NEW YORK, Oct. 12, 2009 Top Israeli figures will be key speakers at the Union for Reform Judaism's 70th Biennial Convention in Toronto this November 4-8, emphasizing the Reform Jewish Movement's dedication to Israel's vitality and security.
Presentations from Michael Oren, Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Miriam Ziv, Israel's Ambassador to Canada, Avishay Braverman, Israel's Minster of Minority Affairs, noted Palestinian women's health expert Dr. Izzedin Abuelaish, who will speak at the Women of Reform Judaism's 47th Assembly (being held simultaneously with the Union's Biennial Convention), together with a special video address by King Adbullah of Jordan, form the foundation of Israel programming at this year's convention.
"Our relationship to Israel as individuals, as congregations, and as a Movement is at the very center of our lives. It is altogether fitting that Israel, in her multi-faceted reality, should be at the center of our Biennial General Assembly," said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism.
Michael Oren, a US-born scholar recently appointed to his current position, will discuss his adopted country's ongoing relationship with the United States, as well as ongoing developments in the Middle East peace process. Oren, author of Six Days of War and a former senior fellow of the Jerusalem think tank the Shalem Center, is widely admired for his expertise on the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and has published numerous articles on Israeli foreign policy.
Miriam Ziv, Israel's Ambassador to Canada and an expert on Iran, will also address Biennial attendees, sharing her insights about the nuclear threat Iran poses to Israel and the world at large. Avishay Braverman, Israel's Minister of Minority Affairs, will speak to delegates about the special concerns of Israel's many minority groups, including Israeli Arabs. Braverman, former president of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and a two-term member of the Knesset for the Labor Party, took his current position in 2009.
At the Biennial's closing session, delegates will hear from King Abdullah of Jordan via video. The King, a central force in the region, will address the critical role of interreligious dialogue in advancing peace.
Dr. Izzedin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor who lost his children to bombing in Gaza and continues to campaign for peace will speak to participants at the concurrent Women for Reform Judaism's 47th Assembly.
Throughout the course of the Biennial, numerous discussions and learning sessions will augment speeches and enhance delegates' understanding of Israeli politics, current events and relations.
Vendors and exhibitors of Israeli services and products will be on display throughout the convention.
The Union for Reform Judaism is the synagogue arm of Reform Judaism and the largest Jewish movement in North America, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 920 congregations across the United States and Canada. The Biennial is an unparalleled opportunity for Reform Jews to learn, be inspired, hear great speakers and musicians, and be part of a kehillah kedoshah, a holy community. Visit biennial.urj.org for more.