By: Zev Hirt
Last week, YULA High Schools sent a delegation of 46 students, the largest in the country, to AIPAC’s Policy Conference in Washington, DC. At the convention center in D.C., after the main general sessions, the YULA delegation and their five chaperones were rushed around to meet delegates such as members of Congress, diplomats, academics and AIPAC board members. At first, students on their first policy conference, such as the freshmen and sophomores, simply paid close attention as the more knowledgeable upperclassmen asked questions during their small meetings; however, by the end, almost everyone was comfortable with asking questions that they had vigorously written down during speeches. “By the end of the conference I felt I had a good understanding of the issues at hand, and I could discuss them and debate them,” said YULA junior Josh Arnoff.
The students were exhausted by Tuesday night as they boarded a flight home. “We learned an unbelievable amount. Policy Conference definitely inspired me to get more involved in politics, especially to become more educated about Israel’s news and the situation in Iran,” said 11th grader Ilan Lavian. As they look towards the end of the year and their summers, many students, like Lavian, see Policy Conference as a springboard to become more involved in politics and especially with AIPAC. This trip came after a semester of making a positive impact on the America-Israel relationship. Yonah Hiller, the President of the Club, worked alongside Naphtali Nektalov, Chairman of the Board, Rabbi Dunner, the club’s advisor, and the elected board to organize the trip, which represents the climax of clubs programs.
Over the past few years, the Israel Advocacy Club has evolved from a small, modest group of students that met inconsistently into a prestigious club within YULA. This year, the club drew close to 70 members, and, with this year’s success, will likely see an even larger crowd next year. The club trains student to engage members of Congress and advocate for a stronger US-Israel alliance. With the knowledge, tools, and skills the students obtain, they can better advocate on behalf of Israel, help keep the Jewish state safe, and grow the pro-Israel movement.