Sea Level Rise Higher Ground Initiative
Sea Level Rise presents major challenges for South Florida – and, by extension, all coastal areas of North America, and beyond. A significant percentage of the American Jewish population lives within ten miles of a coastline.
Therefore, Temple Solel began by educating themselves and the community about the nature of the problem, its impact across a variety of areas (e.g. ecosystems, human health, property), and possible ways to mitigate the problem.
The program began with a series of presentations by experts on different aspects of SLR. Temple Solel explored the local impact of Sea Level Rise firsthand (King Tide Tour) and have begun efforts as a group to directly contribute to solutions – for example helping plant sea oats with the YeaFrog group to prevent beach damage by storms and rising seas.
Community Contact Information
- Educate and engage the synagogue and larger community about the threat of Sea Level Rise. In partnership with Temple Solel’s Tikkun Olam Committee, link the issue of SLR to Jewish holidays, texts, and ideas
- Develop a community-based organization, Sea Level Rise Solutions Program, where Temple Solel members and other community members meet monthly to talk, strategize, and take action.
- Create the Higher Ground Initiate (HGI) that recruits, engages, and informs the larger Reform Jewish community, both nationally and internationally. HGI offers updates and provides educational materials for clergy, educators, and lay leaders, that help them address SLR in their congregational contexts.
- Help “green” Temple Solel, by identifying ways for the synagogue to become environmentally sustainable. We have taken steps to make Temple Solel a GreenFaith certified house of worship.
- Temple Kol-Ami Emanu-El in Plantation, FL
- YeaFrog (Youth Environmental Alliance)
- Florida International University
- Religious Action Center
Kickoff community forum on Sea Level Rise event: “Matzah Won’t Rise but the Sea Will”
Monthly meetings and presentations through SLR Solutions group begin
Startup of Higher Ground Initiative group
Creation of SLR Solutions Youth Group
Development of logo by SLR Solutions Youth Group
Fall King Tide Tour – visiting areas in East Hollywood, FL that flood during King Tides
Creation of SLR King Tide Photography Instagram Contest by SLR Solutions Youth Group
SLR Shabbat including a vegetarian potluck dinner before services, and a sermon on connections between SLR and Parshat Noach. HGI created and distributed sermonic and study material to its member congregations.
Award recognition of the King Tide photography contest by SLR Solutions Youth Group
Demonstration of the “Eyes on the Rise” Sea Level Rise website tool that shows local impact of SLR on South Florida’s geography
Presentation to SEACCAR: “Sea Level Rise and the Southeast Jewish Community” This presentation successfully recruited more rabbis and congregations for the HGI.
Dune Restoration planting, Hollywood Beach with Youth Environmental Alliance (YEAfrog)
Development of Passover-SLR Seder links
GreenFaith Energy Shield weekend with Green Shabbat and Speaker Delaney Reynolds (Sink or Swim Project. The event’s goal is to get additional support to Green the temple and to encourage temple members to pledge to become more sustainable at home.
Planning of participation in People’s Climate March in Miami
Launch of an HGI Covenant for Congregations
- Increased synagogue activism: Temple Solel had a successful opening community meeting with approximately 60 people in attendance. Some of these attendees had not been previously active in the synagogue and have become more active as a result of this new initiative. This initiative has brought together multiple generations in our synagogue for a common cause.
- Increased education: Temple Solel has educated our congregation and community on the SLR issue. Through nationally published articles, as well as six local presentations to date on a variety of topics related to SLR, people from our area as well as all over the world have learned about this issue.
- Successful event implementation and media coverage: In October 2016, Temple Solel organized a tour of an area in Hollywood that was heavily flooded by the King Tide. About 40 people attended this event, including the Mayor of Hollywood and his family, and a City Commissioner. The event also received significant media coverage. For our SLR Shabbat, 25 people attended the potluck dinner, and 75 people attended the SLR Shabbat service.
- Expansion of initiative to other Reform congregations: The HGI consists of over 70 rabbis and lay leaders who are interested in the impacts of Sea Level Rise. This group has been meeting monthly, averaging 9-11 participants per conference call.
- Green initiative: Temple Solel has recently applied to the GreenFaith Energy Shield program. As part of this effort, Temple Solel hopes to achieve significant reductions in energy use and to lower their carbon footprint in other ways, including reduced use of plastics.