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the david h. sonabend center for israel

It is with great pride and enthusiasm that The JCC in Manhattan introduces The David H. Sonabend Center for Israel, offering community members across the spectrum of beliefs, backgrounds, convictions, and interests a vibrant forum for relating to, learning about, and connecting with the State of Israel. By stimulating and inspiring, reflecting and engaging, we strive to intensify our community's relationship with Israel—the land, people, and history; its unique accomplishments, groundbreaking innovation, and modern challenges. The Center, a home for serious cultural and intellectual exploration of Israel, will foster an open discourse on cultural, political, social, and religious issues while encouraging a diverse array of perspectives and opinions.

the israel forum

A new signature program of the Center, The Israel Forum is created to stimulate new thinking about Israel, encouraging an unprecedented level of open dialogue around multiple topics, views, and opinions, while deepening our community’s understanding of, and connection to, Israel. Through this series we seek to change the tenor of the conversation around Israel by exposing people to outstanding thinkers as well as by introducing our community to the multi-dimensional nation Israel has become. Potential topics—some of which may be controversial—include politics, religion, ethics, technology, culture, and media. We will create a "living room" environment of intimate access and civil discourse, in which presenters and participants can engage directly in conversation on these important topics.

upcoming events

Israel Forum

for upcoming events

Israel Policy Forum
The David H. Sonabend Center for Israel at the JCC in Manhattan partnered with the Israel Policy Forum to offer our members access to an on-the-record conference call briefing that took place ?Tuesday, July 22nd at 3pm ET.

The topic of discussion was the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas with Dr. Ephraim Sneh, a retired Israel Defense Forces General, who has served as Israel's Deputy Minister of Defense. Currently he is Chairman of S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue at Netanya Academic College.

The audio for this event can be found here.

past israel forum events

The Challenges of a Young Country: Comparing Israel and the U.S. At Age 66

The Challenges of a Young Country: Comparing Israel and the U.S. At Age 66

With David Blight and Ari Shavit, moderated by Emily Bazelon. It takes harsh compromises to form and sustain a new country. In its sixth decade, the United States faced a catastrophic period, deeply divided over an issue that was fundamental to its continued existence as a unified country. Are there parallels to the Israel of today? What can Israel learn from American history?

The video for this event can be found on our Livestream at:


The Aftermath of Gaza and the Future of the Two State Solution

the Aftermath of Gaza

One year after an extraordinary program during the Kerry peace initiative, Tal Becker, Ghaith Al-Omari and Ethan Bronner return to the Israel Forum to give us their insider's view of the new situation after the dramatic summer.


The Next Frontier of Israel Hi-Tech

JPI Landing Page

Israel's well-documented role as a center of innovation is poised to transform the world stage, as countries around the world, including the Us, are turning to Israel to study its successes, translate them, and implement them at home.


A political history of Israel through the life and music of Meir Ariel

JPI Landing Page

The video for this event can be found on our Livestream at:


Is Peace Possible Now' The Current Israeli-Palestinian Peace Initiative

JPI Landing Page

Tal Becker from the current Israeli negotiating team and Ghaith Al-Omari of the American Task Force on Palestine discuss the current Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative in the context of the Middle East, and the particular challenges and opportunities of this negotiation.

Moderated by: Ethan Bronner, Deputy National Editor, The New York Times


Jewish Pluralism in Israel

JPI Landing Page

Shira Ben-Sasson Furstenburg, Jewish Pluralism Grants Officer, New Israel Fund
Rabbi Seth Farber, Founder and Director, ITIM
Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean, Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem
Rabbi Uri Regev, Founder and Director, Hiddush
Rabba Sara Hurwitz, Rabbi Marion Lev-Cohen, Rabbi David Rosenn, Rabbi Joy Levitt, and Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen

Gather with members of the New York Jewish community across the religious spectrum. Learn about the work being done on the ground in Israel to bring about change. Be inspired by leaders and activists for Jewish pluralism. Discover what we as American Jews can do to advance this work.

Moderated by Dr. John Ruskay, Executive Vice President and CEO, UJA-Federation of New York

Co-sponsorered by the Forward, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Jewish Theological Seminary, the New Israel Fund, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, and Yeshivat Maharat

Made possible by a generous gift from the Doris and Myron Saranga Trust


The Israel Forum presents: Lessons From the Courts: Religion, State, and Civil Rights

Beinish Jeffrey Toobin Judith Kaye

A discussion with Justice Dorit Beinisch, President (Ret.) of the Supreme Court of Israel, The Honorable Judith S. Kaye, former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, New York State's highest court moderated by renowned legal journalist Jeffrey Toobin.
Tuesday, June 25.

The video for this event can be found on our Livestream at:


US-Israel Security Cooperation and the Iranian Nuclear Threat

Dan MeridorGary SamoreCarol Giacomo

Dan Meridor, Israel's Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy along with Dr. Gary Samore, former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Terrorism in the Obama Administration in a conversation moderated by Carol Giacomo, foreign policy specialist of the New York Times Editorial Board.
Sunday, May 5 2013.

The video for this event can be found on our Livestream at:


Zionism and Liberalism: Conflicting Values or Complementary identities'

Mose Halbertal Michael Walzer Jane Eisner

How does Israel navigate its identity as a Jewish Democratic State' The Israel Forum is proud to present luminary philosophers Professors Moshe Halbertal and Michael Walzer in a conversation about Israel, nationalism,liberalism and religion,moderated by Jane Eisner, editor-in-chief of the Forward.
Sunday, April 14 2013.

The video for this event can be found on our Livestream at: .


Defensible Borders in a Changing Middle East

The JCC in Manhattan's Israel Forum Presents: Campbell Brown in conversation with Dennis Ross and former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold Drawing Israel's borders is the source of decades of debate and controversy. How can Israel maintain its borders safely and securely while treating its neighbors justly' How has the Arab Spring affected that dynamic' The Israel Forum at the JCC is proud to present Emmy Award winning journalist Campbell Brown in conversation with Ambassador Dore Gold and diplomat and author Dennis Ross, two renowned experts on negotiating Israel's borders.
Sun, Jan 27, 2013

The video for this event can be found on our Livestream at:


The Israel Forum Presents: Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren

Michael Oren

The American-Israeli relationship runs deep and is full of both passions and pit-falls. There is no one better to lay the landscape than Michael Oren, ambassador, author, and academic. Join us for a very privileged discussion with one of the top players in the Israeli-American relationship.
Tue, Dec 4, 2012
See photos from the event on our Facebook page.

the JCC in Manhattan