Caring for the Planet


A Day of Service and Remembrance


Caring  for the Planet is an outgrowth of Temple Emeth’s Social Action Committee’s Environmental Day, the congregation’s 2 year Muslim/Jewish Dialogue with members of a local mosque, the family homeless shelter project housed at our synagogue twice a year and supported by volunteers from surrounding churches and the mosque, and a women’s interfaith group, a spin-off of the Muslim/Jewish Dialogue, that involves women from the mosque, many Protestant churches in Bergen County and Temple Emeth. Temple Emeth is a Reform Jewish synagogue located inTeaneck, the first town in New Jersey to integrate its schools. Teaneck’s Mayor is a Muslim.  Recently Voice of America was in our town for about a week filming many groups that illustrate the diversity of the community and how its residents come together.

 Addressing a Community Need:   The project is two-fold.  Firstly, It is to clean up Windsor Park, a natural park about a mile long filled with garbage and what anyone thought they could get away with tossing into the park.  One of our partners, The County of Bergen Health Services, supplies shovels, rakes, garbage bags and gloves.  And secondly, it is to bring Muslims visibly into the community working together with their neighbors.   Aware that Caring for the Planet falls on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, we were very sensitive to the impact of this day on our Muslim brothers and sisters.  We did not want them to feel isolated as they have all been suspected of being  Islamic terrorists since 9/11 and tarnished by the acts of extremists.  Thus we transformed what was aTemple Emeth project into a community project inviting people of all faiths, backgrounds and ages to participate.

 Commemorating 9/11 losses and honoring services and sacrifices of responders: 9/11 is a day that has not left any of our memories.  Within our community are first responders and families that lost friends and relatives.  Our Rabbi, The Mayor of Teaneck, other community leaders and a member of the Muslim community will express the meaning of this event and the benefits of learning about people  from different backgrounds. In order to preserve the natural park, no tree will be planted.  However, participants will be given names of those who died on this tragic day 10 years ago and will be asked to say their names as they are cleaning the park.  No  more than 15 minutes will be taken by the ”official” commemoration as the planners have also focused  this day as one of education and action.

 Partners:  Partnering with Temple Emeth are:  Darul Islah Mosque; Muslims Against Hunger; Covenant House of Faith International; St. Marks Episcopal Church; County of Bergen Health Services – Bergen County Clean Communities; Jewish Home at Rockleigh;  Early Childhood Center and the Mayor of Teaneck. Outreach is underway to Ethical Culture Society, Teaneck  Fire and Police Departments; Teaneck Clergy Council, teenagers from faith based groups, Teaneck High School, Dwight Morrow High School  and Dwight Englewood Upper Level.

Number of Volunteers Expected:  This is the first time thatTempleEmeth has undertaken a widespread community project.  We want to be realistic and estimate 200-400 volunteers.  We are reaching out to families to secure the involvement of parents and their children working side by side with others. The time of our project is from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm which is also a time when many attend church.  We will work with clergy from the local churches to discuss accommodation for this day of commemoration and service so that their parishioners can join with us in Caring for the Planet.   

 What Volunteers are expected to accomplish through their service:  It is anticipated that volunteers, rain or shine, will have made a significant difference in the condition of the park. They will have picked-up and bagged trash and hauled it to the curb for pick-up.  As participants they will be become more environmentally conscious hopefully explore other activities that care for our planet.  Another expectation is that volunteers will be working with people they may not know and while working together they may experience the value of people of different backgrounds.

 Marketing the Care for the Planet Project:   Marketing will include press releases to the Teaneck Patch, The Suburbanite, The Jewish Standard, The Record (county-wide paper); e-mailing flyers to house bulletins for dissemination to their memberships,  posters placed at the public library, in stores,  municipal offices and the local hospital.  As well, we will invite local and regional media coverage of this day of commemoration and service.