Lisa Rothberg – Guest Contributor
Aug 22 2017
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Keynote Speakers: Technion Vice President Boaz Golany, Detroit's Russell St. Missionary Baptist Church Reverend Dr. Deedee M. Coleman, pro-Israel activist Charles Pulman and Temple Shalom Rabbi Andrew Paley

Israel Today Symposium- Huge Success!

On Sunday, August 6, 2017 500 + people joined together to take part in the second annual community-wide Israel Today Symposium at Temple Shalom. This year,  guests selected from 30 different breakout lectures and panel discussions, led by knowledgeable speakers from Israel and from across the United States. Topics included How the Middle East is Changing Under the Trump Administration, Israeli Missile Defense,  Israeli Cyber-Security and Technology, Fighting Anti-Israel BDS Activity, Israeli Wine Tasting,Israeli Food, Israeli Technology and many others.

Temple Shalom’s Sr. Rabbi, Andrew Paley, set the tone for the day. “Our presence here testifies to our commitment to ideals to which Israel is constantly striving and which are our ideals as well; an ideal of God's word and blessing manifest in a people yearning for shalom - peace; always endeavoring to create and recreate a flourishing democracy; an ideal of tzedek - righteousness and chesed - compassion - being an example to the world of how human beings reach out to those in need; an ideal of wisdom and ingenuity - how a society innovates through economics, science, technology and agriculture, an ideal of perseverance - of how a tiny little country continues to stand up and thrive despite the constant and ever growing threat that surrounds her. These ideals of Israel are our ideals. These struggles are our struggles. Her victories are our victories. Her setbacks and agonies are our setbacks and agonies. When pain is felt in Jerusalem, tears are shed in Dallas. We marvel at her accomplishments and are ever thankful for the best friend and ally our U.S. government could ever have.”

Then, Technion Vice President Boaz Golany amazed the crowd with Israel’s high tech inventions in every field from Water Desalinization to Cancer Treatments. He also explained that Israel is now home to the greatest concentration of high-tech start-up companies outside of Silicon Valley.

After a morning of fantastic breakout sessions, the luncheon keynote speaker, Reverend Dr. DeeDee M. Coleman, first female  president of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit and Vicinity, Inc., spoke about the importance of Israel, and inspired guests with her passion and love for Israel. Her style, reminiscent of Martin Luther King Jr, kept the crowd enthralled and brought them to their feet with a standing ovation. Charles Pulman, pro-Israel advocate and founder of the non-profit “Why Israel Matters” was the final keynote speaker. Mr. Pulman, after emphasizing that Jews are taught that they are commanded by their religion to commit acts of “Tikkun Olam”(saving the world), pointed out that Israel should be construed to be “Tikkun Olam on steroids,” considering the many life saving and other contributions it is offering to the world.

A new component of this year’s Symposium was a Teen Program, in which teens from 8th grade to those who have recently started college participated. As stated by Sander Gothard, co-chair, of the Teen Program, “The teens were presented with the history of Israel 101, role-played on how to combat anti-Israel rhetoric, and dialogued with a Holocaust Survivor. Several of the 30 teens present  have already asked to be on the 2018 Teen Israel Symposium Planning Committee.”

The second annual Israel Today Symposium fulfilled its mission of increasing awareness in the community of the issues affecting Israel. It surpassed its goal with more than 500 attendees of different faiths, cultures, and backgrounds joining together for a common cause.  As emphasized by Israel Today Symposium leaders Ken Glaser and Anita Weinstein, “The education of our community, both Jewish and non-Jewish, about Israel and her issues, is a critical requirement of making certain that our decisions regarding Israel are based upon a complete  knowledge and understanding of the underlying facts, rather than solely based on emotion.”     

The community is already looking forward to the next Israel Today Symposium in Dallas! Thank you to all of those who were responsible for bringing this year’s Israel Today Symposium to all of us.