In the 2020 election North Carolina Jews took pride in noting that for the first time in the state’s history, one of our own became a representative in the national legislature when Kathy Manning of Greensboro was elected to Congress from the Sixth District.
5781 has brought another milestone as the first North Carolinian won election to the Israeli Knesset. Alon Tal, born Albert Rosenthal, is a native of Raleigh and a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill (1980). After making Aliyah and serving in the Israeli army, he earned a law degree at Hebrew University. Subsequently, he earned a doctorate from Harvard in environmental science. Returning with his wife to Israeli kibbutz Ketura, he became Israel’s leading environmentalist, founder of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies that also serves a larger peace mission by bringing together Jordanians and Palestinians for regional cooperation. He has taught at Ben Gurion, Tel Aviv, and Harvard universities. Winner of numerous prizes, he has served on the board of the Jewish National Fund and co-founded the Green Zionist Alliance. He was elected to the Knesset on the list of the Blue and White Party as an advocate of environmentalism, women’s rights, religious pluralism, and progressive Judaism. Gabbai at a Masorti (Conservative) synagogue in Israel, Tal returned after 40 years in 2016 to Durham’s Beth El, which he described as his “childhood ‘home court.’”