Erev Shabbat Service: How Should We Best Love Israel? | Congregation Beth Am

Erev Shabbat Service: How Should We Best Love Israel?

With Alan Elsner of J Street

At our Friday night service, Alan Elsner of J Street will address the dynamics of the American-Israel relationship. He writes: "We are often told that as American Jews we should not be critical of Israel, and certainly not in public, because this weakens Israel. What are the implications of such a view for our community and for our next generation? Is this argument correct or does it damage us?"

After the service, enjoy discussion with our speaker and a delicious dinner prepared by the Poltava Committee. Poltava dinner registration is now closed. (All proceeds from the dinner will support our award-winning sister synagogue in Ukraine, Beth Am of Poltava, as well as the WUPJ rabbinic studies program in Moscow.)

*This service will be live video streamed. By entering the Sanctuary, you give Beth Am permission to record you.

Journalist and author Alan Elsner has had a long career at the top ranks of American and international journalism and a long record of Jewish and pro-Israel advocacy. He is currently Senior Advisor to the President of J Street.

As State Department and later National Correspondent for Reuters News Agency, Elsner traveled the world with Secretaries of State and was on close terms with presidents and vice presidents.

His sharp questioning during the Rwanda genocide forced the United States to change its policy and was later highlighted in the Hollywood movie “Hotel Rwanda.”

Elsner is an Israeli citizen who served in the Israel Defense Forces during the 1982 Lebanon War. He was also an architect of a successful campaign to build a fitting memorial and museum at the site of the Belzec Nazi extermination camp in Poland where his own grandparents and other family members were murdered in 1942.

As Reuters National Correspondent, Elsner was the agency’s chief writer on 9/11/2001 and through the subsequent period.

Elsner is the author of two novels and two works of non-fiction. His first book, Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America’s Prisons, was hailed by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy as a “wake-up call” and welcomed by the political left and right.

His first novel, The Nazi Hunter, was described by Publishers’ Weekly as "a gripping debut thriller and a compelling tale." His memoir, Guarded by Angels, about his father’s experiences in Soviet Gulag Camps in World War II was published by Yad Vashem, and was praised as a significant addition to Holocaust literature.

Winner of the Knight International Journalism fellowship, Elsner spent a year in Romania in 2007 teaching journalism to students and professionals and strengthening the values of a free media. This became the basis for his novel Romance Language set against the background of the 1989 Romanian Revolution.

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We strive to live as a holy community whose study and practice of Judaism inspires and challenges us to "do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8).