Israel Programs

Connecting our community to the people, history, culture, and land of Israel remains a core value of the Bender JCC. From lectures and dance to film, music, and art, the Center offers exciting, innovative ways to learn about Israel—past, present, and future.

Programs include the Center’s annual free Israel Fest, Israel-centric holiday celebrations and commemorative events, free lunch & learns, and much more.

Celebrate LOVE at Tu B’Av with IAC

Postponed until September

The Akko Opera Festival

August 3 – 5, 2017 | Akko, Israel

The story and history of opera in Israel could be the plot of one of the most exciting operas ever written. The story of opera in Israel is a story about pioneers who relentlessly fought to maintain their artistic dreams in a nation yet to be born. It is a story of struggle and love, of faith and despair, a story that eventually, 93 years later, puts Israel very proudly on the international opera map.

In 1982, the Ministry of Culture and Education decided to cease its funding of the Israel National Opera, but Israeli society quickly felt the void. The Council for Arts and Culture worked to find a solution.

The Israeli love of art and music, set in the backdrop of historical significance continues to fuel the growth and devotion of opera throughout Israel. Israeli National Opera productions feature leading opera artists from all over the world side by side with Israeli opera artists.

The Akko Opera Festival will take place for the fourth consecutive year in the Old City’s Crusader Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site, over the weekend of August 3-5. The city of Akko, north of Haifa, is one of Israel’s greatest archaeological and historic sites. History, like the arts, tells a story. Around the world, opera is often performed in historical settings, so it’s fitting that Israel, a country thriving with culture and steeped in history, can stage music events in such ancient locations as Akko.

Tourists and visitors attending this annual festival can enjoy an exceptional cultural experience, thanks to the unique combination of enchanting music, productions created especially for the festival and the spectacular setting of the Crusader fortress.

Jerusalem Wine Festival

August 7-10 from 7:00 – 11:00 PM | Jerusalem

Your first memories of drinking wine may be the sweet taste of Manischewitz at Passover. That venerable drink for filling Elijah’s cup originated in Cincinnati, Ohio. But today choices in kosher wines are bountiful and run the gamut from oaky Chardonnays to fruity Pinot Noirs. Many are produced in Israel, which has been making wine since Biblical times.

For the last 13 years, the Jerusalem Wine Festival has offered the opportunities for Israelis and visitors from around the world to taste hundreds of wines, some entirely new. The wine festival is one of the most popular summer events in Jerusalem and is a celebration of Israeli wineries. The festival is held in the beautiful Art Garden of the Israel Museum with live music every evening, making the wine festival a wonderful way to spend a summer evening in Jerusalem. Last year’s festival hosted around 60 wineries.  In addition to the wine, there are food stands with sushi, fish & chips, pastries, chocolate and cheeses for purchase.

Find out more about  wine in Israel and the festival here.

IAC Eitanim Summer Hackathon

July 30 – August 4 | Los Angeles, CA

**$300 Registration includes housing, meals and all activities!

This six-day, one of a kind experience will bring together hundreds of Israeli and Jewish American teens (grades 7-12) from across the country for a unique summer adventure. Throughout this fun-filled week, students will collaborate to tackle real-world challenges, expressing their personal interests and exploring new ideas inspired by Israeli innovation.

Check out this video to learn what the Summer Hackathon is all about!

Register Here
**Save $50 with Early Bird pricing | Expires May 1

IAC National Conference

November 3-6, 2017 | Convention Center | Washington, D.C.

Join thousands of community members at the IAC National Conference in Washington DC to experience influential thought leaders, industry experts, senior political figures, diplomatic figures, community leaders, prominent journalists and more. This inspiring three-day journey will explore Israeli-American and Jewish identity, unite the Israeli-American and Jewish communities, and understand how we can effectively strengthen Israel, the Nation-State of the Jewish People.

The IAC National Conference offers participants the opportunity to engage and select from a variety of plenaries, breakout panels, workshops, and discussion topics specifically tailored to meet the various interests of our broad audience.

Together we will examine core areas including:

  • Jewish and Israeli identity of the young generation
  • Israel as a Nation State of the Jewish People
  • Israeli American and Jewish peoplehood

Examining the current state of these vital issues of Jewish peoplehood, we will explore how Israeli-Americans, who constitute 10 percent of the Jewish American Community, can serve as a living bridge to the broader community and Israel.

Click Here for more information about the IAC National Conference. Click Here to Register.

1/13/17 – Israeli-American Council D.C., Bender JCC of Greater Washington Announce Joint Venture

Today, the Israeli-American Council and the Bender JCC of Greater Washington announced a new joint venture to establish an IAC Center (Merkaz) at the Bender JCC, and to formalize the two organizations’ joint initiatives to bring together the Jewish-American and Israeli-American communities.

“We have entered an exciting new era of collaboration between the IAC and JCCs across the country. Our joint venture with the Bender JCC will help to bring a new wave of IAC programming to the Greater Washington area to benefit Israeli-Americans and the broader Jewish community. We will look to replicate this model for partnership in other regions in 2017,” said IAC Chief Executive Officer Shoham Nicolet.

IAC programming in the Merkaz space includes IAC Eitanim, a teen leadership program; IAC G’vanim, an adult leadership program, and IAC Keshet, a Hebrew learning program for children. IAC-D.C. will also use the center to host IAC Shishi Israeli events, where Israeli-Americans and Jewish Americans bond over an Israeli Shabbat dinner and educational activities for kids.

“Israeli-Americans and Jewish Americans have so much to give to each other,” said Michael Feinstein, CEO of the Bender JCC. “We are thrilled about the prospects of this new joint venture with the IAC. By creating vehicles for these two unique communities to come together we can enrich American Jewish life in so many ways.”

Kol Ami – Jewish Peoplehood Leadership Academy

Kol Ami is a six-month post-high school program — from September to February — designed to enable students with the opportunity to live in a Jewish pluralistic environment together with their Israeli counterparts. This program is best for those who want to learn more about themselves and how they can better impact the Jewish communities around the world.

With the understanding that Israel is an integral part of the world Jewish tapestry, Kol Ami will create a social network aspiring to excellence and which takes responsibility for impacting the future of the Jewish people.

During the six months of personal growth and development students will:

  • Gain leadership skills
  • Explore the land of Israel
  • Volunteer in the local community
  • Build physical endurance and navigation skills – the same skills Israelis learn to prepare for service in the IDF

For more information, contact Harrel Fenigstein at: or +972-52-613-0366.