So much to learn, so many choices


More than 250 people filled the Alliance’s Dwares Jewish Community Center, in Providence, on Nov. 17 for “An Evening of Jewish Renaissance.” The general buzz was that there were so many workshops, it was difficult to pick just one in each of the two sessions.

“It was an interesting, well-thought-out program,” said one rabbi.

The evening began with a keynote address by Martin Fletcher, an author and former NBC News Middle East correspondent and Tel Aviv bureau chief. It was standing room only in the Victor and Gussie Baxt Social Hall as Fletcher, who is Israeli, talked about his journey first as a cameraman and then as a reporter in Israel. He also spoke about what it’s like to live in Israel and to transition from writing nonfiction to fiction. Fletcher is the author of four books, including “Walking Israel” and “Promised Land: A Novel of Israel.”

“Israel and the Palestinians are pretty much in the same place” today as during the early ’80s, when he started reporting from there, Fletcher said. He has reported from all over Israel and in the West Bank Palestinian communities.

In terms of peace with the Palestinians, Fletcher said he personally believes that two-thirds of all Israelis and Palestinians would accept any agreement that was on the table, but the leaders on both sides “are just not interested.”

After Fletcher’s talk, the crowd dispersed to rooms around the building to hear such diverse speakers as Liri Cohen Modechai, a fashion blogger who gave a history of Israel through fashion, and Udi Goren, a photographer who showed his photos and spoke about “A Walk of the Land: A Photographic Journey of the Israel National Trail.” Fletcher also conducted a session, focusing on his reporting in the West Bank and his novel, “Promised Land.”

A break for a nosh was followed by more workshops, including one that screened short films by Israeli film students and a talk about breaking up with your cellphone, which generated a great deal of buzz.

“An Evening of Jewish Renaissance” is sponsored every few years by the Judge Marjorie Yashar and Dr. James Yashar Fund at the Jewish Federation Foundation.

FRAN OSTENDORF ( is the editor of The Jewish Voice.