The Samuel Bronfman Foundation regularly sponsors luncheon forums to discuss issues of interest to the Jewish community.

2012 Forums

Pluralism: Are There Limits?
May 21, 2012
Rabbi David Ellenson


As part of this year's Why Be Jewish conference, the Foundation hosted a 375 Series lecture with Rabbi David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College. Rabbi Ellenson expanded on the conference's topic of pluralism, focusing on the limits to pluralism within the Jewish community. Among the questions he addressed were: Should there be limits to our acceptance of diversity within Judaism? How do we determine these limits, and what implications do they have for our sense of community? Watch the video


Jews and the 99%: Liberalism and Jewish Identity in 2012
January 18, 2012
Simon Greer

PanelistsWith the economic crisis of 2008 came the rise of two distinct populist movements in American politics; first the Tea Party, then Occupy Wall Street. Many Jews have been active participants and sideline supporters of the Occupy movement, while some have thrown their support behind the Tea Party. Many others, along with most Jewish institutions, have demurred. Both protest movements, however, are shaping the context in which American Jews' values and politics will play out. In a presidential election year, when Jews and Americans of all backgrounds will make known their collective political preferences, and as the Occupy and Tea Party movements set the outer boundaries in an ideological debate, what can we learn about Jewish liberalism and the Jewish connection to social justice? Watch the video


2010 - 2011 Forums

Israel's New Social Contract:Public Protests and a Demand for Inclusive Growth
Sept 21, 2011
Gidi Grinstein

PanelistsIsrael's social and economic approach for the past 25 years has been based on the principles of a capitalist market economy, rooted in the values of liberalism. This approach has been a driving force for many of Israel's economic achievements, but at the same time has increased societal gaps, eroded the middle class and enlarged the circle of poverty. Over the past two months distress has mounted and tensions have reached an explosive level, as hundreds of thousands of protestors gathered to demand a new social contract. What are the risks and opportunities facing Israel? What are the forces that have created the current situation? What will the new social contract entail and who are the key players and stakeholders? What can be done to seize this historic opportunity? Watch the video

Peoplehood, Power and Zionism: What does Israel mean for American Jews today?
May23, 2011
Peter Beinart and Professor Suzanne Last Stone

PanelistsA great deal has been written and discussed about younger Jews' changing relationship with Israel. Historically, Zionism was perceived as a point of confluence for American Jews. Was this indeed ever true? And if it was true, is the Zionist consensus among American Jews fading? Are these changes a result of Israel's actions, changes in the United States or both? How can we find a new way to talk about Israel that reflects what is happening both there and here?adership take to enable such a necessary cultural shift? Watch the video.

Gender, Power and the Jewish Community
January 13, 2011

Jane Eisner in conversation with Abigail Pogrebin

PanelistsIt's no secret that gender and power dynamics have only intensified in 2009 and 2010: the ordination of the first female Orthodox "rabbi," the arrest of Anat Hoffman at the Western Wall, the release of a study saying that women are earning on average $20,000 less than their male counterparts in the Jewish community, and a community-wide contest which featured only men as Jewish visionary leaders. Women make up more than 70% of the workforce in the Jewish community, and yet, according to The Forward's latest compensation survey, hold only 12% of the leadership positions and earn only two-thirds of what their male counterparts earn. Have we finally entered a time when women will be invited to take their seat at the Jewish communal table? Is our community stuck? What steps can and should current leadership take to enable such a necessary cultural shift? Watch the video.

The Coming Crisis in Israel-Diaspora Relations
October 21, 2010
Jeffrey Goldberg

PanelistsThe divide among Jews in Israel and the Diaspora recently widened over the issue of who is a Jew, and the threat of Iran continues to strain Israel’s ties to the international community. While some North American Jews are thinking critically about their support of Israel others are increasingly apathetic. How will North American Jews alter their support - politically, financially, emotionally - as these situations evolve?


2009 Forums

The Sacred in Contemporary Jewish Life
May 11, 2010
Rabbi Donniel Hartman

PanelistsThe notions of living a life shaped by the sacred and holy have historically been one of the essential aspirations of Jewish life. What meaning do these categories have today? What role can they play in shaping contemporary Jewish life for the individual and the collective? Watch the video.



The State of the Jewish Collective
February 17, 2010
With panelists Kathy Manning and Jerry Silverman

PanelistsOver the last decade, large-scale Jewish institutions have sought to adapt and respond to the new challenges and opportunities of twenty-first century American Jewish life. How might these institutions use their understanding of today’s Jewish landscape to create a collective strategy for fostering a culture of Jewish renaissance?


Elevating Jewish Ethics
October 19, 2009
With panelists Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, and Alana Newhouse

PanelistsThe Jewish community has recently been plagued by a series of damaging and highly publicized scandals. The impact of these troubling events has been felt across the spectrum of Jewish life, including the community’s perceptions of trust, transparency, and leadership. How might we elevate the importance of Jewish ethics and values within the community in a way that simultaneously creates a more welcoming and open environment?

Renaissance in a Time of Ration: A Vision for the Future
May 12, 2009
Richard Joel and Wayne Firestone, moderated by Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld

PanelistsOver the last year the Jewish community has entered into a challenging period, which has been driven by a sudden reduction of communal resources and a broad anxiety about its future trajectory. How might the communities we build on college campuses serve as incubators for supporting and revitalizing the Jewish community of tomorrow?


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Cooperation and Conflict: Relations between African Americans and Jews from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Barack Obama
January 14, 2009

With panelists Rabbi Marc Schneier and Martin Luther King III, moderated by Rabbi Andy Bachman

375 SeriesThe early civil rights era in America is often looked upon as the golden age of positive relationships and strong coalitions between the African American and Jewish communities. How did the recent election of Barack Obama help to reinforce and build new bridges of cooperation between these two communities?

2007 - 2008 Forums

Talent, Trend or Marketing: Exploring Jewish Writing in the American Mainstream
October 27, 2008

With panelists Rebecca Goldstein and Jonathan Rosen, moderated by Professor Jeremy Dauber

PanelistsOver the past decade a new wave of Jewish writers has appeared to achieve an unprecedented level of success and popularity in the American mainstream. Are we witnessing an astounding renaissance in Jewish literature or does the current market for Jewish themed books represent a more thorough integration of Jewish culture and life into mainstream American narratives?


After Bush: The Middle East, Israel and the Presidential Elections
April 29, 2008

Presented by David Makovsky, Senior Fellow and Director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peach Process

David Makovsky

The next American President will face potential conflicting interests on issues ranging from energy needs and regional stability, to a reassessment of the war on terror and the possibility of negotiations with Iran. What will this mean for US foreign policy in the Middle East? And what differences, if any, can we expect for a Democratic or Republic Presidency?

Do Rallies Still Matter? Purposeful Activism in the 21st Century
January 30, 2008

With panelists Ruth Messinger and Rabbi Avi Weiss, moderated by Daniel Septimus of


The rise of the internet, social networks, decreases in American anti-Semitism and a growing interest in global human rights causes are redefining the scope and nature of Jewish activism. How has this generation changed the work of Jewish social activists, and what does it mean for the Jewish community and the world today?

Why isn’t My Rabbi More…?: The American Rabbinate and What it Means Today
October 17, 2007

With Panelists Rabbi Sharon Cohen-Anisfeld, Alisa Doctoroff and Rabbi Kenneth Hain, moderated by Dr. Michelle Friedman

Gidi GrinsteinThe American rabbinate has undergone considerable changes in the last forty years. What was once viewed as an untouchable figurehead who presided over large congregations is evolving into a pastoral leader who is responsible for myriad social intellectual and spiritual activities. How has the rabbinate responded to these and other happenings and what does it mean for American Jewry today?



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