Environmental activism has taken a running jump forward in the Jewish world, with today’s launching of a new web portal named Jewcology.com.

Jewcology.com promotes and advances Jewish environmental awareness and action within the international Jewish community. The initiative is a joint project led by Evonne Marzouk, an observant Jew from Silver Spring, Md., with the collaboration of 19 Jewish environmentalists, members of ROI Community for Young Jewish Innovators.

The goal is to tackle environmental issues through Jewish tradition. "Jewcology is the first internet portal of its kind," says Baruch Rock, a member of Jewcology’s international team and a rabbinical student at Ohr Torah Stone’s Rabbinical Seminary in Efrat, Gush Etzion. "Born out of the recognition that by sharing our resources we can accomplish so much more, Jewcology is the go-to place for Jewish environmentalists and lay-people.”

The site’s Idea Box, for instance, provides resources to be shared by Jewish environmentalists around the world, uploaded by both the organization and visiting guests. To date, over 50 Jewish environmental activists and organizations have uploaded more than 300 resources. Topics include vegetarianism, water, energy, agriculture, trees, food, and recycling; Jewish holidays such as Rosh HaShanah and Shavuot; and Biblical commandments such as Bal Tashchit (do not waste) and Tzaar Baalei Chaim (proper treatment of animals). The materials – in English, Hebrew and Spanish - are intended for a wide range of audiences, from children to lay leaders and rabbis. Resources include synagogue projects, Jewish teachings, awareness activities, and art projects.

Among the features to be found on the portal are:

  • A section on Green [environmentally friendly] gifts for Chanukah;
  • A Social Justice Program Guide for Chanukah;
  • The Song of the Land - A Torah Teaching for the Western Environmentalist (for Parshat Mikeitz);
  • Digging the Wells: The Importance of Protecting Our Natural Resources (for Parshat Toldot);
  • How to Host a Sustainable Kiddush.

Jewcology’s Noga Zohar from Be’er Sheva, where she heads Shvuat HaAdamah/Earth's Promise, says the collaboration makes everyone feel both part of, and a contributor to, a movement for change. "Jewcology is an amazing platform for organizations like ours to share some of the daily wonders and struggles in creating a sustainable future in the middle of the desert city of Be’er Sheva,” she says.

Marzouk, featured as an up-and-coming leader in the 2009 New York Jewish Week's "36 under 36", says, “This is the first comprehensive web-based address for the entire Jewish environmental community, enabling environmental activists to interact, learn from one another and leverage that knowledge to protect the environment and build a more sustainable world. By empowering Jewish environmentalists, Jewcology.com will help the entire Jewish community understand the relevance of Jewish tradition to modern challenges.”

The Jewcology.com team includes Teva Ivri (Hebrew Nature) in Israel, activists from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, Miami, San Francisco, Charlottesville, New Jersey and Vancouver, as well as Shanghai, China and Santiago, Chile. They met through the ROI Community global network created by Jewish philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, and were able to realize the vision thanks to a $50,000 ROI Innovation Fund grant.

“Jewcology.com is ROI’s largest collaborative initiative,” said ROI Director Justin Korda. “It underscores the power of the global network of young Jewish innovators we’ve been nurturing since 2006. Jewcology.com gets environmental activists to leverage their knowledge in order to sensitize, educate and activate Jewish communities to safeguard the environment.”