Friends of the Arava Institute 2016 Annual Public Forum

You are Invited to Join

the Friends of the Arava Institute

Boston, Massachusetts


Cambridge, MA


This year, we will be hosting a special concert in celebration of the Arava Institute’s 20th Anniversary in addition to the Annual Public Forum.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Intimate Dessert and Concert with Musicians Mira Awad and Yair Dalal
8:00-8:45pm, Dessert Reception
9:00-10:30PM, Concert and conversation with the artists, HARVARD FACULTY CLUB, Cambridge, MA

Palestinian-Israeli singer-songwriter, Mira Awad and Israeli singer and musician, Yair Dalal will combine their voices and instrument in this intimate concert. The special event includes a conversation with the artists about creating an environment for peace in the Middle East.

Tickets are $50.

Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.  Seating is limited.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Annual Public Forum
2:00-5:30pm, HARVARD FACULTY CLUB, Cambridge, MA

Join us for an open discussion with leaders, scholars, students, and activists about advancing the Arava Institute’s mission for a peaceful and environmentally sustainable Middle East.

  • The Forum will begin with remarks from Ophir Pines-Paz, Israel’s former Minister of Internal Affairs and Minister of Science, Culture, and Sport, and current Arava Institute Public Council Member.
  • An Arava Institute panel will be led by Executive Director, David Lehrer and include Director of the Arava Center for Sustainable Development, Dr. Shmuel Brenner; and Arava Alumnus and Founder of HomeBiogas, Yair Teller.
  • The final panel, led by Rabbi Michael Cohen, will be comprised of Arava Institute alumni.

There will be ample opportunity for the audience members to ask questions and interact directly with panelists and presenters.

Click here to register for this free event.


Event Speakers:

[toggle title=”Ophir Pines-Paz, Former Israeli Minister of Internal Affairs and Minister of Science, Culture, and Sport, Member, Arava Institute Public Council in Israel”]

Ophir-Pines-PazOphir Pines-Paz is Israel’s former Minister of Internal Affairs and Minister of Science, Culture, and Sport. During his 14 years in the Knesset for the Labor Party, Ophir was Chairman of the Interior and Environment Committee, which is responsible for local government, citizenship, policing, religious affairs, and environmental protection. Among other honors, he is a receipient of the Ometz Award for good governance and social justice and was a Fellow at the Harvard University Institute of Politics. Since retiring from public life, Ophir joined his alma mater, Tel Aviv University, to establish and lead Israel’s first Institute for Local Government. Ophir is also a Member of the Arava Institute’s Public Council in Israel.

[/toggle][toggle title=”Mira Awad, Actress, Singer, and Songwriter”]

Mira AwadMira Awad is an actress, singer, and songwriter. Born in Rama village in the Galilee to a Palestinian father and a Bulgarian mother, she identifies as both Palestinian and Israeli. Mira’s music is a harmonious melange of sounds, with influences from the East and West, combining Arabic melodies and Western harmonies. Mira speaks widely against discrimination of all kinds including gender, religion, and ethnicity.  Her beliefs are clear when listening to her body of work. She has collaborated with artists across the Middle East, and the world, in multiple genres.[/toggle]
[toggle title=”David Lehrer, Executive Director, Arava Institute for Environmental Studies”]
David Lehrer
 has served as the Executive Director of the Arava Institute for EDavid Lehrer, Executive Director of the Arava Institutenvironmental Studies for the past fifteen years.  His belief in the environment as an issue without borders, and an opportunity for finding a common goal, is evident in his professional experience. David has helped promote environmental awareness and sustainability in the Kibbutz Movement locally and nationally, and is one of the founders of the Alliance for Middle East Peace. He has conducted research into the efficacy of environmental management systems and into sustainable development in the Dead Sea Basin.  David is currently doing research on the development of a cost efficient model for nature conservation in Israel. During David’s tenure at the Arava Institute, it has grown to five transboundary research centers.  He has shepherded the educational growth of over 650 students and interns from the Middle East and world.

[/toggle][toggle title=”Dr. Shmuel Brenner, Director, Arava Institute Center for Sustainable Development”]

BrennerDr. Shmuel Brenner’s interest in environmental and public heath issues started more than forty years ago. Currently, he is the Director of the Arava Center for Sustainable Development at the Arava Institute. He was born in Israel, educated there and in the United States. Shmuel has published more than 70 scientific articles, served in Israel’s Ministry of Health as the head of the National Institute for Environmental Health, was one of the founders of the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection and its senior deputy general.  He was also the former head of the National Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health. Collaboration is an essential element of Shmuel’s professional life – he has worked with the WHO, EPA, IAEA, UNE, NATO, and ILO. Perhaps his most notable accomplishment, while serving in the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Shmuel played an essential role in the Oslo peace process and was directly responsible for the environmental chapter in the Oslo Accord (1995).

[/toggle][toggle title=”Yair Teller, Israeli Alumnus, 2009-2010, Founder, HomeBiogas”]

Yair TellerYair Teller came to the Institute as an intern in 2009 already interested in biogas technology. During his internship he realized the existing technology was inefficient and there was no connection to the people whose lives the system would affect. After leaving the Institute, Yair founded HomeBiogas, improved the technology, and has installed biogas systems with the Israeli Bedouin community and in Palestine. Yair’s goal is to continue to cross borders with his technology and extend the reach into the to Syrian refugee camps in Jordan.

[/toggle][toggle title=”Alumni Panel Bios”]Throughout the Annual Public Forum we will hear from Arava Institute alumni.  The last element of the program will be an Alumni Panel, with prepared topics and an opportunity for the audience to question and interact directly with panelists and presenters.

UnderAcaciaRabbi Michael Cohen, Director of Community Relations at the Friends of the Arava Institute and Founding Faculty of the Arava Institute, will serve as the Alumni Panel Moderator. Rabbi Michael was a founding faculty member of the Arava Institute. His roots in the enviromental and peace movements in Israel are deep and lasting; he is the Chair of the Policy Committee for the Alliance for Middle East Peace, and he co-founded the Green Zionist Alliance and the Arava Power Company, the first commercial solar company in Israel. Michael is the author of numerous articles and continues his work with the Institute, dividing his time between the Institute and Bennington College, where he teaches conflict resolution courses at the the Center for the Advancement of Public Action. [/toggle]

Event Details:

[toggle title=”RSVP & Reservation Information”]

The Public Forum is free of cost and open to the public.  The event will be held at The Harvard Faculty Club20 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.

Please RSVP by February 20th by visiting our online event page.

For accommodation recommendations, please click here for a list of area hotels.


[toggle title=”Transportation & Parking”]

The 2015 Public Forum will be held at The Harvard Faculty Club, 20 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 9.56.47 AM


Click here for driving directions. Please note, parking in Harvard Square is extremely limited and we recommend using public transit if possible.  If you will be driving, parking is available at Broadway Garage, 7 Felton Street, Cambridge, MA.
Public Transit:

The Harvard Faculty Club is approximately a 5 minute walk from the Harvard Square Station stop on the Red Line of the T.


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