Talking About Israel Across Difference

 In Israel and Overseas

Recent news coming out of Israel has been tough.

Violence on the Gaza border has escalated. Israeli LGBTQ activists have held a nationwide strike to protest a surrogacy law excluding gay couples. A Conservative rabbi was arrested for performing non-Orthodox weddings. The Knesset passed the nation-state bill enshrining Israel as the national home of the Jewish people, and also discriminating against Arabs and other minority Israeli communities.

Talking about Israel can be highly charged and emotional, especially with people who may have different backgrounds, views, or experiences.

That’s why Federation and Foundation are so proud to have partnered with Moishe House Oakland to host a four-part Resetting the Table series for young adults in the East Bay. Resetting the Table is an organization dedicated to supporting people to have productive conversations across differences.

The workshops were designed to help provide participants with tools to build a culture of productive dialogue in the East Bay. Community members exchanged views and experiences, practiced communication skills for addressing disagreement, and learned best practices and success stories from other communities.

According to David Granberg, a Moishe House Oakland resident, the series “went even better than we could have expected.”

Nearly twenty community members attended part or all of the series, and it was a powerful and transformative experience for many of the participants. Some of the young adults reflected that after the workshops, they were better able to consider perspectives and narratives that they had either been totally unaware of, or had been actively hostile or dismissive toward in the past. Many came to understand their own views with more depth and clarity and others felt more comfortable approaching conversations about Israel outside of the workshop.

The series was profound and meaningful for David in ways he didn’t expect: “I’ve been immersed in activism around Israel/Palestine for several years, and thought I had a pretty good grasp of the history and different perspectives surrounding the conflict and occupation — and still learned a great amount about the history and present moment. I also learned a lot about myself — in particular how I personally relate to some of the dynamics that come up when this issue is discussed in US Jewish communities. Talking about Israel/Palestine is a tricky thing in our communities, and it was so beautiful and relieving to feel that I could truly speak my mind, ask questions, and express myself without reservations.”

At Federation and Foundation, we’re proud to help promote a culture in the East Bay of exploration, productive dialogue, and understanding. Our community needs to stay engaged in issues we’re passionate about, working to promote an Israel that represents our values as American Jews.

Interested in learning more about how Federation and Foundation promote a healthy relationship with Israel? Read more about the organizational partners we support.

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