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issue twelve

PRESENTENSE jewish life: here and now

RACE TO THE DREAM MACHINE tokyo takes on tel aviv


FALL 2010 $6.95

the art of urban preservation



an eco-friendly goat cheese

Ashkenazi Jews is a carrier for a Jewish genetic disease A simple blood test is all you need.

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Get screened or update your screening and spread the word!

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editor and publisher Ariel Beery managing editor Deborah Fishman environmental steering committee David Back, Rafi Bratman, Jonathon Feinberg, Jacob Fine, Ilya Fischhoff, Hamutal Gillo, Jeff Kasowitz, David Krantz, Tess Lehrich, Artur Lokomet, Evonne Marzouk, Ariela Ronay-Jinich, Beth Schuman, Simcha Schwartz, Tiferet Sassona, Naphtali Weisz, Manuela Zoninsein associate editors Josh Fialkoff, Simi Hinden, Emily Keeler, David Krantz, Shifra Mincer, Lianna Wolfson assistant editors Eric Ackland, Rachel Berger, Miranda Bogen, Jeremy Gillick, Devorah Matkowsky copy editors D. Brent Arnold, Miriam Bader, Shelby Blitz, Paula Garshowitz, Rachel Krauser, Boris Kurbanov, LynleyShimat Lys art director Elke Reva Sudin assistant art directors Cheryl Berkowitz, Jerrin Zumberg photography director Naomi Zeidman


photographers Adam Cohen, Dana Goldberg, Roy Gluska, Jessy Gross, Aiko Hayashi, Tatsuya Ito, Aaron Joshua, Tamir Kojfman, Elina Korshukin, Will Merydith, Suzanne Nathan, Liz Nord, Peter Orosz, Leigh Orpaz, Rachel Playe, Seiji Tanaka, Saul Sudin, Kevin Tunney, Anat Vovnoboy, Naomi Zeidman

22 SUSTAINING YOURSELF SUSTAINABLY in search of green jobs >> tess lehrich

advertising and circulation director Simi Hinden business team Jamie Billow, Esther Langer, Melissa Meyers This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA. Creative Commons: We think the Creative Commons approach to content is smart because it gives creators flexibility in their licensing choices and it allows for seamless sharing of content. At PresenTense, our exclusive rights to content expire after no more than 120 days. At that time, we encourage our authors and photographers to adopt a CC license for their work. CC WWW.PRESENTENSE.ORG ISSN:1939-249X PresenTense is an international grassroots effort to inspire and enable socially-minded pioneering amongst the Jewish People, and this Magazine is made possible by a network of volunteers around the world.

30 A MOVEMENT TAKES ROOT the growth of jewish environmentalism >> nati passow 32 SEEDS OF PLURALISM sowing community at kayam farm >> jessy gross, jakir manela, and rachel berndtson 34 ELECTRIC IN DEMAND bringing us to a better place >> lianna wolfson 36 ARE SIMPLE ACTIONS ENOUGH? getting beyond crisis mode >> evonne marzouk Photos by Suzanne Nathan. Cover art by Aaron Joshua.

PresenTense Magazine is an all volunteer effort with 501(c)3 nonprofit status, and supports itself by selling advertising and group subscriptions. If you would like to reach a young Jewish audience through our pages, subscribe to our publication, or purchase a bulk order for your organization or event, please contact Simi Hinden at simihinden@ presentense.org. If you would like to support PresenTense in its mission to enrich Jewish life, please make checks payable to the PresenTense Group, Inc. noting “magazine� in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to: PresenTense Group, Inc. 131 West 86th Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10024. PresenTense accepts submissions, pitches, and letters to the editor by email: editor@presentense.org.

issue twelve 2010


18 SOLVING THE WATER CRISIS israel leads the way >> sarah hilzinger

Contents 4 Contributors 6 Editorial

AROUND THE WORLD 8 COMMUNITY PITTSBURGH calling all young jews to j’burgh >> caroline kessler 9 MIDWEST MEDITATION an ingathering in rural iowa >> james edward johnson

HERE & NOW 10 WOMAN TO WATCH risa alyson cooper >> ilan glazer 11 MAN WITH A PLAN ron gonen >> rachel krauser 12 RULES OF ENGAGEMENT greening jewish institutions >> ezra shanken




38 IN THE GAN our hands at work >> suzanne nathan

20 THE TOPSY-TURVY BUS spreading awareness in style >> jonathan dubinsky

ARTS & Culture

22 SUSTAINING YOURSELF SUSTAINABLY in search of green jobs >> tess lehrich

41 OBJECTS OF DESIRE portrait of liat livni >> libi adler

23 GREEN COURSE mobilizing israeli student activists >> hamutal gillo 24 NATURE KNOWS NO BORDERS collaboration for land’s sake >> michael cohen

42 TRANSFORMING JERUSALEM the art of urban preservation >> liz nord 44 ENVIRONMENTAL ARTIFACTS american census on transportation >> adam cohen and craig friedman

26 THE TIKKUN OLAM DILEMMA juggling social and environmental agendas >> jonathon feinberg

46 HOLY CHEVRE an eco-friendly goat cheese >> melissa meyers




48 ISRAELITE SCIENCE FAIR >> sam ackerman

30 A MOVEMENT TAKES ROOT the growth of jewish environmentalism >> nati passow 32 SEEDS OF PLURALISM sowing community at kayam farm >> jessy gross, jakir manela, and rachel berndtson 34 ELECTRIC IN DEMAND bringing us to a better place >> lianna wolfson

15 WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT? the environmental sc shares challenges >> pt12 steering committee

35 THE DREAM MACHINE RACE tokyo takes on tel aviv >> manuela zoninsein

16 GREEN FELLOWS some of pt’s finest >> shira becher


issue twelve 2010


36 ARE SIMPLE ACTIONS ENOUGH? getting beyond crisis mode >> evonne marzouk

presentense.org/magazine Contents

At the Kavanah Garden. Photo by Tamir Kojfman.

issue twelve 2010



Contributors: Issue Twelve Yaron Edel

Tel Aviv


LynleyShimat Lys

Ficus carica

Zach Weiner



Stanford, CA

Melissa Meyers Tel Aviv

Ceratonia siliqua

Yonatan Neril Jerusalem

issue twelve 2010

Vienna, VA

Liz Nord

Iowa City, IA

Brooklyn, NY

Boris Kurbanov


Seattle, WA

Simi Hinden

Didi Zilberman

Deborah FIshman



Elizabeth, NJ

Anat Vovnoboy

Naomi Zeidman

Elke Reva Sudin

Tel Aviv


Brooklyn, NY

Phoenix dactylifera

Paula Garshowitz

Pseudotsuga menziesii



Northwest U.S.

Ariel Beery

Jack Reichert

Emily Keeler

Tel Aviv


Seattle, WA

Chamutal Gillo

Kevin Nafte

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv


Rachel Berndtson

James Edward Johnson

Eitan Press



We are proud to have collected species of flora and fauna from around the world to represent this issue.

Tess Lehrich

Lisa Snider Washington, DC

Jeff Kasowitz Boston, MA

Jessy Gross Los Angeles, CA

Jonathon Feinberg Boston, MA

Abby Goldenthal Boston, MA

Ilya Fischhoff

Tamir Kojfman

Washington, DC

Toronto, Canada

Jakir Manela

Adam Cohen

Reisterstown, MD

New York, NY

Manuela Zoninsein

Artur Lokomet

Evonne Marzouk

Oxford, UK

Berlin, Germany

Baltimore, MD

Peter Orosz

Quercus Robur

Naphtali Weisz

Shira Becher

Budapest, Hungary

Throughout Europe

Columbus, OH

New York, NY

Acer rubrum Eastern U.S.

David Brook

Bowenia serrulata

Swainsona formosa

Sydney, Australia

Queensland, Australia

Central Australia


North America Shifra Mincer New York, NY

Miranda Bogen New York, NY

Miriam Anzovin Belmont, MA

Pinus strobus Eastern U.S.

Cheryl Berkowitz Brooklyn, NY

Suzanne Nathan

Raphael Rosen

Chicago, IL

San Francisco, CA

Brenden Millstein Miriam Bader San Francisco, CA New York, NY

Jeremy Gillick

Sarah Hilzinger

Davis, CA

Mendham, NJ

Batya Kuncman New York, NY

Tiferet Sassona

Rachel Krauser

Josh Fialkoff

Tenafly, NJ

Boston, MA

Carnegiea gigantea

Sam Ackerman

Southwest U.S.

Boston, MA

Rafi Bratman

David Nathaniel Back

Ilan Glazer

Chicago, IL

Boston, MA

North Bergen, NJ

Zelig Golden

Matthew Klein

Oakland, CA

Cleveland, OH

Crataegus iracunda

Ross Berkowitz

Eastern Canada

Philadelphia, PA

Aaron Schneider

Josh Keyak

Michael Cohen

Boulder, CO

New York, NY

Manchester, VT

Adina Allen

Libi Adler

Rachel Berger

Boston, MA

New York, NY

New York, NY

Caroline Kessler

Ezra Shanken

Carya illinoinensis

Aaron Joshua

Pittsburgh, PA

Denver, CO

South Central U.S.

San Francisco, CA

Shelby Zitelman Reisterstown, MD New York, NY

Ben Chaidell New Haven, CT

Jonathan Dubinsky Long Island, NY

Lianna Wolfson New York, NY

Nati Passow Putnam Valley, NY

Wisteria sinensis Southern U.S.

Craig Friedman New York, NY

Simcha Schwartz Putnam Valley, NY

Sarai Shapiro Sebastopol, CA

Jacob Fine Seattle, WA

Cheryl Berkowitz is a graphic designer based in Brooklyn, NY. She enjoys crafting issue interfaces that invite logical twelve 2010 5 interaction and support a brand, for clients in publishing, television, education, performing arts and non-profit.

our Environment in action



hat environmental issues in the Jewish community keep you up at night thinking about the Earth and our generation’s impact on and by it? This was the question posed to PresenTense’s Environmental Steering Committee, comprised of 16 up-and-coming activists engaged in grappling with such issues on a day-to-day basis. Their thoughtful and impassioned answers (see p.15) speak to the core of the issues PresenTense Magazine seeks to examine in PT12: Our Environment. Some of the most pressing concerns include: How can environmental work be financially sustainable? (“Sustaining Yourself Sustainably,” p.22) How can we reach out beyond the confines of our own work to collaborate with others when finances remain a scarce resource? (“The Tikkun Olam Dilemma,” p. 26). In what ways can we bond together to foster the optimum living environment in our community? (“Seeds of Pluralism,” p. 32, “Transforming Jerusalem,” p. 42) Whether it’s at a farm in Maryland or through the artistic community in Jerusalem, we all seek outlets to shape for the better the environment in which we live. What will be the role of Israel in impacting our environmental consciousness? While Israel has its share of environmental challenges, some of the innovation coming out of Israel has been a source of inspiration around the world (see “Solving the Water Crisis,” p. 18, “Nature

“Proof of Heaven.” Illustration by Batya F. Kuncman. issue twelve 2010


Knows No Borders,” p. 24, and “Electric in Demand,” p. 34). In these pages, you will encounter the people, organizations, and bright new ideas making a difference on these issues in the Jewish environmental scene, the energy and inspiration of which will lead us all to a better environmental future. The message is one of the power of action: whether it be student activists in Israel (“Green Course,” p. 23), through community gardens in Toronto (“Woman to Watch, p. 10) or Chicago (“In the Gan,” p. 38) or the Jewish environmental movement as a whole (“From the Fringes to the Center, p. 30), our community is finding innovative and powerful ways to create environmental change. Of course, there is always more that can be done, and we hope that this issue will give you the inspiration to seek out more resources and ways to get involved. Here at PresenTense, we believe in the power of our generation to create social change and global impact in fields including the environment and beyond. Our six global fellowships—in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York—work with social entrepreneurs with the ideas and passion the Jewish People needs to address our greatest social challenges. If you’re a budding pioneer or want to be a part of supportive community fostering entrepreneurship, contact us for opportunities to get involved in your local Fellowship, or ways to bring PresenTense Fellowships to your own community.

MEET THE PT FELLOWSHIP COORDINATORS The PresenTense Community Entrepreneur Fellowship (CEP) trains local Jewish social entrepreneurs – building a web of individuals in that community committed to innovation and developing new opportunities for the Jewish People. Here are the dedicated Coordinators behind the supportive communities enabling the ideas, tools, and connections the social entrepreneurs need to succeed. NEW YORK


Shelby Zitelman joined PresenTense as Venture Resources Coordinator and is excited to pursue her passion of start-up consulting and social entrepreneurship in merging her 2009 PresenTense Fellowship Project, The Level8 Network, with PresenTense to launch PT Investments. Last year, she studied at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem and worked for a joint MBA program between the University of Maryland Entrepreneurship Center and the Technion. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied entrepreneurial management at the Wharton School, and pursued this degree as an analyst at two early-stage venture capital funds while living at Moishe House in Philadelphia.

Abby Goldenthal is a Planning Associate at Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston, where she manages the Young Adult Innovation Agenda. In addition to coordinating the PresenTense Boston Fellowship, she manages the CJP Young Adult Community Grants and Young Jewish Leaders Council, aimed at expanding funding and training resources to the more than 40 Jewish young adult organizations in Boston and creating opportunities for innovation and leadership to emerge. Originally from Connecticut, Abby moved to Brookline, MA, after graduating from Skidmore College with a BS in management and business with honors and minor in art history, with a focus on art museum marketing.


Yaron Edel is a third-year law student at Hebrew University, where he is active in the student union and the Hitorrerut movement. He co-founded the Clinic for Small Businesses, where law students work to reduce closure among Jerusalem’s small businesses through answering their legal questions. Prior, he served in Nahal as a company commander during the Second Lebanon War and was released after five years of service at the rank of Captain. He was born and currently lives in Jerusalem.

Kevin Nafte was born in South Africa and immigrated to Australia with his family at age 15. He first travelled to Israel on Taglit – Birthright, returning soon after to volunteer in the IDF and on a kibbutz. He studied for a master’s degree in counter terrorism and conflict resolution at the IDC, and has lived in Tel Aviv since 2007. Working for Merkaz Hamagshimim Hadassah, Kevin became Coordinator of Shchuna, assisting young olim in Tel Aviv. This laid foundations for Telalivit, a social network for English speakers in Tel Aviv. In 2008, Kevin volunteered in a project with the Peres Center for Peace, culminating in two weeks with Palestinians and Israelis representing the Peace Team in the International Australian Football Cup.

PHILADELPHIA Ross Berkowitz is founder and Executive Director of Tribe 12 (www.tribe12.org), a Philadelphiabased cooperative for independent Jewish projects that impact Jewish community and leverage the next generation. Tribe 12 sponsors the Collaborative, LimmudPhilly, and the Tribe 12 Social Entrepreneur Fellowship in partnership with PresenTense and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Ross studied the history and sociology of religion at Vassar College and New York University. Born in the Philadelphia suburbs, inspired through 15 years in Habonim Dror and multiple long-term Israel experiences, Ross has been a Jewish community camp director, Hillel director, educator, and activist. He lives with his wife Audrey and seven-month-old daughter Martina in Philadelphia. Around the World presentense.org/magazine


CLEVELAND Matthew Klein is the Senior Campaign Manager at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. Matt is responsible for creating and implementing a strategy for reaching all donors under $10,000 to the Jewish Federation’s Annual Fundraising Campaign, approximately 13,000 donors and $8 million of the annual Campaign. Matt has also served as the Young Leadership Division Director at the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland. Previously, Matt was the owner/operator of The Orchid Lodge, a kosher, boutique hotel in Costa Rica. Matthew was born in Cleveland, recently returning with his wife Rachel and one-year-old son Yoni. Matthew holds a BS from Rutgers University and an MA from Hunter College. issue twelve 2010


community Pittsburgh

calling all young jews to j’burgh >> caroline kessler


f the first time you met David Katz was at a nearly 200-person Purim party, you might only notice his pink ruffled tuxedo shirt, loud plaid pants, and white blazer with black trim. But there’s more to Katz, 28, than meets the eye—he’s the current director and life-force behind J’Burgh, the center for young Jewish adult life of the Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh. He was recently honored on Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project’s “40 Under 40” 2010 list for his work with J’Burgh. Founded three years ago, J’Burgh runs programs and events for Pittsburgh’s growing Jewish population of young professionals, as well as graduate, medical, and law students. Despite the diverse needs and interests of these groups, Katz managed to pull them all together for the February 28 Purim party at The Bar in the South Side of Pittsburgh. There was a full megillah reading, and people dressed as everything from Superman to a purple flower. For Beth Goldstein, 29, the fact that she could invite her non-Jewish friends was a huge draw. “Being inclusive is something I’ve really enjoyed about J’Burgh because I can teach my other friends about my religion and help them see how the

“How do you get the 21-29 demographic... without throwing a happy hour or doing some sort of party?” Jewish community in Pittsburgh is,” she says. That sense of community is what keeps people coming back to J’Burgh events, Goldstein, an accountant with Robert I. Goldstein, says. J’Burgh is held together with a staff of two—Katz and newcomer Sara Heal—as well as a participant-led board. Goldstein has been a board member for three years, serving on the Social Action and Social committees. Katz throws out the question, “How do you get the 21-29 demographic and how do you do it without throwing a happy hour or doing some sort of party?” The answer is like your grandmother’s matzah ball soup: You can see the ingredients, but there’s something special about it that you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s easy to see how J’Burgh draws people in with a wide variety of activities, some for the sporty, some for the tame. They’ve got poker nights, volunteer events, Carmen at the opera, a David Sedaris lecture, their own teams within the Pittsburgh Sports League, potluck Shabbat dinners, movie screenings, and more. Katz notes that the scale of programming is smaller. “We facilitate interaction between participants...They have a chance to interact with and get to know each other. When people return to an event, our staff knows who they are. We’re able to play a role in their Jewish lives.” Dan Gilman, 28, the chief of staff for Councilman Bill Peduto, talks about the hometown feel of the city. “It’s a small enough city that it’s easy to know many of the people and it’s easy to go to an event,” he says. “The ed-med and science-technology communities where young people are involved—they can feel empowered.”


issue twelve 2010

Although Gilman is not a lifelong Pittsburgher, he’s found a niche here. As networking chair of the J’Burgh board, he connects young professionals in the downtown community to the already-established Jewish downtown professional community through lunch-and-learns and other events. “People go to events and are pleasantly surprised by the opportunities they are given,” he says. The combination of low-pressure, innovative programming and networking opportunities may be a huge draw for young Jews. “The demographic is really looking for meaningful Jewish experience, but they’re looking for it in a space where they feel comfortable,” Katz says. A few years ago, Shalom Pittsburgh, a Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh organization, was the sole organization reaching out to young Jews. It gathered a large age range of 21-45 year-olds. When leaders in the Jewish community realized the large concentration of Jewish graduate, medical, and law students in the city, J’Burgh was formed. Becky Voorwinde, 26, alumni coordinator for the Bronfman Youth Fellowship, recognizes that J’Bburgh is creating something by and for young people. Though she’s never been to Pittsbrugh, she hasn’t seen any other communities doing what J’Burgh does. She understands the challenge of gathering a varied group of Jews together from her work building community amongst past Bronfman fellows. “J’Burgh is the opposite of inward facing. At the end of the day, it’s supplementing local organizations like synagogues and looking to partner with other organizations in the wider Jewish community,” Voorwinde says. One way that J’Burgh does this is by providing free tickets for over 70 Jewish young adults to attend High Holiday services at local synagogues. No matter the holiday, there is something for J’Burgh participants, creating and keeping that sense of community. PT Caroline Kessler is pursuing a degree in creative writing and a minor in religious studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Originally from a suburb outside Baltimore, she has contributed prose and poetry to New Voices, schmooze, Grub Street and The Susquehanna Review. presentense.org/magazine Around the World

Kabbalat Shabbat services, most Jews join communal meditation at one of Fairfield’s two gigantic golden domes. The larger community of committed TM practitioners in Fairfield is disproportionately Hindu, due to the Hindu background of TM’s founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Pictures of Hindu gods such as Rama and Ganesha appear in many places around Fairfield. Jewish TM practitioners explain with the regularity of a mantra that “TM is just a technique,” rather than a religious practice. “The important thing in the practice of TM is this experience of unbounded awareness. That reality is not a religious reality and has no connection with a specific religious tradition,” explained Rabbi Alan Green, who lives in Canada but has deep roots in Fairfield and is unofficially regarded by many as its rabbi. “Meditation was my chief inspiration for wanting to become a rabbi…I realized that this experience of unbounded awareness was the experience of God,” Green said. “It’s like going to yoga class…it doesn’t mean that you are Hindu… You go on and go to shul afterwards,” said Kabuika Kamunga, a Jewish

“The important thing in the practice of TM is this practice of unbounded awareness” The golden dome in Fairfield. Photo by Will Merydith.

midwest meditation ingathering in rural iowa >> james edward johnson


mall-town Iowa is not the place one expects to find a blossoming Jewish community. However, Fairfield is different from most Iowa towns. Much of its population began moving there in the mid-1970s, when the Maharishi International University (now Maharishi University of Management, or MUM) was founded. MUM is the learning and communal meditation center for the Transcendental Meditation (TM) Movement, in which members use TM techniques to achieve a deeply tranquil level of consciousness and a state of restful alertness. Brent Willett, the executive director of the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce, explained that in the 30-plus years since the influx of TM practitioners, “Fairfield has become a melting pot of cultures and has developed a harmonious and dynamic model for community development.” Among Fairfield’s population of 9,500, approximately 200 residents are Jewish, and nearly all of them are TM practitioners. When Jewish TM practitioners came to Fairfield, there was no established community, and the nearest synagogue was 25 miles away. Though they had not come for a Jewish community, they created one when they arrived. MUM was established on the former campus of Parsons College, where a Torah scroll was left behind by the college’s Hillel chapter. It was the first major asset of the Fairfield Jewish community. Today, the community holds most Kabbalat Shabbat services at Congregation Beth Shalom, a building that functioned as a Baptist church before the Jewish community purchased it in 1984. The unassuming synagogue looks like a place of Jewish prayer in any small Midwestern town. The ritual items and decorative symbols show no indication that most congregants are TM practitioners. Yet before Around the World presentense.org/magazine

TM practitioner born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. She converted to Judaism after working as an au pair for a Jewish family and developed an interest in meditation from a TM practitioner “who was so calm … amid the family brouhaha” at a Passover Seder. In 2008, she went to MUM to get an MBA and learn meditation. Robert Rabinoff, a frum Jewish TM practitioner, explains why the transition between Judaism and TM is so clean. “If you try and mix the two, both will suffer. But they’re pretty easy to not mix.” Kamunga and Rabinoff both express the idea that TM makes one a “better Jew.” Each believes that TM prepares them for the kavanah (spiritual intention) of prayer, giving them the mindfulness for Jewish observance. Rabinoff explained, “TM makes the connection, opens the lines of communication. Our tradition tells you what to say.” Joel and Joy Hirshberg’s home resembles those of other Jews who are serious meditators. A mezuzah greets one at the door. However, the house is built according to the principles of Sthapatya Veda, the architectural form based on the Maharishi’s teachings about natural law. Its entrance faces east, the direction of the rising sun. It has a kalash (cupola) on its roof, connecting the house to the cosmos, and a traditional vastu fence (picket fence) to define the homestead. The house has a Brahmasthan, an unobstructed center lit by a skylight, which gives the house wholeness. When the couple hosts potluck dinners at their home on Shabbat, however, the space transforms into a typically Conservative minyan for services. Congregants read from Siddur Sim Shalom and recite much of the service in Hebrew. On many Shabbatot, cantor Haim Menashehoff, who grew up in Tehran, leads the congregation in Persian Jewish melodies as well as melodies common to American synagogues. Anyone hoping for a service infused with the style of a kirtan mantra (a Sanskrit call-and-response chanting form) would be sorely disappointed. Tradition is alive and well in this otherwise nontraditional Jewish community. PT James Edward Johnson is an active member of the Iowa Jewish Community. He grew up in Des Moines, received his JD and MBA from The University of Iowa, and currently lives and works in Iowa City. You can follow his periodic writing at blog. jamesej.com. issue twelve 2010


Woman To Watch

risa alyson cooper >> ilan glazer

Here & Now



t’s not every day that a church picnic sparks a Jewish community garden several thousand miles away. While pursuing a B.A. in religious studies at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Risa Alyson Cooper and a friend drove across Canada and found themselves short on funds in Nelson, British Columbia. They made their way to a free, entirely vegan church picnic. The pastor discussed religious veganism, and Cooper was hooked, switching her studies from Daoism to religion and food ethics and becoming vegan herself. After graduation, Cooper studied for an M.A. in contemporary Jewish environmental discourse at the University of Toronto’s Center for the Study of Religion. Seeking out opportunities to practice Jewish environmentalism outside of studying Jewish texts in an academic setting, Cooper worked with the Teva Learning Center as a Jewish environmental educator and wilderness programs coordinator for several seasons. She then became the program specialist for the Children’s Garden and Exploring Toronto Programs, developing children’s gardens at community centers and parks. Cooper also volunteered with the Jewish Nature Centre of Canada: Torat HaTeva, now Shoresh. When the Jewish community in Toronto decided to erect a new campus to meet its changing demographics, Cooper and other Torat HaTeva/Shoresh volunteers sensed an opportunity. The Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Jewish Community Campus in Vaughan, Ontario will house at least two synagogues, three schools, a community center, and a residence for Jewish senior citizens. The group approached the UJA-Federation of Greater Toronto about developing a Jewish community garden at the campus—and grants from Environment Canada, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Shell Environmental Fund and others made the vision a reality. In preparation, Cooper completed the Adamah Jewish Farming Fellowship. “During the time I spent at both Teva and Adamah, I discovered a Judaism that brought together all of the pieces of my self,” Cooper said. “Whether I was milking a goat, exploring a decomposing log with a group of students, or just watching the morning mist hover over the lake, I found that Jewish teachings,

issue twelve 2010

Over 3,000 community members have come to plant or harvest a wide array of fruits and vegetables. rituals and holiday celebrations reflected and gave expression to the radical amazement and gratitude I experienced in these moments.” Returning to Toronto, she inspired over 400 volunteers to help build the Kavanah Garden. Now in its second year, the Kavanah Garden has won a place as a permanent fixture of the new campus. Over 3,000 community members have planted or harvested a wide array of fruit and vegetables, from tomatoes, peppers, beets, radishes, carrots, and leeks to strawberries, grapes, currants, herbs, and spices, all on less than a half acre of land. Lessons on composting, seed-saving, beekeeping, Jewish holidays, and healthy eating are offered regularly. Food is grown organically, and Jewish environmental wisdom is taught at every gathering. A Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) project, in partnership with a young Jewish farmer, provides over 60 families with fresh, local, organic produce from the farm, and, in partnership with local food banks, over 2,000 pounds of fresh vegetables have been donated to community members in need. “For the young families that are developing a community around the Lebovic Campus, the Kavanah Garden will be a part of their children’s experience growing up in the Jewish community—they will know where their food comes from, they will understand the connection between the Jewish holidays and the growing cycle, and they will appreciate the Jewish ethic of tzedakah on a new level,” Cooper said. The Kavanah Garden has become a model for other Jewish community gardens throughout Canada. Cooper hopes to continue to help the Jewish community of Canada integrate environmental and Jewish wisdom as well as to bring a Jewish farming fellowship to the Kavanah Garden. Cooper was selected to participate in UJA’s Social Innovation Pilot Project and has been receiving capacity building and financial support to continue developing the Kavanah

Photo provided by Risa Alyson Cooper

Name Risa Alyson Cooper Age 29 Profession Director of Shoresh Jewish Environmental Programs and the Kavanah Garden Watch Her Because She’s integrating environmental and Jewish wisdom to inspire the Toronto Jewish community. Watch her garden grow!

Garden and Shoresh’s other programs. “I always knew that I ultimately wanted to live and feel rooted in Toronto. The Kavanah Garden allows me to share this sense of awe and connection with my community at home,” Cooper said. PT Ilan Glazer is a Senior Rabbinical Student with ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal and Spiritual Leader of Temple Beth El of North Bergen, NJ. presentense.org/magazine Here & Now

Man with a Plan ron gonen >> rachel krauser


rom an early age, Ron Gonen had a keen understanding of his responsibility to do his part in making the world a better place, especially when it came to the environment. Born to an Israeli father and an American mother in Philadelphia, Gonen and his sister were raised by their mother to be politically and socially aware and active. Co-founder and CEO of RecycleBank, Gonen, 35, thought up the idea for the

Photo provided by Ron Gonen.

Name Ron Gonen Age 35 Profession Co-founder and CEO of RecycleBank Watch Him Because Get green to go green! RecycleBank can help you do just that.

“‘Eco’ is as much a part of economy as it is a part of ecology. We are financially rewarding people for their positive green actions.” Here & Now presentense.org/magazine

now as when he began this journey six years ago. A man of few words, he lights up when he speaks of his work and the mission of his organization. He gets to do his part in encouraging and educating individuals about how to live a greener life and he gets to be his own boss. Says Gonen, “Being an entrepreneur is the closest you get to professional freedom.” After six years of living and breathing nothing but RecycleBank, Gonen is taking a step back to watch his “baby” take its first

“It is important to have a mission in life...big or small. It provides a sense of purpose and a well of energy.” company while attending Columbia Business School. After a lot of hard work and both personal and financial investment, the company was finally launched in 2005. “I have always been focused on using any talents I have to make a positive difference,” says Gonen. “I pursued recycling because it would touch a lot of people.” RecycleBank uses a point system to reward households for recycling. Participants receive recycling containers, which the company collects and weighs weekly. The information then automatically posts to their accounts. In return, they receive reward points, which they can use in 1500 local as well as chain businesses throughout the country, including restaurants, pharmacies and supermarkets— many of which families already frequent. Participants also have the option to donate their reward points to their local schools. RecycleBank strives to educate the public that recycling saves towns money, at the same time benefitting companies that use recyclables to advance their business and, in turn, putting money back into the economy. “The initiative of RecycleBank is important because it shows that ‘eco’ is as much a part of economy as it is a part of ecology,” Gonen says. “We are financially rewarding people for their positive green actions.” Currently, one million homes participate in the RecycleBank revolution in 25 U.S. states. The U.K. is also on board, with other European nations and Israel not far behind. Although he has faced challenges—such as raising the capital to support and advance RecycleBank—Gonen loves what he does. His enthusiasm for his work seems as fresh

steps on its own. He has started traveling for himself again, and he loves the beach and spending time outdoors. He is constantly coming up with ways of making the world a better place and “aligning peoples’ incentive to live a greener life.” In Gonen’s own life, he tries to conserve energy in any way he can by utilizing public transportation, his bike, and his own two feet to get him pretty much everywhere he needs to go. He tries to cut down his personal use of electricity and to conserve water at home, a beautifully sunlit apartment in New York. On the side, Gonen partners with friend Lisa Lindhardt in her East Village jewelry design studio, Lindhardt Designs (http://www. linhardtdesign.com), where only ethically sourced stones and sustainable metals, as well as materials like repurposed woods and tagua (the dried seedpod of the tagua palm tree), are used in jewelry production. Proceeds from the shop go to the Kenya Education Fund, an organization which enables girls in Africa to receive college educations. Gonen’s social conscience reaches far beyond his day job. As for his entrepreneurial spirit in turning the world into a greener place, Gonen says, “It is important to have a mission in life...big or small. It provides a sense of purpose and a well of energy.” For more information about RecycleBank and how you can get involved, check out http://www.recyclebank.com. PT Rachel Krauser has recently returned from living most of her adult life in Israel, and is currently enjoying rediscovering life in New York City. issue twelve 2010


Rules of Engagement

greening jewish institutions >> ezra shanken


hen God created the first human beings, God led them around the Garden of Eden and said: ‘Look at my works! See how beautiful they are—how excellent! For your sake I created them all. See to it that you do not spoil and destroy My world; for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it’.” (Midrash Kohelet Rabbah, 1 on Ecclesiastes 7:13). With a start like this, one cannot help but believe that the Jewish community must be at the forefront of the green revolution—but are we? Here are thoughts about the Jewish environmental movement, and what all Jewish institutions can do if they wish to go from lagging to leading in this global endeavor, from three people leading the green charge.

Scott Cassel Scott Cassel is the executive director of the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), which pursues initiatives to ensure that all those involved in the lifecycle of a product share responsibility for reducing its health and environmental impacts. Prior to founding the Institute in 2000, Scott served for seven years as the director of waste policy and planning at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. Scott has a master’s degree in environmental policy and dispute resolution from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Where did your green journey begin? I grew up in New Jersey, so I became aware of environmental issues while driving down the NJ Turnpike. The industrial facilities clouded the air with pollution, a far cry from the nice beaches along the Jersey shore. Later, I took a break from college to travel the country for a year. I began to wonder how the beautiful natural landscapes were formed. I attended anti-nuke rallies and freestyle Frisbee championships, and ate organic avocados and sprouts. I saw tar balls washed up on the Santa Barbara beach and learned of a huge oil spill that happened years earlier but continued to have an impact. Being in California sensitized me to the need not only to be in awe of nature, but to take action to protect it.

What is your favorite pro-environment Jewish concept?


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Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik wrote of two types of human beings found in the Torah who correspond to the two biblical narratives of creation. He calls them Adam One and Adam Two. Adam One uses natural resources for his own enjoyment. He subdues nature, and controls it for his own needs. Adam Two is in awe of nature, seeing the beauty and Godliness in all aspects of creation. I believe that each of us has both competing concepts within ourselves. Our goal is to balance them individually and communally through social policies and a comprehensive personal understanding of our natural world.

What are three things that Jewish institutions can do to make their operations greener? Energy has the biggest environmental impact, so a synagogue should use compact fluorescent

lamps, insulate heating units and windows, and conduct a professional audit to determine how to save energy. Secondly, recycle paper, bottles, and cans, and do it visibly so that congregants know that you are serious about it. Third, make sure the cleaning products are non-toxic.

Who is doing a great job at greening up and what are they doing? The Coalition on Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) is a leading group on these issues and was one of the first to fuse Jewish concepts and environmental teachings. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action have also been active on environmental issues.

How do you envision the ideal role for Jewish institutions in the Jewish environmental movement? Jewish institutions know how to organize people. JNF, for example, is incredibly wellrun. Its leaders know how to reach Jews of all denominations, as well as those who are not Jewish and support Israel. These institutions can be tapped to reach out to their members, as well as others with an interest in environmental issues. I have worked in the environmental field for almost 30 years, and only over the last two have I felt that the general public has started to understand why it is important to preserve our environment. There is a unique opportunity for Jewish institutions to band together to educate the Jewish community, and also to articulate to all people the Jewish concepts of environmental protection and social justice. presentense.org/magazine Here & Now

Where did your green journey begin? I arranged a screening of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth while working at the Riverdale YM-YWHA. At the end of the film, I sat there frustrated, unsatisfied with the suggestions for action advised in the credits. How could my actions have a more meaningful impact than merely changing the light bulbs in my home? How could I help to galvanize systemic change? Then it struck me that I had the means and the obligation to do so from the very place I sat: The values and missions of my own Jewish agency compel me to become a green leader in my community. The following day, I began to plan the Riverdale Y’s first environmental fair. Over the next two years, I worked with my colleagues to conduct an energy audit, set up a recycling program, and switch to green cleaners. This Jewish agencybased environmental action became the model for the Jewish Greening Fellowship.

What is your favorite pro-environment Jewish concept? Shabbat: sanctifying time by echoing God’s act of refraining from the work of creation. The more we celebrate and appreciate the world by setting aside Shabbat to take long walks, to eat healthy, locally grown food with friends and family, and to join our communities in prayer and gratitude for God’s blessings, the more we can tap into an appreciation of the miraculous world around us and our responsibility to care for that world on a daily basis.

What are three things that Jewish institutions can do to make their operations greener? First, make it someone’s job. Someone on staff should head up a green team that looks at all programmatic, operational, and facility changes through a green lens and tracks opportunities for state and federal energy efficiency Requests for Proposals (RFPs). Second, check out dsireusa.org, which lists federal and state incentives for energy efficiency and renewable technologies. There are new RFPs all the time, so sign up to receive them. Third, reduce waste. Do you really need so many flyers? Do those plastic toy giveaways really improve the quality of life of our children? Is there a Here & Now presentense.org/magazine

Rachel Jacoby Rosenfeld Rachel Jacoby Rosenfeld is the cofounder and director of the Jewish Greening Fellowship, an initiative of the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center funded by UJA-Federation of New York. Rachel served as an advisor to Hazon’s Min Ha’aretz curriculum on food, Judaism, and the environment; as chair of the Greening Resource Guide Group of UJA-Federation of New York’s Network Commission; and is a newly appointed member of COEJL’s Governance Committee. She holds a master’s in comparative literature with a focus on Jewish studies from University of California, Berkeley.

way to switch to reusable plates? The less stuff we buy and throw “away,” the better we’ll leave this world for our children. A fourth would be: Source as much of your food as possible locally!

Who is doing a great job at greening up and what are they doing? The 19 JCCs and camps in the New York area that participated in the first cohort of the Jewish Greening Fellowship have each made remarkable strides in greening. The Staten Island JCC has received several large state and federal grants totaling almost $300,000 toward two different solar projects. They have switched to green cleaning and have almost eliminated paper marketing. They have been recognized as a green leader in their community and have formed partnerships with other local organizations to educate community members about environmental stewardship and to provide opportunities for action. The Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center has made greening a centerpiece of its mission for the last decade. From the Adamah farm, which trains young adults to grow food sustainably and helps to supply the kitchen; to the facility’s bamboo flooring, low-VOC paint, energy efficient lighting, and solar-generated electricity in the

offices; to retreats and programs that explore environmental values through Jewish living and learning, Isabella Freedman prides itself on a commitment to sustainability.

How do you envision the ideal role for Jewish institutions in the Jewish environmental movement? Greening our own agencies is an important beginning. Every Jewish agency should have a green team and a staff person whose job is to oversee the agency’s greening efforts. Then, our agencies should reach beyond our own walls to partner with other local organizations in efforts ranging from providing fresh, local produce to advocating for better recycling and composting programs. Ultimately, we should also reach within and beyond our own communities to identify local environmental-justice leaders, to learn about the issues important to them, and to work together to create vibrant, sustainable, and healthy communities for all.

Continued on page 14 >> issue twelve 2010


Rules of Engagement

Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb Rabbi of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation (Bethesda, MD) for more than a decade, Fred Scherlinder Dobb remains active in Jewish, interfaith, and environmental efforts, serving on the boards of Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), the Shalom Center, Greater Washington Interfaith Power and Light (as chair), and Religious Witness for the Earth, among others. A past president of the Washington Board of Rabbis, he recently received his doctor of ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary, with a focus on greening congregations.

Where did your green journey begin? Jewish summer camp, probably (my first was the Reform Goldman Union Camp Institute in Indiana). Camp connects Judaism, tikkun olam, and love of the outdoors with what’s fun, social, and spiritual. These factors became woven together ever more tightly in the years ahead, as the urgency of our ecological crisis became clearer to me, and as my commitment to Jewish tradition and community simultaneously deepened.

What is your favorite pro-environment Jewish concept? My favorite famous green Jewish concept is Shabbat: the weekly celebration of creation, celebrated traditionally by living lightly on the Earth (i.e. not driving, avoiding commerce, etc.). Even more deeply, Shabbat suggests that the greatest meaning in life and greatest spiritual satisfaction comes not from the rat race of ever more production and consumption pursued on the six other days of the week, but precisely from their cessation on the seventh. Shabbat is a day to be and enjoy and rest, rather than a time to do and make and acquire. The world needs more Shabbat right now!

“Build a consensus within the community that caring for creation is indeed a Jewish mandate.” What are three things that Jewish institutions can do to make their operations greener? First and foremost, get a good programmable thermostat, preferably multiple for separate heating/AC zones in your building. Set the temperature aggressively in an energy-saving direction, keeping it as cool in winter and as


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warm in summer as folks will allow, even more so overnight when facilities are unused. This not only saves money better used for program expenses, but also is a major step toward saving carbon. Second, establish and empower a Green Group that has the ear of the institution’s leadership. Having some mavens around is a great way to ensure that new ideas get explored, and new policies get implemented. Third, build a consensus within the community that caring for creation is indeed a Jewish mandate, and that limiting the impact of this institution on our planet and our neighbors and our future is part of the community’s very mission.

Who is doing a great job at greening up and what are they doing? The top example is the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois. Not only was it the nation’s first synagogue to receive the highest sustainability rating for its design and construction (“LEED-Platinum”), but it was also the first house of worship of any faith to do so. Take the virtual tour of the groundbreaking facility and its many replicable energy-saving features at www.jrcevanston.org/green_synagogue/. Great stuff is happening around New York thanks to its UJA-Federation’s partnership with the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center to create the Jewish Greening Fellowship, which unites and equips great minds in the community to do ever more in this arena. The Kayam program at Baltimore’s Pearlstone Retreat Center shows

how a thoughtful Jewish educational center focusing on sustainability can reach and touch people all across a diverse community. My own synagogue (www.adatshalom.net) has turned ecology from a professed value into a programmatic agenda, replicably outlined at h2c2.wordpress.com.

How do you envision the ideal role for Jewish institutions in the Jewish environmental movement? In the forefront, of course! Institutions have their own cultures based on their unique histories, locations, missions, and constituencies, but ultimately, institutions are made up of people. The same folks who lead and attend and are served by our community’s institutions—shuls, schools, camps, federations, agencies, etc.—are also leaders and attendees of businesses, universities, governmental bodies, secular non-profits, and so on. Individual Jews must continue to push to ‘green’ their institutions yet further; these newly sustainability-focused Jewish institutions will in turn set other Jews onto the green leadership path. And putting all those environmentallyfocused Jews out there will serve society, our planet, tradition, and our descendants—and it will reflect well on the Jewish community. PT Ezra Shanken is the senior manager of the Young Adult Department at the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado and a third-generation Jewish communal worker. presentense.org/magazine Here & Now

What environmental issues in our community keep you up at night? What are the top challenges facing you personally and the field of environmental work as a whole?

These were the questions the PresenTense Environmental Steering Committee answered as part of their work on this issue. Here are some of their answers, giving insight into the biggest challenges the environmental field will face in the years to come.

• Practice what we preach. • Jewish Americans’ relationship with the land of Israel and the land of America. • Funding, and competition for funding.

• Financial instability for those in the Jewish environmental field. • Fear of the environment and the natural world. • Lack of real, fundamental change.

• Land availability and funding for homesteads.

• Fundamentally, is Judaism green? What does the text really say?

• A productive network of interfaith environmentalists.

Beth Schuman has participated in the Adamah Fellowship and taught Jewish environmentalism to Jewish day school students at the Teva Learning Center. She currently teaches at the Jewish Community Center in Berkeley, CA where she is starting a nature and ecology program.

• Mobilization on Capital Hill and in the Knesset. • Lack of specialization in environmental education. Simcha Schwartz co-founded the Jewish Farm School in 2005 in hopes of revolutionizing Jewish education into a more hands-on, creative, and inspiring experience.

• Need for more Jewishly literate and environmentally literate individuals. • Disconnection to self, community, and place. • How to bring the Jewish environmental movement’s efforts to scale by developing and sharing programs with those not immediately inclined to its message. • How can Jews model what it means to live in balance with the natural world and work with other communities to address climate change? Jeff Kasowitz is a director and recent recipient of the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Public Service Fellowship at City Year. Jeff was also a 2010 PresenTense Boston Fellow and is the co-founder of Attar: Tools for Sustainable Living.

• Accepting environmentalism as important for its own sake rather than as a tool towards Jewish identity building and continuity. • Making sure the movement does not remain elitist and focusing more on environmental justice. • Consumerism and materialism. • Connecting deeply to the natural world--especially to where we live. Obsession with fear of eating bugs in the Orthodox community and implications around perception of the natural world. Jacob Fine currently serves as rabbi and assistant director of Hillel at the University of Washington and director of Jconnect Seattle. Starting November, Jacob will be working as director of programs and rabbi for the Jewish Farm School.

issue twelve 2010 Photo by

15 Saul Sudin.

Green Fellows

some of pt’s finest >> shira becher


resenTense Fellows bring their passion and creativity to create new initiatives in areas ranging from arts and culture to social action to Jewish education. In this Environment Issue, PT features Fellows whose work focuses in the environmental sphere. environmental into our lives?

Zach Weiner Robots Reboot connects college students to the impact of their everyday environmental efforts through social gaming. Sign up for a private beta invitation at robotsreboot.weebly.com (enter PT2010 in the comments section).

Has the recent global attention to the environment helped your success?

Absolutely. Perhaps most importantly, it’s helped bring success to similar platforms that I can leverage. For instance, the fact that Smart Metering in the United States is taking off is critical to our success.


Could you point us towards your favorite picks of environmental resources for us to integrate


issue twelve 2010


There are two types of environmental integration that are important. One-time changes— like switching your light bulbs or getting your house better insulated—often account for the biggest potential improvements. EarthAid.net does a great job of monitoring your energy usage, recommending these improvements, and paying you to implement them. Second, at the micro, everyday level, the best thing you can do is be mindful, which I should point out is an entire lifestyle. The best resources on the practice of mindfulness that I’ve found are books by the Buddhist author Thich Nhat Hanh. What are some practices that anybody can integrate into their lifestyles to help make our world a greener place?

It all boils down to becoming aware of the connection between the resources you use and their source. For instance, this awareness can be manifested in the form of realizing that paper towels and paper napkins come from trees, and thus using—and buying—less.

What are some of the challenges you face in your work?

Joshua Keyak GreenMeUp is a program that encourages students to save energy and reduce their carbon footprint through healthy competition and incentives.

Is there a modern Jewish environmental guru you look up to?

The people from Project Better Place who not only care about the environment but also value the economics behind becoming more environmentally friendly. Has the recent global attention to agriculture and the environment helped your success?

Definitely. It will be interesting to see whether that interest will translate to investment in the long haul or whether it was just a trend.

First and foremost, participation. I have encountered so many people who really care about the environment, but they fail to translate that ideology from words to action. Also, finances—I have found that in today’s economy philanthropists are less likely to take a gamble. Could you point us towards your favorite picks of environmental resources for us to integrate environmental consciousness into our lives?

www.treehugger.com, www.energystar.gov What are some practices that anybody can integrate into their lifestyles to help make our world a greener place?

One of the core philosophies of helping to change the environment is the power of one, that every act adds up to make a big difference. Any small act you do can help, whether it be turning off the light, unplugging your phone charger from the wall, or putting your computer to sleep before you leave work. These are relatively small changes which can easily be integrated into our everyday lives.

Jack Reichert Jack has been active in environmental issues from a very young age, from petitioning his city councilman to clean up Boston Harbor while in kindergarten to rallying his second-grade class to clean up garbage during recess. Today Jack is working with GreenProphet.com, the leading environmental news source in the Middle East, to help spread the message that a cleaner world will be better for all.

Is there a modern Jewish environmental guru you look up to?

Karin Kloosterman. Not only is she the founder of Green Prophet, but she also tirelessly

writes about environmental issues all over the blogsphere.

What is a challenge you face in your work?

Has the recent global attention to agriculture and the environment helped your success?

There are always more potential partners to start new ventures with, interested volunteers to make use of, customers to reach, and more ideas than time to make happen. Sometimes it gets quite hectic, but on the other hand, there’s always something to look forward to.

I wish that it was only enough. Agriculture is only one issue on the table. The environmental debate completely ignores how we are impacting our oceans. Yet, our oceans probably have a bigger impact on the climate than anything else. What are some of the challenges you face in your work?

When you are surrounded by conveniences, it is hard to be environmentally conscientious. What are some practices that anybody can integrate into their lifestyles to help make our world a greener place?

Here’s a cool tip: Unplug anything you don’t use when you’re not using it. You’ll be surprised by how much your electric bill goes down. And with the water prices going up, install aerators on your faucets. They cost pennies, but will also significantly reduce your usage.

Didi Zilberman “Eco-Tech – Ecology and Technology for the Community” collects used computers for educational programs focused on helping at-risk youth. The program trains the teenagers to fix the computers, which are then donated for use in the community.

Has the recent global attention to the environment helped your success?

Absolutely. I am asking companies and individuals to donate their old computers, and today the environmental rationale behind this request is much better understood. In addition, there are many similar initiatives around the world, and we share information and experience to ensure our success globally.

What are some practices that anybody can integrate into their lifestyles to help make our world a greener place?

If you don’t need it—don’t buy it. If you really need it—buy it, but buy something expensive, so it will last. Choose a product made as close as possible to home, reducing energy consumption and encouraging employment in your locale. If you bought it and don’t need it anymore— do not throw it away before thinking of the “second life” that you can bestow upon it. That chipped salad bowl can become a lovely flowerpot. Don’t need a flowerpot? Maybe someone else does. Second-hand is no longer an embarrassment—it’s a statement! And finally, don’t forget to donate your old computer to your local refurbisher!

Want more green? Here are some additional projects of PresenTense green fellows: Jonathon Feinberg Jewish Climate Action Network (JCAN) Tess Lehrich From Garbage to Garden Jeff Kasowitz Attar Yonatan Neril Jewish Eco Seminars Hava Zalzman and Aliza Gershon Growing Together Manuela Zoninsein Agrigate

Shira Becher is a graduate of NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study where her concentration was national and religious identity. She also has a certificate in Hebrew language instruction and teaches at Manhattan Day School. Shira currently resides in Park Slope. issuePhoto twelve by 2010 Saul

17 Sudin.

Solving the Water Crisis israel leads the way >> sarah hilzinger


srael is quickly establishing a reputation as a global leader in technologies that promote environmental sustainability. But this is not a new realm of technological development in Israel. Although many Israeli technologies are only now gaining global, mainstream attention, Israel has been involved in innovative practices in the realm of natural resource management for decades. As leaders around the world are faced with growing populations and a diminishing supply of natural resources, there has been a push both in private and public entities to find more sustainable means of using natural resources. In the past 10 years, the renewable energy industry has become a mainstream area of investment. As the shift away from a fossil fuel-based economy has strengthened, many private organizations have begun to capitalize on technologies such as wind and solar power. But today, leaders are beginning to face a different problem. A basic resource that many had not previously perceived as in short supply is becoming of global importance: water. Limited water is a problem that not only affects daily water use, but a lack of water for crop irrigation in the face of a growing population can also undermine food security. The tie between food security and water availability is not a new concept to arid nations, but what is notable is how even countries that have ample water supply have begun to allocate resources for the development of techniques and strategies to conserve water. Changes in the global climate mean changes in rainfall and groundwater availability, even in these water-abundant nations. The recognition that water shortage could become a future issue in all regions has led to the emergence of a new market for water-management technologies. Those who enter this market are realizing that it is not one with inexperienced entrepreneurs or largely experimental technologies. Israeli innovators dominate the space, and have been developing a wide array of water-management technologies since the 1950s. Their innovations include irrigation, desalinization, and grey-water recycling technologies. As a result, both leaders and investors around the globe have begun looking to Israel for opportunities and solutions. The issue of water supply in Israel is of national importance. For every good year of rain, Israel faces seven years of drought on


issue twelve 2010

Drip irrigation brings life to blossoming plants. Photo by Flickr user rajkc2k.

average. With limited resources and land, Israel’s water supply has been in danger of deteriorating in quality for years as the country has faced expanding urban areas, an increasing population, and industrial growth. One of the earliest water-management technologies developed by Israel was drip irrigation. The technology was developed by Simcha Blass, a water engineer for Israel predating its establishment as a state, and a pivotal innovator in the realm of watermanagement technologies beginning in

the 1950s. Drip irrigation is a method that provides water to crops by releasing small droplets at regular intervals directly to plants. According to Dr. Elaine Solowey, director of the Center for Sustainable Agriculture at the Arava Institute, drip irrigation reduces water input from ditch irrigation at least 70 percent and reduces soil salinization at least 85 percent. “Drip irrigation is a vital technology in Israel and around the globe because of the global shortage of fresh water for agriculture and drinking. Drip irrigation allows water presentense.org/magazine Ideas

“Limited water is a problem that not only affects daily water use, but a lack of water for crop irrigation in the face of a growing population can also undermine food security.” to ‘go further’ in growing vital crops because so little is wasted.” says Solowey. “It also reduces salinization since farmers have to use brackish and saline water in many places, and drip irrigation allows less water to be applied, meaning less salts deposited.” Less salt transmitted to soil preserves soil quality ensuring the soil’s future fertility. Since Blass’ conception of modern drip irrigation, various Israeli and foreign irrigation companies have further developed the technology, creating systems that operate on the same basic principles Blass devised but look very different, relying on a variety of different drippers, misters, water spikes, and pipettes depending on the crops being irrigated. This infrastructure is also now combined with water computers and clocks, making efficient

crop irrigation precise and even automatic. “Blass invented this system to allow people to farm dry and arid areas and because Israel and the Middle East are chronically short of water for farming and drinking. He did not regard it only as a way to settle the Negev, but also realized that the system could be used globally and useful in all arid areas,” says Solowey. Drip irrigation has indeed become a universal tool for efficient water input in agriculture, spreading from Israel to both developed and developing nations. “The main spreading was done by the irrigation companies,” said Eli Gertler, an Israeli engineer who has been working on irrigation projects in Africa since the 1980s. “Over the years they have done hundreds of seminars

and demonstrations for farmers, students, and officials. In addition, government organizations have spread this technology through seminars and demonstration farms in many undeveloped countries.” Just as drip irrigation has spread throughout the world, there is a wide array of other environmentally sustainable Israeli technologies that are beginning to attract foreign investment and adoption. But as these technologies gain more mainstream attention, this does not necessarily signal that the concept or the technology is new. Israel has been leading the world in environmentally sustainable technologies far before there was a global market for these technologies. And as foreign innovators increasingly enter this space, they will find they will have to contend with a powerful set of Israeli innovators and technologies. PT Sarah Hilzinger is researcher based who is passionate of sustainable agriculture development.

a writer and in New York about the role in international

Spotlight on Jewcology www.jewcology.com Jewish environmentalists around the world are creating exciting resources for educating their friends, families, and communities. But they don’t always have a way to find each other or share their best resources with others. One innovative tool, Jewcology.com, is seeking to address this problem with a new web-based portal for the Jewish environmental community. On Jewcology, you can find and share Jewish teachings, curriculum, source sheets, program ideas, videos, and podcasts with Jewish environmentalists

Ideas presentense.org/magazine

around the world. You can also create and share your own blog, promote and sell your eco-Jewish resources, and join groups on the eco-Jewish topics of importance to you. This collaborative project is supported by a global team of Jewish environmental leaders, activists and organizations. Partners include COEJL, Hazon, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Canfei Nesharim, the Shalom Center, and the Green Zionist Alliance.

issue twelve 2010


the Topsy-Turvy Bus

spreading awareness in style >> jonathan dubinsky

The Topsy-Turvy Bus. Photos by Rachel Playe.




ur ancestors from Europe came to New York in all types of vessels, but I am pretty sure none of them arrived on an upside-down school bus, fueled by used vegetable oil. The second annual Topsy-Turvy Climate Change bus tour set sail for the UN Headquarters in Manhattan on the evening of October 22, 2009, seeking to rally Jewish communities across the country and determine where they stand when it comes to environmental awareness, action, and advocacy. While our ancestors could only hope to improve their lives, our bus screeched into the Big Apple ready to change the world: spreading awareness about climate change and asking how we as a Jewish community can make conscious life choices that reflect our beliefs, with the goal of becoming a brighter or lagoyim (light unto the nations). The Topsy-Turvy bus is powered by a unique used-vegetable oil processing system unlike any on the road today. The Jewish sage Rambam (Maimonides) taught, “Righteous people… do not waste in this world even a mustard seed,” applying the principle of baal taschchit (do not destroy) to all forms of wasting, even food waste. In Rambam’s spirit of conservation, the system enabled us to rescue restaurants’ used vegetable oil, which would normally be thrown away, and clean it so it could power the bus. Unlike standard stationary processing systems, our system

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allowed us to process fuel while driving. The project was an initiative of the Teva Learning Center (tevacenter.org), a 16-yearold nonprofit which excavates the ecological wisdom inherent in Judaism and renews Jewish society through connection with the natural world. In 2009, Teva launched an East Coast bus tour celebrating solar energy used on Birkat haChamah, a little-known holiday honoring the sun. More recently, partnering with fellow environmental group Hazon, Teva launched a cross-country tour coinciding with the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference and with Chanukah, a holiday about conservation of oil, to spread the word about the Jewish Climate Change Campaign (jewishclimatecampaign.org). On this tour, our first destination was the United Nations, near the heavily polluted East River. There, we met with Janos Pastor, director of the UN secretary-general’s climate change support team, who blessed our journey by pouring some local, used veggie oil into our bus’ fuel tank. Then, like the Bal Shem Tov and his band of Chassidim traveling Europe to spread joy and Torah, we left the environmental promised land of New England to be out with the Jews of America. Among our destinations were Jewish day schools, Hebrew schools, and college campuses. Although the Jewish communities we visited often were concerned about global

climate change and had some level of environmental consciousness—after all, they had invited the Topsy-Turvy bus to visit— community members usually weren’t sure what they could do. We developed a threehour program designed to empower Jews to take action. At each venue, we performed a musical skit about the greenhouse effect and set up stations where students learned to design solar ovens out of recycled materials, toured our bus, and pledged to take specific environmentally-friendly actions. At one station, crew member Elizabeth Cossin showed students a solar oven, made out of an old cooler and a pane of glass, that could heat up to 275 degrees. Most people hadn’t realized the greenhouse effect could be replicated on a small scale to harness solar energy—an eco-alternative to burning coal. They left the station thinking creatively about do-it-yourself environmentalism, ecotechnologies, and the power of the sun. We also helped explain the differences between “global warming,” “the ozone layer hole,” and other confusing terms that appear in the news. We conveyed to students what scientists believe about the atmosphere and took the opportunity to relate a little-known success story: the hole in the ozone layer, a problem

Like the Bal Shem Tov and his band of Chassidim... we left the environmental promised land of New England to be out with the Jews of America. that humans helped mitigate through an international agreement. As the students poked around on the bus, they passed around a lump of coal. “Does anyone know what this is?” I asked. “I’ll give you a clue. 60 percent of all of the electricity in America comes from it.” Most had never touched or seen coal before, but one brownheaded, 12-year-old boy from Arizona chimed in, “I know! It’s charcoal!” In fact, I responded, it was coal—fossilized plants and animals said to be over 90 million years old. In a moment of what Abraham Joshua Heschel called “radical amazement,” most jaws dropped in hearing that most of the world’s energy comes from burning the fossils of our ancestors. presentense.org/magazine Society

At the end of the session, crew member Pesach Stadlin encouraged students to take a pledge in honor of the Earth. Rachel Playe, the documentarian, recorded students committing to one of the actions they learned about in the relay station. In most cases, participants learned working to solve climate change can be fun—riding bikes, planting gardens, coming together as a community—and were

eager to make a long-term commitment. For example, one student from Scottsdale, AZ stood in front of her entire school and said: “I pledge to work with my school to make a garden in the old soccer field in order to grow food,” she said. “There is so much sun that we could be harnessing here!” The rest of the students affirmed her pledge by saying, “Cain y’he ratzon,” “We support you!” PT

Jonathan Dubinsky “Capt’n Red Beard” is special programs coordinator for Teva Learning Center and coordinates the Topsy-Turvy Bus. He has worked professionally as a mechanic, organic farmer, hazardous-waste manager, and teacher, and studied environmental science at the University of Kansas.

JTS NYC Study where Judaism is lived as well as learned, surrounded by the excitement and opportunities of New York City. Become immersed in the ancient texts of Judaism and communal issues of contemporary significance. The Jewish Theological Seminary offers undergraduate, graduate, cantorial, and rabbinical degrees to prepare religious, academic, educational, and lay leaders for the Jewish community and beyond.

3080 BROADWAY NEW YORK, NY 10027 (212) 678-8832 • www.jtsa.edu Albert A. List College of Jewish Studies The Graduate School H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education The Rabbinical School

Look into it. issue twelve 2010


Tel Aviv. Photo by Elina Korshukin.

Sustaining Yourself Sustainably

in search of green jobs >> tess lehrich


nat Barzialai passes her days working in her home garden, cultivating her passion for growing, preparing, and eating healthy, natural food. Despite years of traveling around Israel and learning hands-on about different methods of organic agriculture, working in her garden is virtually the only chance Barzialai has to put her skills to use. Unwilling to succumb to a mundane office job, she sporadically teaches cooking classes to pay the bills. Barzialai is, like many others, struggling to sustain herself sustainably. Successfully sustaining oneself sustainably, for this purpose, is defined as being a healthy, social, productive and, yes, financially stable member of society, while being committed to working in an environmental field. Most of us eco-freaks have the first three bases covered: Healthy living is a core environmental value, as is an emphasis on community and partnership, which enable us to be social and productive. Financial stability, however, can be a great challenge. Finding paid environmental work in Israel at times turns out to be more of a game of chance and timing than the outcome of some strategic


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system, and many jobs, once landed, are either part-time or temporary. In Tel Aviv, many young adults who want to work in a “green” field have to supplement their expenses with other work such as waitressing, stage production, or by toiling in the hi-tech industry. Others, such as Yossi Lampel, will not compromise their values. Lampel works as a garden therapist for people with ASD (autism spectrum disorders), earning minimum wage in the most expensive city in the Middle East. Despite the many hours he must work to sustain himself, he smiles when he says that he loves his work atmosphere, the people he works with, and that the feeling of making a difference is payment on its own. As is typical in Israel, there are divergent perspectives on the challenges in sustaining oneself sustainably. Barzialai offers the explanation that “the smaller scale doesn’t have the resources, and there are not enough mentors and leaders on the big scale.” Lampel suggests that the environmental movement is still relatively new in Israel, and this is why there is not yet a strong support network. “Only six years ago we were traveling around to different ecofarms in Israel, and there was almost no one doing that,” he says. “In the beginning, we have to try, fail, adjust, try again, fail again, adjust, and so on until something succeeds. Israel is still in this trial and error stage as far as the environmental movement is concerned.” It is precisely because the movement is so new that there is so much room in Israeli environmentalism for startups, as well as a lack of stable environmental careers. While many “greenies” are struggling to sustain themselves, there are some that succeed. Many Israeli environmentalists who manage to maintain a steady income do so by starting their own business, which is fairly appropriate in this “Startup Nation.” Among these are businesses such as Gan HaSade and Hubeza, two of many organic farms delivering boxes of freshly harvested vegetables weekly to city dwellers, and Yaar Books, an ecological publishing company printing only on 100 percent recycled paper. But you would be hard-pressed to find a job at any of these places by typing the Hebrew equivalent of “Green Jobs” into Google. You may be able to find a job listing like this, however, on the website for Shatil, a 25-year-old Israeli NGO working to promote social change. Their online job database (Hebrew only) provides a critical tool for Israelis looking for sustainable work. Shatil’s mission is to provide guidance and support to help strengthen and connect various organizations nationwide that are working on a wealth of social issues, of which environmental justice is one. Founded by the New Israel Fund, Shatil embodies a vision of hope and stability as well as practical tools for individuals looking for sustainable sustenance. Sefi Major, another environmental entrepreneur in Tel Aviv, says he does not see the problem. “Any job can be a green job if you want it to be,” he says, explaining that he takes his trade of stage and sound production and uses it to work in festivals and shows promoting green living. This optimistic perspective, when considered alongside the trial and error development perspective of the environmental movement, offers a glimpse of hope for the future for Israeli environmentalists. The environmental movement in Israel is wide open now for change through social entrepreneurship, and if we fail, we will just have to adjust and try again. PT Tess Lehrich was a 2010 PresenTense Jerusalem Winter Fellow. Her initiative, From Garbage to Garden, introduces food recycling and composting into mainstream urban society.

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“Many times new volunteers join a meeting and ask me, ‘What do you want me to do?’ I ask them back, ‘What do you want to do?'"

Green Course activists protesting against air pollution in Haifa.

Green Course

mobilizing israeli student activists >> hamutal gillo


hile studying at Tel Aviv University, I signed up to attend a meeting of the school’s chapter of Megama Yeruka (Green Course), an environmental organization I had never heard of before. That meeting lured me into the environmental landscape and changed my life. For the past 13 years, Green Course (www.green.org.il) has inspired many young Israelis to commit to preserving the environment of the Holy Land. Green Course has had unique success in motivating Israeli students to action. Jewish Israeli students are usually graduates of two to three years of what is sometimes extremely difficult military service and most work while in school—making them not the easiest constituency to recruit for volunteer work. So how has Green Course grown to 26 chapters and over 6000 active volunteers? The first truly democratic, volunteer-run organization on Israeli campuses, Green Course fosters creativity and empowers students to believe in their ability to create change and to secure a healthier and safer environment for all Israelis. “Green Course is the only NGO that promotes the environmental activism concept as its number one priority,” says Green Course Director Gil Yaakov. “Our motto is: If you are tired of just talking about environmental problems—Green Course is the right place for you. If you want to lead, we will teach you how.” Volunteers at a local chapter identify an environmental threat in their area. Then, they plan, launch, and manage a campaign to promote solutions. Meanwhile, working from the main office in Tel Aviv, the staff assists them in realizing their ideas, traveling from campus to campus and urging them to think big. “We train students and give them the opportunity to be active citizens, even if they don’t have professional training or knowledge,” says Yaakov, ”Students who join Green Course will very quickly receive training on strategic planning of campaigns, media relations, and informative background regarding the environment.” The non-hierarchal culture has captivated many students. I, for example, found myself hanging a banner protesting the Israeli government’s insufficient recycling policy on a bridge crossing one of Israel’s central highways at 3 a.m., only two weeks after my first meeting. Society presentense.org/magazine

This was certainly preferred to studying. “What’s unique about Green Course is that people see an environmental problem that they are concerned about and they can just walk in and start doing something about it,” says Shiri Bar’am, coordinator of the Bar Ilan University chapter. “Many times new volunteers join a meeting and ask me, ‘What do you want me to do?’ I ask them back, ‘What do you want to do? How do you think we should face this challenge?’ At first, the freedom we allow can be confusing. But after the first time volunteers run their own project independently, they realize how much power they have and they want to do more.” Green Course was founded by Eran Ben-Yemini in 1997, with the support of the Society for the Protection of Nature (SPNI). Ben-Yemini realized that the existing environmental NGOs were not succeeding in reaching out on the grassroots level and that many Israeli students hungry for activism didn’t have spaces in which to channel their energies. Ben-Yemini’s vision was to mobilize the masses of students in Israel to make the case for the environment. He aimed to recruit 32 students from four universities within a year—and ended up with almost 200. A year later, six Green Course activists chained themselves to the top of a crane in order to stop the “Sea and Sun” residence building project, which would have devoured the last remaining non-developed area on Tel Aviv’s coast line. After four days on top of the crane with heavy media coverage, including a story on CNN, Tel Aviv’s mayor Roni Millo announced the project would build one building instead of four. In 2005, 30 Green Course students chained themselves to commercial fish farm cages in the Red Sea, the number one cause of pollution there and of damage to Eilat’s coral reef. As a result, the Israeli government made a decision to shut down the farms. Green Course also played a leading role in the 2007 campaigns which overturned the “Safdie Plan” to build 20,000 residential units on the Judea Mountains National Park

Near the parliament protesting against building in open areas. Photos provided by Green Course. issue twelve 2010


Green Course activists in a clean air protest.

and postponed the plan to build a new coal power plant in Ashkelon. The following year, it was instrumental in establishing the Clean Air Act of 2008. Today, Green Course is involved in the quest for sustainable transportation and

is pushing to establish metro train systems in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to solve heavy traffic and air-pollution problems. Green Course is also promoting the Grey Water Act to expand Israel’s already impressive water recycling

abilities (Israel recycles 50 percent of its wastewater). While Green Course has worked closely with leading Israeli environmental organizations—such as the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), Israel’s oldest environmental NGO, which specializes in environmental research, communitybuilding, and education and Adam Teva Vadin, which specializes in litigation—Green Course is distinguished by its volunteers. Its young demographic willing to be a bit extreme has proven powerful and effective, sometimes even more so than scientific papers or lawsuits. When I heard the leader of another established organization say, “We can’t do what you do. I can’t send an environmental litigator or a scientist to chain himself to a crane, and I can’t bring people to the streets the way Green Course can,” I felt that we, the student volunteers, had truly established ourselves as an irreplaceable component of Israel’s contemporary environmental scene. PT Hamutal Gillo is proud to be a part of a growing movement of volunteers in organizations promoting public health and nature preservation. She currently works in research on gender equality strategies in the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem.

nature knows no borders collaboration for land’s sake >> michael cohen


educed to one of its core components, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is about land—more precisely, the borders that the Palestinian and Israeli people aspire to draw on the land. When thinking about what divides these two nations in this conflict, the land is often viewed as one of the major stumbling blocks to any reconciliation efforts between the Israelis and Palestinians. When the land is looked upon solely as a geopolitical instrument, that is true; however, when viewed from the perspective of the environment, a new framework opens up. The environment, which does not know political bordersinvites us—forces us—to work together in partnership. Water issues may dominate the environmental challenges of the region, but there are many other areas of concern as well. These include ever-increasing air pollution with serious health ramifications; preservation of open space and the need to preserve bio-diversity; the strain on environmental


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Students at the Arava Institute make peace on the dunes. Photos provided by the Arava Institute. presentense.org/magazine Society

The environment, which does not know political borders, invites us, forces us to work together in partnership. resources by the rapidly-growing populations of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples; the need to develop green energy resources; public littering; and a general disregard for the environment. Despite these challenges, there are numerous examples of Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli NGOs working successfully together on environmental projects. One example is a joint study conducted by Palestinian researchers from the Water & Environmental Development Organization and the House of Water and the Environment together with Israeli researchers from the Arava Institute and Ben-Gurion and Tel Aviv universities. They undertook the firstever monitoring of pollution sources in transboundary streams in the region. The three-year project looked at the Hebron/Besor and Nablus/Alexander rivers and was able to create an in-depth picture of the ecological health and challenges they face. Based on this information, they made recommendations of what needs to be done to bring the rivers, as well as the others in the region, back to health. Also involved in this area of work is the Friends of the Earth Middle East, which has put a tremendous amount of effort into rectifying the disastrous state of the Jordan River, working with Palestinian, Jordanian, and Israeli individuals and organizations.

Environmental Studies has been training a cadre of Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian environmental leaders in the region, in addition to operating a very active research department involved with numerous transboundary environmental projects between Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and Morocco. There are tens of thousands of Bedouins and Palestinians living in Arava students working on a mud-building project together. Israel and the Palestinian Authority with student at Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert no modern infrastructure; particularly no Research at Ben-Gurion University. Showing the complexity of the problem, municipal trash pickup, nonexistent municipal sewer systems, and no electrical services. Yousre Odeh, a 27-year-old Palestinian, Methane gas produced from household and adds, “From a Palestinian perspective, the farm waste is one solution to this situation. environment may have a priority, but it is not Three Arava Institute Jewish and Arab as important as the political issues that affect researchers have spent time in India, China, the daily lives of Palestinians. It’s hard to make and Central and South America learning sense for such people when you try to talk to about biogas anaerobic digester systems, them about making their life green, when they which use organic matter from kitchen face all these other issues, not to mention that waste, livestock manure, and garden waste to they don’t have the required knowledge about produce methane that can be used for cooking the environment and how it is important.” While the NGOs may be able to model and other household tasks. The material left over after the anaerobic process can be used what can be done and even overcome some for composting, and for cultivating trees and of the obstacles mentioned above, Dr. Clive Lipchin, the director of the research gardens. This system is now being introduced to department of the Arava Institute, points a number of Israeli and Palestinian Bedouin out, “While we may have the necessary data communities. Yair Teller was asked by the from the research we have done with Israelis Villages’ Association to design and build and Palestinians on solving the environmental a household biogas system in the outlying issues that we have in common, the problem lies in getting effective legislation and policy implemented, not to mention in a coordinated fashion, between the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority. Until there is a peace agreement this becomes near impossible.” Despite these challenges, the environmental NGOs of the region remind Palestinian community of Susya. That system us that other modes of cooperation do exist. is being used not only to bring methane to Based upon his studies at the Arava Institute homes but the ‘compost tea’ from the process with fellow students from the Middle East and is being used to fertilize newly-arrived olive around the world, Liel Maghen, 25, an Israeli Jew, says, “I have learned that ‘nature knows trees. The environmental issues are exacerbated no borders’ and that although politics separate by the ongoing conflict between the Israelis us into identities, the environmental problems and Palestinians. Added to the political reality unite us together.” PT of the conflict and how it affects the shared environment between these two peoples Rabbi Michael M. Cohen is a member there is also another reality. “The fact that of the Arava Institute for Environmental geographically the heart of the conflict is Studies faculty. He is the author of actually in a very small area only increases Einstein’s Rabbi: A Tale of Science and the Soul the pressure on the environment,” points and co-founder of the Green Zionist Alliance. out Yonat Mordoch, 32, an Israeli master’s

“While we may have the necessary data from the research we have done with Israelis and Palestinians on solving the environmental issues that we have in common, the problem lies in getting effective legislation and policy implemented.” The Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information has held conferences on the many complex issues involved with water in the region, while Kids4Peace has used the environment as a way to bring 10- to 12-yearolds together. Ronen Schechner, a program director of Kids4Peace, explains, “There are many elements one can use to break down barriers and build bridges when one brings Israeli and Palestinians together. The environment, something that we all share, plays a very important role when we bring our participants together.” Since 1996, the Arava Institute for Society presentense.org/magazine

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the Tikkun Olam Dilemma

juggling social and environmental agendas >> jonathon feinberg

becomes more difficult. Eliana Golding works with the Urban Defense Project (UDP), which works for both social and environmental improvements in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood of Cleveland. It ponders questions such as whether an organization focused on changing environmental habits within the Jewish community could benefit

Sybil Sanchez, executive director of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), shared, “[COEJL’s] biggest challenge—which I think many kinds of groups encounter—is funding and bandwidth. The best collaborations happen naturally, because it’s hard to start a new partnership if the issue or project is not somehow already on your agenda.” COEJL engages in campaigns aimed at “Protecting Creation from Generation to Generation,” including greening synagogues around the U.S. and the Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign (www. coejl.org/covenant). Competition was also listed as the top hurdle by Carmi Wisemon, executive director of Sviva Israel, which develops and implements environmental education programs for youths around the world using class-based, online, and social networking platforms. “There is a great deal of protectionism among groups generally. Small funding pools and similar program ideas lead to conflict. Personalities also clash; some people are just bad at collaborating,” Wisemon said. Sanchez agreed with this notion of organizational and personal conflict. “[You] need to make sure you are not competing for the limelight and that you are sharing work fairly,” she said. There is also a deeper, more Jewish community-specific impediment to

from partnering with UDP, a group that works on the needs of a specific neighborhood. “Partnering and collaborating can be difficult because each organization has its own goals and missions,” Golding said. While differences in goals can prevent collaboration between organizations, one of the primary impediments to any kind of collaboration is available funding. Many groups want to work together, but barely have the funding necessary to achieve their own programmatic goals. Furthermore, the Jewish philanthropic world has largely had an anthropocentric focus, working on taking care of the immediate needs of the community instead of its longer-term sustainability.

collaboration. The Jewish community has tended to finance more welfare-based programs within the community, but this limits our abilities to create change and leads to even more specialization. Wisemon calls this the Tikkun Olam Dilemma. “At what point do we expand past the immediate needs of our community to the broader issues we find important as citizens of the world?” he said. We want to do more than provide for basic community needs, but how do we do this when we still have starving, homeless, and disadvantaged Jews around the world? Despite all of the impediments, at their roots, social and environmental groups both work for a better world that can sustain the

COEJL, Hazon, 350.org volunteers at the global day of action on climate change, 10/10/10. Photo by Kevin Tunney.


erving on a committee to develop a community garden for an underserved population in Woodland, CA, I experienced firsthand the challenges of collaboration between groups with different interests. Causes motivating the various groups included such diverse interests as development in the Latino community, spreading awareness of organic farming, creating more green space, and simply spreading awareness of their organization. Calculate the differences in these vantage points, and the result is a great deal of conflict and complicated internal politics. One particular divide that can be challenging to bridge is that between groups focused on social action and those on environmental causes. “The impediments are somewhat abstract; for example, loggers struggling for wages and basic needs will conflict with environmentalists struggling to end deforestation,” said Catherine Bell, program director of the Jewish Organizing Initiative (JOI), which provides its fellows with training and mentorship in community organizing and places them in various social and environmental groups. As organizations’ focuses become increasingly specialized, working with specific communities or ecosystems or only engaging in certain kinds of programming, collaboration


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“In real grassroots work, people listen to what folks care about and tensions fall away. A healthy environment is necessary for human justice.”

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people therein. According to Bell, the schism between social and environmental groups in the Jewish philanthropic world is “a false binary.” She explained, “A blue-green alliance often forms when the focus is on an outside enemy, like corporate greed. In real grassroots work, people listen to what folks care about and tensions fall away; a healthy environment is necessary for human justice.” There does seem to be a general interest in collaboration on both sides of the divide. Environmental groups increasingly incorporate aspects of social justice, just as social groups increasingly incorporate aspects of environmental justice. As Rabbi David Wolkenfeld of Hillel at Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life put it, “My sense from being an observer is that there is interest in understanding the social justice implications of environmentalism and that Jewish environmental organizations are socially aware too.” Many voiced evidence of these views. “Partnerships are essential to the UDP’s effectiveness and its ability to stay focused and informed,” Golding said. Meanwhile, Sanchez found “a growing desire to share agendas and be mutually supportive. Faith-

Society presentense.org/magazine

based organizations like COEJL and other Jewish groups… have a lot to contribute here because we don’t separate issues the same way.” In discussing JOI’s fellowship, Bell shared that “on group retreats…fellows hold each other accountable for maintaining a sustainable lifestyle; you can’t work for justice without living in a just way.” Collaboration—including sharing resources, allowing groups to accomplish a much greater good than any one could on its own—can help groups move past the Tikkun Olam Dilemma. Collaboration between social and environmental groups is not always easy, and sometimes just does not work. Yet Sanchez maintained, “Such a confluence of interests serves to unify us rather than further divide us as Jews. I think many Jewish groups, environmental and non-environmental, are focused on finding new ways to enhance diversity and forge common bonds among diverse views and voices.” As for my own experience with the community garden, when we were finally able to hold an open meeting with the affected community, hearing their desires and concerns, we cohered in an entirely new way. Our goal became far clearer, and the politics

COEJL volunteers painting a rooftop. Photo by David Marks.

disappeared. It seemed that we realized our different reasons and perspectives were all just aspects of the greater project at hand. PT Jonathon Feinberg was a 2010 Boston PresenTense Fellow. He works for Sviva Israel and is the founder of The Jewish Climate Action Network (JCAN), which provides alternative Jewish experiences through environmental action and learning.

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Winners of the Hebrew University Photo Contest


Eliot Jay Sherman, SUNY Buffalo. st Kasui Sand Dunes



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he Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Rothberg International School is proud to announce the fourth annual exhibit winners for the CRISPEE Contest: Rothberg International School Photo Exhibit Extravaganza, an annual photo contest and year-long exhibit for students who studied abroad during the previous academic year.

University and/or in Israel to you?” The competition was judged by the Rothberg International School’s Office of Academic Affairs and PresenTense Magazine.

The focus of the contest was “What most typifies your experience at the Hebrew

To see the full exhibit, please visit http://overseas.huji.ac.il/photo

This exhibit is sponsored by RIS’s Office of Academic Affairs, PresenTense Magazine, Interglobal Travel, and Talk ‘n’ Save.

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Autumn Landram, Bethel University. Life in Jerusalem (1)



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Sharon Graetz, UC Davis.


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Sauerkraut-making on an alternative break trip in California. Photo provided by the Jewish Farm School.


the growth of jewish environmentalism >> nati passow


hen you register for an event with Hazon, a New York-based Jewish environmental organization, there is a dropdown menu of options regarding religious identity. Orthodox, Conservative, Conservadox, Reform, Reconstructionist, Renewal, Secular, Cultural, Other, Just Jewish, Not Religious, and Not Jewish are all on the list. Over the past several

this was not always the case. The growth of the modern Jewish environmental movement is a story of an idea moving from the edges of a culture to take root in the mainstream. In its early years, the American Jewish environmental movement engaged individuals who were first and foremost sympathetic to the environmental cause and used the fledgling movement as an entry point into


As the movement grows, many expect certain challenges ahead, most notably around ... finding ways to collaborate and not compete for funding, participants, and resources.


years, the Jewish environmental movement has become a vibrant force within the larger Jewish community, encouraging individuals and institutions to do everything from recycle, eat less meat, eat more meat (local and organic), plant gardens, create Green Teams, and eliminate disposable dishes. While this movement now models diversity and pluralism, cornerstones of its recent growth and success,

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Judaism. For those who were active environmentalists, they were surprised and delighted to see that Judaism provided a relevant voice. Ellen Bernstein, who in 1988 founded Shomrei Adamah, the first national Jewish environmental organization, explains, “Shomrei Adamah was very intent upon reaching secular and unaffiliated Jews, and had many strategies to do so,

including many speaking gigs at eco-conferences and booths set up whereby we could visit with passersby who were invariably unaffiliated. Shomrei Adamah in fact received grant money for this kind of thing as we were one clear venue by which to connect with the unaffiliated.” Early on, Jewish environmental efforts connected a few key ideas within Judaism to larger ecological themes. The law of “bal tashchit” (“do not waste”) was utilized as a basis for a Jewish environmental ethic, as was the notion that Adam was created from the earth (adamah) and was put in the Garden of Eden “l’ovdah ul’shomrah” (“to work and to protect”). This made Jewish environmentalism easy to digest—it didn’t require vast knowledge of Jewish law or text, but rather centered on a few broad concepts. Bernstein strove to engage a diverse audience. “I was careful to involve people from all movements, and people who didn’t belong to any movements,” she says. The movement has grown from these building blocks to

engage individuals in more sophisticated ways, reflecting not only a myriad of interests— such as outdoor adventure, food, and farming—but also a wide spectrum of religious affiliation and observance. While there were some from more traditional backgrounds active in the early years, there was little effort made to engage the Orthodox community as a whole, according to Evonne Marzouk, founder and executive director of Canfei Nesharim, a leading organization in Torahbased environmentalism. Her organization develops a Jewish environmental ethic steeped in Torah texts and values and has been successful at bringing the message to the Orthodox community. “When we can speak the language, it greatly increases our ability to be effective in that community. When we strengthen the environmental perspective within Orthodoxy, we strengthen the broader movement.” The Jewish environmental movement has gained traction both because there is a general increase in awareness about climate change and sustainability issues and because it resonates deeply with people. Shamu Sadeh, director of the Adamah Fellowship, explains, “The Jewish sustainability movement speaks to people’s passions. ... We gather young Jews around awe and gratitude, around understanding broken social and ecological relationships and the need to fix the system. They get their hands dirty and work together on real constructive projects. They sing together. They express gratitude. They know they are being of service to the world.” The current-day success would not be possible without the efforts within the movement over the past 20 years. In the ‘90s, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) supported numerous local chapters around the country that sought to address ecological problems from a Jewish perspective, through education presentense.org/magazine Features

and political advocacy. In 1994, the Teva Learning Center was established, and has led the Jewish environmental education effort since. As new projects have emerged, Jewish environmental education has become an important sector of the larger movement, often providing the channels through which people first connect. Teva has experienced tremendous success as it reaches

supported agriculture (CSA) programs, Hazon has helped bring the Jewish environmental message to the mainstream. Hazon’s work is effective because it creates meaningful new ways for individuals to identify as Jews and build community around important issues, rather than religious affiliation. Through both education and identity building, the Jewish environmental movement

“We gather young Jews around awe and gratitude, around understanding broken social and ecological relationships and the need to fix the system.” day schools and synagogues. Casey Baruch Yurow, who served as an educator and program coordinator for the Teva Learning Center from 2005 to 2007, says, “Teva provides a joyful, Jewishly rooted, and curiosity-based exploration of what is essentially one of the most relevant questions that we, as humans, can ask ourselves today, ‘How do we live harmoniously with the only home we really have?’” Teva’s brand of education often stands in sharp contract to the bland Hebrew School education many young people suffer through, and this is one major reason its participants find the experience so paradigmshifting. Nili Simhai, the director of the Teva Learning Center, is working to create a certificate program in Jewish environmental education as a means to bring the message and efficacy of Teva to a broader audience while also making careers in the field more viable for the talented cadre of passionate educators, like Yurow. As education has been one successful method of engaging the Jewish community in environmental efforts, building Jewish identity and community has been another. This follows in the footsteps of early efforts made by leaders like Bernstein. Through its outdoor adventure experiences, food conferences, and synagogue-based community Features presentense.org/magazine

has taken firm root in the mainstream community. This trend is seen through some major accomplishments in the past few years: two of the eight Joshua Venture fellows are leading environmental projects (I’m one of them); Hazon’s food blog, the Jew and the Carrot, recently merged with the Jewish Daily Forward newspaper; the Jewish Greening Fellowship, a program designed to bring environmental change to Jewish institutions, has been renewed for a second cohort; and Jewish environmental initiatives are sprouting up in communities around the country. Many of these projects are being organized on a small and local level, drawing inspiration and resources from the larger, national projects. Moving forward, Jewish environmental leaders are hoping their message becomes understood as a fundamental Jewish value. Hazon and the Jewish Farm School launched an initiative in 2008 called the Shmita Project, which encourages the Jewish community to look at how the values and laws of the Shmita year can be integrated into Jewish communal life. This November, a small group of leaders of Jewish environmental organizations will be meeting to explore these ideas more deeply, with the hope of creating a larger annual Shmita Convergence for the broader

Jewish community. Kayam Farm’s winter Beit Midrash will be happening again for the third year, bringing together a diverse group of Jews for a weekend of engaging in traditional texts on Jewish agricultural laws. Jakir Manela, Kayam’s director, is also looking to create a Jewish agricultural moshav around Kayam’s site outside of Baltimore. As the movement grows, many expect certain challenges ahead, most notably around growing in a sustainable fashion, and also finding ways to collaborate and not compete for funding, participants, and resources. Additionally, as Jewish environmentalism becomes more widely accepted, there is concern that it will become watered down. Yoni Stadlin, a former Teva educator and founder and director of Eden Village Camp—a new Jewish environmental summer camp which was launched this summer with a $1.1 million grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation

and the Foundation for Jewish Camp—sees tremendous value in the current state of Jewish environmentalism. “I see us as the common denominator and great spokespeople about Judaism’s contribution to the world. The world is coalescing around environmental issues, and we are the Jewish voice. As we move from the fringes into the mainstream, I hope we continue to collaborate and share resources, yet remain a decentralized movement. There’s currently a grassroots effort underway, and should we become more centralized, we will lose some of the magic. And right now there’s a lot of magic.” PT Nati Passow is the cofounder and director of the Jewish Farm School. He loves spreading himself too thin with projects such as mud building, carpentry, writing, cooking, and running a startup nonprofit. He currently lives in bunk 16 at Eden Village Camp.

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seeds of Pluralism sowing community at kayam farm >> jessy gross, jakir manela, rachel berndtson


n Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and secular-radicalhumanist Jew go hiking in the woods...” Sound like a joke? Not at Kayam Farm, where summer program participants engaged daily with the challenges and opportunities of building a pluralist Jewish community. The setting was the beautiful rolling hills of Reisterstown, Maryland, where you can see at least seven different firework displays on the horizon on the Fourth of July and a glorious sunset every night of the summer. At any given time last summer, 10 to 20 Jews from a variety of observance levels and interests worked the land, learned eco-agricultural Torah, and lived together with both shared and competing values. Shorter service-learning trips and other pluralist Jewish programs usually involve less than 10 days, participants spending only one Shabbat together. Often, difficult conversations are “resolved” through the understanding that the pluralist solutions are “just for one Shabbat.” At Kayam, in contrast, the pluralist community lasted for three months, dependent on honesty and compromise. Do we daven with a mechitza? Who leads Kiddush? Can I lead Shabbat services with a guitar? Should there be a modesty dress code? What if some people want to use a public space for praying early in the morning, while others want to use the same space for yoga? We began our Kayam summer community together by embarking on a three-day, 40-mile Chesapeake Watershed Pilgrimage, traveling from the farm to the Chesapeake Bay. We waded through creeks, canoed through a reservoir, hiked through a state park, biked through urban neighborhoods, and sailed out

In our efforts to create a more sustainable world where all life is guarded as sacred, surely we must also create a more inclusive Jewish community, where all kinds of Judaism are sacred. 32

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At work on Kayam Farm. Photo by Jessy Gross.

into Baltimore’s harbor. We learned much about the watershed ecology and social history of the Chesapeake region. But more than that, we learned about each other—because less than 100 yards into the pilgrimage, the pluralist journey began. An Orthodox male hesitated reaching out to help a female making her way across a slippery creek. He wanted to help, but was also shomer negiah (literally “guarding touch,” the practice of never making physical contact with the opposite sex). He reached out his hand, offering help to his female friend, and together they spent the next mile navigating the creek while talking about his decision and the tension therein. Returning to the farm from the pilgrimage, a daily routine ensued. Farmers, ecologists, unaffiliated Jews, college students, and rabbis spent our mornings together in the field— planting, watering, weeding, composting, and harvesting 40 boxes of produce for our community supported agriculture (CSA). After enjoying a farm-fresh lunch, we gathered inside for our daily kollel learning, still muddy and sweaty from the morning. Each week, we learned about a different category of Jewish agricultural law. Two rabbinic students helped lead the summer kollel: Gabriel Greenberg, a rabbinic student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (Modern Orthodox); and Jessy Gross (also a co-author

of this piece), a rabbinic student at the Hebrew Union College (Reform). Initially the two rabbinic students found themselves in disagreement over how to organize chevrutot (learning partners). Greenberg believed that similarly-skilled learners should learn together, so that advanced learners could dig deeper into the text without having to teach a less knowledgeable partner. Gross preferred a model where participants with stronger skills were paired with those in need of extra help, so that everyone would cover the same material at a similar pace. In the end, a compromise was struck where chevrutot changed each week, so that some weeks participants learned with partners with similar skills, and others with people with very different experience levels. This work is not easy. It is an intensely personal, communal, and ecological experience. As a result, those who lived at Kayam this summer emerged with new understandings of themselves as Jews and as human beings. Some secular Jews began to develop a regular Jewish practice, while more observant Jews pushed themselves to adapt their practice to be inclusive for more people. Joel Mosbacher, a Reform rabbi from New Jersey, spent his sabbatical at Kayam, farming and learning. “I completely loved the experience of living in this diverse, complicated, intense, intentional community,” he said, “I loved working super-hard and studying with presentense.org/magazine Features

folks who knew much more than me—I loved being challenged to learn new farming skills as well as pushing my Hebrew skills.” Can such an intergenerational, pluralistic, land-based Jewish community exist in the long-term? Such a vision exists, for Moshav Kayam. The hope is to attract Jews of all ages and backgrounds to live together, building a spiritually vibrant village dedicated to Torah values and sustainable community. There is a growing list of those excited by this vision and ready to move into the area. “We dream about moving to this moshav and really planting our lives there... I think it would be the perfect place to start a family and it has so many business opportunities, i.e.

wellness centers, senior centers, etc. When I finish [my] nursing degree, I would love to devote my professional abilities to our moshav,” Rachel Bender, a 20-something Jewish friend of Kayam, said. In our efforts to create a more sustainable world where all life is guarded as sacred, surely we must also create a more inclusive Jewish community, where all kinds of Judaism are sacred. This experience in Jewish peoplehood strengthens the Jewish ecosystem through biological and cultural diversity. PT Rachel Berndtson is a PhD student, undergraduate lecturer, and advisor in the Department of Geography at

the University of Maryland. She was a Summer 2010 Fellow at Kayam Farm. Jessy Gross is a fourth-year rabbinic student at the Hebrew Union College, LA, and has an MA in Jewish education. She estimates she helped harvest over 500 pounds of tomatoes at Kayam Farm this summer. Jakir Manela is the founder and director of Kayam Farm at Pearlstone. He manages a growing staff of Jewish farmer-educators, facilitates programs, and works on development.


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December 9 - 12, 2010 December 23 - 26, 2010 May 6 - 9, 2011 August 2011 September 2 - 5, 2011 November 8 - 15, 2011

Creating healthy and sustainable communities in the Jewish world and beyond. WWW.HAZON.ORG issue twelve 2010


electric in demand bringing us to a better place >> lianna wolfson


ozens of daily Google alerts, articles, and news reports are alerting drivers in the U.S., the Middle East, Europe, and Asia that the future transportation mode of the electric vehicle (EV) is no longer just a prospect. Tesla, Nissan, General Motors, Mitsubishi, BMW, Ford, and Renault, to name a few, are showcasing models. While EV enthusiasts dream of the electric car changing global economic and climate change patterns, critics are concerned that EVs will not actually have a significant effect on the environment. The real question under debate is whether electric cars will create the demand for clean electricity needed to increase renewable energy resources and effect environmental change. Or, are electric cars introduced in the market today not yet ready to tackle environmental issues because they still depend on dirty energy resources? EV’s supporters believe the car will help curb dangerous levels of pollution and reduce dependence on foreign oil. The cars most of us drive today release carbon dioxide gas (CO2) from the exhaust pipe into the air. CO2 emissions in the atmosphere make the air denser, trapping the sun’s radiations and causing temperatures to increase, leading to global climate change. Moreover, oil leaks cause natural disasters, and the purchase of oil funds anti-democratic, oil-producing countries—making a decrease in reliance on the import of oil extremely pressing, some say.


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Photo by PresenTense.

“The goal of the electric car is to run on energy that is clean and sustainable. Oil must go. The fact is there is no way to burn oil cleanly,” says Avi Ebenstein, professor of environmental economics at Hebrew University. “The whole world is late… We are desperate for renewable energy,” concurs Dr. Tareq Abuhamed, professor of renewable energy at Israel’s Arava Institute. On the other hand, EV critics argue, electric cars may merely replace one unsolvable problem with another. Creating the electricity needed for EVs requires nuclear power plants (controversial) or coal, the dirty fossil fuel that provides most electricity today. Sunil Somalwar, professor of physics at Rutgers University and author of the controversial article “Prius and Prejudice: A Case Against the Electric Car,” challenges the mission statement of EV manufacturers. He questions whether EVs will help or hurt the cause of eliminating the worst sources of energy, since electric cars today still depend on unclean sources. While some believe the success of the electric car depends on whether humans discover a clean way to produce electricity in mass, others maintain that the EV is a necessary step toward promoting the need for the availability of clean electricity in mass. “Technological innovation is by definition an intermediary solution that does not solve completely the problem and instead offers

a questionably better solution,” Ebenstein says. Once the demand is created, he argues, availability of clean energy resources will need to become a global priority. “We know oil, we’ve learned how best to use it. Once we are in the electricity game, we will get good at that too.” Mass production comes from demand—a demand that could come in the form of EVs. “Renewable electricity will see an important reduction in the price per watt and that is due to the mass production and in increasing efficiency,” Abuhamed says, agreeing with Ebenstein that demand for clean energy will cause clean energy to be mass-produced. This is exactly the argument of Better Place, a groundbreaking startup in Israel, which proposes that we can end global oil dependency with a transportation model that supports electric cars. According to Mike Granoff, head of oil independence policies at Better Place, “The notion that the electricity grid must be decarbonized before electrifying cars is exactly backwards. Only by first electrifying cars—and thereby replacing gas tanks with batteries that, in aggregate, give vast amounts of storage for electrons, are you able to tilt energy economics away from coal and toward zero-carbon electricity which is by-and-large intermittent, requiring storage.” Inbal Fried, Better Place environmental program manager, explains, “In Israel, the first pilot country for Better Place, the power generation relies on a mixture of coal and natural gas, with around one percent of renewable energy. Projection shows that renewable energy in Israel will increase to about 10 percent in the coming decade. Better Place has positioned itself as a company that is willing to pay for any renewable sources feeding the grid, and serves as a substantial demand generator for those sources in Israel.” In addition, Fried explains that the car could rely on any of a number of renewable energy sources once they become more available. “Replacing the gas tank with an electric battery creates a capacity to fuel a car

Are electric cars introduced in the market today not yet ready to tackle environmental issues because they still depend on dirty energy resources? presentense.org/magazine Features

based on a variety of energy sources—wind, solar, hydrothermal, and more,” she says. Better Place recently announced a partnership with General Electric (GE) which will allow Better Place and GE charging stations to be interoperable. In his September 28, 2010 column about Better Place in The Huffington Post, Inder Sidhu, SVP of strategy at Cisco, defines the partnership as an indication

that “Better Place is trying to leverage the best thinking from the established world with the latest ingenuity from the emerging one.” Yet it will take the Israeli driving population’s commitment to determine if Better Place has what Sindhu calls “a winning formula in any market”—and if electric cars can achieve a significant difference as an environmental solution. PT

After living and working in Israel, Lianna Wolfson has returned to the U.S. with a passion for bringing Israeli technology across the world. Lianna graduated Phi Beta Kappa from New York University and is Ideas & Innovation editor with PresenTense Magazine.

race to the dream machine tokyo takes on tel aviv >> manuela zoninsein


wo young tech stars—Israel’s Shai Agassi and China’s Wang Chuanfu— are amongst those in the running to build viable electric car models to replace petroleum. It’s a race that pits representatives from two of the world’s most innovative clean technology nations—Israel and China. Whoever wins could steer the transportation landscape for decades to come. Better Place is the electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and systems provider spawned by wunderkind Shai Agassi, known for leaving his position as second-in-command at SAP—the world’s largest enterprise software application vendor—to seek out a solution for the betterment of society. His company has so far been known for working solely in small landmasses such as Denmark, Hawaii, and Israel to figure out EV solutions. Yet after participating as the only foreign company in a Yokohama, Japan showcase last year, Better Place has just completed a 90-day trial in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills. The company’s cars, batteries, in-car software, operations centers, and especially switch stations—where used-up electric batteries are swapped out for pre-charged ones—are being tested on four Nissan Dualis with switchable batteries, operating with some of the world’s savviest and time-pressed cabbies, in partnership with the largest taxi operator in Tokyo, Nihon Kotsu. Larger contracts may start coming in if an analysis confirms the trial’s effectiveness. Eventually, Better Place might provide cities worldwide a pragmatic way to minimize climate change and reduce low-level urban pollution. An important value-add: quick battery switching and a potential storage destination for variable renewable energy sources (such as wind and solar). Features presentense.org/magazine

At Better Place Tokyo. Photo by Seiji Tanaka.

“Tokyo has more taxis than London, Paris, and New York combined, with approximately 60,000 vehicles, representing a high mileage, high visibility segment that can serve as the catalyst for this technology to transfer to the mass market,” said Kiyotaka Fujii, president of Better Place Japan. This comes on the heels of the world’s largest cleantech deal, where an HSBCled team invested $350 million in January, establishing that a functional supportive battery-switch infrastructure would be less expensive than many might expect. According to Agassi, the cost of creating their network would be equivalent to one gas tank per car in whichever country adopts it. In the U.S., where there are about 10 transportation corridors each at approximately $1 billion per corridor, a total investment of $10 billion

is expected in order to begin to electrify the entire country’s automobile network. A project is already under development in Australia to show this model works in countries, regardless of size. “Build Your Dreams” is an apt name for BYD Auto Co., the Shenzhen, China-based company that made headlines last year when Warren Buffett was permitted to buy a 10 percent stake. It plans to start selling its E6 electric crossover and the F3DM hybrid in the United States by year’s end, which would seem unrealistic had Toyota’s market-leading hybrid, the Prius, not recently fallen from grace. Chairman Wang Chuanfu, like Agassi, is a young upstart leading an unexpected startup: his background is in battery engineering and manufacturing. Yet he maintains designs on growing BYD into the world’s largest issue twelve 2010


Photo by Aiko Hayashi.

Photo by Tatsuya Ito.

car company by 2025, a feat for a country with a short track record in automobile manufacturing, not to mention design and engineering, and for a company known for creating the energy packets that go inside

hardware. That said, BYD already beat the Japanese once by re-jiggering the age-old assembly line so it now relies on quicklyadapting migrant workers rather than cumbersome machinery. With the reputation of the Prius tarnished, the Chinese company could hardly have found a better time to roll out its green cars in the U.S. and Europe. BYD recently announced it will begin selling its electric and hybrid cars in Europe in 2011 and hopes to start sales in the U.S. even earlier. Last January, Chairman Wang said that American drivers might be able to get behind the wheel of BYD cars this year. Wang’s model relies on ferrous batterypowered dual mode hybrid. This battery is what makes BYD stand out: it has no heavy metals and should provide a 10-minute fast charge at special charging stations. To

demonstrate its recyclable, non-toxic nature, Wang reportedly drank a glass-full of the liquid when Buffett was doing due diligence. The plug-in hybrid will be a version of their F6 Honda Accord sedan, the F6DM. BYD’s flagship car, the BYD E6 pure electric MPV, has been released as a taxi in Shenzhen city under a testing program before rolling out nationally and internationally. As the charging stations have only been tested in small urban areas, questions remain as to the viability of the broader infrastructure. As to creating the hardware to house Wang’s batteries, a recent agreement with Daimler AG portends that for BYD, one’s imagination is the only limit. Whether these ventures are mere glimpses of genius or the next great leap in a postpetroleum world, EV’s range is poised to be rapidly extended with these two young entrepreneurs at the helm. PT Manuela Zoninsein was a PresenTense Global Fellow in 2009 and is the founder of Agrigate, an online service to connect and encourage scientific and business exchanges between Israeli agricultural tech innovators and their Chinese counterparts. She is currently studying at Oxford University for an MSc in Modern Chinese Studies.

are Simple Actions enough? Paradigm Shift

getting beyond crisis mode >> evonne marzouk



se Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs). Buy a hybrid car. Add insulation to your house. You’ve heard these recommendations and a dozen more over the last few years, as environmental concerns have become prominent in our society. Maybe you’ve heard that these actions will save you money (“two kinds of green!”). But are these important actions enough? Over the last few generations, we’ve had some serious environmental challenges, and a broad environmental movement has risen up to deal with them. In the United States, there has been good progress in some areas, such as reducing pollution of air and water, informing the public about specific environmental threats, and cleaning up

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environmental messes. Yet despite this, today there are more complicated, more global, and more dangerous environmental challenges than ever. Our society seems increasingly confused about how we can address them. We need a new paradigm to help us build a more sustainable future. The current mode of environmental protection includes a focus on specific problems, action at levels both personal and political, and campaigns to identify and solve specific problems. CFCs are destroying the ozone layer. Individuals: stop using spray cans. Politicians: create laws and international agreements to prevent CFC use. Declare victory. But addressing specific environmental challenges at this level is not sufficient.

Problems are rarely solved completely. Politics and greed prevent scientific clarity. Worst, behind the original problem comes another bigger one, ruining the moment of celebration. Our problems are not only tactical but also philosophical, stemming from confusion about what the environment is: a set of interconnected resources—clean air, clean water, food, animals, trees—on which we depend in order to live. It is not a series of individual problems which can be solved by concrete campaigns. Instead of addressing problems one by one, we need to recognize a fundamental truth: Protecting our resources is logical and healthy for human beings to do. In Jewish thought, the environment is recognized as a set of resources to be managed presentense.org/magazine Features

over time. It is acknowledged that we must take resources from the land—such as food, energy, sanitation, and clothing—to meet our basic needs. Yet people were placed in the Garden of Eden both “to work it and to protect it” (Genesis 2:15). We treat our resources with care and great appreciation, as the Talmud records: “Rav Judah said in the name of Rav: ‘We give thanks to You, Hashem, our G-d for every single drop which you have caused to fall upon us.” (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Ta’anit, p. 6b). In another example, the mitzvah to cut fruit trees, drawn from a Torah source (Deuteronomy 20:19-20), is understood as a comprehensive warning not to needlessly destroy. Jewish teachings also recognize that the advance of technology presents ongoing environmental challenges which must be addressed by the application of old rules. For example, Maimonides (1135-1204) updated earlier pollution rules from the Talmud to apply to contemporary technology in his Mishneh Torah. Environmental problems spring from a cultural lack which is essentially spiritual: lack of the sacred, lack of long-term and communal thinking, lack of concern for others or even our own health. Jewish thought emphasizes appreciating and managing our resources wisely, making decisions with an eye toward long-term needs, and correcting mistakes when they are discovered. The focus includes an ongoing responsibility for the environment, for our health, and for other people. These are paradigm shifts that could make a real difference in our environmental protection. If our society began to internalize these values, protecting the environment would transcend just changing a light bulb or buying a different kind of car. It would be about our love for our children and our neighbors, and our gratitude for all that we have. These values would not only help the environment. They could also help us strengthen our families and communities, become less dependent on wealth and consumerism, and focus on what really matters. Since the 1990s, more than a dozen Jewish-environmental organizations have begun operating at both the local and national levels in Israel, the United States, and around the world. Organizations such as the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), Hazon, the Teva Learning Center, and many more have engaged Jews and Jewish institutions in environmental action, awareness, and advocacy. Yet much more needs to be done to engage the entire Jewish Features presentense.org/magazine

Oil spill. Will small actions solve it? Illustration by Miriam Anzovin.

community, and to use Jewish wisdom to alter the unsustainable course our society has taken. We can build a society in which we protect our resources, continually, for our own health and for the well-being of our children. Thus, I offer a call to action to all Jews to pursue deep, authentic Jewish learning and to take action to address the serious environmental threats we face. Familiarize yourself with websites, publications and programs that provide highquality scientific environmental information, and make it a habit to consult them. Make environmentally sensitive consumer choices, such as buying 100 percent recycled paper, non-toxic cleaning products, and CFLs. But also, learn what our tradition can teach us about sustaining our resources for future generations. Join and support a Jewishenvironmental organization. Learn the Jewish perspective on protecting the environment.

Read Jewish-environmental teachings and promote programming and action in your community. Share your ideas with others. Together, we can move the Jewish community into our role as a “light to the nations” in protecting our world. An ancient Jewish text teaches: One who learns in order to teach, develops the ability to learn and to teach. But one who learns in order to act, develops the ability to learn, to teach, to guard and to act. (Ethics of Our Fathers, 4:6). Let’s join together as Jews, to learn, teach, and act to live sustainably. PT Evonne Marzouk is executive director of Canfei Nesharim and leader of the team creating Jewcology.com, the new web portal for Jewish environmentalists.

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in the gan our hands at work >> suzanne nathan

The Gan Project endeavors to create a vibrant, sustainable, and healthy Chicago Jewish community through recurring, action-oriented environmental and agricultural programming. These images show what we’ve accomplished thus far—that is, with our hands. In our debut summer workshop series of 2010, activities ranged from sukkah-building to pickling.


The Gan Project teamed up with Moishe House in Chicago, IL, to build a sukkah out of found objects. Reused objects took on a sacred meaning as we built the temporary dwelling structure out of mismatched beams and a table out of repurposed wood.


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Above: The Gan Project’s workshops have been co-sponsored by Birthright Israel NEXT, broadening the participant base. Here, folks from Russia, Israel, and Chicago experiment with winning ‘kraut combinations. Left: Jews and pickles: such a winning combination. The recipe combines organic, local, and seasonal green beans with dill, garlic, and salt. No vinegar is used, just lacto-fermentation. Suzanne Nathan finished her master’s in social work at the University of Chicago in 2010 and works full-time as a therapist with chronically mentally ill and homeless adults. She is also the co-founder of The Gan Project. In her free time, Suzanne explores her passion for photography to capture snapshots of her experiences as a radical, free-spirit, social-justice-seeking, environmentalist, feminist Jewish woman.


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presentense.org/magazine Photoessay

Portrait of an Artist objects of desire >> libi adler

Swimming pool.

Arts & Culture presentense.org/magazine

it to become part of nature,” Livni says. Another work, entitled “Jerusalem Boulevard,” is an intricate, multilayered view of a street one would find in the old city of Jaffa. Towers meet buildings meet trees, all flattened in multiple colors of veneer. Combining buildings from different eras of the city, ranging from the Turkish occupation to today, the piece shows architecture’s place in time. It was made for an exhibition for the preservation of Jerusalem Boulevard. Livni describes “nature, architecture, imagination” as the substance of her art, rather than statements about politics or about the reality of being Israeli. She prefers art as a means “lechadesh,” to do new things and expand. Her images set out to transform the viewer’s perception of art itself. Livni’s latest project involves layering Japanese paper to form lighthouses, representing artists. “The role of the artist is to show people the way, to guide them, like a lighthouse,” Livni explains. Livni thought of the idea when she went to an artists’ residence in upstate New York earlier this year. There she studied these architectural wonders and read books extensively to learn about different kinds of lighthouses and their roles. “The lonely life of the lighthouse watchman [is] as a little like that of an isolated artist in his studio,” she says. Rather than impulsively throw herself into her art, she sees the final product as the culmination of a long process. She reads books, maps out her plan, and decides what materials to use and how they will fit together. Livni has stacks of plates to mold into mountains and more layers of paper and

Jerusalem Boulevard. Photographed by Leigh Orpaz.

scraps to form masterpieces. She uses her hands to stimulate our imaginations. Livni is constantly learning and discovering new ways to do what she loves. You can find her in New York at an artists’ residence, in Japan at a paper art village, in Germany exhibiting her work, or in Jaffa roaming the old city’s streets. Her ability to draw inspiration from her surroundings continues to impress those who interact with her work. She has a knack for taking what others have disregarded and making it into art. You can hear the passion in her voice and see it in her work. Livni is an Omanoot artist (blog. omanoot.com). Edoe Cohen, CEO of Omanoot, says of Livni, “Liat’s work is at once innovative, meticulous, and aesthetically extraordinary. Liat challenges general conceptions of the materials and spaces used in visual art, while raising questions about our relationship with nature.” Find out more about Livni’s artwork at blog.omanoot.com/visual-artists/mixedmedia/liat-livni. PT Born in Israel and raised in St. Louis, MO, Libi Adler graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in communication. She has been happily living in New York for the last two years, but is still in touch with her Midwestern roots. issue twelve 2010

Arts & Culture


eet Liat Livni, a 31-year-old Israeli artist extraordinaire. Livni’s studio is located on Hanegev Street in Tel Aviv, near the Old Central Bus Station. There, she transforms simple objects like paper plates into “more aesthetic…objects of desire,” as Livni puts it. What you would throw away, she picks up and reuses in her art. Livni’s skill is in capturing nature and preserving it. Yet she is in constant conflict between using eco-friendly, recycled materials and making sure her art lasts for years, to be hung and admired in homes and museums. Livni always knew she wanted to make art, and she majored in fine arts in high school. Back then, she thought she wanted to work in something practical like fashion design, and she studied it for one year at Israel’s Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. “That didn’t work out,” she says. “The one problem when you are an artist is artists don’t know what else to do.” Missing art, she followed her dream to live and study fine arts for a year in Paris. She then returned to Israel to attend the worldrenowned Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, where she received a BFA in 2005 and an MFA in 2007 in a joint program with Hebrew University. Inspecting Livni’s pieces gives an idea of her inspirations, from architecture to landscape. Her Ein Karem series—focusing on the neighborhood in Jerusalem—shows a love and appreciation for architecture. “It interests me how vernacular architecture, which humans created over the years to fit their houses to their needs, was combined with the contours of the landscape and assimilated with


Transforming Jerusalem the art of urban preservation >> liz nord


new wave of artists and activists are working to revitalize Jerusalem: the city that evokes majestic images of sun setting on white stones, ignites passion among people of various faiths, and has been a source of prolific creativity for writers, poets, and artists for generations worldwide. This fabled city has fallen on hard times due in part to the rapidly-growing number and influence of ultra-Orthodox Jews, a dwindling economy, and a perception among Israeli youth that the city lacks social and cultural opportunities for them. Jerusalem has therefore been facing a “negative immigration” of young people and businesses for several years. Fortunately, several of Jerusalem’s changemakers are building on Jerusalem’s rich history of arts and culture and using those tools in new ways to ensure their city remains pluralistic and vibrant. One artist working to make a mark on the city is photographer Einat Arif-Galanti. She is a slight woman whose soulful, deep-set brown eyes help tell the story of her parents’ immigration to Jerusalem—her mother’s family having come from Iran by foot and her father’s family from Germany after World War II. This history is part of what encouraged her to stay in the city despite a better financial climate for artists in Tel Aviv. Arif-Galanti is one of the founders of Jerusalem’s first cooperative gallery, Agripas12. Inspired by the Israeli kibbutz model, the Agripas12 artists work collectively to create opportunities for themselves and other local artists to show and sell their work in their own city. They consciously chose to locate their gallery in a house in the Machane Yehuda neighborhood, just outside the colorful and bustling food stalls of central Jerusalem’s historic market.

Photo by Roy Gluska.


issue twelve 2010

Artist Matan Israeli describes one of the outdoor artworks created by his group in the Musrara neighborhood. Photo by Roy Gluska.

Fortunately, several of Jerusalem’s changemakers are building on Jerusalem’s rich history of arts and culture and using those tools in new ways to ensure their city remains pluralistic and vibrant. “I really love places in which you can see that time has passed,” explains Arif-Galanti. “You can see what happened, like stains in an old book. It has a story. And I feel it’s one of the stories this space has to show.” Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem’s outdoor market, is quickly becoming known as more than just the place to buy the best halva in town, with artist studios and gourmet restaurants cropping up in unexpected alleyways. In fact, Agripas12 has inspired openings of several other galleries and cultural institutions in the area since its inception seven years ago. Across town, artist Matan Israeli and his Muslala group are turning the streets of the Musrara neighborhood into an evolving, outdoor gallery with work visible at any time of day or night. Their goal is to foster dialogue between the diverse people who pass through this uniquely located area, on the border between West Jerusalem and the predominantly Arab East Jerusalem, and in close proximity to the Old City, the Jerusalem Municipality, and the ultra-religious Jewish

neighborhood of Me’a Shearim. The neighborhood is already home to several cultural sites, like the Naggar School of Photography, but the Muslala collective is literally bringing art into the streets. Visitors can pick up a route map to walk a self-guided tour of the photographs, billboard paintings, and sculptures that are now sprinkled among the Musrara residences. According to Israeli, “We’re not only dealing with art. We’re dealing with social change. We put the art outside not just to be beautiful, although it is beautiful, but also to say something. It’s to have this kind of conversation in a place where conversation is not so obvious. Try to imagine a conversation today between the Orthodox community, Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews, and Palestinians. It doesn’t happen. But maybe through this work it can start.” The most ambitious of the urban renewal efforts was envisioned by venture capitalist Erel Margalit of the Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), who moved his firm and several of its presentense.org/magazine Arts & Culture

Emmanuel Wizthium, creative director of The Lab, at his theater. Photo by Roy Gluska.

funded startups into the old Jerusalem Mint building, along the train tracks. Margalit was living in New York City during the 9/11 terror attacks, and was inspired by the significance of creative ventures like the Tribeca Film Festival in healing lower Manhattan. Margalit decided to bring this philosophy to Jerusalem. The once abandoned Mint and old railroad buildings nearby are now booming, thanks to the JVP startups and associated Media Quarter and Animation Lab. At the core of the Margalit’s plan is The Lab, a fringe theater and performance space. The Lab aims to put Jerusalem theater and performance art on the map through production of innovative, multi-disciplinary work. Emmanuel Wizthium, creative director of The Lab, is himself a Jerusalemite composer and electronic musician. He enthusiastically describes the possibilities of his position. “Jerusalem is still trying to discover what it is,” he explains, “It’s like a teenager all of a sudden realizing there are certain things that it can do. Certain things it dreams of doing, and all of these things are happening now.” Much of the work performed at The Lab is locally inspired. For Wizthium’s first production as creative director, “Dissolving Localities,” six artists recorded sounds from all over the city. The artists then performed Arts & Culture presentense.org/magazine

“Try to imagine a conversation today between the Orthodox community, Ashkenazi and Mizrahi Jews, and Palestinians. It doesn’t happen. But maybe through this work it can start.” these recordings live with electronic music, as Wizthium describes, “to use Jerusalem as a musical instrument. Instead of a keyboard, we used Jerusalem.” All of these artists feel that Jerusalem is a city with loads of untapped potential, and that despite challenges of life there, the city’s future is already looking brighter thanks in large part to the efforts of its creative community. PT

Photographer Einat Arf-Galanti at the Agripas12 Gallery. Photo by Liz Nord.

Liz Nord is a documentary filmmaker who has produced and shown work throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North America. Learn about her current film on Jerusalem’s cultural renaissance at battleforjerusalem.com

issue twelve 2010


environmental Artifacts american census on transportation >> adam cohen and craig friedman


ur roads and infrastructure are the essence of our modern, man-made environment. When a field is paved over, or a forest is knocked down, oftentimes it’s to put a road through—or back in the day, to build a railroad. The disturbance of nature so that humans may have ease of transport is the essence of the images and poetry that follow.

Artifacts Here’s some trash from one of those civilizations I’ve heard so much about whose plastics will last just as long as their steel yes it’s true that little bit blowing by your feet right now

around after you pass it doesn’t matter how long you last faces and names are always set to change but the trash just keeps on being trash

will still be

Inside Ride Glad I’m not on the roof of this thing I would have needed a few extra layers I didn’t bring


issue twelve 2010

presentense.org/magazine Arts & Culture

Improvements Get a load of this road it’s been paved in code take a left no a right hug that curve tight

grab the map do the math steer us quickly closer to smoother paths.

Forever Red The red and the yellow and the green command motorized armies taking orders from a hue and sheen everyone reacts it’s just one of those facts looking at lights we every day try

to chase down but before we go back to cruising around this town let’s do something novel instead let’s save ourselves an ozone layer and turn all those traffic lights forever red. The New American Census (the first Census to sense America) is an online collaboration begun in December 2009 by photographer Adam Cohen and writer Craig Friedman. Through the combination of photography and poetry, they aim to capture the essence of everyday life in New York City and beyond.

Arts & Culture presentense.org/magazine

issue twelve 2010


holy chevre

an eco-friendly goat cheese >> melissa meyers

Photography by Peter Orosz and Natalie Polgar.


ver wonder where your food comes from? If you’re like me, the closest you have come to livestock in recent years is your local zoo or a stray feather on your chicken. When I decided to learn more about what goes into the making of one of my favorite cheeses, goat cheese, I turned to the folks at Adamah (isabellafreedman.org/ adamah). A working farm and Jewish learning community at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center, Adamah produces kosher, eco-friendly cheese. They taught me about where goat cheese comes from and how the production can be done in a green way. Adamah makes three main goat milk products: goatgurt, feta, and chevre—one of my personal favorites. Milk is provided by the farm’s 11 goats which are hand-milked twice a day, producing about 10 gallons of dairy goodness. After milking, batches of the creamy delicacy are sent for pasteurization, to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Once pasteurized, culture (good bacteria) and microbial rennet are added to begin the cheese-making process. The milk begins to solidify into curds, which separate from the liquid whey. Finally, the cheese is hung to drip dry and packed for sale at local shops, co-ops, and eateries. Since chevre is a soft


issue twelve 2010

cheese, there’s no need for aging, making time from milking to the store’s shelf less than a week. At Adamah, the whole process is under supervision of a mashgiach (supervisor) to ensure everything is kosher. So how does this process bring a dimple to Mother Nature’s face? At Adamah, the herd is hand-milked, reducing the need for energyconsuming machines and the materials used to make them. Also, the goats’ diet consists of

“[The goats’] diverse and healthy diet translates into healthy and tasty cheese for us.” organic grain, local hay, and shrubbery from woods on the farm’s grounds. As Adamah’s Dairy Director Aitan Mizrahi, 33, explained, their “diverse and healthy diet translates into healthy and tasty cheese for us.” Yum! Adamah’s team, including the goats, each get personalized attention. From the handmilking to the network of local shops, co-ops, and restaurants that sell the finished products, Adamah’s brand of eco-friendly production

reflects a balance of commitment to its Jewish foundation and environmental values. The twin passions of Jewish learning and green living are what attract many Adamahniks, like Laura Held, 29, to the farm. Held, formerly a book publisher, found a way to combine her love of Judaism and agriculture with a career she was more passionate about at Adamah. After completing the Adamah fellowship, she stayed on board as mashgicha for a second year, and will head for an MA in agriculture at Tufts this fall. So if your passion is for a green Jewish America or just a darn good creamy cheese, and you happen to be passing near Falls River, Connecticut, stop by the center’s bookshop to pick up some Holy Chevre. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to catch milking time. With cheese in hand, you’ll be ready to prepare this recipe, which combines chevre’s tang with the earthy savor of shitakes and the fresh flavor of locally-grown spinach in a pillowy casing for a healthy, kosher, and eco-friendly brunch! PT Melissa Meyers loves to travel and is always on the lookout for an exotic ingredient to play with or a menu standout.

presentense.org/magazine Arts & Culture

Chevre, Spinach, and Shitake Blintzes Blintzes 3 eggs, beaten 2/3 c. flour 1/2 c. water 1/4 stick butter, room temperature Filling 10 oz. chevre, cubed 1.5 c. onions, diced small 6 c. fresh spinach, chopped 8 oz. shitake mushrooms caps or 16 oz. button mushrooms A sprinkle of salt and pepper Diced tomatoes (optional garnish) Bletlach (Blintz Crepes) Beat eggs with a fork (not a whisk) for 3 min. to minimize the amount of air in the eggs. This prevents holes in the bletlach. In a separate bowl, mix small amounts of flour into the water until a smooth batter forms. Combine eggs and batter in a large bowl. Next, use a clean dish towel to grease an 8-inch non-stick pan with butter. Ladle the bottom of the pan with enough batter to coat evenly, pouring back the excess batter. The goal is to get them paper-thin. When the batter begins to peel from the thin edges, remove it with a knife and watch for the center to slide easily from the pan. Next, flip it over onto a clean dish towel, tapping the counter with the top of the pan to make sure it separates smoothly. Allow to cool before stacking. Filling To make the filling, remove stems from shitakes and wipe clean with a wet dish towel. Chop and dice all veggies. Brown onions in butter until translucent. Add mushrooms and cook until onions are crisp at edges. Sprinkle the rest of the ingredients into the pan and mix. Spoon one tablespoon of filling into the center of each bletlach, fold in corners to make a square pouch, and place on a baking dish, folded sides down. Blintzes can be made a day or two ahead of time. Brown before serving and garnish with diced tomatoes from your local farmer’s market! Serves 6.

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issue twelve 2010


Arts backpage

Sam Ackerman currently lives, works, and attends graduate school in DC, and has been drawing comics and cartoons for more than 10 years. In his spare time, he enjoys cultural events, movies, tennis, and gymnastics. A collection of his political cartoons is available at samackerman.blogspot.com.


issue twelve 2010

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Our OURPartners PARTNERS >> We are honored to work with the following present and past sponsors in pursuit of our mission to build a future of creativity, innovation, and leadership for Israel, the Jewish People, and the world:

The Rosenbloom Philanthropic Fund

Gary Gross

The Morningstar Foundation Pamela Applebaum

The Gorlin Family Foundation

Sharon Ungerleider

The Wohl Family Foundation

Virginia Bayer & Rabbi Robert Hirt

Our Partners


The Kopelman Foundation Joyce & Irving Goldman Family Foundation Inc. The Immerman Foundation

issue twelve 2010


What happens When you surround energetic, creative people With a community of resources and connections?

The PresenTense Group engages and inspires

the most creative minds of our generation, investing in their ideas and energy to revitalize the Jewish community. PresenTense enables young Jews to have global conversations about new ideas and envision a better future. And when they’re eager to act upon these ideas, we educate and equip them for success.

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issue twelve 2010

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PresenTense Issue 12: Our Environment  

The environmental issues important to young Jews today -- and what we are doing about them!

PresenTense Issue 12: Our Environment  

The environmental issues important to young Jews today -- and what we are doing about them!