Kehillat Israel Moves Toward Becoming Carbon-Free Synagogue

As seen in The Palisadian Post's September 11, 2008 edition by Libby Motika, Senior Editor, Kehillat Israel has taken the lead among religious institutions in moving toward becoming a carbon-neutral synagogue. The action means that the synagogue will offset all climate-changing emissions through carbonfund.org .

One of the nation's leading carbon offset organizations.Carbon offsets enable individuals and businesses to reduce carbon dioxide emissions they are responsible for in their everyday lives by investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects where they are most cost effective.

Carbonfund.org works with over 300 corporate and nonprofit partners including Discovery, Volkswagen Dell, Orbitz, Environmental Defense, Presbyterians for Restoring Creation and the Evangelical Environmental Network."We are one of the first in the country to become a carbon-neutral synagogue," said KI Rabbi Steve Carr Reuben "This action by the board of trustees of the synagogue is a direct result of the entire congregation adopting "KI's 5 Mitzvot for Sustainable Living" as a community-wide challenge this past year. The very first one was 'Become Carbon Neutral.' The other four are 'Become Food Conscious,' 'Become Energy Efficient,' 'Reduce Oil Consumption and Dependency on Foreign Oil,' and 'Be Waste Conscious.'

"Considering the implications of climate change, carbon offsets through carbonfund.org are a natural extension of Kehillat Israel's environmental initiatives. Kehillat Israel already has formed a Green Team that focuses on environmental programs and education for the synagogue.The team, under the leadership of Tikkun Olam Trustee Bruce Rosen with members David Fried, David Rosenstein, Dana Berez, of the Early Childhood Center and Jane Gutman, of the religious school, has already made headway.

Accomplishments to date include recycling programs, steps to increase energy efficiency, tree-planting, environment-focused projects and installation of "water-free" urinals."Our school programs are focused on a comprehensive recycling program just introduced for this school year," said Rosen. "We are also promoting low waste/waste-free B'nai Mitzvahs and family events. This includes table centerpieces and sanctuary displays that are donated or planted after the event. Also, electronic invitation, surplus food donations to the Westside Food Bank and locally produced and reduced meat menu to reduce an events carbon footprint."

Rosen highlighted other greening initiatives that are being implemented. These include electronic waste recycling collections, a comprehensive facilities energy and environmental audit, and regular greening communications to raise environmental awareness among KI membership.