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The Big Green Jewish Website

February 1 2007:

A wonderful new environmental resource was launched today in the form of The Big Green Jewish Website.

The website was designed to promote environmentalism through an engagement with biblical, rabbinic and contemporary Jewish sources. It was also designed to be fun.

ARC was the first secular foundation to support this initiative, and we gave two grants to help it happen. It is the initiative of the Jewish Board of Deputies, and the Noah Project.

"We are immensely proud to be associated with this wonderful new initiative," said ARC's secretary general Martin Palmer. "We have followed its development over a number of years and ARC has been honoured to have played a small role in enabling this to happen."

"A friend once joked about the world’s shortest running radio programme - “Jewish Gardeners’ Question Time”. Just one person phoned in to ask “How much should I pay my gardener?” Jews and nature don’t always seem to be natural partners. In general, we prefer the city to the country. We are not renowned for our love of camping. Given a common garden plant or shrub, the chance of a synagogue of Jews identifying it is close to zero. But it wasn’t always this way... " From The Big Green Jewish Website.
"We think the website is not only rare because it opens with a joke – the environmental movement is not strong on humour and we delight in your addition to this small but essential oeuvre! – but because it is an excellent example of empowering people with knowledge rooted in their own traditions and beliefs and then moving on beyond that to embrace a wider world."

It was formally launched by David Miliband MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, who said that: Climate change is one of the biggest crises we are facing. The Big Green Jewish Website is a prime example of the valuable role that faith communities and their rich traditions can play in tackling this challenge.”

The Big Green Jewish Website is also designed for wider application, forming a key component as a part of the Board of Deputies’ overall environmental strategy. Accordingly, the Board of Deputies is exploring ways in which to raise both awareness of how the community can become more eco-friendly, and how other faith groups and environmental bodies can share the material.

The launch was timed to precede the Jewish holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for Trees on February 3rd. This holiday celebrates the value and beauty of trees at a time when the first buds appear on them in Israel and it is a traditional time for Jews to plant trees.

It is the culmination of over four year’s work during which the project has

* won an award from the Alliance for Religions and Conservation as a Sacred Gift to the Planet presented by the Duke of Edinburgh;

* featured as a case study in the government’s “Sustainable Development Commission” report on UK Faith Groups;

* initiated a 24-hour environmental “ Tikkun (Repair) Trek” at Limmudfest, a UK-based popular cross-communal four-day educational festival held every summer.

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