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WASHINGTON, DC, November 28, 2011 | 2nd Kislev 5772 - Building on a highly successful pilot effort, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and GreenFaith today opened the application period for a second class of Reform synagogues to enter the GreenFaith Certification Program.
GreenFaith's comprehensive Certification Program is a nationally recognized two-year program. It provides houses of worship with a holistic, well-supported and structured program to 'green' their worship, education, facilities and social outreach and to become environmental leaders. Upon completion, synagogues become certified as GreenFaith Sanctuaries and will be looked to as leaders in the Reform Movement's broader greening efforts.
Eight congregations will make up the second class. Four congregations will be chosen from synagogues in the greater Chicago and Minneapolis areas and an additional four from large synagogues around North America (membership over 1,100 members). Participating congregations will receive funding to cover the cost of their participation. The Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith, said,
"We are inspired by the accomplishments of the Union for Reform Judaism's pilot class of synagogues in the Certification Program. We look forward to reaching new heights with the new congregations."
This second class follows eight Reform congregations in New Jersey that made up the pilot group. "I am thrilled with the successes of our first class of GreenFaith congregations and of how they have exemplified our Movement's commitment to environmental justice. They are outstanding advocates in their communities," said Mark Pelavin, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism.
As part of the certification process, each participating synagogue will be required to form a "Green Team," enlisting the support of clergy, lay leadership, and congregants to further their environmental efforts. In addition to contact with GreenFaith and Union staff, the selected congregations will receive access to over 200 resources, six webinars and an online community - all organized by GreenFaith - where they can share questions, resources and events with fellow participants. On January 9, at 8:00 pm ET, GreenFaith will offer a free webinar to introduce the program to interested leaders. Congregations interested in participating in the webinar should register with Stacey Kennealy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information about the Certification Program is available at http://greenfaith.org/programs/certification.
Rabbi Bennett Miller of Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple in New Brunswick, NJ, a participating congregation in the first GreenFaith class, said,
"The GreenFaith Certification Program has helped us attract and engage members of our community and we expect to see a reduction in our operating expenses. We have been reminded of the importance that God's created world plays in our own lives, the life of our congregation, and that of our community. Knowing that we are undertaking this work with a community of other Reform congregations with shared beliefs reinforces our commitment to environmental advocacy and justice."