4th Annual Israel Today Forum brings diverse voices, new perspectives and international experts to Tidewater

by | Oct 3, 2014 | Featured

by Robin Mancoll

Einat Wilf:
Thursday, Oct. 30, 7:30 pm

Compelling speakers, interesting topics and timely discussions have characterized the past three seasons of the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Israel Today Forum.

With the fourth season kicking off this month, the CRC is staying true to its formula of introducing contemporary Israeli (and by extension, American, Jewish and global) issues to thousands of people throughout Tidewater with three diverse voices, three new perspectives and three international experts.

What regional turmoil means for Israel will be the focus of The Honorable Einat Wilf’s visit on Thursday, Oct. 30. A former Knesset member and a frequent speaker for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), The Israel Project and American Jewish Committee, Wilf is considered a possible future Prime Minister of Israel. She is known as one of Israel’s most articulate representatives on the international stage and a leading intellectual and original thinker on matters of economics, education, foreign policy, Jewish peoplehood and society.

Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan policy institute, leads projects on Iran, sanctions, nonproliferation and countering electronic repression. He has testified before Congress and advised the U.S. administration, Congress and numerous foreign governments on Iran sanctions issues. Prior to 2003, Dubowitz worked in venture capital, technology management and law and brings experience in those areas to his current work with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Speaking in Tidewater on Wednesday, Dec. 3, just days after the extension for negotiations with Iran and the P5+1 expire. Dubowitz will offer an insiders’ look at the talks, the outcome and the global implications of a nuclear Iran.

Closing the forum in March 2015 is Reservist, Lieutenant-Colonel Dr. Ofer Merin. When news breaks of Israeli medical rescue delegations being first on the scene in disaster zones, the man in charge is Dr. Ofer Merin. As chief of the IDF Field Hospital Unit, Merin was first on the scene in Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, in Japan after the tsunami that followed the massive earthquake in 2011, in the Philippines after the Typhoon in 2013, on the Syria-Israel Border in the Fall of 2013 and this summer on the border with Gaza, although their citizens were prohibited to use the hospital by Hamas. Sharing stories of Israel’s global humanitarian efforts, Merin’s March visit will be one to remember.

One of the series’ goals is to bring the Tidewater Jewish community together to support the State of Israel. Committed to maintaining the popularity and growth of the Israel Today Forum as a relevant and important ongoing speaker series, all area synagogues, Jewish agencies and organizations, as well as some businesses, foundations and individuals have joined forces to ensure this fourth year an even bigger success. Through this series, the CRC and community partners have educated thousands throughout Tidewater on current issues facing Israel. Continuing the effort to share the visiting experts with local high school and college students, media, military, law enforcement, interfaith and other groups, experts will each visit Tidewater for two full days and help build understanding as the greater Tidewater community gets a different perspective on Israel than they see in the headlines.

Co-chair of the CRC’s Israel Education and Advocacy committee and new partner of the Israel Today forum, Barbara Dudley shares that she, “decided to become a partner in the Israel Today series because Israel is a part of my life. From a young age I observed my parents being strong advocates for Israel in our hometown. My first trip to Israel was in January 1974 and I returned that summer to work on a kibbutz so I could experience Israel first hand. My family traveled to Israel in honor of our youngest daughter becoming Bat Mitzvah in 1994 and later, that daughter made the decision to make Aliyah and became an Israeli citizen in 2006. Israel is just a part of me and the Israel Today series helps keep me and our community stay informed and up-to-date on critical issues that impact Israel and her future.”

The CRC plans to offer a call to action for attendees at each event, but community members can take action before each event. Advocacy starts with education and there’s no better place to learn about Israel’s diverse contributions to the global society than with these great experts.

The Israel Today Forum is free and open to the community; events are held at the Sandler Family Campus in Virginia Beach at 7:30 pm. RSVP requested: visit www.jewishva.org/IsraelToday, call 757-965-6107, or email smaslin@ujft.org.