Can American Judaism Change Jewish Identity in Israel?

Date: Mar 03, 2022

Time: 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

Sponsor: Online Learning

Location: Online

Category: Online Learning Public Lectures & Events

The Henry N. and Selma S. Rapaport Memorial Lecture

Thursday, March 3, 2022, 12:30–2:00 p.m. ET

“The New Jew”—a recent Israeli TV documentary series exploring the diverse and creative ways in which American Jews express their Jewishness—was immensely popular in Israel. What accounts for Israelis’ positive response to several distinctively American models of Jewish identity and practice? How can religious expression in the U.S. help progressive Israeli leaders combat the understanding that persists among many Israelis that they can only be either Orthodox or secular? Join three creative Israeli experts and leaders to explore these questions, learn about progressive religious innovations already happening in Israel, and consider what’s at stake for all of us in how Israelis choose to be Jewish.

Clips from “The New Jew” will be screened during the event. Temporary access to all four episodes of the TV series will be shared with those who register for the event.


Rabbi Tamar Elad Appelbaum, founder and spiritual leader of ZION: An Eretz Israeli Congregation in Jerusalem

Shmuel Rosner, columnist, editor, author, and think tank fellow based in Tel Aviv

Moshe Samuels, creator, chief of research, and deputy editor and writer of “The New Jew“ TV series; and CEO of Shazur / Interwoven

Moderator: Rabbi Julia Andelman, Director of Community Engagement, JTS

Admission is free.

Note: The Zoom link for this program will be in the confirmation email that you will receive after you register.

About the Panelists

Rabbi Tamar Elad-Appelbaum is founder and spiritual leader of ZION: An Eretz Israeli Congregation in Jerusalem. She is also co-founder of the Beit Midrash for Israeli Rabbis, a joint project of HaMidrasha Educational Center for Israeli Judaism at Oranim and the Shalom Hartman Institute. Her work spans and links tradition and innovation, working toward Jewish spiritual-ethical renaissance through the renewal of community life in Israel and the struggle for human dignity. She previously served as rabbi of Congregation Magen Avraham in the Negev and as a rabbi at Temple Israel Center in White Plains, New York alongside Rabbi Gordon Tucker. She is co-editor of the Mashiv Haruach Jerusalem poem anthology and co-author of the Lev Shalem commentary on Pirkei Avot. In 2010 she was named by the Forward as one of the five most influential female religious leaders in Israel for her work promoting pluralism and Jewish religious freedom.

Shmuel Rosner is a Tel Aviv-based columnist, editor, author, and think tank fellow. He is a Senior Fellow at The Jewish People Policy Institute, an analyst for Kan News TV (Israel’s public television), and editor of the nonfiction imprint The Hedgehog and the Fox. He is the founder and editor of the data-journalism initiative and writes a weekly column for The Jewish Journal in Los Angeles and Maariv in Israel. He was previously a columnist for the International New York Times; a columnist for The Jerusalem Post; and chief US correspondent, head of the news division, and head of the features division for the Israeli daily Haaretz. His writing has appeared in Slate, Foreign Policy, Commentary, The New Republic, and The Jewish Review of Books. His books include Shtetl Bagel Baseball: On the Wonderful Dreadful State of American Jews, The Jews: 7 Frequently Asked Questions, and #IsraeliJudaism: Portrait of a Cultural Revolution.

Moshe Samuels is the creator, chief of research, and deputy editor and writer of “The New Jew,“ an Israeli TV documentary series about American Jews and Judaism. He currently serves as CEO of Shazur / Interwoven, an organization founded to introduce Israelis to contemporary Jewish life and help bridge the growing gap between the two epicenters of the Jewish world in Israel and the US. He has extensive experience as a Jewish Agency shaliah (emissary) and educator in Israel and the United States. He has served as a community emissary in Birmingham, Alabama; an Israel fellow at the University of Western Ontario; delegation head at Camp Ramah in Canada; educational director at Camp Ramah in the Rockies; and shaliah and director of Israel engagement at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York City. The idea for “The New Jew” series was inspired by the meaningful encounters he experienced during his travels which influenced his own Jewish and Israeli identity.

About the Rapaport Memorial Lecture

The annual Henry N. and Selma S. Rapaport Memorial Lecture was established in 1982 by Selma S. Rapaport (1916–2010), who served as president of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism and as a longtime JTS board member, in memory of her late husband. A distinguished attorney and committed Jew, Henry N. Rapaport (1905–1980) served as president of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, New York, and as president of United Synagogue. He was an active member of the JTS board, and a generous benefactor of JTS’s scholarly programs.