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The Congregation Agudath Israel (CAI) Environmental Committee seeks to educate the CAI community on caring for the environment grounded in Jewish teachings and history; take actions to help the Synagogue and congregants of all ages and stages to lessen our impact on the environment; collaborate with local/state community partners on activities and advocacy to sustain and protect the environment; support environmental justice; engage with the Jewish environmental movements outside of CAI/our community.

For more information or to join our committee, please contact cochairs Harriet Sepinwall or Mark Lipsy.

The Rabbinical Assembly (the international association of Conservative rabbis) met and asked these questions (she'elah): "In a world facing the urgent challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, how should a Jew live? What does Jewish law (Halakhah) teach and require in the matter of sustainability?" After much consideration of what Jewish texts and our sages have taught, the RA issued a Response (Teshuvah). The document states that Conservative rabbis and congregants need to respond by informing ourselves about sustainability issues and to respond with urgency, share with family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers, and ensure that all our decisions align with the goals of sustainability. It points out that Rabbi Tarfon taught לֹא עָׁ ל יָך הַ מְּ לָׁאכָׁה לִ גְּמֹר, וְּלֹא אַ תָׁ ה ב ן חֹורִ ין לִ בָׁ טֵ ל מִ מ נָׁה. (Yours is not to finish the work, but neither are you at liberty to abstain from it). 82 Kavvanah. The RA's Teshuvah concludes that "Until such time as all human-devised systems for extraction, consumption and disposal of material resources are themselves sustainable so that sustainability becomes part of the default operating system of civilization, sustainability will require constant vigilance and intentionality." Click Here to read more.


The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions Environmental Achievement Award
Presented to CAI's Environmental Committee in December 2022 for outstanding accomplishment in local environmental protection for the "Planting Native Trees" project.

Hazon Seal of Sustainability
We are proud to have been awarded the Hazon Seal of Sustainability and accepted into this prestigious program. Hazon, the largest Jewish environmental organization in the United States, addresses environmental and related issues through the lens of Judaism. Their program offers a framework to promote sustainable practices by providing methodology, resources, and means to describe and execute sustainability goals. Being part of the program gives CAI access to information, programming, and environmental practices of our community and provides engagement with other Jewish communities and the local community on environmental issues. CAI also received a Hazon mini-grant to develop and adopt new sustainable food practices at the synagogue.


On December 5, 2020,
the Borough of Caldwell honored Congregation Agudath Israel and its Environmental Committee with its annual Caldwell Sustainability Award.





  In partnership with USCJ, CAI welcomed Jakir Manela, CEO of Adamah, the newly merged entity of Hazon and Pearlstone, for a discussion over Zoom on April 10, 2023. Watch below!

  Zoom lecture by Jonathan Safran Foer, author of "We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast" and "Eating Animals," arranged by Harriet Sepinwall; technical hosting by Mark Lipsy

  2nd Annual Tu B’Shevat Seder, arranged by Debbie Arbit and Randi Brokman with Edna Alberts, using Hazon’s "Tu B’Shevat Haggadah," seder led by Debbie Arbit and including the Seven Species and vegetarian/vegan foods

  Annual Environmental Shabbat with Rabbi Michael Cohen of Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (arranged by Randi Brokman, Harriet Sepinwall, and Anna Millstein of Jewish National Fund)

  Participation in the Green Fair at the Caldwell Public Library, sponsored by the West Essex Ministerial Association (arranged by Bob and Janet Markman)

  2020 Hazon Grant for Sustainable Kiddishes (grant writer Mark Lipsy)

  Revised Webpage

  Screening of "Sustainable Nation," (arranged by Anna Millstein and Susan Werk of CAI’s Education Department, and Jewish National Fund)

  Annual Earth Day programming (arranged by Rabbi David Saltzman and Harriet Sepinwall, co-sponsored by CAI Education Department)

  Virtual field trips with Essex County Environmental Center (co-sponsored with CAI Education Department, arranged by Harriet Sepinwall and Susan Werk)

  Committee strategic planning facilitated by Morris Lewis

  Communications plan facilitated by Howard Kleinman and Morris Lewis

The CAI Environmental Committee has made it possible for congregants to recycle items such as ink cartridges and used batteries in the bin located by the Education Wing staircase and small electronics like hair dryers and can openers in the bin located outside the Main Office. If you have questions, contact committee cochair Mark Lipsy.

  • UPDATES: Local Recycling Opportunities and Information:

      Rechargeable batteries and cell phones: Home Depot, Lowe's, Best Buy, or Staples (single use batteries can now be disposed of through household garbage)
      Used ink cartridges: Staples or Best Buy
      PPE (masks and gloves) and hard-to-recycle items (i.e. snack wrappers/bags, disposable cups, lids, plastic straws, coffee and creamer capsules) can be brought to Paul Miller Subaru in Parsippany and placed in their TERRACYCLE ZERO WASTE BOX
      Individuals may also choose to download the Recycle Coach app for either iPhones ( or Android ( Recycle Coach empowers and encourages communities and individuals to preserve the environment by learning to recycle correctly. It includes searchable lists of recycling opportunities
      Information about recycling in Essex County can be found at
June 24,2024 /  18 Sivan 5784