Beth El's "Israel @ 70" series

Congregation Beth El is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel with a diverse series of programs and celebrations throughout the year.  

The following are the currently scheduled events; more may be scheduled in the coming months.

Sunday, October 22, 5:00 pm 

Rabbi Arik Ascherman "Honoring the Zionist Vision: Jewish Values and Human Rights in Israel"

Rabbi Ascherman is a human rights advocate who recently founded the organization Torat Tzedek (Torah of Justice) to strive for a society that honors God's Image in every human being, and for the human rights that this necessitates.  Rabbi Ascherman is currently working on issues surrounding the Bedouin in the Negev, the Morar High Court decision, preventing home demolitions, public housing and other socioeconomic issues for Israeli Jews, and African asylum seekers. 

Tuesday, November 14, 7:00 pm 

Ulfat Haider & Asaf Ron "A Jewish Democratic State: Creating Shared Space for All People in Israel"

Ulfat Haider and Asaf Ron will tell their personal stories about integrating the fifth of Israelis who are Arabs into Israeli society.  They work together at Beit HaGefen, a Haifa-based Arab Jewish Cultural Center founded in 1963. Beit HaGefen believes that interpersonal acquaintanceship and an encounter with another culture and its narratives are essential for breaking down barriers and building trust. NOTE: This talk is co-sponsored with Lehrhaus; please register (for free) for this talk on the Lehrhaus website (

Sunday Mornings, January–April 

Rabbi Yoel Kahn & the Shalom Hartman Institute, “Israel’s Milestones & Their Meanings”

As we look to Israel’s future, we need to engage anew with our past and explore its meanings and consequences. This series grapples with the different ideas and values that shape the meaning of modern Israel, Zionism, and Jewish identity today: discussion topics will include nationhood, land, sovereignty, Jerusalem, occupation and moral red lines.  Each session includes text study and discussion led by Rabbi Yoel Kahn, and video lectures and roundtable discussions with Shalom Hartman Institute scholars. In conjunction with this study series, Shalom Hartman is also arranging a series of four live speakers around the East Bay, including Donniel Hartman’s talk at Beth El on April 24.

The January 27, 2018 concert has been canceled.

Friday & Saturday, February 16-17, 2018: Prof. Michael Marmur, Provost, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Allan and Tybil Smith Kahn Scholar in Residence

This year’s Scholar in Residence, Prof. Michael Marmur, joins us from Jerusalem for a Shabbat of provocative and thoughtful reflection on Israel, Jewish values and the modern Jewish experience.


March 14 & 15, 2018 7:00pm: Positively Israel - Celebrating the Wonders of Israel 

The Jewish National Fund is proud to present a showcase of remarkable organizations and people leading groundbreaking humanitarian, environmental, educational, and tikkun olam initiatives throughout Israel. This is not a fundraising event and there is no cost to attend, but advanced registration is required; walk-ins will not be admitted. This event takes place two nights in a row at two different Bay Area locations:

Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 7:00 pm 
David Brower Center, Berkeley
Register here

Thursday, March 15, 2018, 7:00 pm 
Oshman Family JCC, Palo Alto
Register here

Sunday, March 25, 2018 4:00 pm: Contemporary Israeli Politics 101

You probably know the Likud and Labor Parties – but what about Kulanu and Yesh Atid (which collectively have more seats in the Knesset than Labor)?  Unlike the US, where virtually all elected politicians come from one of two parties, there are dozens of electable parties in Israel, and they are ever-changing.  Please join us for a discussion explaining today’s Israeli political parties,  personalities, and the realities they create.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018, 6:30 pm: Israeli Dinner Benefit for Beth El, Ba-Bite Restaurant, 3905 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland

Come celebrate Yom Haatzmaut with a four-course contemporary Israeli dinner especially prepared for us by Israeli chef/owner Mica Talmor at her Oakland restaurant Bi-Bite.  Ticket are $75 per person, with a portion benefitting Beth El.

Sunday, April 22, 2018: Israel @ 70 Film Fest

The Israeli film industry has a long and storied history. We will be screening several films from mid-morning through early afternoon, both old and new. An Israeli lunch will be available for those who wish to stay all day.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018, 7:00 pm: Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, “One State, Two State: Moral Red Lines”

Beth El is thrilled to welcome Donniel Hartman, President of the Shalom Hartman Institute, as part of our Israel @ 70 Series and the East Bay iEngage Collaborative Lecture Series.  Donniel Hartman will examine how the notion of a one state or two state solution creates moral red lines for many inside and outside the Jewish community.  He will use this notion as a jumping off point to examine how Jewish communities can interact when different moral redlines exist as well as help offer some ways to answer when and how one comes to define their moral redline. Further, he will challenge the status quo pushing for a Jewish community that takes seriously the ideas of others even when it pushes up against moral redlines.