As Israel’s 76th year of independence approaches, communities around the world are gearing up to celebrate its rich heritage, diverse culture, and enduring spirit. In Phoenix, the local Jewish community is eagerly anticipating a special event organized by the Greater Phoenix Board of Rabbis, in partnership with Center for Jewish Philanthropy, to honor and reflect upon this milestone. Read on to learn what attendees can expect from the event, including the enriching learning breakout sessions that will offer participants a deeper understanding of Israeli history, culture, and identity.

Board of Rabbis Honoring the Fallen, Celebrating the Promise:

The evening will commence with a soul-stirring opening ritual, featuring contemplative music and prayers led by Board of Rabbis President, Rabbi Jeremy Schneider. As attendees gather, there will be a palpable sense of reverence and unity, setting the tone for an evening of meaningful engagement.

The learning breakout sessions, spread across two time slots, will provide attendees with a diverse array of topics to explore. In the first session, participants will have the opportunity to delve into various aspects of Israeli heritage and identity:

  • Zionist Beginnings: Inspiration From the Words of our Zionist Forbears: Rabbi Emily Segal will offer insights into the foundational ideals and aspirations of the Zionist movement, drawing inspiration from the wisdom of past leaders.
  • Israeli Poetry: Rabbi Elana Kanter will delve into the rich tapestry of Israeli literature, exploring the power of poetry as a vehicle for expressing the Israeli experience and ethos.
  • Holding Our Grief & Each Other: Rabbi Aviva Funke will provide a space for reflection on the complexities of grief and solidarity in the context of Israel’s history and ongoing challenges.
  • Competing Rabbinic Visions for Religious Zionism: A Particularistic Dream or Universalistic Aspiration?: Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz will spark dialogue around differing perspectives within the Religious Zionist movement, probing the tension between particularism and universalism.

Following a brief snack break, attendees will reconvene for the second set of learning breakout sessions:

  • Exploring Our Connections with Israel: An Expressive Arts Journey: Rabbi Mindie Snyder will offer a creative exploration of personal connections to Israel through expressive arts, inviting participants to engage in introspective and interactive exercises.
  • Jewishness’ in Israel – In Memory of Rabbi David Ellenson z”l: Rabbi Stephen Kahn will honor the legacy of Rabbi Ellenson by examining the evolving concept of Jewish identity within the Israeli context, utilizing interactive tools to facilitate discussion.
  • Israel baShira – Let’s Sing and Explore Israeli Songs, Their Origin, History, and Impact: Rabbi Nitzan Stein-Kokin will celebrate Israeli culture through the universal language of music, inviting participants to learn and sing Israeli songs while delving into their cultural significance.
  • Zionism in the Talmud: Rabbi Andy Green will explore the roots of Zionism within Jewish religious texts, uncovering the ancient connections between Jewish faith and the land of Israel.

The evening will culminate in a poignant closing ritual, featuring transitional music and prayers for Israel’s well-being and enduring vitality. As participants depart, they will carry with them not only a deeper understanding of Israeli history and culture but also a renewed sense of connection and solidarity with the people and land of Israel.

Events like these serve as reminders of the enduring bonds that unite Jewish communities worldwide and the importance of continued dialogue, learning, and celebration in honoring Israel’s rich heritage and ongoing journey. As Israel embarks on its 76th year, let us anticipate with excitement and anticipation the opportunity to uphold and cherish its legacy while working towards a future of peace, prosperity, and shared understanding. Am Yisrael Chai – the people of Israel live on, thriving and resilient as ever.


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