israel fellowship

Lead the conversation about Israel as an idea, value and modern nation-state of the Jewish people.


IMPACT fellows will develop their passion for Israel through deeper understanding. By engaging multiple perspectives and challenging questions of identity, our program will empower fellows to lead productive communal discourse on Israel. Our educational vision is rooted in the following goals:

reimagine zionism

Learners will grapple with the meaning of various Zionist ideas and what they mean today, being challenged to develop their own Zionist narrative.

engage complexities

Wrestling with complexity is integral to any educational process. Learners come to autonomous choices, guided by their own meanings and values.

Unity not uniformity

We seek to build a "big tent" of leaders. While not uniform in their beliefs, politics or opinions, IMPACT fellows are united in their commitment to Israel as a cornerstone of Jewish life.

educate to lead

With renewed understandings in how to relate to Israel, IMPACT fellows will be empowered to lead the "Israel conversation" in their communities.


The IMPACT fellowship takes place entirely online. For Jewish learners affiliated with high schools, camps, youth groups, campus organizations and young adult leadership, our program is tailored to the needs of each cohort. Organized, facilitated and managed by our seasoned Israel educators, our program is based on four building blocks.


IMPACT fellows will have the opportunity to learn from experienced educators and expert guest speakers. In preparation for sessions, IMPACT fellows will be asked to prepare through traditional and non-traditional learning tools.


IMPACT fellows will debate and discuss collectively as a cohort, in breakout groups,  and in 1-on-1 Hevrutot (pairs). These facilitated discussions are crucial to our learning process.


IMPACT fellows will work on a project to engage an authentic challenge they identify and find meaningful to explore. Consulting with mentors, projects will vary from fellow to fellow


IMPACT fellows will join an alumni network to strengthen connections and lead communal discourse. We’ll convene conferences in person and/or online to aid fellows in their shared goals.


Yossi Klein Halevi

Author, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor & Like Dreamers, Senior Fellow at Shalom Hartman Institute

Dr. Einat Wilf

Former Israeli Member of Knesset & Author

Col. (res) Miri Eisen

Former Israeli PM Spokeswoman, Middle East & Communications Expert, IDC

Pnina Agenyahu

Director of Interfaces and Synergy, Jewish Agency for Israel

Haviv Retig Gur

Senior Analyst, Times of Israel


Benji Davis, IMPACT Director

Benji Davis is a Jerusalem-based educator specializing in Israel education. He teaches the Challenging Israel Course to gap year students through Makom Israel, gives geopolitical lectures to 60+ Birthright-Israel groups a year, and leads seminars, tours and Shabbatons for many visiting groups to Israel. Benji grew up in Los Angeles, California, where he graduated from Milken Community High School, was active in Far West USY, and was a camper, counselor and unit head at Camp Ramah in California. Benji holds a BA in Middle East Studies & History, an MA in Jewish Education and is a doctoral student at the University of Haifa in the Faculty of Education, focusing his research on Israel education of Diaspora Jewry. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife Rachel and daughter Maia. Email:

Liel Zahavi-Asa, Mentor in Residence

Liel was born in Berkeley, California. Her parents made Aliyah when she was six and raised her and her siblings in Israel. When Liel completed her national service, she moved to the States for college and got involved with Hillel, staffing Birthright trips, and being active in Israel education on campus. Liel spent three years working at Rutgers Hillel as the IACT Birthright Coordinator and then as The Director of Israel Engagement and Jewish Life. Liel holds a Masters Degree in Jewish Education from Hebrew University and has worked for many Jewish and Israel educational organizations such as; Birthright, Onward Israel, Pardes, and The ICenter. Liel is completing the Israeli tour guide course this fall and will be a licensed tour guide in 2021. She currently lives in Jerusalem, and when she’s not working as an Israel/Jewish educator she dreams of becoming a Broadway director. Email:

Alan Goldman, Senior Educational Advisor

For over thirty years, Alan has developed a specialty in teaching text and history, both formally and informally, combining classroom studies with inspiring field trips for Ramah Israel, Young Judaea Year Course, Tochnit Shalem, and more. He leads educational heritage tours to Poland and consults for numerous Israel education organizations. In addition, Alan co-hosts the Makom Israel Teacher's Lounge Podcast, which takes listeners behind the headlines to learn about Israeli politics, news and culture. As a life-long learner, Alan has a B.A. in Sociology and Judaic Studies, M.A. in Modern Jewish History, and Rabbinic Ordination. He lives in Nechusha, a Moshav in the Ellah Valley, with his wife and two kids. Email:

Matthew Lipman, IMPACT Educator

Matthew Lipman has been working in Israel education for over 15 years. He has taught Judaic Studies at Jewish Day Schools in North America and led many innovative programs at those schools. He has written high-tech educational materials for U.S. public schools and the IDF and directed the multimedia development of an online Jewish day school. In addition to his teaching work at several gap year programs in Israel, he has trained Day School leaders in North America to create meaningful Israel education programs. Matthew has a B.A. in Politics and History from the University of Liverpool and holds a Master’s Degree in Jewish Education from the Hebrew University. He lives with his family in Modi’in. Email:

rajel 1

Rajel Leghziel, IMPACT Educator

Rajel Leghziel, Mexican by birth, Israeli by choice. lives in Jerusalem with her family. She has a BA and an MA in International Relations with a specialization in Politics and Diplomacy. She has been working for more than a decade as an informal educator, promoting innovative programming about Israel, its politics and society. She has hosted groups and international delegations at the Knesset, discussing issues related to democracy, transparency and legislation. she is a member of the Jerusalem Press Club, an NGO which provides foreign press correspondents with objective and balanced sources about current events in Israel. Email:

Michael Unterberg, IMPACT Educator

Michael Unterberg has been an educator for over 20 years. He was a founding member of the Torat Tzion Kollel movement, led the Jewish History department at Fuchs Mizrachi School, and was lead educator for Write on For Israel in Cleveland, Ohio. Michael helped develop the Makom Challenging Israel curriculum, using the Understanding by Design framework, and is the creator and host of Makom’s Israel Teachers Lounge podcast. Mike lectures on Israel and Zionism to Birthright groups and various visiting Israel Missions. Michael studied philosophy in and received smicha (Rabbinic Ordination) from Yeshiva University. Mike and his wife Dara live in Efrat and have five children, two grandchildren and a mini-Schnauzer. Email:

sample impact fellowship


TOPIC 1: Starting Off

Who am I, why am I here and what is our shared objective?

TOPIC 2: Framing the meaning of Israel and its relevance to me

What is Israel meant to be?

Israel, Zionism & Me

TOPIC 3: An Indigenous Nation Returns Home - is that my story?

Who are the Jews and why should they have their own country?

TOPIC 4: Why I’m a Zionist with Einat Wilf

What do your Jewish, Israeli and Zionist identities mean to you?

Palestinian Identity & Society

TOPIC 5: The Palestinian Perspective

Who are the Palestinians and why should they have their own country?

TOPIC 6: Panel of Palestinian Speakers from across the community

What are your personal and collective aspirations as a Palestinian?

PRACTICUM I - Five Fundamentals of Picking a Project

The Conflict

TOPIC 7: Narrative of Peace vs. Narrative of Justice

How do we navigate the Israeli desire for peace and the Palestinian desire for justice?

TOPIC 8: From Independence & Nakba to Liberation & Occupation: The Meaning of 48 and 67 Today

Why is the interconnectedness of 1948 and 1967 so crucial to understanding the Zionist narrative, the Palestinian narrative and their core disagreements?

TOPIC 9: The Elephant in the Room

Why do the Jews have their own state in the majority of their homeland but Palestinians do not?

TOPIC 10: Grappling with a never ending conflict with Yossi Klein Halevi

What do you see when you look out from your balcony in the French Hill neighborhood of Jerusalem?

Practicum II - Three Steps to Project Development

Israeli Politics & Society - Aspirations & Challenges

TOPIC 11: Israeli Politics - A Deep Dive

How does Israel's parliamentary system work, who are the main parties and players, and why does there seem to be an election every five seconds?

TOPIC 12: President Rivlin's Four Tribes of Israeli Society

How can the four tribes of Israel (secular Jews, national-religious Jews, ultra-orthodox Jews and Arabs) live together harmoniously in a Jewish & democratic country?

Topic 13: The Challenge of minorities in a Jewish state with Pnina Agenyahu

What is it like to be a Jewish minority in the Jewish state?

Topic 14: Religion & State in Israel today

Can religion shape the identity of the Jewish state that defines itself as democratic?

Practicum III - The Reflective Practitioner

The "Israel Conversation"

TOPIC 15: Israel & the Global Jewish Community with Haviv Retig Gur

Peoplehood, political identity or something else - what binds us but also keeps us at a distance?

TOPIC 16: Case Studies - Israel in the Public Square

How is Israel portrayed in our communities, in our societies, and in our politics?

TOPIC 17: Articulating your voice in a Complex Conversation with Miri Eisen

How do you want to lead the "Israel conversation" for your community?

TOPIC 18: Reflections & Moving Forward

Who am I, why am I here and what is our shared objective?

Practicum IV - Project Presentations & Introduction to the Impact Network


Benji Davis, IMPACT Director

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