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Jewish Peoplehood

Forming a strong mutual commitment between world Jewry and Israelis as equal partners in the future of Jewish life

“This is a moment to ramp up our efforts towards greater understanding between [Diaspora and Israel Jewry], with educational approaches that originate with greater insight into the strengths of the two communities and their separate characteristics. It takes time to cultivate mutual appreciation and through that process, mutual responsibility. That process can start now.”

Yehuda Kurtzer, eJewish Philanthropy, July 2017

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SHI North America’s Community Leadership Programs offer high-level, ideas-based Jewish education for North American leaders and change agents who will shape the future of Jewish educational, religious, and community life. In key cities, SHI NA develops and customizes study programs in partnership with professional and lay leaders at major communal organizations, with the goal of bringing big ideas into the work of Jewish organizational leadership and animating a culture of learning about major questions affecting Jewish life.

SHI North America supplies curricula, faculty, and ongoing collaborative partnership to local agencies, which in turn convene cohorts of key stakeholders. Through relationships with local funders and institutional partners, SHI North America has created a sustainable presence in several North American cities — New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Boston and programming in San Diego, Seattle and South Florida. SHI North America works with local organizations to convene rabbis, educators, and Jewish communal professionals through community leadership programs, rabbinic programming, and public learning opportunities. 

Hartman in the Bay Area

Over the past seven years, the Shalom Hartman Institute has strategized and worked in close partnership with the Koret Foundation to dramatically improve the quality of Jewish life in the Bay Area. With the Koret Foundation’s partnership and support, Hartman has become deeply engaged in working with the Bay Area Jewish community, pilot-testing programs, pursuing a multi-faceted program model targeting lay and professional leaders and the public, integrating learning from an in-depth, multi-year evaluation, and serving as an important thought leader for local institutions to address the central questions and challenges that animate modern Jewish life

Spotlight on Toronto

Over the past eight years, SHI North America has expanded and deepened its engagement with the Toronto Jewish community, working closely with the leaders of local institutions, rabbis, and lay leaders. This year, we launched the Toronto Leadership Council and brought members of the community together for the Israel@70: Judaism and Democracy three-part iEngage Series. This series showcased voices of the Hartman Beit Midrash for Israeli Rabbis. Donniel Hartman opened the series with a lecture, followed by two panel conversations with leading voices in this groundbreaking program: in March, Shraga Bar-On, Avital Hochstein, and Moti Zeira discussed the religious future of Israel, and in May, Orit Avnery, Rani Jaeger and Dani Segal examined the Israel-Diaspora relationship. Both conversations were moderated by Sarah Mulhern, Manager of Rabbinic and Lay Education at Shalom Hartman Institute of North America.

Community Leadership Programs are supported by the Koret Foundation, John & Lisa Pritzker Family Fund, Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, UJA-Federation of New York, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Canadian Friends of Shalom Hartman Institute, Azrieli Foundation, Living Jewishly Trust at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto, and other generous donors.




The Community Leadership Program (CLP) is Shalom Hartman Institute's annual summer program for a diverse group of lay leaders from across North America. Participants join senior Institute scholars in Jerusalem to explore foundational Jewish ideas and central dilemmas of contemporary Jewish life. The program strengthens and expands the intellectual horizons of community leaders, enabling them to respond more meaningfully to the contemporary issues and challenges facing Jewish life.
In Summer 2017, more than 170 community leaders participated in the CLP Summer Retreat, including, for the first time, 11 Leadership Fellows of the Avi Schaefer Fund, a select group of diverse emerging American Jewish leaders and young professionals. Participants engaged in lectures, havruta study, electives, and tiyulim on the theme "1917, 1947, 1967: The Legacy of the Past and the Future of Modern Israel." 

CLP Summer Retreat is supported by the Jerusalem Development Authority.


The iEngage Project creates a new narrative regarding the significance of Israel for Jewish life. This narrative serves as a foundation for a new covenant between Israel and world Jewry, elevating the existing discourse from one with a crisis-based narrative to one rooted in Jewish values and ideas. Led by a team of internationally renowned scholars in the fields of Jewish studies, Middle East politics, and history, iEngage is committed to addressing core questions pertaining to the necessity and significance of the State of Israel. iEngage has become the premier educational program on Israel engagement in North America, reaching tens of thousands of constituents within the Jewish community. 
In addition, through iEngage, Hartman is empowering the leaders of national organizations to think differently about their Israel activism and how to foster open, diverse, values-based conversations about Israel through partnerships with national organizations such as Hadassah, AIPAC, and Hillel International.


In 2017-18, iEngage focused on examining the legacy of the Six Day War on its 50th anniversary and the state of Judaism and democracy in Israel on the eve of the state’s 70th birthday. Educational programs related to this theme include the fourth iEngage video lecture series, 1917, 1947, 1967: The Legacy of the Past and the Future of Modern Israel, study on these themes in cities across North America, and In the Gates of Jerusalem, a High Holiday reader on the diverse meanings of Jerusalem and their implications for contemporary Jewish life and modern Israel produced in partnership with  the State of Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was distributed to synagogues across North America.


SHI North America’s iEngage on Campus has been a flagship component of our work in North America since 2012, aiming to both introduce a compelling language and narrative on the meaning of Israel to Jewish young adults, and to address the increasing polarization on college campuses in discussions regarding Israel. Campus programs are designed to increase engagement with Israel by transforming college campuses into sites of elevated and ethical discourse on Israel. 
Through immersive educational programs, iEngage on Campus has touched hundreds of undergraduate students and campus professionals spanning fifty campuses nationwide. Built around the Fellowship for Campus Professionals, a rigorous year-long program for educators now in its fifth cohort, the campus program has grown to include robust seminars for students, an annual collegiate winter seminar in Israel for undergraduate students to engage in iEngage study, ongoing alumni support for campus professionals and students - including Hevruta gap-year program alumni, an intensive summer internship program at the Hartman Institute that brings a select group of outstanding student leaders into the content- and curriculum-development processes that animate iEngage, and a scholar in residence program in which iEngage faculty engage the broader student body and campus community in the Israel conversation. 

spotlight on Northwestern university

Nowhere is the growth of Hartman's campus initiatives more evident than at Northwestern University, where our partnership, seminars and fellowships have helped shape and strengthen the quality of the campus Israel discourse.  


Northwestern’s Hillel is home to two alumni of the Hartman Fellowship for Hillel Professionals, a year-long immersive study program for senior Hillel leaders. Director Michael Simon (Cohort I) and Assistant Director Rachel Hillman (Cohort V) have applied their Hartman experience to create robust opportunities for students to study and examine Israel through the prism of Hartman’s values-based methodology and discourse. In addition, they have welcomed a number of Hartman faculty to lead discussions around difficult issues and strengthen relationships in the face of BDS resolutions and other Israel-related challenges they face on campus.


Inspired by his experience at the Hartman Institute, Michael created a year-long student fellowship program on campus, which he co-leads with Rachel. As part of the Fellowship, Northwestern Hillel brought a group of students to participate in the iEngage Student Seminar, where 120 students from across the country engage in pluralistic, rigorous study at the Institute’s Jerusalem campus. Over the past four years, more than 40 students from Northwestern have attended the student seminar. 

One student shared, “the iEngage Student Seminar provided me with the opportunity to hear not only from a diverse array of fascinating scholars, but also from other college students across the country. Throughout the trip, I found myself constantly reevaluating and reconsidering my own perspectives as I engaged with so many students and speakers whose views differed from my own. It was an incredible intellectual experience, and I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity throughout this past year to study the nuances of Israeli politics from such a thoughtful framework." 

Hadassah-iEngage Training Program for Lay Leaders

Since 2016, iEngage has partnered with Hadassah to launch a training program for Hadassah lay leaders from across North America to facilitate values-based conversations about Israel in their communities. This year, following their training, these Hadassah iEngage fellows have implemented iEngage courses in their local chapters, with participants spanning the political and ideological spectrum. 

“The [Hadassah-iEngage] class left me with a better understanding of my own views, as well as those of others. It was eye-opening for my students. In all the years that we have talked about Israel, it was never ‘values-based.’ We never thought about why, or which things were most important. Our participants were able to see things differently. People managed to change their views. People were enraptured, and they have asked ‘what are we doing next year?’” –

Sue Polansky, Hadassah-iEngage Fellow, Springfield, MA, eJewish Philanthropy, May 2018


Campus Initiatives are supported by the Edward Fein Foundation, Jim Joseph Foundation, The Morningstar Foundation, Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Foundation, Alan B. Slifka Foundation, John & Lisa Pritzker Family Fund and other generous donors.



The Hevruta Gap-Year Program empowers a pluralistic group of emerging young leaders from Israel and North America to create a new, shared, values-based language rooted in Jewish tradition that has the power to transform disparate Jewish communities to become interdependent and mutually supportive.  Housed at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and run in collaboration with Hebrew College, the program immerses students in rigorous inquiry and text study, community service and social-action work with local change agents, and encounters with Israeli society. Hevruta alumni, trained extensively in understanding the Jewish communities in Israel and North America, are equipped to build a new values foundation for the Israel-Diaspora relationship. Following the conclusion of the year-long program, alumni implement the lessons they learned in educational contexts.


In September 2017, the program expanded with the launch of its fourth cohort of more than 60 students. In addition to foundations of Jewish thought, students study both the iEngage curriculum and a new US-Engage program that addresses the central ideas and tensions of Jewish life in North America and take elective courses on topics ranging from Jewish history to Jewish cinema to modern Jewish philosophy in order to explore the wide and diverse array of Jewish ideas outside normative canonical or political frameworks. Participants also develop leadership skills and a commitment to social change through Hevruta’s internship program, which exposes them to the organizations, people, and issues shaping the future of Israel and Judaism.


Hevruta alumni are now active on more than 25 North American campuses, with strongholds at Barnard College, Brandeis University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Washington University. This year, we celebrated our first cohort's release from the IDF.

Tal Armon

Ein Tzurim, Israel

Plans for next year: Combat Soldier in Elite Israeli Air Force commando unit
“I chose to come to Hevruta because the connection between Israeli and Diaspora Jewry is important to me and close to my heart. My year at Hevruta exposed me to a wide variety of issues in Israel which I had not previously explored thoroughly. It also exposed me not only to the different people that make up Israeli society but also to the different people who comprise world Jewry.”

Gabriel Klapholz

New York, NY

Plans for next year: Student at Yale University
“Hevruta forced me to engage with some of the most challenging questions I've ever faced, requiring me to think deeply about Israel and the Jewish future. After Hevruta, I feel more prepared to be an active member of the Jewish community.”

Hevruta is supported by the Leichtag Foundation and other generous donors. 

In The Public Sphere
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