Israel Programs

Teaching About Israel

Lectures, panels, workshops, documentary films, cultural and holiday events about Israel have long been a central part of BJ’s Israel Programming. Of equal importance are events we sponsor that are intended to challenge our assumptions and to bring differing viewpoints to light, educating ourselves about the stories in Israel that are not presented by the mainstream media.

Registration for ‘Israel Celebrates 70’ Community Trip to Israel Now Open

December 25, 2017 – January 3, 2018 | Registration open through May 2017 

Visiting Israel with fellow BJ members, rabbis and staff is always a memorable experience. Our Israel trips combine service, study, and prayer and are designed to give you an in-depth understanding of Israeli society and culture.

As Israel celebrates 70 years of Independence, we are delighted to announce a new community trip scheduled from December 25, 2017 to January 3, 2018.  Read more »

A New Agenda For Israel

Sunday, March 5 | 5:00-6:30PM | 89th Street Community House 

Today Israel is one of the most unequal economies in the Western world. Roughly 20 percent of Israelis and over 30 percent of children live below the poverty line.  A recent study shows that the average salary of CEOs is 44 times the average wage of Israeli employees, and 91 times the minimum wage. Professor Danny Gutwein is one of the most prominent voices for social justice and equality in Israel today. During this talk, Gutwein will discuss the quest for social justice as a means of healing the divisions in Israeli society. In addition, he will describe the negative effects of economic inequality on Israel’s social structure and political system, along with potential methods of remedying these issues. Register here Read more »

Leading on Campus (for High School Juniors & Seniors)

Tuesday, March 14 | 5:00-7:00PM | Congregation Rodeph Shalom (7 West 83rd Street)
B’nai Jeshurun is partnering with Congregation Rodeph Shalom and The Jewish Education Project to offer an exciting program for high school juniors and seniors.  “Leading on Campus” exposes students to the myriad of Jewish engagement opportunities on college campuses and the Israel-related challenges they may encounter. This program will provide an opportunity for students to talk openly about their hopes and fears regarding their college experience and empowers them with best practices for meeting these challenges.  Register here by March 1.

Breaking Down the Barriers of Mistrust

Saturday, March 18 | 5:00-6:30PM | 89th Street Community House 

How can Israel’s Arabs and Jews break down the barriers of mistrust and separation between them? Hand in Hand is reshaping Jewish-Arab relations in Israel with a growing network of integrated schools and communities that bring thousands of Jews and Arabs together every day. With huge demand around the country, Hand in Hand is proving that living together is a viable option for all of Israeli society. Hand in Hand activists Mohamad Marzouk and Noa Yammer will explore both their personal journeys to this work, as well as the dilemmas and successes that come with building a shared and equal future for Arabs and Jews in Israel. Read more »

Shishi Israeli

Friday, March 24 | 6:00-9:00PM | 89th Street Community House 

Shishi Israeli is a special opportunity for Israeli and Jewish Americans to create a shared experience around the Shabbat dinner table. Join Rabbi Matalon for a Shabbat service in Hebrew, followed by a delicious dinner of Mediterranean cuisine and Shira Betzibur (sing-along) of contemporary Israeli and traditional Shabbat songs. Activities for children are offered throughout the event. Register here.

From the Law Books to the Battlefield: A Conversation with Gadi Ezra

Saturday, March 25 | After Shabbat Services | SPSA 86th Street Chapel 

As both a human rights attorney and a soldier in the Israeli Special Forces, Gadi Ezra holds an unparalleled perspective on war. Ezra headed the Laws of War desk at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he advised policy makers and diplomats on humanitarian law, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, human rights and sanctions regimes. While studying law in Tel-Aviv, Ezra was recruited to fight in Operation Cast Lead, during which his Special Forces unit was among the first infantry units to enter the Gaza Strip. Drawing from his personal experiences and his background as a human rights lawyer, Ezra examines the dilemmas that today’s soldiers face, including the complexities of abiding by the laws of warfare during actual combat.

Read more »

Painful Hope: A Different Approach To Solving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Thursday, March 30 | 7:00-8:30PM | 89th Street Community House 

Join two peace activists–one an Israeli settler, Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, and one a Christian Palestinian, Antwan Saca–as they tell their personal stories and describe how the two intertwine. They come with no ready peace plans in hand, but only with the conviction that human understanding and trust will be the prerequisites for lasting justice, freedom, and peace on the tiny sliver of land they both call home. Read more »

Programs From Previous Years

Ruth Gavison2015, UWS Yom Ha’atzmaut –  Envisioning The Future, What does the future hold?, Professor Ruth Gavison
Celebrating Israel’s founding and it’s vision. Join Renowned law Professor, Ruth Gavison who will discuss with Dr. Jonathan Cummings her vision for the future of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State, as well as looking into the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed laws that deal with nationality.

Click here to listen to a recording or the talk.


The Israeli Book Group, book covers.Israeli Literature Book Group (2012-2013 Carol Balin & Jennifer Sylvor & 2014-2015 Orli Moss & Ellen Bender)
Always wanted to read novels by Israel’s greatest authors? What can the books teach us about Israeli society that we don’t learn from the newspaper headlines? We read and discuss books that provide insight and provoke conversation.

World Cup Wishes / Eshkol Nevo
Suddenly a knock on the door / Etgar Keret
Dancing Arabs / Sayed Kashua
The Hilltop / Assaf Gavron
The Falafel King is Dead / Sara Shilo
A pigeon and a boy / Meir Shalev
Homesick / Eshkol Nevo
Second person singular / Sayed Kashua
And the Rat laughed/ Nava Semel
The people of forever are not afraid / Shani Boianjiu
To the End of the Land / David Grossman

The Hilltop, Assaf GavronAuthor Assaf Gavron Speaks About His New Book – The Hilltop (March 14, 2015)
Join Dr. Jonathan Cummings, our Behind the Headlines analyst and Ellen Bender, our Israeli Literature group facilitator as they interview Gavron about his best selling new Novel, The Hilltop, and discuss his thoughts on the upcoming elections in Israel. This event is part of Hagiga Ivrit, a week long celebration of Hebrew language and culture in NYC.