An Israel Awareness Publication
Adar2 5774/March 2014
AIPAC Policy Conference Edition
A Trip to the White House By Ariel Gelrud, Grade 10 Last week I traveled to Washington D.C. with Scheck Hillel Community School as part of the South Florida Pro-Israel Teens group to attend AIPAC’s Policy Conference. Our ultimate goal, as pro-Israel Americans was to lobby congressmen to further strengthen the already close American-Israel relationship. History has shown that the existence of a Jewish nation does not come effortlessly and, therefore, it is every Jew’s responsibility to defend the country and counter anti-Semitism. As American Jews, we are especially responsible for defending our nation of Israel, since we fortunately live in a democracy where we have the power to influence our government and help our people. It is because of this inalienable responsibility that we felt it was important to meet with Matt Nosanchuk, the White House Liaison to the American Jewish Community, and convey our deepest concerns about the situation in the Middle East and the relationship between America and Israel. In our meeting, we expressed gratitude toward President Barack Obama’s administration for its efforts in strengthening its bond with Israel, but we also encouraged the administration to further cooperate and support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s endeavors to attain peace and security for the people of Israel. It is important for the government to know that there are millions of Jews in America who genuinely care for the country and people of Israel. The fact that a small group of teens from South Florida met with the White House and had its voice heard goes to show how youth can play a positive role in ensuring the prosperity of our homeland, Israel.
Picture credit: Associated Press Scheck Hillel students pose outside the White House before their meeting.
Israel Today President - Sarah Angress Editor - Daniela Hanono Writers - Joseph Wolf & Jonathan Allen Rabbi Uri Pilichowski - Faculty Advisor
Scheck Hillel students speak with Israeli Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennet.
Stand Tall, Stand Strong, Stand Proud! by Sarah Angress, Grade 11
For the second year in a row, I had the privilege of attending the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington D.C. On March 4, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, was the conference’s closing speaker, culminating the three days of learning that truly inspired me before I went to lobby Congress and the White House’s Liaison to the Jewish Community later that afternoon. As Prime Minister Netanyahu took the stage, I felt like I was sitting in the Knesset. The speech was passionate and electrifying, bringing every person in the room to their feet. Netanyahu elaborated on the threat of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon by comparing the good and generosity of Israel to the immoral and heinous lies of Iran. He told the story of a Syrian boy who was victim to an Iranian missile attack. The boy was taken to an Israeli hospital tent that treated injured Syrians, where Netanyahu
visited. The Syrian patients in the hospital told Netanyahu how President Assad had lied to them, claiming Iran to be a friend and Israel to be an enemy, but they now realize that Iran is killing them, and Israel is saving them. “Israel is humane, Israel is compassionate. Israel is a force for good!” Netanyahu exclaimed in comparing Israel to the rest of the Middle East. He recognized how we as Americans Jews have known about the kindness of Israel and have supported Israel for so long. The message I grasped from his speech was to take my knowledge about Israel’s goodness and continue to advocate in America, on Israel’s behalf. I realize how special Israel is in its location in the Middle East. It has a presence throughout the world helping other countries, even including those that terrorize it. Israel lends a hand, heals the sick and rebuilds homes, while no other Middle East country even does this for their allies. I, as a proud Jewish American, have one goal: to make sure that “America and Israel stand for life.” (Netanyahu) America and Israel share common values that unite them. America and Israel stand together on the right side of history and on the right side of the moral divide. So, in the wise words of Netanyahu we must all stand tall, stand strong, stand proud!
Israel Today is a publication of Scheck Hillel Community School. It is written by the school’s Israel Advocacy Club, a group committed to educating and raising awareness about news and issues connected to Israel. With passionate spirit, vast knowledge and clear vision, club members train aleaders to make a difference locally and globally. eHillel.org/IsraelToday.
Dvar Torah & Advocacy By Rabbi Uri Pilichowski, Faculty Advisor
Policy Conference: An Unforgettable Experience by Matt Levine, Grade 9
After three decades of fighting, including three major wars, 32 years ago today, Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel and President Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty at the White House. Today, we look at this as a situation at risk, but for 32 years, peace with Egypt stood as a pillar of stability in the contentious Middle East. While the Israelis were always seeking peace, it was surprising for President Sadat to come around and even meet with the Israelis, let alone make peace. In our sedra, we find a prime example of a man set in his positions and yet able to re-examine his ideas and admit to greater logic. Moshe charges his nephews with improperly refraining from consuming an offering. Aharon, Moshe’s brother, responds that due to his state of being a mourner, he was prohibited from eating the offering. Moshe, although originally convinced of the accuracy of his position, reconsidered and admitted his error. The Torah records, “Moshe heard, and it was good in his eyes.” It is rare to find a person so easily moved to reconsider their positions as Moshe was in the face of Aharon’s argument. It wasn’t merely what Aharon said that convinced Moshe to re-examine his position; it was Moshe’s unending commitment to truth. Moshe’s relentless hunt for truth allowed him to set aside previously held convictions and find the right and just way. This same reconsideration of previous positions, similar to Moshe and Anwar Sadat, is what we need of Iranian President Ruhani and the Iranian Supreme leader about their nuclear program. We need these two leaders to consider the advantages of a peaceful coexistence with the West and Israel against the sanction-led relations that their current positions demand. It is time, like Moshe and Anwar Sadat, that these leaders reconsider their positions.
Scheck Hillel students show their AIPAC pride.
The only word I can really use to explain AIPAC Policy Conference is “experience.” The second you get off the plane, you are propelled into an adrenaline rush of a journey filled with new experiences and emotion. Set in our nation’s capital, this journey was filled with happiness, laughter, seriousness and even exhaustion! From the start, you just feel different. In the beginning of our mission, our group of about 40 students stayed in the community center for Shabbat. We had so many speakers – everyone from a member of the House of Representatives to a brave IDF soldier with a missing arm. Not just any organization can fine these kinds of people. When the Conference started Sunday,
Our Trip to the Pentagon by Janna Berenson, Grade 12
we found ourselves in a giant auditorium with 14,000 proud supporters of Israel – including thousands of students like us and many incredible non-Jewish speakers and supporters. The whole thing moved so fast; it was like a blur. We had no breaks because so many important people spoke with us, including Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and our own Scheck Hillel parent and supporter, Bob Diener, a national AIPAC Board member. The best part of the speeches was that they were all fascinating! Faculty advisor Rabbi Uri Pilichowski made sure that each and every Jewish leader speaking to us would be interesting. We even had an amazing private meeting in a secret conference room deep inside the nation’s Pentagon!
work in the Pentagon, and his job is incredibly sensitive. As a strategist he needs to always know the next big thing in technology, cyber security, the Middle East and even climate change and its effects on war.
For someone who has never been really interested in government and politics, I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into the Pentagon. I thought maybe I would feel like I was on a TV show like “Homeland” or “The Blacklist”. As much as I did feel like that, something felt different. We met with Zvika Krieger, a strategist for the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the U.S. Department of Defense. We walked through many doors with giant locks to find ourselves in a conference room where, due to the lack of cell phone service and windows, we knew top-secret meetings were held. Krieger explained to us generalities about his job and what he does to serve our country. We learned about his current project: the Quadrennial Defense Review, a document released every four years by the Pentagon about their goals and plans for the upcoming years. He is only one of hundreds of people who Scheck Hillel students participate in private meeting at the Pentagon.
From early childhood through Grade 12, Scheck Hillel Community School inspires students to become exemplary global citizens with enduring Jewish identity through an innovative curriculum enriched by co-curricular experiences. All of this is set within a nurturing, international community united by core values. Hillel is one of the largest Jewish day schools in the nation.
Produced entirely by students to educate the extended community and strengthen its sense of Israel advocacy – the heart of Hillel’s mission...