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Focus Areas > Social Justice > Jewish Environmental (JEI)





JEI is part of a new statewide coalition focusing on reducing reliance on fossil fuels as a source of energy in the state. The Missouri Clean Energy Coalition had its official launch at the Earth Day Rally and Lobby Day in Jefferson City on Wednesday April 22. Those attending met with members of the Missouri General Assembly and key legislative staff to discuss bills of concern and those supported by the environmental community. Others met with staff of key statewide offices to discuss the importance of Missouri implementing a strong clean energy plan in 2015. Attendees also were part of an afternoon rally to announce the launching of the statewide coalition and its goals. Photos are below.

Rep. Bill Otto (near doors at right) visits with environmental advocates at the mroning training session for Earth Day Lobby Day

Rep. Clem Smith was one of the speakers at the afternoon rally. He spoke about the importance of having a clean energy future for the health and well being of our children, including those in low-income communities with dispproportionately higher levels of asthma due to pollution



JEI's annual Tu B'Shevat Seder celebrated the New Year of the Trees with food, drink and song. Those attending read from the specially designed Hagaddah created by longtime JEI member Alan Elfanbaum, of blessed memory. Rabbi Randy Fleisher of Central Reform Congregation, a past Chair of JEI, led the Seder.



JEI members and 7th grade students at Central Reform Congregation joined together for this year's Project Noah Community Event. This year's program involved touring and working at the Jewish Community Center's Garden of Eden. The Garden of Eden supplies fresh fruits and vegetables to clients of the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry. The volunteers harvested 110 pounds of sweet potatoes, planted wheat and built cold frames for the winter months.

Below are photos from this year's event.


Dozens of members of the Jewish Environmental Initiative and area Jewish congregations participated in both the NY and St. Louis People's Climate Marches on September 21, 2014. An estimated 350,000 people participated in the NY march, organized to bring attention to the growing threat of climate change and the need for action to reduce it. In St. Louis, close to 400 people participated in a local march at Kiener Plaza. Speakers included Rabbi Randy Fleisher, past JEI Chair and Associate Rabbi at Central Reform Congregation.

JEI staff person Gail Wechsler (at left) at the St. Louis march with members of Missouri Interfaith Power & Light.


On July 31, 2014 over 130 people attended JEI's program focused on climate change and on ways to green the places where individuals live and worship. The event, Make a Difference: Environmental Action for your Home & House of Worship, was co-sponsored with Missouri Interfaith Power and Light, the Missouri Gateway Chapter of the U.S. Green Buildings Council and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Attendees learned more about how climate change affects weather from keynote speaker Mike Robertsl of KSDK Channel 5. Then they were encouraged to mobilize communities to fight against climate change by environmentalist and civil rights leaders Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley. Finally, those participating learned about practical ways they could make their homes and places of worship more eco-friendly at two break out workshops. Those attending also signed comment cards to the EPA in support of the new proposed rules limiting carbon pollution at coal fired power plants throughout the United Stated.

To View Mike Roberts click here:

To View Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley click here:

Greening your home:

Greening your house of worship click here:


Pictured below are photos from the event:

Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley addresses the audience

Meteorologist Mike Roberts discusses the impact of climate change on weather

Rev. Durley, JEI Chair Susan Mlynarczyk and Jared Bierbach of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs



Click Here for the Flyer


JEI Steering Committee Members Adam Spielberg and Louise Levine, along with JEI Staff Person Gail Wechsler, attended the May 18 Green Fair at United Hebrew Congregation on behalf of JEI. Participants visiting the JEI table learned more about the work of JEI and also tested examples of homemade cleaning products and personal care products.




Volunteers from the Jewish Environmental Initiative and its Teen Group helped make the third annual native plant sale a success. Over 100 plants and vegetables were sold, including 11 varieties of plants and flowers provided by Missouri Wildflowers Nursery and naturally grown basil and tomatoes donated by Flower Hill Farm. All proceeds will go to benefit the work of the JEI Teen Group, which gives educational presentations on ways to help the environment and does river clean ups and tree plantings.


Shira Siegel, Yael Simon and Elianna Dryer of the JEI Teen Group assist at the recent native plant sale




On April 6, members of the JEI Teen Group gave two presentations on ways to go Green to area young people. In the morning, Teen Group members Shira Siegel and Aitan Groener spoke to the Eight Grade class at Congregation B'nai Amoona. In the afternoon, members Amy Miller and Yael Simon spoke to 5th-7th grade girls in the JCC's Nishman program. Both presentations focused on the connection between Judaism and the environment and provided information on ways to protect G-d's creation, the Earth, through practices that conserve water, paper, electricity and other resources.

Photos from JEI Teen Events

Shira Siegel and Aitan Groener at B'nai Amoona

Abby Miller and Yael Simon at Nishmah

Encourage Your Congregation or Organization to Use
Recycling on the Go

The Jewish Environmental Initiative has a new subcommittee focused on making Jewish events in Saint Louis more eco-friendly through increased recycling and less waste. If you are helping to organize an event in the Jewish community and would like more information, contact Gail Wechsler at or 314-442-3894.


Over 50 People Attend 2013Project Noah Tree Planting

In October of 2013, JEI in partnership with M-SLICE, Holy Ground Collaborative and Midwest Bank Centre, held a community tree planting in the historic Kensington neighborhood of North Saint Louis City. Those attending included 7th grade students at Central Reform Congregation, members of both the JEI adult and teen groups, as well as members of the Holy Ground congregations of different faiths. Rabbi Randy Fleisher led the opening service, paying tribute to JEI visionaries the late Alfred Kahn and the late Alan Elfanbaum. Pictured below are Jason Penrod with JEI teen groups members Abby Miller, Roey Vardi and Ariel Groener.

Read the article from the "West End Word" about the tree planting

Beautiful Trees Make Better Neighborhoods

Other Photos from 2013 Tree Planting

JEI Hosts Organic Potluck Dinner for Sukkot

JEI members gathered on Tuesday September 24 for an organic potluck dinner to celebrate the holiday of Sukkot. The event was co-sponsored by the JCC’s Hazon CSA and The Garden of Eden community garden. Many of the dishes prepared contained food from the Community Supported Agriculture program operated with Dry Dock Farms in Silex, Missouri.


JEI Chair Susan Mlynarczyk welcomes the group         participants gather for the potluck dinner


JEI Teen Group members educate other teens about Going Green

During the month of April, members of the JEI Teen Group spoke with other teens about ways that they can have a positive impact on the environment. Members of the teen group spoke with 7th graders at United Hebrew Congregation and 8th graders at Congregation B’nai Amoona. The teens covered topics such as how to be more Green in transportation choices, food choices, personal care item choices, and water and paper use.

Left to right—Roey Vardi, Ariel Groener and Hannah Cropf speaking at United Hebrew Congregation on April 14, 2013


JEI Teens and Friends Hold Successful River Clean Up Event

On Sunday April 7, members of the JEI Teen Group and friends participated with TrailNet on a river clean up by the Chain of Rocks Bridge in Madison, Illinois. The teens picked up trash along and near the Mississippi River, making the area cleaner and safer. “This was a true example of our teens helping to repair God’s creation, the Earth,” said Gail Wechsler, JCRC Director of Domestic Issues and staff person for the JEI Teen Group.

Tree Planting                                                              
Jewish Environmental Initiative-Teen Group
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JEI Teen Featured in jewishinstlouis column "Cool Jewish Kids"


Garden of Eden

For many people who need to use the Jewish Food Pantry the idea of getting fresh vegetables is only a dream.  The pantry’s shelves are stocked with boxes of macaroni and cheese and cans of soup, not fresh vegetables.  The Garden of Eden was built to change this.  Located on the northeast side of the Staenberg Arts & Education Building on the
I. E. Millstone Jewish Community Campus, the garden is flourishing.

The JCC and the Union for Reform Judaism have partnered to build a garden on the grounds of the J. JEI will be assisting with educational activities related to the garden.  The garden will be tended by individuals from Covenant Chai Apartments and the general Jewish community.  Led by Myra Rosenthal, Alan Raymond, Linda Kram and Lesley Levin, volunteers have planted squash, cucumbers, radishes, peppers and tomatoes to name a few of the vegetables that will be shared with the food pantry.

All members of the community are invited to come and tend the garden.  Volunteer hours are Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:30pm-8:30pm and on Sundays from 10:00am-Noon.  Volunteers should call ahead to schedule a time to help in the garden.

For reservation or other information please contact Lesley Levin at 314-628-6200.

Alan Raymond and Myra Rosenthal at the new
Jewish Community Garden at the Staenberg Arts
& Education Complex of the JCC



On April 22, 2012, members of the JEI Teen Group spread the word throughout the Jewish community on ways to go Green. Teen Group members Shira Feen and Shira Siegel spoke at Mitzvah Day at Congregation BSKI, presenting information geared to children and families on “Ten Easy Steps to Be Green in your Home.” Teen group members Aitan Groener, Dena Selig and Roey Vardi spoke to 8th grade students at Congregation Bnai Amoona about steps large and small the teens could take to help the earth. The 8th grade students learned about ways
to reduce paper and water waste, how to reduce energy emissions via transportation choices and how to eat in a more eco-friendly way. They also learned about eco-friendly personal care items.

For more information about the JEI Teen Group and about having the group speak at your organization, contact Gail Wechsler at or 314-442-3894.

L/R: JEI Teen Group members Roey Vardi,             L/R: JEI Teen Group Advisor Sarah Anne Patz with Dena Selig and Aitan Groener at Congregation Teen Group members Shira Siegel and Shira B'nai Amoona                                                     Feen


JEI Teen Group On The Move

The Jewish Environmental Initiative is excited to introduce it's newest program--a group for teens interested in environmental issues.The JEI Teen group is for any Jewish teen (8th grade and above)who would like to explore the connections between Judaism and caring for the Earth. The group meets every other month and plans activities and projects of all kinds--from researching environmental topics to doing presentations for youth groups to taking nature hikes. If interested in learning more about the JEI Teen group, contact Gail Wechsler at or 314-442-3894.

The JEI Teen Group has developed a PowerPoint called "Greening your Synagogue". For more information, please contact Gail Wechsler at or 314-442-3894.

(left to right) JEI Teen Group members Hannah Cropf and Jenny Koshner


Community Resources for Project Noah—There are many ways that synagogues, day schools and others in the Jewish community can do more to protect the environment.  Below are materials that offer a variety of ways you can increase your awareness and act to better protect the planet:

Eco-Friendly Educational Ideas for All Ages

Green Tsuvah Survey for Teens

Tips for an Eco-Friendly Simcha

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Contact Us

For more information contact Gail Wechsler (314) 442-3894 or

As Jews, we are commanded to preserve and restore God's wondrous creation - the Earth! The Biblical injunction, b'al tashit, is a prohibition against wasting resources. the concept of tikkun olam mandates that we repair the world.

"Do not destroy and desolate My world, for if you corrupt it, there is no one to set it right after you."
Midrash Ecclesiates Rabbah 7:13

Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis | 12 Millstone Campus Dr. | St. Louis, MO 63146 | 314-442-3871 |