“Spring Forward in Hillside: A Fresh Look at the Environment Through the Lens of Halacha”

Successful Environmental Shabbaton in Orthodox Jewish Community of Elizabeth, NJ

ELIZABETH, NJ—Canfei Nesharim (“The Wings of Eagles”), an organization dedicated to educating the Orthodox Jewish community about protecting the environment from the perspective of Torah and Jewish law, held its third annual Orthodox Environmental Shabbaton, March 10-12, 2006, at JEC- Adath Israel in Hillside, New Jersey.

Entitled, “Spring Forward in Hillside: A Fresh Look at the Environment through the Lens of Halacha,” the Shabbaton included an afternoon shiur from Rabbi and VT Maple Syrup Farmer, Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz; a community lunch with Canfei Nesharim Associate Director Ora Sheinson speaking on “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”; a Friday-night program for high school students; a melava malka with Torah learning on environmental issues; and a Nature Walk with a shiur from Evonne Marzouk, the organization’s new professional Executive Director.

The event also included kosher organic food and eco-friendly paper goods at the meals, educating the Elizabeth community on simple actions that can protect the environment. Through its activities this weekend, Canfei Nesharim reached approximately 180 Orthodox Jews with its message of the Torah responsibility to protect the environment.  The community also expressed interest in organizing future events related to environmental education.

“The event was an opportunity for us to share our work with the community, while bringing together Orthodox Jews from around the world, who are already concerned about the environment,” said Marzouk. Jews from Canada and England attended the event.

Canfei Nesharim is guided by a Science Advisory Board and a Rabbinic Advisory Board that includes well-known scholars such as Rabbi Mordechai Becher, Rabbi Michael Skobac and Rabbi Jonathan Rietti. International in scope, the organization’s steering committee has members in Canada, England, Israel and the United States.

This event was supported by a mini-grant from Hazon and the New York Jewish Environmental Bike Ride. Canfei Nesharim benefits from support from Bikkurim: An Incubator for New Jewish Ideas, a project of JESNA, UJC, and the Kaminer Family.