The 17th Annual Connie S. Birnbaum Memorial Lecture

POSTPONED: Annual Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture
  Due to the current Coronavirus outbreak and restrictions on travel, Isaac Herzog will not be traveling to Boston for this Sunday’s Birnbaum Lecture. Regretfully, we must postpone the lecture to a later date to be determined. We apologize for any inconvenience and we will be in touch with a new date as soon as we can. Thank you for your interest in this lecture.
2020Birnbaum_Email_600x200 Support the Lecture Sunday, March 8th, 2020 | 5:30pm
Temple Emanuel, Newton | Reception to Follow

The evening will include a conversation with Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel and Shira Ruderman, Executive Director, Ruderman Family Foundation, moderated by Rabbi Marc Baker, President & CEO, Combined Jewish Philanthropies. Discussion topics will include the relationship between Israelis and American Jews, combatting antisemitism and anti-Zionism, and more.

Keynote Speaker: Isaac Herzog
Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel

In June 2018, the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel unanimously elected Isaac Herzog to succeed Natan Sharansky as the Chairman of the Executive of this historic and influential organization. Mr. Herzog was born in Israel in 1960 and is an attorney by profession. Before entering his new position at The Jewish Agency, Mr. Herzog had been a member of Knesset (Israel’s parliament) since 2003. He had been the Chairman of Israel’s Labor Party since 2013, as well as the Knesset Opposition Leader. In 2015, Mr. Herzog was a front-runner to win the election for Israel’s Prime Minister. He led the alliance between the Labor Party and the Hatnua Party to create Israel’s largest center-left political party, and was the leading candidate to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the national elections. In the past 15 years, Mr. Herzog has held several ministerial posts: Minister of Housing and Construction; Minister of Tourism; Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Society and the Fight Against Anti-Semitism; and Minister of Welfare and Social Services. He also served as Government Secretary and as the Israel Government Coordinator for the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza in 2008-2009. Before entering politics, Mr. Herzog was a senior partner at the law firm of Herzog, Fox & Ne’eman. He lives in Tel Aviv with his wife, Michal. They have three sons.

Panelist: Shira Ruderman, Executive Director of the Ruderman Family Foundation

Shira Ruderman is a professional philanthropist and social activist. She serves as the Executive Director of the Ruderman Family Foundation, a private family foundation that invests in three primary areas of focus:  advocating for and advancing the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout our society, strengthening the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community, and modeling the practice of strategic philanthropy worldwide. Shira holds a BA in Education and an MA in Public Policy from Hebrew University, and an Honorary Doctorate from Haifa University and from Brandeis University. In 2014 she was chosen as one of 100 most influential women in Israel, and in 2016 as one of 50 most influential Jews in the world. Shira serves as a board member of various organizations and associations in Israel and the United States and was recently appointed as Chairwoman of the Fulbright Foundation. She represents the new Israeli philanthropy which believes in strategic giving, involvement and social entrepreneurship. Led by a high sense of social commitment, Shira is devoting her personal and professional life to the advancement of a fair and just society in Israel and abroad, as well as strengthening the resilience of the State of Israel. This is done through entrepreneurship, program leadership, philanthropy and promotion of the Foundation’s objectives.

Moderator: Rabbi Marc Baker, President & CEO, Combined Jewish Philanthropies


Rabbi Marc Baker, CJP’s President and CEO, has spent most of his life in Greater Boston’s Jewish community. An organizational leader and educator, Marc served as Head of School at Gann Academy, Greater Boston’s pluralistic Jewish high school, for 11 years prior to joining CJP. A native of Lynnfield, Marc was active in the JCC and at Camp Bauercrest throughout his childhood. He lived in Jerusalem for four years, studying at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and The Hebrew University. Marc regularly speaks, writes, and teaches about Judaism, the Jewish community, and leadership. For the past several years he served as scholar-in-residence for CJP’s Cynthia and Leon Shulman Acharai Leadership Program. Marc attended Phillips Academy Andover and received his bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Yale University. He lives in Brookline with his wife, Jill, and their four children.

About the Lecture: Current Challenges of the Jewish World: Rising Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism

In 1929, as the quest for a Jewish State was yet to be realized, the Jewish Agency for Israel – now the largest Jewish non-profit organization in the world – was created with a stated mission to “ensure that every Jewish person feels an unbreakable bond to one another and to Israel no matter where they live in the world, so that they can continue to play their critical role in our ongoing Jewish story.” It is a distinct honor and an extraordinary privilege to welcome to our community the leader uniquely qualified and unanimously elected to head the Agency and champion its mission. With so much in the balance, and with those who will shape the future in both Israel and the United States yet to be chosen, Mr. Herzog’s insights promise to make for a fascinating evening and a poignant tribute to the very same ideals which guided Connie’s life work.

Inspired by the legacy of its extraordinary namesake, the Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture strives to be a force for unity by bringing the brightest minds and most compelling Jewish leaders to inform and inspire us. JCRC is proud to sponsor this lecture series, which offers timely topics and speakers across the ideological spectrum, reflecting the fullness of our community’s diversity. Being open to hearing all voices – not just one’s own or those most familiar to us – is “the Connie way.” This is a significant step on a journey which begins with education and exposure, engenders understanding and respect, and hopefully, paves a path toward that ever-elusive unity and love of one Jew for the other.

Tribute Committee

Rabbi Susan Abramson
Joyce & Michael Bohnen
Dr. Robert Braitman
Rabbi Ariel Burger
Rabbi Wes Gardenswartz
Rabbi Leonard Gordon
Shelley Greene & David Jacobson
Rabbi William Hamilton
Ronda & Dr. Josh Jacobson
Daniel Nesson
Rabbi Victor Reinstein
Rabbi Roy Rosenbaum
Rabbi Benjamin Samuels
Rabbi Gershon Segal
Erica & Gerrald Silverman
Horace Small
Dr. Francene & Rav/Hazan Scott Sokol
Alan Teperow
Howard Worona


Sponsoring Synagogues

Beit Sasson: The Sephardic Congregation of Newton
Congregation Beth El-Atereth Israel
Congregation Kehillath Israel of Brookline
Congregation Shaarei Tefillah of Newton
Congregation Shirat Hayam of the North Shore
Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue of Jamaica Plain
Temple Aliyah of Needham
Temple Beth Avodah of Newton
Temple Beth Zion of Brookline
Temple Emanuel of Newton
Temple Emunah of Lexington
Temple Etz Chaim of Franklin
Temple Isaiah of Lexington
Temple Israel of Sharon
Temple Ohabei Shalom of Brookline
Temple Reyim of Newton
Temple Shalom of Newton
Young Israel of Brookline
Young Israel of Sharon

Sponsoring Organizations

Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity
Center Makor
Combined Jewish Philanthropies
JCC of Greater Boston
Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts
Jewish Theological Seminary of America
Limmud Boston
Rofeh International
Union for Reform Judaism-East District
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