Making a Difference with Low Cost Green Actions at Oak Park Temple

by Melanie Weiss Many religious congregations in Oak Park and River Forest are tackling green initiatives that reduce, reuse and recycle and at the same time show congregants the importance of living sustainably and caring for Mother Earth.

Oak Park Temple on Harlem Avenue is one example of a local congregation that has embraced a number of mostly low to no-cost green actions that are making a huge difference to the congregations’ 500 families.

Bike Racks Installed

Oak Park Temple member Pamela Brookstein founded a volunteer group at the congregation called Green Chaverim about five years ago. Since then, the temple has become “greener.” For instance, Oak Park Temple took advantage of a village program where the public works department will install bike racks at no charge on public property, so they added bike racks in front of the building. Please contact Bill McKenna at 358-5728 to get more information about this program.

Pamela also helped to establish a more user-friendly recycling program after receiving a donation of new recycling bins from Oak Park Public Works. Contact Karen Rozmus at 358-5708 for information on that program.

Garden Produce Shared with OP Food Pantry

In May, Oak Park Temple established a thriving garden, with volunteers tending to it on a rotating schedule and a portion of the bounty being donated to the Oak Park Food Pantry. “Each person would weed, water and pick what was ripe each week,” explained Pamela. This fall during the Jewish harvest holiday of Sukkot, the Green Chaverim will cook a Shabbat Friday night dinner for members of the congregation using food harvested from the garden.

Another successful endeavor has been the commitment to using non disposable silverware and china at temple events. The congregation also hosts a Speaking of Green series that brings in presenters on a variety of green topics. This February Oak Park’s Waste Reduction Manager, Karen Rozmus, will be the featured speaker.

Free Energy Audit

Oak Park Temple also applied for and received a free energy efficiency audit through the Delta Institute. “After the audit, we received a report that included many low cost to almost no cost energy improvements that the temple can make,” explained Pamela. This program has limited funding available. More information on the Cook County Energy Efficiency Program, including its application deadline, is available  at