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.

Hebrew Ulpan Classes אולפן עברית

Monday, January 21 | 5:00-7:00PM and 7:00-9:00PM | Community House

Registration for this series is closed. Classes are held every Monday. 

Join members of the BJ, Habonim and Shaare Zedek communities in a small group environment to build and improve your Hebrew conversational skills. The Hebrew Ulpan course teaches the fundamental structure of Hebrew and its basic forms, as well as the necessary vocabulary for everyday conversations, reading, and writing. This class is open to both members and non-members of the three synagogues so invite your friends to join!

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Finding Peace in the Promised Land—Lessons for Life and Love Learned on the Israel Trail

Saturday, January 26 | Following Kiddush | Chapel 

Aryeh Green, author of My Israel Trail: Finding Peace in the Promised Land, hiked the entire length and breadth of Israel on Shvil Yisrael—the Israel National Trail—following his divorce. The lessons he learned on the physical trek, enabling his personal growth and ability move ahead with his life, and his intimate encounter with the land and people of Israel along the way, are the uplifting basis of this inspiring presentation.

No registration necessary, all are welcome.

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New Paradigms for Breaking the Impasse of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Sunday, January 27 | 12:30-5:00 PM | Sanctuary

With the Two State solution currently at a halt, it is time to consider new paradigms to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Two relatively new and unique movements will share the stage for the very first time to present their complementary work toward creating a just, peaceful, and harmonious future in Israel/Palestine. Roots/Shorashim/Judur, the Israeli Palestinian grassroots initiative for understanding, nonviolence, and transformation, brings together Israeli settlers and Palestinian activisits. A Land for All (formerly Two States One Homeland), advocates for Israeli Palestinian reconciliation based on a union of two sovereign states in one open land, with freedom of movement for all citizens. Read more »

Israeli Art and Culture Salon Series

Sunday, February 3 | 5:00-7:00PM | Location Given Upon Registration

Meeting Dates: January 6, February 3, March 3, April 7, May 5, June 2

In this six-part salon series, BJ members will get to meet some of the most promising Israeli artists working in New York today. These musicians, visual artists, singers, and actors will perform in an intimate, home setting, drawing on an overarching theme that will shed new light on Israeli arts and culture. The series is curated by BJ’s music director Dan Nadel, and facilitated by BJ’s shaliah Moshe Samuels.

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Cooking In Hebrew: A Course in Israeli Cuisine (Wednesday Class)

Wednesday, February 6 | 11:00AM-2:00PM | Frankel Hall

Food is a world unto itself. It’s a peep-through window, a bridge between worlds and a key to different cultures. Food brings people together and opens hearts; food comforts and stimulates memories.

Register now for the spring semester.

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Liturgical Hebrew Class

Wednesdays, Beginning February 6 | 6:30-8:00PM | Location Given Upon Registration 

This class is geared towards those who wish to improve their reading skills and understanding of the Hebrew found in Jewish liturgy (Bible and Siddur). Each class will focus on a chosen key prayer from the Siddur and a short piece from key Torah portions. We will read and analyze the texts highlighting the important words and phrases. The ability to decode and read Hebrew (even slowly) is essential, though comprehension is not.

This class is held every Wednesday through April 3, a total of eight sessions (no class on Purim). The cost is $160. 

Classes are taught by BJ member and Hebrew teacher Michal Nachmani. For over three decades Michal has taught Modern and Liturgical Hebrew language through active learning, individualized attention, and a touch of Israeli culture. She has taught Hebrew at Central Synagogue, Rodeph Shalom, Temple Sh’harei Te’fila, SWFS, JCC Manhattan, the Ulpan Center, Makor, the Academy of Jewish Religion, and the Jewish Theological Seminary.

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Cooking In Hebrew: A Course in Israeli Cuisine (Thursday Class)

Thursday, February 7 | 6:30-9:00PM | Frankel Hall

Food is a world unto itself. It’s a peep-through window, a bridge between worlds and a key to different cultures. Food brings people together and opens hearts; food comforts and stimulates memories.

Register now for the spring semester.

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Hebrew-Speaking Havurah

Sunday, February 10 | 5:30-7:00PM | Location Given Upon Registration

Get together with other Hebrew speakers to discuss current affairs. Each month, a topic will be chosen and reading material (in both English and Hebrew) will be provided. At each meeting, we will hold a discussion in Hebrew.

This class meets on the second Sunday of each month*, registration is closed. 

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Israeli Book Club

Second Person Singular Book Cover

Tuesday, March 12 | 7:00-8:30 PM | Community House

BJ’s Israeli Book Club is more than just your typical reading group—it is an intimate encounter with Israeli culture, society, and politics. Join us for a good read and nuanced conversation that will help you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of contemporary Israeli issues.

BJ’s Israeli Book Club is honored to host award winning Israeli author Ayelet Gundar-Goshen for a reading from her acclaimed novels Waking Lions and One Night, Markovitch.

About One Night, Markovitch

Two men are crossing the sea to marry women they have never met, in order to help them escape war-torn Europe for the Jewish homeland.

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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.