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Reform Movement to Focus on Comprehensive Sustainability

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The Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK has drawn up a comprehensive Sustainability Plan that is being launched at the same time as the launch of the Big Green Jewish Campaign (BGJC). As the BGJC focuses on food in 'the Year of the Bagel', this year’s Reform Sustainability Plan does the same, with the hope of also tying in future Sustainability Plans to the BGJC.

The Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK has drawn up a comprehensive Sustainability PlanThe Assembly of Rabbis' Sustainability Plan, which has now been adopted by the Reform Rabbis, will be taken back to synagogues for discussion and implementation. The plan covers education, action and advocacy points on 15 key issues – consumption of meat, consumption of fish, caterers, water footprint, packaging, food miles, pesticide use, food waste, palm oil, free-range, organic, shade-grown coffee, fairly-traded goods, unethical brands and economic awareness.

As well as the fifteen core points, the plan envisages synagogues in the Reform Movement calculating their total carbon emissions by the end of 2011 to help the entire Movement reduce its total carbon footprint to zero in the years to come. The Movement for Reform Judaism will focus on sustainability issues in its forthcoming strategic review so that it can support the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK and the synagogues in this endeavour.

The Assembly of Rabbis Sustainability Plan was conceived by Rabbi Neil Amswych, Principal Rabbi of Bournemouth Reform Synagogue, who in 2007 founded an interfaith environmental group in Dorset that is now trying to help up to 400 local faith communities become more sustainable.

"This plan is challenging but achievable and is a great demonstration of the importance of sustainability in Reform thought," said Rabbi Neil. "It is clear that in the Reform Movement we know that it is no longer sufficient to just give sermons on the environment or to stage occasional events – sustainability needs to be part of our life-long Jewish response to God’s creation – to serve it and to preserve it."

Rabbi Tony Hammond, Chair of the Assembly of Reform Rabbis UK says, "It is right that the issue of sustainability and environmental protection becomes part of the core programme of Reform Judaism."

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