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Central was very proud to send its own delegation to the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington DC this past week. Under the leadership of Mrs. Audi Hecht, two seniors and four juniors – Marsha Joseph, Olivia Peller, Rachel Rumstein, Meira Saffra, Eytana Schick, and Rina Shamilov – joined 4,000 other students in making up nearly a quarter of the total conference attendees. At AIPAC, our students learned extensively about the US-Israel relationship and how vital it is to both the United States and Israel’s strategic interests and about the unique kinship the nations share. The students had an opportunity to hear from a wide array of presenters, including United States political leaders, such as Vice President Mike Pence, US Representative Nancy Pelosi, Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Chuck Schumer, former Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, and many others who affirmed their staunch commitment to the US-Israel alliance.

The students also heard from fascinating innovators in the fields of science, engineering, and community organizations who have helped former veterans, those with disabilities, disadvantaged communities, and others through their ingenious contributions and inventions. Our students explored ideas about how to encourage activism, how to advance Israel’s mission and cause, and how to tackle BDS. They are inspired, energized, and eager to share what they have learned with our school community.

The students also had the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of sessions and meetings. Olivia Peller highlighted that “Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States, talked about condemning anti-Semitism and BDS within our communities and work spaces,” and Nancy Pelosi shared that “To be anti-Semitic is to be anti-American.” Olivia added, “This entire experience really informed me and educated me on speaking up within communities and spreading the truth of our homeland.” In that same vein, Rina Shamilov highlighted one of the sessions, “which educated us in responding to criticisms of Israel and combating anti-Semitism. The speakers laid out a four-point checklist to ensure effective and concise responses that could potentially lead to peaceful discussions and negate misconstrued Israeli policy.”

Overall, Rina added, “I think AIPAC served as an enjoyable and meaningful experience in which I was able to meet with others who felt passionate about Israel advocacy and politics in general.”