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.

Plant-based Community Cookbook

The Green Team invites you to contribute vegan recipes to CBST's first plant-based community cookbook! Whether you make a sublime vegan chopped liver, a crisp latke using cooked oatmeal instead of eggs to bind the potatoes and onions together, or a lentil stew that should be world famous, we want the ingredients and directions, along with a blurb about your recipes and what they mean to you. No matter if you have been a lifelong vegan or simply strive to make your knishes healthier and/or more eco-friendly, all are welcome and encouraged to participate.

Click here to submit your recipe and story! 

Why this project now? Green Team member Jessica Balk Jones explains:

Over the last year, many of us have turned to cooking for comfort and entertainment. Because we are a socially engaged community, many of us have also pondered how we can make this unprecedented downtime meaningful and impactful. What if we could pair the joy and familiarity of food with simultaneously making a difference? 

Since joining CBST, I have found purpose and inspiration in our divine responsibility to take care of the earth and all its creatures. In Parshat Bereshit, the very first lines of Torah delve into the creation of our planetary home. The very first task assigned to humankind was to tend to all living beings, and the very first sources of nutritious sustenance were the plants and greenery. In the beginning, we weren't permitted to eat flesh of any kind (Bereshit 1:28-30). As we read later in the Torah, animals were also included in the commandment to rest on Shabbat (Yitro 20:10). 

Cooperberg-Rittmaster Rabbinical Fellow Deborah Megdal gave a fabulously moving drash on Shabbat Noach on animal justice in light of these early teachings in the Torah. This drash was one of those memorable gem moments that shifted my perspective into action: What if I just took one day a week ... perhaps Shabbat ... to honor our deep-rooted connection to all earthly beings? Since CRRF Deborah's drash, I have committed to plant-based Shabbatot for nearly 20 weeks. I have experimented with vegan challah, homemade cauliflower gnocchi, tofu bolognese, and sipping kale/berry/almond milk smoothies during morning services. Although I still eat some animal products during the week, I have decreased the amount of meat, dairy, and eggs I consume and have become more mindful of where my food is coming from. Sensing that there are many other dabblers in vegetarianism/veganism in our community, I reached out to Rabbi James and Liz Galst to see how we could collaborate and turn this micro-activism into a community initiative. 

I hope you’ll join this project in any way that seems right for you, whether that’s by submitting a recipe or two, inviting friends to submit recipes, or simply by trying to eat lower on the food chain. No need to commit to a lifetime of veganism or swear off cheese for good. Together, we can decrease our collective carbon footprint from our own kitchens!

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.

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

Learn more here.

Tell us what you’re doing to help fulfill the mitzvah of shomrei adamah, safeguarding creation, or find out more about the Team by writing to greenteam@cbst.org