Jewish Energy Guide: Baltimore’s Green Federation

Summary: Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin describes how three efforts, launched independently, eventually coalesced into one green network for Baltimore’s Jewish community.

The first project began when the local Jewish Federation, The Associated, assembled a cross-departmental committee to examine how to green its practices and operations. The green committee, made up of lay and professional leaders and headed by Rachel Siegal, an Associated vice president at the time, started by switching the building’s conventional bulbs to compact fluorescents and moved on to eliminate plastic water bottles. When it came time for The Associated to construct a new housing-assistance building in 2010, the committee ensured that the new building would meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, leading to the building’s LEED certification.

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Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin is the founder of the Baltimore Jewish Environmental Network, which works to green synagogues and educate the wider Jewish community on environmental issues. Cardin was editor and chair of the editorial committee of Sh’ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility, and formerly served as director of Jewish life at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore. She is the author of several books, including The Tapestry of Jewish Time: A Spiritual Guide to Holiday and Life-Cycle Events, and Rediscovering the Jewish Holidays: Tradition in a Modern Voice. She received her ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

The Jewish Energy Guide presents a comprehensive Jewish approach to the challenges of energy security and climate change and offers a blueprint for the Jewish community to achieve a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by September of 2014, which is the next Shmittah, or sabbatical, year in the Jewish calendar.

The Jewish Energy Guide is part of COEJL’s Jewish Energy Network, a collaborative effort with Jewcology’s Year of Action to engage Jews in energy action and advocacy. The guide was created in partnership with the Green Zionist Alliance.

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