18th Annual
Connie Spear Birnbaum
Memorial Lecture and Chai Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, May 2, 2021
12:30 pm EDT
from the comfort of your own home
The Synagogue Council of Massachusetts is honored to join lecture founder, Dr. Herbert Birnbaum and the Birnbaum family, in presenting the Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture. This year's program features noted journalist and author, Yossi Klein HaLevi in conversation with Benjamin Birnbaum addressing the important and provocative topic, "Holding the Jewish Center". An award-winning journalist, Ben is also Connie and Herb's son.

Yossi Klein Halevi is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Together with Imam Abdullah Antepli of Duke University, he co-directs the Institute's Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI), which teaches emerging young Muslim American leaders about Judaism, Jewish identity and Israel.
Halevi’s 2013 book, Like Dreamers, won the Jewish Book Council's Everett Book of the Year Award. His latest book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor, is a New York Times bestseller. He writes for leading op-ed pages in the US, including the Times and the Wall Street Journal, and is a former contributing editor to the New Republic.
His 2001 book, At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land, will be reissued in 2019 by HarperCollins.
His first book, Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist, tells the story of his teenage years as a follower of the militant rightwing rabbi Meir Kahane, and his subsequent disillusionment with Jewish radicalism. The New York Times called it “a book of burning importance.”
Born in Brooklyn, he moved to Israel in 1982, and lives in Jerusalem with wife, Sarah, who helps run a center for Jewish meditation. They have three children.
Connie Spear Birnbaum
& Dr. Herbert Birnbaum
Connie Spear Birnbaum z"l

In the late 1980’s, when the growing divide between the denominations of Judaism threatened the integrity of a single and unified Klal Yisrael (Jewish people), The Synagogue Council instituted the Unity Mission to bridge the gaps by bringing together young leaders from across the denominational spectrum to help shape the community’s future. To head this initiative, Synagogue Council’s Executive Director, Alan Teperow, targeted an extraordinary Jewish communal professional, Connie Spear Birnbaum. Connie had the magnetism and passion for people in general, and her people in particular, to galvanize these forces and bring creativity to the process. The importance of community and the need to operate out of the box, values driven home by the pandemic, are precisely the elements which defined Connie as an inspiring and impactful leader. Upon her untimely passing in January 2003, the Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture emerged to continue her legacy as a partnership of the Birnbaum family and The
Synagogue Council.

May the memory of Connie Spear Birnbaum be for a blessing.
The lecture is free and open to the public and made possible through the generosity of the Birnbaum family and friends, and all those who choose to honor Connie's legacy by donating.

We hope you will consider a targeted donation to the Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture.

To donate online, please click here.

To donate by check, please make your check payable to The Synagogue Council of Massachusetts, write "Connie Lecture" on the memo line, and mail your check to:

The Synagogue Council of Massachusetts
1320 Centre St., Suite. 306
Newton Centre, MA 02459
Previous Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture Speakers
2004: Dr. Norman Lamm, z”l
2005: Richard M. Joel
2006: Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg
2007: Rabbi David Ellenson
2008: Rabbi Harold Kushner
2009: Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
2010: Rabbi Steven Weil
2011: Rabbi Steven Wernick
2012: Natan Sharansky
2013: Malcom Hoenlein
2014: Nancy Kaufman
2015: Ofir Shaer & Rabbi Rick Jacobs
2016: Leon Wieseltier
2017: Rabbi Dr. Meir Soleveichik
2018: Ron Dermer
2019: Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin
2020: 55th Anniversary celebration of the Voting Rights Act

May the 18th anniversary of the Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture be one of myriad wonderful announcements, events, and celebrations in 2021!