CBST's Green Team

The CBST Green Team, chaired by member Liz Galst, is out to change the world. We envision a shul, a city, a country, a planet where sustainability is central to our worldviews and our decision-making. We seek to restore justice for all who dwell on earth as well as the health and beauty of creation.

CBST's Green Team, is made of up of synagogue members, staff and clergy who work together (l’takein et ha’olam) to heal the natural world.

Our urgency is the work that promotes sustainability through environmental advocacy and activism along with fundraising and educational initiatives, both within and beyond our synagogue. We invite the entire CBST community to join us.

Watch this space for news about Green Team activities, as well as ways you can live more sustainably.

To join the Team, or for more information, write to GreenTeam@cbst.org

Composting at CBST

As of July 2018, CBST is a composting congregation. That means we’re able to take all our food scraps and leftovers, and the napkins, paper cups, and even plastic cups and cutlery that the synagogue supplies, and turn them into compost, thanks to a program of New York City's Sanitation Department. All of our compostable products and food waste go into our new brown plastic compost bins. Remember: Don’t throw into the compost bins our metal cutlery, ceramic dishes, plastic Kiddush cups (which go in the plastic recycling bin) or any other plastic or metal you might bring in from outside—they should go in the recycling, too. If you have any questions about how to compost or recycle at CBST, members of CBST’s Green Team will be on hand every Shabbat this summer to answer those questions. And if you'd like to start composting at home in the five boroughs, click here to learn more.

The #LEDChallenge 

During the Hanukkah season, we can once again light up the world. The Green Team at CBST has joined the Natural Resources Defense Council’s #LEDChallenge. One LED lightbulb can last for 15 to 25 years and is incredibly cheap: a typical incandescent costs $5.74 a year to own and operate, compared to only $1.34 for an LED. Learn more about the benefits of switching here!

Become a part of the movement: switch at least one light bulb in your home to an LED. Then, take a photo of yourself with the bulb and post it using #LEDchallenge, and tag CBST! Or email us at greenteam@cbst.org. We’ll tally our community’s efforts, letting you know, as Hanukkah approaches, how bright our light shines.

Green Power at CBST

Since June 6, 2014, CBST has been a part of the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, and we are proud to get over 100% of our electricity from renewable resources such as wind and solar power. In keeping with CBST’s and the Green Team’s mission to protect and heal the earth and those on it, we are proud to be a part of this partnership- in fact, we are the only Jewish, Religious institution on this list.

From the EPA’s website:
Congregation Beit Simchat Torah is New York City's synagogue serving gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, and their family and friends. Jewish tradition teaches to wisely shepherd and preserve the earth, and to protect the health of all. For that reason, the Congregation chose to use green power, which creates no greenhouse gases, no acid rain, and none of the emissions that cause health problems such as asthma, emphysema, lung cancer, birth defects and heart disease. The world's largest GLBTQ synagogue, CBST serves as a model for its community. It ran a campaign to encourage members to sign up for green power for their homes at the same time that the synagogue switched its facilities over to green power, and congregants were very receptive to the idea. Says Director of Operations Assaf Astrinsky, "Green power enables us to help make Jewish tradition meaningful in the lives of our congregants."

Our Synagogue at 130 West 30th Street is Green By Design

One of the first things the Torah commands of us is to be good stewards of the earth. That’s one of the reasons CBST’s new space has been designed with the health of our environment and our own health in mind. As proof, CBST’s home will be certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.) LEED certification means our sanctuaries, offices, and meeting spaces follow stringent standards for energy and water efficiency, indoor air quality, and use of sustainable materials. 


• Ninety-five percent of the building’s demolition-, construction-, and packaging waste has been sorted and recycled .

• More than 20 percent of the material used in the new construction, including steel, drywall, and carpeting, contains recycled content.

• More than 50 percent of the new wood, as well as the wood-based products and materials in the building, were sourced from responsibly managed forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Energy & Water Efficiency:

• The heating and cooling systems are designed for maximum energy efficiency and can be programmed to heat and cool only the spaces in use, rather than the entire building, in order to save energy.

• The building incorporates LED lighting to reduce energy use, unwanted heat from inefficient bulbs, and frequent bulb replacements; occupancy sensors will allow us to light only the spaces in use.

• Through the use of dual-flush toilets and water-sparing faucets and appliances, water usage in the new building will be below the baseline specified by LEED. 

• Our water-bottle filling stations will enable users to fill their water bottles quickly and easily, saving on the energy and waste involved in bottling and transporting water.

Indoor Air Quality:

• The paints, coatings, and sealants used in the construction, as well as the furniture and carpeting, emit few toxins.

• Indoor air quality was tracked and managed during construction, and the building’s air was tested and flushed before occupancy.

• A higher percentage of indoor air is exchanged with outside air than in a standard ventilating system. A device called an energy recovery ventilator transfers heat between the incoming and outgoing air streams to ensure that the air turnover doesn’t waste energy. 

• As part of our green housekeeping plan, we’ll use non-toxic cleaning products. 

What the Torah commands, the contemporary environmental crisis requires: that we all become good stewards of the earth. CBST hopes our green efforts here in the synagogue will inspire our members and visitors to take action on behalf of the world G-d created and deemed “very good.”

Tell us what you’re doing to help fulfill the mitzvah of shomrei adamah, safeguarding creation. (Drop the Green Team a line at greenteam@cbst.org.) And join the Green Team. You’ll help our community become greener still.