The Need for What We Do:
Studies show that young people, and young Jews among them, are extremely concerned about environmental issues and the future of the planet. In an October 2008 poll of the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of U.S. voters under age 30 said the environment is “very important.” Jewish education has the potential to speak to the most burning issues that excite young Jews and the most pressing issues facing humanity. Yet Jewish education has yet to capitalize on this core concern as a key engagement point for young Jews. In particular, the link between Israel and the environment has been underemphasized. In an age where being Jewish is a choice, Jewish education often remains dissonant with the world we are a part of and uninspiring to many young Jews. Weak affiliation and disconnection from the Jewish people can follow suit.
Background of the Organization:
Jewish Eco Seminars emerged out of a successful 2008 pilot project of eight seminars for 140 Jewish educators in the San Francisco Bay Area, which was implemented by Canfei Nesharim and the Bureau of Jewish Education. The organization was launched in 2010 through the PresenTense Institute in the chair sponsored by the Jim Joseph Foundation. A global team of staff and volunteers implement its vision, led by founder and executive director Rabbi Yonatan Neril (see ‘Staff and Interns’ and ‘Faculty Team’ pages. Since its founding, Jewish Eco Seminars has reached a growing list of institutions in Israel and the United States (see ‘Past Clients’ and ‘US and Canada’ pages). Canfei Nesharim, the US-based Jewish environmental organization, serves as the US-fiscal sponsor.