The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) has a big name, with an even bigger mission. By working with US groups on a national level, COEJL is helping to protect the environment, one green-friendly initiative at a time.
“COEJL has several goals: To deepen the Jewish community, to promote the stewardship of creation, to engage Jews in connecting with their Judaism, and protecting the environment,” said Sybil Sanchez, COEJL director. “We work with national organizations, sects of Judaism, local Jewish groups, Jewish environmental organizations, and interfaith groups on a national level to that end.”
For COEJL, that dedication is about more than just raising awareness. For nearly 20 years, the organization has teamed with powerful groups like the Environmental Protection Agency to affect change in real time.
“We focus on issues relating to the environment and how we can foster a communal approach in this country around energy,” Sanchez said. She added that COEJL has a vast store of issues it focus one, from the Clean Air Act and carbon emission reduction, to promoting sustainability.
While there is a definite political angle to the group’s work, Sanchez said COEJL’s work also relates back to Judaism in a profound way.
“There is a lot of Jewish interest in these issues from a political perspective. Many Jews find a lot of meaning in connecting in this way. In some aspects, it’s an ancient tradition, but it’s also a sign of the modern times we live in.
“Environmentalism has deep roots in Judaism. Our Jewish tradition is based in agriculture and most of the holidays we celebrate connect to agriculture. One of the clearest examples of that is Shabbat. Once a week we take a break and recognize the creator, and recognize that that’s not us.”
.ORG-Connection: The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) deepens the Jewish community’s commitment to the stewardship of creation and mobilizes the resources of Jewish life and learning to protect the Earth and all its inhabitants.