Letters to the Editor: February 20, 2013

Going green

I enjoyed the recent articles on the Jewish community and the environment. I applaud every institution that has adopted green consciousness as part of their Jewish consciousness. I’d like to share some concrete information that connects the practical to the spiritual.

When Nusach Hari B’nai Zion was looking at building its new facility the idea of “going green” was an integral and deeply considered part of the design, engineering, financing, legal analysis and building process. It is no accident that NHBZ was designed to be built into a hill to take advantage of passive insulation. And that’s also why the new building boasts 65 solar panels on its roof and 36 geothermal wells to provide its heating and air conditioning.

Now that NHBZ has been in its building for a full year, it can look back and see actual results. In the past 12 months the congregation’s solar panels have generated more than 28,000 kilowatts of energy — enough to power two stadiums for a day. NHBZ’s system has also realized a carbon offset of over 19 tons — the equivalent of two acres of forest. NHBZ has a real-time monitor of the solar panel output included in its lobby and a link on its website, www.nhbz.org.

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Were these features easy or cheaper for the congregation? Certainly not in the short run. But, as NHBZ’s Rabbi Ze’ev Smason said in your article, “the Jewish commitment to a better world must run deep to be meaningful.” The environmental consciousness that NHBZ has actively embraced is a solid example—but only an example—of being a modern bridge to timeless Jewish spirituality.

Bob Kaiser, Past President of NHBZ — Olivette

Countering BDS

Thank you for placing the article on the Israeli SodaStream product on the front page of the paper (Feb. 13, 2013). The attack on the product reveals what the BDS (Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions) movement truly is: an enemy of peace. BDS claims to seek equal treatment of so-called Palestinians living under “occupation,” but in fact, its stated goals are ridding “all Arab lands” of Jews and of providing all Palestinian “refugees” a right of return. These goals — and BDS actions throughout the world — show its true goals are the destruction of the State of Israel.

SodaStream’s makers not only employ about 200 Israelis, but they also employ 900 Arabs, including about 500 Palestinians from the Territories, with all employees receiving good, equal treatment. This is precisely the normalization approach that we all should support, for the good of Jews and of Arabs. The fact that BDS opposes it shows that fair treatment of Arabs has nothing whatsoever to do with its true objectives.

Upon reading the article, I immediately went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and purchased a SodaStream for my family. It is a well constructed product, top rated all over the Internet, and it makes great club soda. The best way to oppose the BDS movement is by supporting projects like this one that really make a difference in the lives of Jews, Arabs and all residents of the Territories.

People often wonder what they can do to encourage “peace in the Middle East.” Who ever thought that one way to do it, could be by pouring yourself a refreshing glass of bubbly water.

David A. Rubin — University City