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Green Team






The mission of the BIC Green Team is to promote the development of ecologically sustainable practices within our synagogue community.  Our intent is to use the best scientifically verified information and practices, take into account the needs of the Beth Israel Congregation, and to be informed by our rich Jewish history and tradition.

Our activities focus on:

  • Improving the energy efficiency of the synagogue buildings,
  • Optimizing recycling efforts in the synagogue, and 
  • Developing and maintaining an organic garden, the goal of which is to donate fresh produce to a local food bank.

Green Team Membership and Meetings
Our current membership includes Michael S. Simon – chair, Levana Aronson, Sarah Adler, Nancy Leon, Babette Levy, Rachel Levy, Harvey Michaels, Diane Wilson, and Martha Young.  We meet monthly on the 1st Sunday of the month from 9:30 -10:30 am.  For now, the meetings are on Zoom, and the link is provided in the synagogue's weekly newsletter. Please contact Michael Simon for further information about participating in Green Team meetings and activities.  We welcome all BIC members who have time to contribute as well as ideas about how to promote a more sustainable future for our congregation.

Ann Arbor 2030 District Houses of Worship (HoW) group
In 2021, BIC joined the 2030 Ann Arbor District as well as an affiliated subgroup consisting of Ann Arbor houses of worship (HoW).  The goal of the Ann Arbor 2030 District and the HoW subgroup is to improve energy efficiency and environmentally friendly practices across commercial buildings and HoW, with a goal of reaching a targeted benchmark by 2030.  Through funding from the Ann Arbor 2030 District and Hazon we have successfully completed an energy audit of the main synagogue and the school annex with recommendations for improvements in several parts of the building infrastructure including among others motion sensors, LED lights, roof insulation, and the kitchen exhaust system.

Solar Power  
The feasibility of developing an independent corporation to purchase and manage solar panels for the BIC 2000 Washtenaw Avenue building is being studied.  A preliminary assessment of the roof currently indicated that it has an anticipated life span of 5-7 years.  For details, see “Genesis solar installation is a powerful model”, Washtenaw Jewish News, April 2021

Composting at BIC
All food items used at BIC events including our compostable dishware and utensils are now collected and composted by the city during the weekly Ann Arbor curbside compost pickup (monthly over the winter months).  BIC purchases compostable plates, cups, napkins, and cutlery. During the weekly Shabbat Kiddush, all leftover food and eating implements are collected in compostable bags.  Composting is facilitated by signage over the waste container areas in the social hall and by volunteers, in addition to our weekly announcements.

Collaboration with the Beth Israel Religious School (BIRS)
A recycling effort has been set up in collaboration with the Beth Israel Religious School (BIRS).  We are now collecting all plastic candy and snack wrappers from children at the school.  These items will be collected and transferred in bulk to TerraCycle at Ann Arbor Subaru, which has initiated a plastic recycling program.  We welcome future educational efforts in collaboration with the school based on its needs. 

We are a member of Hazon (the Jewish Laboratory for Sustainability).  The Hazon Seal of Sustainability is a 12-month program designed to support organizations and communities working to create a healthier, more equitable, and more sustainable world for all.   This is done by linking Jewish values to substantive action toward sustainability and climate-centered goals.  BIC has agreed to take substantial action on 2-3 projects focused on greening initiatives or sustainability in a 12-month period. Beth Israel Congregation is pleased to announce that we received a sustainability grant which will fund 5 action items including motion sensors for the bathrooms and a selection of LED bulb replacements.  We are one of the founding members of Hazon’s Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition, which will give us access to other larger grants that have the potential to fund at least some of our energy improvement activities.   

Beth Israel Garden
BIC is a member of Project Grow Ann Arbor and “Faith and Food”.   We sustain a community garden plot at County Farm, which is part of the Washtenaw County park system.  We have 5-7 volunteers that maintain the garden, and all produce is donated to Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor.  We are attempting to grow flowers that can be used for synagogue holiday decorations.

Eco Shabbat
We facilitate Shabbat services on an annual basis utilizing a “Jewish ecological” theme.  Frequently these services are held at the County Farm Park shelter.  This year’s eco Shabbat was held on August 5/6 where we introduced 6 concepts in Jewish tradition which connect us to concern for the environment.  We also introduced our congregation to our Hazon representative who spoke about options for Jewish youth involvement in the environmental movement.  A highlight of the Erev Shabbat event at the park was the tour of our garden.

If you have any questions about or would like more information about the Green Team, contact Michael Simon.

Sat, September 23 2023 8 Tishrei 5784