Local rabbi becomes environmental group chair

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Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb has been named to lead the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.
Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb has been named to lead the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.

Ever since his days at Goldman Union Camp in Indiana, Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb has felt connected to nature. As spiritual leader at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, Scherlinder Dobb has overseen his congregation’s environmental efforts, which include

installing solar panels at the synagogue, creating “sacred grounds” for native wildlife and using energy-efficient products.


For the past 20 years, Scherlinder Dobb has also served as a board member of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. Earlier this month, Scherlinder Dobb was named chair of COEJL, which operates under the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. It is a volunteer position.

As he has for the past 18 years, Scherlinder Dobb will continue on as rabbi at Adat Shalom, calling the Bethesda synagogue “my first priority.”

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As COEJL chair, Scherlinder Dobb, 44, plans to speak out on environmental issues and work with the many Jewish organizations connected to this cause.

“I am looking to shore up the basic strong commitment of the Jewish community toward environmental justice, and where possible, to significantly expand COEJL’s presence across the


country,” said the rabbi, who was in Minneapolis last week on his first speaking engagement as COEJL chair.

“Environmental issues have become more important in recent years. Polls show that more and more people appreciate the connection between the spiritual and the ethical realm and the political and science sides of the environmental question,” said Scherlinder Dobb, who lives in Tenleytown in Washington, D.C.

Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of JCPA, praised Scherlinder Dobb. “He has already been an innovative and thoughtful leader of COEJL for many, many years. Rabbi Scherlinder Dobb long been an ardent supporter and fierce advocate within the Jewish and global communities for the environment and social justice.”

Climate models show that the Middle East, already thirsting for water, is likely to experience continuing water scarcity in the future, Scherlinder Dobb said. “Being pro-Israel requires” a commitment to the environment, he said.

Beyond supporting Israel, he continued, “environmental concerns are built centrally into Judaism, which includes celebration of the Creation and all that God has created.”

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@SuzannePollak

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