The New Pioneers: Israel at 70!

Sunday, April 22 from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Kibbutz-style Breakfast from 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM (for purchase)
Lunch from 12:00 – 1:30 PM (for purchase)



10:00 AM Lee Walzer Contemporary Israeli Music
10:00 AM Film: Walk on Water
10:30 AM Anton Marks Urban Kibbutzim: New Communities
11:00 AM Vered Guttman The New Israeli Cuisine (RSVP requested)
11:30 AM Lee Walzer LGBTQ Community in Israel
11:30 AM Shivi Birnbaum Roboteam: Technology keeping our Troops Safe
12:00 PM Keynote: Uri Regev Imagine an Israel: The Struggle for Religious Freedom
12:30 PM Ronit Gudes Totah Women in Israel Today – Pioneers in Art, Politics and Civic Society
1:00 PM Niv Rabino IsraAID: The World’s First Responders



(in alphabetical order)

Shivi Birnbaum

Shivi Birnbaum is a graduate of Jerusalem College of Engineering and serves as a mechanical engineer with Roboteam, a leading global provider of tactical ground robotic systems. A team of highly experienced veterans leads the design, development, production, and delivery of high performance tactical ground robots to reliably support our troops and keep them safe. Roboteam was cofounded, in 2009, by Yosi Wolf and Elad Levy, veterans of the Israeli Air Force.

Vered Guttman (RSVP Requested)

Across the world, Israeli chefs are dominating the international culinary scene. These chefs are reinterpreting traditional Middle Eastern dishes by creating a fusion of the many cultural palates that are part of contemporary Israel. Chef and caterer, Vered Guttman, will lead us on a culinary journey as she combines the wonders of the modern Israeli kitchen with the recipes of her Polish and Iraqi grandmothers. Vered writes a weekly food column for Ha’aretz and has been featured on Slate, NPR, and The Washington Post. Vered’s presentation has been made possible by a generous grant from the Jewish Food Experience and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Anton Marks

A British-born Israeli and a founding member of the largest urban kibbutz in Israel, Anton Marks will lead a discussion on urban kibbutzim. He has been an informal educator for the last 25 years and is now a Shlichut for the youth movement, Habonim Dror, and their summer camp, Moshava. His passion for Zionist education, Tikkun Olam, Jewish history, identity, and culture will guarantee an engaging and challenging talk.

Niv Rabino

Niv Rabino is IsraAID’s Head of Mission in Texas and formally the Head of Mission in Greece on the Island of Lesvos. Niv was responsible for the immediate operations after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and is currently implementing short- and long-term programs in the US to mitigate and reduce disaster risks and increase volunteer response. IsraAID is Israel’s largest humanitarian, non-governmental organization, committed to providing life-saving emergency relief and durable solutions for populations affected by natural disasters, epidemics and post-conflict situations. Since its inception in 2001, IsraAID has become synonymous with a rapid response to humanitarian crises. Its medical teams, search & rescue units, post trauma experts, community specialists and other professionals have led international responses in natural disasters and civil strife around the world.

In Greece, Niv ran psychosocial and medical programs on the Island, supporting relief efforts of the migrant refugee population on the Island. Prior to his role in IsraAID, Niv served as Tzedek’s (UK) Program Manager in Ghana, working in volunteer management and long-term development projects with local NGO, aimed at different sectors. Projects included poverty alleviation, education and medical services. An Israeli/American citizen, in 2013 Niv completed an Undergraduate degree at Columbia University’s Sustainable Development program that included research in five countries concentrating on Global Public Health. Born in Haifa Israel, after graduating from high school Niv was part of the Paratroopers special forces reconnaissance unit where he served for four years.

Uri Regev

Rabbi Uri Regev is an internationally renowned leader and advocate of religious liberty and the liberal movements of Judaism in his native Israel and around the world. He is the former president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, a global umbrella organization of the Progressive, Reform, Liberal and Reconstructionist movements, serving more than 1,200 congregations and communities in 42 countries on six continents. Rabbi Regev currently serves as the President and CEO of an educational and advocacy Israel-Diaspora partnership, “Freedom of Religion for Israel” and of its Israeli counterpart, Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality”, which he founded in 2009. He has worked tirelessly to strengthen modern, pluralistic Jewish life and democracy in the Jewish state.

Ronit Gudes Totah

Ronit Gudes Totah is the IAC Regional Director in Washington D.C. Israel-born and educated, Ronit has a long history of Israel advocacy and analysis.  After service as a lieutenant in the Israeli Air Force, Ronit was a task force member at the Reut Institute, a prestigious think tank in Tel Aviv.  More recently she served as the legislative liaison at the Department of Congressional Affairs at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, DC.  In this capacity, Ronit spearheaded legislative initiatives at the Congressional level and acted as a liaison between Israeli officials and Congressional personnel on matters of foreign affairs, trade and immigration.

Ronit has participated in numerous Israel advocacy missions throughout the United States and Australia and is a co-founder of the ‘Sanhedrin forum’, one of the leading young professional organizations in Israel. Ronit holds a bachelor’s degree in Government, Diplomacy and Strategic Studies from the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel, and a master’s degree in International Economics and Public Policy from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. In her free time, Ronit loves to spend time with her husband and daughter and indulge in her love of photography, swimming, traveling and yoga.

Lee Walzer

TRS congregant and Religious School faculty member, Lee Walzer will present on two topics:

Between Sodom and Eden: LGBT Rights and Community in Israel

As Israel celebrates its 70th birthday, LGBT rights are one of its unexpected successes. In the 1990s, Israel underwent a revolution on LGBT issues that leapfrogged the U.S. How, in a country whose governments still depends on socially conservative ultra-Orthodox political parties, did this happen? What does the success of Israel’s LGBT community mean for the broader health of Israeli democracy and for other issues that concern us as Reform Jews? Join Lee Walzer for a look at LGBT history, culture, and politics in the Jewish state, based on both his previous scholarly work on this issue and a January return visit to Israel, his first in 20 years. Lee Walzer teaches Modern Hebrew to TRS religious school students. He is also the author of Between Sodom and Eden: A Gay Journey Through Today’s Changing Israel (Columbia University Press 2000).

Israeli Society and Politics Through Rock and Pop Music

Get ready to think and ponder to the beat of some of Israel’s leading singers. Israel is a country in which politics is a daily concern. Politics likewise is an integral part of the Israeli rock and pop music scene – on both the Left and the Right. This session will look at issues such as religion and state, aliya/immigration, and the Arab-Israeli conflict through the music videos of some of Israel’s leading singers (translations will be supplied). Lee Walzer teaches Modern Hebrew to TRS religious school students and has taught a class on Israeli Society and Politics Through Rock and Pop Music for 8th and 9th grade students.

Israel Film Academy Award Winner: Walk on Water

Eyal, an Israeli Mossad agent, is given the mission to track down and kill the very old Alfred Himmelman, an ex-Nazi officer, who might still be alive. Pretending to be a tourist guide, he befriends his grandson Axel, in Israel to visit his sister Pia. The two men set out on a tour of the country during which, Axel challenges Eyal’s values.

It stars Lior AshkenaziKnut Berger, and Caroline Peters. It was directed by New York-born Israeli director Eytan Fox. The screenplay was written by Gal Uchovsky. Most of the dialogue takes place in English, although there is much in Hebrew and German.


Awards of the Israeli Film Academy (2004)
Best Music – Ivri Lider
Best Music, Original Song – Ivri Lider
Best Sound – Gil Toren (tie)
Best Film
Best Actor – Lior Ashkenazi
Best Director – Eytan Fox
Best Screenplay – Gal Uchovsky
Best Cinematography – Tobias Hochstein
Best Editing – Yosef Grunfeld
France’s César Awards (2006)
Nominated for best foreign film

Watch the trailer here


Kibbutz-style breakfast foods and lunch, straight outta Dizengoff, will be available for purchase.

Kids’ Activities:

  • Make-your-own hummus and pita
  • “Independence Hall” Escape Room
  • Hebrew Twister
  • Climb Mt. Hermon (climbing wall)
  • Facepainting
  • Bedouin Tent with Drum Circle featuring Hannah Piracha
  • Storytelling with Susan Kusel
  • Gaga Tournament


Our finale will be a concert featuring Shir Harmony and Shir Joy…and enjoying a taste of what may be the world’s largest birthday cake for Israel!


Contact: Cookie Mandell,

Cost: Free for TRS members, $5 for non-TRS members until
Thursday, April 19 at midnight.
After April 19, cost is $8 for EVERYONE.



Sponsored by the Israel Committee. Vered Guttman’s presentation has been made possible by a generous grant from the Jewish Food Experience and the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.