By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
Since our earliest days, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has been committed to strengthening connections with Israel and World Jewry. As part of that commitment, we are spearheading a new engagement initiative to focus on substantive and immersive Israel education. Israel is central to the Jewish experience and for the continuity of Jewish life. Providing members of the Puget Sound Jewish community with opportunities to deepen their knowledge about Israel and foster connections around Israel is vitally important for building community.
Our Israel engagement initiative will kick off Wednesday evening, October 24, when the Federation is sponsoring what will surely be a powerful and timely debate about the biggest issues facing Israelis and American Jews today. “Left vs. Right: A Debate Modeling Civil Discourse on Israel,” will feature two well-known journalists with expertise on Israel. J.J. Goldberg, Editor-At-Large of The Forward, and Jonathan S. Tobin, Editor-In-Chief of JNS.org, the Jewish News Syndicate, will bring their divergent viewpoints on critical issues related to Israel and American Jews to our community for us to hear and reflect upon.
Goldberg and Tobin have traveled widely around North America, vigorously and intelligently debating issues that are layered with complexity and nuance, in a format conducive to respectful interaction with their audience and each other. We are looking forward to a passionate but civil exchange that will be as lively as it will be informative. A big thank-you to Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum of Herzl-Ner Tamid for agreeing to moderate this exciting event, which will be held at the Stroum Jewish Community Center. You can register for the debate by clicking here.
We’re hopeful that the Goldberg-Tobin debate will not only begin to answer some of your questions about the many pressing issues facing Israel and the American Jewish community, but also foster civil discourse around Israel. In a time of increasing political polarization regarding Israel domestically and within the Jewish community, we feel this program is of the utmost importance. As any vigorous Jewish debate should, it will certainly raise many more questions for us to think about, discuss, and, perhaps, disagree on in the months and years ahead.
That points to another positive outcome that we anticipate from this one-of-a-kind event. In addition to giving our community an elevating, information-rich exposure to differing points of view about issues in Israel, our hope and expectation is that the Goldberg-Tobin debate will demonstrate how we can share divergent perspectives and air our viewpoints about important issues in constructive ways that build relationships and strengthen community. Moreover, this event is an expression of the substantial civil discourse initiative, which is one of the seven priorities that have been agreed upon in the Community Convening effort spearheaded by the Federation in collaboration with other Jewish organizations. The civil discourse Initiative is being led by the ADL with an inter-organizational committee.
This program will be a demonstration of what community-building civil discourse can look like. By promoting civil discourse, fostering collaboration, and strengthening relationships, we can work together to ensure that Jewish Puget Sound is a vibrant and thriving community with a deep and abiding connection with our Jewish homeland.
The Goldberg-Tobin debate is the start of a deeper investment in strengthening our community’s connections with Israel. You can look forward to more such opportunities in the future, thanks to your generous support of the Federation.