Temple Emanuel, Kensington, Maryland
Jewish, Reform Movement
Temple Emanuel’s bimah, with its wooden sculpture of a banyan tree and its solar powered Ner Tamid (eternal light), exemplifies the many ways that this congregation has integrated stewardship into the fabric of their community. They are an official partner (and featured case study) in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star for Congregations program.
On Earth Day in 1990, a small group of congregants, along with Rabbi Warren Stone, formed the Green Shalom Committee, leading to the adoption of a congregational Environmental Policy Statement that provides a framework for designing all of the congregation’s environmental projects and activities.
Through their participation in the Washington, D.C., based Shomrei Adamah (Guardians of the Earth), the congregation’s practices served as a model for Shomrei Adamah’s Green Shalom Guide: A How-To Manual for Greening Local Jewish Synagogues, Schools and Offices. The guide reflects the breadth of activities in which this congregation is engaged: from recycling to conducting environmentally-themed Shabbat services, to providing environmental study opportunities for both the religious school and adult programs.
In early 2003, the Temple completed an extensive renovation and expansion of its physical facilities, using environmentally sound planning principles and products. The Temple addition was oriented to minimize the extreme heating, ventilating and air conditioning loads. They used eco-friendly materials throughout, such as:
- Double glazed, “low e” glass
- Bamboo flooring in the alternative worship space
- Wheatboard counter top material in the library
- 80 percent recycled materials for the floors of the classroom wing
- Extensive use of energy saving fluorescent lights throughout the facility
- Landscaping that using native plants and avoids use of harmful chemical fertilizers and pesticides
Jewish, Reform Movement
In addition to the solar-powered Ner Tamid, the congregation purchases a portion of its electrical energy in the form of wind power. They have committed to regular energy audits, with the intention of implementing further energy conservation recommendations as feasible.
The Temple has made a commitment to the Chesapeake Bay as an ongoing advocacy project. The Chesapeake is the largest estuary in the United States and is beset by pollution from air, farms, waste treatment plants and urbanization. The Green Shalom committee has added the Temple’s voice to advocacy for waste treatment upgrades, higher pollution standards, and related legislation.
The biblical precepts of Judaism underscore the importance and necessity of the Jewish community’s commitment to environmental stewardship. Temple Emanuel represents one example of this dedication.
Among the basic ingredients for success are informed and dedicated religious and lay leadership, an active and knowledgeable environmental group within the congregation, an action-oriented policy framework for an ongoing program of environmental projects and activities, and coalition building with other faith-based religious institutions, at the local, state and national levels.
Congregation website: www.templeemanuelmd.org