What is Dorot? An introduction

Welcome to “Dorot”, an ambitious new environmental initiative. 

This Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish new year for trees (Monday 17 January), the Office of the Chief Rabbi and the United Synagogue are launching Dorot, a comprehensive strategy to reduce our environmental impact.  

Dorot means “generations” in Hebrew and comprises seven projects which will be rolled out during 2022. 

  • The flagship project will see us lead a campaign to have a tree planted for each of our 37,000 members to sequester carbon dioxide from the air. This will be part of the Queen’s Green Canopy project for the Queen’s Jubilee Celebration. 

  • Another headline project will see the phasing out of disposables from United Synagogue nurseries, shuls and offices, reducing the amount of plastic sent abroad by the UK where it is often dumped or burned.

  • Unused United Synagogue land will be rewilded to encourage biodiversity and provide a home for wildlife.  

  • We’re investigating our investment portfolio from an environmental perspective to ensure it meets high environmental standards, using ESG and other relevant tools. 

  • We’re going to make our travel greener, prioritising train travel over air wherever possible. We’ve also introduced an employee electric car leasing scheme alongside our existing cycling scheme. 

  • Smart energy solutions will be introduced for synagogues, following an energy audit for each. ‘Smart’ devices will help measure, monitor and reduce energy consumption. 

  • And we want to begin a conversation about responsible food consumption: how can the choices we make for breakfast, lunch and dinner better impact the planet? 

We’ll want to hear from you as we roll out these projects and over the coming months we’ll be holding a series of educational sessions and debates exploring the Torah and science perspectives on the issues raised by Dorot. You can find out more about each of the seven projects and read an essay by the Chief Rabbi on our website

I joined the United Synagogue in October as our first Head of Environmental Policy and was asked to write and implement a strategy to improve our ecological impact both in United Synagogue communities and as an organisation. I believe the United Synagogue is in a unique position with its size and resources to take fast, decisive and impactful steps to reduce our environmental harm. 

Many of our communities have already generated real change and we now have the opportunity to scale up the impact across the organisation in a strategic way. I have been incredibly encouraged by the knowledge and support for this critical issue by the leadership of the United Synagogue and by the Chief Rabbi. It’s clear there is a real desire to make tangible environmental change a core part of the organisation. 

We can’t wait to get started. Please join us. 

Naomi Verber 

Head of Environmental Policy, United Synagogue