Israel Today: Beyond the Headlines


Israel is complex, conflicting and sometimes polarizing – but it is always central to our global Jewish identity and a cornerstone of the Baltimore Jewish community. As we celebrate our centennial anniversary, we take a bold new step in engaging our leadership and community in dialogue, education and connection about Israel through the newly-formed Insight Israel Forum.    

The Forum, the first in the country, provides opportunities for Jewish Baltimore to enhance its knowledge, understanding and relationship to Israel.

Through Personal Opinion Dialogue Seminars (PODS), consisting of lectures, small group conversations, speaker events and on-line learning programs, we are facilitating open, honest and sometimes difficult discussions about Israel. You will have the opportunity to comfortably engage in respectful conversations while exploring your own Jewish journey.

As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom remarked,

“The greatest single antidote to violence is conversation, speaking our fears, listening to the fears of others, and in that sharing of vulnerabilities discovering a genesis of hope.”

Questions? Contact Jeffrey M. Blavatt at jblavatt@associated.org or 410-369-9208.

Dialogue | Education | Connection

The Associated’s Insight Israel Forum brings the Baltimore Jewish community leadership together to promote learning and robust conversation about Israel. Through PODS (Personal Opinion Dialogue Seminars), a series of lectures, circle conversations, speaker events and on-line learning programs, the Insight Israel Forum will facilitate open, honest, and sometimes difficult discussions about Israel. Participants will have the opportunity to comfortably engage in respectful conversations around Israel while exploring their own Jewish journey.

For a detailed description of all PODS please CLICK HERE

Topics and dates are listed below.

The Insight Israel Forum will:

  • Strengthen our understanding & attachment to Israel.
  • Build a more cohesive community in Baltimore.
  • Mitigate polarization.
  • Increase our global Jewish awareness, identity and connection.

Hartman PODS – “Israel, America & World Jewry”

Sessions led by Shalom Hartman Institute scholars and educators.

Orientation session and then three live 90-minute webinars.

May 5, May 12, May 19 | 6:30 p.m.

Followed by a 7-day Community Leadership Program (CLP) held in Jerusalem, June 24 – July 1, 2020.

Topics: (1) Paradigm Shifts of Jewish Peoplehood & Israel (2) Nationalism, anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism (3) Relations: Israeli Jews & Americans

Cost: Air travel/hotel cost, 6 nights in Israel, The Associated will provide a stipend of $1,700 for CLP registration. 

iEngage PODS – “Israel: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow”

Orientation session and then four live 90-minute sessions.

Wednesday Lunch Series – December 4, January 8, February 5, March 4 | 12:00 p.m.
Rabbi Joshua Gruenberg, Chizuk Amuno Congregation | Location TBD

Wednesday Lunch Series – December 4, January 8, February 5, March 4 | 12:00 p.m.
Rabbi Chai Posner, Beth Tfiloh Congregation | Location TBD 

Thursday Evening Series – December 5, January 9, February 6, March 5 | 6:30 p.m.
Rabbi Daniel Burg, Beth Am Congregation | Location TBD

Wednesday Evening Series – January 22, February 26, March 25, April 22 | 6:30 p.m.
Rabbi Debbie Pine | Location JCC Park Heights Campus

Topics: Israel’s Milestone & Their Meanings, Jewish Values & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Tribes of Israel: A Shared Homeland for a Divided People, Engaging Israel: Foundations for a New Relationship

Cost: $75

Inside the Middle East PODS – “GPS Guide to the Middle East”

Sessions led by Avi Melamed, Former Israeli Intelligence Officer & Middle East Analyst.

Orientation session and then eight live sessions.

Morning – October 23, 28, 30, November 4, 6, 11, 18, 20 | 8:00 a.m.

Evening – October 23, 28, 30, November 4, 6, 11, 18, 20 | 6:00 p.m.

Topics: Inside the Middle East Methodology & Reality Check, Building the Database & Lexicon, Struggle Over Path, Identity & Direction in the Middle East, The West & Islam, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Israeli Society, The Iranian-Arab Power Struggle and Intelligent GPS for Middle East

Cost: $75

Resetting the Table (RTT) PODS – “Let’s Really Talk about Israel”

Sessions led by Eyal Rabinovitch, Melissa Weintraub, RTT Co-Founders & RTT staff

Orientation sessions and then six live sessions including lectures, town hall dialogues and small-sized groups.

Tuesdays – November 19, December 10, January 14, January 28, February 11, February 25 | 6:00 p.m.

Wednesdays – (note: opening session is on Tuesday) November 19, December 11, January 15, January 29, February 12, February 26 | 6:00 p.m.

Topics: Speaking Across Differences: Israel, Israel-Palestinian Relations, Roles & Responsibilities of American Jews, Boundaries of Legitimate & Illegitimate Public Criticism of Israel, What’s Next for Israel & American Jewry

Cost: $75

Unpacked PODS – “Visualize Israel & Our Future”

Sessions led by Noam Weissman, Jerusalem U, Senior Vice President.

Using Jerusalem U’s UNPACKED series of feature-length films, YouTube videos, experiential and interactive learning initiatives, participants view/read e-resources followed by facilitated discussions.

Orientation session and then four live sessions: November 5, December 16, January 21,
February 18

6:30 p.m., JCC Park Heights Campus 

Topics: Is might always right? – Assessing the multiple narrative of Israel’s military decisions, Exploring Multiple Forms of Zionism, Statehood for All: Israel as a Jewish democracy, Settlements & Palestinian Experience

Cost: $75

B’more Together PODS – “Israel: What’s Happening & What’s Not”

In-person sessions and virtual group experiential education using Cureo, an online learning system coordinated by Jeffrey Blavatt, Executive Director, IIF.

Programs include shared experiences, lectures, open forums with noted authors and scholars. Common book read of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor with Yossi Klein Halevi.

Orientation session and then five sessions: December 17, January 22, February 19, March 18, April 22

Topics: Israel as a Jewish & Democratic State, Challenges & Opportunities of Minority Rights, Religious Pluralism, Evolving Relationship of World Jewry with Israel, Forms of Zionism & Connection to Israel, Israel & Its Neighbors.

Cost: $ 75

Do It Yourself (DIY) PODS

Orientation session (November 19) for self-guided access to information & sources about Israel using Cureo, an on-line learning system. Participants self-select The Associated panel, lectures and community events to attend.

Topics: Israel as a Jewish & Democratic State, Challenges & Opportunities of Minority Rights, Religious Pluralism, Evolving Relationship of World Jewry with Israel, Forms of Zionism & Connection to Israel, Israel & Its Neighbors

Cost: No Fee

Questions? Contact Jeffrey Blavatt at jblavatt@associated.org or 410-369-9208.

To be part of the discussion, please register below for your top three PODS here. Note: Payment will be collected at a later date. 

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