Jason Harris is a Jewish educator and former politico with a passion for teaching Jewish and Israeli history. He is currently the Associate Director of Lehrhaus Judaica.
He is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with a B.A. in International Relations, and the Hornstein Program for Jewish Professional Leadership at Brandeis University, with master’s degrees in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies and Jewish Communal Service.
Jason spent seven years on Capitol Hill as a senior congressional staffer to a U.S. Member of Congress. He specialized in speechwriting, drafting legislation, and advising on national and foreign affairs. He traveled the world in that official capacity and once got to meet Beyonce, which was really cool.
Eventually Jason decided it would be more rewarding to lead Birthright Israel trips, where sleeping is rare and falafel is plentiful. A Bay Area native, he plays guitar decently, sings terribly, stand up paddleboards frequently, loves Pearl Jam fervently, travels habitually, and keeps up on Israel and Jewish history incessantly.
LEARN WITH JASON
Jason teaches on a variety of topics relating to Jewish and Israeli history. Below is a partial list and all presentations are customizable for your audience. Presentations can be lecture-based or hevruta-style involving text study, facilitated discussions, and group learning. Please contact at the above email to inquire about availability.
Topics on Zionism
A HISTORY OF ZIONISMS
The 101 overview from the mid-1800s to the early 20th century. What is Zionism? Exploring the roots of the idea, its development into a Movement, and its main influencers and the different ideological branches they represented.
zionism and the arabs
“A land without a people for a people without a land,” went the catchy Zionist slogan. But the first part wasn’t true. How did the Zionist leaders approach the Arabs already living in Palestine? We’ll discover that there was a wide range of perspectives, but that one or two ultimately came to dominate.
BEGINNINGS OF THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT
Who was in Palestine first? How did today’s conflict begin? We’ll look at the competing Jewish and Arab nationalisms and the decisions they made regarding the other people in the land, and how a few key players and moments set the conflict on its course.
Jewish Resistance in Palestine
Freedom fighters and terrorists, rescuers and spies, the history of Jewish resistance against both the Arabs and the British is filled with colorful characters, moral ambiguities, profound sorrows and great triumphs. We’ll focus on the period between World War Two and the establishment of Israel.
Topics on Israel
A HISTORY OF Israel
The Israel “101” that runs from 1948 to the present. We’ll introduce some of the major events, key leaders, major cultural touchstones, and other essentials to inspire deeper exploration into one of the most fascinating countries in the world today.
The Declaration of Independence
Israel’s Declaration is an incredible document that ties the new state to both ancient history and modern democratic ideals, to both Judaism as well as freedom of worship for all. What does the Declaration say, and why? Has Israel lived up to its expectations?
How did the Occupation begin? Why doesn’t Israel simply end it? We’ll look at the key choices all sides made that prolonged this seemingly-intractable conflict, as well as what possible solutions exist today, whether one state or two.
One state, two state, red state, blue state?
Current events! From elections to military conflict to tech breakthroughs there’s never a quiet time in Israel. We’ll discuss up-to-the-minute events in Israel and how to understand them in both historical context and contemporary cultural and political issues.
Jewish Identity and More
An interactive workshop to help you tell your Jewish story. With prompts and provocations to get you thinking, you don’t have to be a writer or prolific public speaker. Just be you.
Intergenerational therapy for people who find themselves struggling to communicate around Israel. For parents: understanding how their kids see Israel differently than they do. And for Millennials and GenZ, understanding where their parents are coming from.
Jewish Identity in a Changing World
The interactive game that became famous on Jason’s Birthright trips — if you were designing the next generation of Jewish life, what would you keep, what would you let go of, and why? What is essential and non-essential in Jewish life today?