The Lev Aharon program is provides the topmost echelons of Israeli defense officers —likely to continue holding leadership positions in Israeli society — with the tools to instill in their troops and themselves a deep awareness of their Jewish-Israeli identity and an understanding of its complexity and diversity. The program nurtures an appreciation of how this understanding can and should affect the officers’ immediate roles while beginning a process that motivates them to influence their broader communities.
The pluralistic Lev Aharon program curriculum assists senior officers in developing a strong, positive relationship with their Jewish-Israeli identity as well as understanding the relevance of Jewish values and heritage to their role. This personal identity empowers these leaders in their mission and motivates their service, while strengthening the ethos and operations of the IDF in a time of declining enlistment and retention rates.
Lev Aharon seminars for high-ranking officers initiate a personal process in more than 1,500 officers a year. Participants explore leadership ideals in Judaism and Zionism through lectures, text study, and intimate group discussion led by a cadre of top SHI and guest scholars representing different streams of Jewish thought, heritage, and history. The program is not aimed at changing perspectives or providing particular answers but at providing an open and intimate environment in which to ask questions and discuss challenging issues.
The seminars focus on values and morality, exploring the gaps between different sectors in Israeli society, the idea of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, the history of the Jewish people, and Jewish heritage. The transformative seminars often provide officers with their first opportunity for intimate, unguarded, honest expression within the military framework.
The director of the Lev Aharon program is Yaakov Castel.
Approximately 40 Lev Aharon faculty members are drawn from the Hartman Institute, the IDF, and leading institutions in Israel. Faculty members include, among others, Rabbi Professor David Hartman, Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, Professor Asher Cohen, Dr. Micah Goodman, Professor Moshe Halbertal, Professor Moshe Idel, Professor Menachem Lorberbaum, Professor Ron Margolin, Dr. Ariel Picard, Professor Avi Sagi, and Professor Eliezer Schvied.
Workshop facilitators are doctoral candidates and lecturers in Jewish studies and thought.