By Karen Dougherty
Barnert Temple, located in Franklin Lakes, NJ hopes to become one of six temples in New Jersey to receive a Greenfaith grant underwritten by the Union for Reformed Judaism (URJ). A basic tenet of Reform Judaism is “Tikkun Olam,” repairing the world.
Greenfaith calls itself the world’s first inter-denominational environmental group. Several temples, synagogues and churches are currently enrolled in the Greenfaith certification program. Greenfaith is hoping to enroll area mosques in this project as well. The URJ grant will cover the enrollment fee of approximately $1,600.
If accepted, Barnert Temple must commit to satisfy the requirements of the two-year certification process. This process requires that a mission statement be written and the ordained leader read a public statement committing to the project. In addition, the Temple must undergo an energy audit; form a Green Committee in which various areas of the Temple, such as buildings and grounds, finance, and education, agree to work together. The institution must also commit to three eco-themed sermons per year and three educational events per year for both adults and children.
Greenfaith says that the certification process is more than just “greening the building.” There are three core values: spirit, environmental justice, and stewardship. Initiatives must cover these areas by addressing the categories of energy, transportation, food, water, waste, toxics and grounds maintenance.
The hope is that institutions that successfully complete certification will serve as educators in helping other religious institutions become more environmentally conscious.