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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Flatbush Students Lobby Members of Congress on Behalf of the US-Israel Relationship

This past Wednesday, May 25, 21 Iyar, 50 Yeshivah of Flatbush students from the Israel Activism Commission traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby members of Congress and gain a firsthand experience in political activism. The students lobbied on behalf of the US-Israel relationship, and advocated for Israel's security needs and the importance of foreign aid. The students mentioned how Iran is getting closer and closer to a nuclear weapon capability and the steps that America can take to counter this threat. The students also spoke on behalf of the $30 billion plan President Bush promised to the state of Israel, and which President Obama upheld, to be distributed over a ten year period.
The day started bright and early at 5:00am, as students woke up to arrive on time for tefilah at 5:30am and to receive breakfast. As we boarded the buses at 6:30am, we headed straight to D.C., stopping in Delaware for a rest stop and to change into business attire. We then went to AIPAC headquarters for additional lobbying training (and pictures!). From there we headed to Capitol Hill for the culmination of our hard work. We arrived just in the nick of time, and returned to the Capitol after our meetings to take pictures with the group. With smaller sized groups than last time, each and every single one of us had the chance to interact directly to the congressperson or staffer, and all groups enjoyed successful meetings!
The students then had an hour to relax in the beautiful Georgetown outdoor shopping district. This hour of chill time was much needed after the day’s work! They then headed to the Washington Monument, where those who chose to leave the bus immersed themselves in the purifying rain and received dinner. From then on out, it was an enjoyable bus ride back home, now with new connections and friendships forged, and memories that will last a lifetime.
Special thanks to Rabbi Levy and Mr. Blumenthal for facilitating the planning of the trip, and to Mrs. Hanon for her support and assistance. Special thanks to Mar Urim and Mr. Amzalag for accompanying us and filling the bus ride with laughter! And of course, a special thanks to all students who gave up their time to come on this important mission. Next year, Rashelle Gersh and David Idy will lead as commissioners, with Louis Franco as co-commissioner. We wish them the best of luck and are certain that they will succeed in their endeavors! ~Andrew Hersh, Israel Activism Commissioner