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Monday, November 24, 2014

Students Attend AIPAC's High School Summit in Washington D.C.

Five Yeshivah of Flatbush High School students joined over 400 high school students from 186 public and private academic institutions across the country to attend AIPAC’s annual Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit in Washington, D.C., November 16-18. While in the nation’s capital, students received intensive training in pro-Israel political advocacy and participate in 53 individual congressional appointments focusing on the value of the U.S.-Israel alliance. Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit, the cornerstone of AIPAC’s Early Engagement program, is an empowerment vehicle for teens interested in supporting Israel through direct involvement in the American political process.

The goal of the Summit was to provide student activists with the tools they need to be effective activists within the political arena. Participants were exposed to proven methods of articulating their commitment to Israel; the importance of engaging members of Congress and candidates for Congress; and how to effectively make the case for the U.S.-Israel relationship.

67 partner delegations—including 5 youth movements, 34 Jewish day schools, 9 synagogue youth groups and 11 student leadership and advocacy programs— participated in this year’s Summit.

Also in attendance were 43 outstanding AIPAC campus activists representing colleges and universities across the country including: University of Pennsylvania, Tulane University, Princeton University, DePaul University and University of California—Berkeley. These Peer Facilitators assisted AIPAC professionals in leading introductory breakout sessions in addition to attending high-level sessions of their own. On Monday night, the Peer Facilitators hosted the AIPAC College Fair, which included booths for college application consulting and even career advice in addition to the dozens of campuses represented.
Summit session titles include: Why We Commit: Telling our Stories; The Case for the U.S.-Israel relationship; Challenges Confronting Israel Now; Middle East in Turmoil. Most of the breakout sessions were led by Leadership Development Professionals with several special outside speakers—including Director of the Jerusalem Center for Communication and Advocacy Training David Olesker and Senior Fellow for Counter-terrorism of the American Foreign Policy Council Avi Jorisch making appearances throughout the conference.

The Summit culminated in a series of group lobbying sessions on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning. This year, hundreds of high school students and their advisors lobbied 53 members of Congress from 20 states. Before they departed for the Hill, Summit participants were briefed on AIPAC’s legislative agenda and practiced with lobbying role-plays designed by AIPAC’s incomparable Policy and Government Affairs team.