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Jewish Women in Environmental Activism


How about Yaira Robinson at Texas Interfaith Power & Light, and Joelle Novey at Interfaith Power & Light (MD.DC.NoVA)?

Bringing education for a sustainable future to K-12 teachers around the US since 2003, and now internationally, through the non-profit organization The Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation (CELF) Katie Ginsberg, Founder and Executive Director, and Patti Bressman, Director of Programs and Operations. Their mission is to establish sustainability as an integral part of every child's K-12 learning experience.

Education not only informs, it can stretch and reshape minds with new ideas. It has the power to transform students themselves into agents of change, helping to create a sustainable future for us all. Education for sustainability is essential for todayÌ¢‰â‰ã¢s students to make wise decisions for their own well-being and for the good of the planet and all its inhabitants. For ten years, Katie and Patti have been creating and delivering professional development programs that train teachers to integrate local and global environmental, economic and social justice issues into their existing curriculum and after-school programs. Their student programs train students to become peer leaders in sustainability and stewardship issues.

There are a few hundred more missing from your list. How about extend it to Jewish women from around the world? A good place to start would be Israel where women are spearheading dozens and dozens of projects, campaigns and companies. -Karin Kloosterman Editor - Green Prophet

Nili Simhai should also be on this list. Nili is Director of the Teva Learning Center ( and 2009 recipient of the Covenant Award for Jewish Education. Teva is the largest residential Jewish environmental education organization, educating students from day schools, congregations and other communities around North America.

In the early 1980s I was surprised by a book on pagan spirituality, The Spiral Dance that seemed to be as much about organizing communities and changing society as Goddess worship. I was less surprised to discover that the book's author had been born Jewish. In 1984 we were both participants on a "Witness for Peace" trip to Nicaragua, one whose morning minyan featured the very Jewish nature-centric "Tree of Life" meditation from The Spiral Dance, followed by a round of "Hine ma tov."

In subsequent years, along with anti-nuclear and anti-globalization activism, Starhawk has been a leader in affirming ways to live sustainably on the planet. Her work with Permaculture (and her application, post-Katrina of those ideas to the vanishing marshes that once helped protect New Orleans) sets an important example for all of us, and provides tools for building a sustainable society.

You can find out more about Starhawk at and

Roberta Kalechofsky, Ph.D., is a fiction writer, speaker, essayist, and publisher who focuses on animal rights within Judaism and the promotion of vegetarianism within the Jewish community. She is the founder of Jews for Animal Rights and runs Micah Publications, which specializes in the publication of animal-rights and vegetarian literature. The Jewish Vegetarian Year Cookbook is a great resource, as are Kalechofsky's vegetarian and animal rights haggadot!

Ellen Bernstein also started Shomrei Adamah many years ago, whose mission was to explore and illuminate the ecological roots of Jewish tradition and make them accessible to wide audiences.

The woman who wrote the first contemporary Tu B'Shvat Seder, Dr. Ellen Bernstein! She is the author of The TreeÌ¢‰â‰ã¢s Birthday: A Celebration of Nature (1988) which is out of print. She is also the editor of Ecology and the Jewish Spirit: Where Nature and the Sacred Meet (Jewish Lights, 2000).

Also, Rabbi Naomi Hyman, who co-authored with Ari Elon and Arthur Waskow Trees, Earth, and Torah: A Tu B'Shvat Anthology (Jewish Publication Society, 1999).

It is exciting to learn about such dynamic and accomplished contemporary environmental activists. Another person to know about is Judith Helfand, award winning documentary filmmaker, whose films are about environmental and women's health issues. She uses the medium of film as an effective tool for social justice activism.

Deborah Newbrun, in San Francisco - environmental educator and camp director for over 30 years.

Sixteen years ago, an unprecedented blockade took place, over many months, on Vancouver Island. What became known as the Clayquot Protest, was a protest against the logging of old growth forests; it was a highly successful campaign.

Although it was a grassroots movement without an intentional hierarchy, two leaders emerged from this period: Tzipporah Berman and Valerie Langer. Both are extraordinary women - they must be included here!

I am sure many resources exist on-line.

I do not know Tzipporah's current work, but Valerie is spearheading the movement toward using straw paper in the printing industry in Canada.

Another woman to include is Judith Helfand - award-winning documentary producer and writer - including Healthy Baby Girl, Blue Siding (can't remember the title), among others.

I am sure I could think of more if I took the time...

With thanks for all your lovely and important work,


Great feature! Here are a few other Jewish women environmental activists to add to the list:

Barbra Batshalom, Executive Director of The Green Roundtable, Jodi Sugarman-Brozan who helped build Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE), Barbara Lerman-Golomb of Hazon and COEJL, and Evan Namerow of Environmental Defense Fund.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Women in Environmental Activism." (Viewed on October 17, 2018) <>.


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