Community partners ensure future of Israel Today Forum

April 18, 2014

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On May 1, the final presentation in the 2013–2014 Israel Today forum will take place as Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy discusses Geopolitics. The two presenters preceding Satloff in the well-respected speaker series were Ishmael Khaldi, the first Bedouin appointed as an Israeli diplomat, who spoke in December about diversity, and pro-Israeli activist Gil Troy, who spoke in January about Zionism.

In this, the forum’s third season, hundreds of Jewish community members, students and Tidewater residents have heard expert opinions, personal experiences, and insiders’ information about what life was, is and may be like in the future for Israel.

Israel Today is a presentation of the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and community partners. Those partners are as diverse as the discussion topics; this year about 40 supported the forum, and included synagogues, businesses, organizations, foundations, and individuals.

Jerry Kantor and his wife Kathy have partnered with the CRC since the forum’s inauguration.

“Israel Today has been a terrific program which helps to keep our community informed of the very current and very pertinent issues dealing with Israel—its problems, its needs, its successes—and its importance to the entire world, not just the Jewish world,” says Jerry Kantor.

“The CRC and UJFT have provided our community with very high profile, extremely knowledgeable speakers,” Kantor says. “It is important for the Federation and the CRC to have our financial support, and our attendance and attentiveness to these programs. Kathy and I feel fortunate to have been able to help support Israel Today.”

A new partner this year is Jones Zittrain Wealth Management Group of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. Greg Zittrain says his company is proud to help connect the Tidewater community to Israel, and to each other.

“The Israel Today events are extremely informative and of very high quality,” Zittrain says. “If you look in the audience at any of the Israel Today events, you see a broad group of attendees with a very high level of engagement. Learning about the issues facing Israel brings our own community together, and that’s why we are happy to be partners.”

Robin Mancoll, CRC director, says community partners such as the Kantors, the Jones Zittrain Wealth Management Group, synagogues, agencies, and so many others, have allowed the forum to bring in exceptional speakers, as well as continue to offer the presentations free of charge, and invite the general public to attend.

“We are so grateful to our partners who believe in the Israel Today forum,” says Mancoll. “Together, we’ve reached hundreds and hundreds of people— including area high school and college students, military and public safety personnel, and numerous interested, Jewish and interfaith audiences.

“Thousands more have been reached through our presenters’ discussions and appearances with area media who’ve been so supportive, too—The Virginian-Pilot’s editorial board, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and Hearsay with Cathy Lewis— and through the videos we make available on the UJFT’s Youtube channel.”

With the positive feedback she continues to receive, along with the ongoing financial, emotional and attentive support of the community, Mancoll believes the future is bright for Israel Today.

For more information about the CRC, its upcoming events and community resources, visit JewishVa.org/CRC. Links to recent Israel Today speaker videos can also be found there.

by Laine Mednick Rutherford

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