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4.10.15 Issue

by Scott Littky, Program Director, Temple Israel and Kasey Davis, Staff Assistant, Schwalb Center

Curious about what Israelis are thinking about the internal strife that has plagued the Jewish state? Interested to know how US-Israeli relations, as well as Israel’s ties with the Jewish American Diaspora are likely to be affected? Those questions and many more will be addressed in two upcoming lectures delivered by best-selling Israeli author, columnist and journalist Ari Shavit. These lectures are made possible thanks to the generosity of the Sokolof Family Foundation, Darlynn and Tom Fellman, and Debbi and Speedy Zweiback. The ADL is also providing support.

Ari Shavit speaks with a modern voice about the realities of Israeli history and current life. Born in Rehovot, Israel, Shavit served as a paratrooper in the IDF and studied philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In the 1980s he wrote for the progressive weekly Koteret Rashit. In the early 1990s he was chairperson of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and in 1995 he joined the Israeli daily Haaretz, where he currently serves on the editorial board. Shavit is also a leading commentator on Israeli public television. He was a guest on Israeli News during last summer’s war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza (Operation Protective Edge) and appeared on CNN and other international television stations. Recently, HBO reached an agreement with Shavit to create a series based on his bestselling 2014 book, My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel.

Shavit will arrive in Omaha on April 22 and his schedule that day includes a conversation with Temple Israel teens followed by his public presentation at 7 p.m., at which time he will deliver the keynote address titled Israel and American Jewry: Two Miracles Now Challenged. Speedy Zweiback, one of the event’s sponsors, expressed one of the goals of the program when he said: “[we hope to] provide Temple Israel with visiting scholars who inspire and sometimes even provoke us into being more thoughtful and engaged people of the Jewish faith.”

The following day, Thursday April 23 at 7:30 p.m., Shavit will talk about My Promised Land: A Personal Journey Through the History of Israel.

Part of the Jewish Community Center’s Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration, this lecture will be held at the JCC theater. A reception, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Omaha, will follow afterwards.

The lecture represents the sixth convocation of the annual Ruth and Phil Sokolof Lecture Series sponsored by the Sokolof Family Foundation and the UNO Schwalb Center. The Ruth and Phil Sokolof Lecture, established in 2009 by the Sokolof grandchildren, has brought a number of distinguished guests to Omaha. Past speakers include Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat (2013), Professor Stephen Berk (2012), Rabbi Daniel Gordis (2011), author Dan Senor (2011) and Ambassador Martin Indyk (2009). The Sokolof Lecture Fund, managed by the University of Nebraska Foundation, was created to provide an opportunity for students, faculty, and the greater Omaha community to hear speakers from a variety of perspectives present a diverse range of topics related to Israel and Judaism.

“The Sokolof-Javitch Family, the University of the Nebraska at Omaha Schwalb Center for Jewish and Israel Studies, and Temple Israel are delighted to join together to provide the Omaha community a chance once again to hear one of the foremost Israeli voices,” stated Schwalb Center Advisory Board member Gary Javitch. In addition, the UNO Schwalb Center founder Hannah Schwalb notes, “The two day events will be a rare opportunity for the entire Omaha community to learn from this highly regarded Israeli journalist and author.”

Temple Israel Congregation and the UNO Schwalb Center invite you to join us for both Ari Shavit lectures. They are free and open to the public.

For more information about this and other events please contact, Debbie Massarano at or 402.556.6536 or Kasey Davis at or 402.554.3175.