In this session at the Z3 conference in Palo Alto, Nov. 10, 2019, Stanford Hillel students led round table conversations asking participants how they would have handled real-life campus situations. (Photo/Courtesy Z3)
In this session at the Z3 conference in Palo Alto, Nov. 10, 2019, Stanford Hillel students led round table conversations asking participants how they would have handled real-life campus situations. (Photo/Courtesy Z3)

Palo Alto JCC’s Z3 Conference back with ‘futuristic’ bent

Technology is playing a central role in the Palo Alto JCC’s annual Z3 Conference, in more ways than one.

The daylong exploration of Israel-diaspora relations, returning for its seventh year on Dec. 5, has in previous years brought more than 1,000 people together at the Oshman Family JCC. This year it will be a more modest gathering in person, with many more participants joining online.

The event went fully virtual last year, when Covid-19 vaccines had not yet rolled out. This time, the event is capped at 250 in-person attendees, who are required to provide proof of vaccination. Additionally, “Z3 2021: Futures Workshop” will be streamed live, where participants can join online breakout sessions with other virtual attendees.

That’s not the only way technology is shaking up the conference this year. An acclaimed Gamemaster will craft an “interactive simulation [that] will ask our speakers and participants to take part in a plausible futuristic scenario that will impact the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry,” the Z3 Project advertises on the registration website.

The goal of this digital experiment is to explore potential ways for diaspora Jewish communities to unite and ensure a continued sense of peoplehood with Israel.

Among the nearly 30 scheduled speakers are Bret Stephens, a Pulitzer Prize-winning op-ed columnist for the New York Times, and Natan Sharansky, former Soviet dissident and former chair of the Jewish Agency.

For information about “Z3 2021,” visit z3 project.virtual jcc.com. Tickets are $72 in person, $36 virtual and $18 virtual for students and seniors.

Emma Goss
Emma Goss

Emma Goss is a J. staff writer. She is a Bay Area native and an alum of Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School and Kehillah Jewish High School. Emma also reports for KTVU Fox 2 News. Follow her on Twitter @EmmaAudreyGoss.