Israel Today

Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and
Simon Family JCC along with community partners present:


Israel Today 2018-2019

Previous Events

Writing on the Wall: A Community Art Project (As Part of Israel Fest)

Sunday, May 19 | 11 am - 4 pm

Artists 4 Israel: Graffiti, Tattoo, and Film Artists, Boundary Pushers, Creators of Social Change


Artists 4 Israel use the transformative power of art to beautify the land, uplift the people and enhance the image of Israel through creative humanitarian projects and dynamic advocacy initiatives. These projects and initiatives benefit all people regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or political beliefs. Artists 4 Israel founder, Craig Dershowitz, and his fellow artists will guide participants of all backgrounds and ages on a graffiti mural project on the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus.  


Engaging attendees of Israel Fest in an experiential, intersectional, and collaborative large-scale creation, these visiting artists will share details of their personal experiences in Israel and why they’ve committed to working through various artistic mediums to educate people worldwide about Israel.


FREE and open to the community, as part of Israel Fest

Train Like Israel's 'Biggest Loser'

Wednesday, May 15 | 8:30 am

Nadav Meirson: Lifestyle Coach, Trainer of the Biggest (Israeli) Losers, Master Sensei, Healthy Living Consultant

Pushing fitness levels to new heights, this trainer from the hit reality series The Biggest Loser Israel, in partnership with JFit, will lead a morning workout and share secrets for healthy living.


Well-known throughout Israel, fitness coach Nadav Meirson runs the Tel Aviv-based fitness club chain, Pure. Considered an Israeli celebrity after serving as a coach on the popular television reality program, Meirson conducts programs for corporations and organizations in which people are trained for a healthy way of life, combining controlled eating and physical activity.


Also look for Nadav Meirson on Sunday, May 19 as he leads fitness activities at Israel Fest.


FREE and open to the community with RSVP (required). Click here to reserve your spot.

From Remembrance to Independence: Yom Hazikaron to Yom Ha'Atzmaut

Wednesday, May 8 | 7:30 pm | Ohef Sholom Temple | 530 Raleigh Avenue, Norfolk

Ambassador Ido Aharoni: Branding Expert, Career Public Servant in Israel's Foreign Ministry, Global Distinguished Professor


Honoring the transition that takes place in Israel as Yom Hazikaron, a somber day of reflection ends at sundown, giving way to Yom Ha’atzmaut’s celebration, Ambassador Aharoni will emphasize the lasting tie between the sacrifice of the fallen and the continued existence of a vibrant and dynamic nation.


A public diplomacy specialist and founder of the Brand Israel Group, an independent group of marketing and branding specialists tasked with highlighting Israel’s relative advantages and increasing its relevance, Aharoni is a member of the International Advisory Council of APCO Worldwide.  Following a career with Israel’s Foreign service, having been Israel's longest-serving consul-general in New York and the tristate area, overseeing the operations of the Jewish state's largest diplomatic mission around the globe, he is now the Global Distinguished Professor at New York University’s School of International Relations.


FREE and open to the community with RSVP (required). Click here to reserve your seat.

Israel's Threat Matrix: A Survey of the Challenges on Israel's Borders and Beyond

Wednesday, February 20 | 7:30 pm

Jonathan Schanzer: Defender of Democracy, Vice President of the 'Little Think Tank That Could', Internationally-Respected Pundit


Brimming with insight and optimism, Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, will offer an assessment of the ever-changing challenges on Israel's borders, through the trends, thoughts, and policies of her Arab neighbors.


A provider of timely analysis of global politics and terrorist activity to key decision makers in Washington and around the world, Schanzer previously worked as a terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, playing an integral role in the designation of terrorist financiers. A world-renowned expert on Middle East affairs who has authored hundreds of articles, appeared on news outlets such as Fox News, CNN, Al-Arabiyya, and Al-Jazeera, Schanzer has published several books about Palestinian politics and terror organizations throughout the Middle East, including Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine, the only book on the market that analyzes the conflict between the two most powerful Palestinian factions.


FREE and open to the community with RSVP (required). Click here to reserve your seat. 

Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World (Part of Simon Family JCC's Lee and Bernard Jaffe Family Jewish Book Festival)

Thursday, November 15 | 7:30 pm

Avi Jorisch: Seasoned Entrepreneur, Counterterrorism Expert, Global Innovation Trend Explorer


In its first 70 years, Israeli revolutionaries helped solve some of the world’s biggest problems and fulfill the spirit of Tikkun Olam—repairing the world. Avi Jorisch profiles 15 wondrous Israeli innovations that are changing the lives of billions of people around the globe. These innovators of all faiths feel compelled to make the world better and Jorisch will explain why this movement is a shining light in the face of darkness. 


A thought leader in exploring global innovation trends, the Arab world, counterterrorism, and illicit finance, Jorisch previously served in the U.S. Departments of Treasury and Defense. He is a seasoned entrepreneur and Middle East expert, Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, author of five books, and has had articles published in New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Forbes, and Al-Arabiya.



FREE and open to the community with RSVP (required). Click here to reserve your seat. 

Family Portrait Workshop with Israel Today's Artist-in-Residence, Hanoch Piven

Sunday, October 21, 10 am and 12 pm

Internationally distinguished artist, innovative leadership consultant, award-winning inspirer of creativity


Stimulate creativity in a hands-on family workshop that encourages self-reflection through the use of common everyday objects. This workshop is open to all ages and experience levels and is a part of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater's Super Sunday.


The witty illustrations of Hanoch Piven have appeared in major American magazines and newspapers including The Atlantic, Time, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone. In addition to his work as an artist and illustrator, Piven is an internationally sought-after lecturer motivating educators, civic leaders, and top-level executives. He speaks about the connection between the brain's abilities to not only perceive faces, but to adapt, evolve, and be creative.


To facilitate this workshop, we need your junk! Please help us gather random objects and drop them by the Simon Family JCC by October 12!


FREE and open to the community with RSVP (required).

Unless otherwise noted, all events are FREE and open to the community, and take place at the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus, 5000 Corporate Woods Drive in Virginia Beach.


For more information on the Israel Today series, including upcoming events, and purchasing tickets, please contact Leigh Casson at 757-321-2304 or


The Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and Simon Family JCC are grateful for the support of our community partners for our 8th annual Israel Today series including: ADL of Greater Washington · AIPAC · AJC · BBYO · Beth Sholom Village · B’nai Israel Congregation · Center for the Study of Religious Freedom at Virginia Wesleyan University · Chabad Lubavitch of Tidewater · Congregation Beth Chaverim · Congregation Beth El · Embassy of Israel in Washington · Freda H. Gordon Hospice & Palliative Care of Tidewater · Hebrew Academy of Tidewater · Jewish Family Service of Tidewater · Jewish News · Kehillat Bet Hamidrash · Norfolk-Virginia Beach Chapter of ORT America · ODU Hillel · Ohef Sholom Temple ·  Old Dominion University's Institute of Jewish Studies and Interfaith Understanding · Regent University · Robert C. Nusbaum Honors College of Norfolk State University · Temple Emanuel · Temple Israel · Tidewater Community College · Tidewater Jewish Foundation · UJFT Holocaust Commission · UJFT Men’s Campaign · UJFT Society of Professionals · UJFT Women’s Cabinet · UJFT Young Adult Division