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Reform Jewish Movement and COEJL/JCPA Launch New Environmental Initiative:  “Conservation Conversations: Invite Your Elected Official to Synagogue”

Saperstein: Left unchecked, climate change sharply increases the chances of stronger hurricanes, increased flooding, pandemics, and worldwide drought. Each individual has a role to play in stemming the threat – and working together in congregations and with elected officials, we can have an even greater impact. 

Contact: Sean Thibault or Marc Katz
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

Washington DC, May 21, 2007 - The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, in partnership with the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) today launched a new campaign to ask every synagogue in America to invite national, state, and/or local elected officials to speak at their synagogues, addressing what we can do together to halt global climate change.  This program is designed to encourage synagogues to create ongoing partnerships with public officials to address the challenges of global climate change.  The initiative, known as “Conservation Conversations: Invite Your Elected Official to Synagogue,” is part of an ongoing effort to focus the Jewish community on ways we can improve the Earth for future generations.   Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center and Barbara Lerman-Golomb, Executive Director of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, issued the following statement:

Readingin the very beginning of the book of Genesis of the care with which God created the Earth, we are inspired to renew our efforts to address the challenges that threaten the world today.  The new environmental initiative from the Religious Action Center, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs known as  “Conservation Conversations: Invite Your Elected Official to Synagogue” is designed to engage elected officials (such as U.S. Senators and Representatives,  Governors, State Representatives, Mayors, and others) in meaningful conversation around the issue of climate change, discussing and debating the national, regional, state, and local actions that can be taken to curb this trend. Every synagogue is being asked, in the coming months, to invite national, state, and/or local elected officials to speak at their synagogues, addressing what we can do together to halt global climate change. We sincerely hope that this program helps synagogues create ongoing partnerships with public officials that will aid in our work to address the challenges of global climate change. 

In the coming decades climate change will have significant moral, social, economic, and political ramifications throughout the world.  Left unchecked, climate change sharply increases the chances of stronger hurricanes, increased flooding, pandemics, and worldwide drought.  Each individual has a role to play in stemming the threat – and working together in congregations and with elected officials, we can have an even greater impact.  The “Conservation Conversations” campaign will energize the Jewish community across North America to actively engage in this debate, and will empower all participants to work toward a sustainable future.

“Conservation Conversations: Invite Your Elected Official to Synagogue” is part of the “A Light Among the Nations” program, which launched in June 2006 with the “How Many Jews Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?” initiative. This effort has inspired hundreds of congregations, congregants, and Jewish institutions to install over 50,000 compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, many in commemoration of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, keeping 18,000 tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.  Under the auspices of this program, the Jewish community raised awareness and inspired action around energy conservation and climate change.

The Religious Action Center and COEJL have created online resources to help congregations participate in the “Conservation Conversations” campaign.  Sample invitation letters, schedules, talking points, background materials, and advocacy guides can be found at http://www.rac.org/climatechange and http://www.coejl.org/climatechange/consconv.php.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the
Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more
 than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership
 includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis



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