Virtual Gala: The Arava Institute’s 25th Anniversary Celebration

Last month, the Friends of the Arava Institute celebrated the Arava Institute’s 25th anniversary with a star-studded Virtual Gala. After 25 years of pursuing environmental cooperation and building trust between Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians, the Arava Institute community came together at this online event to applaud past achievements and look forward to exciting new plans.

“In over 30 years of trying to be an advocate for peace, I have not found anything to equal the Arava Institute’s efforts,” said Mandy Patinkin, the host of the Virtual Gala. Mr. Patinkin, an actor, singer, and activist, participated in the 2005 Israel Ride and has been a strong supporter of the Arava Institute ever since.

During the Gala, Amb. Dennis Ross presented the first Peacemaker Award to Rep. Nita M. Lowey, the recently retired U.S. Congresswoman whose longtime efforts to promote reconciliation and peace-building between Israelis and Palestinians culminated in last year’s bi-partisan Middle East Partnership for Peace Act.

Friends of the Arava Institute CEO Miriam May spoke with current Arava Institute Executive Director Dr. David Lehrer and incoming Executive Director Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed about the Arava Institute’s vision for the next 25 years. Friends of the Arava Institute Board Chair Michael Marcus announced the launch of the Fund for the Future, which will support the Arava Institute’s new and expanded projects, including the new campus, applied environmental diplomacy, and new projects to pursue innovative solutions to the region’s environmental challenges.

The Gala was packed with appearances from speakers and musical guests including Achinoam Nini, Mira Awad, AJR, and Sarah Silverman. Check out the program book for a full list and more details.

This event brought together hundreds of Arava Institute supporters from across the world, from California to New York to Israel (an attendance outcome that wouldn’t be feasible for an in-person event), and raised more than $225,000. This amazing support will ensure that the Arava Institute’s critical environmental peace-building work can grow in the next 25 years, as the Institute embarks on its next period of growth and Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed prepares to become Executive Director. Thank you to everyone who participated!

To watch some excerpts from the gala, see below:


Host Mandy Patinkin, after interviewing three Arava Institute alumni, explains why he supports the Arava Institute:


Comedian Sarah Silverman gives her take on why the Arava Institute works:


Rep. Nita M. Lowey speaks about the importance of environmental cooperation at the Arava Institute:


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