My Summer with COEJL
Hi all! My name is Sydney, and I’ve been the program assistant for COEJL for the past three months. I am a student at Oberlin College, majoring in environmental studies. Working with COEJL this summer, I learned a lot about the field of environmental work, and I wanted to share with you my experience.
As most of you are familiar with COEJL’s recent projects, you know that we focus on an array of issues that touch on many aspects of our society. Due to a broad umbrella focus, at any given moment COEJL is involved in many projects. I learned this on my very first day, when I was briefed and immediately thrown into four different projects. It was at once thrilling and overwhelming. I kept asking myself: how can we work on so many projects at once?
There was the management plan for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to advocate for, in addition to deep research to stay up to date with sanctuary details. COEJL was beginning to plan its environmental justice webinar, scheduled for just two months from when I began. And with the Biden administration working on an infrastructure bill, advocacy and education was on COEJL’s priority list, since infrastructure heavily influences environmental effects and inequalities.
Despite the shock of multitasking that came with the job of program assistant, I quickly settled into the fast-paced COEJL flow. True, we are involved with many projects, but that comes with many partners too. On each of these projects, multiple environmental organizations supported each other in working towards a common goal. I soon met many of COEJL’s partners and accomplished environmentalists, all of whom were welcoming. Everyone was eager to catch me up to speed on a project and begin collaborating to move things forward.
Working together, what I soon learned was COEJL’s most important value, is how we got it done. With Floridian and marine conservation organizations, COEJL participated in a week of action to raise support for a stricter protection plan for the Florida Keys. For our environmental justice webinar, we involved environmentalists across the US, from Congressman Grijalva (Chair of House Committee on Natural Resources) in Arizona to Keith Kinch (General Manager of BlocPower) in New York to Rabbi Bec Richman (Germantown Jewish Centre) in Pennsylvania. Together, they spoke to rabbis across the country urging jewish leaders to include environmental justice issues in their holiday sermons and educate their communities. Various op-eds and articles were written about the infrastructure bill (read them here - link to op-eds webpage). These accomplishments are thanks to collaboration and community; we are so grateful to have had your support through it all.
Three and a half months later, COEJL is equally as immersed in many projects. There is another webinar to plan, high holiday sources to share and teach, the United Nations Climate Change Conference faith statement to prepare for, and many more (stay tuned for more excitement!). However, the swirling project load doesn’t feel so overwhelming anymore. I have gained a grasp on the multifaceted nature of the Jewish environmental work, and know there is a community of environmentalists out, ready to help each other make a difference. As a COEJL supporter, you are a part of our mission - and we love when our supporters get involved in making a change! Please reach out Rabbi Daniel, COEJL’s executive director, to learn more about joining COEJL and helping out on our projects. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although I can’t stick around with COEJL any longer, I can’t wait to see what they accomplish next, and how you guys, our supporters, will help further COEJL’s mission to fight for the environment and justice.
Sydney Rosensaft is studying environmental studies at Oberlin College. In addition to her passion for Earth, I love yoga, writing, creating and studying art, and exploring forests around me. In the summer of 2021, she interned with COEJL and took part in the many ongoing projects.