The independent synagogue wanted to make a point

Congregation Kolot Chayeinu, a synagogue in Park Slope, has withdrawn its money from Chase Bank. The action is part of an increasing environmental movement created to punish companies engaged in fossil fuel industries and its ancillaries. Chase Bank assisted to underwrite the Dakota Access Pipeline. The founder of the Brooklyn, NY congregation, Rabbi Ellen Lippmann said: “We are not a large nor a wealthy congregation, but we hope and believe this divestment will make a difference to Chase.”

The Kolot Chayeinu move makes it at the front of all Jewish organizations when it comes to “values-driven investing.” Such an action will put the money toward environmental crises including climate change. Leaders of this independent synagogue along with its members met at the Amalgamated Bank branch near Sunset Park on Tuesday to formally announce their divestment. The group was joined by City Council members and the public advocate of New York City. A Native American tribe chief also attended.

Their new bank is Amalgamated Bank, a small bank compared to JPMorgan Chase. It was at one time a union bank. More important to the congregation is that the bank follows sustainable lending practices. Lippmann said that she knows Kolot Chayeinu's modest funds, a little less than one million, may be a blip to Chase's finances, yet a statement has been made. Chase is America's largest bank. It is also the financial entity which loans maximum amounts of money to extreme fossil fuel companies. In contrast, the mission of Amalgamated Bank is to be a financial institution suitable for progressive organizations and progressive people. The bank will finance only those organizations who live and work to make earth more sustainable and more compassionate.

When asked how her synagogue arrived at their momentous decision, Lippmann said that she was earlier involved with the Water Protectors of Standing Rock. She learned during that period of the existence of banks like Chase which finance environmental degradation projects like Dakota Access Pipeline. That is when she decided to shift the money somewhere else. The Standing Rock site witnessed protests in 2016 and 2017.

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