On November 18, our guest speaker, Shira Ben-Sasson Furstenberg, presented "The Story of Social Change in Israel.” Shira works as the Associate Director of the New Israel Fund in Israel. She lives in Jerusalem with her family.
She discussed the development of a “civil society” in Israel through the work of the various NGOs there. Although there are now thousands of NGO organizations active in Israel, it was felt that they weren’t impactful enough. In the last few years there has been an effort to analyze the work of the NGOs and set up connections so they can work together to help the populations strengthen and develop.
The main topics that Shira discussed were: religious freedom; social and economic justice; Arab-Israeli community; shared society; human rights; and safeguarding democracy. These topics are being used as a way to conceptualize the work and goals of the various NGOs. Shira detailed the work of the NGOs in each category and described their impact on the Israeli population. She highlighted the ways that the New Israel Fund supports these groups in working together to make for a better society.