensington, Maryland, outside Washington DC.

The Shalom Center was founded in 1983 and has focused on bringing Jewish wisdom, ancient and modern, to seeking peace, justice, and healing of the wounded earth.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of The Shalom Center, presented the award. He explained there were three aspects of the award, two celebratory and one activist: a certificate, an artistically designed Hanukkah eight-branched Menorah in the shape of a tree, and a $900 matching grant to the youth group at JRC, to assist them in carrying out a project to protect the earth from the climate disaster of "global scorching."

Rabbi Waskow explained that The Shalom Center was focusing on the youth in affirming the last line of the last of the Prophets, Malachi, through whom God said: "I will send you Elijah the Prophet to turn the hearts of the parents to the children and the hearts of the children to the parents, lest the earth be utterly destroyed."

He called on the congregation to celebrate its remarkable building by taking another step forward to heal the earth: reaching out as activists to change public policy to radically reduce the use of coal and oil and to greatly increase the use of solar and wind energy.

Rabbi Brant Rosen, spiritual leader of JRC, responded that the congregation welcomed this "honor in the form of a thoughtful challenge," and indeed in its Tu B'Shvat Seder had already reserved one of the four traditional cups of wine to focus on the need for changing public policy.


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