Kol HaTnua - Voice of the Movement Young Judaea Delegation at the AIPAC Schusterman High School Summit
Young Judaea’s Delegation from left to right: Elan Krakow (Teaneck, NJ), Jess Siegal (Needham, MA), Tamar Lerner (Chesterfield, MO), Morgan Isbitts (Weston, FL), Julia Kamen (Manchester, NH), Mollie Nadolne (Roswell, GA), Hannah Slavsky (Plainview, NY), Eitan Weinkle (Pittsburgh, PA), Ari Julius (Fairlawn, NJ). Not Pictured: Rachel Lock (New York, NY).
AIPAC partners with a select number of Jewish Day schools, synagogues, national youth groups, and teen leadership organizations to bring 400 high school student leaders from across the country to Washington, D.C. for Israel advocacy and political activism training. The goal of the Summit is to educate students on the U.S.-Israel relationship and to help them become effective pro-Israel political activists on and beyond their school campus.
The Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit took place in Washington, D.C. from October 28, 2018 to October 30, 2018. On the final day of the conference, participants had the opportunity to turn their political activism training into action by lobbying their members of Congress.
Young Judaea’s delegation included teens from all over the US and representing all of Young Judaea’s camps.
This past week, ten delegates from Young Judaea spent three days at the AIPAC Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit along with over 400 other teens from around the country. AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, holds this conference in order to educate students on the US-Israel relationship and to inspire them to be effective political activists.
After arriving on Sunday afternoon, we began with a breakout session entitled “Why We Commit: Telling Our Stories”. We listened to stories from AIPAC field officers, college student facilitators, and our peers. We then participated in a variety of sessions and workshops regarding lobbying, issues and relationships in the Middle East, the importance of engagement, the history of AIPAC, and advocacy skills. Next, we attended a college fair led by AIPAC liaisons from many of the country’s top schools, and enjoyed a carnival and some free time.
Throughout our time at the conference, we convened in groups split by district and prepared for our meetings with congressional offices on Tuesday morning. Eight other students and I met with staffers from Joseph Kennedy’s office in order to urge the Congressman to continue being a strong supporter of the US-Israel relationship, and to thank him for all the work he has done thus far. Finally, we spent some free time exploring Washington DC before boarding the bus back to the hotel and leaving for our respective flights back home.
Not only did I get to spend a few days with some of my close friends, but my experiences at the Summit inspired me. I learned a lot about the complicated situation Israel is facing in the Middle East, and how the US is involved in those issues. I believe that it is up to us to use our voices to make a difference and strengthen the relationship between our two homelands.
~ Jess is an 11th grader from Needham, MA and is the Mazkira of the New England Region of Young Judaea.
My time at the AIPAC Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit was a great experience. I participated in lobbying a Massachusetts congressional staff member where I spoke on behalf of AIPAC as well as myself regarding pertinent issues in Israel and why having close US relations is important.
At the summit I sat through several conferences with college students who run an AIPAC club at their school. They explained to participants that regardless of political affiliation, advocating for safety in Israel through US connections is very important. This experience made me realize just how much Israel relies on US support. If the US did not support Israeli interests, Israel’s military, economy, and day to day living would suffer greatly.
Having friends that live in Israel and understanding the dangers they face has made me want to advocate more on this issue. I plan on taking what I’ve gained from this experience back to my local community to continue the conversation!
~ Julia is an 11th grader from Manchester NH and is the Social Media/Communications VP for New England, Young Judaea.
The Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit run by AIPAC was an incredibly valuable experience. I was able to learn so much about Israel and its relations with other countries, Israel’s security situation, and I also gained valuable advocacy skills. A large part of the summit that really stuck with me was the first session we attended: Why We Commit. This session really helped me understand how I have built such a strong Jewish identity over the course of my life. This was extremely helpful, especially when we were advocating on Capitol Hill, because I was able to explain my personal connection to Israel and not just acknowledge that I had a strong one.
~ Eitan is an 11th grader from Pittsburgh, PA and is Social Action programmer for the Midwest Region of Young Judaea.