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.

SOLD OUT: Israeli Culture Salon Series Part 2: The Founding Artistic Principles of Israel

Sunday, March 25 | 5:00-7:00PM | Location given upon registration

In this new salon series, BJ members will get to meet some of the most promising Israeli artists currently working in New York who 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 overlaying theme that will shed new light on Israeli arts and culture. Read more »

Dialogue and Transformation - Photography Exhibit of Israeli Settler and Palestinian Women

Monday, April 16 through June 15 | During community house opening hours | BJ Community House 

Over the past two summers, photographer Saskia Bory Keeley partnered with Roots, an initiative now in its fourth year led by a Palestinian and Israeli settler committee who works at the heart of the conflict in the West Bank. Keeley conducted photo workshops exclusively for women who would otherwise have no contact with each other. Developing photographic skills was an important aspect of the program and just as essential was the opportunity for women “from the other side” to interact in a safe setting–many for the very first time in their lives.

The photos presented in this exhibit are a sample of selected works created by these talented women, providing us with an insight into their own world, their home and family, and their view of the conflict.

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Overcoming Israel's Key Social Challenges with Major General Nimrod Sheffer

Saturday, April 14 | After Shabbat services | BJ Community House
After kiddush, come down and meet Major General (Res.) Nimrod Sheffer, the former head of the Israel Defense Forces Planning Directorate (J5), where he was responsible for military strategy and international military cooperation.

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UWS Celebrates Israel

Sunday, April 15 | 10:00AM-9:00PM | Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway 

Celebrate Israel’s 70th with an array of programs for all ages, including:

  • Keynote speaker Dennis Ross
  • Shows for kids
  • A street fair on 94th street featuring Israeli artists, live music, activities for kids, and kosher food trucks
  • Performances by Israeli group Yemen Blues
  • Wine tasting and food demonstrations 
  • Ongoing speakers and lectures throughout the day

Read more »

Desert Stars - New Hope for Israel's Most Marginalized Community

Monday, April 16 | 7:00-8:30PM | Location upon registration
Join Major General Nimrod Sheffer for an Up-close Encounter: New Hope for Israel’s Most Marginalized Community.
The Bedouin are currently at the bottom of every socioeconomic measure in Israel, including measures of employment and educational attainment. A staggering 29% of young Bedouin drop out of high school and a mere 8.7% of young Bedouin begin studies in higher education. Unemployment is high as only 22% of Bedouin women and 60% of Bedouin men hold jobs. The widening socio-economic gap between Bedouin and other Israelis engenders frustration and despair, further alienating the Bedouin community.

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Yom Ha'atzmaut Ceremony: Israel at 70 – Vision vs. Reality

Wednesday, April 18 | 7:00-9:00PM | BJ Sanctuary 

Join us for our traditional Yom Ha’atzmaut ceremony, marking the transition between Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Remembrance Day, and Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. The first part of the ceremony will explore the evolution of Yom Hazikaron and how collective memory has been shaped in Israel over the past 70 years. Then we will move on to a festive reading of selected paragraphs of Israel’s Declaration of Independence, with local and Israeli leaders giving sermons on these readings. After the ceremony, we invite you to commemorate this special time with us through song, conversation, learning, food, and more!

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Israel's Super Sized Celebration with Shorashim

Sunday, April 22 | 2:00-3:30PM | BJ Community House

Who’s got the biggest birthday coming up? Israel, that’s who! Come down to BJ for a huge party filled with over-sized games, food, and gigantic fun. We are excited to see you there! 

Israel's Super-Sized Celebration with Garinim

Sunday, April 22 | 2:00-3:30PM | BJ Community House

Who’s got the biggest birthday coming up? Israel, that’s who! Come down to BJ for a huge party filled with over-sized games, food, and gigantic fun. We are excited to see you there! 

Members of Garinim: email Michelle to R.S.V.P.

Non-Members of Garinim: Register here.


Israeli Folk Dancing for Yom Ha'atzmaut

Sunday, April 22 | 2:00-6:00PM | BJ Community House 3rd Floor

Experience a trip around Israel on its 70th birthday through dance.  Celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut with the best of the classic Israeli folk dances.  All are welcome to join in the dancing.   Request your favorites.  You also will have the opportunity to experience prominent Israeli folk dance choreographers, leaders and musicians (TBA). 

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Rabbinic Power In Past and Modern Times - A Conversation With Brother Rabbis Amichai and Benny Lau

Sunday, April 22 | 7:00-8:30PM | BJ Community House 

BJ and The Midrasha in Manhattan invite you to join brothers and rabbis Amichai and Benny Lau, of New York City and Jerusalem respectively, who will sit together to speak about rabbinic power, its role in the past, and in modern times. They will each speak to their unique working experiences and to their belonging to a longstanding rabbinic dynasty.

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70 Years Later: Israel- Utopian Vision, Complicated Reality

Saturday, April 28 | Following Shabbat Morning services | BJ Community House

Seventy years have passed since the founders of Israel declared that the State of Israel “will be based on freedom, justice, and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel.” But has the Jewish State lived up to this goal? And what means are needed in order to get there? How can a young state facing so many challenges fulfill the Utopian vision of the prophets of Israel, if at all? Join Rabbi Tamir Nir, head of the BINA Secular Yeshiva in Tel Aviv, as he explores these questions, examining contemporary issues in Israeli society through the lens of classic and modern Jewish texts.

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Israel's Security at 70: An Evening with Former Mossad Director Danny Yatom

Wednesday, May 2 | 7:00-8:30PM | BJ Sanctuary
Seventy years after Israel’s independence, the Jewish state faces a Middle East landscape that grows more complicated by the day. To help unpack the latest developments, Israel Policy Forum and B’nai Jeshurun are offering this timely and important program featuring Danny Yatom, former Mossad Director and Knesset member.
Over the course of an opening address and moderated dialogue, Yatom will address Israel’s security challenges regarding Syria, Hezbollah, Iran, and Hamas, as well as the uncertain future facing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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.