Recently, Lara Decter, Rebecca Jedwab, Michael Sosnick, Samantha Weissman and I enjoyed an amazing trip to Israel through “Write On for Israel,” an Israel advocacy-training program. Each year, students from the tri-state area are chosen to participate in the Write On for Israel program, in which students travel to Columbia University each month to garner the information and skills necessary to defend the actions and policies of the State of Israel. At each session, Write On for Israel participants hear from acclaimed speakers known for their advocacy for Israel, including author Yossi Klein Halevi and Jonathan Kessler, the AIPAC Leadership Development Director.
An important part of the Write On for Israel program is the trip to Israel. The visit was a unique experience. Participants were able to speak to IDF personnel who regard the program as “half of the fight for Israel.” The military fights physical wars while advocates for Israel fight the intellectual ones. In fact, Write On for Israel is one of the only high school groups with whom important Israeli military and government officials speak. This fact speaks volumes about the prestige and value of the program.
In today’s global climate, the need to advocate for Israel is apparent. Opposition to Israel’s policies and existence has grown in recent years, especially on university campuses, which we will all be attending in the near future. Just a month ago, BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions), an organization which campaigns to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel, planned to hold their annual national conference at the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. A group of graduates from the Write On for Israel program organized the effort in opposition to BDS. Their efforts resulted in a statement by the University President, Amy Gutmann, which reads, “The University of Pennsylvania has clearly stated on numerous occasions that it does not support sanctions or boycotts against Israel.” This statement along with other efforts by Write On for Israel graduates resulted in reduced effectiveness of the BDS conference in spreading lies and hatred toward Israel.
The necessity of the Write On for Israel program is apparent, and HAFTR students are proud to be a part of it.
Additionally, this week, HAFTR planned some great events for students to enjoy and celebrate Purim. The HAFTR administration has organized several Shushan Purim events for students including a costume contest and a magic show. Also, HAFTR students participated in a cereal drive and are organizing the collection of leftover Mishloach Manot to be distributed to the JCC food pantry.