Religious and communal leaders have said the coronavirus pandemic represents an opportunity for the Jewish community to invest in eco-friendly changes, in a call to arms ahead of this weekend’s Green Shabbat.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis was among several senior figures to back the cross-communal initiative, saying the pandemic had “highlighted in so many ways how irresponsible our society has been in regard to the environment”.
He praised Eco Synagogue, which is supported by United Synagogue, Reform Judaism, Liberal Judaism and Masorti denominations, as he urged “action” in one of a series of videos published this week.
In her own video, Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner said the community “has a duty to do less, fly less, consume less,” while Liberal Judaism’s Rabbi Charley Baginsky said during lockdown she had “heard the birds for the first time” and “been able to open the windows without fearing the pollution” near her central London home.
Likewise Rabbi David Mason of Muswell Hill United Synagogue said now represented an opportunity “to think about the habits we can develop to help the environment, both as individuals and as a community”.
- Read his piece in this week’s Jewish News, here: Lockdown a lesson in how we can improve the world
Organisers of Eco Synagogue, including Senior Masorti Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, have also worked with the Board of Deputies to mark London Climate Action Week with a series of events, including an online seminar on Thursday evening.
Among the speakers are Tamara Finkelstein, who was appointed permanent secretary at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) last year, and Josie Cohen of Pesticide Action Network UK.
Board vice-president Edwin Shuker urged all UK synagogues “to embrace a more sustainable way of operating, and to make sure our relationship with the environment is a focal point of both our personal and communal lives”.