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The Israel Conversation -- Shabbat Message 3/5/2015

Posted on 03/06/2015 @ 11:45 AM

The world has been focused on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech before the US Congress on Tuesday. Bibi’s Speech (from about 25:00 to 1:06:00) has been widely discussed and debated, and with elections coming up in Israel on Tuesday, March 17th, there will certainly be more to discuss. It’s my hope that we can have more meaningful conversations – on the speech, on elections, on Israeli innovation and creativity, and on all of the various topics that make us proud of and involved with The Jewish State.

One of the ways we encourage that type of constructive dialogue is through attending important national conversations, such as AIPAC Policy Conference. Around 50 BBYO teens participated in the 2015 experience, and here are some of their thoughts:

Attending AIPAC Policy Conference 2015 was an uplifting and inspirational experience. I felt proud of my Jewish identity and at times I was emotionally moved, for example, when singing Hatikvah at the opening ceremony. It meant a lot to me to represent the BBYO community at AIPAC and I enjoyed meeting and speaking with my fellow Alephs and BBG’s. – David Ziman, Westchester

Each time I walked into a room, I felt the passion and intelligence surrounding me. I listened to politicians, outstanding speakers, and heard stories from individuals on how Israel has changed them for the better. I was so moved by what these people were doing to enhance Israel and better the world. I am so lucky to have had this experience. It has only increased my desire to visit and support the land of Israel. – Alexa Herman, DC Council

Nothing could compare to walking into that ginormous room full of 16,000 pro-Israel advocates all of whom had abandoned their political, cultural and economic differences in order to unite under this one shared cause. Each speaker noted what an incredible thing a bipartisan issue in congress is nowadays, each highlighted our part in making Israel a bipartisan issue, and each, despite their political affiliation, pledged their support to maintaining a strong America-Israel relationship. I have never been more confident in the mutually beneficial relationship between America and Israel, and I have never been so inspired to play my part and continue to advocate for the strengthening of that relationship. – Dana Goldenberg, Baltimore Council

Among the many incredible speakers at AIPAC Policy Conference 2015, we were privileged to hear art teacher Yaron Bob discuss his inspiration and dedication to his project, Rockets into Roses. Rockets into Roses takes the remains of rockets that have been fired at Israel, and turns them into beautiful sculptures. Yaron’s perseverance and optimistic perspective were inspiring. Despite the conflict, Yaron hopes to show the world that “the people in Israel are not hungry for war and what they really want is a bright and beautiful future.” And he works, through his art, to turn ugliness into beauty, and to transform that which is destructive into that which can be constructive. After five days at the conference, we were able to learn how to advocate and support Israel, and we look forward to bringing more meaningful Israel education and advocacy back to our local communities and to the international order! – Lauren Keats and Colin Silverman, 71st International N’siah and 91st Grand Aleph Godol

Now, especially now, is a great time to have programs around Israel in our chapters, councils, and regions. BBYO has teamed up with AIPAC and StandWithUS to bring you Teens4Israel where you have the opportunity to engage in political advocacy at your local district office. You can learn more at http://bbyo.org/azabbg/teens4israel or you can email Joey Eisman directly.

And when you reach out to Joey, please also wish him a big mazal tov! He won one of AIPAC’s Advisor of the Year Awards for his tireless work to engage BBYO teens around more meaningful Israel education and advocacy. In his honor, and with the eagerness of our teens to get involved in more conversations and programs around Israel, let’s do all that we can to nurture and support these conversations and programs and to build a vibrant pro-Israel community together.

(This Shabbat message was written by Ira J. Dounn, Director of Jewish Enrichment of the Eastern Hub)

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