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Sharing God's Green Earth: Planting a Green World by Engaging the Greater Community

By David Krantz

NEW YORK (Dec. 23, 2010) — On the eve of the eve of the most widely celebrated Jewish baby's birthday ever, a holy day for billions of Christians around the world, it's important to remember that we Jews only make up about two tenths of one percent of the world's population. So if we're going to green the world, we can't do it alone. We need to engage with our brothers and sisters of all faiths.

In Israel, that means that we need to work with Christians and Muslims, both within Israel and in Israel's neighboring lands as well, because nature knows no borders. The Green Zionist Alliance, for example, is a North America-based Jewish environmental organization that has embraced diversity: Our volunteers, speakers and interns have included Christians, Muslims and Hindus. At the Green Zionist Alliance, anyone who wants to help green Israel and the Middle East is welcome.

Two Green Zionist Alliance sister organizations also aim to green the region through peaceful cooperation between peoples of different backgrounds and faiths. The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies is perhaps the best place in the world to learn about the environment alongside Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians. The accredited school offers master's degrees as well as the opportunity to study for a semester or a year as an undergraduate or graduate student.

And EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth — Middle East brings together Jews, Christians and Muslims in the region to work toward protecting the region's shared environment and, in particular, its shared watersheds.

Here in North America, GreenFaith helps communities of all religions work both independently and together to better serve as stewards of the environment that we collectively believe God has placed in our care.

All four organizations have found that the way to a greener, more peaceful future is through cooperation with the greater community.

So what can you do to engage the world community? You can support the efforts of the Green Zionist Alliance, Arava Institute, Friends of the Earth and GreenFaith. And you also can follow the example of the Greenpoint Shul — Congregation Ahavas Israel, an Orthodox synagogue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

With help from leaders of the Green Zionist Alliance, this past summer the Greenpoint Shul transformed its dilapidated, weed-thicketed backyard into a thriving, interfaith, organic community garden, tended to by volunteers from the synagogue, the local mosque and a local church. All of the garden's harvest is donated to the neighborhood soup kitchen, run by the church. And from the thaw in spring until the first frost, Jews, Muslims and Christians grow food for the hungry, getting together in the synagogue's backyard to work in the garden. It's a beautiful thing. 

And it's a model that could be replicated in every Jewish community across the country. Greenpoint Shul is putting the green in Greenpoint — you can put the green in your town. By working together with others, we can achieve a greener future.



David Krantz is the president and chairperson of Aytzim: Ecological Judaism.



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