Temple Emanuel, Winston Salem

Temple Emanuel

Temple Emanuel

Temple Emanuel, Winston Salem
201 Oakwood Dr  Winston-Salem, NC 27103

Temple Emanuel’s climate change leadership is spearheaded by “Temple Emanuel Environmental Movement” (TEEM), which was formed in 2008. The goal of TEEM is to bring together people of different faiths, socio-economic backgrounds, races, ages and cultures, and to educate them about the importance of caring for the environment through their day-to-day actions, voting, and consumer purchases. TEEM strives to build strong alliances in the community and with different faiths.

TEEM began its work by hosting a monthly environmental movie/speaker series in 2007. A typical audience is between 50 to 100 people. After the movie, the audience is asked to take specific actions. Often movies are planned to coincide with other environmental events (local, statewide, national and international). For example, on the International Day for Climate Action (9/24/09), TEEM created a temporary interfaith group named CARE (Citizens Acting for Renewable Energy) which held a rally of 50 people with signs on 5 busy street corners. In conjunction with this event, TEEM ran a successful petition drive, where over 500 signatures were obtained and sent to North Carolina’s US Senators Burr and Hagan, requesting their support of strong climate legislation. TEEM showed the movie “Everything’s Cool” and a video was produced about the weekend event.

TEEM continues to work on “greening” the temple with the support of the Temple clergy and Presidents, past and current.  TEEM has also proposed that the Temple Board adopt a sustainability policy, considering the environment in every Temple/member activity, from the building, to the grounds, to the education of our children. TEEM also showed the National IPL film, “Renewal,” which inspired the attendees of various faiths to participate in a brainstorming session on how to bring our community together through common goals of caring for the Earth and our environment. This fall, TEEM hosted a speaker from NCIPL, who shared part of their emPOWERed program.

Since its formation, TEEM has organized, partnered with and participated in other environmental activities. For example, TEEM and members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship organized the interfaith booth at the 2009 and 2010 Earth Day Fairs, which were staffed by a variety of faith congregations, including Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus. Several years ago, TEEM hosted a NCIPL energy audit and workshop, inviting other congregations for the workshop. The energy audit resulted in immediate energy reduction (leading to cost savings) and also assisted TEEM in prioritizing actions to reduce the Temple’s energy use. This supported our request that the Temple board hire a professional energy auditor. TEEM converted the eternal light from the electric grid to solar and has made many other internal changes, with more plans in the future.

Recently, TEEM worked together with NCIPL to lead a workshop hosted by the Winston-Salem organization “CHANGE” (Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment) on “Congregations Going Green”  in the Winston-Salem community. Additional actions and activities include: staging environmental workshops, planning movies around other city-wide environmental events, and organizing interfaith environmental booths at sustainability fairs throughout the year.

TEEM has proven that movies are an inexpensive way to educate the public and that the process is replicable. Since TEEM’s film series began, other organizations such the Piedmont Environmental Alliance, Yadkin Riverkeeper and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association have shown environmental films to educate the public, sometimes in anticipation of their upcoming events. In 2010 and 2011, the annual River Run International Film Festival in Winston-Salem also showed environmental films.

Recognizing TEEM’s impressive works, Temple Emanuel was awarded the coveted Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism Irving J. Fain Award for Outstanding Synagogue Social Action Programming, one of the highest honors available to congregations within the Reform Jewish Movement. The attitudes and actions of Temple Emanuel’s members have been influenced by TEEM. There are many hybrid cars in the temple parking lot and there are few large SUVs.

-Written by the members of  TEEM

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