Awards for synagogues helping communities tackle climate emergency

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Awards for synagogues helping communities tackle climate emergency

The EcoSynagogue Environmental Awards took place at Cambridge Cottage in Kew Gardens.

EcoSynagogue award winners at Kew Gardens. Picture by Susannah Fields Photography
EcoSynagogue award winners at Kew Gardens. Picture by Susannah Fields Photography

The EcoSynagogue Environmental Awards – to celebrate synagogues doing the most in their communities to help combat the climate emergency – took place at Cambridge Cottage, Kew Gardens.

To qualify, a community had to score 80% (Gold), 60% (Silver) or 40% (Bronze) in EcoSynagogue’s Environmental Audit.

Those winning Silver Awards in June 2022 were Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation, Kol Chai Hatch End Reform Jewish Community, Newcastle Reform Synagogue and Oxford Jewish Congregation.

Bronze winner were Barnet United Synagogue, Chigwell & Hainault United Synagogue, Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue, Golders Green United Synagogue, Kol Nefesh Masorti Synagogue, Magen Avot United Synagogue, Maidenhead Reform Synagogue, Muswell Hill United Synagogue, North West Surrey Synagogue and St Albans United Synagogue.

The event also gave a chance for November 2021’s winners – including EcoSynagogue’s only ever Gold Award recipient West London Synagogue – to collect their certificates, after previously only receiving them virtually at the EcoSynagogue stand at COP26 in Glasgow.

Andrea Passe, EcoSynagogue project manager, said: “We are so delighted for all our award achievers. We know, as we speak with each of them as part of the award process, how hard they have worked to make tangible changes in their communities.”

Michael Wegier, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, was in attendance and added: “The Board of Deputies are proud of our partnership with EcoSynagogue which has resulted in measurable environmental changes in registered communities, providing the framework for the UK Jewish community to play our part to halt the climate crisis.“

The ceremony was hosted by broadcaster and journalist Jonathan Sacerdoti with guest speaker Benita Matofska, a writer and activist who also collected a 2021 Silver Award on behalf of Brighton & Hove Progressive Synagogue.

The awards were presented by EcoSynagogue’s Rabbinic Team of Rabbis Jonathan Wittenberg, David Mason, Jeff Berger, Mark Goldsmith and Tanya Sakhnovich.

Earlier that morning EcoJudaism – the new umbrella organisation incorporating the EcoSynagogue project – held its first event, a panel discussion on the climate energy and energy crisis

It included Tamara Finkelstein (permanent secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Malini Mehra (chair of the European Institute of Environment Policy UK) and Jamie Peters (Friends of the Earth’s campaigns special projects lead).

In keeping with EcoJudaism’s mission – the event itself was as sustainable as possible, using compostable and recyclable items and reducing plastic waste. This included tablecloths repurposed from fabric found in a charity shop and award certificates being printed on recycled paper, which itself can in future be recycled.

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