During a session entitled “From start-up nation to leading nation: Israel’s economic expansion” Roberta Probber learned about Mind Labs – an Israeli start up that teaches decision making and strategic thinking through games is currently being use to teach 300,000 students in Brazilian schools.
At the congregational lunch during the 2013 AIPAC Policy Conference Ambassador Michael Oren addressed the group. As he put it, “This is the best of times and the worst of times for Israel”. The instability in the region is a huge ongoing concern. At the same time the economy of Israel is booming. It is an international tech leader. And last year was Israel’s best year of tourism and this year is 27% ahead of that. And… Israel has more Nobel Prizes than it has Olympic Medals.
The challenges are major but the achievements are too.
During the first Plenary at AIPAC 2013 the innovative technology being developed in Israel was highlighted. This included MobileEye car safety system and new medical technology being developed to address the Aids epidemic in Africa.
Also on display was robotic technology that is already in use in Afghanistan.
TEMPLE SHAREY TEFILO-ISRAEL RECOGNIZED AS FIRST REFORM SYNAGOGUE IN THE NATION TO ACHIEVE GREENFAITH CERTIFICATION
Temple Completes Two-Year Process to Achieve Certification in Environmental Leadership from National Environmental Coalition
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J., April 24, 2012 – Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel (TSTI) had a special reason to celebrate Earth Day and more this year. TSTI recently became the first reform synagogue in the U.S. to attain certification for environmental leadership from GreenFaith, a nationally recognized interfaith environmental coalition. The temple, located at 432 Scotland Rd. in South Orange, N.J., was named a GreenFaith Sanctuary after completing a comprehensive program of education, action and advocacy.
Two years ago, temple members Phil and Sue Hoch listened to TSTI’s Rabbi Daniel Cohen give a high holy day sermon on Jewish environmentalism, which inspired the Elizabeth, N.J., couple to spearhead the certification process. Over the course of their two-year journey, the Hochs’ efforts and enthusiasm motivated the entire community of temple members and convinced even the most skeptic congregants to get involved. GreenFaith will recognize the congregation for their achievements at a graduation ceremony on May 16.
TSTI’s clergy and congregation have participated in eco-themed worship services, religious education classes on the environment, and interfaith and intergenerational activities. They worked together to “green” their own facility, implementing changes in waste reduction, product choices, and energy conservation that resulted in 20% energy savings. In addition, they learned about environmental justice issues and participated in environmental advocacy initiatives. A member of The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), TSTI was part of a URJ pilot program to help synagogues initiate and achieve certification.
“The Jewish tradition teaches us that ‘the earth is God’s and the fullness thereof,’” said Rabbi Cohen. “Working to attain GreenFaith certification meant that as a community, we accepted our responsibility to preserve and repair God’s world. The program seemed daunting at first, but with commitment and support, the congregation embraced the changes that were required.”
Among the environmental initiatives launched by TSTI is the planning of an outdoor classroom site with the preschool at the temple’s Iris Family Center. “Our children will be planting flowers and vegetables in planters and raised beds in this special landscape, starting this spring,” explained Carol Paster, Preschool Director. “They will learn how to take care of the earth as they create a sustainable garden for all of us to enjoy.”
“We are proud to have been certified a GreenFaith Sanctuary,” said Phil Hoch. “Environmental awareness is now woven into all of our programs and activities. We will continue to expand our environmental efforts as a result of the education and guidance that GreenFaith provided.” Those continued efforts include environmental field trips for both the preschool and religious school, and “green”-themed Adult Education programs.
GreenFaith was founded in 1992 to inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership. As part of its certification program, faith communities across the nation, including Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist and Hindu groups, are making changes to their worship, education, facilities and social outreach efforts. These involve taking a number of specific steps in the program’s action areas of Justice, Stewardship and Spirit, with an emphasis on interfaith and intergenerational initiatives.
Even though TSTI has been certified by GreenFaith, there are still opportunities to learn more. This free workshop is excellent and it is on January 22, 2013. Here is the link for more details: http://www.facebook.com/events/119553301447821/
There are some excellent resources that can be found here: http://greenfaith.org/religious-teachings/jewish-statements-on-the-environment
As members of TSTI, we have all had opportunities to hear about transformative experiences that have shaped the lives of our b’nai mitzvah and other congregants, as well as the clergy and guest speakers. After recently describing such an experience to Rabbi Cohen, he asked me to share it with the rest of the congregation.
I am sure many of you are familiar with Outward Bound and its use of outdoor experiential learning to educate young people or perhaps have been on one of its team building programs for professionals.
As a corporate attorney, and through my firm’s work for Outward Bound USA, about five years ago, I was introduced to Elizabeth Anglin Knox. Beth’s vision was to use the Outward Bound model to bring people from opposite sides of a conflict together through unique wilderness expeditions. The passion in Beth, her staff and the other Board members easily convinced me of the enormous potential of such an organization and in August 2007 I readily agreed to become their pro bono legal counsel. At the onset, I assisted them in their formal incorporation of as the Outward Bound Center for Peacebuilding (OBCP) and obtaining tax exempt (501c3) status. However, the work they do is so inspiring that not only have I remained their legal counsel and advisor, but my wife, Janet, has also taken up the mantel and has attended numerous fund-raising and get acquainted events and has met a number of the participants in the programs. To date, OBCP has run one program in Sri Lanka for journalists and four programs for Israelis and Palestinians (comprised of groups of social entrepreneurs, emerging leaders, business leaders and religious leaders), and the results have been nothing short of remarkable.
As one young Israeli political leader so eloquently stated “put Middle Easterners in the wild and take away their hummus and you will get communication.” The woman, Michal Shir was referring to her transformational experience with Outward Bound Peacebuilding. In 2010, Michal, a former advisor to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Minister of Education, Gideon Saar, joined a 10 day hiking and rafting program with 11 other Israeli and Palestinian Political Leaders – living, eating and working together in the Sierra Nevada National Park in Spain. In Michal own words “We can change the world now and in the future. In our group we have future members of parliament on both sides that are running for the nearest and future elections. We have people responsible on the media and public opinions on both sides. We have people in our group that are part of the decision making process in all kind of levels. We are changing the reality.”
It is because of stories like this that I often say Outward Bound Peacebuilding is my favorite client. We are working towards bringing some of the participants to TSTI so you can hear their stories first hand, but until then, if you would like further information, please feel free to contact Janet Schwamm (email@example.com), me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Ana Patel, OBCP’s Executive Director (Ana.Patel@outwardboundpeace.org)
TSTI Member since 1996
The Greater MetroWest Community is holding a “Gathering in Support of Israel” this coming Sunday at 4 p.m. at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston. This is an opportunity for us to express our support for and solidarity with Israel during these difficult times.
Hoping many of you can join with me at the rally.
Rabbi Daniel Cohen
Dear Greater MetroWest community member:
The CRC encourages you to attend the Stand With Israel Rally, Tuesday November 20, 12:30 pm in New York. The rally will bring together people in the New York area to show public support for Israel.
We will continue to keep you informed about opportunities for community involvement.
During Shabbat Services this evening TSTI members, Judy and Larry Kantor, Ross Miller and Brett Hardwood will share some reflections on their time in Cuba two weeks ago. In addition watch this space for additional reflections from those who made the journey with me.
Shabbat Melodies: Music for Erev Shabbat November 9, 2012:
As a Cantor my goal in worship is to help create a space in which people can worship. That is accomplished, in part, by creating a musical space that both comforts and challenges. This Shabbat will include music from Cantor William Sharlin. Cantor Sharlin’s music and teaching has influenced countless Cantors on their own journeys. I am one of them. Cantor Sharlin passed away last week and while we, his students, mourn his passing we also know his legacy of music lives on. He wrote this setting of Shalom Aleichem.
It is a moving piece that we will use this coming week at services 6pm Friday night. In the aftermath of this storm I know we all are seeking a warm, welcoming place. We hope you find TSTI to be just that and is why we will be singing this Shalom Aleichem on Shabbat. Enjoy!
If you are looking for ways to help consider the URJ Hurricane Relief Fund.
Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast of the United States, doing billions of dollars in damage, causing dozens of deaths, and leaving more than 7.5 million people without power. As the storm was downgraded to a low pressure system, it continued to wreak havoc as far west as Cleveland, Ohio, and as far north as Toronto, Ontario.
Even as we work to determine the specific impact to URJ congregations and families, and to our larger communities, it is already clear – too clear – that this storm will require a long-term, coordinated recovery effort. The URJ is in the process of reaching out to all our congregations on the east coast and throughout the Midwest to determine what the most immediate needs are in impacted communities.
With your support the URJ will provide relief to congregations, families and communities, just as we have done for victims of natural disasters around the world. Together we can provide hope and help to those in need.U.S. Donations can be made online to the URJ Hurricane Relief Fund or by mail:
Hurricane Relief Fund
Union for Reform Judaism
633 Third Ave.
New York, NY 10017
After an exceptionally stressful two weeks I wish all of you a Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Daniel M Cohen