Jewish organizations get a lot of mileage out of high-octane talk demanding energy independence, but the American Jewish Committee is really gassed up and ready to go on the issue. This week the group announced a first in the Jewish world: it will offer employees incentives to purchase or lease gas-sipping hybrid vehicles. The Fuel Efficient Vehicle Bonus Plan — which applies to AJC workers at its headquarters in New York City and its 32 offices around the country — will provide qualified employees up to $2500, depending on the vehicle they choose. Qualifying cars include hybrid models by Toyota, Honda, Ford, Mercury, Mazda and Saturn. “We believe we are the first non-profit in the country to launch such a program,” said AJC director David Harris. And it’s not just cars that AJC wants to turn green; the group is also “in the midst of qualifying for green certification for our building in New York,” Harris said. “Again, we will be one of the first non-profits to do that.” That involves a state program for buildings that use energy, water and land more efficiently and provide healthier environments for workers and residents. Harris is also making energy independence a key topic in his regular paid broadcasts on CBS radio. “Talk is cheap on energy, and there’s no shortage of talk on the energy crisis,” Harris said. “We are taking action—through our advocacy efforts in Washington, our public education campaign and these efforts to make ourselves more energy efficient.” What kind of car does Harris drive? Not a hybrid; he owns a 2004 Volvo. But an AJC official points out that Harris and his wife are suburban rarities — a one-car family, a decision they made for “energy-saving reasons.” AJC spokesman Ken Bandler notes that he once drove an all-electric car as part of a now canceled program New York state program.
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