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December 19, 2013 - Image 26

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-12-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Akiva students bring advocacy

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December 19 • 2013

Rabbi Yochanan Shrader of Akiva; Ami Nadiv and Sam Kole of Frankel

Jewish Academy, who were also on the trip; and Akiva students Ezra
Mendelson, Ryan Martin, Aviva Movsas and Michal Shamayeva

s November began, four
students from Akiva Hebrew
Day School in Southfield
were given the opportunity of a life-
time to attend AIPAC's Schusterman
Advocacy Institute High School
Summit in Washington, D.C.
Rabbi Yochanan Shrader, head of
the beit midrash (chapel) at Akiva,
chaperoned 11th-grade students Ryan
Martin, Ezra Mendelson, Aviva Movsas
and Michal Shamayeva. AIPAC, a
bipartisan, nonprofit organization,
empowers pro-Israel activists across all
ages, religions and races to be politi-
cally engaged and build relationships
with members of Congress from both
sides of the aisle to promote the U.S.-
Israel relationship.
This highly selective three-day
conference sponsored students from
diverse backgrounds to unite and
study the current situations occurring
in Israeli and Middle East politics.
Sessions included topics about Iran's
nuclear program, the crisis in Syria,
threats from Hezbollah and Hamas,
instability in Jordan, and the impor-
tance in engaging Congress and candi-
dates in pro-Israel advocacy.
"As a student attending a Jewish
day school, I didn't really think that
the Schusterman High School Summit
would be enlightening," said Ezra
Mendelson of West Bloomfield. "Once
I got there, I immediately knew I was
wrong. I learned things about Israeli

and American politics that I never
would have learned otherwise:'
After an intense two days of lec-
tures and learning about the U.S.-
Israel relationship, students were
taken to Capitol Hill to meet with
senators, representatives and policy
advisers to lobby in honor of the State
of Israel.
"Going to the conference really
informed me on the American and
Israeli alliance, and what I can do to
help," said Ryan Martin of Sylvan Lake.
"The fact that I was able to lobby to
my member of Congress, U.S. Rep.
Gary Peters, made me feel as if I was
contributing and making a change:'
For me, lobbying about prevent-
ing Iranian nuclear weapon capabil-
ity, providing foreign aid support to
Israel, strengthening the U.S.-Israel
strategic partnership and Israeli-
Palestinian peace talks showed me
that we shouldn't just love Israel, but
we should actively support it and take
a stand for what we believe in.
Students came back from Capitol
Hill feeling pride for supporting Israel
and realizing the impact that it makes
on our government's policies. Israel
would not be the same country it is
now if it were not for the support of
"AIPAC connected me with other
Jewish teens around the country who
share a passion for Israel," said Aviva
Movsas of Southfield. "I learned
so much from this summit, and it
inspired me to bring home the mes-
sage of support for Israel." ❑

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