Mazel tov to the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois, which recently became the first house of worship to receive the highest level of LEED certification for their new “green” building. JRC recently launched their new web site with Darim, and has dedicated a whole category of the site to their “green synagogue”, including information about Jewish values, the building, decision making, and other useful environmentally responsible resources and products.
During the project Rabbi Brant Rosen’s Blog frequently included posts about the project. In one, he discusses talking to Hebrew school kids about the “pillars” of the community, as the construction crew was preparing to construct 18 concrete pillars for the foundation of the building, reaching 55 feet into the ground.
I took Alans idea [of 18 symbolic pillars of the congregation] to our 4th and 7th grade religious school students. I did my best to explain the concept of caissons [concrete pillars] to them, then we read a classic Jewish text from Pirke Avot (The Chapters of the Fathers): Rabbi Shimon the Righteous said, the world stands on three things: study, worship and acts of lovingkindness. What, I asked our students, would you consider to be the eighteen pillars upon which our congregational community stands?
Then together we brainstormed eighteen spiritual values of our JRC community: God, Judaism, Joy, Prayer, Hope, Respect, Partnership, Song, Tikkun Olam, Community, Study, Freedom, Friendship, Spirit, Learning, Peace, Growth, and Love.
Afterwards, I wrote out the values on a separate pieces of paper and each one was placed by the construction crew into a separate caisson shaft to be mixed together with the concrete, becoming a permanent part of JRCs support structure.
What an amazing lesson. Mazel tov and kol hakavod to the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation.
Learn more about their green building here!
More Jewish/Environmental resources:
Canfei Nesharim http://canfeinesharim.org/
The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life http://www.coejl.org
Teva Learning Center for Jewish environmental education http://www.tevacenter.org/