The Fourth Annual Jerusalem Symposium in Memory of Avi Schaefer


The Israeli Palestinian Conflict in Our Lives: How it Impacts our Values, Culture and Identity proved to be an important and exciting topic for our Fourth Annual Jerusalem Symposium In Memory of Avi Schaefer, held March 20th, 2014. Once again, there was standing room only with over 300 participants in attendance, mostly young college age students, to hear amazing speakers and presenters.

This year’s Symposium was headlined by noted journalist and author Ari Shavit in conversation with NY Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren. Their lively conversation set a perfect tone for the day and was followed by high level breakout sessions where a deeper exploration took place on an array of related topics.

This year our program began with a new video about Avi and an amazing performance by the Jerusalem Youth Chorus, the only Israeli-Palestinian youth chorus in Israel which combines both music and dialogue. Opening with wonderful melodic chant and song filled the room with an amazing sense of spirit, touching all of us deeply. In the final hour, we shared food and wine as participants discussed the events of the day and networked with one another against the backdrop of the setting sun accompanied by live music. At the end of this exciting day of sharing and learning we knew that it had been an important experience for all who attended and felt it had been a tremendous success.

For the first time, we also introduced a new component to the day, a pre-program for professionals which included a small graduate student delegation. The conversation during this early part of the day explored how the various organizations represented in the group deal with Israel education and gave us an opportunity to explore, with their help, how the Avi Schaefer Fund may play an increasing role in this field. Thank you to Elan Ezrachi for encouraging this additional level of discourse and leading the ASF team in the preparation and execution of our annual Jerusalem Symposium.

A huge and heartfelt thank you to our partnering organizations: the Shalom Hartman Institute, Merchavim, and YMCA Jerusalem, and to our participating organizations: Bina, Masa, JSt, StandWithUs, Bronfman Youth Fellowships In Israel, The Israel Trauma Coalition, JTS, Kesher Hadash, Hebrew Union College, and Hillel Israel.

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