Aytzim (meaning "trees" in Hebrew), formerly Green Zionist Alliance (GZA), is a New York-based Jewish environmental organization that is a U.S.-registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit charity. A grassroots all-volunteer organization,[1] Aytzim is active in the United States, Canada and Israel. The organization is a former member of the American Zionist Movement and has worked in partnership with Ameinu, the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), Hazon, Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, Interfaith Oceans, the Jewish National Fund, GreenFaith, Mercaz/Masorti (Conservative Judaism), and the National Religious Coalition on Creation Care.[2] Aytzim's work at the nexus of Judaism, environmentalism and Zionism has courted controversy from both Jewish and non-Jewish groups (see below section on criticism).

Legal status501(c)(3) nonprofit NGO
PurposeJewish environmentalism, Green Zionism
HeadquartersNew York City
Area served
MethodsEducation, Advocacy and Public-Policy Formation
FieldsSustainability, Nature, Conservation, Water, Energy, Biodiversity, Ecology, Climate Change, Judaism and Israel
Websiteaytzim.org, jewcology.org


Aytzim has five projects:[3]

  • EcoJews of the Bay

EcoJews holds Jewish-environmental events in the San Francisco Bay Area.[3]

  • Green Zionist Alliance: The Grassroots Campaign for a Sustainable Israel (The organization's former name is now used as a project name.)[3][4][5]

The Green Zionist Alliance works on issues related to the environment of Israel and the Middle East.

  • Jewcology: Home of the Jewish Environmental Movement

Jewcology.org is an online resource for information on Jewish environmentalism, and includes resources such as a job board and an interactive map of Jewish environmental initiatives.[3][6]

  • Jews of the Earth

Jews of the Earth organizes Jews locally and nationally for environmental action.[3]

  • Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth

An environmental-advocacy group that Aytzim runs in partnership with GreenFaith, Shomrei Breishit includes more than 100 Jewish clergy, including chief rabbis.[7]

Aytzim also runs an internship program;[8] hosts an English-language compilation of educational materials, research papers, academic papers, news articles, videos and books about Israel's environment;[9] and has student chapters, including "Yovel: Aytzim at NYU."[10]


Aytzim has been criticized (predominately by the conservative Hudson Institute historian Arthur Herman) for its stance against hydrofracking,[11][12][13] with Herman labeling the GZA in the New York Post as "running against the tide of technology."[13] The organization also has been criticized for its support of environmentalism and tikkun olam.[14] Others have been critical of Aytzim's stance against BDS;[15] for greenwashing Israel;[16][17][18][19][20] for participating in the People's Climate March;[19][18][20][21][16][22][23][24][25] for associating with Israel and Zionism;[19][26][27][28][29][30][31][32] for working with Jewish National Fund;[33] and for its participation in a process that largely favors Israel's political status quo.[34] Some individuals have criticized the GZA for its promotion of community gardens, charging that making community gardens more widely available is patronizing to the public. Others see Zionism's mission as finished with the establishment of the modern state of Israel and they question the relevance of the entire system of legacy Zionist organizations formed by the World Zionist Organization and its constituent agencies.[35]


The Green Zionist Alliance (GZA) was founded in 2001 by Alon Tal, Eilon Schwartz and Rabbi Michael Cohen,[36][37] with a large team of other volunteers, including Adam Werbach,[38][39] Devra Davis and current Aytzim leadership.[39] In 2002 it became the first environmental party at the World Zionist Congress,[40] where it has had elected representation since. Through this process, the organization succeeded in the appointment of environmental leaders, including Tal and Schwartz, to the board of the Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael (KKL / Jewish National Fund in Israel).[41] For more than a dozen years, Aytzim representation has included Tal and Orr Karassin.[36][42]

In 2006 the GZA incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

In late Sept. 2014, the GZA acquired Jewcology.org from fellow Jewish-environmental group Canfei Nesharim and, in partnership with GreenFaith, launched a Jewish-clergical environmental advocacy group called Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth.[43] To better reflect the scope of the organization's work, the GZA rebranded itself as Aytzim, keeping the Green Zionist Alliance name both legally and for its Israel-focused work.[4]

Aytzim has had many prominent Jewish leaders serve on its Green Zionist Alliance slates for the World Zionist Congress, including Rabbi Ellen Bernstein,[44] Mirele Goldsmith,[44] Susannah Heschel,[45][46] Nigel Savage,[46] Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb,[44] Richard H. Schwartz,[47] Rabbi Marc Soloway,[48] Rabbi Lawrence Troster,[44] Rabbi Arthur Waskow,[45][46] and Laurie Zoloth.[44]

The Aytzim advisory board includes former Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur and Daniel Orenstein, a faculty member at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies.[49]


Since its founding as the Green Zionist Alliance, Aytzim has been a key factor in the greening of Israeli policy, both internally and in its interactions with other countries. Aytzim's accomplishments include:

Activist and Educational CampaignsEdit

Aytzim has been engaged in many campaigns to both protect and educate about the environment, including:


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  2. ^ "GZA Partner Organizations". Aytzim.
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  5. ^ a b c d e f Udasin, Sharon (23 October 2015). "Zionist Congress passes two green resolutions". The Jerusalem Post.
  6. ^ ""Dig into Jewcology" (Jewcology stats)". Jewcology.org.
  7. ^ "Members of Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth". Aytzim.
  8. ^ "Internships". Aytzim.
  9. ^ "Resources". Aytzim.
  10. ^ "Yovel: The Green Zionist Alliance @ NYU". New York University.
  11. ^ a b Herman, Arthur (1 March 2014). "Will Israel Be the Next Energy Superpower?". Commentary.
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  13. ^ a b c Herman, Arthur (27 January 2013). "Fracking means a new Middle East: Fracking to upend oil game". New York Post.
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  38. ^ Samber, Sharon (11 January 2002). "Environmental Slate Tries to Prove It's Easy to Be Both Green and Zionist". Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
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  40. ^ Winer, Stuart (19 June 2002). "Greens represented at Zionist Congress". Jerusalem Post.
  41. ^ "MERCAZ-GZA Partnership Provide Strong Environmental Voice on KKL Board". Mercaz USA. Summer 2007.
  42. ^ "Establishing Israel as a Model in Environmentalism". The Charles Bronfman Prize. 2005. Archived from the original on 31 March 2018. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  43. ^ Troster, Lawrence (17 September 2014). "Climate crisis insists we pray with our feet". New Jersey Jewish News.
  44. ^ a b c d e "World Zionist Congress Slates". Aytzim.
  45. ^ a b Kessler, E.J. (25 November 2005). "Zionist Election Has High Stakes, Strange Pairings". The Forward.
  46. ^ a b c Sieradski, Daniel (14 January 2006). "Elect Your Reps for the 35th World Zionist Congress". JewSchool.
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  48. ^ Soloway, Marc (19 January 2015). "Vote for a Green Israel in the Parliament of the Jewish People". Boulder Jewish News.
  49. ^ "Advisory Board". Aytzim.
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  58. ^ "BRIEF OF FAITH GROUPS AS AMICI CURIAE IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS SEEKING REVERSAL" (PDF). U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. 12 November 2013.
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External linksEdit