|Written by New York Office|
Israela Oron, Brigadier General (Ret.)
General Oron addressed over 250 people on recent events that affect the composition of the IDF and Israeli society. As an army officer who broke through many gender barriers, Oron called for an IDF that reflects Israeli society, including religious women. She cautioned that the relative decrease in the participation of religious women in the IDF threatens women’s achievements, and ultimately their status in Israel. She also expressed concern regarding the growing extremism among religious Israelis in the IDF.
New Generations: How Would You Build a More Inclusive Israel?
With former IDF Brigadier General Israela Oron, several dozen New Generations (20s & 30s) debated about how we might establish greater gender equality and religious freedom for all in Israel. Groups explored current events with on-the-ground perspective and context from General Oron. Touching on the social housing protests over the summer of 2011, Oron commented on Israeli social justice, domestic issues and peace.
Gershom Gorenberg, American-born Israeli historian, journalist and blogger, was in Toronto to speak with a group of NIFC supporters. Gorenberg, who was on a North American tour to publicize his new book The Unmaking of Israel, stressed the need to “remake” Israel so that the “unintended consequences” of various historical decisions - from the occupation enterprise to the privileged status of ultra-orthodox men - are dealt with. Gorenberg thanked the Association for Civil Rights in Israel for helping him access information for The Unmaking of Israel. Gorenberg was very warmly received and responded to the very thoughtful, educated questions from those attending.
For full event coverage, photos and videos, click here.
Edeet Ravel: The Last Rain Book Launch
Award-winning Israeli-Canadian author Edeet Ravel, along-time supporter of NIFC, launched her newest book, The Last Rain with New Israel Fund of Canada and over 40 guests in Toronto. Ravel was interviewed by Derek Penslar, Samuel Zacks Professor of Jewish History at the University of Toronto. Inspired by Ravel’s youth on a kibbutz, The Last Rain is a coming of age story of a young girl and a country in its early fraught years of existence. Ravel has written her experience as a magical, fictionalized memoir of the early years of Kibbutz Eldar, illustrated by Ravel and Penslar through their discussions and illuminating visuals.
Daniel Sokatch in Toronto
New Israel fund CEO Daniel Sokatch spoke to 150 people in Toronto about the work of New Israel Fund and its dedication to realizing Israel as a state that is equal for all its citizens. Sokatch commented on the lack of connection between young North Americans and Israel, as Israel does not seem to exemplify their liberal, progressive values. Sokatch illustrated this point by using examples of anti-democratic trends currently developing in Israel in areas such as religious pluralism and minority rights. With great optimism and inspiration, Sokatch illustrated the work of NIF and how it works to create the Israel that liberal, progressive North Americans have always wanted- an Israel at peace with itself, in addition to its neighbors.
Click here to watch the video of Loving Israel in Complicated Times.
Between Two Worlds, a new film which had its world premiere at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, takes on the passionate debates over identity and generational change inside today’s American Jewish community. Daniel Sokatch appears in the film, representing both the San Francisco Federation (as former Executive Director) and New Israel Fund. Sokatch spoke after the film on a panel discussing, “Who speaks for the Jewish community?” Co-panelists were Deborah Kaufman and Alan Snitow, the filmmakers of Between Two Worlds and Lori Starr, Executive Director of Koffler Centre of the Arts.
Israel & Comics: Beyond Black and White
While comics are often drawn in black and white, the work in the touring exhibition Graphic Details shows that the relationship of North American Jews to Israel is anything but.
On the evening before Passover, more than forty people gathered at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto to view the exhibit Graphic Details and to discuss the struggles artists depict when confronting their relationship with Israel.
Dan Friedman, Arts and Culture Editor of the Forward, hosted the discussion using the comics as catalysts for discussion about difficult issues. The group explored Zionist stereotypes, the right of Diaspora Jews to criticize Israel and institutions that shape our relationship with Israel.
From artists depicting their Birthright trips to women in post-Holocaust Israel, the experiences depicted in the comics mirrored contemporary struggles, and reflected the intensity with which we relate to Israel. The group was inspired by the courage of the artists which created an open space for others to express their thoughts about Israel.
New Israel Fund of Canada was proud to launch author Lesley Simpson's new children's book, Yuvi's Candy Tree, based on Ethiopian-Israeli acitvist Yuvi Tashome's life. Yuvi, in Toronto to participate in a very special seder for NIFC, met Lelsey, who was then inspired to tell Yuvi's story. With a book reading, candy tree craft and a video-interview of Yuvi, great fun was had by all.
February 10, 2011
NIFC New Generations Canada partnered with Yalla Journal to present NIF Board Member Nabila Espanioly in downtown Toronto. With a crowd of over 40 people and standing room only, Nabila spoke about her life as a Palestinian-Israeli and the challenges she has faced throughout her life, all which have compelled her to establish many civil society organization in Israel. A fervent feminist, advocate for Palestinian-Israeli preschool children and citizens, Nabila spoke about the impact her work has had on her community and addressed the work that lies ahead.
Meet Gregory Levey,
Gregory Levey spoke about his humourous/serious book How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment. With a story teller’s flair, Levey soke at length about his history as a UN delegate for Israel and speechwriter for the Israeli government. After spending years working for Israel and the UN, Levey has been tapped as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and out of frustration, decided to solve the conflict himself. Giving himself six months to complete the task, Levey takes us on a wild, ridiculous ride through the world of Middle East policymaking, and makes us see Israel as it is: full of people who care desperately about its future but cannot figure out how to solve the conflict.
At an intimate meeting in Toronto, Yael Hasson and Valeria Seigelshifer of the Adva Centre discussed their gender-focused analysis of Israel's national budget, showing how the role of women is viewed and how this affects the status of women in Israel. Their research demonstrated the devalued status of mothers in Israel and explored ways in which policies can be changed to promote greater gender equality. Ms. Hasson and Ms. Sigelshifer shared the history of the Adva Centre, a non-partisan Israeli policy analysis center, their achievements and longstanding history as a ressource for policy-makers and other civil society organizations in Israel.
July 14, 2010
With 60 participants, the discussion was dynamic and lively, using Peter Beinart’s ground-breaking article The Failure of the Jewish Establishment as a springboard. The program provided a safe space for young people in their 20s to 40s to engage each other and explore what Israel means to them, what struggles have developed in their relationship to the State, and how they view Jewish community in Toronto and beyond.
Israeli world music star Yair Dalal spoke to a group of young professionals, students, activists, artists and musicians about his peace work and music as a means of connection between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Following the NIFC-sponsored collaborative concert with Juno-nominated band Jaffa Road and Yair Dalal earlier in the day, NIFC executive director Jay Brodbar facilitated the discussion between Yair and the New Generations group.
March 9: Montreal
Members of the Aguda, Israel's largest and oldest LGBT organization spoke in Canada, relaying not only the story of the shooting tragedy in their youth facilities last summer, but of the amazing achievements of Israel's LGBT community. Chairperson Mike Hamel, volunteeer counsellor and shooting victim Chen Langer, and volunteer counsellor Chen Katz, whose brother, Nir Katz, lost his life in the tragedy, all spoke about the role that the Aguda plays in counselling, educating and advocating for the rights of the LGBT community, and their vision of the future.
Social and spiritual activists as well as concerned young Canadians attended this unique opportunity to meet, discuss and engage Yohannes Bayu about the plight of African asylum seekers in Israel.
Mr. Bayu, one of few recognized refugees in Israel, relayed his story as a political refugee from Ethiopia and his arrival in Israel in the mid 1990s. Motivated by his experience, Mr. Bayu founded the African Refugee Developent Center in 2004 and cares for the 20,000 African asylum seekers in Israel. Speaking to the audience at Temple Emanu-El, Mr. Bayu detailed the living conditions of the African community as well as the need for necessary policy change in order to create coherent refugee infrastructure.
October 27, 2009
Hagai El Ad, Executive Director of the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, spoke to an audience of over 140 people and analyzed the challenges and triumphs of their fight for civil liberties in Israel. El-Ad stressed the pernicious impact of over 40 years of occupation not only on the human rights of Palestinians living under occupation but the impact on Israeli morale and democratic and human rights values. He also explained ACRI’s increasing use of educational and media efforts to supplement litigation and make human rights a personally relevant issue for all Israelis. ACRI, Israel's oldest and largest human rights organization, is NIF’s flagship grantee.
The Vigil, organized by New Israel Fund of Canada and Kulanu Toronto, featured speakers from both organizations as well as Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber, and prayers led by First Narayever Rabbi Ed Elkin, Kiever Rabbi Aaron Levy, and Shir Libeynu leader Aviva Goldberg. Nearly 100 people joined us to pray for the victim's families and survivors and to speak up against hate.
An opportunity to hear presentations by the Jewish and Arab co-directors of Sikkuy, Ron Gerlitz and Ali Haider, and the former Executive Director, Shuli Dichter. Over 60 people attended this presentation. Sikkuy has pioneered a film festival supported by NIFC aimed at greater mutual understanding among Jewish and Arab Israelis.
An intimate conversation with Jewish and Arab leaders of Sikkuy and interested young individuals from New Generations at NIFC and Generation Aleph at Holy Blossom Temple.
Lunch and Learn Passover conversation with Jewish students and Ethiopian Israeli social innovator, Yuvi Tashome
The Liberation Seder offered a unique opportunity for participants to celebrate Israel and Passover while discussing and learning more about challenges facing Israel today. Over 125 people focused on the theme "Remember You Too were Strangers in Egypt" discussing several estranged communities within Israel, culminating with the remarks of Ms Tashome on her own personal exodus as a child crossing the Sudanese desert and her current cutting-edge empowerment work with Israeli-Ethiopian youth-at-risk. The one-of-a-kind Haggadah and religious programming were made possible by artist Rochelle Rubinstein, and Rabbi Lawrence Englander and the event was also made possible through the support of the Itta and Eliezer Zeisler Memorial Lectures and the Zukerman Family Foundation.
A special opportunity to meet a prominent Arab-Israeli leader dealing with internal and external challenges facing her community, with particular emphasis on the status of women and young children.