Dr. Joan Lurie volunteered at a start-up Jerusalem based non profit that promotes and manifests an inter-religious vision for environmental sustainability by encouraging the cooperation and training of religious leaders, teachers, and communities on ecological issues. Joan shares her experience:
“Yonatan Neril – director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainability – is a very dedicated young rabbi with a great idea and lots of vision about how to implement it. Thought the Center is a fledgling, he is quite well connected. One of the high points of my two weeks with Rabbi Neril was a meeting at the office of Naomi Tzur, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem for Environment and Planning. The meeting gave me valuable insights into the depth and breadth of sustainability efforts in Jerusalem and helped me to help Yonatan focus some of his grant requests. I also shared a seminar in the forest near Bet Shemesh at Mitzpe Masua. Rabbi Neril let a group of young counselors- in- training from an American summer camp into the forest and taught about trees, the Torah and nature in general. He is an excellent leader of young people and I watched with admiration as he engaged these tired, hot teenagers, captured their interest, led them in games and a short (because of the extreme heat) walk on the Israel Trail.
All in all, my experience was positive – I loved finding out about all the work on environment and sustainability that is happening in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel. I will continue to advocate for these efforts here in NYC as I help Rabbi Neril and his colleagues seek partners for a Faith and Science initiative with the goal of raising awareness of the environmental crisis facing us all.
A special thanks to Marla and her colleague Judy Gray for arranging, in addition to my assignment with the Center, for me to lecture at the Israel Antiquities Authority on the use of satellite imagery in archaeology. This gave me a chance to meet another group of Israelis doing interesting work in a field that I find fascinating.”