Changemakers Series

Federation's Imagine Israel Changemaker Seris


The Jewish Federation’s Imagine Israel Changemakers Series brings dynamic Israeli agents of change to DC to lead community conversations focused on their impact on transformative social issues in Israel. These prominent Israeli Changemakers share their unique ideas and influential actions that challenge Israel’s status quo and effect social change in Israeli society.


Imagine Israel Changemaker, Ilana Kwartin, academic, lawyer, entrepreneur, and Zumba instructor – April 2019

Social change advocate and passionate entrepreneur Ilana Kwartin was born in the former Soviet Union and made aliyah to Israel with her family in 1987. She grew up in Jerusalem and then served as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces.

She earned B.A. degrees in Law and Psychology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an M.A. in Conflict Resolution from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Gender Studies at Bar-Ilan University researching “honor-based confinement” among married women in Israel.

Ilana currently serves as the Director of the Entrepreneurship Department at Eretz-Ir, lectures in Law, Gender and Entrepreneurship at Sapir Academic College Law School in Sderot and leads a Hub (a shared working space) in her community. She is married to BG and is the mother of four children (Tamara, Yoav, Ivri, Arava). Ilana and her family live in Eliav, a newly-founded community for secular and orthodox Israelis, in the southern Judean foothills of Israel.

Esty Shushan, Israeli social activist, lecturer and filmmaker – October, 2018

An evening of thought-provoking conversation and ideas that challenge Israel’s status quo. 

Esty Shushan is a social activist and Haredi-Orthodox filmmaker. She is a leader in the protest campaign, “No Voice, No Vote” which calls for representation of Orthodox women in the Knesset and for the rights of Orthodox women, bringing their silent voices to the center of Israeli discourse. She manages an ultra-orthodox feminist Facebook group which deals with taboo issues within Haredi society. Her short film Barren, which was screened in the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival and UK Jewish Film Festival in 2015, is part of the extensive activities to encourage inside-Orthodox dialogue on issues of women’s rights, preventing extremism and revealing muted Orthodox voices. In 2015, she was selected to give a lecture at TedX Jerusalem, where she shared her activities in the field. Esty is a married with four children.

Federation’s Changemakers Series with Joseph Gitler in April 2018

Founder of Israel’s National Food Bank introduces food recovery to Israel.
View photos from our May 2018 event
Listen to our podcast episode with Gitler

Confronted by the issue of food insecurity, Gitler decided to develop the first food rescue initiative in Israel. He drove around to pick up meals from catering halls and delivered them to local nonprofits that serve the needy. Eventually, Gitler founded Leket in 2003, working with 200 partners to collect and redistribute more than 28 million pounds of fresh, perishable, quality food that would otherwise be considered waste from farms, hotels, military bases and catering halls.
Watch the Gitlers presentation, followed by a panel discussion with DC Central Kitchen’s Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Finke and Rabbi Hannah Goldstein from Temple Sinai.

Federation’s Changemakers Series with Yuval Bdolah and Hadas Goldman in February 2018

Two Pioneers represent thousands of ideologically-motivated young adults who are moving to Israel’s underdeveloped inner cities, transforming previously neglected towns into mission-driven communities of culture, opportunity and prosperity.
View photos from our February 2018 event

More than 250 cooperative societies exist across Israel’s social and economic periphery, combining community life and a communal lifestyle with social action. Driven by their personal passions and skills, young and innovative Israelis are working to establish value-focused communities, strengthen educational initiatives, and create opportunities for underprivileged youth in their cooperative societies. Each mission-driven community focuses on a specific area established by the community values, from education to the arts, agriculture to infrastructure, to coexistence with other populations and more. Yuval and Hadas discussed their separate community developments, how this larger network of communities interact and how this movement is evolving throughout Israel.

Federation’s Changemakers Series with Rabbi Esteban Gottfried in November 2017

Warrior for Jewish Pluralism, Rabbi Esteban Gottfried shared how a new model for prayer has introduced a secular, spiritual outlet for all Jewish Israelis.
Listen to our podcast with Gottfried to learn about this modern movement in Israel.

Rabbi Gottfried is Co-Founder and Director of Beit Tefilah Israeli, a fast-growing, multi-generational community that is renewing and revitalizing the landscape of Judaism in Israel.  Under the radar from the official Jewish religious establishment in Israel, and for more than a decade, a grassroots movement of Israeli Judaism is emerging, gaining supporters and slowly changing the way Israelis connect to their Jewish identity. Gottfried’s modern, creative and cultural approach to prayer, song and celebration introduce an alternative outlet for spiritual expression that has become an international phenomenon.

Rabbi Esteban Gottfried

Federation’s Changemakers Series with Oren Helman in May 2017

Renowned Israeli disability inclusion advocate, Oren Helman shared his legislation that is revolutionizing employment regulations for individuals with disabilities in Israel.
View photos from our event with Oren Helman.

Vice President at Israel’s largest government-owned electric company, Oren Helman applies his extensive experience working with Israel’s Knesset (legislative body) to his disability inclusion advocacy work. Helman was a key creator of the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Bill, a major advancement in the field of disability inclusion, passed by Knesset in August 2016. The bill requires that every public agency and organization with 100 workers or more employ individuals with substantial disabilities to at least 5% of its workforce. This law also stipulates that each such institution appoint a disability employment officer to oversee the implementation and annual reports of this regulation.

Federation’s Changemakers Series with Dr. Dalia Fadila in February 2017

Arab-Israeli educational pioneer, Dr. Dalia Fadila led an electrifying discussion on the complex cultural and political dynamic for Arabs living in Israel.
View photos from our event with Dr. Dalia Fadila.

On a mission to empower Arab-Israeli citizens and advance societal standards for women through education, Dr. Dalia Fadila is pioneering a revolutionary schooling system in Israel. She has developed an English-intensive curriculum and reoriented the Arab educational construct to impart progressive values of individuality, encouraging students to become citizens of the world.

Dr. Dalia Fadila’s Outlook on Arab-Israeli Complexities: Dr. Fadila believes Arabs in Israel haven’t yet mastered a balance of heritage. Unable to identify as Palestinian, reluctant to adapt as Israeli and observant of Islam, she says the tension from this identity crisis continues to impede their progress. “Arab-Israelis can and must strengthen themselves through integration with the Jewish majority,” the ultimate lesson this educational pioneer strives to teach at her Q schools. Having grown up as a minority herself, Dr. Fadila has grappled with her own identity clash. She confidently considers herself an Arab, Muslim, minority, Israeli woman. Her mission is to advance “a new generation of Arabs who have the right thinking tools and the right leadership tools to see themselves as part of the elite.”

Federation’s Changemakers Series with Gal Uchovsky in November 2016

Leading Israeli LGBTQ advocate, Gal Uchovsky was captivating at Federation’s inaugural Changemakers Series as he divulged his personal and professional experiences as a gay man in Israel.
View photos from our event with Gal Uchovsky.

Over the past few decades, there has been a substantial change in the visibility and portrayal of the LGBTQ community in Israeli media and Gal has been at the forefront of the movement. Recognized as “The most influential LGBT person in Israel” by the monthly gay magazine Pink Time, Uchovsky has been a vigorous advocate of gay rights in Israeli arts and culture. His dynamic work as a journalist, filmmaker and TV personality has made him a popular role model for gay youth and an instrumental leader in forming Israel’s future LGBTQ culture.