Social Divisions & Politics In Israel Recap

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On Sunday, January 28, the Achshav Yisrael committee of Beth Sholom presented Social Divisions & Politics In Israel with Professor Michael Shalev, a visiting professor and political scientist at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies.

Professor Shalev explained that society in Israel is characterized by diversity, often superimposed on identity issues. How do these social divisions affect ideologies, parties, and voters in the Israeli political system? Shalev first described the various social groups he was talking about, including Haredim and members of the National Religious groups, North African or Arab Mizrachi Jews, African asylum seekers, people seeking work (i.e. foreign workers), Americans, Palestinian Arabs, Jewish settlers, Modern Orthodox Jews, and immigrants from the former Soviet Union (i.e. Russian speakers). He then detailed how these different social groups tend to divide themselves into specific parties and how important coalitions are in lining up political votes.

Shalev pointed out that Israelis vote for the party, not for a particular candidate. No party has ever won over 50% of the national vote. Coalitions are therefore critical, and sometimes small parties can be important players as they are needed to form a majority in a coalition. The President of Israel helps designate a party and encourages the formation of a coalition. As an interesting aside, Shalev noted that, unlike the United States, Israel does not allow Israeli citizens living abroad to vote unless they are diplomats.

Historically, the Mapai or Labor Party has been dominant in Israel. Labor primarily consists of Ashkenazi middle and upper class Jews. In recent years, Shalev explained, Labor has lost ground, and deepening ideological divisions among voters have led to the rise of some new parties as well as a general political shift to the Right.

Below, we've included some snapshots of attendees chatting with one another and Professor Shalev.

ABOUT ACHSHAV YISRAEL: Achshav Yisrael’s mission is to provide quality programming about Israel to Congregation Beth Sholom and the broader community. Achshav Yisrael programs are open to all age groups and will occur on a regular basis. We intend to create a safe space at CBS for community exploration of Israel.

Achshav Yisrael Steering Committee Members: David Agam, Eileen Auerbach, Becky Buckwald, Sandra Cohen, Betsy Eckstein, Ira Levy, Ephraim Margolin, and Maureen Samson

Jewish Songlines

Congregation Beth Sholom is pleased to sponsor Jewish Songlines: An Exploration of Music & Heritage, presented by Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale as part of PBO’s Jews & Music Initiative.

On Thursday, February 8, at 8 p.m., at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, join Nicholas McGegan, renowned cellist Steven Isserlis, and members of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra for a 90-minute program featuring music from the 18th to the 20th centuries, including a Bach Prelude arranged by Ignaz (Isaac) Moscheles and Isserlis’s own arrangement of Maurice Ravel’s Deux mélodies hébraïques and Felix Mendelssohn’s Scherzo from the Octet for Strings, Op. 20.

Steven Isserlis and Nicholas McGegan will also engage in deep discussion about the impact of Jewish composers, illuminated by a multimedia presentation as well as Steven’s own Jewish heritage. This exciting program will be moderated by Francesco Spagnolo, scholar and curator of the Magnes Collection at UC Berkeley. After the concert, enjoy complimentary wine and a chance to meet the musicians.

Just 40 tickets have been reserved for Beth Sholom community members, so buy your tickets today!

Social Divisions & Politics In Israel

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Buy your tickets for our upcoming Achshav Yisrael program!

"Social Divisions & Politics In Israel" will take place on Sunday, January 28, 2018, 3 - 5 p.m., in Koret hall.

Achshav Yisrael presents Professor Michael Shalev, a visiting professor and political scientist at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies. He is also Professor Emeritus in the Department of Sociology and Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Society in Israel is characterized by diversity, often superimposed on identity issues. How do these divisions affect ideologies, parties, and voters in the Israeli political system? Political camps are split by multiple cleavages: nationality (Arabs vs. Jews), religious beliefs, and ethnicity (based on countries of origin). As in the United States, class and gender also play important roles.

This talk will provide an overview of the Israeli political map in relation to social divisions, explain what underlies the varying political influence of different groups of Israeli citizens and residents, and discuss why this matters for elections and other political processes.

Professor Shalev’s presentation will be followed by facilitated breakout group conversations. A light Israeli appetizer buffet will be included.

Adults advance registration: $15
17 & under (or still in high school): FREE
Advance registration required for all ages (below or call 415.221.8736).


Those wanting to attend who can not afford the standard admission fee due to financial hardship should contact the CBS office in advance to work out an exceptional fee.

ABOUT ACHSHAV YISRAEL: Achshav Yisrael’s mission is to provide quality programming about Israel to Congregation Beth Sholom and the broader community. Achshav Yisrael programs are open to all age groups and will occur on a regular basis. We intend to create a safe space at CBS for community exploration of Israel.

Achshav Yisrael Steering Committee Members: David Agam, Eileen Auerbach, Becky Buckwald, Sandra Cohen, Betsy Eckstein, Ira Levy, Ephraim Margolin, and Maureen Samson

Learning About Israeli Economics & Poverty

Prof.-Eran-KaplanThis past Sunday afternoon, February 12, the Achshav Yisrael committee of CBS presented its ninth program, "Inequality & The Politics Of Inequality In Israel."

Just below, Achshav Yisrael committee member Eileen Auerbach provides a report and shares some photographs taken during the event.

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Our speaker, Professor Michael Shalev, is a political scientist, an emeritus professor in the Departments of Sociology and Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and also a visiting professor at UC Berkeley's Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies. Professor Shalev discussed the history of stratified benefits in Israel, which date prior to the creation of the state, and also highlighted factors which currently contribute to poverty in Israel.

In all cases, the lowest economic group consists of Mizrachi Jews and Arab citizens of Israel. The demonstrations of 2011, headlined as "The People Demand Social Justice," emphasized a significant drop in economic status of the middle class, younger generation. Most Israelis think it is the government's role to intervene in economic issues, but the government has cut benefits since the 2000s and pursued policies that have contributed to rising affluence at the top of the economic scale (e.g., benefits for the Israeli high tech industry). By 2011, many young, middle class adults could not afford a place to live and the price of food had been steadily escalating. Although the younger generation is currently accommodating themselves to a lifestyle less affluent than that of their parents, the issue has not provoked a continuing social outcry.

Professor Shalev is continuing to analyze the effect of politics and market forces on inequality in Israeli society.

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Check out some photos from the program below.

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Sheila-Baumgarten-(L)

ABOUT ACHSHAV YISRAEL: Achshav Yisrael’s mission is to provide quality programming about Israel to Congregation Beth Sholom and the broader community. Achshav Yisrael programs are open to all age groups and will occur on a regular basis. We intend to create a safe space at CBS for community exploration of Israel.

Achshav Yisrael Steering Committee Members: Eileen Auerbach, Becky Buckwald, Sandra Cohen, Betsy Eckstein, Ovid Jacob, Eva-Lynne Leibman, Ira Levy, Ephraim Margolin, Lucia Sommers

Inequality & The Politics Of Inequality In Israel

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Buy your tickets for our upcoming Achshav Yisrael program!

Shalev "Inequality & The Politics Of Inequality In Israel" will take place on Sunday, February 12, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m., in Koret Hall.

Join Achshav Yisrael and and Professor Michael Shalev to consider economic inequality in Israel. Professor Shalev is a visiting professor and political scientist at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies. He is also Professor Emeritus in the Departments of Sociology and Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Economic inequality in Israel is amongst the highest in the developed world, and follows national and ethnic as well as class lines. Professor Shalev will discuss these parameters and will pose two puzzles arising from the Israeli case. First, why do economic issues play such a modest role in Israeli politics, and why has there never been a unified counter-movement of the disadvantaged? Second, what drove an exceptional case – the 2011 mass protests in which hundreds of thousands of Israelis demanded a more interventionist and redistributive state? He will also review what has happened since the protests.

Professor Shalev's presentation will be followed by facilitated "break-out" group conversations. The lecture is designed to lay a foundation of knowledge for future Achshav Yisrael events on social issues in Israel.

An Israeli appetizer buffet and refreshments are included.

Parents, please note that childcare for kids one year and older will be available on-site for the cost of $5 per child. This fee can be paid on the ticket sales page. Childcare reservations must be made at least one week in advance.

Tickets are $10 per person. Sign up just below (via EventBrite).

ABOUT ACHSHAV YISRAEL: Achshav Yisrael’s mission is to provide quality programming about Israel to Congregation Beth Sholom and the broader community. Achshav Yisrael programs are open to all age groups and will occur on a regular basis. We intend to create a safe space at CBS for community exploration of Israel.

Achshav Yisrael Steering Committee Members: Eileen Auerbach, Becky Buckwald, Sandra Cohen, Betsy Eckstein, Ovid Jacob, Eva-Lynne Leibman, Ira Levy, Ephraim Margolin, and Lucia Sommers


Professor Naomi Seidman To Speak At CBS

SeidmanElie Wiesel's Night (La Nuit), an autobiographical account of the author's experiences in Nazi concentration camps during World War II, stands beside Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl as the most widely read and influential testimony about the Holocaust. Before Wiesel published the French and English translations of Night, in 1958 and 1960, respectively, he produced Un di velt hot geshvign (And the World Remained Silent), a Yiddish telling of the same story that is considerably longer than its translations and also different in tone.

CBS is pleased to welcome Professor Naomi Seidman (Graduate Theological Union, UC Berkeley) to campus on Thursday, August 25, for a special presentation exploring the similarities and differences between Un di velt hot geshvign and Night.

TIME: 6:30 p.m.
LOCATION: CBS Main Meeting Room
COST: $8, CBS members; $12, nonmembers

To register, please click here.

This talk will kick off a new semester of Lifelong Learning at CBS, and will serve as a nice entrée to Dr. Michael Thaler's Elie Wiesel and the Problems of Holocaust Representation, an exciting new mini-course series that will explore the two books in depth to trace Wiesel's trajectory from mute survivor to the world's foremost interlocutor of the Shoah. Dates/times of Dr. Thaler's mini-course will be published soon.

E.M. Weitz Breakfast Club -- June 19

KupiecProfessor Martin Kupiec (Tel Aviv University), who is currently on sabbatical at UC Berkeley, will present to Ernest M. Weitz Breakfast Club attendees on Sunday, June 19, at 9 a.m.

The title of Dr. Kupiec's talk is "Coffee or beer? The choice could effect your genome." Coffee picks you up, and beer winds you down. We know that, but Dr. Kupiec and his team discovered that the beverages may also have opposite effects on your genome. Working with a kind of yeast that shares many important genetic similarities with humans, the researchers found that caffeine shortens and alcohol lengthens telomeres -- the end points of chromosomal DNA, implicated in aging and cancer.

Dr. Kupiec's presentation is as clever and fun as it is fascinating; we hope you'll join us! Special thanks to the American Friends of Tel Aviv University for facilitating this speaker.

Prof. Martin Kupiec was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and immigrated to Israel in 1977. He received a Bachelor of Science in Biology in 1979, and his PhD in Genetics in 1985 from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. Today, Dr. Kupiec leads the Applied Genetics and Microbiology group at Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Life Sciences. A hallmark of his work is his multi-disciplinary approach, which combines genetics, molecular biology, computational and systems biology, as well as cell biology and biochemistry.

The Breakfast Club currently meets four times each year on a Sunday with an informal talk on topics of interest to the Jewish community. Speakers have included many community leaders of the San Francisco Jewish Community, along with members of CBS. Meetings are held at 9:00 a.m. and start with a delicious breakfast.

Cost: $80 per couple or $40 per individual for all four meetings; $15 for single session drop-in. You can pay on the day-of or drop off your payment at the CBS Administrative Office during business hours.