I am a Jewish-American retired US Foreign Service Officer living in Gainesville Florida, USA. During my 29 years working for the U.S. Agency for International Development, I served in Morocco, Egypt, the Philippines, Mali, Senegal, and Washington, DC. Since 2008, I have worked as an international development consultant specializing on democracy, rule of law, human rights, gender and anti-corruption. My consultancies have taken me to Moldova, Tunisia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Liberia, Ghana, Lebanon, Jordan and Timor-Leste.
I serve on the board of the Society for Humanistic Judaism and am key organizer for the Gainesville Humanistic Judaism Community. I also am board chair of the International Commission for Dalit Rights and board member of the Institute for Learning in Retirement at Oak Hammock, associated with the University of Florida.
From 1984-85, I oversaw famine relief efforts in Ethiopia and Sudan from my base in Washington, DC. During this time, I made contact with Beta Israel preparing for the Operation Moses airlift to Israel. In Morocco, I worked closely with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in distributing US Government food assistance to Jewish schools, hospitals, and homes for the elderly. I am married to a Moroccan woman and have two children who are proud of their Moroccan, American and Jewish heritages.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, I grew up in the nearby Jewish "ghetto" of Pikesville. My mother taught kindergarten at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, a reform synagogue where I attended religious school until confirmation. After graduating from high school in 1973, I attended Brandeis University. In addition to my biology major, I studied the relation of different religious traditions to environmental conservation. At the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, I gained a masters degree focusing on economic and social development. After fourteen years in the work world, I returned to school to get a Masters of Public Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, where I studied the relationship between political and economic liberalization.
In 1980, I helped found the national network, New Jewish Agenda, which brought together local chapters of politically progressive Jews. From 1980-1991, I was active in the Washington DC chapter. The chapter supported protests against US intervention in El Salvador, the joint visit of a rabbi and a black minister from South Africa who were ardent opponents of apartheid, a visit of Jewish leaders to Nicaragua to disprove Reagan Administration charges of Sandinista anti-Semitism, and a Jewish Community teach-in against the Gulf War. In addition, as a member of the Jewish organization Kulanu, I helped publicize the efforts of Muslims in Timbuktu, Mali to rediscover their Jewish ancestry.