There are some who feel we are at a critical point in our relationship with Israel, a relationship strained by increasingly divergent political views and priorities. At the same time, as Americans we are moving toward the extremes and surrounding ourselves with like-minded individuals. And the reality is, the conversation has stopped. This year the Israel Center of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati wants to bring people with diverse opinions together in the same room to promote learning and robust dialogue about Israel—not to reach consensus but to increase understanding of the other.

We Need to Talk. This initiative is not meant to signal an impending break up (as the clichéd phrase might suggest) but an opportunity to lean in have productive conversations about divisive issues. So whether you’re around a dinner table, in a board room, or at the gym, you feel comfortable engaging in thorny topics.


Through a series of book discussions, roundtables, and speaker events, the Israel Center, in collaboration with the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Mayerson JCC, will facilitate open and honest, and sometimes difficult, discussions about Israel. They will create spaces where people feel comfortable engaging in conversations about Israel.   

Join us for a Community Read!

Encourage your book club to read this New York Times bestseller in 2019.

Community Read

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi

Attempting to break the agonizing impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, Israeli commentator and award-winning author Yossi Klein Halevi directly addresses his Palestinian neighbors in this taut and provocative book, empathizing with Palestinian suffering and longing for reconciliation as he explores how the conflict looks through Israeli eyes.


In Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, Halevi untangles the ideological and emotional knot that has defined the conflict for nearly a century. In lyrical, evocative language, he unravels the complex strands of faith, pride, anger and anguish he feels as a Jew living in Israel, using history and personal experience as his guide. Halevi’s letters speak not only to his Palestinian neighbor, but to all concerned global citizens, helping us understand the painful choices confronting Israelis and Palestinians that will ultimately help determine the fate of the region.


Halevi is an author, thinker, and commentator on Jewish and Israeli affairs. Born in New York, he moved to Israel in 1982 and lives in Jerusalem.

We Need to Talk Speaker Series

Yossi Klein Halevi


October 29
Mayerson JCC, 
Free with RSVP

Yossi Klein Halevi is an American-born writer who has lived in Jerusalem since 1982. He is a senior fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and the author of At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land and Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation, which won the Jewish Book Council's Everett Family Book of the Year Award for Best Jewish Book in 2013. Together with Imam Abdullah Antelpi of Duke University, he co-directs the Hartman Institute’s Muslim Leadership Initiative.


In his most recent book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, Halevi "open[s] a dialogue with an imagined Palestinian neighbor... He frames his chapters as a series of letters to that neighbor that include both concise, balanced histories—of such topics as the history of modern Zionism and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza—and his own memories of growing up an American Jew afraid that Israel would be destroyed in 1967, moving to Israel, and how his 'romance with the settlement movement ended.'"

Dennis Ross 


November 5
Mayerson JCC, 
Free with RSVP

Ambassador Dennis Ross is counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Prior to returning to the Institute in 2011, he served two years as special assistant to President Obama and National Security Council senior director for the Central Region, and a year as special advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.


For more than twelve years, Ambassador Ross played a leading role in shaping U.S. involvement in the Middle East peace process and dealing directly with the parties in negotiations. A highly skilled diplomat, Ambassador Ross was U.S. point man on the peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations. He was instrumental in assisting Israelis and Palestinians to reach the 1995 Interim Agreement; he also successfully brokered the 1997 Hebron Accord, facilitated the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty, and intensively worked to bring Israel and Syria together.

Global Day of Jewish Learning 


November 17, 1PM
Mayerson JCC, 
Free with RSVP

Words matter. From ancient arguments to modern meanings, from raising our voices to remaining silent, words have power. Words can create. Words can harm or heal. Words can explain, or they can obscure. Even our silences speak volumes. On Global Day of Jewish Learning, join your Cincinnati community as communities around the world gather locally to discuss words and their impact on our lives, using Jewish texts as a starting point for conversations.

The day will feature a live recording with the Unorthodox Podcast, as well as leading thinkers, rabbis, and scholars. We will explore Jewish wisdom and the way our words influence our thoughts and the world.

Global Day of Jewish Learning is a designated day each year when Jewish communities across the globe study a shared theme from a variety of perspectives rooted in Jewish texts. This year’s theme is Words Matter – Speaking Volumes.

Join the Conversation! 

If you’re interested in having Amnon lead a discussion about Israel in Your Living Room or just want more information, sign up here


Community Shaliach (Emissary) from Israel | 513-985-1535


Israel in Your Living Room

Turn typical dinner party fodder on its head, where taboo topics aren’t off the table but are being served up instead. Whether in your living room, around a dining room table, or in the cozy nook of a local coffee shop, invite your friends to join you for a conversation about Israel, led and facilitated by our Community Shaliach (Emissary) Amnon Maggid. Choose your own adventure for the evening, from the Arab-Israeli conflict to Israeli politics and elections, to the Israeli people and organizations that give us hope for a better future. Choose a comfortable setting for some potentially uncomfortable conversation.


Israel: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Get a full picture Israel update with the opportunity to discuss challenging issues in Israel and share your personal feelings.

Jerusalem, the “New” Capital of Israel

Learn about the history of the city and the reality of life in Jerusalem today.

70 Reasons for Hope

Be inspired by the organizations, people, and events that give us hope for a better Israel.

Israeli Politics 101

The Knesset, elections, parties, and opposition—get a behind-the-scenes look at the Israeli political system and the hot topics today.

50 Shades of Judaism in Israel

Explore the many ways people express their Judaism, from secular to Orthodoxy, and everything in between.

The Security of Israel and its Impact on Arab-Israeli Relationships

Discuss the conflict, life in the settlements, and relations between Arabs and Israelis in and around Israel.

Resetting the Table

Courageous Communication Across Divides

What does it look like to have collaborative deliberation in the face of strong differences? And how do you lead your community in setting the table for productive dialogue? Resetting the Table, in partnership with the Jewish Federation’s Israel Center and the JCRC, offered community leaders from Jewish organizations in Cincinnati the opportunity to join a two-day training to learn a framework, tools, and skills for building a culture of meaningful dialogue across differences in Jewish life. Participants will work the Resetting the Table consultants and trainers over the next five months to implement dialogue across divides within their own organizations.

We Need to Talk is presented by the Israel Center of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, in partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council and Mayerson JCC.