Our dedicated staff and board members represent a broad alliance of Jews from across the political and religious spectra who care deeply about the country, the people and the land of Israel, and who are dedicated to working toward a sustainable future.
Staff, Board of Directors and Israeli Representatives
Rabbi Michael Cohen
The director of special projects and former executive director of Friends of the Arava Institute, Rabbi Michael Cohen is a founding faculty member of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. He is also the vice president of global resource development for the Arava Power Company, which works to make solar power the main energy source for southern Israel and Jordan. Previously, Michael served as president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and as pulpit rabbi at the Israel Congregation of Manchester, Vt., where he remains the rabbi emeritus. Michael is a Vermont Public Radio commentator and the author of numerous articles. He also wrote a novella, "Einstein's Rabbi." For his role in co-founding the GZA, Michael was named a Jewish Community Hero.
Dr. Orr Karassin holds a PhD in law from Bar Ilan University, an LLM magna cum laude from Tel Aviv University and an LLB from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has held the position of visiting research fellow at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science and she is currently a lecturer at Sapir College Law School in Sderot, where she is responsible for the law-and-environment program. Orr was awarded several prizes for her doctoral work, including the Rothschild Scholarship for early-career researchers, and the Wolf Foundation Prize for excelling doctoral students. Orr is one of the GZA representatives on the board of directors of Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael, where she heads the board's Students and Research Grants Committee. She is also the chairperson of the Sustainable Development Council of Kfar Saba. Orr was the first executive director of Life and Environment, the umbrella group for Israeli environmental organizations. She was appointed by the Israeli government to serve as a charter member of the National Committee for Environmental Quality. Additionally, Orr was among the founders of Green Course, Israel's largest environmental organization for students. Orr is the author of two books on environmental policy and has published widely on environmental policy and law both in academic and non-academic journals. She lives in Kvar Saba with her husband and their two young children.
David Krantz is a co-founder, president and chairperson of the Green Zionist Alliance. He serves on the steering committee of Interfaith Moral Action on Climate; on the founding team of the Interfaith Ocean Ethics Campaign; on the cabinet of the American Zionist Movement; and on the oversight committee of the Green Hevra. David previously served as a leadership fellow at the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life and as a global-justice fellow at American Jewish World Service. He is also the editor of the Jewish Energy Guide and the managing editor and co-founder of Jewcology. David earned three master's degrees, including one in journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, and two through a Steinberg Fellowship at New York University, where he studied Judaism and environmental policy. He has spoken about Israeli, Jewish and interfaith environmentalism on four continents.
Susan Levine is the Green Zionist Alliance's volunteer and intern coordinator. She enjoys being part of an international team working to green Israel. Susan holds a master's degree in education.
Netta Schmeidler is the Green Zionist Alliance's chief Hebrew translator. She works as a product executive in the Israeli high-tech industry. Netta holds master's degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and from the Tel Aviv University. She lives in Herzliya with her husband and two children.
Dr. Richard H. Schwartz
The project manager of the Green Zionist Alliance Israel Environmental Forum, Dr. Richard H. Schwartz is also the president of the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians, the president emeritus of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America and a professor emeritus of mathematics at the City University of New York's College of Staten Island. Richard is also the author of several books, including "Judaism and Global Survival" and "Judaism and Vegetarianism." His work inspired the documentary film, "A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Heal the World."
Pesach Stadlin is the goodwill ambassador of the Green Zionist Alliance. He is also the chief ideas officer of the Elijah Interfaith Institute and the director of sustainable design at Eden Village Camp. An educator at the Teva Learning Alliance, Pesach traveled 10,000 miles as part of the Jewish Climate Change Campaign on the Topsy Turvy Bus, a hands-on educational learning facility that operates on discarded vegetable oil. Pesach is a farmer, a dreamer and a certified permaculture designer. Pesach lives in Jerusalem.
Dr. Alon Tal has degrees in political science from the University of North Carolina and law from Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He completed his doctoral studies at Harvard University, where he served as an adjunct faculty member from 1989 to 1998. He also has taught environmental law at Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and University of Otago in New Zealand. In 1990 Alon founded Adam Teva v'Din – the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, a public-interest advocacy group which is now Israel's second largest environmental organization. In 1996 he founded the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, where he served as director, and more recently as director of research. Alon has worked as a consultant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and as an assistant to the attorney general of Israel. A founding board member of Friends of the Earth, Middle East, Alon served as chairman of Life and Environment, Israel's umbrella group for environmental organizations, from 1999 to 2004, and he is presently one of the GZA representatives on the board of directors of Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael. In 2005 Alon was awarded the Charles Bronfman Prize and in 1997 he won the Henry Ford European Conservation Award. In 2008 he co-founded Israel's Green Movement Party and today he serves as its chairman. Considered by many to be the leading environmentalist in Israeli history, Alon is a co-founder of the Green Zionist Alliance.
Rabbi Lawrence Troster
Rabbi Lawrence Troster has been an eco-theologian and environmental activist for more than 25 years. The rabbinic scholar-in-residence at GreenFaith, Lawrence previously has worked as a rabbinic advisor at Hazon, the rabbinic director at J Street and as a rabbinic fellow at the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. Author of the book, "Mekor Hayyim: A Source Book on Water and Judaism," he also co-chaired the U.N. Environment Programme’s Interfaith Partnership for the Environment.
GZA delegates to the 36th World Zionist Congress
Dr. Richard Schwartz
Aviva Melissa Frank
GZA member of the Zionist General Counsel
Rabbi Matthew Earne
GZA representatives on the American Zionist Movement board of directors
GZA representatives on the Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael / Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) board of directors
Dr. Alon Tal
Dr. Orr Karassin
GZA Presidents & Chairpersons
Rabbi Michael Cohen
GZA Administrators & Executive Directors
Former GZA Board of Directors Members
Chanan lives on Kibbutz Shiller in Israel, where he focuses his lens on nature, industrial development and the interaction of people with technology. His work has been displayed in galleries throughout the United States and Israel.
Israeli Nature Poll
"When a fruit-bearing tree is chopped down, a voice is heard from one end of the world to the other, but it is not audible."
- Pirkei D'Rabbi Elazar 34
Did You Know?
The reverse-osmosis desalination plant in Ashkelon is among the largest of its kind in the world.
Mideast Green News
EcoSpirit Middle East Initiative – interview with Ilana MeallemEcoSpirit Middle East Initiative – interview with Ilana Meallem recently posted https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gOTvyZfDXwhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gOTvyZfDXw for more Arava Institute youtube vidoes:
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