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Posts Tagged ‘Ramah’

Last week’s edition of the Jewish Journal (the Los Angeles Jewish weekly) was a “green living” issue, one of four for the year, in which they dedicate space to “eco-friendly organizations and businesses.” A meta-article of sorts was written by Rabbi Daniel Greyber, the director of Camp Ramah in California, entitled “Green Endowments Mean Big Returns for Non-profits.”

In the article, Rabbi Greyber details how the camp he runs has begun to utilize solar energy in providing energy for the camp, thanks to a major donation. In addition to presenting the expected “solar energy means a smaller carbon footprint” argument, Rabbi Greyber makes a few other, less intuitive points over the course of the article. For example, there is the point that by reducing dependence on foreign oil, not only is the United States strengthened, but so is Israel, by virtue of giving less support to the “oil-rich” countries that, to put it lightly, aren’t necessarily always Israel’s best friends.

There is also the financial aspect. By Rabbi Greyber’s estimation, their solar installation saved them over $36,000 last summer, with savings likely to increase over time. Interestingly, the financial, rather than the environmental or sustainability, component is what motivated the donor, David Braun to donate; he states that by funding this project, he gives “a gift that can keep on giving.” Incredible to think that not only can being green be the right thing to do, but also the financially savvy thing to do as well. Unfortunately, non-profits do not benefit from the tax breaks for going green that corporations do (by virtue of the fact that they are tax-exempt). Rabbi Greyber suggests (and we at Pitaron Park certainly back him up) that perhaps there should be incentives created to give similar benefits to non-profits in order to create the environmentally (and financially!) sustainable systems for themselves. Fortunately, progress is being made on this front in Congress which should “level the playing field,” and hopefully it will come sooner rather than later.

The most important lesson, however, seems to be cited earlier in the article. By having this installation at a summer camp for kids, the teachability factor here is extremely high. This is not an isolated project, but rather right in the middle of a camp filled with children for all to witness. By placing a solar energy project front and center (literally and figuratively), Rabbi Greyber and the staff of Ramah California teach a valuable lesson in (to use his own words) “preservation of…natural resources and the power of partnering with nature.” Hopefully this is a lesson that more organizations will take upon themselves to teach in such a visible way, not only to demonstrate the importance of sustainability for themselves, but also for future generations.

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