How many schools have a student-built self-sustaining living roof? Yonim Schweig z”l was a JCHS alum who graduated in 2017. For his senior Keystone project, Yonim built a garden bed on the roof of JCHS and planted succulents which he hoped would be self-sustaining, not requiring much tending to from people. The benefits of succulents include flood prevention, water run-off prevention, increased albedo of the roof, which means more sunlight is reflected off the roof and out into space, cooling the climate, and carbon sequestration, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and emitting oxygen. Over the last few years, some succulents managed to survive in the garden despite not receiving constant care, proving that his mission was being accomplished. Let’s keep taking care of this garden so we continue to have a lovely green communal space. A forever garden is a forever memory.


View the Full Story: 

Please click or scan QR code to view the original unveiling and presentation of the rooftop garden in 2017.

My name is Tamara Lowenstein, and I am a friend of the Schweig family and an Einayich Yonim Fellowship alumna. As a senior at the Jewish Community High School (Class of ‘24), I worked on my personal Keystone project, a year-long individual impact project which, in my case, sought to honor Yonim’s legacy and value of environmentalism. My goal is to make this garden a sustainable and defining part of the JCHS community. With the help of many, I’ve revitalized the garden by planting donated succulents and establishing a regenerative watering system that takes rainwater accumulated on the roof and waters the garden through a hose. Additionally, thanks to generous donations from the community, there are now benches on the roof, allowing it to be a more comfortable and welcoming space. I am assigning the responsibility of taking care of the garden to the environmental club for years to come with specific instructions, and I hope JCHS events will take place up here in the garden, besides the rededication ceremony for Yonim, such as tefillah in the morning or a teacher taking a class up for a discussion outside. This will allow Yonim’s value of environmentalism to bring the community together and provide a space to remember him and all for which he stood. This garden is a living legacy.

At the end of 9th grade, a friend of mine reached out to me about this exciting new opportunity: a spiritual, environmental, Jewish learning teen program called the Einayich Yonim Fellowship. It sounded perfect for me and my interests. As I researched it, I quickly discovered the meaningful story behind its creation. Tania, Yonim’s mother, founded the fellowship on behalf of her late son to honor his memory and to teach teenagers from different Jewish backgrounds how to view the world through Yonim’s eyes… eyes that are loving, curious, and passionate. In turn, these teenagers go on to make positive change in their surrounding communities through an impact project. Yonim strived to make the world a better place in every moment, treating everyone he encountered with utmost respect and kindness, even if they were radically different from him, having an unmatched love of life, and exhibiting an unwavering commitment to and appreciation of the natural world. He enjoyed poetry, music, hiking, learning, and he held his family and friends close. He was a wise young man with a deep, old soul, wonderful humor, and a huge heart. 

Yonim’s values resonate with me deeply, and although I never had the privilege of meeting him, I feel as though I got to know him through the Einayich Yonim fellowship, through his poetry, through his family and friends, and through this garden of his. He continued to touch people, like me, even after passing away, and that goes to show how much of an impact he had and still has on the people around him. I want his legacy to continue to touch others, as it did me. 

Go visit the rooftop garden whenever you get the chance. Listen to the birds and the wind, and take a few moments to connect to your breath. May this space serve as a grounding, green area for the JCHS community for all time.