Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb
This was a Bethesda Magazine 2010 Award and this is the link:
Category: Individuals, 19 or older, who are actively promoting and living a green lifestyle
Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb brought about 100 Adat Shalom congregants on a boat trip up the Anacostia and Potomac rivers in March to witness the evils of pollution as modern-day Passover plagues.
Along the Anacostia shoreline, the group saw—and smelled—rotting fish floating along with plastic bags, cans and other trash, and learned about raw sewage that had been dumped there for decades.
The journey, and its follow-up activities, inspired about 20 members to build barrels to collect storm water for their landscaping at home. Others helped support a proposed measure in the Maryland state legislature to charge consumers a fee on plastic grocery bags, to discourage their use.
In addition to such illuminating field trips, Dobb spurs congregants to take eco-friendly action through Oprah-style sermons at the Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda, and through actions of his own to make the synagogue itself greener.
“The environmental crisis today is largely [the result of] an overemphasis on our short-term desires rather than the long-term good,” says Dobb, 40, who lives in Bethesda. “I seek to empower people to make the most sustainable and thoughtful choices they can.”
Alissa Stern of Bethesda accompanied Dobb up the Anacostia last year. She recalls Dobb illustrating the link between ecological degradation and socio-economic oppression, and was impressed by how he brings “lessons to life.”
“Eco-justice” issues have always motivated Dobb, who grew up in Toledo, Ohio, the only child of a single mother. “My experience of growing up economically challenged fueled a sense of empathy and my desire to build a more just and sustainable world,” he says.
A graduate of Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., Dobb helped lead the construction of the eco-friendly Adat Shalom synagogue in the Carderock Springs neighborhood.
Completed in 2001, the 25,200-square-foot building includes six lighting and heating zones, energy-efficient appliances, passive solar heating, recycled carpet and sustainable wood features. Adat Shalom was named an “Energy Star Congregation” in 2002—only the second synagogue in the nation to be recognized at the time by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Even before first lady Michelle Obama began organic gardening, Dobb dedicated two 16-foot by 25-foot plots on Adat Shalom’s 4.7 acres to growing eco-friendly vegetables and herbs. The gardens, planted and tended to by congregants, lead to lessons on sustainable agriculture and composting, and the fresh food is donated to needy families, says Dobb, who is married with two young children and has been the full-time rabbi at Adat Shalom for 13 years.
In September, the board of the synagogue approved the installation of solar panels on its roof, which will make it the first such synagogue in the region, Dobb says.
Dobb serves as chairman of Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light, a regional group of hundreds of synagogues, churches and mosques that focuses on environmental stewardship.
“He has been inspirational among his peers of other religious traditions,” says the group’s director, Joelle Novey of Silver Spring.