World Jewry was once unified around the State of Israel, but tragically, this is no longer the case. Rather than a force for cohesion, Israel has become the source of deep divisiveness, acrimony and mutual alienation among Jews in the U.S., between Jews in the U.S. and Israel, and even in our own community. This puts the critical enterprise of Jewish peoplehood at great risk.

Orange County iEngage is a partnership between the Rose Project of JFFS, the Shalom Hartman Institute, and 10 OC congregations and Jewish community organizations that seeks to develop new ways of thinking, and talking to each other about, Israel by confronting one of the issues that most divides us, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Using Hartman’s cutting edge curriculum, this community learning initiative brings together learners from throughout the county to discover a new foundation for a relationship with Israel that is grounded in Jewish values.

Through the study of Jewish narratives about Israel and the unpacking of the complex meanings of peace in Jewish tradition, we will explore as a community the ideas and values that animate different attitudes toward the conflict and how these values shape our political understandings. Together, we will elevate the discourse around Israel across denominational and generational divides while creating a context for genuine Israel engagement that has at its core a shared respect for our differences. 

How iEngage Works
Ten congregations and organizations throughout Orange County will form individual cohorts of learners who will meet once every few weeks from October 2018 to May 2019 in their home institutions. The curriculum consists of video lectures by senior Hartman Institute scholars, Jewish text study and lively group discussions. Everyone is invited to join a learning cohort at their own congregation, or at any participating organization. Dates, times, and fees vary by organization.

In addition, learners from all cohorts will come together several times during the year for public lectures by, and conversations with, senior Hartman Institute scholars. Details about these community gatherings will be shared in the coming months.

See names of the participating organizations below or contact Lisa Armony at 949.435.3484, ext. 376.

Intro to iEngage -Part 1

“Talking about Israel: Foundations for a New Discourse”

Elana Stein Hain, Scholar in Residence of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America

​Intro to iEngage -Part 2

“Talking about Israel: Foundations for a New Discourse”

Elana Stein Hain, Scholar in Residence of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America


Listen to the Feb. 26, 2019, OC iEngage lecture with Dr. Yehuda Kurtzer, President of the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America:


Together and Apart: The Future of the Israel-Diaspora Divide


“Catch 67: What is the Debate Over Israel Really About?”

Micah Goodman, Senior Fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute

About the Shalom Hartman Institute: The Shalom Hartman Institute is one of the leading centers of Jewish thought and education, serving Israel and world Jewry. Their mission is to strengthen Jewish peoplehood, identity and pluralism and ensure that Judaism is a compelling force for good in the 21st century.

The Rose Project of JFFS thanks the Jewish Community Foundation of Orange County and American Jewish Committee, Orange County Chapter, for their generous support for this program.