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BBYO Teens Join Hundreds of Teen Activists in Nation's Capital in Support of Strong US-Israel Relationship

November 1, 2008

More than 50 teens representing BBYO, the world’s leading pluralistic teen movement, traveled from across the United States to Washington, DC, from November 9-11, to participate in the fourth annual Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit. More than 330 students—up from 240 last year—attended the Israel advocacy and activism seminar.

"The summit has left me well-versed in important Israel topics," said Michael Schapiro, a delegate from Potomac, MD. "These new skills will help me encourage other teens from my BBYO chapter to advocate for Israel in our community."

This year's AIPAC High School "take-home initiatives" include: creating a government affairs portfolio within the pro-Israel groups at the teens’ schools; broadening the base for pro-Israel political activism by reaching out to students newly engaged in the political process through involvement in the 2008 presidential campaign; circulating petitions in support of the U.S.-Israel bond; and building ongoing relationships with members of Congress.

Conference highlights include:

  • An opening session entitled, Why Washington, Why Now? led by AIPAC Policy and Government Affairs Deputy, Director David Gillette; AIPAC Leadership Development Director, Jonathan Kessler; and AIPAC Early Engagement Director, Adam Harris. AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr also spoke on the topic of New Challenges, New Opportunities: AIPAC in a New Era.
  • A visit to Capitol Hill with sessions on lobbying and legislative briefings. This visit gave the participants an opportunity to introduce themselves to their representatives and to discuss the threat of Iran and the importance of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship.
  • A variety of leadership skills workshops including Public Speaking: How to Make Your Case, Persuasive Prose: How to Improve Your Advocacy Writing, Navigating the Net: Tapping Online Information Resources, Signatures for Security: Petition Drives to Halt Iran’s Nuclear Pursuit, and Proactive and Productive: Dealing with Israel’s Detractors.
  • A special performance by Israeli hip hop/funk group, Hadag Nachash.

"Strengthening U.S.-Israel relations is dependent on developing strong Jewish leaders today," said Matthew Grossman, Executive Director of BBYO. "It is our job to inspire today's teens to feel connected to Israel and to want to take action in support of their homeland."

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