The exact meaning of Chavura is somewhat elusive in English, but many resources will tell you that the word is frequently translated as “fellowship.” Eco Chavura is a fellowship of Temple Sholom congregants working to create a sacred community of environmental stewards. Our ultimate goal is to develop “green” conscience for the community, which we initiated through participation in the GreenFaith Certification Program.
The GreenFaith program is comprehensive; to attain certification, religious organizations must reach a number of goals within two years of entering the program. These goals range from reducing the environmental impact of day-to-day operations to raising awareness about the profound environmental justice issues affecting our society. With a dedicated team of members, clergy and staff, Eco Chavura earned its GreenFaith Certification in 2015.
A few of our accomplishments to date include:
- We have integrated composting into our Monday Meal, Gan Sholom and specific events at the synagogue where food is served;
- We have eliminated all Styrofoam products and plastic utensils from use in Temple events and replaced them with similar compostable products;
- We have hosted indoor winter farmer’s markets through Faith in Place, including co-hosting one with Broadway United Methodist Church, to encourage the purchase of local, seasonal produce;
- We’ve participated in the Adopt-A-Beach program to clean up a local beach and take measurements of environmental indicators;
- We hosted the faith-based premiere of the documentary, Food Patriots;
- We’ve worked with clergy to include more discussion of environmental issues in our religious worship and educational programming;
- We’ve installed bike racks to encourage alternate modes of transportation;
- We’ve transformed Gan Emunah, our garden, into a thriving native plant/butterfly garden to support the local ecosystem and reduce water usage associated with landscaping;
- We’ve taken our teens to learn about environmental justice by touring Pilsen and by lobbying on IL Environmental Lobbying Day
Now that we have earned our GreenFaith Certification, Eco Chavura strives to continue to find opportunities to practice Tikkun Olam and heal our earth. Raising awareness within our synagogue and simultaneously looking outward to form relationships that increase our impact are key strategies for continued success.