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Jonathan Samen Hot Buttons, Cool Conversations 2019-2020 Season: Where is Our Country Headed?
Jonathan Samen Hot Buttons, Cool Conversations, JCC Greater Boston’s acclaimed discussion series, brings together distinguished scholars, artists and activists to engage in unique exchanges around controversial and difficult subjects. Renowned panelists are led by expert moderators through respectful and thought-provoking discussions on issues of concern to the Jewish community and beyond.

As we move closer to the 2020 elections, the United States has become bitterly divided on issues ranging from reproductive rights to fake news. This season begs the question: Where is our country headed? We explore polarizing issues that have Americans split about the direction of our nation.

We will discuss the pivotal role our nation’s laws, religions, and leadership play in shaping our community. We’ll seek answers to critical questions that define us not just as a community, but as humans in a constantly and rapidly changing world.


The Future of the Supreme Court
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
We examine the shift in the Supreme Court and its power to determine the direction of hot button issues including reproductive rights, gun laws, and immigration. We look at the Court as a bellwether of this nation and examine the power of the highest court. Does the court reflect the views of the country and where it’s headed?

Panelists:
-Gary Lawson, Boston University Law Professor
-Kate Shaw, Cardozo Law Professor
-Jed Shugerman, Fordham University Law Professor

Moderator: Robert Barnes, Washington Post Supreme Court Reporter


Can Faith and Politics be Separated?
Thursday, January 30, 2020

Communities across America are divided over politics, culture, identity, and the overall direction of the country. Are religious congregations any different? How do religious leaders today navigate deeply divisive issues — like the Middle East, gay marriage, abortion, the immigration crisis — in their own communities? We examine the role religious leaders play in such partisan times.

Panel in formation and includes:
-Khalil Abdur-Rashid, Muslim Chaplain at Harvard University
-Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Moderator: James Carroll, Author, most recently of “The Cloister”


Polarization & Divide: Navigating the News
Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The information landscape has forever changed, with fake news and blurred lines between fact and opinion. Our panel examines the consequences of living in an age of politicized truth, fake news, and selective reality. We explore how we sort fact from fiction and through what lens do we see the truth? Moreover, we ask what are the implications for creating a civil society.

Panel in formation and will include: Rick Kaplan, Former President of CNN