Dan Meridor is an Israeli politician and civic leader who has served as Deputy Prime Minister and numerous other ministerial positions in successive Israeli governments. He was born in Jerusalem in 1947 towards the end of the Mandate era. The son of former MK Eliyahu Meridor, Dan Meridor served in the IDF where he fought as a tank commander captain. Meridor later earned an LL.B. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and worked as an attorney in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for many years. After serving as Cabinet Secretary from 1982-1984, Meridor ran for the Knesset on the Likud list for the 1984 election. As a freshman member, he was appointed chairman of two legislative subcommittees. He went on to hold many ministerial positions throughout his time in the Knesset including Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance, and Deputy Prime Minister. In 1998, together with several other Likud and Labor Party members, he co-founded "Israel in the Center", which later became the Center Party and led to his election as a Center Party MK in 1999. He has held a variety of civic leadership positions including Chairman of the Public Council of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Chairman of the Board of the Israel Museum, and member of the Board of the Gesher Theatre. Currently, Meridor serves as the Chairman of the Board of Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Chairman of the Jerusalem Press Club and head of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations.
Uri Dromi is the Director General of the Jerusalem Press Club. Prior to this role, Dromi was director general of Mishkenot Sha’ananim Conference Center, a venue for international artistic and cultural activities in the spirit of dialogue and tolerance, established by the Jerusalem Foundation. Dromi served as the spokesman of the Rabin and Peres governments from 1992 to 1996, during the dramatic days of the Oslo process and the peace agreement between Israel and Jordan. From 1996 to 2007, he was director of publications and international outreach at the Israel Democracy Institute. A retired colonel, Dromi served in the Israeli Air Force from 1964 to 1989 and continued to fly in the reserves until 2003 after retiring from active duty. A frequent columnist for leading media publications, he is a book and opera reviewer for Israel’s daily Ha’aretz newspaper, has published three books, and authors a regular column, “Focus on Israel,” for the Miami Herald. He is a graduate of Ben-Gurion University.
SESSION I - The Jerusalem Mosaic: A Delicate Balance
Meir Kraus is the Director General of the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. Kraus has extensive managerial experience in the education system in Israel and the Jewish world. He has filled such senior positions as director of the Jerusalem Education Administration, director of the Administration for Equal Opportunities in Education, and international COO for Taglit-Birthright Israel. As an public policy expert, he has participated in leading many reforms in the education system, and served as an advisor for nationwide policy planning in various realms.
Mr. Kraus holds a master’s degree (with honors) in Jewish philosophy and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
SESSION II - Whose Jerusalem? The Challenge of Coexistence
Rebecca Bardach is Director of Resource Development and Strategy at Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel.
Rebecca worked for almost two decades in migration, development and foreign aid before joining Hand in Hand. She directed refugee assistance programs in Hungary and in Bosnia (1994-1998). When moving to Israel in 1998 she worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with asylum claimants and government policy makers on refugee issues, and then with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) to establish its Center for International Migration and Integration (CIMI). In her 13 years at JDC, Rebecca also established their tsunami relief efforts in Sri Lanka and directed the Middle East Program, which conducts cooperative programs between Israelis and Palestinians in health and welfare.
She earned an MPA in Public Policy and International Development from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and a BA in English Literature from Columbia University. Rebecca is married with three children, two of whom attend the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Bilingual school in Jerusalem (as will the youngest when she is old enough!).
Avner Haramati is founder and chairman of the Board of the Jerusalem Intercultural Center (JICC), which is dedicated to making Jerusalem a more participatory and inclusive environment for all its residents, regardless of ethnicity or creed.
He is also the co-founder of Oganim, an organization dedicated to encouraging organizational success by emphasizing profit, spirit, and wellness. An organizational psychologist and social entrepreneur, Haramati has extensive experience working within Israel's business, government, and NGO sectors. He is one of the founders and former chairman of B'sod-Siach, an NGO that promotes dialogue between groups in conflicts within the Israeli society. He focuses today on numerous projects together with Israeli, Palestinian and international partners in order to promote Jerusalem as an open, shared, equal and prosperous city. He holds an M.A. in clinical and social psychology and a B.A. in economics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Mohamad Marzouk is the Director of the Community Department at Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel. Mohamad been a social-political activist for 20 years, and is one of the founders of the Hand in Hand school, Bridge over the Wadi. Most of Mohamad’s work has focused on social change and the advancement of civil society in Arab communities in Israel as well as on peace education through Jewish-Arab dialogue. In addition to helping establish the Hand in Hand school in Kfar Kara, Mohamad established and directed the branch of Shatil in the Triangle area in Israel, which works for the advancement of local Arab social initiatives and organizations. He also initiated a program for Arab communal leadership, which worked to strengthen the Arab community in Israel. In addition to his experience in community organizing, Mohamad has also spent many years in advancing Palestinian-Israeli dialogue, facilitating and coordinating dialogue programs, which brought together groups of politicians, teachers, university students, and children. Mohamad lives in Kfar Kara with his wife and three children, two of whom are graduates of the Hand in Hand Bridge over the Wadi school, and one now a student in the first grade there.
Tehila Nachalon is a founder and board member of “Yeru-Shalem,” a coalition of civic organizations working for an inclusive Jerusalem, as well as one of the founders of “Hatnua Hayerushalmit,” a movement whose goal is to advance Jerusalem as a strong, pluralistic, and inclusive city. She was chair of the board of “Ne’emanei Torah Va’Avodah,” a religious Zionist movement that works to strengthen openness in the Orthodox world and unity in Israeli society. She served as advisor to Natan Sharansky during his tenure as Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs.
In addition to undergraduate and graduate degrees in law from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, she completed a two-year fellowship at the Mandel Leadership Institute in 2014. Prior to that she worked as a grant officer at YadHanadiv—The Rothschild Foundation; as assistant director at the New England branch of the ADL; and as director of the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey’s Israel Office. Within her work with the Federation, she established and managed the Ness Fund, which used economic and social initiatives to promote the development of the Negev. Tehila lives in Jerusalem with her husband and five children.
SESSION III - Sustainable Jerusalem: Creating a Dynamic, Livable City
is the co-founder, with partner Ami Dror, of Zaitoun Ventures, an investment company that seeks to build successful businesses on the Israeli, Arab and international levels to create bridges across the Middle East.
He previously served as CEO of the Jerusalem International YMCA and its Three Arches Company, for the investment management fund Capital Group Companies, and at the Abraham Fund. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, an MA in international relations and international economics from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a BA degree from Brandeis University.
Originally from the village of Sha’ab in the northern Galilee, Forsan currently resides in Tel Aviv with his wife and young son.
is the CEO of the Jerusalem Transportation Master Plan, the partnership between the city and the Transportation Ministry that is managing a major overhaul of Jerusalem's transportation system. Its goal is to create a more fluid and efficient system of public transportation while enhancing the methods already in place. A centerpiece of the plan is the light rail system, which took nine years to build and opened in 2011. Having been dubbed by Al Jazeera as "The Peace Line," the light rail has helped revitalize the city center while reducing traffic and pollution near Jaffa Street.
The light rail project is widely utilized by members of diverse communities, including the Arabs, haredim and the disabled.
Naomi Tsur is the founder and current chair of the Jerusalem Green Fund, founder and head of Green Pilgrim Jerusalem, and chair of the Jerusalem Bio-region Center. Tsur recently completed a five-year as Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem with the portfolios of strategic planning and sustainable development.
As Deputy Mayor she led Jerusalem’s recycling revolution, and integrated urban nature into city planning in major projects such as the Gazelle Valley Urban Nature Park and the Railway Park. In the recent municipal elections she initiated and headed a cross-sectoral women-led party, with a non-political agenda of sustainable development for Jerusalem. Before serving as Deputy Mayor, she founded and headed the non-governmental Sustainable Jerusalem Coalition. While in office in the municipality, she initiated the Global Green Pilgrimage Network, launched in 2011. The goal of Green Pilgrimage is to engage Pilgrim Cities around the world, together with the faith communities that view them as important spiritual destinations, in achieving mutual respect and in aiming to ”leave a more positive footprint”.
Glenn Yago is the Senior Director of the Milken Innovation Center at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and a senior fellow and founder of the Financial Innovations Labs® at the Milken Institute. He is a leading authority on financial innovations, capital markets, emerging markets and environmental finance. Yago's work focuses on the innovative use of financial instruments to solve long-standing economic development and social and environmental challenges. His research and projects have contributed to policy innovations fostering the democratization of capital to traditionally under-served markets and entrepreneurs in the United States and around the world.
Yago oversees a range of activities that are devoted to accelerating Israel's economic growth, bridging social and economic gaps, and securing Israel's global competitiveness through financial technology transfer that increases the impact of government policy, philanthropy, and private-sector investment.
"One Wish Jerusalem" - Video Presentation
Joseph Shamash is a self-described "Jewish Persian cowboy." Born in Dallas, Texas to Iranian immigrants, he has lived most of his adult life in Los Angeles, California where he graduated from UCLA with a BA in Sociology. Joseph spent many years working in the entertainment industry as an editor, producer and research manager for Fox Sports, TMZ, AOL, DIRECTV and OTX-IPSOS.
In 2011, he left LA to study at The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem where he created the One Wish Project, an award-winning documentary film and education project that seeks to create a more unified world by giving voice to the marginalized individuals we have come to think of as “other.” He is also pursuing his Rabbinical ordination and Masters of Artsin Education at American Jewish University.