We Declare Workshops

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Zohar Aviv 
Dr. Zohar Raviv is an internationally recognized Jewish thought-leader and educator who serves as the International Vice President of Education for Taglit-Birthright Israel. Raviv’s professional experience spans Israel, North America, South America, Europe, South Africa and Australia. Raviv holds a B.A in Land of Israel Studies from Bar-Ilan University, a Joint M.A in Judaic Studies and Jewish Education from Brandeis University, as well as M.A in Near Eastern Studies and a PhD in Jewish Thought, both from the University of Michigan. Raviv plays a pivotal role in shaping Birthright-Israel’s educational philosophy, and also leads some of the global paradigm shifts concerning contemporary Jewish identity, associations with Israel and the overall mandate of Jewish education in the 21st century. Raviv was the recipient of the 2015 Bernard Reisman Award for Professional Excellence from the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis University, where he was recognized as “One of the most influential Jewish educators in the world”.

Do you have Rocks in Your Ears? Examining “Tzur Yisrael” (Rock of Israel)
Workshop with David Harris, Executive Director of Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati, and Rabbi Shena Potter Jaffee, Mayerson JCC director of Jewish Family Life

Written in language that is largely political and secular, Israel’s founding Declaration ends with “Rock of Israel,” a dual reference, both to the country’s emerging civil religion and to Judaism’s traditional religious roots. Seventy years on, in what ways has Israel, and in what ways has it not, lived up to it’s implied, inclusive promise? And what does the future hold?” Register Here 

Who Cares about “We Declare”?
Rabbi Jan Katzew and Maia Morag community Shlicha

Why should Jews who do not live in Israel care about Israel’s Declaration of Independence? Who’s state is it anyway? Why should we be envisioning Israel’s future? What is our role today?.

We believe that Jews everywhere have a responsibility to care about the State of Israel. Our belief is rooted in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. We invite you to join us, to question us, to challenge us and to read from and into the Declaration. Register Here 

The Entire Struggle was Olympian in Nature: Backstories on the Birth of the Modern State of Israel
Gary Zola Executive Director, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence contains a paragraph underscoring the fact that on November 29th, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Yisrael:  “This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their State is irrevocable.”  Several American Jews played a pivotal role in the U.N.’s adoption of this watershed resolution as well as in key events that led up to the state’s Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948.  Dr. Zola will using an array of fascinating documents from the American Jewish Archives which shed light on a number of little-known backstories that laid the groundwork for the birth of the state of Israel.  By exploring these texts, session attendees will have a richer understanding of the various ways in which American Jewry influenced the political landscape in the months preceding the promulgation of Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Register Here 

“Israel and Diaspora (Zion and Babylon): If You Can’t be With the One You Love, Love the One You’re With?”
Arna Poupko Fisher Adjunct Professor, Judaic Studies Department, University of Cincinnati

This session will examine a sampling of earlier and later rabbinic texts that grapple with the reality of Diaspora living.  Curiously, “Zion” is often viewed as the lesser of the two options.  What is the origin of this impulse? Simply a case of making the best of a bad situation, or is something more existential at play? Register Here 

“The Holiness Code of the Book of Leviticus and Its Implications for Building a Jewish Society in Israel today.”
Rabbi Irvin M. Wise, Senior Rabbi of Adath Israel Congregation.

We will overlay Chapter 19 of Leviticus onto Israeli society today, discuss what matches up and what does not, And talk about our vision for the future of Israel’s society. Register Here 

Who Needs a Constitution? The Story Behind a Non-Existent Document
Rabbi Ezra Goldschmidt

Unlike here in the US, the State of Israel never drafted a more elaborate and formal declaration of fundamental principles. It wasn’t for a lack of trying however – come and learn the story of how Israel’s founders grappled with this complicated issue! How does not having a constitution affect Israel today and what will the future bring? Register Here 

“One short document- one long debate” –why does the declaration of the state of Israel have two “names” in Israel, and why is there a heated public debate over the values it outlines? An Israeli prospective.
Rabbi Ofer Sabath Beit-Halachmi

This workshop will bring an Israeli prospective on the debate around the values of the Declaration of independence today, in the modern state of Israel. Israel’s Declaration of Independence can teach us how the Jewishness of the state can co-exist with other values. Facing reality and meeting with contradictory social values, these values are being challenged. We will examine these challenges and ask which of these competing values will enable Israel to remain the jewel in the crown of Jewish identity today. Register Here 

“If I forget thee Jerusalem”
Rabbi Eric Slaton , Senior Rabbi, Beit-Israel

We speak about Jerusalem as the Eternal Capital of Israel, yet there is no mention of her in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. Jerusalem is not simply a location but the spiritual center of Israel.in this workshop we will explore Jerusalem in modern times, look at Midrashim which places Jerusalem at the heart of Israel, and ask ourselves where Jerusalem lives today in our lives. “Next year in Jerusalem”! Register Here 

A Declaration’s Aspirations: the Struggle and the Progress for Jewish Religious Pluralism in Israel

Associate Rabbi Karen Thomashow, Isaac M. Wise Temple

Israel is now the largest Jewish community in the world, yet not all Jews share the same religious rights and opportunities.   The same freedoms that American Jews enjoy to be married, to be educated, to worship and to be buried in accordance with their own views of Jewish life, are not accessible to all Jews in Israel.  Our study will examine the path, the progress, and the unfinished agenda of religious freedom and Jewish religious pluralism aspired to by Israel’s Founders in the declaration’s stirring words that the State of Israel “…it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.”  Since 40% of the world’s Jews live in Israel, this is an essential and urgent issue of Jewish life not only for the State but for all Jews. Register Here