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 Speaking Havurah

Second Sunday of Each Month* | 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.

The meetings are facilitated by Rabbi Yisrael Serok, former senior in the Mossad, who was in charge of the underground immigration of Jews from Syria and other Arab countries. Rabbi Serok has vast knowledge of both contemporary Israeli society and Jewish sources, and always offers a unique perspective on Israeli current affairs.

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Hebrew Ulpan Classes אולפן עברית

Beginning October 8 | Mondays, 5:00-7:00PM and 7:00-9:00PM | BJ Community House

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 Book Club

Sunday, October 14 | 5:00-6:30PM | 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.

About Our Holocaust

Beautifully translated from Hebrew, Our Holocaust is a novel narrated by a nameless child of Holocaust survivors. A prizewinner in Israel, it tells the story of relatives who are “collected” by virtue of the fact that they themselves have no one to call their own family since many of their parents, children, brothers and siblings were murdered during the Holocaust.

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Taste of Other Israel—Short Film Screening 

Thursday, October 25 | 7:00-8:30PM | BJ Community House 
Join for a screening of three thought-provoking short films from the JCC’s Other Israel Film Festival. The festival presents films that give an in-depth look into Israeli and Palestinian societies and minority populations in Israel. Come watch, learn, and discuss topics important to Israeli society today, led by Hai Piasetzki, the UWS Jewish Agency Shaliah (emissary) to the UWS. Make sure to join us for the full festival from November 1-8 (more info at www.otherisrael.org).
The screening is free but registration is required.

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Meet IDF Special Forces Rescue Unit 669 Alumni

Sunday, October 28 | 5:00-6:30PM | BJ Community House

Join us for an evening of stories and insights into the special world of Unit 669—Israel’s elite combat search and rescue unit. Learn how the unit’s alumni utilize the unique skills gained in their military service, their comradely, and devotion to saving people’s lives to continue providing humanitarian aid and promote social action in Israel and around the globe.

The 669 Alumni Organization was founded on the same principles and values as the unit itself: helping others, embracing social responsibility, and contributing to the public good in order to make the country and its people stronger. Our mission is to help empower the unit’s veterans to maximize their human capital, positively impacting not only their own futures and community, but also Israeli society overall. Click here to read a summary of the organization’s activities in the last three years.

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

Fall: November 1, November 29, January 3, February 7; Spring: March 7, April 11, May 16, June 6 | 6:30-9:00PM | Frankel Hall

NOTE: Thursday class is currently full, click here for Wednesday class

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.

Cooking In Hebrew (מבשלים בעברית), is a unique workshop series sponsored by the World Zionist Organization—Department for Diaspora Activities. Throughout the meetings, participants learn to prepare traditional Israeli and Middle-Eastern kosher dishes, exposing them to Israel’s multi-cultural society, and an opportunity to improve on their Hebrew in the process. No prior knowledge of Hebrew or cooking necessary – this program is suitable for beginners and fluent Hebrew speakers alike! In each session, participants will prepare a three-course meal that relates to an upcoming event or holiday in the Jewish calendar. Throughout the class, they will learn more about Jewish culinary traditions that relate to that holiday, learn related Hebrew vocabulary, and, later, eat the meal. Read more »

Moot Court—Religious Freedom in Israel

Sunday, November 4 | 5:00-7:00PM | BJ Community House 

The moot court program will present a path-breaking human rights petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice. The petition will assert that the Court should finally recognize freedom to marry outside the country’s Chief Rabbinate. The oral argument will debate the continued viability of the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly over matters of personal status like marriage and divorce. The petitioners will assert that Israel’s founders never intended to create a straitjacket over such matters forever, and that the modern reality of the Jewish state demands that matters of personal status like marriage no longer be exclusively controlled by an increasingly rigid religious bureaucracy. The respondents will argue that divergent approaches to personal status will fracture the unity of the Jewish people if the clear mandates of Jewish law in the sensitive arena of personal status, preserving rabbinical authority over marriage, and safeguarding the legitimacy of children are disregarded.

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Israel Salon: Healing Across The Divides

Thursday, November 8 | 7:00-8:30PM | Location Given Upon Registration

Come and meet Patrick Levy and Nehad Fattah, the Israeli and Palestinian coordinators of Healing Across The Divides (HATD)—an organization whose goal is to improve the health of marginalized people living in Israel and the West Bank via community-based intervention. By providing grants for three-year projects that will operate simultaneously on both sides of the fence, serve as a platform for relationship building between communities and practitioners, and produce measurable improved health for Israelis and Palestinians, HATD hopes to promote a resolution to the conflict. In the meeting, we will learn more about the organization and the amazing grantees and projects they support, along with how they overcome the unique challenges that they encounter while running such programs.

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Israeli Art and Culture Salon Series

Every First Sunday, January-June 2019 | 5:00-7:00PM | Location Given Upon Registration

In this six-part salon series, BJ members will get to meet some of the most promising Israeli artists working in New York today, each of whom are represented by the America-Israel Cultural Foundation (AICF). These musicians, 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.

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

Interested in hosting one of these fabulous salons? Please contact Moshe Samuels.

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

Fall: October 31November 28January 2February 6; Spring: March 6April 10May 15June 5 | 11:00AM-2:00PM | Frankel Hall

NOTE: Thursday class is currently full, so this Wednesday class has been created by popular demand. 

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.

Cooking In Hebrew (מבשלים בעברית), is a unique workshop series sponsored by the World Zionist Organization—Department for Diaspora Activities. Throughout the meetings, participants learn to prepare traditional Israeli and Middle-Eastern kosher dishes, exposing them to Israel’s multi-cultural society, and an opportunity to improve on their Hebrew in the process. No prior knowledge of Hebrew or cooking necessary – this program is suitable for beginners and fluent Hebrew speakers alike! In each session, participants will prepare a three-course meal that relates to an upcoming event or holiday in the Jewish calendar. Throughout the class, they will learn more about Jewish culinary traditions that relate to that holiday, learn related Hebrew vocabulary, and, later, eat the meal. 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.

2014/2015
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
2012/2013
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.