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Michael Cohen

Director of Development, Friends of Arava Institute for Environmental Studies

Travels from Manchester Center, VT

Availability: Contact JNF Speakers Bureau for availability or contact the speaker directly.


Environmental and Sustainability Issues, Academic Perspectives on Israel and Jewish History, Positively Israel


Rabbi Michael M. Cohen is a graduate of the University of Vermont where he received the History Award, and graduated in 1980 with honors for his work on Lenin’s Theory of Self-Determination and the Muslims of the Soviet Union. While at UVM he did a two year solo trip around the world. Rabbi Cohen received ordination from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1990 becoming the first rabbi in the history of the Israel Congregation in Manchester Center, Vermont. He served as their rabbi for ten years, and also was elected during those years to a term as the President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. In 1993 he was awarded the Unsung Hero Award by the Town of Manchester.

Rabbi Cohen was a founding faculty member of The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies ( located on Kibbutz Ketura in 1996 while on sabbatical from the Israel Congregation. The Arava Institute is the premier environmental teaching and research program in the Middle East preparing future Arab and Jewish leaders to cooperatively solve the regions environmental challenges. While at the Institute he teaches classes such as Genesis As a Key to Environmental Thought and Moses: A Study of Leadership and Environmental Wisdom.  Since 2000 he has divided his time between Vermont and the Kibbutz Ketura campus of the Arava Institute, also working for the Institute on development and student recruitment while in the United States.

In 2002 he co-founded the Green Zionist Alliance, the first Environmental Zionist party to run in the World Zionist Congress elections. In 2009 he co-founded the Arava Power Company which is working to make Solar Power the main energy source for southern Israel and the region. In his capacity with the Arava Institute he helped establish the Alliance for Middle East Peace an organization of Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian NGOs working for peace in the region. He has used that position to promote ideas with members of Congress, the White House and Ambassadors to the move the peace process forward.

He is the author if numerous articles on the environment and the Middle East peace process that can be found in Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, the Jerusalem Report, The Palestine Times, the Israel-Palestine Journal, The Jordan Times, the Rutland Herald, the Christian Science Monitor, the Arab News, Todays Zaman, and the Huffington Post. He is a recipent of the Eliav Sartawi Award for Middle East Journalism from the Search for Common Ground. He is the author of "Einstein's Rabbi: A Tale of Science and the Soul."  He presently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Burr & Burton Academy and the Energy and Trees Committees of the Town of Manchester. His latest project is working on the establishment of a Nobel Environment Prize.

Download a prepared introduction for Michael Cohen rabbi-michael-cohen-intro.doc


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