Westminster Chai

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Westminster Chai welcomes 20 distinguished guest speakers to Kent House to celebrate Shavuot.For more information about Westminster Chai, please get in touch.

For under 5s we will have a creche (please note children under 3 must be accompanied by an adult) and for children LJY Netzer presents: Israel- Choose your Own Adventure! Join Sam and the amazing madrichim from LJY Netzer as they run a programme of activities for 6-13 year olds based on all things Israel. From creating your own Jewish nation, to an interactive experience encapsulating many of the conflicts, questions- and wonders of Israel today in synagogue and Hyde Park (weather permitting), this will be an unforgettable Israel experience for all.

Speakers and Sessions

10:00 - 10:40 Registration and coffee

10:40 - 11:20 Welcome and keynote with Guest Speaker

Session One: 11:30 - 12:20 - Choose From:

Krav Maga -  Krav Maga (contact combat) is an eclectic fighting system developed in Israel and taught to law enforcement, military forces and civilians around the world. It is a modern self-defence and tactical system which teaches how to prevent, deal and overcome all kinds of threat and attacks. Join us as we learn some practical moves in this adult taster session

War between Wars: a New Military Doctrine - Avi Jager This lecture will explain why, in 2011, the Israel Defense Forces began to focus on irregular instead of conventional warfare. This "2011 turn" was unexpected, especially since five years earlier Israel had adopted the opposite approach as a result of its perceived loss in the Lebanon War of 2006, and as part of the "back to basics" approach. Moreover, while the IDF concentration on irregular warfare from the 1990s to 2006 was motivated by necessity, the 2011 turn was initiated voluntarily, due to three factors. Those factors were Iran's nuclear program, the intensification of Hamas' military capabilities, and the implications of the Arab Spring. The lecture will discuss the 2011 turn in the framework of the New Wars Theory and in relations to the debate about The Changing Character of War

Israeli Cinema – a reflection of Israeli society  - Keffi Wyse -  By watching and analysing selected clips from Israeli films, we will have an intimate insight into Israel’s birth, growth and development. The cinema provides an ideal “lens” by which we gain a greater understanding of Israel’s society, multiculturalism , attitudes, dilemmas and challenges. The session is for people who are interested in the camera eyes view of Israel.

A Session with Keshet - KeshetUK works to promote equality and diversity, advance education and eliminate discrimination in relation to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT+) people in particular LGBT+ Jews within the Jewish and wider community. Our priorities include working with schools, synagogues and other community organisations to broaden LGBT+ Jewish inclusion and incubate new projects as we plan for the future needs of LGBT+ individuals in the Jewish community.

100th Anniversary: The Balfour Declaration - Phillipa Bernard - By no means all of Anglo-Jewry was in favour of a national home for the Jewish people, but this session will try to assess the background of when – and where – such a home should be founded, with a look at those responsible.  After dealing with the historical factors which influenced the decision in England there will be an opportunity to discuss the rights and wrongs of the Declaration and the events that succeeded it. 

50 words in 50 minutes - Basic social interactions in Hebrew - Shai Groskopf - Come and experience how to conduct basic conversation in Hebrew in the span of 50 minutes. This is a taster session for people with no background in the language. During this interactive session you will learn to introduce yourself in Hebrew, ask and answer some basic questions, which should get you through basic social encounters. A crush word-list will be provided!

Session Two: 12:30 - 13:20 - Choose From:

Come and create: Trees for all sorts, and for all seasons - Katherine Michael You don't need to be able to draw to enjoy this session. Come and join Kathryn in a fun workshop inspired by the 'Women and their Olive Trees' project creating your very own tree. All ages welcome and all materials provided - just add you!

Furnival Street, Fashion,Fiction - Jan Shure Journalist, entrepreneur, author, wife, mother, Jan Shure is an inspiring role model whose life and career has been profoundly influenced by and bound up with Israel. Jan worked for 29 years as a senior editor at the Jewish Chronicle, famously based in Furnival Street, during the hey-day of print media. From affecting hearts and minds in UK Jewry at the JC for many years and her successful leap into the online fashion industry, to recovery from major brain surgery and the recent publication of her debut novel, 'If Not for You' in 2017, in which Israel and Jewish identity are key themes, Jan will share insights and perspectives gained through her rich and varied journey. 

Israel and Palestine Today - Youth Voices - Solutions not Sides - Our session will very much be focused on listening to the youth voices from Israel and Palestine and what sort of future they are hoping for. Solutions Not Sides is a non-partisan educational charity which aims to educate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct student interaction with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists. The educational sessions are designed to prepare students to make a positive, solutions-focused contribution to debates on Israel-Palestine. SNS has delivered conflict resolution training, provided education, and facilitated discussion on the conflict in the UK and Western Europe since 2010, engaging thousands of students in the process.

‘No contradiction’: Judaism and democracy in the Israeli Supreme Court - Gabriel Webber - Some of the most exciting Jewish writing today is coming out of the Israeli Supreme Court. It tackles the same modern legal questions that judges all over the world have to deal with, but it does it so Jewishly! Quoting the mishnah just as frequently as Israeli case-law, the Supreme Court grapples with one fundamental question: what does it mean to be Jewish and democratic? This session will explore the court's background and some of its recent decisions on a wide range of issues. No legal experience necessary: only a thirst to understand more about how Israeli society ticks Jewishly!

Maccabees Heroes or not: did they bring the final downfall of the Jewish Kingdom? - Rabbi Dr Thomas Salamon.

50 words in 50 minutes - Travel in Israel - Shai Grosskopf - Here's your chance to travel through Israel in 50 minutes, without leaving London. This is a taster session for people with no background in the Hebrew language. During this interactive session we will learn basic vocabulary relating to travel, which should allow you to board transportation and ask for directions, obtain your booked hotel room and order some food at a restaurant, as well as request help in an emergency. A crush word-list will be provided!

An Israeli Lunch with Israeli Music 13:20 - 14:10

Tour of the Czech Scrolls Museum - Take this time to experience the story of the Czech Memorial Scrolls

Session Three: 14:10 - 15:00 - Choose From:

Women and their Olive Trees - WIZOuk - WIZO have created an impressive exhibition demonstrating friendship and understanding through the language of art. It was inspired by the understanding and the commitment of 35 Israeli women from all cultural and religious backgrounds, Jewish Muslim, Christian and Circassian reflecting the diversity within Israel society.

The Changing Map of Divisions over Israel in the Diaspora - Keith Kahn-Harris - In recent decades, Israel has increasingly become a source of division in the Uk and other Diaspora Jewish communities. A variety of different positions on Israel have emerged within UK Jewry that can be ‘mapped.’ The map is constantly changing though. In this session, Keith Kahn-Harris will explain how the map of Israel divisions has changed since 2014, when his book on the subject was published. 

The Bahá’í World Centre in Israel Join us for a session that will explain the core beliefs of the Baha'i faith including: A presentation with visual images of the Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa and close to Akká; Why the Bahá’í Faith has its World Centre in Israel; The significance of the beautiful Gardens on Mount Carmel that are so synonymous; and the resting place of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Faith, in Akká.

Seven Israeli Stories through Seven Recipies - Robin Moss - Think Israeli food is just falafel, hummus and shwarma? Think again! Israeli cuisine (or should we say cuisines) reflects the diversity of the society. Explore the melting pot of Israel via seven recipes that you can take away and make at home!

Does Talmud has anything to say about division of the Land? - Student Rabbi Igor Zinkov - How does Rabbinic literature affect modern Israeli politics regarding two-state solution? During the session you will explore how Israeli politicians and journalists use Talmudic passages and try to discuss their undercurrents.

Session Four: 15:10 - 16:00 - Choose From:

Give your peace a chance - Shelley Keiler - Peace is like a flower that blossoms first inside of us perfuming us and enticing others to want the same feeling. In the ever increasingly chaotic world, now is the time to give your inner peace a chance to blossom, grow and spread. Come and join Annapurna for a gentle hatha yoga class with oodles of deep relaxation. It's an opportunity to go within and connect to your source of inner peace. Class suitable for everyone, beginners included.  

John Offenbach From Architecture to Portraiture John Offenbach, is an award winning photographer who began his career in 1994 and is currently represented by agents in New York, London, and Paris. John will be in conversation with Gaby Wood, journalist and Literary Director of the Booker Prize about his career to date. From architecture and advertising to new work travelling the world photographing portraits of Jewish faces.

Vegan is The New Kosher - The rise and blaze of plant based life in Tel Aviv, Israel, and across the Globe - Kristof Steiner - Living in Tel Aviv the question “where should we eat?” is probably the most common sentence we recite with my friends.
The White City is famous from being the Middle East’s most progressive culinary hotspot, thanks to the fabulous combination of Ashkenazi, Arabian and Mediterranian dishes. In Tel Aviv spirituality and veganism walks hand in hand: even the most popular restaurants are making efforts to become “vegan friendly”. Let's look behind the "trend" together and find out the secret connections between veganism, Judaism. Session by bestselling Hungarian cookbook writer and columnist of Time Out Israel, Kristóf Steiner of www.whitecityboy.com blog.

Jewish Parenting in a non-Jewish world; challenges and opportunities, tools and take homes - Rabbi Debbie Young-Sommers - Come and explore and share as we look at Jewish parenting in 21st Century London, and pick up some ideas and resources for Jewish reinforcement at home!.


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