Introducing Rabbi Barry Kenter and his synagogue, the Greenburgh Hebrew Center, current fellows in the Jewish Greening Fellowship cohort! Kenter is an alumnus of the GreenFaith Fellowship as well, which seeks to “inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership.” Though there is considerable overlap between the GreenFaith and Jewish Greening fellowships, Kenter notes that they differ because of the JGF’s uniquely Jewish mission.
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.
Over the past 6 months being a part of the Jewish Greening Fellowship has been a game changer for Kane Street Synagogue and for my work here. Many people at the synagogue were already passionate about the environment and sustainability, but we lacked direction. We felt like our concerns were peripheral to the educational and spiritual pursuits that are central to our congregational life.
When President Obama spoke about climate change in his inaugural speech, it was a small victory for the hard working members of environmental organizations everywhere to finally hear that their agenda was being acknowledged on a large scale. One of these hardworking individuals is Mirele Goldsmith, the director of the Jewish Greening Fellowship (JGF), a program created by UJA-Federation of New York to mobilize the Jewish Community in response to climate change.