From October 28th through October 30th, teens from all around the United States of America gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit (SAIHSS) through the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for three days of education, lobbying, and (most of all) fun!
Sunday afternoon, teens from all over the USA flew and drove to the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, Maryland, anxiously awaiting the trip to come. As they arrived, they got right down to business, discussing why teens commit to Israel. After hearing some reasons given by the Peer Facilitators, college students from campuses nationwide, specifically trained by AIPAC, Jewish and non-Jewish teens alike shared riveting stories about their commitments to peace for Israel. One teen shared that he had been to Israel this past summer and heard that, only days after he left the portion of his trip that took place near the Gaza border, bombings occurred exactly where he had been standing. Many shared that they would feel less safe with no Jewish state. Others still shared that, given the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they felt unsafe being Jewish in the United States.
Monday morning, students learned about the tensions in the Middle East. Many students were particularly fascinated by the session about Jordan, in which they learned that Jordan is Israel’s most important ally (apart from the United States). Additionally, all day on Monday students learned about different skills and how they can be used to be advocates for Israel. One session, in particular, was very enticing to many BBYO students present, teaching about the progressive views on Israel, as well as ways to defend Israel and still call yourself a Liberal, Democrat, or Progressive. Additionally, teens discussed ways to deal with Israel on social media. Monday night, teens had a great time at the college fair learning about Jewish life on various campuses. The college fair was followed by an lively carnival.
Tuesday morning, students packed their bags and headed off to Capitol Hill, fully equipt to lobby Congress on behalf of AIPAC. After some fantastic and successful lobbying meetings, students went back home with some incredible knowledge to bring back to BBYO chapters, regions, and the International Order for future programming!
Fana Schoen is a BBG from Liberty Region and is a member of the same chapter that her mother grew up in!
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