The Jewish Ecological Coalition (JECO) is a not-for-profit organisation founded in Melbourne, Australia in July 2003. We maintain a public fund that is endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient on the Register of Environmental Organisations. 

Board

Eytan Lenko | President

Eytan Lenko has a successful business and entrepreneurship background and is a long running advocate for strong action on climate change. He was a founder of Outware Mobile, one of Australia’s fastest growing tech companies. He is the Chair of Beyond Zero Emissions, an Australian-based, internationally recognised climate and energy solutions think tank that brings engineers and scientists together to research and plan for Australia’s transition to zero emissions across each sector of the economy. Eytan is a co-founder of the Jewish Climate Network initiative, a board director of the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network and the Climate Mobilization, a US based organisation that is working for America to move into a WW2-scale mobilisation on climate action. Eytan was a madrich in Australian Jewish youth movements and attended Shnat way back in 1994.

Rebecca Forgasz | Vice President

Rebecca has over two decades’ experience working in leadership and education-related roles in the Melbourne Jewish community. For almost ten years, she was Director & CEO of the Jewish Museum of Australia, where she led the Museum through a decade of significant organisational development and creative regeneration. She is currently an Associate Professor (Practice) at Monash University, where she serves as Director of the Monash Intercultural Lab and as a Project Fellow on an initiative to develop a creative precinct at the University’s Caulfield campus. In 2018, Rebecca was awakened to the urgency and gravity of the climate crisis. Determined to leverage her years of experience in the Jewish community, she co-founded the Jewish Climate Network initiative to connect fellow community members to the significant risks posed by our collapsing climate and inspire them to take effective action.

Ricky Pearl | Treasurer

Ricky has always been motivated to protect the community. He has been an active member of the Community Security Group (CSG) for nearly two decades and served as the CEO of CSG in Melbourne for 5 years. Ricky was responsible for ensuring that the community was safe from external threats, and holds no prejudice as to where those threats may come from. Ricky feels a strong parental duty to ensure his children grow up in a world that is hospitable rather than hostile.

Debbie Lenko | Secretary

Debbie Lenko MBBS BMedSci FRACP is a Paediatrician and a firm believer that climate change is a health emergency. She has been involved with Doctors for the Environment (DEA), who understand that human health is dependent on the health of our planet and work to protect health through the care of our environment. She has worked across a range of settings completing most of her training at The Royal Children’s Hospital. In 2018 she spent a year working in Darwin and visiting remote communities of the Northern Territory. She has years of experience engaging with people across all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Debbie also has 3 young children and is passionate about ensuring Jewish continuity. As a parent and health professional she feels compelled to ensure healthy, stable environments exist for present and future generations.

Marc Light | Director

Marc started his role as Principal of The King David School in 2014. He was previously Assistant Principal – Curriculum at Bialik College where he worked for the past 4 years and prior to that spent 5 years at Mount Scopus Memorial College. Marc holds a Bachelor of Laws/Arts as well as a Graduate Diploma in Education from the University of Melbourne. Having attended The King David School in his primary schooling, Marc is the first alumnus to become Principal of a Jewish School in Melbourne, and is well known throughout the Jewish community. With proven experience in culture setting, change management and strategic goal setting, Marc has been an active member of the Senior Management Team across the K-12 continuum of Melbourne’s top performing Jewish Schools. Marc and his wife Emma have three children, Daniel, Layla and Raphy.

Staff

Joel Lazar | CEO

Joel is a powerful storyteller, voracious inquirer, thoughtful collaborator, strategic decision-maker and passionate mentor. Joel’s skills and experience are diverse, spanning commercial law, educational program design, Jewish youth leadership, facilitation and scriptwriting.

Joel’s passion for Judaism runs deep. He was born and raised in the Melbourne Jewish community and has held various leadership positions in Jewish youth movements and synagogues. Joel’s commitment to social justice in a Jewish context culminated in him receiving the Ron Castan Young Humanitarian Award in 2019. Above all, Joel firmly believes that the Australian Jewish community has a key role to play in addressing the impacts of climate change that are now unfolding, while also enjoying the social and economic benefits now flowing to those who are taking swift and effective action.

Elinor Hasenfratz | Programs and Communications Coordinator

Elinor is a dynamic and incisive communicator with extensive background in both formal and informal education, including expertise across a range of specialist teaching areas. She is the former president of the Youth Environment Council of South Australia.

Josh Blode | Campaigns Lead

Josh is a passionate and active member of the Jewish community having volunteered and worked in youth empowerment and the not-for- profit sector. He completed his Masters of Environment and Sustainability from Monash University and has worked as a senior environmental consultant advising a diverse range of stakeholders to implement sustainability practices. Josh has dynamic leadership skills and places a strong emphasis on communication as the key to enact change and foster community empowerment.