Understanding Israel and Engaging Together

Learn with us in our new course: Israel Engagement: Past, Culture, and How We Got to Today, starting this Sunday at 10:15 am at RS. We will meet Sundays, October 26-March 15 at Rodeph Shalom; Attend one, many or all; 10:15 am-11:15 am , except where noted as second session or double session until 12:15pm.  Syllabus below.

“For two thousand years, Jews worldwide yearned for a return to Zion, ending every Sedar with “Next year in Jerusalem.”  The dream for a rebirth in a land of our own beat in every Jewish heart.

Sixty-six year ago, the dream carried through generations came true: Israel became a reality, and in its short existence, always seems to be front and center – for all kinds of reasons – on the world stage.  Born immediately following the Holocaust, Israel is a complex nation which has grown from 650,000 to over seven million people in only two generations.  This course will bring Israel to life for you.  It will explore the historical antecedents of the immigration to Jerusalem, the rise and development of Zionism, the struggle between Arab and Jew, the birth and early life of the State and the ongoing challenges of establishing a true and lasting peace.  It will also highlight Israel’s diversity and introduce you to the music, art, literature and food which weave a multicultural tapestry that is far from being completed.

This course is also intended to be about you and your relationship with Israel.  It will ask that you participate, ask questions, share experiences and – perhaps most important – express your feelings and desires of what you want Israel to be, in what direction do you want it to go.  Our overriding theme is that in some way, every one of us has an obligation to voice an opinion about Israel and that to do so, we need to understand what Israel is all about.  We hope that this course will help you learn what is needed to form opinions and feel comfortable expressing them to our congregants and others.

Some topics will be presented by our clergy and congregants.  We will also have prominent guest lecturers.  We feel that every presentation will be relevant, informative and enjoyable, and we look forward to exploring with you a topic which always seems to be in the headlines—not to mention our hearts.”  –Fred Strober, RS Past President

10/26     Introduction: Where Are You Coming From, Fred Strober and Rabbi Jill Maderer

11/2        What Does the Torah Say?, Rabbi Bill Kuhn

11/9        A History of Early Settlement (Yishuv) and Modern Zionism, Fred Strober

11/16     Early 20th Century Diplomatic Overtures and Secret Agreements Rabbi Judd Levinston, PhD, Barrack Hebrew Academy director of Jewish Studies

11/23      A Thousand Hopes: Origins, Interpretations and Versions of Hatikvah, Rabbi Seth Goren, director Repair the World Philadelphia

12/7        History of the 30’s-40’s: Arab Uprisings and Birth of a State, Rabbi Emeritus Alan Fuchs, 10:15am-12:15pm (double session)

12/14     History 1948-1973, Nurit Shein, retired Colonel in the Israeli Army and commander of education corps

12/21     History 1973-present, Nurit Shein, retired Colonel in the Israeli Army and commander of education corps

12/21     Understanding History, Rabbi Alan Fuchs, 11:15am-12:15pm

1/11        Grassroots Religion: Music in Israeli Prayer, Cantor Erin Frankel

1/18        Dialogue: A Palestinian and a Jew, Libby Lenkinski, National Director of Strategic Planning for the New Israel Fund and Nadia Ben-Youssef, representative of Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Israel Engagement sessions coming late January/February in the process of being scheduled: The Future is Now: Technology and Sustainability; Who Are We: Demographics Today; Michael Solomonov: A Window Through Food, ARZA President on Progressive Judaism with Rabbi Josh Weinberg

1/25, 2/1, 2/8, 2/22

3/8          Everyday Life in Israeli Film, Rabbi Eli Freedman

3/15        Everyday Life in Israeli Film, Rabbi Eli Freedman


Recommended Reading:

My Promised Land, Ari Shavit

A History of Israel, Howard Sachar

O Jerusalem, Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre


The Jerusalem Post

Organized by: Past RS President Fred Strober and Rabbi Jill Maderer, with gratitude to our Israel planning task force: Rachel Blake, Ben-Zion Friedman, Brian Gordon, Ken Klothen, Jason Lerner, Carole Wilder.  Please direct questions to Rabbi Maderer rabbimaderer@rodephshalom.org