Tuesday, November 15, 2011
On the bus ride back home from the AIPAC Schusterman High School Summit I started to reflect on the amazing experience that I just gone through. I can honestly say that this trip was truly a life changing experience.
On Sunday November 6th, over 400 high school students from across the country gathered for an AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee) seminar in Washington, DC. Representing the Yeshivah of Flatbush were juniors Tomer Kornfeld, Jonathen Zehavi, and Shanny Cohen Saban and seniors, Jennifer Lifshutz, Raquel Lifshutz, and yours truly. After a series of sessions, it became apparent to me exactly how well prepared we all were having come from The Yeshivah of Flatbush. From answering the most questions of any school to asking the best ones, Flatbush students truly did represent the school over the course of ten extremely insightful sessions led by AIPAC professionals.
The sessions ranged from the importance of engaging members of Congress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to discussions of the Arab Spring and how it affects Israel. From talking to the other students, it was easy to see the desire behind every single student to make a great political impact.
One thing that was most impressive to me was the diversity of the students and speakers who took part in the seminar. Liberal or conservative, religious or secular, Jewish or Christian -- every single person was united in the mutual belief in a strong and unbreakable U.S/Israel relationship. It was beyond amazing to see such a large, diverse group of people stand up and be proactive for one underlying purpose.
After two days of intense training and knowledge-building, it came time to test what we had long been preparing for. We would finally have the opportunity to do something that many Americans don't get to do their entire lives. We would finally go up to Capitol Hill to lobby over 30 members of the United States House of Representatives on issues of concern to the State of Israel.
The delegation from Flatbush had the privilege of joining the delegation from Magen David in speaking with Representative Yvette Clarke who represents New York's 11th district. Though we did not get to speak to Congresswoman Clarke herself, we did receive the opportunity to speak with her Legislative Assistant, Mark Lee. We went into great detail in discussing the extremely important issues of Iran's nuclear capacity, foreign aid to Israel, and the Palestinian Authority's statehood bid at the UN. We even got to talk a little about sports. The meeting was a success.
After this amazing experience, something began to hit me. I started to think about how easy it is to go and make a political impact by simply making an appointment with your member of congress. One doesn't even have to make a whole long trip to Washington, DC to be able to talk to his or her Congressmen. All it takes is a short trip to a Congressmen's local district office to have an important discussion with him/her or a member of his/her staff.
Whether your issue is Israel, the U.S economy, or even immigration go take an hour every once in a while to have a conversation with your local member of congress. The number one lesson that l learned from the AIPAC High School Summit is that that one conversation has the power to change the world.
Posted by J Engel at 9:50 PM