Clothes swaps, natural cleaning products and vegan lunches have helped land a Hove Synagogue an environmental award
Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue (BHPS) has been busy putting in a range of measures to make it greener.
Last weekend, it received a silver award from Jewish environmental initiative EcoSynagogue.
Environmental consultant Benita Matofska, who sits on the synagogue council, accepted the award at a ceremony at Kew Gardens.
She said: “We wanted to make it as fun and interesting as possible. It was important that the events we put on were inclusive too.”
Initiatives held by BHPS included a clothes swap to promote resource-sharing, the introduction of ‘Green Shabbat’ Saturday prayer services, and online skill-share workshops on subjects such as online carbon footprints during the pandemic.
Social events included vegan Chavurah lunches to highlight the impact of the meat and dairy industry.
The synagogue also moved to sustainable supply chains, including energy efficient resources, natural cleaning products and eco-friendly sanitary products in bathrooms.
Ms Matofska said it was important that the community had positive experiences engaging with climate and environmental initiatives as part of the award.
She said: “I’m really proud that we went straight to silver. For a small synagogue, I’m really proud of that because it was a huge amount of work.”
“It’s rare that you get all five denominations of Judaism together. This is one issue that we can all come together on and connect and create positive action for the planet. That was so exciting to see.”
EcoSynagogue is a cross-denomination project designed to help synagogues across the UK build a path for achieving carbon net-zero.
It encourages synagogues to complete an environmental audit of their land, buildings and consumables as well as the religious teachings, lifestyle and commitments they encourage.
Since beginning her work with BHPS in 2018, Ms Matofska has worked with the synagogue’s rabbis and its “green team” to promote a view of sustainability involving people as well as the planet.
With new rabbi Gabriel Kanter-Webber due to join BHPS in August, the green team are aiming to upgrade their award to the gold standard.
Ms Matofska said: “We are really keen as a community to build connections and partnerships with other organisations in the community broadly but particularly in the realm of environmental and social justice issues.”
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