First House of Worship to Receive Platinum LEED Certification

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

The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life

Hazon (and their excellent blog, The Jew and the Carrot)

Teva Learning Center for Jewish environmental education

Jewish Education 3.0: Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

Last year at the CAJE32 conference in St. Louis the Lippman Kanfer Institute convened a think tank of fantastic educators to think about the future of Jewish education. A strong theme throughout the 3 day sequence was technology, and in response, Jonathan Woocher and his incredible team have launched a new think tank called “JE3” (Jewish Education 3.0). The group has flexed its collective muscle to steer the conversation away from technology per se, and towards the implications of teaching and learning about Judaism in our current and rapidly evolving digital landscape.

The group hopes to publish a paper and many sub-papers on the topic in the coming year, and at CAJE 33 we invited additional voices to join the conversation and contribute to the wiki-based project. We strongly value the face-to-face discussion, and Monica Rozenfeld expertly captured the fruits of our labors and added them to the wiki. If you’d like to get involved in the project or want to learn more, contact Monica or visit the wiki, sign up and add your thoughts!

Jonathan Woocher, Esther Kustanowitz, Cheryl Weiner, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Iris Petroff and others discuss teaching and learning in a digital age at CAJE33
Jonathan Woocher, Esther Kustanowitz, Cheryl Weiner, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, JT Waldman, Deborah Grayson-Riegal, Iris Petroff and others discuss teaching and learning in a digital age at CAJE33

Darim Educators Meet For the First Time

Darim hosted two sessions on Monday — Web 2.0 in Education with case studies from three congregations, and the first ever meeting of the Darim Online Educators. This group includes classroom teachers and Directors of Education from middle and high school supplementary school settings. You can learn more about the program on the Darim web site.

Those who are at CAJE33 gathered to share a bit about themselves, their work, their ideas, and where they would like support from the group. An ambitious and creative bunch, we had a great time getting to know one another and our work (why did one person decide NOT to put a computer lab in his school? And how did another get computers, networking, a server, a projector and a smartboard through a $4000 grant plus donations?).

In a world where much of our work here at Darim is virtual, it’s a real treat to meet members of our community face to face, and for them to meet each other! Over the coming months these 13 educators will develop projects incorporating technologies into the curriculum — stay tuned to learn what they’re up to, how it’s going, and to contribute your ideas to their work!

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