Israel Highlights

Join the Greater Washington Jewish community as we celebrate
Israel’s 69th year of independence!
Our community has many great Israel-events throughout the month.  Please scroll down to view the list. On May 21, we will celebrate at 2 community-wide festivals. More information to the right.

Federation’s Congregational Shlichim Program

Expanding on our community’s successful Israeli emissary program through a program of The Jewish Agency for Israel, nine additional shlichim (emissaries) join local synagogues and schools, partnering with the congregants and students to develop social issue-focused projects designed to enhance our community’s connection to Israel and Israelis.

These 9 cultural ambassadors share their lives in Israel, what motivates their mission to educate around the world and how they inspire others. To learn more about cultural and social change issues in Israel, visit Federation’s Imagine Israel blog.

Ella Tesler, shlicha for Shaare Torah Congregation has shared her list of what makes Israel special to her. Many of the items on the list are positive atributes of our unique homeland, but some are problems that continue to afflict the young state. The fact that we recognize and acknowledge these problems as well as our blessings makes Isael so special.

70 reasons why I think Israel is so special

By Ella Tesler

1. Because it is the only democracy in the world surrounded by so many undemocratic countries
2. Because there is no country in the world with so much self-criticism. Sometimes good criticism and sometimes not so good
3. Because of the difficult situation of war, the most moral army in the world was born, that turned me and many other Israelis into better people
4. Because at the age of 22 I was the commander of a company of 140 soldiers

5. Because these soldiers were youth at risk, the state gives them another chance to be part of the country's system
6. Because my grandmother, like many other survivors, immigrated to Israel after the Holocaust and there she built her home
7. Because my other grandmother was born in Israel and for her, for my mother and for me it is our homeland
8. Because of the kibbutz where I live. A fascinating form of settlement that is unique only to Israel
9. Because so much is shared (even personal space)
10. Because everyone calls everyone “ACHI” (my brother) because everyone is actually one family
11. Because everyone complains but Israel is still one of the countries where people say they're the happiest in the world.
12. Because no other country would have survived the criticism the State of Israel has experienced on a daily basis.
13. Because the Jewish religion and Jewish culture are mixed together and sometimes it's hard, but it sparks important discussions.
14. Because of the TV series “Fauda” (Watch it and you will never regret it)
15. Because we are the startup nation
16. Because we gave the world Waze, Mobileye and the sweetest cherry tomatoes
17. Because on Yom Kippur those who do not to go to synagogue ride their bicycles in all the streets, even the highways. It's a spectacular sight, almost like a synagogue. Almost
18. Because there are so many cultures from so many countries and when we're not afraid, we learn from it
19. Because you can eat kosher for Passover “bread" and it is delicious
20. Because there are really pretty girls and really cute guys
21. Because it is a welfare state. And sometimes it annoys us, and sometimes it does not work as well as it should but the state tries to care for everyone
22. Because a Jewish / Muslim / Christian religious person, as well as a Jewish / Muslim / Christian secular person can live with freedom of religion and believe what he believes
23. Because when there is a terrorist attack, the Israeli instinct is to run toward the danger, not away from it
24. Because in 24 years Israel gave me everything I need and more
25. Because Shabbat in Israel
26. Because Jerusalem and Tel Aviv
27. Because the Negev and the Galil
28. Because of the excellent beaches
29. Because of the Dead Sea and the Kinneret
30. Because I could cross Israel on foot in two and a half months on the Israel National Trail. I do not know how many people in the world crossed their country on foot
31. Because in one day you can see snow and desert in the same country
32. Because of the food!!!
33. Because of the Israeli breakfast
34. Because of the sushi and shawarma
35. Because of the Israeli chocolate and the Krembo
36. Because Israel is a country with 60% desert and almost no fresh water, yet it develops the Negev and desalinates water in the largest quantities in the world
37. Because of Jewish and Israeli history. More than once we were not supposed to be here
38. Because of the weather. Many complain but now when I'm in the United States I realize that it could be worse…
39. Because of the excellent sense of humor
40. And because we laugh at everything. There is no taboo.
41. Because Israel is in a very complex political situation in which it must decide on questions of human life and human dignity and all solutions would have a painful cost
42. Because in times of war there is no difference between each other and we all unite
43. Because when there is no war we need to be better…
44. Because Israelis are not rude, they are direct
45. Because of the music
46. Because of Arik Einstein and Idan Raichel
47. Because of Yehudit Ravitz and Omer Adam
48. Because of Elai Botner and Eden Ben Zaken
49. Because of Kaveret and Jane Bordeaux
50. Because of the leaders who were and will be
51. Because of David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres
52. Because of Gal Gadot (Wonder woman!)
53. Because there is no constitution (and I have not decided whether it is good or bad)
54. Because so many Israelis are traveling in the world so in some places in India, you think there are more Israelis than Indians
55. Because the fruits and vegetables are affordable and fantastic
56. Because the houses and apartments are expensive (SO expensive)
57. Because Israel is the only country where the number of trees is rising
58. Because Israel cares
59. Because of the flag, because of the Emblem, because of Hatikvah, the anthem.
60. Because the Hebrew language is one of the oldest, most sophisticated and beautiful in the world
61. Because it's hard to explain but sh’kedei marak (soup nuts) is just a wonderful addition to soup
62. Because we made peace with Egypt and Jordan
63. Because we tried so many times to make peace agreements with the Palestinians and even though they rejected any proposal, it is still our responsibility
64. Because I am a Shliha (emissary) in a synagogue in the United States and I learn that it is important for my country to have contact with Jews all over the world
65. Because every day, all day in my role I explain how special Israel is
66. Because there is one minute between the saddest day in Israel - Memorial Day, to the happiest day in Israel - Independence Day
67. Because this is home for all Jew around the world
68. Because this is home for me
69. Because we celebrate this month 69 years of all the above.
70. Because next year is 70 years of so much more.


Upcoming Events
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10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCC of Northern Virginia-Community Engagement Department)
8900 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax VA 22031
Join Growing Jewish Families for a playdate for ages 0 - 3 at the JCCNV! While the kids play, the grown-ups get to schmooze and meet other families with young children. FREE; you do not need to be a JCC member to come play! Ages newborn-3 years, siblings welcome. Kids and adults must wear socks.
Listed In:  Families, Northern Virginia, Parenting, Social Events
Event Cost:  

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation
7727 Persimmon Tree Lane, Bethesda MD 20817
Join us at 10:30 AM for Tot Shabbat, where we celebrate Shabbat with songs, stories, grape juice and challah! Following at 11:15 AM will be a Young Families' Tu B'Shevat celebration - celebrate the "birthday of the trees!"
Listed In:  Families, Maryland, Reconstructionist, Children/Teens/Family, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover)
Event Cost:  

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM
Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCC of Northern Virginia-Community Engagement Department)
3656 Centerview Dr, Chantilly VA 20151
Join Growing Jewish Families for a FREE playdate at NoVA Playlabs in Chantilly. While the kids play, the grown-ups get to schmooze and meet other families with young children. Ages: newborn –5 years old and their parents (siblings welcome). FREE: NOVA Playlabs is waiving the entrance fee if you come play with Growing Jewish Families! Children (and adults planning to play) MUST WEAR socks. RSVP is necessary prior to the play date as space is limited, please contact
Listed In:  Families, Northern Virginia, Parenting, Social Events
Event Cost:  

10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCC of Northern Virginia-Community Engagement Department)
19800 Belmont Chase Drive , Ashburn VA 20147
Join Growing Jewish Families for a fun morning of PJ Library stories about the upcoming Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat and celebrate the birthday of the trees. Braid your own challah and bring it home to bake. Whole Foods provides the dough. You provide the creativity and sense of adventure. Bring your dough home to bake. RSVP with
Listed In:  Families, Northern Virginia, Parenting, PJ Library Co-Sponsored, Social Events
Event Cost:  

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Congregation Beth Emeth
12523 Lawyers Road, Herndon VA 20171
This event is intended for participants to attend the entire scheduled time/series.
Irish Dancing for Beginners! 6:00-7:00 PM for ages 5-17, 7:00-8:00 PM for adults 18+. Irish Dancing is a fun, exciting, and challenging activity for both children and adults. By taking Irish Dancing lessons, dancers build confidence, set goals for growth and success, develop teamwork and communication skills, benefit from both a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle, and make new friends...
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, College (Late Teens/Early 20s), Couples, Families, Interfaith, Seniors, Teens, Northern Virginia, Conservative, Adult Education, Children/Teens/Family, Arts & Culture
Event Cost:  $25 - $50; $40 CBE Members, $60 Non-members

9:45 AM - 11:00 AM
Congregation B'nai Tzedek (Congregation B'nai Tzedek Laura & Joel Greenzaid Early Childhood Center)
10621 South Glen Rd. , Potomac MD 20854
Congregation B'nai Tzedek's Laura & Joel Greenzaid Early Childhood Center (GECC) Baby Play Group. Wednesdays, 9:30 am - 11:00 am, beginning September 13. FREE! A fun, clean environment for babies with their loving adults to play in and hang out. Make new friends in our special baby classroom. For toddlers, explore age appropriate toys, informal play time for children and caregivers, meet current GECC families and get to know our amazing community. Please register at GECCDirector@bnaitzedek....
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Families, Interfaith, Maryland, Conservative, Children/Teens/Family, Parenting, PJ Library Co-Sponsored, Social Events
Event Cost:  Free; Free

Jan 26 - Jan 28
Multiple times available
Agudas Achim Congregation
2908 Valley Dr., Alexandria VA 22309
Friday, Jan. 26 6:30 p.m. Kabbalat Shabbat and Ma’ariv Services Saturday, Jan. 27 9:30 a.m. Shabbat Morning Services Saturday Night, Jan. 27 7:30 p.m. Concert with Agudas Achim’s in-house band, Ein Lanu Z’man Sunday Morning, Jan. 28 9:00 a.m. Kol Zimra—Sing-a-long with Josh for all kids and kids-at-heart This year we welcome back Josh Warshawsky, who is currently in Rabbinical school at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, and he has spent the last three years as the artist...
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, College (Late Teens/Early 20s), Families, Seniors, Northern Virginia, Conservative, Arts & Culture, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover)
Event Cost:  

Jan 26 - Jan 27
Multiple times available
Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation
7727 Persimmon Tree Lane, Bethesda MD 20817
Songs of the Trees: A Tu B'Shvat Kabbalat Shabbat & Taste of Shabbat Dinner - Friday, January 26, 2018 6:15 PM – Wine & Appetizers 6:45 PM - Services (Free to all) 7:45 PM - Catered Dinner 8:30 PM - Tu B'Shvat Program with special guests Rabbi Jeff & Deb Schein (Free to all) Saturday, January 27 - "Technology, Nature, and Shabbat" lecture with the Scheins at 1:00 PM.
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Seniors, Maryland, Reconstructionist, Children/Teens/Family, Arts & Culture, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover)
Event Cost:  $25 - $50; $25

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCC of Northern Virginia-Community Engagement Department)
12 North Light Street, Lovettsville VA 20180
Join Growing Jewish Families for a PJ Library story time and arts and crafts. This month we are learning about the Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat (the birthday of the trees). Dress for messy fun. FREE. RSVP with
Listed In:  Families, Northern Virginia, Parenting, PJ Library Co-Sponsored, Social Events
Event Cost:  

6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Congregation Etz Hayim (Congregation Etz Hayim (Conservative))
2920 Arlington Blvd., Arlington VA 22204
Join us for a short Havdalah service and kids' activities to celebrate Havdalah. Havdalah is the ceremony that marks the end of Shabbat. This event is for children ages 0-7 and their parents (older siblings are welcome).
Listed In:  Families, Interfaith, Special Needs, Northern Virginia, Conservative, Children/Teens/Family, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover)
Event Cost:  Free; Free

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Bender JCC of Greater Washington (Bender JCC: Jewish Family Living & Learning)
6125 Montrose Road, Rockville MD 20852
Zikaron Ba’Salon translates to mean “memories in the living room” and is a movement throughout the world during the week of Israeli Holocaust Memorial Day. This year, the Bender JCC is proud to join the movement and will launch an inaugural salon on International Holocaust Day. This program is a unique and meaningful tradition where people gather together to open their hearts to the stories of survivors, sing, discuss, read and, most importantly, listen. Please join us. Last year nearly one m...
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Seniors, Maryland, Arts & Culture, History/Education
Event Cost:  Free; Free RSVP

8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Congregation Har Shalom (Har Shalom Players)
11510 Falls Road, Potomac MD 20854
A talented cast and crew of 51 — including children and teens from four area schools — brings The Secret Garden, a beloved children’s novel to life, with shows Saturday, January 27th at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, January 28th at 4:00 p.m. The Secret Garden — a musical re-telling of the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett — reveals the story of an 11-year old orphan who comes to live on a Yorkshire estate with her uncles. The estate's many wonders include a magic garden and the spirits from the orphan'...
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, College (Late Teens/Early 20s), Families, Seniors, Maryland, Conservative, Arts & Culture
Event Cost:  $10 - $24; $22/adult; $18/child (under 12)

10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington DC (Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center)
1529 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington DC 20036
Tu B'Shevat honors the new year of the trees. Trees are essential to life on Earth and they help keep everyone healthy and full of oxygen. It is our turn to say thank you. Join us for a fun, interactive morning full of songs, crafts, and rituals.
Listed In:  Families, DC, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  $10 - $24; 15-20

11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Gary Rosenthal Collection (The Gary Rosenthal Collection)
4218 Howard Avenue, Kensington MD 20895
Creating Shabbat Candlesticks for Jewish families touched by the wild fires in California. The Gary Rosenthal Collection is fighting fire with fire! Join us at an open studio for a hiddur mitzvah project where participants help create glass mosaics for two pairs of Shabbat candlesticks. One pair will be donated to a family in California touched by the fire, while the second set will be picked up by the participant for personal use. On Friday night, March 16th, all participating families from...
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Maryland, Arts & Culture, Fundraising/Philanthropy, Holiday/Shabbat (High Holidays, Chanukah, Passover), Social Events
Event Cost:  more than $50; $110-$180

2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Capital Camps & Retreat Center (Capital Camps )
12750 Buchanan Trail East, Waynesboro PA 17268
Join us at camp and see the magic up close! These walking tours lead by our Camp Team, include plenty of opportunities to ask questions and soak in the atmosphere. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Register online at
Listed In:  20’s-30’s-40’s, Boomers, Families, Teens, DC, Maryland, Children/Teens/Family, Parenting
Event Cost: