Step Up Series culminates with Speak Up for Israel film at Beth El

by | May 17, 2013 | Other News

Megan Zuckerman and Kim Zwifler.

Megan Zuckerman and Kim Zwifler.

When speaking up for Israel, remember the ABCs: Answering the claim, Bridging to give perspective, and Closing, with YOUR message. These and other techniques for effectively educating others about Israel were included onscreen and reinforced on a handout given to audience members at the final film in the five-part Step Up For Israel series.

Presented on May 1 at Congregation Beth El in Norfolk, the film—Speak Up for Israel—shared insights, communication tips, strategies and speaking points to use in discussions involving Israel. Suggestions included focusing on positive messaging, giving narratives and stories rather than facts and figures, and refraining from getting too emotional or defensive in controversial discussions.

“I do think it’s incredibly necessary that when there’s someone around who is not pro-Israel, that you are prepared to speak up on behalf of Israel. These are strategies that work,” says Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz of Beth El, the evening’s moderator.

About 50 community members attended the screening and discussion, a program sponsored by the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater. The CRC arranged with the films’ producer,, to host the screenings, and essentially turn an online, virtual course, into an ongoing, physical one.

Since January, an area synagogue has hosted a film each month, with the rabbi of the respective synagogue serving as moderator of the discussion.

Harriett and Harvey Eluto were in the audience at Beth El, as they had been for the other films in the series.

“All of the films have been outstanding,” says Harriett. “I hope that the teenagers in our community, especially the ones who are of confirmation age, will have the ability to see these films, too.”

While Speak Up for Israel was meant to be a wrap-up of all five films, it was not necessary to see all of them to understand the importance of speaking up for Israel, says Arnowitz.

“I’d like to thank you all for coming and caring, and the CRC for providing this program,” he said. “Most importantly, I hope you will go to your 10 friends who aren’t here and explain what you’ve seen—in all of the five movies and what you’ve seen tonight, and be comfortable speaking up on Israel.

“No one will have a better influence on the people you speak to, than you, their peers, will. No matter what the TV says, no matter what the newspaper says—your friends respect you and they’ll respect your voices,” said Arnowitz.

The four other short films in the series included historical and current footage and facts about Israel’s strength as a democracy, its founding, its struggles with media bias, and its innovations. Host synagogues and leaders were Temple Israel with Rabbi Michael Panitz, B’nai Israel Congregation with Rabbi Sender Haber, Temple Emanuel with Rabbi David Barnett, and Ohef Sholom Temple with Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg.

For more information about the CRC of the UJFT, upcoming events and a wealth of resources, visit To see more photos from this event, “Like” JewishNewsVA on Facebook.

by Laine Mednick Rutherford