Milstein Fellow – Their AIPAC Story [2/3]
The Adam and Gila Milstein Foundation and the Milstein Fellows program afforded me my first opportunity to attend an AIPAC policy conference. I am originally from Little Rock, Arkansas and attend school in Peoria, Illinois. These cities both have rather small Jewish communities. Coming to AIPAC was my first real look at just active and amazing the Jewish community is around the country.
Multiple times throughout the conference I was nearly overwhelmed by the passion and love that our community has for each other and for the State of Israel. I go to a school with an apathetic student body, and to see that type of passion was both refreshing and rejuvenating. I am leaving AIPAC even more motivated and committed to advocating for and protecting the State of Israel in my day-to-day life.
Also, hearing from amazing leaders and speakers like Nikki Haley, Paul Ryan, and so many others was inspiring. The impact that those individuals have and the way they carry themselves was something I plan to strive towards as I move forward in my professional life. Especially the change that Ambassador Haley has already brought at the United Nations has shown me the amount of change even one person can bring to an organization.
The most moving part of AIPAC was just seeing the passion that so many people share for our collective futures. The motivation to show up at a conference like AIPAC speaks volumes about the continued love we all share for the Jewish State of Israel. It also reinforced the importance for me personally to be an active participant and involved member of the larger Jewish community. Seeing the outpouring of support for my people was something I had never previously experienced and is something I will cherish forever.
It was also interesting to meet Jews from so many different backgrounds. The different cultures, circumstances, and even religious preference were some of the most amazing aspects. To see so many people that might not agree on anything outside of Israel, coming together despite those differences was amazing. In this time of polarization, it is crucial for people on an interpersonal level to build relationships, and AIPAC provides a wonderful forum to do so. It’s ability to transcend partisan politics, and offer a truly nonpartisan forum that welcomes all supporters of Israel is what continues to make AIPAC so powerful.
I cannot express how much I appreciate being able to attend AIPAC this year. Having the opportunity to attend was an integral part of my growth as a person, but also as a future Jewish leader. The learning experiences, connections, and overall passion I gained from AIPAC will continue to impact me as I move forward in my Jewish and professional life. Supporting a Jewish State and doing so as a proud Jew are now priorities in my life as I move forward. The Milstein Fellows program is an amazing initiative that I hope continues for years to come. AIPAC provides the resources, education, and passion for Israel that we all need to ensure that Israel continues to garner support from all corners of the world.
Written by a college student in AEPi