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Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)


Abstract

With twenty-nine participating Jewish organizations and thirteen regional affiliates across the United States, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) is the largest Jewish environmental organization in the nation. As the Jewish member of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE), COEJL works with Catholic, liberal Protestant, and Evangelical Christian organizations to mobilize the religious community on behalf of the environment. Seeking to generate a uniquely Jewish response to ecological problems, COEJL draws on the Jewish tradition to foster an ecological ethic based on principles such as stewardship and tikkun olam (repairing the world). COEJL works to integrate environmental concerns into Jewish educational and religious institutions, religious practice, theological scholarship, family, and communal life by providing educational resources, outreach, small grants, environmental retreats, and educational programs. Through various local campaigns and projects, COEJL’s regional affiliates help carry out the organization’s mission on the grassroots level. On a national level, COEJL fosters the development of Jewish environmental leaders through the Mark and Sharon Bloome Jewish Environmental Leadership Institute, which gathers and trains more than 150 activists each year. COEJL advocates for the protection of the environment and public health by collaborating with Jewish and other religious organizations to affect public policy on issues such as climate change and by initiating single-issue action campaigns such as “Operation Noah” for the protection of biodiversity. In addition to COEJL’s national programs, projects are organized by the regional affiliates as well (e.g., Tu B’Shvat forest conservation initiatives based on the Jewish holiday sometimes called the ‘birthday’ of the trees). COEJL’s long-term vision is to integrate environmental protection into all facets of Jewish life so that the Jewish community is revitalized while it helps to heal the planet. By mobilizing Jewish congregations and institutions to address pressing ecological issues, COEJL aims not only to help “repair the world,” but also to bolster the Jewish community on local, regional, and national levels.

Religion

Judaism

Geographic Location

United States of America

Duration of Project

1993–Present

History

The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) was established in 1992 after Carl Sagan and Al Gore invited Jewish religious, civic, and political leaders to Washington, D.C. to discuss the role of the Jewish community in addressing the environmental crisis. After similar gatherings were held with leaders from various Christian denominations, the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) was founded as a collaborative project including COEJL, the U.S. Catholic Conference, the National Council of Churches (NCC), and the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN). NRPE gathered funds for short-term environmental projects for each of these faith communities. COEJL was officially founded in 1993 as a short-term project to articulate a distinctly Jewish form of environmentalism and to begin to incorporate this into Jewish life. Within the first six years, twenty-three national Jewish organizations joined COEJL as participants and the new organization accomplished a wide range of activities including the publication of resource materials, the initiation of environmental education and retreat programs, as well as advocacy campaigns, the provision of small project grants, and the formation of regional affiliates. The successes of COEJL’s initial six year phase made it clear to stakeholders that it should become a permanent organization, and in 1999, a strategic plan for the formation of COEJL as an independent, permanent entity was adopted. Between 1999–2001 COEJL focused primarily on organizational development and leadership training, supporting regional affiliates, bolstering institutional partnerships, expanding outreach and communications, and engaging in political advocacy. Now that these different areas have been firmly established, COEJL intends to expand its programmatic work in the areas of education, advocacy, spirituality, scholarship, and outreach.

Mission Statement

"The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life engages Jewish institutions and individuals in bringing the moral passion of Jewish tradition and social action to environmental stewardship in order to preserve the integrity of creation, advance social justice, protect future generations, and strengthen the Jewish community.

Partner Organizations

American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Congress
American Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel
B’nai B’rith International
Central Conference of American Rabbits
Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education
Hadassah
Hillel
Jewish Community Centers Association
Jewish Counciil for Public Affairs
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish National Fund
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Jewish Theological Seminary of America
Jewish War Veterans
Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America
Na’amat USA
National Council of Jewish Women
Rabbinical Assembly
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
The Shalom Center/ALEPH
Union of America Hebrew Congregation
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
U.S.-Israel Environment Council of the American-Israel Friendship League
Women of Reform Judaism
Women’s American ORT
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism
National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE)

Long-Term Goals

None Listed

Bibliography

None Listed

Additional Research Resources

None Listed

Contact Information

Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life
443 Park Avenue South, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10016–7322
Ph:       212.684.6950 x210
Email:  (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)