Israel is turning 70, and the Pioneer Valley is celebrating.

Join us from March through April as Western Massachusetts marks 70 years of Israel’s independence.

Activities kick off the weekend of March 17 to 19 with five specially curated “Framing Israel” programs that spotlight contemporary Israeli cinema. As part of the 13th Annual Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival, these films highlight various aspects of life in Israel. Following the screening of Ben-Gurion Epilogue on March 18, Dr. Clinton Baily will moderate a Q & A session. A panel discussion will follow immediately after the screening of East Jerusalem West Jerusalem on March 19.

The Jewish Federation is extremely pleased to bring Yossi Klein Halevi to our community. Halevi is the author of three renowned books, Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist: An American Story in which the award-winning Israeli journalist recounts his youth as a Jewish activist in America and the Soviet Union, his devotion to the late rabbi Meir Kahane, and his eventual moderation and advocacy of Jewish-Gentile reconciliation; The Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jews Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land which presents an extraordinary and heartbreaking study of interfaith relationships; and, his masterpiece, Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation. Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, calls Like Dreamers “the Israeli epic.”

Yossi's fourth book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbors, will be released in May. Attempting to break the agonizing impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, he directly addresses his Palestinian neighbors in this taut and provocative book, by empathizing with Palestinian suffering and longing for reconciliation as he explores how the conflict looks through Israeli eyes.

Sydney Perry, Interim Executive Director of the Federation, encouraged the community to take advantage of this stellar opportunity. “There is simply no Israeli journalist quite as incisive or eloquent writing for an American audience as Yossi Klein Halevi,” she said. “Yossi, presently a senior fellow at the distinguished Shalom Hartman Institute, will speak on a different topic at each event, listed below. You are welcome (and will want) to attend all events!”

Friday, April 13
Sinai Temple
1100 Dickinson Street, Springfield
6:00 PM Hors D’oeuvres
6:30 PM Service
7:30 PM The Future of the Israel-Diaspora Relationship
8:30 PM Dessert
All are welcome. Dietary laws observed. Registration is required. Please register by April 6 by emailing Michelle Everett at [email protected] or call (413) 372-9755.

Saturday, April 14
B’nai Torah
2 Eunice Drive, Longmeadow
Morning Services
Dvar Torah by Yossi Klein Halevi
All are welcome

Temple Beth El
979 Dickinson Street, Springfield
1:00 PM Letters to My Palestinian Friends
All are welcome

Sunday, April 15
Jewish Community of Amherst
742 Main Street, Amherst
10:00 AM Israel: What Gives Me Hope
All are welcome

On April 9, the Springfield JCC will host biographer Francine Klagsbrun, who will discuss her book Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel, the definitive biography of Golda Meir: the iron-willed leader, chain-smoking political operative, and tea-and-cake-serving grandmother who became the fourth prime minister of Israel and one of the most notable women of our time. (Reservations recommended.)

Congregation Sons of Zion & Rodphey Shalom will celebrate Israel’s 70th Anniversary with a Round Table presentation on Sunday, April 22. Several noteworthy individuals will reflect on their personal relationships with Israel including a Sabra who was 10 years old in 1948 in Israel, a former Israeli soldier, an American living in Israel in 1967, and a 25 year old Israeli presently living in the U.S. Audience comments will follow, as well as an Israeli buffet. Dietary laws observed.

For the young, and young at heart, a variety of programs are happening in the Valley. Join PJ Library at JGS Lifecare on Sunday, April 15 as PJ Library members and residents of JGS Lifecare come together for an afternoon of Israel themed crafts and storytelling to celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday. You can’t have a birthday party without cake and revelers will enjoy a piece of cake to close out the festivities. Contact Kim Starkman at 413-737-4314, ext. 257 or send an email to the Federation office for more information.

On Thursday, April 19, an event designated for school-aged children only will take place at Lander-Grinspoon Academy. The educational institutions on the Northampton campus will collaborate to celebrate together for the entire school day. The students will participate in an archaeological dig and create mosaics; participate in a "kumzitz," a traditional Israeli gathering around a campfire to sing traditional Israeli songs; and cook traditional Israeli food with local chef, John Grossman. In addition, birthday cake decorated by the students to look like the map of Israel will be served. Students will share presentations they created about Israel, and end the day with additional singing. Call Lander-Grinspoon Academy, (413) 584-6622, for information.

Everyone is invited to a family-oriented Israel’s 70th anniversary celebration on April 22 at the Springfield JCC! It’s an afternoon of games, activities, crafts, kosher Israeli food, and much more. A community concert featuring Hadar Orshalimy and Sheldon Low will highlight the festivities. Admission is free and open to the public. Kosher food will be available for purchase.

Finally, the Pioneer Valley ends its [email protected] activities with a dazzling musical journey. UMass Hillel celebrates Israel’s 70 years with Israel Story’s live show “Mixtape” - The Stories behind Israel’s Ultimate Playlist. In its brand new live show, ‘Israel Story’ – the country’s leading podcast and radio show - explores seven decades of local tunes, in celebration of one big milestone birthday. They take us behind the scenes of some of Israel’s most (and least…) iconic songs, and unpack the dramas, complexities and social tensions involved. So mark your calendars, and prepare yourself for an unforgettable evening of phenomenal live music, incredible visuals and - more than anything else - the surprising brand of ‘Israel Story’ stories you’ve all come to love. Pre-registration is required at

“We are pleased to be the convener of [email protected] which is made possible through the Anna P. Housen Fund for Israel,” said Federation President, Ronda Parish. “The programming includes a wide variety of options for young and old and brings together all regions of the Pioneer Valley. We can choose from a variety of films at the Pioneer Film Festival, an energizing and fun celebration with the JCC for individuals and families, a variety of events at participating agencies and synagogues and a weekend with Yossi Klein Halevi, which includes three days and four presentations. This is a wonderful opportunity for all to join in the celebration of Israel’s 70th!”

For more information on any of these events, please visit the Federation’s website at [email protected] is funded in part by the Federation’s Anna P. Housen Fund for Israel.

For More Information

Phone: 413-737-4313 ext 237
Email: [email protected]
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      In cooperation with LOCAL PARTNERS

      Jewish Federation of Western MA  - Jewish Federation of the Berkshires