Zachary has spoken to audiences all around the country at conferences, universities, faith-based institutions, art exhibitions, and more

He is proud to have appeared alongside some of our nation's most eminent journalists, nonprofit leaders, and activists. He has shared the stage with journalists such as New York Times Editor Bari Weiss and The Atlantic Editor in Chief Jeffrey Goldberg. He has also spoken alongside the presidents and CEOs of major American Jewish organizations such as the Jewish National Fund, Hadassah, Association of Reform Zionists of America, Zionist Organization of America, and others.

He offers keynote speeches, seminars, two-hour to two-day workshops, and remote webinars on a number of topics. Zachary knows that your community is unique. When you book him, you don't get a pre-canned speech or cookie-cutter program. He will work with you to get to know your organization, your audience, and your needs. Together, he and you will design a customized program to meet your goals and your people where they are. 

Topics

Israel & Zionism

Zionism: A New Doctrine for Pluralism in the Jewish Community


The American Jewish community conversation about Israel is increasingly defined by bitter generational and ideological divides. This talk explores why American Jews tend to relate to Israel in one of two ways and how we can bridge this gap in our Israel discourse and education. Zachary offers a fresh paradigm through which to understand the two fundamental (and competing) relationships most American Jews have with Israel, and how we can forge a path forward.




Reclaiming Zionism as a Progressive Cause


Zionism was once understood as a moral and legitimate movement. Now, many Jews argue we should abandon the “Z” word altogether. But Zionism is our people’s what, our how, and, most importantly, our why. The Zionist story has an unrivaled potential to resonate with progressives and other diverse constituencies, but it is not a story we have been telling. I am not a Zionist despite being progressive, I am a Zionist because I am progressive. I also support a two-state solution because of my Zionism, not in spite of it. I believe that the story of Zionism has an unrivaled potential to inspire my progressive peers. In this program, I share that story.




Talking to Progressives About Israel


A 2019 national Gallup survey found that liberal Democrats have the lowest net sympathy for Israel among any American demographic. Why is it that so many progressives are agnostic about the Jewish state, if not actively hostile toward it? In this program, Zachary explores why traditional Israel advocacy methods often fall short and he offers three new frameworks through which progressives can relate to Israel and Zionism through their own lens.




Israel-Palestinian Reconciliation: Paving a Path Forward


Zachary is President of an Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking organization and previously managed Interfaith Partners for Peace, where he brought national clergy delegations to study conflict and reconciliation in the Middle East. He has firsthand experience with shared society work on the ground which is de-escalating tensions, de-radicalizing those prone to violence, and creating constituencies that support political change. In this program, Zachary takes these experiences and offers a perspective into how grassroots reconciliation efforts, or Track II diplomacy, can be utilized to shift the status quo on the ground. He reviews public opinion polls to get a pulse on Israeli and Palestinian perspectives, examines what people- to-people efforts are happening in the region, and discusses what role we can play to support them in America.




Starting with Why: What’s your Israel Story? (Workshop)


Reason alone rarely rivals a compelling story that engages both the heart and the head. In this workshop, we will learn to articulate our Israel stories. We will answer two questions: Why do I care about Israel and why should others? Together, we will craft personal narratives that cultivate empathy, create connections, and dismantle the defensiveness of those who hear them. We will study a proven storytelling methodology and develop narratives that persuade and inspire.





Understanding the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement


Why is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement so effective? While at the Israel Action Network, Zachary spent years searching for an answer to this question and testing national and local initiatives to see what works. In this talk, we explore the history, strategies, and emerging trends of the BDS movement. This session will help participants better understand why the BDS Movement is so persistent, what motivates its supporters, and how to engage with those who advocate for it. He brings his own experience as well as polls and data-tested messaging to offer new strategies for responding to these anti-Israel efforts with inquiry, empathy, and humility. He can specialize the presentation to focus on trends within specific sectors such as college campuses, Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), Black Lives Matter, or the Mainline Protestant community.




Israel-Diaspora Relations in the 21st Century


Given increasing divisions between Israel and the Diaspora, many are wondering what the future of the relationship will look like. As the beliefs and identities of both communities diverge more and more everyday, there is certainly reason to be concerned. In this talk, Zachary argues that this conflict is not new at all. In fact, it pre-exists the creation of the Jewish State and is wrapped up in larger questions about the future of Jewish identity. In this talk, Zachary explores whether Zionism and Diasporaism are truly at loggerheads and he offers a fresh understanding of a global Jewish Peoplehood which draws on the advantages afforded by Jewish sovereignty in Israel coupled with the creative vitality of the pluralistic American Jewish identity.




Text Studies on Zionism


Zachary offers customized text studies on Zionism, Israel-Diaspora relations, and Jewish Peoplehood. He will work with your group to design a text study that delivers exactly what you need to reach your group's goals. These are best for small group conversations with participants who want to dive into a miscellany of original and contemporary sources with a facilitator. Some pre-designed text studies include: - Understanding Zionisms: Competing Definitions - Zionism: A National Liberation Movement - Diasporism and Zionism: Past and Future - Did Zionism End in 1948? - Intersectional Zionism: Tapping into the Persuasive Power of Zionism




Israel Advocacy vs. Israel Education


Our community invests tremendous resources in teaching our youth the what and how of Israel advocacy, but rarely do we discuss the why. We often teach students how to be advocates for Israel before we inspire them to care in the first place. We conflate immersive Israel experiences and even advocacy with Israel education. This talk explores these three modalities of Israel engagement, what they each have to offer, and where they fall short. This talk is intended for Jewish communal professionals overseeing immersive Israel experiences, Israel education, or Israel advocacy programs.





Polarization, Conflict, & Civil Discourse

Pluralism in an Age of Polarization


Too often, we find ourselves struggling to understand the "other" and communicate constructively across divides. We are left wondering why we are so bitterly divided and if we can transcend this new normal. Zachary has been searching for answers to this question by placing himself at the center of healing complex political divides his whole life. In his work and research, he has found that polarization has little to do with how much we disagree and a lot more to do with the way our brains are wired. Conflict often has less to do with our competing beliefs and more to do with our divergent identities. In this keynote talk, he shares his perspective on why we are polarized in the hopes that by understanding those dynamics we can begin to take meaningful steps toward depolarization.




Being an Ambassador of Civil Discourse on Social Media (Workshop)


Social media represents the public square of the 21st-century. It is where we seek out
information, interact with our friends, and engage in political activism. Though it may seem like changing someone's mind on a Facebook thread is an impossible feat, it is actually very possible. In this session we explore the sources of digital conflict, learn techniques to de-escalate online, and discuss how we can model civil discourse and even change minds




How to Thrive in Emotionally Charged Conversations (Workshop)


Engaging in productive dialogue across differences is a skill that requires a great deal of knowledge and practice. This series of interdisciplinary workshops integrates cutting edge research and techniques from negotiation theory, transformative mediation, conflict resolution, psychology, and sociology. Rather than focus on how to win debates, we explore how to engage in constructive conversations and establish the credibility one needs to persuade others. You will not learn how to win a conversation, instead you will walk away knowing how to have one. You will learn how to escape the vicious cycle that turns dialogues into toxic debates and entrenches those you wish to persuade. This series explores how interpersonal conflict arises, the human nature behind polarization, and how we engage in civil discourse across divides. Participants will have the opportunity to put their skills to the test with interactive practice sessions.




Diversity is a Fact; Pluralism is an Achievement


It has been said that while diversity is a fact, pluralism is an achievement. Diversity is simply the presence of difference; it is a demographic reality. We all know that bringing different populations together does not always precipitate peaceful or productive outcomes. Diversity is the culprit of unspeakable horrors, prejudices, and discrimination. But it is also the source of incredible innovation, productivity, and competitive advantage. It can mean conflict or co-existence. Ultimately, it is up to us to decide which.

This talk explores this concept and offers some strategies for taking advantage of diversity, rather than being taken advantage by it.




Transcending Tribalism: Overcoming our Partisan Minds


Humans are prewired toward tribalism and groupishness. In fact, countless studies show that introducing any noticable difference between even identical groups will reliably stimulate behavior that flows from tribal psychology. Even if we would like to think otherwise, we do not experience the world as disinterested observers. We often ignore fact-based evidence in favor of confirming our pre-existing perceptions, validating our values, and enhancing our cultural identities. This talk explores the dynamics of tribal psychology, or cultural cognition, in the hopes that by understanding our cognitive biases we can begin to manage them.





Influence & Persuasion

The Art of Influence: Changing Hearts, Minds, & Actions (Workshop)


What makes a leader or a story so powerful that it persuades and inspires masses of people? How can we create enduring support for ourselves and our causes? This is not a motivational talk; this is a talk about motivating. This is a conversation about how to be liked and build trust. This is not about manipulating others; it is about empowering and enabling them. Whether you wish to enlist people for your cause or win that argument with your friends over where to brunch, this will give you the tools to do so.




Telling Your Advocacy Narrative (Workshop)


Reason alone rarely rivals a compelling story that engages both the heart and the head. In this workshop, we craft our values into stories that cultivate empathy, create connections, and dismantle the defensiveness of those who hear them. We study a proven storytelling
methodology and develop narratives that persuade and inspire. Whether you wish to advocate for a cause or fundraise for your organization, this storytelling program will help you to transform bland talking points into powerful pitches.





Additional Topics

Jewish Christian Relations in America Today: Challenges & Opportunities


This interactive talk for Christian audiences explores the history of Jewish-Christian relations, antisemitism, and Jewish trauma. It includes a discussion on the differences and similarities between Christian faith and Jewish identity and on the sensibilities of both communities. It ends with some practical tips for enhancing Jewish-Christian encounters.




When Opposites Attract: Navigating Relational Diversity


How did a conservative Christian Republicans and a liberal Jewish Democrat become best friends? Join this conversation as two young professionals discuss how they forged an unlikely friendship which has transformed their capacity for dialogue and their understanding of the "other." In this talk, Zachary joins his best friend Chelsea Andrews for a charming conversation about their unlikely friendship and how they handle differences about well...everything.





Zachary’s content and delivery was spectacular. He was engaging and charismatic yet very sophisticated, articulate, and professional. I was extremely impressed with how well he listened and responded to questions and comments. He has a real talent for making people feel heard and expressing his own views in a non-confrontational manner.

We need more people in the world with that skill.

Conservative Rabbi

 

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“The world is endlessly fascinating to those who take the time to look.”

©2020 by Zachary Schaffer