Many of the programs below work on multi-levels and can be geared to adults or teens. Besides the list below, we have other programs that have been specifically tailored to adults and can be accompanied by textual sources if desired. Custom programming can be developed upon request, to fit a particular theme. Here's a question we get a lot:

How can you offer the same programs for adults and teens? Isn't there a huge difference in sophistication?
Excellent question. It's true, most of our programs have been presented to varying age groups. The reason this works is twofold:

a) We present the same material differently for an older group than we do for a younger group, in terms of vocabulary and style.

b) Because the program is dynamic and develops differently based on every live audience's own participation, a more mature and knowledgeable audience can take things in different directions than a less mature and sophisticated audience. That being said, we find that the 'edutainment' approach brings out the best in every audience. We have been floored by the level of insight that has been evinced from students of every level using these techniques.

 

Suitability Key: (The delivery of each program will vary depending on the audience, and the level of complexity will be scaled accordingly.)

A = adults and college students

T = teens

M = middle-schoolers (ages 11-14)

E = elementary/primary schoolers (ages 9-11)

 

Raid on the Sun! (A, T, M, E)

On June 8, 1981, eight F-16's from the Israeli Air Force took off from the Etzion Air Base and flew 600 miles to destroy Saddam's nuclear reactor near Baghdad. It was the only time in history that a nuclear reactor was destroyed. In this presentation we meet Yisrael Shafir, the seventh fighter pilot in the bombing formation, and he tells this frightening tale of war and intrigue, firsthand. Then we meet Rabbenu Bachya ben Asher of 13th century Spain, who shares his insights about man's responsibility for preparing for war despite his faith in the Almighty. After that we hear from Rabbi Moshe Luzzatto of 18th century Italy as he explains the reason we must seriously engage in human effort while maintaining our faith. Potiphar, master of Joseph, appears and shares insights about Joseph's ability to involve the Almighty in his everyday affairs. The presentation concludes with the return of Yisrael Shafir who describes the end of the mission, and then shares shocking and recently declassified information about the raid which brings the Almighty's hidden involvement to light in amazing ways.

Six Words that Changed the World: The Secret Origins of Shema (A, T, M, E)

What does a never before told story about a US Navy SEAL deep in an El Salvadoran jungle, a Holocaust survivor during liberation and a Portuguese shopkeeper from 1917 have in common? Answer: Six Words that define our creed and belief systems. Hear how these words changed their lives. Explore their mysterious origin and hidden meaning, and draw inspiration for our times. Some of the highlights: Yaakov's 12 sons created the Shema simultaneously, with no advance notice, moments before Yaakov died, in response to Yaakov's doubt about their commitment to Hashem (Midrash Rabba 98). This surprising suspicion is explained  beautifully by Rabbi Zalman Sorotzkin, who likewise gives us three ways to utilize Shema for our spiritual growth, based on three ways to understand "Yisrael". Next we discover deep and complex understandings of "Hashem Elokenu Hashem Echad", according to the Ramchal and Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch. The program ends with the connection of Shema to our Ge'ula and the end of days. 

The Mafia enforcer who joined a Kollel (and other Halachic conundrums) (A, T, M)

Case 1: A mafia enforcer is South Tel Aviv decides to become religious and join a Kollel in Bnei Brak. Let's call him Yaakov. He marries and has a small child. But he also has a large debt to his old crime boss, who threatens to blow up the debtor's motorcycle if the monthly payment is late again. Yaakov chains his bike to the bottom of the apartment's public staircase, thinking that this will protect the bike from the crime boss' vicious henchmen. The plan backfires, and the thugs blow up the bike after the payment due date, causing extensive damage to the apartment's stairwell. Yaakov tells his neighbors that they have to chip in with him to repair the damages, but they respond by saying he brought this evil upon them due to his past associations. Who must pay?

Case 2: A boy ("Yoel") survives the Holocaust with his father by hiding on a farm owned by a young Polish widow. His mother was already killed by the Nazis. Meantime, his father falls in love with the Polish woman who saved them and has a son with her ("Philip"). Yoel moves to Israel, and his father and his new wife and son move to the States where they become fabulously wealthy. The woman dies and then the father dies. Yoel wants to pay his last respects and give his father a Jewish burial. Philip says, "fine, on one condition. You give me your entire $25 million share of the inheritance; otherwise he gets buried near my mom at the St. Barnabas cemetery." What should Yoel do?

Case 3: A young man ("Shimon") gets jilted by a young lady in Israel ("Leah"). He decides to get even, and take down a 'nerdy' friend while he's at it ("Reuven"). Shimon fabricates to Reuven that Leah is interested in dating him, and he even tells him to show up at the door. Leah's father answers and has no clue who Reuven is. Reuven is humiliated, but Leah's father finds him to be a great guy. He ends up dating Leah and getting engaged! At the engagement party, Shimon shows up and asks for shadchanus! (matchmaking fee). Must they pay it? After all, without him, they never would have met!

These are just some of the cases which have crossed the desk of great rabbis such as Rav Yitzchak Zilbershtein of Israel and others. The cases are presented with Shlomo acting out all the parts. The audience is then asked to weigh in, after which the rabbi's decision-making process is shared. This program has received an enthusiastic response, with audiences of men and women literally shouting out answers in excitement. We currently have up to four such riveting cases to present, time-allowing.

Poison Pens (A, T, M)

This program catapults the audience into a true but obscure story that occurred in the 1930's. A famous Nazi Bible scholar named Prof. Erich Bischoff trashed the Talmud in a popular Nazi publication (Der Stuermer), only to end up debating his erstwhile Jewish friend, who just happened to be a brilliant and articulate rabbi, Rabbi Chaim Bloch of Vienna, later of the Bronx, NY.

Rabbi Bloch systematically tore apart Bischoff's slanderous comments in a way that made front page news in Austria and Germany. Shlomo becomes both characters in this hot debate. Walk away with a new understanding of the the philosophical attacks against Jews that continue into the 21st century, as well as the correct way to understand difficult passages in the Talmud, our national repository of the Torah's wisdom. Don't miss the unforgettable ending!

Voices of Zion (A, T)

Imagine hearing the voices of people who have played a pivotal role in the ideology of Eretz Yisrael from a Torah point of view. This program is the culmination of months of research into the thought process of Torah leaders with great influence on matters in Israel, such as Rav Yissachar Shlomo Teichtal, author of the famed Eim Habanim S'meicha (d. 1945), Rav Isaac Halevy Herzog, first Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel (d. 1959), and Rav Yehuda Amital, founder of Yeshivat Har Etzion (d. 2010). The presentation is rounded out by the role of Dr. Moshe Avital (b. 1928) who survived six concentration camps to move to Palestine, fight in the Hagana and serve with distinction in the IDF. Shlomo personally interviewed Dr. Avital, and shares through his character how he was inspired by the words of Jeremiah 31 when bravely defending Ramat Rachel in 1948. The goal of this program is to demonstrate how great rabbinic and lay leaders viewed the return to Zion as nothing short of miracle.  

Jihad! (A, T, M)

Come debate with a 'Palestinian' on who has rights to the Land. He is equipped with all the answers and is quite confident in his rights. Are you? Our presentation opens with a Palestinian-American Hamas supporter who hails from Bet Sahour near Hebron but was raised in Dearborn, Michigan and speaks perfect English. Learn his take on suicide bombings, Zionist aggression and whether the Holocaust really happened. Next we meet a far more moderate Palestinian who discusses why he believes that Israel has committed the greatest act of ethnic cleansing in the 20th century. After that we hear a completely different perspective from an American oleh who lives in Ma'aleh Adumim and does his best to eke out a living on his ancestral land. Next we have a short interview with Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi, a Spanish rabbi from the 12th century and one of our greatest liturgical poets. Rabbi Yehuda shares his perspective on just why the Land is so special, and his view on the Land's ownership is quite surprising. The arguments both ways are thoroughly analyzed and the audience walks away with new perspectives on both the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as the organic connection between the Jews and Eretz Yisrael.

A Paratrooper in Jerusalem (A, T, M, E)

         In this program, we first meet the legendary Rabbi Yechiel Tukachinsky of Jerusalem (1872-1955) whose encyclopedic work on the Temple Mount is a classic. He shares some shocking insights on Jerusalem and Eretz Yisrael in general, as well as a poignant personal story. Next we meet a 'veteran' of the IDF Paratrooper Brigade who fought in the liberation of the Old City in '67, only to watch 96 of his buddies die in one of Israel's bloodiest single battles. Witness moments of historic flashback as he relives the rich history of the Temple Mount while dodging bullets and wondering just why he's risking his life. For this program, Jewish Crossroads interviewed the son of IDF Paratroop Commander, Colonel Motta Gur, who uttered the electrifying words "Har Habayit B'yadenu', as well as two other paratroopers who were present that day; Brigadier Gen. Uzi Eilam, and Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun.

Holy Ghost (A, T, M)

Meet a 'messianic Jew' who will attempt to convince you that his way is the only way to achieve salvation and still remain an observant Jew. Will you fall prey to his compelling logic? The program begins with our good friend Mike Liebowitz who's an unaffiliated Jewish teen who's trying to be a good person and make sense out of life (see more "Mike Liebowitz programs" elsewhere on this page). Mike has been befriended by a campus missionary during a visit to a local university and he is thoroughly confused. The next character is the missionary himself, who engages the audience. This program details some of the sophisticated techniques used by messianic groups to target Jewish youth on campus. Each argument is carefully demolished and the audience is left with a clear understanding of these groups' deceptive tactics. One recent participant, a Reform teen from the backwoods of Southern Virginia, related that he was constantly bombarded by missionaries both in school and in his neighborhood. "I knew it was a crock," he said, "but I didn't know why until I heard this program."

Hold the Burgers, Hold the Dogs (A, T, M)

Who decides whether something is moral or immoral? Meet an Xtreme animal rights activist from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) who attacks Jewish practice and calls meat-eating degenerate and Nazi behavior. Go back in history to see 'live' presentations from famous rabbis who share their take on meat and morality, including Rav Yitzchak Luria (16th century), Rav Yaakov Reischer (18th century) and Rav Yosef Albo (15th century). A balanced perspective is sought which ends with support for both sides of the debate, but with a bisseleh sechel. (My dad used to say 'Sechel iz ah tayareh zach', which means common sense is a rarity). This discussion has been an effective springboard to discuss the source of morality and the proper application of the conscience.

Why Bad Things Happen to Good People  (A, T, M)

This program begins with a skit about a family from Oklahoma on their way to Disney World in Orlando, whose son is determined to spend the entire vacation on a horsie ride at an Orlando Wal-Mart.  Next the audience is presented with a true story about how Shlomo earned his Paratroopers' Wings from the Israeli Army - or did he? Both the story and skit are designed to explain the meaning of the Next World in a highly accessible manner. Then we move back in time to Rabbenu Saadia Gaon (10th century Middle East) and Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel (17th century Holland), both of whom give us their rational or mystical take on suffering. Finally, the audience hears true stories from Holocaust survivors who maintained their deep faith despite their overwhelming suffering. Their question? Where was Man during the Holocaust?! Our journey takes us to a deeper understanding of how our free choice has real meaning and true repercussions. No promises here of a complete understanding of the Almighty - but hopefully we'll get a glimpse of His Ways.

Do We Have a Leg to Stand On? (A, T, M)

There are major religions out there with billions of adherents. We have only 15 million Jews and yet we think we're right. What chutzpah! The Torah states that we must follow the majority - why don't we follow the religions with the greatest numbers? This question was asked of Rabbi Yonatan Eibeschutz (18th Century) by a local priest in Moravia, Germany. Find out his answer in this provocative session. Dramatic personae include a mixed-up high-school senior with major questions about G-d and Torah ("the artist as a young man"), and insights from the founder of a different major world religion which enables the audience to compare and contrast our claims with those of other faiths, in a respectful manner. With a skit including volunteers from the audience and some hard-hitting facts and logic, we arrive at an extremely compelling argument for Judaism's understanding of G-d and the authenticity of His Torah.

Are We a Bunch of Racists? (A, T, M)

We've been called the Chosen People. Does that mean we're better than everybody else? Haven't we been persecuted enough by people who considered themselves superior? Watch how one of the dramatic characters, a noted anti-Semite from the midwest, spews hatred which actually sheds light on what our people are all about. This session explores just what we've been chosen for, and why, based heavily on the writings of Ramchal - Rabbi Luzzatto of 18th century Italy. We conclude with an outlook which can totally energize our life's mission.

Raiders of the Lost Tribes (A, T, M)

Which tribe are you from? Admit it, unless you're a Kohen or Levi, you haven't a clue. That's because most of our ancestral Israelite tribes have been lost forever....or have they? This presentation brings to life five characters, who tell the story of just how the tribes got lost. We begin with 'eyewitness testimony" of the rift in the ancient kingdom of Israel into factions in the North vs. South. The Prophet Ezekiel stops by to share his vision regarding the rift and its possible healing. We encounter Eldad of the Tribe of Dan, who showed up uninvited in Tunisia in the year 880, telling fantastic stories of magic rivers and nasty cannibals (who tried to have him over for lunch). Listen to R' Menasseh ben Israel, a Dutch rabbi originally of Portuguese descent, as he weighs in with the view that the Lost Tribes can be found...in Ecuador! Trace the tragic story of our brothers and sisters and examine the evidence of where they might be today. Will they ever return? Does it matter?

Convert or Die! (A, T, M)

Marranos, or Crypto-Jews, are the descendants of forced converts from 15th century Spain and Portugal. This presentation brings to life those players who caused these conversions as well as those who fought tooth and nail to stick with their Jewish heritage. Meet Tomás de Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor of Spain in the 1480's and hear how he explains why torture was a 'favor' for wayward heretical souls. Learn of the enormous pressure which caused hundreds of thousands to publicly renounce their faith and accept the cross. Hear King Ferdinand read his Edict of Expulsion in 1492. See how rabbis of the time did their best to tend to their flock of both professing Jews and Marranos who made the momentous decision to return. This program ends with a poignant look at where the Marranos are today, and their attitude to their Jewish origins. Hear from the man who 'discovered' Marranos in a distant corner of Portugal in 1917, as well as from a Crypto-Jewish woman from San Antonio, Texas in 2002 as she struggles with guilt over her ancestors' choice to take what she calls 'the easy way out'.

Plagued by a Question (A, T, M)

Pretend you're a rabbi in Germany in the early 1700's and you get a letter in the mail from a neighboring village. The questioner says "We're all about to be killed next week if we don't convert. Should we escape before the pogrom or stay and die a martyr's death?" Rabbi Yaakov Reischer, a Torah giant in the early 1700's, was the rabbi who actually opened such a letter. He comes back to life in this session and demonstrates his brilliant Torah insights on this and other life-and-death questions.  Learn the history of this gripping era which included the fearsome Plague of 1713 and see how the Torah was actually used by a master to solve perplexing mysteries affecting real people. (And if you're good he might throw in a Torah thought from one of his commentaries on the Talmud.)

Shattered Dreams (A, T)

After the disasters in Spain and Portugal in the 15th century (see 'Convert or Die! above), the Jews faced the Cossack massacres in Ukraine in 1648-9. Just when things couldn't get any worse, a Turkish Jew named Shabbtai Tzvi announced that he was the Messiah in 1666 and he nearly completely convinced Jews and Gentiles throughout Europe, North Africa and Turkey. Kings and Sultans were quivering from a possible Jewish insurrection, and Jews themselves fasted and packed their bags for the Holy Land. The fervor was so great that you could barely hire a ship for commercial purposes - "Sorry, sir. The Jews have rented all the ships." This presentation brings to life Shabbtai Tzvi's greatest fan and greatest nemesis (Nathan of Gaza and R' Jacob Sasportas, respectively). Listen to Nathan tell a story of hope, fervor and disappointment. Hear R' Jacob tell the story of his lonely voice of opposition in a Jewish world gone mad.

Last Laughs - Rabbi Akiva (A, T, M)

Rabbi Akiva is possibly one of the most inspirational Jewish leaders in history. His life story demonstrates that it's never too late to start your spiritual quest, and none of life's challenges is too daunting to deter you. Meet a string of characters who personally 'knew' the legendary sage before and after he began his journey of Torah. Cast includes his former employer Yo'ezer, his wife Rachel, his father-in-law Kalba Savua and his student Rabbi Yehoshua HaGarsi. Don't let the entertainment value fool you - this program was extensively researched and incorporates two thousand years of Torah literature and commentaries.

Touched by an Angel - Your Guide to Celestial Beings  (A, T, M)

Ever wonder how angels work and if they must follow any rules? Are they greater than we simple humans? Using obscure Jewish sources, this program reveals little-known secrets about the fascinating world of angels, including live appearances of Angels Who Went Wrong and disobeyed their Creator. Find out the fabulous discovery of a great rabbi about the hidden purpose of angels and what we can learn from them about parenting and being a real mensch.

I Haven't Got a Prayer (A, T, M)

Why do we bug the Almighty? We constantly bother Him with the same exact tefilot every day. Why? He knows exactly what we need, right? So why daven at all? He's Good and Just, so He should give us what we deserve, and not what we don't! Does He change His Mind just because we pray? More questions: Why follow a set text and not get creative ourselves? How can my prayers help my friend get better? If Tefila works, how come prayers go unanswered? What techniques may I use to attain better kavvana and concentration? These questions have plagued Jews for centuries. Come and find out the truth about Tefilah - it may just be the answer to your prayers. Cast of characters includes: Rambam, Ramchal, Rav Kook, The Degel Machaneh Ephraim (grandson of the Ba'al Shem Tov) and others.

My Amish Friend, Benuel (A, T, M)

I recently took my family to visit Amish Country in Lancaster, PA. While there I met an Amish buggy driver named Benuel who shattered some myths about his culture. It was fascinating to see where the Amish worldview is similar or different from our own. Certain values harmonize with Torah Judaism, and certain other values are completely antithetical. Find out the scoop in this off-the-beaten path session. Watch Benuel himself come to life and tell his true story of visiting Chasidic Boro Park on a Shabbat at the turn of the 21st Century! Along the way we'll encounter amazing Halachic conundrums facing the State of Israel with regard to production of electricity on Shabbat and whether taking photographs violates the Ten Commandments (are they a graven image)? The Amish dealt with these same issues - come check out how they handled it vs. how we did!

BREAK GLASS IN CASE OF EMERGENCY (A, T, M)

Why do we do weird stuff at Jewish weddings, like step on glasses and walk in circles seven times without falling? What exactly is written in a Ketuba (marriage document)? Find out how enlightened Judaism is with regards to women's rights and their protection. In this confusing world of crazy relationships, see how the Torah provides a welcome harbor of holiness for every nice Jewish couple.

What Happens When You Die? (A, T, M)

What does Judaism have to say about life after death? Once the soul leaves the body, can it feel pain? Does it know what's going on? Is there a difference between the World of Souls and the Next World? Find out in this session, which includes the remarkable true story of a man who had a near-death experience - he was personally interviewed by Crossroads for this session. This story was taken seriously by the country's leading rabbis.

The Secret Garden (T, M)

Why can't you find Gan Eden on Mapquest? Is it a real location, or just a parable? Get spooked out by discovering multiple layers of reality and learn how you might have been in the Garden of Eden without even knowing it! Includes live interviews of people who actually were at the garden, including Alexander the Great and Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi.

When Moshiach (Messiah) Comes, Can I Quit My Job? (A, T, M)

We all can't wait to see Moshiach. But when he gets here, will he disrupt our daily lives so completely and favorably that we no longer need to worry about finals? What exactly will change when he gets here, and what will be the order of events? Find out about the different ways Moshiach can get here, the duality of Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben David, and heard great Jewish personalities of the past describe what exactly we're waiting for. Characters include Maimonides, Nachmanides, Ramchal, Maharal and Rav Saadia Gaon.

Wonders of Creation (T, M)

What can porcupines and other cool animals teach us about our Creator? Plenty. Learn about the deadly Bombardier Beetle, the devastating Venus Fly Trap and Mind-Controlling Wasps, to name a few. Find out how it's a mitzvah to learn about these amazing examples of His design of the world in order to better understand Him.

Pressure Cooker! (T, M)

Peer pressure is so powerful that it has literally meant life and death to many people throughout history. Not all peer pressure is bad, and this program helps to give the audience clear-cut tools for decision-making in this regard. Cutting edge techniques developed for the Dallas Police Department's First Offender program are demonstrated to the audience by way of a dramatic re-enactment of an actual crime committed by a teen, and audience volunteers are summoned onstage for related skits. Couple that with the creation of dramatis personae from Jewish history who successfully battled enormous peer pressure, according to classical Jewish sources, along with some stark facts about alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and there you have it. Here's a comment from a 17-year old participant from Canada: "I really enjoyed and was moved by your presentation... the messages which you brought across are going to be very useful for me in university."s

The Dark Side of the Internet (T,M)

Mike Liebowitz is in the 11th grade and is hopelessly addicted to the seamy side of the internet. Come meet Mike and see if you can help him get some perspective. Witness live re-enactments of critical psychological research experiments over the last few decades which shed light on the idea of instant gratification and how mindless habit devalues what should be a memorable experience. This program has been successfully used as a springboard to discuss choices regarding chat rooms, MySpace, Facebook and inappropriate Internet activity by students. Information developed by law enforcement authorities and mental health professionals is discussed with the audience for their protection, and the program concludes with the Torah point of view on intimacy.

How to Handle Parents and Teachers (and other forms of Stress) (T, M)

Shlomo Horwitz, himself a 'teen', went undercover to get married and have kids...just to be able to figure out his parents. Learn his secrets and apply them successfully to your parents and teachers, minimizing the stress in your life. Prominent mental health professionals were consulted for this session.  

Professional Storytelling

Tell us the theme of your Dinner, Luncheon, Shabbaton, Bonfire, whatever. We will match up a perfect story for the occasion from our extensive files and deliver it with verve and pizzazz, weaving in timeless thoughts from our Tradition. Our stories are told in a way that leaves a profound impression on the listener with a 'take home' lesson on themes including Leadership, Divine Providence, Loyalty and Commitment.

 

 

For an additional list of programs for adults, please click here.

 

If you are interested in bringing Crossroads to your synagogue, school or camp, feel free to contact us for more information, including video clips of actual live programming, by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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