Interview with founder of The Jewish Eco-Seminars
Project: Jewish Eco Seminars aims to engage a generation of young Jews deeply concerned about the future of the Earth by training Jewish educators to teach Jewish environmental wisdom. By reinvigorating Jewish education, we will connect Jews to a love of their tradition.
In one sentence, tell us who you are.
I am a Jew and a husband and a father and I try to be a servant of the creator.
What inspired you to embark on the path of an innovator?
I grew up in Northern California and went to a Jewish summer camp near Yosemite, where environmental issues were a safe way to access Jewish learning. Then I studied Environmental Issues in college and researched this topic in India and Mexico.
What challenges do you foresee in your field?
I can see denominational issues arising regarding collaboration in Jewish Environmental Education. My hope is that denominations can overcome these differences to further this important cause.
Who can you relate to in Jewish history (or in your field of interest)?
Abraham, who according to Rambam went from city to city promoting a new understanding of who is really running the world. I appreciate his audacity to change conventional ways of thinking.
What is the most valuable thing you have learned from the PresenTense community?
I have seen how young Jews are making proactive changes in their community, and I have been inspired by the dedication of staff and fellows.
Who have you met at PresenTense that has made the most impact on your project?
Ariel Beery has given me important mentorship and has guided me as I've developed my venture. He has made himself available and offered his expertise on social entrepreneurship.
What big question are you struggling with right now?
The future of environmental sustainability in Israel and on the planet is a question I struggle with. How will ten million people west of the Jordan river and almost 7 billion people on Earth live in ecological balance?
If all goes as planned, where will your project be one year from now?
Seminars to have reached at least 500 Jewish educators who will then go on to teach several thousand young Jews. These Jews will be inspired, engaged, and moved by the depth and authenticity of Jewish environmental wisdom.
What do you hope to see change / to help change in your field in the next ten years?
I want to see the blossoming of Jewish environmentalism among the Jewish people. I want to see the funding for these efforts match their importance.
What is your vision for the future of PresenTense?
I'd like to see PresenTense offer a fellowship specifically for Jewish Environmental innovators. Such a fellowship would enhance collaboration between a range of innovators who are currently working separately.
Yonatan is just one of 16 fellows from the PresenTense Global Fellowship's Class of 2010. Read and learn about the others here.