Hazon, the New York-based Jewish environmental organization, is using a yellow school bus to send a green message.

Actually, 11⁄2 yellow school buses.

In a kick-off ceremony last week outside the United Nations, in honor of Jewish Social Action Month, a “Topsy Turvy Bus,” two chassis fused together, began a three-month journey across the country. The biodiesel-fueled bus, staffed by a few Hazon members, will stop at synagogues and Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions between New York and California to deliver its environmental message.
The bus is a collaborative effort with Teva (tevalearningcenter.org), a Jewish environmental education group.

“It catches people’s attention,” Liore Milgrom-Elcott says of the unique double-decker bus that is outfitted with space for a rooftop garden (for food), solar panels (for electricity), worm-filled compost bins and a human-powered bicycle generator (for educational purposes).

In front of the bus are, from left, Stephane Dujarric, director of the UN Development Program’s Office of Communications; Hazon Executive Director Nigel Savage; and Janos Pasztor, head of the Secretary General’s Climate Change Support Team.

The ceremony was part of a Jewish Climate Change Campaign (jewishclimatecampaign.org) at the UN under the auspices of Hazon and the Jerusalem-based Jewish Climate Initiative. It was designed as a prelude to next week’s environmental conference in England sponsored by The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), at which Hazon (hazon.org) will present a Jewish response to climate change, says Milgrom-Elcott, Hazon’s associate director of special projects.

As part of the campaign, Hazon is encouraging Jewish institutions to create “green teams” that will put into effect various energy-saving measures. About 10 synagogues across the U.S., including Temple Israel and Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains, are part of the first group, Milgrom-Elcott says.

The Westchester congregations are the first stops on the Topsy Turvy Bus’ itinerary. And the bus’ gas mileage? An environmentally questionable eight miles to the gallon.