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As war rages, a Newton-based charity fosters Mideast hope through “environmental diplomacy”

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GBH, February 2024

An eclectic roster of activists and optimists filled the Temple Emanuel in Newton Sunday, including Israel’s former top scientist, an acclaimed U.S. actor and a handful of Boston-area graduate students. They were there with about 200 people to get an update on—and raise money for—the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, an organization that promotes “environmental diplomacy” between Jewish and Arab students from Israel and other countries in a region beset by political violence.

The institute’s campus is in southern Israel. But its fundraising arm, called Friends of the Arava Institute, is based in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. Actor Mandy Patinkin, whose award-winning career in film, television and theatre has spanned nearly half a century, is a board member and attended Sunday’s event.

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