Meet the Tikkun Olam Repairing the World Committee
Meet the Tikkun Olam Committee
Throughout my life, my strongest connection to Judaism has been through social action and social justice work. I joined Temple Emanuel when my sons were young, about a decade ago, and have found that the Tikkun Olam Committee is the greatest vehicle through which I connect to the congregation. I’m inspired by the work that we do collaboratively to clean our parks, help refugees find new roots in New Jersey, provide our community with food and resources, and fight against racism, anti-Semitism, and inequality. Professionally, I am a plant ecologist and ethnobotanist, serving as a professor at Kean University and the executive director of Kean’s School of Environmental and Sustainability Sciences. I am also honored to be the President-elect of the Society of Ethnobiology, an international organization that provides me with a professional community to continue my research on integrating Indigenous knowledge into conservation.
My connection with Temple Emanu-El deepened greatly when I joined the Tikkun Olam committee a number of years ago. The work we do puts me in touch with an important element of Judaism. We are commanded to repair the world, and this work defines my Jewishness. Our mission to address local homelessness and food insecurity provides opportunity to any temple member who wants to get involved. I am energized by the social justice component of Tikkun Olam that addresses the root causes of inequity by lobbying state legislators on bills that improve the lives of our most vulnerable population. By day I work in sales for a market research firm. My wife Caryn and I live in Westfield, and our two children live their young adult lives away from the nest.