Reflections on a Very Green Biennial
Wow – it’s hard to believe Biennial is already over! After all the planning, conference calls, and traveling, we spent an incredible weekend singing, praying, learning and growing with more than 3,000 other leaders of the Reform Movement. There were so many things we will remember from Biennial – the incredible plenary speakers, the Friday night song session, the challenges and innovative ideas about using technology to build community, ethical eating, and more. And, of course, all the work that went into making 2009 our the greenest, most sustainable Biennial yet!
Here are just a few of the green highlights:
- Green minutes – Peter Weidhorn, Chairman of the URJ Board of Trustees, put on his ‘green hat’ at the end of each plenary session (well, not exactly a hat, but there was green stage lighting!) to talk about our greening Biennial work and highlight ways for congregations to get involved;
- Launching Traveling Justly and the new URJ Environmental Sustainability Fund – The RAC used our booth to boost our new Sustainability Fund, which allows congregants and congregations to go carbon neutral by contributing to Kibbutz Lotan, Native Energy, and other clean energy development projects. The fund is also connects to our new Traveling Justly online resource with information about how to tread lightly – on people and the planet – whenever you travel;
- Cutting our carbon footprint – URJ staff and volunteers did our best to reduce paper use by printing double sided and shrinking the Biennial Program Book by 1/3 from its 2007 length. We also recycled more than ever (thanks to the amazing bins put out by the Metro Toronto Convention Centre) and were more efficient in our energy use in the Convention Centre and our hotels;
- Green-themed learning sessions with URJ, WRJ, and NFTY – Together, we taught and learned about greening our synagogues and how to be effective environmental advocates with our youth and other affiliates of the movement. All of these learning sessions included take-home greening tips for congregants and congregations, and many of them are available online.
Even in this tough economy, we’re finding great ways to save green as we help our Movement go green by using less, conserving more, and raising awareness! Still, so much work remains to be done, and as Rabbi Tarfon teaches, while it might not be our job to complete the work, neither are we free to desist from it!
We’ve got some big ideas in the works and we want to hear about yours as well! Help Reform Judaism go green and be sure to check out our Greening Reform Judaism, Traveling Justly, and Greening Biennial resource pages to learn more!