Festival Education


Education and Speakers

Looking to learn more about Judaism or have some questions?  Knowledgeable local and national speakers share their expertise with you and give an interesting perspective on Jewish life, culture, and tradition.  Lively and interactive education topics expand your mind on various topics of Judaism and Israel.  Speakers at our sessions are experts on their topics with extensive first-hand knowledge in their fields.  The festival’s Mitzvah Alley focuses on various social service agencies in our region making a positive impact on our community.  

Thank you to all of our 2019 Speakers:

What Makes Us Jewish?
Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz is Temple Israel's senior Rabbi and first female Rabbi. Find out the key ingredients to being Jewish. Explore what makes a person Jewish besides being born into a Jewish family. Rabbi Bodney-Halasz's passions are social justice and collaborative interfaith programming. She is active with Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton (L.E.A.D.), Reform Ohio, Dayton Interfaith Lunch and Learn. She also teaches at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Dayton.


A Hero from the Holocaust: A Son Speaks about His Father
Pastor Chris Edmonds is the son of WWII hero Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds whose fearless valor saved the lives of hundreds of Jewish American soldiers in a prisoner of war camp in Germany in January 1945. Roddie Edmonds is one of five Americans to receive Israel's highest Honor: "Righteous Among the Nations". Sergeant Edmonds is also being considered for the Medal of Honor and the Congressional Gold Medal. Sergeant Edmonds' courageous tale, hidden in the ashes of the Holocaust for 70 years, is an inspiring story of good defeating evil and love overcoming hate. Like the story of Queen Esther, Roddie's story is timeless and transformative—a story for such a time as this. Pastor Edmonds serves as Senior Pastor of Piney Grove Baptist Church in Maryville, Tennessee and is founder of Roddie's Code, an organization committed to extend the legacy of Sergeant Edmonds.

Watch Footsteps of My Father film at 12:30pm and 3:30pm in room Aleph (off main hall). This 39 minute film chronicles this remarkable story.  A special thank you to the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous for the permission to screen this film.


Yiddish "Dear Abby" Advises Immigrants
Temple Israel members and friends Beverly Horwitz, Marshall Weiss, Meredith Levinson, Saul Caplan, Stacy Emoff, and Richard Prigozen present a dramatic reading of Letters with Yiddish musical selections. Long before Dear Abby, there was a Bintel Brief, a legendary advice column launched in 1906 that helped waves of Yiddish immigrants find their footing in their new American life.  Come hear the questions and the answers in this music-filled event.


If Holocaust Torah Scrolls Could Talk: the Amazing Journey Home
Steve Lipman is a member of Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City, CA (just south of San Francisco). For 47 years this congregation cared for the Olomouc Torah Scroll. Listen to the story of the Olomouc Torah scroll: its amazing 78 yr. journey through the Holocaust, from Prague, to London and California, and back to its original community in the Czech Republic. Our speaker accompanied it on its heartwarming journey to its ancestral home. In addition to a Political Science degree (UCLA), Steve earned a degree in Jewish Education from He- brew Union College in Los Angeles. He regularly leads service and reads Torah as a lay leader in his community.Temple Israel also cares for a Holocaust Scroll from the Czech Republic.

Temple Israel also cares for a Holocaust Scroll from the Czech Republic.


What are these Jewish Objects?  From Challah Covers to Yahrzeit Candles
Rabbi Tina Sobo is Temple Israel's Assistant Rabbi and the Epstein Family Director of Education. What are these ritual ob- jects (Judaica)? Various objects are used for specific festivals holidays, and on a daily basis. They exist to help celebrate history and observe sacred traditions and are found in synagogues and homes. Rabbi Sobo supervises the religious school, Bar and Bat Mitzvah preparation and retreat programs. She is interested in exploring how Judaism enhances all aspects of our lives.


2019 Mitzvah Alley Partners:

Alzheimer’s Association


Artemis House

Building Bridges

4 Paws 4 Abilities


Salvation Army

Child Fostering, Montgomery County Children Services

Interfaith Lunch and Learn

Human Trafficking

Dayton Police

Hospice of Dayton

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Dayton

Care House

Disability Foundation

For Love of Children

Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center 

Area on Aging 

Human Trafficking

Hannah's Treasure Chest 

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