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A Jewish Democratic State: Creating Shared Space for All People in Israel

This course was offered in Fall, 2017.

Beit HagefenEvery fifth citizen in Israel belongs to the Arab minority. This group's integration in Israeli society constitutes a difficult challenge, given that their fellow Arabs in the Middle East are in a state of war against Israel. This challenge is coupled with the collective memory of the events of 1948, which are a central motif in the Palestinian narrative in Israel and the surrounding region. This presentation will focus on these issues through the personal stories of Ulfat Haider and Asaf Ron as well as their mutual work experience at Beit HaGefen, a Haifa-based Arab Jewish Cultural Center founded in 1963. Beit HaGefen believes that interpersonal acquaintanceship and an encounter with another culture and its narratives are essential for breaking down barriers and building trust. We will focus on the city of Haifa as a unique model of living together with mutual respect and understanding, and discuss how the Bay Area — Haifa's "sister city" — does the same.


# Sessions
Date & time

Tuesday, November 14
7:00 - 8:30 pm

Session Time Days Location Instructors
Nov 14 7:00 PM–8:30 PM Tue Beth El Asaf Ron Ulfat Haider


Congregation Beth El

1301 Oxford Street

Berkeley, CA 94709



Ulfat Haider

Ulfat HaiderUlfat Haider was born and raised in Haifa, Israel, where she lives today. As an outstanding young volleyball player, she joined the Israeli National Women’s Team, as its only Arab member. Ulfat has always combined her love of sports and the land with her desire to bring people together. In addition to earning her B.Ed. in Physical Education, she also completed a B.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Haifa, and a Master's degree in Gender Studies at Bar-Ilan University. Currently, Ulfat is working at Beit HaGefen – Arab–Jewish Cultural Center in Haifa as its Program Director. Two of her projects involve leading annual student expeditions to the Alps.

Asaf Ron

Asaf RonAsaf Ron was born in Haifa, Israel. He holds a B.A in Education and in Israel Studies, and an M.P.A in Public Administration from Haifa University. Between 2000 and 2003, Asaf served as a community Emissary (shaliach) in the Greater Hartford community in Connecticut. From 2006 Asaf directed the education department of the Gilboa Regional Council, 40 percent of whose residents are Arab. During that time he guided the Gilboa School Principals Forum, which was comprised of seven Arab schools and six Jewish schools, and initiated activities for stimulating mutual acquaintanceship. Asaf has served as director of Beit HaGefen – Arab-Jewish Cultural Center in Haifa since June 2010. In this capacity, Asaf is responsible for directing initiatives for coexistent life in Haifa together with the municipal council and the Mayor, and works with community leaders and the city's prominent clergy members.