Led by Evonne Marzouk, the DC-based founder and executive director of Canfei Nesharim, 19 Jewish environmentalists – all members of ROI Community for Young Jewish Innovators - collaborated in creating this unique portal, which tackles environmental issues through Jewish tradition.
"Jewcology is the first internet portal of its kind," says Efrat’s Baruch Rock, a member of Jewcology.com’s international team and a rabbinical student at Ohr Torah Stone’s Joseph and Gwendolyn Straus Rabbinical Seminary. "Born out of the recognition that by sharing our resources we can accomplish so much more, Jewcology is the go-to place for Jewish environmentalists and lay-people.”
Noga Zohar, a Jewcology.com team member from Beersheba who is executive director of Shvuat ha-Adamah/Earth's Promise, emphasizes how the collaboration makes everyone feel both part of, and a contributor to, a movement for change. "Jewcology is an amazing platform for organizations like ours to share some of the daily wonders and struggles in creating a sustainable future in the middle of the desert city of Beersheba."
“This is the first comprehensive web-based address for the entire Jewish environmental community, enabling environmental activists to interact, learn from one another and leverage that knowledge to protect the environment and build a more sustainable world,” said Marzouk, who was featured as an up and coming leader in the 2009 New York Jewish Week's "36 under 36". “By empowering Jewish environmentalists, Jewcology.com will help the entire Jewish community understand the relevance of Jewish tradition to modern challenges.”
The Jewcology.com team includes Teva Ivri in Israel, activists from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, Miami, San Francisco, Charlottesville, New Jersey and Vancouver, as well as Shanghai, China and Santiago, Chile. They met through the ROI Community global network created by Jewish philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, and were able to realize the vision thanks to a $50,000 ROI Innovation Fund grant.
“Jewcology.com is ROI’s largest collaborative initiative,” said ROI Director Justin Korda. “It underscores the power of the global network of young Jewish innovators we’ve been nurturing since 2006. Jewcology.com gets environmental activists to leverage their knowledge in order to sensitize, educate and activate Jewish communities to safeguard the environment.”
The site boasts content from Jewish environmental organizations like COEJL; Green Zionist Alliance; Hazon; Jewish Farm School; Jewish Reconstructionist Federation (JRF); Kayam at Pearlstone; NeoHasid.org; The Shalom Center; and Teva Learning Center. To date, over 50 Jewish environmental activists and organizations have uploaded more than 300 resources. Topics include vegetarianism, water, energy, agriculture, trees, food, and recycling; Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashana and Shavuot; and, mitzvot such as Bal Tashchit (do not waste) and Tzaar Baalei Chaim (proper treatment of animals). The materials – in English, Hebrew and Spanish - are intended for a wide range of audiences, from children to lay leaders and rabbis. Resources include synagogue projects, Jewish teachings, awareness activities, and art projects.
Jewcology.com will feature daily blog posts on a wide range of Jewish environmental topics by its international team, as well as Torah teachings with an environmental message from leading Modern Orthodox Israeli Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of the Petach Tikva Hesder Yeshiva, among others.
Jewcology.com is also partnering with On1Foot, the American Jewish World Service’s online database of Jewish texts on social justice, to create custom source sheets and discussion questions on environmental texts.
Beyond the virtual, Jewcology.com will hold regional leadership training summits for Jewish environmentalists. In March 2011, in Los Angeles, Jewcology.com will partner with Netiya: the LA Jewish Coalition on Food, Environment and Social Justice, and in Baltimore with Kayam, a farm at the Pearlstone Retreat Center. In June, Jewcology.com will join forces with the Teva Learning Center at its conference in upstate New York.
The site is already garnering praise in the Jewish world. According to Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, “Using Jewcology.com, Jewish environmentalists around the world can empower each other as they work locally to engage their students, rabbis, and communities. It has the potential to be a game-changing tool in the ongoing effort to inform the Jewish community about our mandate to protect the environment and mobilize action on critical energy and environmental issues.”
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