The Ner Tamid, or Eternal Light, shines brightly at the heart of Shir Tikvah Synagogue, and does so completely fueled by solar power as of 2014. A powerful example of the faith community’s dedication to performing tikkun olam, or repairing the world, the Ner Tamid is an everlasting example of fusing the values of a faith community with taking moral action to address climate change.
Members of the Climate Change Minyan, a committee of the The Tikkun Olam Working Group, are celebrating other victories in their work to address climate change. As recipients of a grant from The Gendler Grapevine Project, members will transform the grounds into a model of sustainable land use, creating their own Gan Tikvah, or Garden of Hope. The project aims to create a landscape design plan that replaces traditional grass lawn with native prairie plants, incorporates rain gardens, installs rain barrels to provide irrigation, and expands an existing vegetable garden. Installation of the four rain gardens will begin this fall and will include a joint celebration between Shir Tikvah and the surrounding neighborhood.
Through the vegetable garden, Shir Tikvah members honor their commitment to food justice by providing fresh fruits and veggies to those in need, while also living out the value of v’ahavta l’reacha kamocha, or loving others as you love yourself. Expanding the vegetable garden will enable Shir Tikvah to increase their past contribution of approximately 300 pounds of fresh produce to The Aliveness Project.
Climate Change Minyan members developed an Action Plan based on MNIPL’s three-legged stool approach to social change - practical, spiritual or relational, and movement-building. EnerChange helped to do a comprehensive energy audit of the building in conjunction with a religious school project focused on energy conservation. LED lights now illuminate recycling bins in the hallways and classroom. Recently, Shir Tikvah added organic recycling to their efforts to lower their carbon footprint. Several youth also participated in MNIPL’s Youth Be The Spark program, a youth leadership development program designed to empower young people to lead their faith communities in climate action. Members are also considering what their religious holy days have to teach us about climate justice, and continue to use the core concepts of their tradition to inform their climate work.
Shir Tikvah’s action on climate justice issues as a faith community are guided by the words of Hillel the Elder, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” Connect with Shir Tikvah and learn more about how to live out tikkun olam, repairing the world, in your own faith community.