Board Meeting: Adam Garber
- What do you do for a living?
I’m the Field Director for Penn Environment, a statewide environmental non-profit group that works to push policies at the state and Federal level to clean up our air and water and protect our parks and open spaces.
- How long have you been with this organization?
I’ve worked for about eight years now in Philadelphia, and I coordinate all the organizing work we do with our members and coalition partners and allies.
- What is your Jewish background?
I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, going to a Conservative synagogue, Ahavat Achim. My family has been part of it forever, really. I started to do some environmental Jewish social work with the synagogue, and then when I moved here I’m unaffiliated but involved with local Jewish organizations.
- Were you a bar mitzvah?
Yes. I was b’nai mitzvah, technically; I have a twin sister. My parashah was about the cubic measurements of the temple –thrilling.
- Well, I grew up in a Conservative synagogue also, and in my day the girls were bat mitzvah on Friday and boys were bar mitzvah on Saturday. Did you and your sister share a bima, at least?
Yes, we did. It was a fairly progressive synagogue on the whole. It had one of the first woman rabbis in the Conservative movement, and was one of the earliest adopters of having bat mitzvah on Saturdays. And my mom had an adult bat mitzvah there many years later.
- Are there particular progressive causes that interest you?
I’m obviously involved with environmental issues, and that’s because it’s my top passion, from tackling climate change to protecting parks and taking on the fracking industry. Beyond that, I’m interested in being involved with JSPAN and doing other work on a number of social justice issues, most notably immigration – I’m a third-generation American, but still remember my grandparents talking about moving here and about their parents - and then economic justice and fixing our economy so it works for all. Sadly, I tend to not spend a lot of time on those other issues because I spend so much time on environmental issues.
- When you are not thinking about JSPAN, what are your other interests?
My wife and I live in South Philly. We travel a lot; we try to leave the United States once a year and go to visit a country and stay in local communities. We were just in Italy last year, and the year before that in Thailand and Cambodia.
I’m a pretty avid reader, so I read a lot of historical biographies. I’ve been reading a lot about the Supreme Court and its justices, looking back and reading biographies about some of the great justices and the FDR court and how that played out – Douglas, Frankfurter and others who shaped the jurisprudence of the nation – and the Warren court including a book about Thurgood Marshall’s nomination and confirmation hearings. Relating to progressive issues, [these books contain] a lot about civil rights and economic justice.
- What book is on your night table now?
“Justice For All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made” by Jim Newton.