Tikkun Olam in Action: 6 Jewish Americans Climate Activists Changing the World

Sophie Hirsh - Author

May 4 2023, Updated 4:28 p.m. ET

Jewish American Heritage Month
Source: browngirl_green/Instagram, Sanetra Longno

Activists Kristy Drutman and Sabs Katz.

May is Jewish American Heritage Month, a month-long tribute to the Jewish Americans “who helped form the fabric of American history, culture, and society,” according to the official website.

There are so many intersections between Judaism and environmentalism — and, not to mention, so many Jewish American climate activists. There are also a number of Jewish organizations and groups fighting for climate justice, celebrating sustainable living, and more.

Article continues below advertisement

So in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, we have rounded up a few of the incredible Jewish American climate activists out there, all of whom are doing incredible work for the environment, and are definitely worth a follow on social media.

Sabs Katz

Sabs Katz, better known as @sustainablesabs, is a self-identified low-impact and vegan Jewess. Katz is a co-founder of the fantastic organization Intersectional Environmentalist, which aims to make the future of environmentalism more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. The Brooklyn-based activist and influencer also regularly posts on Instagram about topics including environmentalism, Judaism, and zero-waste living.

Article continues below advertisement

“So much of my environmental justice activism is rooted in my Jewishness,” Katz tells Green Matters exclusively. “From cultural pillars and concepts like tzedakah (donating money), to tikkun olam (repairing the world), we are encouraged to do what we can to support causes and initiatives that contribute to a better world for all.”

Article continues below advertisement

Kristy Drutman

Climate change activist ​​Kristy Drutman, aka @browngirl_green, is a self-identified Jew-Pina. Drutman hosts the Brown Girl Green podcast, and they also founded the Green Jobs Board, which helps people find jobs in sustainability.

Article continues below advertisement

Josse (Jocelyn) Gee

Josse Gee, aka @goldengreengee, is queer, Chinese American, and Jewish, and occupying Tongva land in California. Gee works as with Gas Leaks Action as well as Drutman’s Green Jobs Board. According to an Instagram post, some of Gee’s favorite topics to post about are cannabis, climate, and community.

Article continues below advertisement

Lisa Apfelberg of Jewish Veg

Lisa Apfelberg smiles with two elephants at a sanctuary
Source: Courtesy of Lisa Apfelberg

Lisa Apfelberg is the Deputy Executive Director at Jewish Veg, an organization that supports the intersection of Judaism, veganism, and environmentalism. Through Jewish Veg, Apfelberg works to connect Jewish ethical eaters to one another, and to make the transition to veganism accessible within the Jewish community.

Article continues below advertisement

“[There are] a lot of different sources in Jewish texts that talk about our obligation to care for the planet, to take care of it, that it is ours on loan, it is not ours to own,” Apfelberg told Green Matters in an interview for our recent Earth Stories series. “There's a lot of evidence in our faith that we need to really take good care of this planet because it's God's marvelous creation.”

Article continues below advertisement

Maya Siegel

Maya Siegel is a Chinese-American environmental and social justice activist, who previously worked for Intersectional Environmentalist. She also co-founded of Stories of Consent, an organization centered on sexual violence prevention and support for sexual violence survivors.

Article continues below advertisement

Isha Clarke

Isha Clarke, aka @curlyqisha, is a Black Jewish activist from Oakland, Calif, currently studying at Howard University. They are the Co-Founder and Lead Circle Consultant for the organization Youth vs Apocalypse, which is a group of diverse, youth climate justice activists fighting for an equitable and sustainable planet, and collective liberation.

Article continues below advertisement

If you'd like to learn more, there are many Jewish environmentalist organizations.

If you are interested in learning more about the connections between Judaism and environmentalism, there are a number of organizations and groups that are dedicated to this intersection, such as Jewish Veg, Hazon, GrowTorah, and Canfei Nesharim.

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to reflect that Josse Gee is occupying Tongva land in California; a previous version of this article misstated that they are a member of the Indigenous people of Tongva.

This article, originally published on May 11, 2022, has been updated.

More from Green Matters

Latest Low-Impact Living News and Updates

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2024 Green Matters. Green Matters is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.