We provide evergreen winter blanket arrangements and summer floral planters on our cemetery plots. We average 13,000 winter blankets and 90,000 floral planters each year. At the end of the winter and fall seasons, we dispose of these items by means of dumpster waste removal. This year, we plan to utilize a composting disposal service to better benefit the environment.

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Seven Year Environmental Justice and Sustainability Plan

We are planning to draw up, revise, and finalize a seven year plan in preparation for the shmita year to begin during the High Holy Days. The plan will start with the BJ Environmental Advocates and involve engagement with the teens, the Executive Director, and Operations team.

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Religious School and Composting 2021

As chair of the Green Team, Enid Lotstein was invited to guest teach in Kitah Zayin (7th grade) on February 7 because of students’ interest in the environment and their desire to perform an environmental mitzvah. Students and their families collected food scraps from the previous Kabbalat Shabbat through Sunday morning, and brought them to the Zoom class for a discussion on the science of composting, as well as Jewish sources prohibiting the wasting of resources. In connection with this lesson, in the Spring, the exact location and design of the new composting bin were planned in coordination with the Management Team and the Board of Trustees. In June, Kitah Zayin had a socially distanced, outdoor, hands-on environmental-mitzvah project in which they assisted the Green and Management Team in constructing our new composting bins.

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Hazon Food and Climate Mini-Grant 2021-2022

In May/June, GHC was awarded a $750 Hazon mini-grant for a program aimed at increasing education on vegetarian food sources in order to reduce our carbon footprint. This project will focus on two cohorts- the GHC community at large (in person, February 6) and Religious School families in grades 2-7 (by Zoom March 9, 2022). We are offering vegetarian/vegan cooking classes that are educational, motivating and delicious. GHC will be joined by Kate Sonders Solomon, a renowned Westchester chef and baker who will instruct us in preparing vegetarian and vegan dishes that we can use for a holiday, Shabbat or everyday meal. The class for the community at large will take place in person in the social hall with five people per table and is co-sponsored by Sisterhood and Adult Education.

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Environmental Panel and Pledge

Worked with Environmental Advocates Committee to create a BJ environmental pledge that launched January 2022, as part of our Shemita programming, with a focus on sustainability and the environment. Each month from February 2022 to May 2022, we are sending monthly emails highlighting different environmental topics. Each email will provide insights, resources, and a variety of actions to incorporate into daily life—both for those who are newly on their sustainability journey and those who are sustainability warriors. The pledge is a commitment to adopt at least one of the recommended actions each month. Our first month is focused on Energy & Water Consumption. Following months will cover food, waste, and consumerism. Over 130 people have signed on to date. At the end of each month, we will hold a community conversation over Zoom to learn more about the issue area, debrief how folks engaged with the pledge topic that month, what they want to take away from it and incorporate into our BJ values. We also organized a panel discussion, taking place 1/31/21 on climate and the environment with panelists whose work addresses these issues in a myriad of ways (corporate sector, advocacy, organizing), and will offer rich insights into how individuals and community can and must play a role in the fight against climate change.

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Tu B’Shevat 2021

Cantor Anna May taught the congregation through the January/February Hamvaser (synagogue newsletter), in honor of Tu B’Shevat; her article focused on trees in the liturgy. At her Yiddish singing circle, on January 21, she included an environmental song, A Beymele (A little Tree) by Beyle Schaechter Gottesman

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Zero Food Waste

We had a caterer facilitate an event on teaching our participants on how to avoid food waste. She was in someone's kitchen and went through their kitchen and pantry and showed how they could re-purpose food into new meal ideas. The idea was to show how to turn leftovers that might otherwise be thrown away into new food ideas.

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Berman Remembrance Center Event Space

During 2020, we anticipated on opening our newly renovated Berman Remembrance Center to host Shiva and Unveiling services for families and loved ones who are unable to provide these services in their home and would prefer a more intimate environment than a restaurant. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were unable to provide these services. With the release of the vaccine, we are hopeful our event space will be available to finally service the Jewish Community as we originally envisioned. This space will be considered Hazon sustainable by using compostable plates, cups, and silverware. A food composting service, like Pink Elephant, will also be utilized for composting after events. Additionally, we would like to offer a food donation service to our patrons who do not wish to keep their remaining food items upon completion of their service.

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Tree Planting

In January 2021, we presented a talk on climate change and what homeowners need to consider when planting trees. In May 2021, two of our team participated in a tree planting event conducted by the Chicago Region Tree Initiative at Lafayette Terrace, low-income housing in Chicago. In the future, we intend to sponsor a tree planting event by the Chicago Region Tree Initiative at low-income housing in DuPage County once a site is ready for it.

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