Environmental Justice & Sustainability

Social Justice & Activism

Climate change is the most catastrophic crisis facing our planet. As Jews, we must organize around our climate crisis in solidarity with frontline communities in New York City, across the U.S., and around the world. At BJ, we affirm the principles of climate justice and support a just transition toward a regenerative future for all. 

We yearn to cultivate environmental justice, recognizing that low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately affected by air, soil, and water pollution. We practice food sovereignty with Hazorim, BJ’s Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and our Community Composting Initiative. We encourage environmental activism and ecological education through our BJ Environmental Advocates group to ensure that all people have access to potable water, clean air, and a healthy climate.

Our synagogue is located next to two urban ecosystems—Riverside Park and the Hudson River. As global temperatures change and sea levels rise, the ecology of the Upper West Side will be at risk. This will have drastic implications for our entire community, and so we must take action now. BJ is taking action through community organizing, political engagement, education, sustainability initiatives, BJ Environmental Advocates, and our Hazorim CSA.

Sustainability at BJ

BJ is constantly upgrading our campus to be more efficient with our food, water, and energy consumption. Learn more about our initiatives with composting, facilities, kiddushim, and sustainability.

Hazon Seal of Sustainability

In 2016, Hazon selected BJ to be part of its Seal of Sustainability Pilot Program. After successful participation in the initial cohort, we are proud to have received the Seal of Sustainability each year since. Prior to joining this cohort, members of the staff, including our Operations, Community Engagement teams, and lay leaders began working to implement more sustainable practices at kiddush and around the building. Seal projects have included an LED lighting upgrade throughout the BJ campus, planters for the Community House rooftop, switching to fully compostable plates and cups, investing in new recycling bins, and purchasing a washer and dryer to wash linens.

Green Kiddush Initiative

We need volunteers to encourage composting and recycling at Kiddush! We can all play our part by being mindful of how much food we take and placing all of our leftover items in the appropriate bins. Volunteers will be standing next to our recycling and composting stations to help guide you. In order to make this happen, we need you to join us. This is a great opportunity for individuals or families. All we ask is for you to commit to one Saturday through June. To find out more about what it entails, contact Larissa.

Environmental Advocates

This committee of volunteers works to promote sustainable practices at BJ and in partnership with citywide campaigns to reduce waste, increase efficiency, and protect the health of our urban ecosystems. Click below to learn about our past campaigns and reach out to the co-chairs to get involved.

Co-chairs: Les Judd, Sandra Rocks

Jewish Climate Action Network NYC

Jewish Climate Action Network NYC (JCAN) works through education, activism, and organizing to add an urgent and visionary Jewish voice to the climate crisis. Many BJ members are actively involved JCAN’s work, and in helping to align BJ’s environmental advocacy work with that of the greater coalition.

JCAN has built a network of partnerships and relationships with Jewish and other environmental justice leaders, and supports campaigns that are working toward:

  • A just transition to 100% renewable energy in New York State
  • A penalty for large organizations that continue to pollute our climate
  • The retrofitting of dirty New York City buildings to clean, efficient energy
  • An end to new fossil fuel infrastructure like the Pilgrim Pipeline
  • The ramping up of off-shore wind energy for New York State

Transform Don’t Trash NYC

BJ members were involved in the Transform Don’t Trash NYC campaign from 2016 to the successful passage of legislation in the NYC Council in October, 2019. The campaign proposed systemic changes to the commercial waste industry in New York City. For decades, commercial waste in NYC has caused problems for local communities and workers. Each year, our restaurants, offices, and businesses produce over 5.5 million tons of commercial waste (excluding construction waste), which is currently picked up by over 4,000 trucks owned by over 230 individual companies. This staggering amount of waste ends up going to landfills and incinerators, rather than being recycled. Clearly, this is not an environmentally or economically sustainable system.

B’nai Jeshurun was proud to be part of a robust coalition of environmental justice, labor, and community groups including the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYCEJA), ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Joint Council 16 & Local 813.

Community Composting Initiative

Want to minimize your food waste? Looking for ways reduce your ecological footprint? Start today by taking advantage of our composting initiative! New York City launched a pilot composting program in 2014. Since then, it has expanded to all five boroughs. We have been part of the program since the summer of 2015, composting food scraps from our Lunch Program and our CSA, and are excited to be able to offer the opportunity to the whole community. Our goal is to provide a convenient location to bring household compost and we hope those who are nearby and frequent the building will take advantage of the program.

Collecting Compostables

Step 1: Separate your food scraps, like dinner leftovers, excess food from cooking, or rotten foods. This includes meats, bones, and cheeses: basically anything that used to be alive.

Step 2: Place your scraps into a container. You can keep the container on your counter top, in the refrigerator, or in your freezer to alleviate smells between drop offs.

Step 3: Work it into your routine! Bring your food scraps to the BJ Community House, 270 West 89th Street, whenever you visit. It’s free to BJ members and the local community. Multiple bins are available throughout the building.

Storage Methods

  • BioBag compostable bag
  • Paper bag
  • Resealable plastic zipper storage bags or plastic containers with lids (in the freezer, for transporting purposes only, not compostable)

We are happy to offer free three-gallon countertop bins and bags to those who would like to start collecting at home. Supplies are limited.

Compostable Items

• Food scraps (anything that used to be alive)
• Bread, grains, and pasta
• Coffee grounds with paper filter
• Cheese and all dairy
• Eggshells and eggs
• Fruit (pits, seeds, and shells)
• Meat (including bones)
• Fish
• Vegetables and peels
• Nuts and nutshells
• Flowers and floral trimmings
• Leftovers and spoiled food
• Tea and tea bags
• Food-soiled paper
• Paper napkins, paper towels, paper bags, and tissues

Why Participate?

Benefits of Composting

  • Composting recycles food scraps by adding important nutrients back to the soil and completing the food cycle
  • Roughly 29% of household waste is organic and can be composted
  • When you compost you are recycling, diverting waste from overcrowded landfills and reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

Benefits to BJ Members

BJ wants to make it easy for Members to recycle more and waste less by offering this convenient compost drop off program.
The first 20 members to bring in their compost and connect with Larissa will get a free countertop compost collection bin. Others can receive free compostable BioBags.

Achieving Zero Waste for NYC

New York City has set a goal of contributing zero waste to landfills by 2030. There’s no “away” when we throw garbage into a can or litter basket. Trash goes into landfills, where it decomposes—sending methane, carbon dioxide, and toxins into our air, soil, and water. New Yorkers will be protecting our environment more than ever before.

Compost Elsewhere

For those community members who do not live on the Upper West Side, below is a list of greenmarkets that accept compost:

More information on acceptable items and a full list of drop-off locations can be found on the GrowNYC website. GrowNYC markets do not accept meat, fish, or dairy.

Community-Supported Agriculture

The BJ Hazorim CSA brings healthy local food to our neighborhood, supports local, organic, and regenerative agriculture, builds community, and makes our city a wonderful place to live. We have respect for the cycles, blessings, and benefits of naturally grown food, and we honor ourselves, our farmers, and our farmworkers. We contribute to the fight against hunger by donating our extra food to those in need. We hope that connecting to the land will teach us that joyful and communal eating is a part of healthy living and growing. Contact Larissa to get involved.

What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture. It is a partnership between city residents and a local farmer that allows city dwellers to enjoy fresh produce straight from the farm. When you become a member of a CSA, you’re purchasing a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer. Weekly, from June until November, your farmer will deliver that share of produce to a convenient drop-off location. This enables the farmer to plan their season’s crops efficiently by planting a diversity of vegetables and harvesting without waste.

The Jewish tradition has a long history of thinking about what is kosher (literally, “fit”) for us to eat. A CSA offers a chance to re-examine and potentially redefine what it means for food to be “fit”—not only for us, but for the community and the earth as well.  A CSA fosters pluralism, inter-generational connections in the Jewish community, and allows members to explore contemporary food issues from a Jewish perspective.

The BJ Hazorim CSA

The word “Hazorim ” in Hebrew means “the ones who sow or harvest”—it comes from a passage in Psalm 126 most known for being the psalm that we sing before “Birkat Hamazon,” or the “Grace After a Meal” blessing. Just as Birkat Hamazon encourages is to acknowledge our food, we hope that our CSA will give participants a new or renewed sense of intention and awareness around eating. We hope to move our members one step closer to becoming “harvesters,” by becoming more connected to the farm and farmerswho grow our food.

BJ is excited to be a part of:

  • Hazon‘s network of Jewish CSAs, as a way of becoming part of the growing community supported agriculture movement
  • Just Food, a non-profit organization connecting communities and local farms with the resources and support they need to make fresh, locally grown food accessible to all New Yorkers

We work with Ken Fruehstorfer and Maryellen Driscoll, owners and farmers of Free Bird Farm. It is a small-scale, diversified farm committed to strict organic and sustainable growing practices. Located in the Mohawk Valley, they grow more than 60 varieties of vegetables and herbs and have over 15 years of farming experience. Read more about their work here.

Cost and Types of Shares

There is a membership fee of $18 per season for BJ Members ($33 for non-BJ Members), to help cover our administrative costs and operating costs.

The vegetables you will receive vary based on what is ready to be harvested throughout the season. We send out a weekly newsletter with farm news, what is in the weekly shares, and favorite recipes and storage tips. Because the produce is harvested just before it is brought to us, we usually don’t know the exact share content until the day before pickup. Take a look at the sample produce lists from last year to get an idea of what to expect.

Being part of a CSA is a great opportunity to try new foods. Our newsletter and cooking classes make it easy to learn new recipes and discover how to enjoy previous unfamiliar ingredients. If you still do not want something in your share, you can use the exchange box which runs on the honor system. Put in one item you do not want, and take out one item that you do want!

Vegetable Share

The seasonal food charge covers the full 22-week season and is non-refundable.

The Full Vegetable Share is $548 and is designed to provide a week’s worth of vegetables for a family or two people with a veggie-centered diet. Each week, a large share typically consists of about 6 to 7 different types of vegetables, such as bunched carrots, broccoli, squash or mixed baby lettuces, and 1 to 3 additional items, such as bunched onions, garlic and/or fresh herbs. All of our vegetables are grown on our farm and are certified organic.

 

The Partial Vegetable share is $422 and is well suited to the city lifestyle of two people cooking in some nights but not all. Each week, a medium share typically consists of 4 or 5 different types of vegetables and 1 to 2 additional items, such as onions, garlic and/or a fresh herb. A medium share usually includes many of the same items as the large share (though not all) and in smaller quantities.

 

The Half Vegetable Share is $274 and is offered as a benefit to BJ members. It is half of a large share and requires either splitting every week or picking up every other week. We strongly encourage those who purchase half shares to pick up every other week as it eliminates the need to split individual vegetables.

Pasture-Raised Egg Share

Full Share is $110 for one dozen eggs; Half Egg Share: $63

Free Bird Farm’s hens are raised outside on pasture, and this makes a big difference in the clean taste of the egg and rich, orange-yellow color of the yolk. Hens do need more than just grass to produce eggs. We source a grain mix from a neighboring conventional grain farm.

Fruit Share

The fruit share is $165 and is generally 20-21 weeks long, beginning in mid-June. A double fruit share may also be purchased for $330.

  • Mid to late June: strawberries
  • July: blueberries
  • July & August: peaches, plums, nectarines, raspberries
  • August & September: melons
  • September & October: grapes, apples, pears

In order to offer a diverse offering, the fruit is sourced from a handful of farms in Central New York and the Hudson Valley. The berries and melons are certified organic. Orchard fruits, such as peaches, plums, apples and pears as well as grapes are grown using integrated pest management techniques but are not organic. Fruit is provided according to when it is in season. This means there could be one or two weeks early in the season in which there is not any fruit available (we price the share accordingly). Depending on availability, the fruit share may consist of just one type of fruit, such as a bag of apples, or two, such as a half pint of raspberries and a bag of peaches.

Butter Share

Enjoy 11 weeks of delicious, kosher sweet cream butter from Kriemhild Dairy. Shares are $63 and include 8 oz containers of either salted or unsalted sweet cream butter. Pickup will be every other week throughout the season.

Work Shifts

To make our CSA a success, we all have to pitch in. By joining the CSA, every member or family commits to working two two-hour shifts at some point over the season. This is how we make pick-up day run smoothly. Members choose the days and shifts that work best for them. Shifts are on Tuesdays from either 4:00-6:00PM or 6:00-8:00PM. All members are trained ahead of time at our pre-season orientation and are always supervised by one of our shift supervisors and often by a core team member. Tasks include unloading the produce, weighing and dividing up shares, facilitating member check-in, and cleaning up. Families can send one person or choose to come as a group to help out together. Kids are welcome to join in, too! Members will be contacted in the weeks following registration with information on how to sign up for shifts online.

As members of the BJ Hazorim CSA, we commit ourselves to supporting our CSA by helping with the distribution workload. After you register, you will be contacted by our volunteer coordinator to sign-up for your work shifts. Coming together to work at distribution and interact with our fellow CSA members is a major way through which we build community. We volunteer in order to create an open and welcoming space in which to pick up our delicious produce and to contribute to supporting our food system.

Have some extra time during the season or a flexible schedule? Let us know! We are always looking for new CSA members to help meet the truck and set up before the regular work shifts begin.

Contact Us

Larissa Wohl

Assistant Director of Community Engagement

Contact Us

Larissa Wohl

Assistant Director of Community Engagement