WJC Sustainability Efforts
In the Book of Genesis, Torah teaches that humans are to be Shomrei Adamah, “guardians of the earth.” To fulfill its commitment to this major Jewish value, the WJC has been striving to become a model of environmental stewardship. Our goal is to be an organization that lives and breathes, demonstrates and teaches being Shomrei Adamah every day. In 2020, the WJC’s actions were recognized by Hazon, the largest Jewish environmental organization in the United States, with the award of the Hazon Seal of Sustainability.
Some of the WJC’s initiatives originated with the Board, others with rabbi and staff, committees or, in some cases, began with individual members of the congregation. Here is a timeline of some of the many actions that have been taken:
- The Annual Environmental Film/Discussion Series is co-presented with Woodstock Land Conservancy and Woodstock Transition.
- The Hazon Seal of Sustainability is awarded to the Woodstock Jewish Congregation.
Energy efficiency is improved:
- Two electric “mini-split” heat pumps replace two gas heating/cooling units, for 25% greater efficiency.
- LEDs replace all ceiling and parking lot lights, with about 30% greater efficiency.
- Doors are installed between Family School and Office wings to lower heating/cooling use when school is not in session.
Trash is reduced:
- Cloth tablecloths replace paper at Kiddush, First Fridays, and some special events.
- Washable flatware as well as dishware repurposed from a synagogue that has closed greatly reduces plastic/paper waste.
- WJC Sustainability Committee is formed.
- Annual Environmental Film/Discussion Series that brings in the larger community is co-presented with Woodstock Land Conservancy and Woodstock Transition, and hosted at the WJC.
- WJC Sustainability Committee holds an information session about New York State’s groundbreaking Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and the need for more citizen action.
- Family School teaches the centrality of Shomrei Adamah through many activities in class and outdoors.
- Solar panels are installed on roof.
- Gardens and grounds are pesticide- and herbicide-free.
- Garden plants selected to be a haven for birds and pollinators.
- Our 35-acre campus is almost entirely wild forest with ponds and maintained trails.
- Office paper is reused or recycled.
- Cleaning products are environmentally-friendly, ensuring no dangerous chemicals leach into the ground.
- Food waste is minimized: eaten, taken home or used for compost offsite.
- Most of office and entryway furniture is “recycled”—repurposed from WJC yard sales.
- Heating/cooling HVAC system is state-of-the-art (at the time).
- Building has five heating/cooling zones, with doors to separate most of them for maximum efficiency.
- Fluorescent lights are installed throughout for greater efficiency than incandescents offer.
- Ample windows minimize need for lights.
- Retention pond for water run-off prevents flooding and creates a vital wetland ecosystem.
- Garden is put in with plants that need no watering once established.
- Kitchen appliances are Energy Star-approved, ensuring optimal energy and water efficiency.
- Chairs in sanctuary are “up-cycled”— a gift from a local church no longer using them.