This is a first in a new series about Temple Sinai members who are working or volunteering on behalf of the environment. Who should we interview next? Send suggestions to Green Team Co-Chair Robyn Miller-Tarnoff at  

Green Leader Spotlight: Ellen Kurlansky, Former Policy Analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

What was the focus of your work at the Environmental Protection Agency?

Most of my career focused on the environmental effects of energy production and use.  At EPA, I was in the Air Office, where I worked mainly on developing regulations to reduce toxic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power industry.


Since you retired from the EPA, how have you continued volunteer on behalf of the environment?

I volunteer with a group of former EPA staffers. We came together during the Trump years, when we put out materials to make the public aware of the harm being done as Trump’s EPA rolled back years of environmental progress. Now, we focus on lending support to the Agency as it resumes its mission of environmental protection and faces the challenge presented by climate change.


Do you see a connection between your Jewish values and your career?

Absolutely.  All of life depends on the health of the natural world.  The Torah tells us to choose life so that we and our children may live. (Deut. 30;19)

Today we are faced with a world that is badly in need of repair.  Climate change threatens our way of life and the ability of the world to support life itself.  Pollution continues to threaten life and especially threatens poor and minority populations in the U.S. and globally. Consistent with tikkun olam, Judaism requires that we act.  I often think that is the most Jewish thing I can do.


What’s your favorite Jewish food?
I like latkes, matzo ball soup and lokshen kugel (the way I make it which is very unhealthy but delicious).