Reduce Our Carbon Footprint

Last fall, Rabbi Rain Zohav, Director of Jews of the Earth, led an intergenerational program at the Mishkan Torah Synagogue in Greenbelt, MD. Rabbi Rain served as the Education Director on how to reduce our carbon footprint.

The format of the day was organized like this:

– Meeting with both adults and students.

– Begin with the chant Ma Gadlu (How Wonderous Are Your Works) by Shefa Gold—see the sample here—it is the first song on the list:

– Present some key environmental Jewish texts. (see “Texts for the Earth”)

– Open up an intergeneration discussion about how we can apply these principles to our own lives.

– Brainstormed about all the things people are already doing to reduce their carbon footprint.

– Worked in pairs to identify at least one new step that can be taken to reduce their carbon footprint.

– Snack/break

– Students go to classroom to create assemblages out of recycled materials that contain an environmental message (including the Hebrew: Ba’al Tashchit– Do not destroy, i.e., Protect the environment)

– Adults will get assistance to sign up for renewable energy, begin a compost project, or another suggested project.

– Return to the group to share what has been learned.

It was very heartening to hear about the many things folks are already
doing such as: using solar power; composting;  buying used clothing,
insulating their homes; more walking and biking; taking public transportation; combining car trips; and otherwise conserving energy and resources. Several people signed up on the spot for wind or solar energy (see link for Clean Choice Energy below) and to get “seconds” of
fruits and vegetables from Hungry Harvest (see link below).

Other choices included:

Eat less meat, especially beef. By switching to chicken for
your Shabbat meal you reduce methane emission by half. Another choice is to eat meat on Shabbat (the Sabbath) or Yom Tov (holidays) only. Better still, you can move toward a plant-based diet by considering some meals vegan or vegetarian. Try “meatless Monday” (link below)

Reduce your carbon-offset when you travel by air. Think very carefully before you decide to fly. For instance, if this is a work trip, perhaps you can arrange a video conference instead. If this is a professional development opportunity, are there online resources you can use instead? If this a yearly event, can it be alternated with smaller, regional events every other year? If this is a vacation, can you travel somewhere nearer to your home? See carbon-offset link for airplane travel below.

Links to reduce your carbon footprints:

Switch your energy to renewable (solar and wind) by going to: The site will give you information on comparative costs. You will need your electric company account number.

Vegan and vegetarian meals:

Compost your food and yard waste. There may be local companies providing this as a service.  OR use this site to either offer to take others food scraps to compost or deliver your scraps worldwide!:

Green Belt Movement

Tropical Reforestation


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