Second Mel Reisfield Yom Iyyun (Day of Learning)

On Sunday, March 6, 2022 nearly 300 Judaeans from around the world joined together our Second Yom Iyyun – Day of Learning – in memory of our teacher and friend, Mel Reisfield z”l.

We learned from 22 incredible Judaean educators, listened in on an incredible panel discussion, and reunited with old friends in our decade’s reunions.

Welcome and D’var Torah (click to watch)
with David Weinstein, Director of Camp Tel Yehudah

Panel Discussion (click to watch)
“What it means to be a Zionist youth movement in 2022?”

Watch recordings of all educator sessions below!

Educators & Panelists

Rich Brownstein, Author/Lecturer
Holocaust Cinema: The First 75 Years

How has narrative film succeeded and failed the memory of the deadliest and most documented place on earth? From Sophie’s Choice (1982) to Schindler’s List (1993), what can be learned from these representations and many others?

Rick is the author of Holocaust Cinema Complete: A History and Analysis of 400 Films.

Click to watch recording.

Manni Burach 
Panelist and Former National Bogrim Programmer for Young Judaea


Sara Cohen and Yosef Kibita
The Law of Return: Whose Right is it Anyway?

Since 2017 Yosef Kibita, from the Abayudayeh Jewish Community in Uganda, has been waging a legal battle with the Israeli Ministry of the Interior to allow him to officially make Aliyah and become a citizen of Israel.  In this session, Sara will discuss the issues of the Law of Return and Conversion in Israel, and Yosef will tell the story of his ongoing struggle.

Sara is a member of Kibbutz Ketura and regional rabbi in the Southern Arava valley of Israel. Yosef is an immigrant from the Abayudayeh Jewish Community in Uganda.

Click to watch recording.

Scott Copeland
From Other to Brother – Three Faces of Jesus the Jew in Jewish & Israeli Art

Mel’s most famous Tel Yehudah session was ‘The Jesus Sicha.’  Our workshop will look at three Jewish & Israeli artists – Marc Chagall, Ruvein Rubin, Adi Ness – offering their takes on Jesus the Jew, and through those takes also offer readings on Jewish history, the Jews and the Christian world, and meanings of Israeli life.

Scott is the Vice President and Director of Education at Onward Israel.

Click to watch recording.

Dr. Steve Copeland
What We Call God/the Divine is Nothing Like a Person – Does Not Intervene in the External Events of Our Individual or Collective Lives

An exploration via a collage of texts, images, and sounds addressing this most mattering existential – ethical and religious fact

Steve is a Professor at  Jerusalem’s Hebrew University Center for Jewish Education.

Click to watch recording.

Dr. Ben Dworkin, Ph.D., Director, Rowan University Institute for Public Policy & Citizenship (RIPPAC)
Democrats, Republicans & the Challenges Facing America’s Jews

A look at the internal tensions within each political party, how we got here, and what it means for American Jewry.

Dr. Ben Dworkin is the Director of the Rowan Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship (RIPPAC) at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ.

Click to watch recording.

Noah Efron
Panel Moderator

Noah chairs the Program on Science Technology & Society at Bar Ilan University.

Rayna Rose Exelbierd
The Girl Who Said Hello to Everyone

What’s good about grief? Join Rayna for a journey to learn how one page in her journal later became a children’s book to honor her late father. Everyday we are faced with opportunities to create joy for others even on our darkest days.

Rayna is the Chief Empowerment Officer of The Rose Grows

Teddy Fischer


Dr. Sandra Fox

Sandra is a historian whose research centers on American Jewish culture, Jewish youth, and childhood, and Yiddish activism in the postwar period.

Andrew Fretwell
Death on the Delaware

Let’s go deeper than Rebecca Quick. Camp Tel Yehudah is verified as the site of the home of THOMAS QUICK, the so-called “Avenger of the Delaware” who killed at least 99 Native Americans, some of whom are buried on the grounds of Tel Yehudah. Learn the history and discuss, what do we do with the fact that a place we love so dearly has such a tragic past?

Andrew is a Former Rosh Machane Bet.

Click to watch recording.


Adina Frydman
Panelist and CEO of Young Judaea Global

Don Futterman
Israeli Novelists I Love who You Should Read

A. B. Yehoshua is Israel’s last great literary lion, Yochi Brandes transforms the evolution of Judaism into fictional acrobatics, and Meir Shalev plunges us into the emotional chaos of the Israel’s founding generation. Plus a few more if time allows.

Don is the Director of The Moriah Fund in Israel.

Click to watch recording.

Rabbi Pinchas Giller
Edot in Contemporary Zionism

Notwithstanding the good intentions of Zionist Youth movements everywhere, the Pa’ar ha-Adati remains in force in many sectors of the Jewish world. This talk will address the stubborn vitality of this toxic form of discourse within Zionism and the threat that it poses to the American Jewish community.

Rabbi Pinchas Giller is the Professor of Jewish Thought and chairman of the Jewish Studies department of the American Jewish University, Los Angeles.

Click to view recording.

Mirele Goldsmith
From Moses to Greta: Leadership Lessons for Facing Up to Climate Change

Explore lessons from the stories of Moses and Greta Thunberg to overcome fear, inspire hope, and be a part of the solution. We can make it to the promised land!

Mirele is an environmental psychologist and co-founder of Jewish Earth Alliance.

Click to watch recording.

Hannah Grossman 
Learn & Volunteer to Promote Empowerment Among Youth Experiencing Incarceration through Poetry Response Project

In this session we will share and learn about modern Jewish views on incarceration and volunteer with Free Minds Book Club to read and respond to poems written by youth experiencing incarceration to help build empowerment and an essential sense of connection. Poems with your responses will be returned to the writers, who are participants in Free Minds Book Clubs at various DC prisons.

Hannah is a Family and Youth Senior Program Manager at Repair the World, NYC.

Click to watch recording.

Fred Lazin, Prof. Emeritus, Ben Gurion University
The absorption of Jews from Arab lands in the 1950s; what I didn’t know as a Merakez at TY

Insights into the absorption of Jewish immigrants in the 1950s.

Fred is Professor Emeritus BGU, PhD U Chicago, and Alumnus of Year Course 1961-62.

Click to view recording.

Dr. Avi Mendelowitz
What do the Rambam, Shabbatai Zvi, and Zionism have in Common?

Assimilation by individual Jews is typically characterized as an existential threat to the continuity of the Jewish people. However, from the community perspective, assimilation is the synthesis of Jewish civilization with major beliefs, values, and cultures that were external to Judaism. We will explore this idea with several historical examples, concluding with the origins of Zionism.

Avi is President of the ACTUS Financial Research Foundation.

Click to watch recording.

Ilana Preuss, Founder & CEO, Recast City
What it means to develop a trusting community – as a YJer, a zionist, & a believer in Palestinian rights

Community development today means having conversations with different people & different viewpoints. The same holds true with Zionism today, what YJ taught about those conversations, & how we have a responsibility to support Palestinian rights as part of tikum olam.

Ilana is the Founder & CEO of Recast City LLC.

Click to watch recording.

Laurie Ruskin
How Did It All Really Work? Educational Lessons From The Front Lines of TY – Or, Why Air Conditioning Was An Existential Threat To Shira.

A talk about all those little (and big) things I learned at camp, mainly from Mel, some of which made me useful as his “translator.” There were tons of “Mel-isms” – like why installing air conditioning in the chadar ochel was an existential threat to shira. Or, why eating on Tisha B’Av encouraged critical thinking. I thought I’d share some. Feel free to bring your own.

Laurie is a Jewish educator turned lawyer, former staff attorney with the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

Eilon Schwartz
This Crazy Israeli Government — A Marriage of Convenience or A Harbinger of Possibilities

Right, left and center; Jews and Arabs; religious and secular, (and one Young Judaean): a look at Israel’s government and the possibility of a Common Good politics.

Eilon is the Head of the Shaharit Institute which strives to bridge the divides of Israeli society.

Click to watch recording.

Chaim Steinberg
Antebellum Jews and their response to Slavery

In this session we will use primary source documents to look at the Jewish response to slavery on the precipice of the Civil War.

Chaim is a middle school social studies teacher & YJ Pittsburgh coordinator.

Click to watch recording.

Professor Gil Troy
Is George Costanza Jewish?: The Image and Self-Image of American Jews, of Israelis, and of Proud Zionists like Mel

Zionism was about creating a New Jew not just a new State: if he is indeed Jewish, was “George” the old Jew, American style – and Mel the ultimate New Jew, in the Bronx, in Barryville, in Jersey and in Jerusalem?

Gil is an American presidential historian and Zionist activist.

Click to watch recording.

Ilan Wagner, VP for Onward Israel at Birthright Israel
COVID-19 and entry to Israel: Whose right is it?

During COVID-19, Israel closed its borders to Jews from around the world , while allowing Israeli citizens to exit and enter. Is this a valid distinction? Is it true to Israel’s self-definition as the State of the Jewish People? We will discuss this case and its wider implications together.

Click to watch a recording.

David Weinstein
Dvar Torah – Opening Teaching

David is the Director of Camp Tel Yehudah

Mason Voit
I’m not from here; but not entirely foreign

Inspired by the 2004 Ehud Banai song, Brooklyn, we will explore the idea of “Home” and “Homeland” using the music of Ehud Banai along with Leah Goldberg and Achinoam Nini. No Hebrew knowledge or singing talent required (only working knowledge of the mute button:).

Mason is the Director of Education and Jewish Family Life at the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale (CSAIR).

Click to watch a recording.

Emil Zaidman
Israeli and Americans teens living together – The old – new road to Jewish Peoplehood.

Atid’s partnership flag project is Garin Atid. Israeli young Adults, Tsofim graduates, living together with Year Coursers in a year of joint formative experiences. Does it work? Is it the answer to creating lasting bonds and strong peoplehood ? Can YJ become a pioneer in joint living programs?

Emil is the CEO of the ATID partnership.

Click to watch a recording.

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