COEJL gets new lease on life


The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life has procured $500,000 in funding, which will allow it to continue to resume its full operations, operate for the next two years and to expand.

The organization was founded in 1993 to advocate for environmental reform, but as of late it has been operating at a diminished capacity because of funding issues.

COEJL’s reemergence comes as the United Nations prepares to open a two-week climate change conference in Copenhagen next week.

Here is the press release:


For Immediate Release:                                           Contact: Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications

NEW YORK – One of the religious community’s leading environmental advocacy organizations is launching a new effort to engage the North American Jewish community, reactivate its network across the mainstream Jewish world, and build bridges among organizations working on a most urgent moral challenge of our time, our shared environment.

Under the leadership of new director Sybil Sanchez, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), a project of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), is expanding this week after securing more than half-a-million dollars to fully fund the organization for the next two years, allowing it to resume full operations.

COEJL’s reemergence comes as the United Nations prepares to open a two-week climate change conference in Copenhagen next week.

Based on the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam – to repair the earth – COEJL was founded in 1993 and quickly established itself as one of the nation’s leading voices for environmental reform. In recent years, COEJL, while still maintaining a senior voice in environmental policy and a leadership role in efforts to promote a greener way of life for individuals and organizations, has operated at far less than its full capacity.

“In our daily choices we can renew our relationship with the earth and through individual actions work to sustain our community,” said Sanchez. “COEJL will once again rise to the challenge to inspire our elected leadership, the Jewish community and ourselves to pursue greener policies to preserve the earth for future generations.”

Sanchez, a veteran human rights advocate with broad experience in Jewish communal leadership, comes to COEJL from the Jewish Labor Committee where she served as executive director.

In addition to providing its perspective and analysis on the Copenhagen Conference next week, COEJL is initially concentrating its activities on the Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign, which seeks to help American Jews engage in a holistic manner as individuals, as community members and as citizens of the world. Announced earlier this year, this initiative,,  focuses on increasing Jewish American engagement through the involvement of individual Jewish leaders, more than two dozen national organizations, and thousands of pledged participants.

By engaging the community’s diverse organizational and synagogue structures, the Covenant Campaign seeks to amplify our Jewish communal voice in the nation’s growing climate change and energy debates.

“Under Sybil’s leadership COEJL will quickly return as one of the nation’s premier religious voices on environmental reform. By affecting legislative and social environmental change COEJL will build on the growing awareness of environmentalism as an important component of Jewish communal life,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, president and CEO of The Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, who was instrumental in securing support for COEJL said, “This expansion of COEJL’s invaluable work comes at a time when the environmental consciousness of Jewish organizations, synagogues, rabbis and committed individuals across the nation is blossoming.  The Jewish community is poised to engage more broadly and effectively in the environmental movement, and COEJL’s new campaign provides the guidance, resources and focus necessary to translate these commitments into a powerful Jewish voice on this pressing global issue.”

Already COEJL’s plans are being recognized by veteran environmental activists, including former Vice President Al Gore.

“I am writing to tell you how excited I am by the Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life’s plans for the Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign,” former Vice President Al Gore said in a recent letter.  “It couldn’t come at a more critical moment.  The Jewish community has an absolutely unique capacity for communal action that can resonate throughout American society.”

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