Updating the Israel/Diaspora Relationship

October 19, 2012

Source: The Jewish Standard


Larry Yudelson writes about the launching in northern New Jersey of iEngage, a program designed by the Jerusalem-based Shalom Hartman Institute to make Israel the topic of conversations about values rather than battles about politics. Eleven iEngage programs will be taking place in the area, most meeting on a weekly basis, and several bringing together rabbis and congregants from many synagogues. A total of 24 local rabbis are taking part. The program is being brought to northern New Jersey under a grant from the Adler Innovation Fund of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.


Led by a team of internationally renowned scholars in the fields of Jewish studies, Middle East politics, and history, the iEngage Project is committed to addressing core questions pertaining to the necessity and significance of the Jewish national enterprise; how a Jewish state should exercise power; why a Jew who lives outside of Israel should care about Israel; and what the State of Israel can offer the world.


iEngage brings together a team of world-leading scholars and public intellectuals who specialize in areas such as Jewish thought, political theory, and international law, and who are leading forces in rethinking the meanings and significance of Zionism and Israel and communicating these ideas to Jews worldwide.


Over the last year and a half, the Hartman Institute has brought its program to more than one hundred rabbis across North America, usually charging each synagogue $1200 for the set of program DVDs. As part of the federation grant, NJ synagogues receive the video materials at no cost.


Different NJ synagogues have crafted different formats for the iEngage classes. Some are offering eight sessions, each featuring the viewing of the Hartman Institute Scholar video, and discussion, and lasting two and a half hours; others are offering more and shorter sessions.


As part of the project, staff from the Hartman Institute — including both its North American office in New York and its Jerusalem think tank — will meet with local rabbis who are presenting the program to their congregations.


In addition, a separate group of federation leaders is meeting monthly to discuss the curriculum in a program to be led by Hartman staff.


Read the entire article on the Jewish Standard website.

Updated: Nov. 05, 2012