December 22, 2014   30 Kislev 5775
Environmental Expo
Mar. 14, 2011
Annual environmental expo with documentary showing, speaker panel, farmers market/ green fair and complimentary e-waste recycling.

Community Contact Information:
Congregation Beth Israel
San Diego, CA


  • To provide an opportunity for synagogue members to learn about the environment

Congregation Beth Israel hosts an annual environmental expo, which consists of four components: an environmental documentary showing, individual speakers or panel discussion, a farmers market/green fair, and free electronic waste (e-waste) recycling.  

Each year, the environmental program subcommittee of the congregation’s social action committee chooses a theme for the expo. From this theme, the program components are determined.

Film: The ideal film length is about 30 minutes. Once the film is chosen, purchase and licensing of the film is underway and underwritten by a congregant.

Speaker Panel / Lectures: Based on the topic, the committee determines if a panel discussion or individual lectures would be most appropriate. Invitations are then sent to individual experts or agencines to participate.

Farmers Market/ Green Fair & Recycling Electronic Waste: Suggested exhibitors and vendors are identified and contacted. The committee focuses on (1) small, local, sustainable companies, (2) companies that are involved with fair trade/fair labor practices and (3) not-for-profit advocacy groups. 

To market the event, a flier is created and distributed throughout the synagogue campus and at the local Jewish Community Center. A short article is written and included in the synagogue’s newsletter and on the website. A press release is prepared and distributed to the local newspapers, secular and Jewish. Though the event is free, marketing materials ask for an RSVP for planning purposes.

About three weeks prior to the event a diagram is prepared and provided to the Facility Coordinator with a list of needed items such as a podium, microphone, projector, DVD player, movie screen, tables, chairs, as well as coffee/tea/water and food. The week prior to the event, a sign with each exhibitor/vendor name is prepared. For the day of the event, the subcommittee prints two or three poster board-sized schedule of events, posting them throughout the synagogue campus.

On the day of the event, the event co-chairs arrive two hours early to ensure that everything is ready to go. Volunteers are needed to help exhibitors/vendors unload in the morning, load in the afternoon and assist them in finding their location for the day. In addition, a main volunteer is assigned to each area: the film/lecture area, the exhibitor/vendors locations and the electronic waste (e-waste) recycling area. Volunteers also are placed at the two entrances to the campus to greet and direct attendees.  

Project Implementation: 
The environmental program is held near Tu B’Shevat on a Sunday morning to coincide with religious school. This timing encourages the parents of the religious school students to stay on campus while the students are in class and builds a sense of community.  

The themes and activities of each environmental expo have been:

  • 2007: Clock’s Ticking on Global Warming. Attendees watched “An Inconvient Truth,” heard from a panel of four experts, and asked questions and answers of the panel.
  • 2008: Out of Gas or All Charged Up? Attendees watched “Who Killed the Electric Car?” and heard from a panel of four experts
  • 2009: Live Green. Attendees watched “The Story of Stuff” and heard individual lectures on this topic.

Examples of exhibitors/vendors include: the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), a local solar electric company, a local artificial turf company, a local nursery, a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm, a local company with natural cleaning supplies and skin care products and a local company with green building supplies. Exhibitors/vendors are allowed to provide food samples and sell items. The event is free for the exhibitors/vendors.

Other components of the event have included a station for students to paint cloth bags for grocery shopping and a tour of the synagogue’s biblical garden.

The environmental expo has been held three times at Congregation Beth Israel and attracts more attendees and exhibitors/vendors each year. A fourth expo will be held in February 2011. The planned theme for February 2011 is Green Table, Just Table. Attendees at the 2011 event will watch  “Homegrown Revolution,” listen to individual lectures on various topics associated with the theme, and watch a cooking demonstration by a well-known local chef who will use in-season produce from a local CSA farm.

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