I had the privilege of attending last Sundays’ celebration at Temple Ner Tamid. A morning to honor those whose lives are dedicated to improving the world they live in was a true joy. What if we didn’t place living according to Torah in silos, but adapted it to how we do things as well as what we do? As gorgeous as their acts of tzedakah and tikkun olam were, the way we celebrated them was disconnected from our stewardship of this endangered planet. By next year there will be more plastics than fish in our oceans. Only 7-9 percent of all plastics are actually recycled, and now that China and India refuse to take our garbage, even those low numbers are endangered. Everything at this event was served on and with plastics. Even the table cloths would be crushed at the hour’s end and thrown into a solid waste bin.
When we plan events, celebratory, ritual, or commemorative, let us think through the products we use and their impact on our planet. Almost all synagogues have two sets of dishes and serving wear. Let’s use them. Let us think, ahead of time, how to serve liquid both from and to reusable vessels. If asked, we all have table cloths we could bring, and all caterers can provide these! JCAN (Jewish Climate Action Network) has a gorgeous web site that can guide congregations in the greening of both their events and their shuls. Please, let’s be “mensch” all the time, to one another and to the endangered planet we live on.