01 Apr Building Bridges To AIPAC
The Jewish Agency for Israel sent its largest-ever delegation to the AIPAC Policy Conference in March, in Washington D.C.
More than half of the 120 Jewish Agency Shlichim (Israeli Emissaries) who participated were Israel Fellows, Shlichim who work with students at the campus level to promote awareness and understanding about Israel, and to fight anti-Israel hatred. Around 50 were Community Shlichim and Service Year Shlichim, who work at JCCs, synagogues or Jewish day schools. The Shlichim were able to attend thanks to the generosity of AIPAC and the communities and campus Hillels in which they work.
“Making sure that our Shlichim have a presence at the AIPAC Conference is critical for The Jewish Agency,” said Michelle Rojas-Tal, Director of the Israel Fellows program, “because this is what we at The Jewish Agency are working toward: connection between the American Jewish community and Israel. AIPAC works to protect Israel. And we want the activists who attend this conference to know that we are right there with them, working to build connection with and support for Israel.
” In turn, AIPAC demonstrated appreciation for the work of the Shlichim, highlighting and praising their work as a group and presenting the Campus Ally of the Year award to Jewish Agency Israel Fellow Waga Brok.
This is what we at The Jewish Agency are working toward: connection between the American Jewish community and Israel.
Brok has advocated for Israel at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a Campus Israel Fellow for two years. In addition to her ongoing efforts to connect students with Israel, she is currently working on a project focusing on Ethiopian Jewry, with plans to take students from her campus on a trip to Ethiopia and share the story of her Aliyah in 1991, when she immigrated to Israel along with 14,000 other Ethiopian Jews.
The Shlichim said they were moved by the sheer magnitude of the AIPAC event, and impressed by the support for Israel displayed by the American Jewish community and beyond. “These Shlichim work hard every day having complex conversations about Israel all the time,” Rojas-Tal pointed out. “They talk to so many people who are critical of Israel. For them to have three refreshing days of seeing this huge crowd of 18,000 people showing love, to be in that environment, is amazing for them.”
Shelly Kedar, Director of The Jewish Agency’s Shlichut Institute, added that “attending the AIPAC Conference as integrated members of their community delegations is a striking experience for the Shlichim. Some of the Israel Fellows brought along 40 or 50 college students. The Community Shlichim and Service Year Shlichim were involved as integral parts of their host communities. It’s meaningful for everyone for the local Shaliach to be there.”