A Greener Approach to Leadership – Teva Quebec program transforms young Jewish leaders

Members of the Jewish Eco-Leadership Training Program

by Aviva Bellman

Teva Quebec believes that Judaism and environmentalism are intricately connected. They also believe that inspiring young people is a fundamental strategy for ensuring tomorrow’s healthy planet, and vibrant Jewish community. Teva Quebec’s Jewish Eco-Leadership Training program (JELT) is a transformative leadership program for high school and CEGEP students in the Montreal area. The program was inspired by Mona Elaine Adilman, the late Jewish Montreal ecologist, activist, educator and writer. The program combines environmental and social justice education and activism with leadership development and Jewish learning. JELT takes the form of an interactive speaker series related to the environmental issues that affect our planet as well as our health and well-being. JELT also encompasses Jewish learning as it relates to environmental issues, community building, and hands-on ecological volunteering.

Big impact in the Big Easy

Since its inception in 2010, JELT has directly impacted communities in Canada and the United Sates. In 2010, JELT took the form of an eco-action trip to New Orleans, where students volunteered to clean up wetlands damaged by the BP Oil Spill and Hurricane Katrina.

180 million

gallons of oil spilt into the Gulf Coast

In 2011, JELT led a cultural exchange between youth from the Montreal Jewish community and the Mohawk community in Kahnawake about our varying perceptions of the environment. Later that year, JELT participants worked with members of the Atikamekw community in Northern Quebec to plant trees and flowers in their community youth centre.

Adding a splash of green to Jewish camps

This year’s JELT program, aptly-titled the JELT Eco-CT (Counselor Training) Program, will take place entirely in the heart of Montreal. Our participants will be Montreal Jewish teenagers who plan to work at Montreal Jewish day camps next summer. Throughout the year, in anticipation of camp, participants will interact with local Montreal agencies that work on issues such as food security, hunger, urban agriculture, and sustainability (e.g. Santropol Roulant, Lufa Farms). They will explore Jewish connections to these issues, by way of Jewish values, traditions, and texts, throughout our programming. During the summer, JELT participants will implement their own Jewish environmental-related program in their respective camps, under the guidance of JELT staff (e.g. Jewish camp garden, camp composting). Participants will utilize their newly acquired leadership skills, environmental know-how, and Jewish thinking to inspire younger campers.

As Tu Bishvat approaches, Teva Quebec looks forward to a new year of JELT. We are excited to share our transformative program with a new cohort.

For more information about JELT or Teva Quebec, please contact Aviva Bellman at avivaTEVAquebec@gmail.com or visit our website at www.TEVAquebec.com.

Editor’s note: For their innovative, eco-friendly approach at cultivating young Jewish leaders, Teva Quebec was awarded with a 2012 GEN J Promise Grant.

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