For 2017, Ohef Sholom Temple stepped up its congregation’s commitment to creation by working on the requirements for two national environmental certifications.
The Union for Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center and GreenFaith became partners in January 2016 to promote energy savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions, environmental leadership training, advocacy, and strengthened inter-congregational learning among Reform congregations nationwide.
Ohef Sholom is working on the GreenFaith Energy Shield national designation. To earn this, the congregation will engage in activities—educational, spiritual, and practical—to conserve energy, reduce their carbon footprint, and equip their members with information to do the same at home.
This program helps Ohef Sholom to steward resources in two ways—it conserves energy and saves money in congregant households and the Ohef Sholom building by being more intentional about energy usage.
The National Wildlife Fund’s Sacred Ground’s program is a national program that gives people of all faiths the opportunity to connect to nature at their place of worship and to learn about the different ways their faith encourages them to be good environmental stewards. To fulfill this program, congregations must incorporate the four elements of habitat into their grounds (food, water, cover, and places for wildlife to raise their young); connect environmental stewardship to faith through service, teaching, or prayer; and educate and inspire the congregation to get involved through service in the broader community.
Mary Ann Nadler, an Ohef Sholom congregant, is leading the effort to create native plant and wildlife spaces on the temple’s property with the enthusiastic cooperation of Michael Phillips, the building’s operations manager. She led an installation of a native plant garden on the Redgate Avenue side of the building, and the garden was certified a Monarch Waystation. Local monarch butterflies got the message, and gladly laid eggs, leading to these and other beautiful caterpillars on the property. She also sponsored a bat box for the property to provide a daytime sleeping and nesting space for bats. At night, they emerge and eat copious amounts of pests, such as mosquitos.
These certifications will actively engage Ohef Sholom Temple in energy conservation and environmental stewardship through prayer, learning, and actions in the temple’s building and on its grounds, in members’ homes, and in the broader community.