Annual Israel Today Forum brings innovative topics and expert speakers to Tidewater

by | Nov 8, 2013 | Other News

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

With the announcement of its third season, which begins next month, the CRC is staying true to the formula it has used to introduce contemporary Israeli (and by extension, American, Jewish, and world) issues to thousands of people throughout Tidewater: Three topics. Three speakers.

The 3rd annual Israel Today Forum will focus on diversity, Zionism and geopolitics. Featured experts on the subjects, respectively, are Ishmael Khaldi, who was Israel’s first Bedouin diplomat, Gil Troy, an activist at the forefront of the fight against the delegitimization of Israel, and Robert Satloff, a renowned expert on Arab and Islamic politics and United States Middle East policy.

Khaldi’s appearance kicks off the series; he will speak about diversity on Thursday, Dec. 12 (see What’s Happening on p. 22) The next two events are scheduled for 2014: Troy’s discussion about Zionism will take place on Wed., Jan. 29, and Satloff will explain geopoltics, as they pertain to Israel, the Middle East, and the rest of the world, on May 1.

Nataly Fleishman chairs the CRC’s Israel Committee. She has listened closely to feedback from audience members who have heard past speakers, and has garnered input from the many community partners who sponsor the event, along with the CRC. Fleishman and her committee are committed to maintaining the popularity and growth of the Israel Today Forum as a relevant, and important, ongoing speaker series.

“The turnout for these CRC events is consistently high, and the enthusiasm after they are over is contagious. The Israel Today series has done an excellent job of educating the community about Israel in a variety of venues and in front of a great many people, some well-versed on Israel and others just learning,” says Fleishman.

“Now that we are in the third year of the series, we have gotten a taste for what best suits the interests and needs of this community. With this experience, the CRC is excited for everyone to experience this season’s stellar line-up of speakers and topics,” she says.

Robin Mancoll, CRC director, says that the 2012– 2013 2nd Annual Israel Today Forum, which focused on the topics of morality, diplomacy and leadership, engaged more than 1,500 people locally, Jewish and non-Jewish. With increased awareness in the community, and a growing media buzz surrounding the series, Mancoll expects the 2013–2014 series to have an even greater audience and a broader impact.

The Israel Today Forum is free and open to the community; events are held at the Simon Family JCC on the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community. RSVP is requested. Call 757-965-6107, or email

For more information on this and other CRC programs, visit

by Laine Mednick Rutherford