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, March 25 | 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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Israeli Film Club

Tuesday, April 2 | 7:00-8:30PM | Community House

Join us for a five-session series, featuring five short Israeli films that were carefully chosen from dozens of prize-winning works. The films present various perspectives on key issues in Israeli society. These movies will serve as a platform for post-screening discussions, allowing participants to reflect on diverse and relevant aspects of the Israeli people, culture and politics.

This series is free of charge, but registration is required. Sign up for your preferred screening(s) via the form below.

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Pre-Elections in Israel: Elections 101

Tuesday, April 2 & Wednesday, April 10 | 7:00-8:30PM | Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, 334 Amsterdam Ave

On April 9, Israel will be holding a critical general election. After three terms of Bibi Netanyahu as prime minister, the center-left block will try to win, and the right ultra-orthodox block will try to maintain its power. The Israeli political system is more complicated than ever before, and, in turn, hard to navigate. These two sessions, held pre and post elections respectively, will help you understand the political map leading up to the elections, and analyze their results.

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Exclusion to Inclusion

Saturday, April 6 | Following Kiddush | Chapel 

Join us for a presentation by Ami Ayalon, AKIM Israel Chair, former member of the Knesset, and former head of Shin Bet.

Israel had gone through many changes in the way the state is addressing people with disabilities. In the past they were segregated from society, put in institutions away from community centers. Today, Israelis meet more individuals with disabilities in their everyday life. Much of this change is due to AKIM’s advocacy for inclusion.

Join Ami Ayalon as he introduces AKIM Israel’s person-centered approach, and how they are working to make it public policy. Ayalon will be accompanied by Ya’acov Brown, an individual with Down syndrome, who is currently serving in the IDF as part of AKIM’s unique “Equal in Uniform” program.

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Israeli Art and Culture Salon Series

Sunday, April 7 | 5:00-7:00PM | Location given upon registration

Remaining Dates: 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, April 10 | 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; it comforts and stimulates memories.

Register now for the spring semester.

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

Thursday, April 11 | 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; it comforts and stimulates memories.

Register now for the spring semester.

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Israeli Book Club

Sunday, April 14 | 7:00-8:30 PM | Location given upon registration

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.

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Hebrew-Speaking Havurah

Sunday, April 14 | 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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Life in Three Jerusalems: East, West, and Haredi

Wednesday, May 15 | 7:00-8:30PM | Reception Room  

What does Jerusalem look like through the eyes of an Arab woman who lives in Silwan, the eyes of a Haredi man who lives in Mea Shearim, or the eyes of a couple who lives in Rehavia? Where do these visions intersect? Where do they pass by each other unknowingly? Where do they collide? How do we bring them closer together? As Jerusalem Day draws near, join Michal Sherez Shilor, the founder of 0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem, as she brings different narratives of Jerusalem residents, and the way they affect life in the city, to light. We will take a deeper look at the complexities and intricacies of the multicultural, and seemingly torn, city that has become a capital of diversity, activism, and hope.

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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.