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Guess what, Park-ers? There really are institutions out there doing their best to be both Jewish and sustainable at the same time. One of the best examples of this is JRC (Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation) in Evanston, who just built a brand new green building for themselves.JRC

When the congregation set about to create a new building to accommodate their growing membership, they decided to make sure the building was as green as possible. The goal was to get platinum LEED certification from the US Green Building Council, a goal they apparently met. The building has a seemingly endless list of “green” features, from cabinets made of sunflower husks to toilets that let you decide how much water to use; even though the building is 50% bigger than their last building, it uses the same amount of energy (Chicago’s PBS affiliate, WTTW, has the full story on their site).

In contrast with the solar energy initiative at Camp Ramah in California I discussed a few posts back, Rabbi Brant Rosen, the leader of the congregation, emphasizes that this is not an issue of cost or politics, but rather of religious values “as old as the Jewish people.” Rabbi Rosen believes that “God creates a sunstainable world…for humanity to sustain,” and that by creating this building, the congregation hopes to “serve as a role model” to others, who will then hopefully green-ify their own lives as well. Amen to that, RBR. Reconstructionism, a denomination of Judaism originated by Mordecai Kaplan, emphasizes that God is not supernatural but actually found in nature, which goes a long way to explaining why so many Reconstructionist congregations focus a lot of their energy on greening. As someone studying to be a Conservative rabbi, despite the difference in theology, I’d love to see our movement making similar efforts for something so critically important.

Also, a major bloghead nod to Rabbi Rosen for being a part of the blogosphere. No doubt his well organized and thoughtful blog contributed to his top 10 spot in the “top 50 most influential rabbis in America” list that Newsweek put out a few weeks back. Check him out at http://shalomrav.wordpress.com/

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