Shomera’s mission is to imbue Jerusalem’s communities with an appreciation for the city, while giving people the tools to protect its many national treasures.
Americans love awards nights — with remote control in hand, it’s hard to leave the couch when the Academy Awards, Grammy’s and the Golden Globes are on. Israel, too, has its own awards nights, and one growing in popularity. Its spirit isn’t golden and Hollywood glam, however, but simple and green.
Awarded annually, Israel’s Green Globe is an award given to outstanding leaders and organizations working in Israel’s non-profit environment sector. This year, the award in the “local organization” category was awarded to Shomera, a faith-based NGO that encourages religious Jews to access the wisdom in the Torah to solve environmental problems.
Quoting the Bible “to work and protect” (Genesis 2:15) is their mission, according to the company, the organization imbues Jerusalem’s communities with an appreciation for the capital and its national treasures, while giving people the tools to protect those treasures.
The faith-based approach fits Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel, and home to a dizzying number of religious worshippers of multiple faiths. The company’s work resonated with the panel of Green Globe judges. Naor Yerushalmi (whose name in Hebrew means Jerusalemite), an associate director at Life and Environment, spoke with ISRAEL21c about the choice.
“They are working inside a wide variety of communities: among the ultra-orthodox (Jewish), special needs and youth,” he says. “Their programs are ground-breaking, because most of the environmental work [in Israel] is not taking place in these communities,” Yerushalmi tells ISRAEL21c.
Yerushalmi is a senior adviser on public relations and public affairs, and has served as spokesperson for the Ministry of the Environment and as director of public affairs at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, DC.
“Traditional Jewish texts,” writes Shomera’s website, “are replete with environmental source material. The Torah and rabbinic literature discuss the problems and solutions to many modern day environmental concerns both on a philosophical level and in the legal realm.”
According to Yerushalmi, “They are leading the way in breaking the environmental word to these communities,” noting that the Green Globe is often presented with a twist: Shomera received their prize this year from the hands of Abed Namarna, an Arab-Israeli working in the green arena to educate the Arab community through the Hatikva Al Amal Association for the Advancement of Culture.
Like the Academy Awards, Israel’s Green Globe is televised and is prominently featured in the country’s media. Awarded on World Environment Day, and founded five years ago by Israel’s Green Environment Fund and Shatil, the Green Globe has also gone in previous years to Citizens for the Environment in the Galilee, an Arab and Jewish grassroots activists working to fight water insecurity and to the Organization for the Quality of Life in Nahariya, working to eliminate dangerous stores of asbestos around the city and region.
A Green Globe is much coveted by local green organizations in Israel, but beware polluters: there is an award for you too, that you don’t want to get — the dreaded Black Globe!