What are you excited about in terms of Adamah at the moment?
I’m excited that Hazon and a wonderful earth-based Jewish retreat center called Pearlstone are merging and becoming Adamah. Together, we are becoming the largest Jewish environmental non-profit. We cultivate Jewish life in deep connection with the Earth and we are catalyzing culture change and systemic change.
What is Adamah doing to better the planet?
One of Adamah’s newest and fasting-growing efforts is the Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition, which is reaching Jewish communities across the country.
Twenty-one major umbrella organizations that represent the mainstream of Jewish life signed on as founding partners and there are now more than 170 organizations–from synagogues to summer camps, from day schools to Hillels—who have committed to taking significant climate action. (We are well on our way to 1,500 organizations joining this decade!)
This is an unprecedented public demonstration from the Jewish community not only recognizing the existential threat of climate change but committing to taking meaningful climate action. When organizations join the Coalition, we support them with a range of resources to help them get to net zero emissions.
As the Director of Food and Climate, I’m especially excited about how we’ve prioritized food choices as a critical way to reduce GHG emissions; many Coalition members are already going public with commitments and concrete steps to reduce the amount of industrial meat and dairy they serve.
“Climate change is no longer something that’s for low-lying populations on the other side of the world and future unborn generations to hypothetically worry about.”
What do you think the future holds for sustainable living?
Climate change is here and it is now. Climate change is no longer something that’s for low-lying populations on the other side of the world and future unborn generations to hypothetically worry about.
In an August 2022 survey by the Pew Research Center, 71 percent of Americans said they had experienced at least one heat wave, flood, drought or wildfire in the past year. The silver lining to this cloud, though, is that we’ve seen concern around climate change consistently increasing. I’ve seen remarkable change over the last several years from the individual level, across the electorate, at the level of government, and all levels of business from the smallest to the world’s largest corporations. Yes, there are downsides like “greenwashing” but I think it’s a great thing that being “green” is trendy now. And meanwhile, we have all the technology and knowledge we need to make the necessary changes.
“A sustainable future isn’t something to postpone as long as possible—we should be sprinting toward it!”
We may be passing some tipping points in climate change, but we are also reaching tipping points in our response. More sustainable living is going to get easier and more inevitable. And that’s a future that, frankly, we should be excited about! A sustainable future (and present) is one that includes delicious, nutritious food, clean air and water, improved health for more people, more equity, more public spaces.
To paraphrase Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a sustainable future isn’t something to postpone as long as possible—we should be sprinting toward it!
Could you share a few words of advice for people wanting to live a more climate-friendly life?
It’s not all or nothing!
One of the reasons I find the Reducetarian Foundation so compelling is that it recognizes how imperfect we all are and that isn’t a flaw! Whether it’s changing your eating habits, tweaking your thermostat by one degree, switching to bike/carpool/public transportation one day a week, or anything else, just get started (or take it one step further than wherever you are now).
Create your own positive snowball effect. And, never ever doubt whether your actions make a difference, they absolutely do (and that shouldn’t feel like a burden but a gift—how lucky that we are so powerful!)
What motivates you?
The truth is that I love to control others and I want to change people’s behavior to be more sustainable. I’m privileged to have a job where I have people who come to us who actually want to change their behavior, and so I’m viewed as a valuable resource rather than an annoying nudge!
When I hear stories about synagogues putting on solar panels, about Jewish conferences putting more plant-based options on the menu, about students who want to lobby their senators—it’s a thrill!