2016 Travel Justly Grant Winners

Congregations and camps across the URJ have used their Travel Justly grants in a variety of different ways. These are the 2016 Grant Winners!

Congregation Har HaShem, Boulder, CO

On Sunday, October 30, 2016, Congregation Har HaShem launches the opening gathering of the Bachrach Family Symposium on Faith and the Environment. The day would begin with two sessions; each presenter would give a 40 minute presentation two consecutive times. This will enable individuals to participate in two different sessions. One session would be an opportunity to see one’s own faith perspective – and to engage in a second discussion with a different speaker. The two sessions would be followed by a panel discussion. Following the panel discussion, there would be a moderated discussion on advancing a faith-based environmental action plan for the Boulder faith community.

Genesis Sustainability Committee, Ann Arbor, MI

After completing an energy audit, one recommended improvement was to install a Demand Control Ventilation system for our HVAC. With the constant operation of the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) equipment a demand based control system would better reflect the occupancies of the various spaces. The Genesis of Ann Arbor building consumes 19,161 CCF for heating annually and 56,880 kWh for annual cooling. The estimated annual energy savings after the proposed control system is installed 127 MMBtu/year. 

Ohef Sholom Temple, Norfolk, VA

A significant sum of American food is wasted and rots unproductively in landfills, and Ohef Sholom Temple contributes to that waste because we are host to weekly events that generate food surplus. Ohef Sholom Temple is applying to the “Travel Justly” grant to give us the opportunity to apply our values of bal taschit (not wasting) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) by integrating a temple-wide composting program into multiple layers and generations of our temple culture. This grant would allow us to install the critical infrastructure needed for a composting program. Composting will be simplified with multiple odor-free containers at strategic locations at Ohef Sholom Temple, and a large compost tumbler outside. The tumbler will have two side-by-side batches – each can hold 22 gallons of compost. It will be hidden by the trash/recycle area. The compost will provide nutrients for native plants and community garden plantings.

Temple Beth Am, Framingham, MA

Temple Beth Am is a 60 year old building and needs many energy updates. Eversource Electric offers a program for households and businesses to receive an audit by an analyst and recommend the best course of action to update lighting fixtures, electronic controls, high efficiency mechanical equipment & other energy saving strategies for the facility. The proposal includes using LED lighting that will provide and energy savings to the synagogue of about 25%. It will be far more energy efficient for the daily usage and the temple can then move to work on other areas of improvement.

Temple Beth Emeth, Ann Arbor, MI

Temple Beth Emeth and St Clare's Episcopal Church of Ann Arbor jointly run and operate a food rescue and distribution facility called the Back Door Food Pantry. On a weekly basis, we provide non-perishables, frozen food, bread, and fresh fruits and vegetables to an average of 100 families in need on a non-discriminatory basis. We plan to show the film "Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story" (http://www.foodwastemovie.com/about/). As the filmmakers say, "The film looks at our obsession with expiry dates, perfect produce and portion sizes, and reveals the core of this seemingly insignificant issue that is having devastating consequences around the globe." Following the showing, members of the county's Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice's Earth Care and Climate Change committee will lead a discussion inviting/challenging viewers to help curb the effects of food waste on the environment.

Temple Emanuel, Kensington, MD

We are committed to working in partnership to create a unique, multi-generational educational and spiritual experience. The garden, approximately 1 acre, will be an outdoor classroom hosting rich and robust activities and learning opportunities for children and adults. The community will discover new ways to connect to Judaism and to one another. We envision collaboration based on multi-generational learning about gardening, including biblical plantings; understanding our interconnectedness to the natural world; and helping to shape environmentally friendly habits and ways that we eat, cook, build and work.

The garden provides a new way to engage and inspire our members to connect to the environment and social justice initiatives that Temple Emanuel supports. In addition it reaches out to others who may be inspired to discover and explore their Jewish “roots” through the venue of the garden.

The community garden provides a new meaningful, inter-generational experience that reflects Jewish values. In addition, this project is hands on and will teach tikkun olam by actually growing the food and delivering to shelters. The garden project also provides a framework for participants to benefit from a variety of educational programming. It will connect them to many service opportunities in the area that they can engage with as a group. This group learning and service will help shape a strong identification with one another and with our shared values.

Temple Hesed, Scranton, PA

Several polls have shown a significant "Francis effect" in terms of attitudes toward climate change. That is, the Pope's encyclical has convinced some who were skeptical, helped others to make the connection between poverty and climate, and inspired new efforts by those who were already working on this issue. By making the Pope's work, along with parallel Jewish texts, available in user-friendly, engaging lessons for audiences of different ages, we could engage many congregations that have not yet become involved with climate change activism. My congregation would benefit through strengthened networks to continue our work on climate, and PA-IPL would benefit by establishing working relationships with many new congregations.

Temple Israel, Boston, MA

Temple Israel's Green Team is committed to eliminating, or at least dramatically reducing, the use of any single use cups, plates, and utensils in the coming year. We dream of the day when every congregational activity involving food will feature reusable dishes, glasses, and cutlery and locally grown food whenever possible. Our administration is willing to hire the accommodaters necessary to effect this change and it is our hope that we can also organize "kitchen crews" from among the congregation so that collecting and washing our reusables will be a consciousness raising effort as well as an opportunity for relationship building. We are seeking reusable cups to start with, since we can use paper plates until we are able to purchase reusable ones (paper being less destructive to the environment than plastic). By taking this first step, we hope to reduce and reuse at Temple Israel, which will positively impact the environment by keeping a lot of plastic out of landfills. We hope it will impact our congregation by role-modeling for members that they, too, should abandon paper plates, plastic cups, plastic utensils, and any other manner of disposable items. If Temple Israel wants congregants to be more environmentally responsible, it must lead the way in both word and deed.

Tree of Life Congregation, Columbia, SC

The “Big Nosh” is an annual food festival put on to raise funds for the Tree of Life congregation in Columbia, SC. Every spring, we cook Jewish classics like brisket, tzimmes, kugel, and latkes for approximately 1,500 guests from the greater Columbia area. For the 2016 Big Nosh, the TOL Green Team will be purchasing compostable food containers and flatware to serve guests, a significant environmental improvement over the conventional styrofoam and plastic items used in previous years. The TOL Green Team is organizing the logistics of ordering the appropriate servingware, arranging disposal stations with clear waste stream labeling, and transporting waste to a local industrial composting facility. We are hoping that more than 90% of the trash generated will be compostable or recyclable. We are working with the Richland County Recycling Coordinator to ensure appropriate containers and information.

University Synagogue, Los Angeles, CA

We currently have a garden that produces fruits and vegetables that are delivered to a food pantry. We would like to install drip irrigation to water the current beds. The drip irrigation project is meaningful in a number of ways: 1) CA is experiencing a serious drought. Drip irrigation for crops is a responsible way to continue to water crops. 2) Using drip irrigation in our synagogue setting provides a teaching opportunity and allows us to set an example for our community. 3) Drip irrigation was developed in Israel. This is another opportunity to connect through teaching about Israel.

Camp George, Toronto, Ontario

A “Rain barrel water conservation and irrigation system” for our camp garden at Gan Matan. The program would include:
- Our Kochavim and Barak campers (grades 6-9) get to learn about the garden and what types of maintenance is required to make it grow
- The Campers would learn how to construct an eavestrough system from our existing hanger that would connect to rain barrels
- The outside of the barrels would be spilt into different areas and cabins would have a chance to design their own prayer for the earth mural
- When campers visit the garden they will be responsible for using rain barrel system to irrigate the garden and watch the herbs and veggies grow –
- Campers also learn how to create a hand pump system to spread the water over the garden. 

Vassar Temple (Congregation Brethren of Israel), Poughkeepsie, NY

Our project involves converting all regular lights, both inside the building and outside the building, to LED lights. It also includes installing motion sensors to shut off lights after a room has been left unused for a specific amount of time. This project will reduce our temple’s carbon footprint quite significantly: As a result of this project, we should require 80.5% less energy to light our building and grounds. In addition, the LED bulbs last many times longer, thereby saving in maintenance time and expense. The savings in electricity and maintenance will help the financial sustainability of the temple. Furthermore, the project can serve as a model to inspire our congregants to reduce their own carbon footprints by doing similar energy conservation projects in their own homes and places of business.