Opening Night

Israel 1948 – 2048: From the Dreams of our Grandparents to the Hopes for our Grandchildren

Co-Sponsored With:

Saturday, February 25 | 6:30pm

This plenary, presented in cooperation with the New Israel Fund, reflects on Israel yesterday, today and tomorrow.  In 1948, the state’s founders fulfilled a 2000 year-old dream – creating a national homeland for the Jewish people after millennia in exile.  In the wake of the Holocaust, Israel provided a haven of safety for the world’s Jews and an opportunity to put Jewish values into practice. After nearly seven decades, Israel is a dynamic modern state – with more than 8 million people of wildly different backgrounds living together. The challenges Israel faces – externally and internally – present enormous and important choices that must be made on borders, peace and the character of the state. Through presentations, stories told by the popular “Israel Story” podcast and reflections of younger Israeli activists, we’ll look at the key question for Israel today: what kind of homeland will we leave to our children and grandchildren?


Jeremy Ben-Ami

Jeremy Ben-Ami is the President of J Street, bringing to the role both deep experience in American politics and government and a passionate commitment to the state of Israel. Ben-Ami’s family connection to Israel goes back 130 years to the first aliyah when his great-grandparents were among the first settlers in Petah Tikva. His grandparents were one of the founding families of Tel Aviv, and his father was an activist and leader in the Irgun, working for Israel’s independence and on the rescue of European Jews before and during World War II. He was chosen by America’s weekly Jewish newspaper, the Forward, for three years as part of the Forward 50, their compilation of the most influential Jewish Americans. He was one of 50 “People of the Decade” selected by Ha’aretz, the influential Israeli daily newspaper, and the Jerusalem Post included him in its list of the 50 Most Influential Jews in the world. Ben-Ami received a law degree from New York University and is a graduate of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Relations at Princeton University.

 Mika Almog

Mika Almog is a writer, columnist and political satirist. She writes one of Israel’s most popular personal columns for Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s best-read newspaper. Prior to that, she wrote for two and half years for Haaretz Magazine, where she published over 120 short stories, as well as a weekly political satire column, which prided itself on having an all-female team of six of Israel’s top comedy writers. Prior to that, Mika was a screenwriter and Executive Producer for a long list of Israel’s top TV shows, including Eretz Nehederet, the Israeli equivalent to SNL. She headed development of scripted entertainment for Israel’s Channel 2, and developed Israeli TV formats sold internationally. Her first collection of short stories, Anticipate, will be published this summer.
Mika is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied theater, and UCLA’s School of Film and Television.

The Israel Story Podcast

The Israel Story began as a small podcast, meant for family and friends. But what followed exceeded their wildest dreams: Within a few months, the show was picked up by Galey Tzahal, Israel’s leading national radio station, and was offered a primetime slot. Each of the first season’s eleven episodes reached an estimated audience of hundreds of thousands of listeners. The response was overwhelming, and so we’ve kept making stories in Hebrew, and also expanded into English! Israelis, we all know, are a nation of storytellers. So in many ways the task was an easy one – to shine a spotlight on the little (and big!) dramas that comprise Israeli life. Their primary goal is to tell the story of a different, diverse Israel: To amplify voices that are rarely heard on the mainstream media, to showcase and celebrate the plurality of local communities and traditions.