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Israel and World Jewry Committee

The Israel and World Jewry Committee

The Israel and World Jewry Committee was reconstituted in 2007 and has been in existence for almost a decade. The goal of this Committee from the beginning has been to put Israel and concerns about Israel on the Temple Isaiah agenda by looking at Israel from different perspectives, so that we can have meaningful dialogue about Israel, our Jewish homeland.

We have heard groups like AIPAC, J Street, The American Jewish Committee, Professor Firestone, as he explored the Jewish/ Muslim relationship, The New Israel Fund, Rabbi Doug Kahn, who helped us understand the BDS movement, Andy David, the Consul General of Israel and many more.  Over the years, we have collaborated with other groups such as Anshei Isaiah, Women of Isaiah, JCRC, the Federation, the Contra Costa JCC, Congregation B’nai Shalom, Beth Chaim, as well as other groups. The presentations have been to large engaged audiences listening to the perspectives of these groups and engaging in lively and insightful discussions.

These programs are examples of our inclusive Jewish community at Temple Isaiah where people from across the political spectrum can come together and discuss challenging topics, while at the same time inspiring and empowering one another. We believe this will lead to a stronger and even more vital Temple community, as together we continue to look at different ideas. 

In addition to all of these programs check out our Good News from Israel, which is a part of the Shabbat Shalom you receive every week from Temple Isaiah on line. These “Good News” stories about Israel’s positive achievements in many arenas of research and progress are often missing from mainstream media. These articles are adapted from and brought to you by our Committee.

Twinning Program

On August 19, 2014, the Temple Board met and accepted the Israel and World Jewry Committee’s proposal to develop a Twinning relationship with Congregation Natan-Ya in Netanya, Israel under the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Edgar Nof. The Israel and World Jewry Committee in collaboration with Temple Isaiah members, interested Board members and our Twinning partners, will design a number of interactive experiences that can benefit us all over many years. Joins us on our closed Facebook Group here. We would be open to all ideas and suggestions, so that we can work collaboratively and meet all of our needs and expectations. We welcome you to join us at our Committee meetings, which are usually the 2nd Tuesday of each month.  Please contact: Marlene or Herb Thier at: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


This year, we will host a variety of great programs, including:

November in the Sanctuary Foyer
Exhibit highlighting the health and technological advances pioneered by Israel.

Holocaust survivor and author Henry Oster
Topic: “Even In Hell, There Is Hope”
Wednesday, November 9 at 7pm in the Sanctuary

Click here to RSVP for Henry Oster.
As a young boy, author Henry Oster of The Kindness of the Hangman survived deprivation in the Lodz Ghetto, a life-or-death selection in the Birkenau extermination camp, a firing squad in Auschwitz, and starvation in Buchenwald. Of 2,011 Jews uprooted from Cologne, Germany in 1941, Oster is one of only two survivors. Lecture will be followed by Q&A and then light refreshments in the oneg room. Sponsors: Morris and Bobbie Collen Endowment Fund, Israel and World Jewry Committee, and Anshei Isaiah. This event is free and open to the public.
To hear the audio recording, visit

Ravit Baer, Deputy Consul General, Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest
Topic: “On Water, Human Trafficking and Israel’s Approach To These Problems”

Wednesday, December 7 at 7pm in the Adult Lounge
Click here to RSVP for Ravit Baer.
Ravit Baer began her position here in the Bay Area in August, 2015 after serving for five years at the Department for Multilateral European Organization at the Europe Division.  She was responsible for coordinating Israel’s cooperation with the European Union, NATO, OSCE, and UFM. 

Ravit is a career diplomat at the Israeli Foreign Service since 2004. She served as the Deputy Head of Mission to the Israeli Embassy in the Ivory Coast (2005-2007) and to Cyprus (2007-2010). Prior to Joining the Israeli MFA, she served as a legal advisor at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Ravit will share the Consulates work and main goals. With Israel’s strength in overcoming its own water crisis Ravit will share how this came to be and how Israel is helping other countries, including the United States and California, grapple with their own water resources. Ravit will also share how Israel is tackling the global challenge of human trafficking and is helping California to do the same. 

“The Third Way” Film and Discussion
Friday, December 9 at 7pm Shabbat Services in the Sanctuary

Shalom Hartman Institute
Mimi Epstein Memorial Lecture
Sunday, January 22 with 4pm Reception in the Oneg room and 4:30pm Lecture in the Sanctuary and 6pm Neighbor to Neighbor dinner.
Lecture details at
RSVP for the Neighbor to Neighbor dinner at

Tu BiSh’vat Seder
Saturday, February 11 at 10:30am in the Oneg room
On the 15th day of the month Shvat, the Jewish community celebrates the holiday of Tu B’Shvat, the “New Year for the Trees”. We celebrate and honor the sacred connection between Judaism and nature. We remember the teaching from the Torah that “the tree of the fields is humankind’s life” (Deuteronomy 20:19).
While the holiday has changed over the centuries, today in the U.S., many congregations mark the holiday as a call to action. While we celebrate our relationship with nature, it is also time to earn and think about our impact on the world around us and change how we treat the planet and everyone on it, to make a better world. However you celebrate Tu B’shvat, this holiday is an opportunity to savor and appreciate the bounty of this world, and to give thanks for all the ways that trees provide us with food, shelter, beauty, air, and valuable life lessons.

In doing this Seder, we want to include everyone’s ideas and therefore throughout the Seder we will stop for reflective questions and meditations. We want you to comment so that each of you feels the relevance of Tu B’Shvat to his/her life. The Israel World Jewry Committee will be sponsoring the Seder meal. We will recite Kaddish for those remembering loved ones.
If you have any questions about the Tu B’Shvat Seder and to RSVP, please contact Iris Sorokin at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Israel 360-A Closer Look through Media with Ilan Vitemberg
The Voice: Israel – February 22
On the Map – March 29
Shirei Moledet: The Home Land – April 19

All at 7pm in the Adult Lounge
Come to Temple Isaiah for one, two, or all three of these incredible workshops that will help us better understand Israel and Israeli society in the 21st century.  Looking through different forms of media (popular tv, news, and music), we will explore what and who Israel is today, and what it means for us as Jews in California. Don’t miss these fantastic programs with talented Jewish educator, Ilan Vitemberg! These courses are free of charge. Registration required with .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or (925) 284-9191. Brought to you by the Israel and World Jewry Committee & the Education Department, with generous funding by the Jewish Federation of the East Bay. Click here for more details.

New Israel Fund (NIF) with Speaker Daniel Sokatch
Wednesday, March 15 at 7pm in the Adult Lounge
“Israel, The U.S. and a New Era of Progressive Organizing” (Please note: No fund solicitations will be made)
The Israel and World Jewry Committee Presents an evening with New Israel Fund (NIF) CEO Daniel Sokatch Wednesday, March 15 at 7:00pm in the Adult Lounge. CEO Sokatch will focus on how under difficult circumstances, NIF with their Israeli partners have developed a series of effective strategies to create an opening for Israel’s future leaders to further emphasize more democratic norms in all aspects of Israeli society.  He will discuss current examples of how they have organized, built coalitions and have turned setbacks into opportunities to grow their base. They have found the courage to stand for what they, and we, believe in even when the cost was high.  He will help us to turn to our Israeli colleagues to draw lessons from the work they have done to push back against aspects of their leadership, which over the past seven years has shown increasing disdain for many of our shared democratic values. He will help us on the path to understanding what we can do during these difficult times worldwide to help Israel and the United States become even more democratic and inclusive countries. These events are free of charge and open to the public. Presentation followed by discussion and light refreshments. Please RSVP at

The Temple Isaiah World Jewry and Israel Committee and Women of Isaiah present Bridging Identities: On Being LGBTQ, Jewish and Pro-Israel with Dara Papo and Arthur Slepian
Tuesday, April 25 at 7pm in the Adult Lounge


•What has been the progress of the LGBTQ community in Israel, and what challenges remain?
•How can one successfully engage progressive LGBTQ people with Israel at a time when there is so much   antagonism towards Israel on the left?
•How can the LGBTQ communities of Israel and North America learn from and support one another, especially in the aftermath of our recent election?
•Dara Papo’s own evolution in her perception of Israel  

Arthur Slepian is the Founder and Executive Director of A Wider Bridge (AWB), a pro-Israel organization that works to deepen the connections between the LGBT communities of Israel and North America.  AWB was founded in 2010, has staff in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles,and Washington DC, and brings its programs to cities across North America.  Arthur has several decades of experience as a leader in both the Jewish community and the LGBT community, along with a successful career as a leader in the business world.  Arthur serves on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Federation of the San Francisco Bay Area, on the San Francisco area Jewish Community Relations Council, and on the Board of Overseers of Hebrew Union College.  Arthur is married to Gerry Llamado, his partner for more than 20 years.

Dara Papo, a licensed clinical social worker, was born in the Bay Area and is continuing a family history of involvement in the Jewish community.  Dara went on her first trip to Israel in 2016 with the Jewish Federation of America’s “See Israel with Pride” trip.  This trip was meaningful in bridging Dara’s two communities and allowing her to explore her “complicated” relationship with Israel. Dara is director of support services at Community Housing Partnership, a nonprofit providing supportive housing and services to approximately 2,000 formerly homeless individuals and families in San Francisco. She participated in the first cohort of the Pathways LGBT Leadership program — a partnership between Keshet and the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, currently serves on the Board of Keshet, a national organization that works for full LGBTQ equality and inclusion Jewish life, and is a member of the Kitchen, a “start up” religious community in San Francisco. Dara is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and holds a Master of Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley.

Yom HaAtzmaut celebration at Shabbatarama
Friday, May 5 at 5:45pm in the Social Hall