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Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y. [s1] ) answers "What does it mean to be Jewish?" in our latest #0dot2 video.

In 2014, following four years in the New York State Senate, Lee Zeldin was elected to his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives). He was re-elected in 2016.

Immediately after taking office in 2015, Rep. Zeldin quickly became a leading voice in America on the need for a stronger, more consistent foreign policy; and outspoken on the need to defeat ISIS and other terrorist threats, secure our homeland and correct a deeply flawed Iran nuclear agreement.

Rep. Zeldin’s top priorities in Congress include protecting America’s security at home and abroad, helping grow our economy and create more good-paying jobs, supporting our veterans and first responders, improving the quality of education, repairing our nation’s infrastructure, improving health care in America and safeguarding our environment.

Rep. Zeldin serves on two Committees in the U.S. House of Representatives: Financial Services and Foreign Affairs. He also serves on five House Subcommittees. Rep. Zeldin, one of two Jewish Republicans in Congress, also serves as co-chairman of the House Republican Israel Caucus, which has more than 100 members.


B’nai B’rith Honorary President Richard D. Heideman answers “What does it mean to be Jewish?” in our latest #0dot2 video.

Heideman is Senior Counsel of the Washington, DC law firm Heideman Nudelman & Kalik, P.C., which is committed to holding sponsors of terror legally accountable and represents American victims of terrorist actions by Libya, Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Palestine Liberation Organization, Arab Bank plc and other banks it has accused of funding terror.

He serves as the President of the American Zionist Movement (AZM), is the founding Chairman of The Israel Forever Foundation, and previously served two terms as President of B’nai B’rith International. He has also served as Chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Lawyers Committee, Chairman of The Herzliya Conference International Advisory Board, Chairman of the Hebrew University Faculty of Law Institute for Law and Policy and served as Head of Delegation to the United Nations Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa as Chairman of the Conference of Presidents United Nations Committee.

Heideman is the author of “The Hague Odyssey: Israel’s Struggle for Security on the Front Lines of Terrorism and Her Battle for Justice at the United Nations” and has been published or featured in articles in The Jerusalem Post, the Washington Times, the Times of Israel, the Legal Times, and other publications. He graduated from The University of Michigan (BA, LSA 1969), The National Law Center of the George Washington University in Washington, DC (JD 1972), and completed the American University Law and Policy Institute Abroad at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem during the summers of 1970-1972.


Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum answers “What does it mean to be Jewish?” in our latest #0dot2 video.

Berenbaum is a writer, lecturer, and teacher consulting in the conceptual development of museums and the development of historical films. He is director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust at the American Jewish University (formerly the University of Judaism) where he is also a professor of Jewish Studies.

He was the executive editor of the second edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica that reworked, transformed, improved, broadened and deepened, the now classic 1972 work and consists of 22 volumes, 16 million words with 25,000 individual contributions to Jewish knowledge. The EJ won the prestigious Dartmouth Medal of the American Library Association for the Outstanding Reference Work of 2006.

For three years, he was president and chief executive officer of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. He was the director of the United States Holocaust Research Institute at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Hymen Goldman Adjunct Professor of Theology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. From 1988–93 he served as project director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, overseeing its creation. He also served as director of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, Opinion Page editor of the Washington Jewish Week and deputy director of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust where he authored its Report to the President. He has previously taught at Wesleyan University, Yale University and has served as a visiting professor at three of the major Washington area universities — George Washington University, The University of Maryland and American University.

Berenbaum is the author and editor of 20 books, scores of scholarly articles, and hundreds of journalistic pieces.

He is a graduate of Queens College (BA, 1967) and Florida State University (Ph.D.., 1975), and also attended The Hebrew University, the Jewish Theological Seminary and Boston University. He has won numerous fellowships including the Danforth Fellowship, the George Wise Fellowship at Tel Aviv University, and the Charles E. Merrill Fellowship at FSU. Berenbaum was an elected fellow of the Society for Values in Higher Education. He was given a Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) from Nazareth College in 1995 and a Doctor of Humane Letters (honoris causa) from Denison University.


Israel Bonds President & CEO Israel Maimon answers “What does it mean to be Jewish?” in our latest #0dot2 video.

Israel Maimon became president & CEO of Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds on Oct. 14, 2016. Worldwide sales of Israel bonds have surpassed $41 billion since the first bonds were issued in 1951. In 2017, sales of Israel bonds in the United States exceeded $1.1 billion, the fifth consecutive year investments eclipsed the $1 billion mark.

Maimon served in the Israel Defense Forces in the elite Golani Infantry Brigade, attaining the status of company commander and reaching the rank of major. An attorney by profession, Maimon was cabinet secretary for two prime ministers – Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert – and worked closely with one president, Shimon Peres, on the global conference Facing Tomorrow. His responsibilities included content development, fundraising and the general running and implementation of the conference. The conference was the largest, most important international gathering ever to take place in Israel.

He was an external director at Cal-Israel Credit Cards, Ltd., a corporation providing all credit card activities, and an external director at Fox-Wiesel, Ltd., a public company in the fashion and home-styling field. Additionally, Maimon was a director for Matzlawi Construction Company, Ltd. and he was also the founder of Think Content Events, a production company specializing in creating and producing content for conferences, conventions and events.


Reb Aaron Potek, the Community Rabbi at GatherDC who focuses on engaging 20-and-30 year old Jewish young professionals in a meaningful way, answers “What does it mean to be Jewish?” in our latest #0dot2 video.

Rabbi Potek grew up in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota, and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Industrial and Operations Engineering. He studied in Israel for two years, at Pardes and at Yeshivat Har Etzion.  A passion for working with teens led to his work with organizations like the Nesiya Institute in Israel, Impact and Genesis in Boston, and Moriah College in Sydney. He has participated in a variety of interfaith programming and has interned at Beth Israel Congregation in New Orleans; at Hunter College Hillel; and Harvard University Hillel.  Prior to joining GatherDC, from 2013-2015, he served as the campus rabbi for Northwestern University Hillel.  He was ordained at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, a Modern Orthodox seminary in New York.

The rabbi says that he “loves to help people find new ways to think about Jewish identity, understand themselves, and process the world around them.”  He believes that there are many ways to be Jewish, and he wants to help more young professionals find a path that works for them.  In September 2017, he co-hosted a sold-out alternative Yom Kippur experience in Washington, D.C. with Sarah Hurwitz, who worked as Michelle Obama’s chief speechwriter and who is writing a book about Judaism.  The Washington Post reported that “Potek and Hurwitz will both speak, though they aren’t calling their talks sermons, just like they’re not calling the gathering a service or calling any of the activities prayer.  Potek said they also won’t talk much about social action or politics, calling such discussion ‘a distraction’ during the event.”  Instead the alternative experience helped to engage more than 140 young professionals in a Jewish way on Yom Kippur who otherwise may not have observed the holiday in any other way.

GatherDC strengthens the fabric of Jewish life by serving as the central platform for post-college/pre-family Jewish life across the Washington, D.C. area, making it possible for thousands of 20s and 30s to live a Jewish life that feels right for them, right now.  The group facilitates innovative opportunities for meaningful and relevant Jewish learning at programs and retreats such as Beyond the Tent, Mini Gatherings, and more.  And it hosts an annual fellowship to train young adults to be leaders, engagers, and facilitators of Jewish life.


2018 James Beard Award semi-finalist Tova du Plessis of Essen Bakery in Philadelphia answers “What does it mean to be Jewish?” in our latest #0dot2 video.  She additionally discusses the Jewish influence on her business, which in Yiddish means “to eat.”

Zagat restaurant reviews notes: “South African-born pastry chef Tova du Plessis’ snug, homey bakery in Passyunk Square specializes in Jewish-style delicacies, including rye bread, challah, babka, rugelach, black-and-white cookies, bagels and specialty sandwiches.”

Prior to opening Essen Bakery in 2016, du Plessis moved to Israel and then to the U.S. for college. After obtaining her degree, she changed her mind in wanting to pursue a degree in medicine and instead enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America’s campus in Napa Valley, Ca.

After years of working at some of America’s most iconic restaurants, including helping to open a restaurant with famed-Israeli Chef Michael Solomonov, du Plessis decided to go back to her roots when she opened her first bakery. She took inspiration from the fresh-baked bread and pastries she would make as a child alongside her mother. Her food reflects her heritage while being heavily influenced by her classical training.


Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) answers “What does it mean to be Jewish?” in our latest #0dot2 video. The Congressman proudly represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district includes the B’nai B’rith Homecrest House senior housing campus in Silver Spring.

He is a Senior Whip for the Democratic Caucus, the Vice-Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, and a Vice Chair for the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He also serves on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and the Committee on House Administration.

Rep. Raskin has been a constitutional law professor at American University Washington College of Law for more than 25 years and is the bestselling author of “Overruling Democracy: the Supreme Court versus the American People” and “We the Students: Supreme Court Cases for and About Students”.

Prior to being elected to Congress in 2016, Rep. Raskin was a Maryland State Senator and the Maryland Senate Majority Whip. In his decade as a State Senator, he won a reputation for building coalitions in Annapolis to deliver landmark policy accomplishments.



Idan Raichel – an Israeli producer, keyboardist, lyricist, composer and performer – answers “What does it mean to be Jewish?” in our latest #0dot2 video.

Idan is a global music icon who has brought his inspiring example and soul-stirring music to some of the planet’s biggest stages. As the leader of The Idan Raichel Project, Idan acts as a musical ambassador representing a hopeful world in which artistic collaboration breaks down barriers between people of different backgrounds and beliefs. Over the past 13 years, Idan has collaborated with American pop stars India.Arie, Dave Matthews and Alicia Keys, not to mention a wide range of artists who are household names in their native countries: Portugal’s Ana Moura, France’s Patrick Bruel, Italy’s Ornella Vanoni, Germany’s Andreas Scholl, and Mali’s Vieux Farka Touré to name but a few.

In 2016, the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem recognized Idan for his contribution to fostering Israel-Diaspora relations through the arts.

Steven Weitzman answers “What does it mean to be Jewish?” in our latest #0dot2 video.

Steven Weitzman is the Abraham M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures and Ella Darivoff Director of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

His latest book, The Origin of the Jews (Princeton University Press, 2017), was the winner of the 2017 National Jewish Book Award in Education and Jewish Identity.

Professor Weitzman specializes in the Hebrew Bible and the origins of Jewish culture. Recent publications include Surviving Sacrilege: Cultural Persistence in Jewish Antiquity (Harvard University Press, 2005); Religion and the Self in Antiquity (Indiana University Press, 2005); The Jews: A History (Prentice Hall, 2009); and a biography of King Solomon, part of the new “Jewish Lives” series, published by Yale University Press in 2011.

He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University after completing his B.A. at UC Berkeley, and spent several years teaching in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University where he served as director of its Jewish Studies program for six years. He comes to the University of Pennsylvania from Stanford University, where he was Daniel E. Koshland Professor of Jewish Culture and Religion and the director of the Taube Center for Jewish Studies.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, answers “What does it mean to be Jewish?” in our latest #0dot2video.

In June 1986, Mr. Hoenlein was elected executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents, the coordinating body on international and national concerns for 52 national Jewish organizations. Previously, he served as the founding executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater New York, the central coordinating agency for Jewish organizations in the metropolitan New York area. Prior to that, he was the founding executive director of the Greater New York Conference on Soviet Jewry.

Mr. Hoenlein received his B.A. in Political Science from Temple University and completed his Masters degree and doctoral course work from the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of International Relations. A National Defense Fellow in the University’s Near East Center, Mr. Hoenlein taught International Relations in the Political Science Department and served as a Middle East specialist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. In addition, he served on the editorial staff of ORBIS, the Journal of International Affairs.