Secure, Jewish, and Democratic:

A Group Learning Experience for Young Professionals with Israel Policy Forum

Secure, Jewish, and Democratic: A Group Learning Experience for Young Professionals With Israel Policy Forum is an in-person social and educational program that provides professionals in their 20s and 30s with an essential overview of the major issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today. Through informational grounding coupled with practical skill growth, this experience is designed to equip and empower participants to navigate an increasingly polarized communal landscape. Applications are now open until February 19. Be sure to apply as soon as possible for early consideration.

*A digital certificate will be issued to participants upon completion, embeddable on LinkedIn.

Course at a Glance:

Session 1:
Wednesday, March 6, 6-8:30pm

Session 2:
Wednesday, March 13, 6-8pm

Session 3:
Wednesday, March 27, 6-8pm

Session 4:
Sunday, March 31, 10am-12pm (virtual)

Session 5:
Wednesday, April 3, 6-8:30pm

PRICE: $100 for members of Central Synagogue. $150 for non-members
Subsidies available. We do not want cost to be a barrier to participation. Price includes meals, refreshments, and materials.

Apply Now

Session 1: The Knife’s Edge: Israel at War

Our first session will allow participants to meet each other and hear from Israel Policy Forum’s Chief Policy Officer Michael Koplow. Together, we will discuss the regional and domestic threats facing Israel, and how are the U.S.-Israel and Israel-diaspora relations being challenged.  We will unpack this fraught moment in which increasing division and unique developments are shaping the future of Israel and the conflict.

Wednesday, March 6, 6-8:30pm

Session 2: The Past, Present, and Future of Israeli and Palestinian Identities

We will hear from Khalil Sayegh, who grew up in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as Central Synagogue shlicha, Michal Abramoff. Together we will explore major themes and events that shape Israeli and Palestinian national identities and narratives.

Wednesday, March 13, 6-8pm

Session 3: Territory and Security: A Visual Exploration Around the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Using Israel Policy Forum’s 360º virtual tour platform, CEO David Halperin will provide a bird’s-eye view of historic and recent trends in and around Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem, including a visual breakdown of the Hamas attack on border communities.

Wednesday, March 27, 6-8pm

Session 4: In Search of a Viable Option

Within a post-October 7 reality, this session examines potential outcomes to the Israel-Hamas war and overall Israeli-Palestinian conflict, training a critical eye on what is still possible. This session will feature Diane and Guilford Glazer Foundation Senior Director of Policy Research, Dr Shira Efron.

Sunday, March 31, 10am-12pm (virtual)

Session 5: Storytelling and Public Narrative Workshop

A custom workshop designed to practically apply newly gained knowledge in professional and personal settings featuring co-founder of Project Shema Zachary Schaffer, followed by a closing gathering with Israel Policy Forum staff members.

Wednesday, April 3, 6-8:30pm

• You are a young professional (20s and 30s) in the NY Metro area

• You want to deepen your understanding of the major issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

• You want to increase your knowledge of the policy issues surrounding modern Israel and the conflict

• You seek to join an ongoing community of peers who are navigating similar issues

• You wish to develop your personal narrative and storytelling skills in relation to the conflict

• You want to be empowered to navigate increasingly polarized communal discourse

• You want to be equipped with Israel and conflict-related resources/programs to potentially share with others


Michael Koplow

Dr. Michael Koplow is the chief policy officer of Israel Policy Forum, and also serves as a senior research fellow of the Kogod Research Center at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Before coming to Israel Policy Forum, he was the founding program director of the Israel Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in Government from Georgetown University, where he specialized in political development and ideology, and the politics of Middle Eastern states. He writes Israel Policy Forum’s weekly Koplow Column and edits Israel Policy Exchange, which is a leading source for commentary and analysis on Israel and American Jewry, and his work regularly appears in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, the Atlantic, and the Forward, among other publications. In addition to his Ph.D., he holds a B.A. from Brandeis University, a J.D. from New York University, and an A.M. in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University.

Khalil Sayegh

Khalil Sayegh is a political analyst focused on Palestinian Politics and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is also the Co-founder and president of the Agora Initiative. Khalil lived most of his life in Gaza and the West Bank, where he was involved in political activism and humanitarian initiatives. Khalil’s lived experience, in addition to his academic and professional experience, shaped his knowledge of the region.

Khalil’s writing is featured in several outlets, including Al-monitor, The New Arab, Economist, and WSJ. He is regularly invited to offer analyses, on BBC, ABC Australia, and Al Jazeera and others. He holds a Masters in Political Science from American University.

Michal Abramoff

Michal Abramoff is the UES Shlicha of the Jewish Agency. Michal was born in NYC and made Aliyah to Israel with her family at young age. She grew up in Tel Aviv attending art schools, majoring in visual arts and social sciences. After completing her BA in Psychology, Sociology and Anthropology from TA University, she spent two years as a Shlicha to the Jewish community of greater Hartford, CT.

Upon returning from Shlichut, Michal moved to Jerusalem, and received a Masters in Jewish education through the advanced program in pluralistic Jewish education at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR)/ Jerusalem, in cooperation with the Melton Center for Jewish Education at the Hebrew University. Michal also was a fellow at the Youth Leadership Program of the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem.

During her time in Jerusalem Michal worked for Noar Telem, the Israeli Reform youth movement, at first as the Jerusalem Regional Director, leading three different branches in the Jerusalem area and creating regional programming and Alumni Community Director, creating the alumni community, planning community events, and furthering the connections between the alumni and the reform movement at large. For the past two years Michal became the National Director of Noar Telem, overseeing all branches, staff, and programing, leading the youth leadership government and was also the movements camp director.

Brooklyn Michalowicz

Brooklyn Michalowicz is the 20s and 30s-focused Rabbinic Intern at Central Synagogue and a third-year Rabbinical student at HUC-JIR in New York. She spent the past year studying at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem where she received a certificate in Jewish Experiential Education. Brooklyn is a proud UCLA Bruin with a B.A. in Sociology and has since worked at Westchester Reform Temple, Eisner Camp, and Columbia/Barnard Hillel leading trips to Israel and the West Bank. Brooklyn regularly hosts events that help guests get creative, deepen their connections to one another, and explore their unique relationships to Judaism and God. She is on the board of the HUC Soup Kitchen and enjoys singing & beat boxing, interior decoration, board games, and live music.

David A. Halperin

David Halperin is the CEO of Israel Policy Forum, an organization committed to educating community leaders and mobilizing policymakers in support of pragmatic proposals to advance the goal of a viable two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, consistent with Israel’s security. He was instrumental in the rebirth of Israel Policy Forum’s work in 2012, expanding the organization’s work by creating innovative partnerships with an array of policy and communal organizations nationwide. He has previously worked as a Middle East Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress and as a reporter for Ha’aretz English Edition in Israel. He has an MPA with a focus on International Relations from Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs (SIPA), where he was a member of the International Fellows Program (IFP). He is a founding board member of the Salla Treatment and Research Foundation. He has a BA in Political Science and Judaic Studies from the University of Arizona. Originally from Phoenix, AZ, he now lives with his wife and two kids in Riverdale, NY.

Shira Efron

Dr. Shira Efron is the Diane and Guilford Glazer Foundation Senior Director of Policy Research. Concurrently, she also serves as a special climate change advisor to Israel’s Ministry of Defense and the co-chair of the subgroup on regional cooperation of President Herzog’s climate forum. Dr. Efron has spent over 15 years in U.S. think tanks, including the RAND Corporation, where she founded and led the Israel program between 2016-2022, the Center for American Progress, and Middle East Institute, and the Tel Aviv based Institute for National Security Studies. She was previously a consultant with the U.N. country team in Jerusalem, where she focused on access and movement issues in Gaza. She has a PhD and MPhil in policy analysis from RAND’s Graduate School, an MA in international relations/international business from New York University, and a BSc in biology (major) and computer science (minor) from Tel Aviv University.

Zachary Schaffer

Zach is a facilitator, educator, and organizer based in Bedstuy, Brooklyn. He currently serves as the Co-Founder and VP of Community Engagement with Project Shema, a training and support organization built by progressives to help our Jewish community and allies challenge anti-Jewish ideas and nurture compassion for Jews on the progressive left and in mainstream discourse. Zach previously served as the executive director of the Council of Young Jewish Presidents and as a senior manager of community strategy at the Jewish Federations of North America.

He has trained thousands of leaders across North America in depolarization, storytelling, allyship, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Zach has served as a facilitator and consultant with several organizations including Ta’amod, Resetting the Table, and Jewish Women International. He is the proud President of Friends of Roots, a grassroots coexistence and liberation movement of Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. He also serves on the North American Board of the Union for Reform Judaism where he co-chairs their Racial Equity Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and as a member of the Commission on Social Action, where he helps to set the social justice agenda of the Religious Action Center.

He received his Master of Science in Nonprofit Management at Gratz College and his undergraduate degree in rhetoric and political science at the University of Pittsburgh.