Israel Awareness Hosts Israel Activist, Michelle Rojas-Tal
The Israel Awareness Commission arranged for YOFHS students to hear an informative, shocking and inspirational lecture by StandWithUs Diaspora Education Director, Michelle Rojas-Tal. Mrs. Rojas-Tal started her journey from inner-city, low-income-family teen to Israel activist, back in Astoria, Queens in the 1990s. The product of a Jewish mother and Puerto Rican father, she was mixed into two communities, and always walking the line, fitting neatly into neither. After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, that changed for Mrs. Rojas-Tal, when she started to educate herself on and defend her Jewish roots as she realized more and more that most of the world—and her New York City college peers—were either misinformed about Israel or completely against its existence. She told the story of a panel discussion on the Middle East conflict she was invited to watch at Pace University. The panel was made up of anti-Zionist Arabs and one Israeli who refused to serve in the Israeli army. The professors who led the discussion thought this was a fair and balanced representation of views on the conflict. That was the turning point for Mrs. Rojas-Tal, who since that day, has not only made aliyah, but also completed a training course to become an ambassador at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which eventually led to her present position as an outreach activist to Jews in South America, Australia and South Africa. She currently lives in Jerusalem, coordinating all programs for international students in Israel and abroad. Students left armed with information, from not only the lecture, which was accompanied by striking images on a PowerPoint presentation, but also StandWithUs pamphlets and magazines. Mrs. Rojas-Tal filled the students with confidence and hope that by being well-informed on Israel, we can all be its best ally. Special thanks to StandWithUs Regional Coordinator Avi Posnick, who accompanied Mrs. Rojas-Tal to the presentation.