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Saturday, December 27, 2014

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Winnipeg community goes green

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WINNIPEG — With the launch of EcoShift, Dov and Sara Allentuck Secter have staked their claim to a leadership role in the Jewish community here.

Dov Secter  and Sarah Allentuck Secter

“We lead green lives at home and are passionate about safeguarding the environment,” says Allentuck Secter, a 27-year-old teacher

“Dov [a 33-year-old architect] and I weren’t seeing much interest in environmental issues in the organized Jewish community. So we thought we would do something to promote environmental awareness within the community.”

What the young couple came up with was EcoShift, a daylong series of eco activities to take place at Asper Jewish Community Campus, on Sept. 26. The event aims to educate the community members about the importance of incorporating green behaviours into their daily lives. The program will include composting and recycling and home retrofit demonstrations, environmental activities for children and a green vendor showcase featuring exhibits by local businesses. The highlight of the day will be an appearance by David Suzuki, Canada’s best known environmentalist, speaking at the Shaarey Zedek Synagogue in the evening.

“We thought we would start off with something small,” Allentuck Secter says, “but this has really blossomed. We are hoping to have at least 700 people for Dr. Suzuki’s presentation and several hundred more participating in the activities we have planned during the day.”

The Secters hope that Ecoshift will lead to community organizations implementing environmental initiatives and the expansion of the green agendas of those that already have them.

“EcoShift can act as a catalyst for these changes while raising the profile of our Jewish community’s role in sustainable initiatives within the city of Winnipeg,” Allentuck Secter says. “With tikkun olam as a core Jewish value, the individuals and organizations in Jewish Winnipeg should be paving the way for a more sustainable future.”

While the young couple have been involved in the community previously as canvassers for Combined Jewish Appeal campaigns and have attended Young Leadership conferences in Toronto, EcoShift marks the first time they have ever taken on a venture of this magnitude. “It has been a challenge,” Allentuck Secter says, “but it has been rewarding. We have had a lot of support from the Jewish Federation [of Winnipeg] and we have good people on our committee.”

Allentuck Secter’s mother, Sharon Allentuck, is a longtime CJA volunteer and a former president of the Winnipeg chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women and a national board member.

The couple and their committee organized EcoShift under the auspices of J-PEG, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg’s Next Generation Leadership Division. J-PEG’s mandate is to involve adults between the ages of 25 and 45 who live in Winnipeg in community events, leadership development programs and fundraising initiatives to support local and overseas Jewish communities.

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