Annual Report 2011

published on: 02-02-2012

In 2011, Teva Ivri successfully placed the topic of Jewish social-environmental responsibility on the Israeli agenda and began using it as a platform for connection with Jews all over the world.

Annual Report 2011

Promoting Jewish Environmental Responsibility in Israel
Teva Ivri (Jewish Nature) is an Israeli non-profit organization promoting Jewish environmental responsibility in Israel.  Comprised of both religious and non-religious activists, our goal is to expand the identities of Jews living in Israel to include an obligation to sustainable living.  By raising awareness and facilitating local community action, Teva Ivri seeks to turn the environmental and social values rooted in the Jewish tradition into the foundational building blocks of Israeli culture and society. 

In 2011, Teva Ivri successfully placed the topic of Jewish social-environmental responsibility on the Israeli agenda and began using it as a platform for connection with Jews all over the world.

A few highlights from our successful year include the following:

  • Creation of Educator Training Workshops, Curriculum, and School Consultations for formal educational institutions
  • Publication of Interactive Jewish Environmental Study Guides for use in synagogues, community centers, and other Jewish learning settings.  The Hebrew study guides include A Tu B’Shvat Guide and Hagim U’Zmanim L’Sviva (Holidays and Seasons for the Environment).
  •   “Tikkun Olam” Seminar for activists in Israeli social, environmental, and human justice organizations designed to assist them in expanding their environmental awareness and activities. 
  •  National observance of Shabbat Noach throughout the country through wide scale events and the publication of a unique Shabbat newsletter.
  •  Active participation on the steering committee and teaching staff of the Siach Initiative, a new international Jewish social-environmental network. 
  • Laying the groundwork for Cultural Sustainability by integrating Jewish values and social environmental activism into Israeli educational networks and umbrella organizations which address Judaism and/or sustainability

In the three years since its inception, Teva Ivri has firmly established itself as a leading NGO in the field of Environment and Jewish Identity.   With the continual development of unique programs and accessible resources, Teva Ivri’s work has begun to influence the way the Israel thinks about issues of environment, society, and religion.  Teva Ivri is proud to be part of the wave of social change shaping Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.



Core Activities


1.  Formal Education – Teacher Training and Curriculum Development

A.  Kindergarten Teacher Training – “Joining Time and Place” – A series of training sessions linked environmental content to the Jewish calendar and to the physical environment of the kindergarten.  During the 5771 academic year, the following training sessions took place:

  •  60 hours of training for kindergarten teachers in the Golan Heights
  •  28 Hours of training for kindergarten teachers in the Upper Galilee
  • One-time lectures at teacher training seminars throughout the country – Hof Carmel, Emek Hamayanot, Carmiel, Tzfat, Tiberias, and Ma’ale Adumim

B.  Primary School Teacher Training – “Israeli Sustainability” – A series of training sessions on the connection between Judaism and the Environment, adapted to the standard curriculum of Israeli primary schools.  During the 5771 academic year, the following training sessions took place:

  •  30 Hours of training in the Tali Alona School
  •  A variety of one-time training sessions for teachers in the context of “Beit Midrash” study groups

C.  Content Development for Educational Professionals – Teva Ivri’s educational materials have been featured in a variety of online portals and social networks catering to educational professionals.  In 2011 we commenced the writing of a special curriculum for the field of Israeli culture and tradition for 5th grade schools.


2. Seminar for Social Change Organizations – “Broadening Knowledge”

Teva Ivri works to promote sustainability within Israeli non-profits that deal with social change and/or Jewish identity.  These organizations represent the best and brightest of young Israeli activists; Teva Ivri is helping them to see the links between environment, social justice, Israeli society, and Judaism.  In December 2011, Teva Ivri piloted the Broadening Knowledge Seminar for Maaglei Tzedek, Binah, and the Green Environment Fund.  In 2012, the Shachter Institute, Zikah, and other organizations will learn how to implement Jewish environmental awareness in their work through this engaging seminar. 

In response to the Seminar: 

“There is a bright spark of hope when we identify the thirst for beauty and harmony and partnership within other hearts, the inner chemistry of love and peace, listening to nature and to humans, the desire for connection to spirit and wisdom and depth and creativity, in place of materialism and egocentric consumerism….


3.  Annual Israeli Sustainability Conference – Jewish Environmental Education in Theory and in Practice

Every year Teva Ivri holds a semi-professional conference on one of the topics close to its heart, in order to highlight the links between Judaism and the environment among professionals in a specific field.  This year, the conference, which drew 120 educators and administrative staff from schools across the country, addressed the topic of Jewish Environmental Education – in particular, the question of how sustainability values can become an inherent part of schools and the educational process in Israel.  The conference included lectures  by rabbis and educators, as well as professional workshops and focus groups on Jewish environmental topics.  To view photos and videos from the conference, click here.

I would like to thank you for the conference, which continues to reverberate inside me in the days after.  I attend “green” conferences here and there, but this one really stayed in my heart.
The humble respect, the wonderful singing, the Chevruta study before the lectures, and your genuine, meaningful facilitation were very special.  I have no doubt that after all the green buzzwords become standard – sustainability, ecology, and what have you – Teva Ivri will remain at the root of our existence as environmental educators


4.  Environmental Content Development – Website, and Custom-Designed Materials

A.  Online Resource Center – During 2011 we officially launched our online resource center, the only online Hebrew resource on Judaism and the Environment.  In 2011, 96,069 pages of articles, activities, and study guides were viewed by close to 20,000 repeat visitors from diverse countries.

B. Tu b’Shvat Study Guide – Teva Ivri published a Tu b’Shvat study guide to environmental activities, in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture.  Published in both an online and a printed version, it targeted synagogues, communities, and educational institutions.  Before the holiday, over 5,000 people downloaded the online study guide.  1,000 copies of the printed study guide were distributed to environmental educators working with the Ministry of Agriculture.

C.  Hagim U’Zmanim L’Sviva (Holidays and Seasons for the Environment) – Teva Ivri published a study guide in partnership with the Kiryat Tivon community center, the Department for Jewish Renewal in Community Centers, and the Ministry of the Environment.   The study guide contains environmental rituals relating to the Jewish calendar and ideas for personal, family, and community environmental action.  4,000 copies were distributed to over 50 community centers throughout the country.

D.  Mikra-Adama – a Jewish Environmental Reader – Before the Shavuot holiday, Teva Ivri published an anthology of texts relating to the connection between humans and earth, in partnership with Beit Avichai’s Beit Midrash program.

E.  Media Coverage – Teva Ivri continues to publish periodic posts, blogs, and articles in the media, including a regular “green column” around the topic of Jewish holidays on Ynet, a regular post on the Jewish Agency’s blog for Jewish renewal, a Shabbat column in the Makor Rishon newspaper, and a weekly radio spot on Radio Galei Yisrael.

F.  Online Content Development – Teva Ivri produced Jewish Environmental study sheets for the Midreshet Online Beit Midrash website ( and for the Jewcology Jewish Environmental Portal (


5.  Study Groups and Activities for Communities and Synagogues

Teva Ivri led a variety of programs and study groups for lay leaders, rabbis, and community members:

A.    “Food for Thought” Lecture Series – Lectures and study sessions for the religious public in Jerusalem on the topic of Judaism, Ethics, and Food.
B.    Community Environmental Beit Midrash Study Group – An environmental study group for community activists.  The seven-session program, designed for activists of “Zayit – Jewish Cultural Identity in the Hefer Valley,” culminated in an outdoor Shabbat celebration by the Alexander River.  A similar program was held in the East Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem.

C.    Beit Midrash “Tikkun Olam” (Repairing the World) – Teva Ivri learning programs were presented to activists in Israeli social, environmental, and human justice organizations in order to assist them in expanding their environmental awareness and activities.  The project is in partnership with Binah, the Green Fund, and Maaglei Tzedek.

D.    Greening Synagogues – In lectures and workshops presented to the Rabbis of the Tzohar organization, each rabbi was given an “idea kit” for sermons and activities on the topic of Judaism and Environment.  Rabbis and community activists who were interested have continued to receive guidance from Teva Ivri about the process of greening their institutions.

E.    “Midradeshe” – Teva Ivri led a series of meetings for students in the Jezreel valley on the topic of Judaism and the Environment.

6. Joining the International Jewish Environmental Conversation

Teva Ivri uses environment as a platform for actualizing a broader Jewish identity.

A.    Jewish Environmental Seminar – In February, Teva Ivri presented a week-long seminar to Jewish school principals from Kiryat Bialik, Israel and Boca Raton, USA in the context of Partnership 2000.  The seminar focused on environmental responsibility, tikkun olam, and the creation of joint Jewish environmental curriculum.

B.    The Siach Initiative – Teva Ivri became a member of the steering committee of the Siach Initiative, whose objective is to build an international Jewish social-environmental network.  Einat, Teva Ivri’s director, attended the first annual Siach conference in the United States, where she facilitated a successful “Sustainability” track.

C.    Jewcology – Teva Ivri has partnered with Canfei Nesharim (a Jewish environmental organization based in the USA) in the creation of Jewcology, a Jewish Environmental Online Portal.  In the framework of this partnership, Teva Ivri has written a series of fundamental study sheets on the topic of Judaism and the Environment, both in Hebrew and English.

7. Activities for the General Public

Teva Ivri supported a variety of programs and initiatives designed to promote Jewish environmental responsibility within the general Israeli public:

A.    Eco-Poetry Event – Teva Ivri joined the Green Now and Mashiv HaRuach organizations in the presentation of a public event in Jerusalem on “The Poetry of Nature.”  The event, attended by over 200 young people, included writing workshops, a panel of poets, and public poetry readings.

B.    Local Initiatives – Teva Ivri led the greening of the “Tikkun Carmel” conference and designed the environmental component of the “Judaism with a Galilean Spirit” conference.

C.    Holiday Activities – For Rosh Hashana, Teva Ivri promoted the purchase of locally grown simanim (special foods) for the holiday.  For Purim, Teva Ivri offered local, environmentally and socially conscious Mishloach Manot (food packages).  Before Pesach, we raised awareness about the burying of hametz in composters instead of burning it.
D.    Conference – The Green Origins of the Pilgrimage Festivals – Teva Ivri is part of a group promoting the notion that the environment is a way to connect nations and cultures.  Einat was a member of the steering committee of the Center for Antiquities and Interfaith Tolerance’s conference about the environmental aspects of pilgrimage to Israel and Jerusalem.

8.  Shabbat Noach

For the third consecutive year, Teva Ivri joined the international Jewish world in the observance of Shabbat Noach as a “Sustainability Shabbat” – a time to raise awareness about environmental challenges and to inspire effective change in Jewish communities.  Hundreds of

communities from all denominations of Judaism observed Shabbat Noah from a Jewish-Environmental perspective, with study groups, lectures, articles in the media, and grassroots action projects throughout the country.   Highlights included:

A.  Central Event in Jerusalem

This year’s Central Event, a lively street festival titled "Before the Flood," took place in Jerusalem’s German Colony.  Organized in partnership with the Lev HaIr community center, it included a parade, an organic market, a recycled ark-building competition featuring art from Jerusalem schoolchildren, live music, workshops, and lectures by rabbis and community leaders. 

B.  Special Shabbat Noach Publication
In partnership with the Torah and Eretz Institute, Teva Ivri helped to publish a special edition of the Otzar HaShabbat weekly newsletter.  The edition was dedicated to mitzvoth of the Land of Israel and other relevant environmental topics.  An excerpt from the Institute’s president, HaRav Yaakov Ariel:

The Jew of faith has a unique responsibility to protecting the environment.  Torah-observant Jews need to be more aware of everything regarding protection of G-d’s Creation, to prevent destruction and to consider others and future generations.  In particular, we must be careful regarding environmental protection in the Land of Israel…


9.  Placing Jewish Environmental Responsibility on the Israeli Agenda

 A. Integration of environmental topics within Israeli organizations involved with Judaism and Zionism
Through consultations, participation in steering committees, and ideas for practical change, Teva Ivri promotes the integration of environmental values within organizations engaged with issues pertaining to Judaism, Zionism, and social justice.  Examples from 2011 include:

  •  Beit Avichai chose the topic “Adam and Adamah” (Man and Earth) as its central theme for the annual Shavuot all-night learning program, and asked Teva Ivri to design a sourcebook and lead learning sessions.
  • Jewish Agency Assembly 2011 offered a plenary session entitled “Green-Blue-White – Jewish Sustainability,” led by Einat Kramer.
  • Tikkun Carmel Conference – Jewish Renewal Carmel, with the help of Teva Ivri, made their conference a totally green event.
  • Judaism with a Galilean Spirit, which holds events throughout the year, now offers an environmental session led by Teva Ivri at every event.
  • The Hakhel Festival – the central event of the Jewish Renaissance in Israel, defined itself as a Green Festival
  • The Beit Midrash Network’s website, Midreshet, began to publish a social-environmental study guide for every holiday.


B.  Integrating the topic of environment in communities and synagogues:

Teva Ivri aims to break the stigma that the environment is a “left-wing” or “secular” issue, and to integrate environmental topics into the religious Zionist agenda as a legitimate way to achieve “Tikkun Olam.”  To this end, Teva Ivri works closely with rabbis and public figures from within the religious Zionist world, among them HaRav Yuval Cherlow and HaRav Michael Melchior (both of whom serve on our steering committee), HaRav Dov Berkowitz, HaRav Dani Segal, and more.  A few examples of the strides we have made in this community include:

  •  Regular article in the Makor Rishon newspaper, entitled Sustainable Shabbat, which is published every quarter and examines contemporary environmental issues from a Torah-based perspective.
  • Consultations with rabbis from Tzohar participating in the “Feel at Home” program designed to reach out to secular Israelis, helping them to incorporate environmental topics in synagogues.
  • Publication in synagogues and online media of a position paper by HaRav Yuval Cherlow on the topic of the Responsibility of the Synagogue to Protect and Care for the World
  •  Creation of a Speakers’ Bureau that includes rabbis and spiritual leaders able to lecture and facilitate seminars in the framework of religious institutions and communities.


In 2012, Teva Ivri will continue to develop and expand its efforts to promote Jewish environmental responsibility in Israel.

  Plans include:


  •  A series of seminars for social change organizations interested in expanding their organizational activity to include the Jewish-environmental-social connection


  • A curriculum entitled “Connecting to time and Place” for the Israeli Culture and Tradition track of the Israeli school system, with an emphasis on Sustainability


  • Sustainable Synagogue contest, in partnership with Green Now and the Council for a Beautiful Israel, to encourage the incorporation of sustainability values into synagogues


  • Publication of a compendium for rabbis and community leaders suggesting practical ways to incorporate responsibility in communities and synagogues, with personal consultations for those interested in actively promoting the topic


  • Continuation of content development, classes, and activities that link Jewish tradition and social-environmental responsibility


  • Expansion and deepening of the observance of Shabbat Noach in communities and educational institutions


  • Widening the scope of activities in order to reach additional forums, including the IDF, Young Leadership, Rural Communities, and more 




With Special Thanks and Blessings To:

Teva Ivri’s President, HaRav Michael Melchior, for years of support and guidance

Teva Ivri’s Steering Committee, Dr. Jeremy Benstein and HaRav Yuval Cherlow, for their availability, advice, and readiness to rise to every task, and Dr. David Dunitz, who is finishing three years of valuable service to the organization

Teva Ivri’s Staff, Hadas Yellinek and Hila Zinger, for their invaluable dedication, and to Shaul David Judelman, for his innovative vision and energy.

To our generous supporters, The Norwegian Fund for Jewish Projects, the Levi Lassen Fund, the Green Environment Fund, the Shusterman Fund, and Mrs. Freda Rosenfeld, for their faith and support, and for being true partners in vision and practice. 

To Our Many Partner Organizations:  ORT Israeli Roots, Urban Councils for Environmental Quality, Binah, HaGalil – Roots for Educational Values, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, the Council for a Beautiful Israel, Hillel House, the Ministry of Environment, the Jewish Agency, Zangvil – Center for Vegetarianism, the Association for Community Centers in Israel, Life and Environment, Green Now, Midreshet – Online Beit Midrash, the Good Food Initiative, the Institute for Torah and Land, Ginot Hair Community Center, Ma’aglei Tzedek, Tivon Community Center, the Herzog Center, the Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership, the Renana Municipality, Panim for Jewish Renaissance, the Rabbis of Tzohar, the Amit Schools Network, Tali Schools, Partnership 2000, Shiur Acher, Shatil, 70 Faces, Canfei Nesharim, Hazon, the Green Zionist Alliance, Jewcology, and tens of committed communities throughout Israel

We look forward to sharing our successes with you 2012. 

Thank you for your interest and support!


Please click here to see the 2011 Budget.