Our dedicated staff and board members represent a broad alliance of Jews from across the political and religious spectra who are dedicated to working toward a sustainable future.
Staff, Board of Directors and Israeli Representatives
Rabbi Michael Cohen
The director of special projects and former executive director of Friends of the Arava Institute, Rabbi Michael Cohen is a founding faculty member of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. He is also the vice president of global resource development for the Arava Power Company, which works to make solar power the main energy source for southern Israel and Jordan. Previously, Michael served as president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and as pulpit rabbi at the Israel Congregation of Manchester, Vt., where he remains the rabbi emeritus. Michael is a Vermont Public Radio commentator and the author of numerous articles. He also wrote a novella, "Einstein's Rabbi." For his role in co-founding Aytzim, Michael was named a Jewish Community Hero.
Dr. Mirele Goldsmith
Dr. Mirele Goldsmith is an environmental psychologist, educator and activist. Mirele created Tikkun Mayim, a ceremony of repair for our relationship with water, and is the founder of Jews Against Hydrofracking. She has shared Jewish teachings at the Faith in Water Workshop of the Alliance for Religion and Conservation at the Salisbury Cathedral, and the Washington Prayer Breakfast of the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care. She attended the U.N. Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen on behalf of 22 Jewish organizations and was a leader in the Jewish mobilization for the People’s Climate March in New York City. Mirele was the director of the Jewish Greening Fellowship and has served on the boards of the American Friends of the Heschel Center, Hazon, COEJL and the Hadassah Foundation. Her writings on Judaism and the environment have been published in the Jerusalem Report, the Jewish Week and the Forward.
Dr. Orr Karassin holds a PhD in law from Bar Ilan University, an LLM magna cum laude from Tel Aviv University and an LLB from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has held the position of visiting research fellow at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science and she is currently a lecturer at Sapir College Law School in Sderot, where she is responsible for the law-and-environment program. Orr was awarded several prizes for her doctoral work, including the Rothschild Scholarship for early-career researchers, and the Wolf Foundation Prize for excelling doctoral students. Orr is one of the Aytzim representatives on the board of directors of Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael, where she heads the board's Students and Research Grants Committee. She is also the chairperson of the Sustainable Development Council of Kfar Saba. Orr was the first executive director of Life and Environment, the umbrella group for Israeli environmental organizations. She was appointed by the Israeli government to serve as a charter member of the National Committee for Environmental Quality. Additionally, Orr was among the founders of Green Course, Israel's largest environmental organization for students. Orr is the author of two books on environmental policy and has published widely on environmental policy and law both in academic and non-academic journals. She lives in Kvar Saba with her husband and their two young children.
David Krantz is a co-founder, president and chairperson of Aytzim. He serves on the board of directors of Interfaith Moral Action on Climate; on the board of directors of Arizona Interfaith Power & Light; on the founding team of the Interfaith Oceans; and on the cabinet of the American Zionist Movement. David also is a National Science Foundation IGERT doctoral researcher and Wrigley fellow at Arizona State University's School of Sustainability. He previously served as a leadership fellow at the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life and as a global-justice fellow at American Jewish World Service. Additionally, David is the editor of the Jewish Energy Guide, the managing editor and co-founder of Jewcology, and the co-founder of Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth. He earned three master's degrees, including one in journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and two through a Steinberg Fellowship at New York University, where he studied Judaism and environmental policy. David has spoken about Israeli, Jewish and interfaith environmentalism on four continents.
Susan Levine is Aytzim's volunteer and intern coordinator. She enjoys being part of an international team working to green Israel. Susan holds a master's degree in education.
Netta Schmeidler is Aytzim's head Hebrew translator. She works as a product executive in the Israeli high-tech industry. Netta holds master's degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and from the Tel Aviv University. She lives in Herzliya with her husband and two children.
Dr. Richard H. Schwartz
The project manager of Aytzim's Green Zionist Alliance Israel Environmental Forum, Dr. Richard H. Schwartz is also the president of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians, the president emeritus of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America and a professor emeritus of mathematics at the City University of New York's College of Staten Island. Richard is also the author of several books, including "Judaism and Global Survival" and "Judaism and Vegetarianism." His work inspired the documentary film, "A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Heal the World."
Pesach Stadlin is the goodwill ambassador of Aytzim's Green Zionist Alliance. He is also the chief ideas officer of the Elijah Interfaith Institute and the director of sustainable design at Eden Village Camp. An educator at the Teva Learning Alliance, Pesach traveled 10,000 miles as part of the Jewish Climate Change Campaign on the Topsy Turvy Bus, a hands-on educational learning facility that operates on discarded vegetable oil. Pesach is a farmer, a dreamer and a certified permaculture designer. Pesach lives in Jerusalem.
Dr. Alon Tal has degrees in political science from the University of North Carolina and law from Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He completed his doctoral studies at Harvard University, where he served as an adjunct faculty member from 1989 to 1998. He also has taught environmental law at Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and University of Otago in New Zealand. In 1990 Alon founded Adam Teva v'Din – the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, a public-interest advocacy group which is now Israel's second largest environmental organization. In 1996 he founded the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, where he served as director, and more recently as director of research. Alon has worked as a consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and as an assistant to the attorney general of Israel. A founding board member of Friends of the Earth, Middle East, Alon served as chairman of Life and Environment, Israel's umbrella group for environmental organizations, from 1999 to 2004, and he is presently one of the Aytzim representatives on the board of directors of Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael. In 2005 Alon was awarded the Charles Bronfman Prize and in 1997 he won the Henry Ford European Conservation Award. In 2008 he co-founded Israel's Green Movement Party and today he serves as its chairman. Considered by many to be the leading environmentalist in Israeli history, Alon is a co-founder of Aytzim.
Rabbi Lawrence Troster
Rabbi Lawrence Troster is the coordinator and co-founder of Aytzim's Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth, and is one of this country’s leading Jewish eco-theologians and religious environmental leaders. He is the rabbinic scholar-in-residence of GreenFaith, the N.J.-based interfaith environmental coalition, and the former creator and director of the GreenFaith’s Fellowship program. He is also a member of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps and rabbi-in-residence at the Iona Spirituality at Iona College. Previously, Lawrence was the rabbinic adviser for Hazon and rabbinic fellow for the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. He has published numerous articles and has lectured widely on eco-theology, bio-ethics, and Judaism and modern science. He is the author of "Mekor Hayyim: A Source Book on Water and Judaism," and he is also the author of the chapter on Jewish environment ethics in "The Observant Life: The Wisdom of Conservative Judaism for Contemporary Jews."
Aytzim / Green Zionist Alliance delegates to the 37th (2015) World Zionist Congress
Aytzim / Green Zionist Alliance representatives on the American Zionist Movement board of directors
Dr. Laurie Zoloth
Aytzim / Green Zionist Alliance representatives on the Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael / Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) board of directors
Dr. Alon Tal
Dr. Orr Karassin
Aytzim Presidents & Chairpersons
Rabbi Michael Cohen
Aytzim Administrators & Executive Directors
Former Aytzim Board of Directors Members
Chanan lives on Kibbutz Shiller in Israel, where he focuses his lens on nature, industrial development and the interaction of people with technology. His work has been displayed in galleries throughout the United States and Israel.
Israeli Nature Poll
"Whoever cuts down a fruit-bearing tree is to be flogged."
Did You Know?
Israel's largest single source of fresh water is the Mountain Aquifer, much of which runs under the West Bank.
Mideast Green News
Conference, “Building Cross-border Environmental Agreements between Israel, Jordan and Palestine” – Arava Institute for Environmental StudiesA conference entitled “Building Cross-border Environmental Agreements between Israel, Jordan and Palestine”, held September 7-8,brought together over 50...
Wasting no opportunity – Jordan TimesYaseen M. Khayyat Oct 19,2016 As minister of environment, my team and I face daily an array of...
Controversial Hotel in Southern Israel Approved Despite Objections by Environmentalists – HaaretzThe Timna Valley, where the hotel is slated to be built, is a unique area surrounded by sandstone...
Prince Hassan says nature must be viewed as living system – Jordan TimesConcept of Hima encompasses ‘humanitarian, material environment’ By JT – Oct 19,2016 – AMMAN — The concept of...
Unusually high levels of pollution in Haifa Bay – YNETIrregular meteorological conditions cause rise in pollution levels; Ministry of Environmental Protection issues special instructions to all Bazan...
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