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Why Israel Matters

Saturday, June 29, 2024 23 Sivan 5784

12:30 PM - 3:00 PMCovenant Hall

For all those looking for a better understanding of Judaism's connection to Israel, please join us for "Why Israel Matters: Understanding the Jewish Relationship to Israel after 10/7". The program will include a brief history of Israel, various definitions of Zionism, and an exploration of the the different versions of "Israel": the people, the land, the state, and the government. In addition to speaker Rabbi Abbott, there will be a Zoom presentation with Israeli tour guide Sharon Morganstern.

Lunch will be provided. Registration is required.

This event is open to the entire community. We welcome people who do not identify as Jewish with this opportunity to learn about Zionism, Israel, and Palestine including what is going on in the region today. 

About our speakers:

Rabbi Eric Abbott

Rabbi Abbott earned his rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in 2018, as well as an MA in Hebrew Literature in 2017 and an MA in Religious Education in 2016. During his studies at HUC-JIR, he participated in a variety of work and learning opportunities, including running the adventure course at URJ Eisner Camp; offering pastoral care as a chaplain intern at Memorial Sloan Kettering; fighting for social justice with T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights; discussing Judaism and geopolitics as an AIPAC Leffell Israel Fellow; and co-leading the HUC-JIR Soup Kitchen. He served as a rabbinical student intern at Temple Beth Am in Monessen, PA, Temple Isaiah in Lexington, MA, and Larchmont Temple in Larchmont, NY, in addition to working as an education intern at Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York, NY. At HUC-JIR, he earned awards in homiletics, Bible, human relations, and academic excellence.

After ordination, Rabbi Abbott served as the Senior Jewish Educator at Johns Hopkins Hillel in Baltimore, Maryland. At Hopkins Hillel, Rabbi Abbott tripled the size of the Reform Jewish community, introduced the Jewish Learning Fellowship to campus, helped students found a Jews of Color affinity group, expanded the Jewish LGBTQ+ group, advised the J Street U chapter, and mentored student interns and other leaders. He taught many classes, including "Forbidden Judaism," "#MeToo and Torah," and "[Netflix's] Unorthodox Unraveled." He also increased the amount of community service and social justice programming at Hillel, including developing the Tikkun Olam Fellowship for Service, Leadership, & Justice.

Sharon "Morgie" Morgenstern

"I was born and raised in New York.  I taught high school in New York and Maryland. On my third visit to Israel, in 1983, I realized I was home and soon after, I made Aliyah. Since then, I have been living and working in Jerusalem.

My background is education, and I have taught in both public and private schools. I have also been, amongst other things, the head cook in an Italian restaurant, and a writer and implementer of educational programs for visiting English-speaking youth, adult, family and interfaith groups. For the past 34 years, as a tour guide, I have had the pleasure of utilizing my skills as an educator to interact with people from all over the world while we learn about history, nature, religion and politics. 

The best part of my job is connecting with people – those from abroad, and those here. And that is what makes Israel so amazing: its people. By sharing our past with visitors and looking with them at the present, I hope I can shed some light about the complexities and beauty of Israel with others. Yes, we have challenges here, serious ones, but that should not blind anyone to the many positive things that occur here. My goal is to help people really SEE Israel. I want them to have fun, enjoy, appreciate nature and history. I also hope they will begin to understand the passionate connection of so many people to this area, and maybe their own connection to this land.   That is what I love about my work: meeting people and sharing Israel."





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Tue, June 18 2024 12 Sivan 5784