The Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit—run by AIPAC—is a three-day conference in which students are given the opportunity to strengthen their knowledge of Israel. Two weeks ago, I, along with 10 of my classmates from Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the High School Summit. There, we were joined by 400 other students, as we listened to various speakers discuss how to lobby congress and raise awareness of the importance of America’s alliance with Israel. Each speaker was unique and thoroughly examined the relationships Israel has with her bordering countries. Students were able to ask questions, take notes and reflect with each other. The High School Summit expanded our knowledge of Israel in an effort to make students more conscious of the way we may form our opinions of Israel when talking to individuals that may have a different perspective.
During the two-day conference, students not only listened to speakers, but also participated in simulations. This hands-on activity trained students on how to act and respond as members of congress when being lobbied. Through this, students became more cognizant of the fact that congress plays a huge role in each alliance that America has, particularly Israel. After this activity, each district from each state were split into new groups and met with a Summit staff member. Students were led through a session on how to lobby our congress members and make them more conscious of how important Israel is to America and vice versa.
With the skills and tools they were given at our pre-lobbying session, we then headed to Capitol Hill to lobby our representatives regarding Israel. The Kushner students lobbied David Michaels, a staff member for Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.). Michaels gave me and my classmates an overview of Sherill’s plans for a successful U.S.-Israel relationship, and we expressed why it is important for the U.S. to stand with Israel. We left our lobbying appointment feeling successful in the way that we presented our concerns about Israel.
One student, Alexandra Degen, member of the Kushner delegation, said her favorite part of the Summit was lobbying on Capitol Hill because “we were able to take action in supporting Israel.”
Additionally, another student who attended Summit with the Kushner delegation, Jesse Koppel, expressed that, “since students were able to lobby their congresspeople, they were able to see firsthand that they can potentially shape the future of the American Israeli relationship.”
I plan to take the tools I have learned from the Summit and share it with my communities at home. “Being able to go on High School Summit was such an amazing experience for me. It helped me enhance my knowledge and love for Israel in ways that I have never been able to before,” said Eli Fishbein, member of Kushner delegation at Summit.
Overall, we learned that we aren’t just the future of the Jewish people, but we are also the present. So, what we do for the U.S.-Israel relationship makes a difference does not go unrecognized.
Racheli Burack is a junior at Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School.