Northbrook's Temple Beth-El recently became the first house of worship in Illinois to earn GreenFaith certification, according to a recent press release from the temple. The Union for Reform Judaism, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and GreenFaith all took part in the selection.
GreenFaith’s comprehensive two-year certification process provides houses of worship with a structured program to ‘green’ their worship, education, facilities and social outreach to become environmental leaders within a community. Upon completion, synagogues become certified as GreenFaith sanctuaries and will be looked to as leaders in the Reform movement’s broader greening efforts.
As part of the certification process, Temple Beth-El formed a “Green Team” to enlist the support of clergy, lay leadership and congregants to further their environmental efforts, the press release says.
“The GreenFaith certification program will help us attract and engage members of our community and we expect to see a reduction in our operating expenses," Beth-El's Rabbi Sidney Helbraun said in the release. "We have been reminded of the importance that God’s created world plays in our own lives, the life of the congregation and that of our community. Knowing that we are undertaking this work with a community of other Reform congregations with shared beliefs reinforces our commitment to environmental advocacy and justice.”
Among the certification requirements, the synagogue must have three worship services on environmental theme, which lays the foundation to make Temple Beth-Elmore ‘green," the release says.
"A main goal is to influence the roughly 600 households that make up [Beth-El] to put into practice environmentally friendly steps," Helbraun said in the release. “Part of our responsibility is to be in balance with the world, and we’ve thrown off the balance."
In an effort to make Beth-El more environmentally friendly, the temple has done an audit of the light fixtures throughout the building and began the changing bulbs, the release says. Recycling bins have also been placed in the temple's classrooms.
“We want our children to see us model it,” Helbraun said in the release.