The Reform Temple of Forest Hills started out as four congregations which consolidated in 1994. Two well-established Reform Temples, both in Forest Hills, merged first, followed by two smaller congregations the next year. We blended the congregants of four congregations into one, a task requiring much wisdom and diplomacy. Fortunately, those skills were on hand in abundance in the person of our Rabbi, combined with a universal determination on the part of every congregant to make us stronger than the sum of our parts.
So here we are, now a vibrant, active congregation with myriad activities, a terrific educational program that runs our age gamut, and of primary importance, wonderful religious guidance and spiritual support.
The Jewish Greening Fellowship opportunity provided the groundwork for us to move forward and integrate words from Torah in the book of Genesis, “And God took man and put him in Gan Eden to till and to tend it (Leovda uleshomrah) (2:15)” that allows us to use the resources provided but to also protect those same resources. In this vein, we wanted to engage in the learning and the doing of becoming greener in the way we work and live.
In preparation of integrating Greening into our curriculum for the new school term, we sat down around a copy of our building blueprints with several groups of approximately fourteen students from First to fifth grade. They were intrigued by the paper blueprints since it was something they had never seen before. We posed the question to each group, “What can we do to make our building greener?” We received so many ideas from motion sensor lights, recycling bins, double flush toilets, electronic textbooks, educating everyone, turning off the lights, using recycled paper, using both sides of paper, putting plants around the building, not taking too much, composting and Recycling-Reusing-Reducing.
These great ideas began our thinking about where to start. To us, the most important place to start is by educating people. Therefore, our first educational initiative to begin this fall will be to educate people through a poster system. Each grade will take the responsibility to create a poster that will help educate people about one aspect of greening that the class will study and display ways that people can be green. These posters will be displayed in our lobby and on our website. This entire concept stemmed from one student in our first grade brainstorming session, in which it was suggested that it is important “to teach people what greening is” to begin the process.
In another classroom a student suggested “green rocks”. The idea is to paint rocks green and use them as a visual reminder to everyone walking past them to do a “green deed” rather than a good deed. These rocks will be displayed in classrooms throughout the building. What we mean by Green deeds would be turning out the lights when you leave the classroom, reusing a piece of paper that you only wrote on one side of, throwing your garbage into a recycling bin, bringing a reusable water bottle, to name a few. So many great ideas came from these brainstorming sessions that we need to sit down with them and prioritize the ideas to evaluate what we will be doing over the new several months.
Green Works!, our green team, will be meeting to continue to look into new ways and ideas to integrate greening into our Kehillah throughout the year. We are excited to grow and learn more as we meet and branch out in new ways, maybe some we haven’t thought of yet.
Faye Gilman joined the Reform Temple of Forest Hills as Educational Leader in September 2007. During her 23 years in the field of Religious School education, Faye has earned a reputation as a caring and dedicated advocate for her students. She has also made her mark with her efforts toward curriculum development and innovative programming for school-wide events and family education seminars. With new innovative programming Faye has continued to evolve along with her staff with new ideas and creative educating practices.