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Hadassah takes up environment mantle

NEW YORK (JTA) – Renowned for its work providing state-of-the-art medical care in Israel, Hadassah at its national convention this week focused on keeping people healthy by going green.

The Women’s Zionist Organization of America urged the 2,500 members attending its annual assembly to take up simple actions that could help save the environment and stave off global warming – for instance, turning off lights and buying more trees from the Jewish National Fund.

At the Hilton Hotel parley, several sessions on the environment included a talk by Rabbi Lawrence Troster of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.

“We brought to this convention the opportunity to become an activist on a personal level,” convention chairwoman Barbara Spack said.

The organization’s national director of advocacy, Shelley Klein, said the convention “was the start of mobilizing our grassroots to take this situation seriously.”

“We have over 300,000 members in every state and every district, so for us, our strength is our people and our members,” Klein said. “For us the touchstone of our advocacy is our grassroots.”

She said the nearly 100-year-old organization is using the convention to see if global warming and the environment resonate with its members. The organization is working on position papers and starting to look at the issue on a policy level, Klein said.

Hadassah is also a partner in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, an effort to provide education that would improve eight pressing areas by 2015: hunger, primary education, gender equality, child mortality rates, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, environmental sustainability and global development.

Klein called the environment a natural fit for Hadassah because of the biblical responsibility to use the earth’s resources properly and a reduction in the dependence on oil would benefit Israel.

 

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