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Commemorating the 40th anniversary of Israel’s July 1976 Raid on Entebbe: The State of Israel ensures that “Never Again” remains a reality

Seventy years ago, in the wake of the Holocaust, the Jewish people took a vow: Never Again!

After the Nazis murdered six million Jews, we came to recognize that we only have ourselves to rely upon for our defense. In today’s tumultuous world, the sole guarantor of Jewish safety is a strong Israeli military. Jews around the world facing mortal danger can count on the State of Israel to protect them.

This year commemorates the 40th anniversary of the July 1976 Raid on Entebbe, when Israel demonstrated what Never Again really means. After an Air France plane with about 300 passengers traveling from Israel to France was hijacked by terrorists and brought to Uganda, the Israeli and Jewish passengers went through a Nazi-like selection process and were kept as hostages while the non-Jews were set free to return to Paris.

The terrorists declared that they would kill all the hostages if their demand for the release of 53 international terrorists, held in Israel and other countries, was not met. Yet it was only the State of Israel that chose to take action and save the Jewish captives. Israel refused to accept the execution of Jews by the terrorists, and in a daring and carefully planned mission, Israeli forces used four American Hercules C-130 cargo planes, travelled 2,400 miles and rescued the hostages. One IDF officer, Lieutenant Colonel Yoni Netanyahu, brother of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and three hostages were killed. More than 100 were saved.

But this is not the only time in recent history that only the people of Israel were willing to put their own lives in harm’s way to protect their brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. After a lethal pogrom in Yemen in 1947 after the U.N. vote to partition the British Mandate of Palestine, Israel secretly airlifted 45,000 Yemenite Jews to safety in Israel with Operation Magic Carpet. And again with Operation Solomon in 1991, the IDF airlifted 14,500 Ethiopian Jews out of harm’s way in Africa to Israel. With these incredible rescue missions, Israel has made it clear that it will do whatever it takes to protect global Jewry.

Again and again, the Jewish people have been targeted. Yet now, the State of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, is here to step in and stand by those in danger. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Israel resettled more than 1 million Soviet Jews in Israel. Jews around the world, wherever they are, can rest assured that their brothers and sisters in Israel are there to protect them. The IDF is there to ensure that the Right of Return of the Jewish people in any corner of the world is protected, from Ethiopia, to Russia, to Yemen. In addition to serving as the homeland for the Jewish people, Israel is here to extend its arms and ensure that Never Again remains a reality.

Before Israel’s founding in 1948, Jews were easy prey to the world’s terrorists. They could run but they were never completely safe. Not anymore, Never Again! Thanks to its strength, the Israel Defense Force is fulfilling its true purpose—to serve as the ultimate insurance policy for the Jewish people against our enemies.

We saw this powerfully displayed again in 2003, when three Israel Air Force (IAF) F-15 Eagle fighter jets, piloted by descendants of Holocaust survivors, took to the skies, soaring over the 40 square kilometers of Auschwitz where Nazis slaughtered more than one million Jewish men, and women, and children only 70 years ago. Below the IAF jets—on the very ground where so many Jews lost their lives—stood hundreds of IAF commanders singing the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikva.” (You can watch the powerful video of the Israel Air Force flyover at Auschwitz here.)

If history has taught us anything, it is that others will try to annihilate the Jews again in the future. But whenever the next time comes, we will not be helpless. Israel, with all its might and determination, is not going anywhere. It will do whatever is necessary to eliminate threats posed by those who seek the Jewish people’s destruction.

In the early 1930s, people across the world—including many of the most successful and assimilated Jews in Europe—wrote off Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitism, believing that he would never actually act on his words. Little could they imagine the disaster that would be brought upon the entire world by Hitler’s madness just a few years later, leading to the death of tens of millions and the destruction of half the world.

If Hitler’s intentions had been taken more seriously early on, he could have been stopped. The Holocaust is further evidence that Jews are the proverbial canary in the coal mine. When Jews are persecuted, slandered or unfairly singled out, it does not bode well for others. While Jews are often the first to be targeted by tyrants and bigots, it almost never ends with the Jews.

Remember that the next time you hear the news about an IDF military operation. When Israel goes to war, it is not doing so just for its citizens or Jews around world. When Israel fights, it does so on behalf of Western civilization as a whole. Israel is the floodgate—it sits on a strategic fault line between enlightenment and tyranny.

We will soon be without any Holocaust survivors who can provide us with direct personal accounts of the horrors they suffered. But the lessons of the Holocaust are more relevant than ever and they must be passed on to future generations.

This month, we lost one of the great bearers of those lessons, Elie Wiesel, who said of this cause, “without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.”

As Elie Wiesel often shared, one of the most important ways to safeguard the memory of the Holocaust is to strengthen and support Israel. The Jewish state stands as a vivid rejection of everything the Nazis believed in. As long as the Jewish people can defend ourselves by ourselves, we will flourish and prosper for generations to come. And so will the world.

Follow Adam Milstein on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AdamMilstein

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Israel Air Force F-15 Eagles over Auschwitz

Never again. That was the sacred vow made by the Jewish people over the past 70 years in the wake of the Holocaust.

Following the murder of six million of our brethren by the Nazis, the Jewish people have come to recognize that we have only ourselves to rely on for our defense.

When the going gets tough, no one else will come to fight for us.

And in today’s tumultuous world, the sole guarantor of Jewish safety is a strong Israeli military. Jews facing mortal danger in any corner of the globe can count on Israel to protect them.

No event in recent years symbolized this more than the Israel Air Force flyover of the Auschwitz death camps, in what is now Poland, in September 2003. After being invited to take a part in an air show marking the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Polish Air Force, three IAF F-15 Eagle fighter jets, all piloted by descendants of Holocaust survivors, flew to Auschwitz and thundered through the skies above the camp where nearly one million Jews were slaughtered between 1940 and 1945 while the world stood by and did nothing.

The message of the flyover mission was clear: unlike the Allied forces during World War II, who patrolled the skies above the death camps but refrained from bombing Auschwitz and its rail roads for “lack of resources,” Israel will never leave Jews to their fate. 

Never again means never again.

Israel will see to that, no matter the consequences.

As the IAF’s F-15s were soaring over the camps, hundreds of IDF commanders on the ground proudly sang “Hatikva,” the Israeli national anthem, the title of which means “the hope” in English.
 

 

 

One of the Israeli pilots was Amir Eshel, now the commander of the IAF. In a radio message broadcast to a delegation of IDF soldiers gathered down below at Auschwitz, Eshel declared, “We pilots of the Israel Air Force, flying in the skies above the camp of horrors, arose from the ashes of the millions of victims and shoulder their silent cries, salute their courage, and promise to be the shield of the Jewish people and its nation Israel.”

His words succinctly capture the story of the State of Israel. Our homeland was established with blood, sweat and grit by a battered, but brave and defiant Jewish people. We overcame all odds and built a thriving democracy in our ancient homeland in the heart of the Middle East.

Before Israel’s founding in 1948, Jews were easy prey. They could run but they were not safe. Not anymore, never again! Thanks to its strength, the Israel Defense Force is fulfilling its true purpose – to serve as the ultimate insurance policy for the Jewish people against our enemies.

If history has taught us anything, it is that others will try to annihilate the Jews again and again in the future. But whenever the next time comes, we will not be helpless. Israel, with all its might and determination, is not going anywhere. It will do whatever is necessary to eliminate threats posed by those who seek the Jewish people’s destruction.

In the early 1930s, people across the world – including many of the most successful and assimilated Jews in Europe – wrote off Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitism, believing that he would never actually act on his words. Little could they imagine the disaster that would be brought upon the entire world by Hitler’s madness just a few years later, leading to the death of tens of millions and the destruction of half the world.

If Hitler’s intentions had been taken seriously early on, he could have been stopped. The Holocaust was further evidence that Jews are the proverbial canary in the coal mine. When Jews are persecuted, slandered or unfairly singled out, this does not bode well for others.

While Jews are often the first to be targeted by tyrants and bigots, it almost never ends with the Jews.

Remember that the next time you hear the news about an IDF operation. When Israel goes to war, it is not doing so just for its citizens or Jews around world.

When Israel fights, it does so on behalf of Western civilization as a whole. Israel is the floodgate – it sits on a strategic fault line between enlightenment and tyranny.

In the not-too-distant future, we will be without any Holocaust survivors who can provide us with direct personal accounts of the horrors they suffered. But the lessons of the Holocaust are more relevant than ever and they must be passed on to future generations.

This month, we lost one of the great bearers of these lessons, Elie Wiesel, who said of this cause, “Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.”

As Wiesel often shared, one of the most important ways to safeguard the memory of the Holocaust is to strengthen and support Israel. The Jewish state stands as a vivid rejection of everything the Nazis believed in. As long as the Jewish people can defend ourselves by ourselves, we will flourish and prosper for generations to come. And so will the world.

The author is an Israeli-American philanthropist, national chairman of the Israeli-American Council, real estate entrepreneur and president of the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation.

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Podcast: Adam Milstein & Haim Saban

Adam Milstein & Haim Saban

Adam and Haim discuss how important it is to have Israeli-Americans be the connector between the U.S. and Israel; as well as how we can fight BDS and anti-Semitism. Haim Saban is an Israeli-American media proprietor, investor, philanthropist, musician, record, film & television producer as well as an accomplished businessman.

TRANSCRIPT

On mobile? Listen HERE

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Israeli-American Council Brings Israeli Solutions To Address California Drought

Like many with hyphenated identities, Israeli-Americans have proven to be uniquely capable bridge builders. In recent years, the Israeli-American Council (IAC), and its partner advocacy organization, the Israeli-American Nexus (IAX), have been able to tap into our community’s unique fluency in both the Israeli and American cultures to build unprecedented partnerships between the people and governments of Israel and the United States. As Chairman of the IAC, I take great pride in the many ways that we are bringing together our two countries by sharing solutions that address our mutual challenges.

This week, the IAC will take an important step forward with this work, as it sponsors a groundbreaking tour to Israel for public and private sector leaders in California’s agricultural sector, including Karen Ross, head of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and Craig McNamara, President of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. Sixteen California leaders will spend a week travelling across the Jewish state, learning about Israel’s cutting-edge farming practices, which have enabled the country to become an agri-tech superpower in a land that was known a century ago for swamps in the north, deserts in the south, and very little water anywhere.

The IAC has helped them to build an itinerary jam-packed with agri-tech and innovation. Top scientists at the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture’s research center will present advancements in cultivating specific crops like wheat and citrus, along with new technologies, like using energy-efficient greenhouses to control humidity or using drones to detect pests. California leaders will also tour Israeli organic farms – and see the facilities of companies that have created plant-breeding techniques, such as a non-GMO start-up that drastically increases plant productivity, as well as ones that pioneered drip technology manufacturing and implementation.

Southern California is in its fourth consecutive year of a severe drought. It can no longer rely on its traditional sources of water of rain and snow from the Sierra Nevada mountain range for its growing population of nearly 23 million. The California delegation will tour Israel in search of solutions to these challenges. They will meet with experts at Israel’s National Water Company to learn how the country has put in place next generation technology and drastically reduced water waste. They will tour Jerusalem’s water supply company, visit a cutting-edge research center created by Ben Gurion University, and meet with representatives at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, who will present the technicalities of their water conservation efforts and explain how they work to protect natural resources, safeguard the environment, and maintain biodiversity.

This trip builds on a wave of success in increasing collaboration between the U.S. and Israel, which has advanced rapidly since 2014, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and California Governor Jerry Brown signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to accelerate this collaborative innovation between the two states. Driven by the leadership of Israel’s Consul General in the Southwest David Siegel, and a range of partners, including the IAC and the IAX, we are translating the spirit of the MOU into tangible outcomes on the ground.

Together, the IAC and the Israeli Consulate helped to facilitate a landmark agreement between the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine and Israel’s Ministry Science, Technology and Space to advance U.S.-Israel collaboration in stem cell research. It built on another agreement between West Hollywood and Israel, which has formed a first-of-its kind HIV/AIDS Task Force. Similarly, the IAC supported a landmark partnership agreement between Beverly Hills and Israel that will spur collaboration in a range of areas – from water conservation, cyber security, and public safety, to education and culture.

And just this month, the IAC helped to bring together the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) with the Federation of Local Authorities (MASHAM) in Israel, who signed a partnership agreement that will deepen the relationship between more than 250 municipal governments in Israel and the members of SCAG, which includes municipal governments stretching across 191 cities in six counties. This partnership will foster research collaboration and enable the sharing of strategies in areas of mutual interest in urban development, safe cities, community diversity, and in particular, on sustainability projects, such as water conservation and sourcing alternative energy.

I’m confident that we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential collaboration between these two entities. By combining resources, sharing knowledge, and exchanging expertise, California and Israel – two hubs of exceptional innovation – can advance solutions together that address their mutual challenges, while changing the world in the process. The Israeli-American community is proud to serve as a bridge to make this collaboration possible.

Adam Milstein is the Chairman of the Israeli-American Council.

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Top 3 Mistakes Organizations Make When Communicating With Donors

Written by Hadas Sella, MBA, Executive Director of The Adam & Gila Milstein Family Foundation.

My job is to say “no” about 90% of the time.

It’s not that easy — there are so many great projects out there: projects that help diverse communities in Israel; projects that are tempting to support because they have so much impact; projects that speak to me, personally; and simply projects that could help people who’ve had tough luck and are struggling financially.

Projects of all kinds find their way to my email inbox because I run the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation. The reality is that I work for two extraordinarily generous individuals, who not only support more than 100 organizations every year, but also dedicate 100% of their time to philanthropy. My job is to help them focus on the high-impact, high-return projects and organizations by researching and holding meetings to identify what is relevant to their mission and what isn’t.

When we reject a project, it is not necessarily because it is not good or worthy. The vast majority of the time, it simply isn’t a good fit. Unfortunately, when the Milsteins decide not to contribute to a specific organization, some people misinterpret it as “stabbing them in the back.” I often receive messages to the effect of, “Why does organization X receive money while I don’t?”

When I first started working with Gila and Adam, I had to figure out how they picked the organizations they support. I would relentlessly ask questions and make them defend their decisions. It took me months to understand the exact formula, and then I also learned that the formula isn’t set in stone, and things change all time.

We look for very specific attributes in the projects, organizations, and individuals that the foundation invests in (yes — invests in — not just donates to). In general, we look for organizations and projects that create synergies with existing work in the field. We also subscribe to the principle of Life Path Impact, where we can fund an ecosystem of projects that continuously engage our target audience from youth through adulthood. Each major program that we support precedes or follows another one.

Interacting with numerous nonprofits whose proposals I had to kindly reject provided me with a range of insights about what nonprofit organizations fail to acknowledge when they don’t receive funding. These are shared below in my blunt, Israeli style, and I hope they can help you:

  • Donors don’t owe you anything: not their money, not their time, and not their feedback. Just because they are wealthy and generous people, it doesn’t mean “everyone gets a share.” It is totally up to the donors who they want to work with, who they want to support, and who they want to contribute to. They don’t owe you an explanation as to why you were not selected to receive a donation from them and — if you think about it — expecting that they do is really asking them to invest more time in a direction they already decided does not fit their mission and philanthropic philosophy. Out of respect to the time that people invested in the applications, I do my best to provide a little bit of feedback when relevant; however, this is not what I am paid to do. I am paid to help find the projects that Gila and Adam would want to fund.
  • Donors — and their staff — are people, not bank accounts. This means that you can develop a relationship with them. You can send them a thank you note or say “hi” at a conference. You can include both Gila and Adam in your letters and acknowledge that they make their decisions together. You can send them information that would be interesting to them. They are not the type of people who give money in order to get their names on buildings — they are driven by their passion to help the State of Israel and the Jewish people in ways that they find to be most impactful. Gila and Adam embrace the ethos of “active philanthropy,” which means that they don’t just write checks, but they also contribute their unique expertise and relationships to make each project they support successful. In other words, they like to get their hands dirty! Thus, receiving communication is not a burden to them, but rather what keeps them going. It doesn’t look good if you omit one of them or forget to update them on your ongoing progress.
  • Talking badly about other organizations does not make you look better. It’s quite the opposite. We understand that fundraising is challenging. There is so much going on in the pro-Israel non-profit world, and unfortunately there is redundancy and inefficiency. Therefore, when yet another organization is taking students to Israel (for example), the right approach is not to talk badly of someone else’s trip, but rather to explain why yours would achieve the impact that we want to achieve.

Fundraising is tough. Every donor and foundation has their own way of doing business, with their own mission, application process and ways of reporting. We try to make our process as easy, friendly, and accessible as possible. However, just as we respect the tremendous work and passion of our applicants and their organizations, I believe that applicants must respect a foundation’s right to be focused on its mission, as this is what makes us impactful.

Although my job is to say no more than I say yes, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply. Even if you do not receive funding, building relationships is the key to success in the non-profit world, and there are many ways that we can work together. Maybe our Foundation can be helpful with introductions or ideas? Maybe we can be in touch later down the line to revisit opportunities for funding? Whether you are a funder or an applicant, maintaining a positive attitude, an open mind, and honest communication can make a huge difference in advancing your organization’s mission.

for Hadas

To learn more about the philanthropic work of Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation, visit http://milsteinff.orgAlso — check out Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation on Facebook!

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From Vision to Action: Five Ways that Israeli-Americans Are Changing the Face of Jewish Life in the U.S.

 This month (May 2016), I authored a piece in the Jerusalem Post focused on one of the most pressing challenges facing the Jewish people in America today: how to connect our next generation to their Jewish heritage, instill in them a sense of pride in their Jewish identity, and connect them to their Jewish homeland. In recent years, this has been a frequent subject of conversation and a source of controversy, with the now infamous 2013 Pew Research Center study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans” showing a serious decrease in Jewish affiliation among millennials and a disconnect between them and Israel.

I presented what I see as one of our community’s most effective solutions to this great challenge: Israeliness. Israeliness is the identity of the people who have been living in Israel for the last century and those who left Israel and moved to the diaspora. It incorporates many elements, including Israeli culture; Jewish values; Hebrew, the modern version of the biblical language; pride in the Jewish tradition and history; a deep belief in Zionism (believing in the right of the Jewish people to live freely in their homeland); a connection to the Land of Israel; and a commitment to the idea that the Jewish people around the globe are brothers, sisters, in one big family.

I’ve seen firsthand how Israeliness can attract, engage, and inspire American Jews, particularly the next generation of Jewish Americans – and how Israeli-Americans are uniquely positioned to serve as champions and ambassadors of Israeliness in the United States.

The replies to my article came in quickly. Many loved the idea. Some people didn’t comprehend what I meant when I wrote Israeliness. They had NO IDEA what I was talking about. Others said, “Adam, we love the concept, but how can we implement it?”

The short answer is that this is no longer merely a vision, but a reality. More than a dozen programs built by the Israeli-American Council (IAC) in partnership with the broader Jewish community are spreading Israeliness all across the U.S. Through the IAC’s work, we are seeing how Israeliness—and Israeli-Americans—have the capacity to change the landscape of Jewish life for the next generation.

Here are five ways that Israeli-Americans are engaging the broader Jewish community.

1. We are leveraging Israeliness to bring young people into the community. The IAC exposes American Jews to Israeliness through bilingual programs like Eitanim, which uses the inspiration of Israeli entrepreneurs and innovation along with a special project-based curriculum to cultivate leadership skills in high school students. Despite starting just this January, there are already hundreds of participants across the country from both the Israeli-American and Jewish-American communities. We also have Mishelanu, which provides a home for Israeli-Americans and pro-Israel college students through programming focused around the Hebrew language and Israeli identity building. It is the fastest-growing Jewish program on college campuses. Other programs focus on young professionals, like Dor Chadash and BINA, bring together Americans and Israeli-Americans for gatherings inspired by Israeli culture, offering everything from social and business networking to intellectual salons.

2. We are igniting Jewish pride and heritage for those who are not interested in going to synagogue. Recently, the IAC opened the first Israeli Community Center in the U.S. We are building partnerships run Israeli Centers inside JCC’s all across the country. These centers serve the Israeli-Americans and the broader Jewish community through activities centered on Israeli culture, art, music, and food. They can provide a home for programs like Shishi Israel—a Friday night “Israeli-style” Kabbalat Shabbat dinner filled with Israeli music and culture, and food, which bring the joy of Shabbat – and a reignited sense of Jewish pride – into families that were long unaffiliated with the “temple-going” crowd. We also organize and encourage Shabbat dinners at our homes where we bring our Jewish-American friends to enjoy our food and culture with us. Through the IAC, many young, Jewish Americans are finding a way express their Judaism through an Israeli lens, which is not necessarily religious.

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Israeli-American Council’s Celebrate Israel Festival. Photo credit: Abraham Joseph Pal.

3. We are uniting all different strands of Jews—religious and secular—under one umbrella. Israeliness means Jewish identity without religious affiliation. It means being Jewish without the label of Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform. Israeliness means being proud to be who we are, with courage, and standing up for what we believe in. It means not judging people from where they came from – whether Ashkenazic, Sephardic, secular, or Orthodox. This month’s Celebrate Israel Festival brought together Jews of all backgrounds in six major cities, and was the largest celebration of the Jewish State outside of Israel. We provide a space for everyone from the orthodox to the unaffiliated and all those in between to come together in a place that they never would before.

4. We are bringing the joy and vibrancy of Hebrew to American Jewish life. Hebrew unites Jews not just because it is our historical language or even because it is the language of the Jewish state: it is the language of our ancestors, beautiful and rich in history and nuance. It should be the second-language in every Jewish home (or the first if you live in Israel). We offer programs like Keshet (previously known as Sifriyat Pijama), which brings Hebrew into the home from the earliest years of life, providing young families with free Hebrew-language children’s books that teach Jewish values. More than a quarter of the participants are Americans Jews with basic Hebrew knowledge. They seek to improve their language skills, while teaching their kids Hebrew. As the co-founders of this program, my wife Gila and I hear over and over how it is changing life for more than 18,000 families across America.

5. We are bringing a fresh pair of eyes and energetic spirit to how we think about American Jewish life. Israelis are famously bold. Our ingenuity and willingness to take risks turned a sparse desert into a thriving oasis of high-tech innovation. Israeli-Americans can bring this same spirit when it comes to community building. The IAC’s rapid growth in just a few years from a single region to a national Movement reaching 250,000 people show that this willingness to take risks can yield huge rewards. We are willing to fight anti-Semitism and BDS, and we are gaining friends and allies in the Jewish-American community to help us in this fight.

In his new book, Flexigidty, Gidi Grinstein, Founder and CEO of the Reut Institute, a well-respected Israeli think tank, makes a compelling argument: he says that the secret of Jewish success and survival over the millennia has been a willingness to “balance new and old, innovation and tradition, flexibility and rigidity”. As we look at how to address the great challenges facing the Jewish people in America, it is clear that engaging Israeli-Americans and the next generation of Jewish-Americans in new ways must be part of the solution. Building wider and deeper partnerships between Israeli-Americans and Jewish-Americans will benefit all, bringing new vibrancy to Jewish life in our country and all over the world.

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Combine Your Profession With Your Passion. It’s Good for Business.

When I was an MBA student at UCLA, I had the privilege of hearing business leaders’ two cents on success and how to do well in life—professionally and personally. Two things that—without exception—every leader mentioned were passion andhard work. Ursula Burns (Chairman & CEO of Xerox), Bob Iger (Chairman & CEO of The Walt Disney Company), Indra Nooyi (CEO & Chairperson of PepsiCo) and more all said that they were passionate and hardworking. Without both qualities, they wouldn’t have achieved what they had.

Not everyone who follows their passion succeeds. But everyone who is successful—at least according to my experience—is passionate.

And yet, let’s face it—most of us are not passionate about our jobs. We work to live. We don’t live to work. We want self-fulfillment, but struggle to find it in the office atmosphere. There are many ways to remedy this—some people find their passion in hobbies and activities after work, some volunteer, and some simply wait until they retire—but I am writing this to discuss what I consider to be the best of both worlds. The zone where nonprofit and for-profit meet, in which professionals provide services to nonprofit organizations that they care about. THAT, my friends, is a win-win situation.

Take Eyal Resh, for example: a young and talented Israeli-American video director. Eyal served three years as the main Director of the Cinema Unit of the Israeli Air Force. In 2015, he graduated with an MA from CalArts (accepted based on experience, even though he doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree), where he studied film directing.

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Searching For Them,” directed by Eyal Resh

Today, Eyal is an independent filmmaker who works for a variety of clients with a wide range of needs. At the same time, some of his biggest projects—the ones he is most proud of, actually—are for the pro-Israel nonprofit community. He is the video director and producer for many Israeli and Jewish organizations in the U.S. There are many talented video directors here—especially in Los Angeles. But for Eyal it is not just about his profession: it’s his passion. His Israeliness drives his passion, and it’s clear in his final result. There is something more to his work. An emotional attachment. A sense of purpose. A willingness to do whatever it takes to get the project right.

I worked with Eyal on a few projects, and he told me once: “When I work for a cause I care about, it’s not working—it’s playing.”

Eyal created the videos for three Israeli-American Council (IAC) events, including its annual gala and the National Conference in Washington, D.C. He also directed all of the screen content for the Times of Israel Gala at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Larger than Life, Stand by Me, Kadima Day School, IAFCF, MATI, and more all hired him to direct video content for their galas and fundraisers. The list of multimedia projects for the Jewish community goes on and on.

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“Telling Israel’s Story,” directed by Eyal Resh

I personally think that Eyal and people like him are a tremendous asset for the pro-Israel and Jewish nonprofit community because they bring a personal connection. And with personal connection comes personal investment. When we hire someone like Eyal, we know we are yielding a high return.

Eyal is of course not the only one—there are attorneys, political consultants, PR consultants, social media experts, graphic designers, web developers, and many other service providers who work with us and with the organizations that the Milstein Family Foundation (MFF) supports. They take part in our community’s efforts to fight BDS, connect American Jews to Israel, promote Israel’s image in the U.S., and more.

Combining profession with passion in this way yields a win-win situation:

  • Professionals do something they enjoy, while getting paid and promoting their business
  • Nonprofits get a higher-than-usual quality work from passionate professionals

Nonprofits have staffs, but they also need vendors to do the work their staffs cannot. Remember that you don’t have to work at a nonprofit in order to work for a nonprofit.

Here is your chance: How are YOU going to combine your profession with your passion?

To learn more about the philanthropic work of Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation, visit http://milsteinff.org. Also – check out Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation on Facebook!

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IAC Head Milstein Urges: Boycott the Boycotters

Jewish and pro-Israel communities should be on the offensive when it comes to fighting BDS, chairman of the Israeli-American Council Adam Milstein said at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference.

“BDS is a movement to eradicate the State of Israel, pure and simple,” Adam Milstein told the audience.

He said the movement is becoming a source of renewed anti-semitism in the United States.

“You have to fight fire with fire. We can’t be silent, we can’t be politically correct,” he added. “There is no way we can have a dialogue and a discourse with people who want to eradicate us. We need to be on the offense, attack the attackers, boycott the boycotters.”

Milstein spoke at a panel entitled “The future of the Jewish people and the war against BDS,” which was moderated by Column One writer Caroline Glick, and included the participation of International Fellowship of Christians and Jews President Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Director of the European Jewish Association Rabbi Menachem Margolin, MK Elazar Stern and CEO of the Harry Triguboff Institute Shalom Norman.

Milstein also spoke about the presence of BDS on US campuses and called students supporting the movement, including the organization Students for Justice in Palestine, “Hamas on campus.”

“The cancer is not just out there on US campuses, but it’s also here within us,” he added.

“It’s not going away, it’s only getting stronger and stronger and it’s incorporating now Jewish students as well.”

Eckstein said he believes the Jewish community is “making a serious mistake” by trying to fight BDS alone.

“We can’t do it alone,” he said. “The way to fight the BDS movement long term is to build strategic alliances and friendships.”

He explained the Christian community, as well as other non-Jewish communities, have the potential to greatly contribute to the fight.

Margolin told the audience that in Europe “BDS is not just a way to attack Israel, it is a way to attack Jewish people,” and fighting the movement is necessary in order to ensure the security of European Jews.

While he agreed that the fight against BDS is important, Stern said he believes it is a “temporary challenge” raised by the Israeli government in order “not to fight the real challenge of the future of the Jewish people.”

Stern said that “if we continue to present our kids in Israel and our kids here with an equation according to which having a Jewish state is to put as many obstacles as you can in the conversion process and exclude women from the right to elect the chief rabbinate,” their connection to the state will not last. This constitutes the main threat to Israel.

CEO of the Harry Triguboff Institute Shalom Norman agreed with Stern’s view and said Israel needs to focus on solving its internal social problems to better fight BDS.

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Israeliness Is The Answer

Alarms are going off. American Jews – particularly Millennials – have become less connected to their faith and to the State of Israel.

According to the now infamous 2013 Pew Research Center study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” approximately one-third of American Jews between 18 and 29 years old describe themselves as having no religion at all, and two-thirds do not have a strong connection to Israel. In a study published by Brandeis University last year, fewer than half of Jewish college students could correctly answer even the most basic questions about the Jewish state. This is stark contrast to older American Jews, eight in 10 of whom feel attached to Israel.

Many now suggest that the State of Israel, our Jewish homeland, has become an obstacle in our effort to engage the next generation in Jewish life. They see Israel as a source of conflict and alienation between older and younger Jews and between young American Jews and their Jewish heritage.

Despite the hype and the headlines of recent years, I have seen firsthand that the State of Israel and the Israeli people are anything but a liability when it comes to engaging young people. They are our most powerful and effective solution.

The great success of many programs, such as Masa Israel, Gap Year, and in particular, Birthright – with its half a million alumni – illustrate how visiting, exploring and experiencing Israel makes a transformative difference for young people. Research shows that attending a Birthright trip increases one’s desire to date Jewish and raise Jewish children, leads participants to feel more positive about their Jewish identity, and strengthens their connection to their Jewish homeland.

What is about going to Israel for 10 days that has such an impact? I believe that the secret is the exposure to the distinct identity of Israelis, something we often call “Israeliness.” Israeliness incorporates many elements, including Israeli culture, Jewish values and Hebrew, the language of our Bible; extraordinary pride in Jewish tradition and our history; a deep belief in Zionism; an incredible connection between Israelis and the Land of Israel; and a commitment to the idea “Kol Yisrael areivim zeh lazeh,” “All the children of Israel are responsible for one another.”

Israeliness provides a powerful reminder about where our people have come from, and an inspiring vision of where the Jewish people is going. It makes complete strangers feel like family. It gives young men and women the courage and conviction to fight against evil and for what is right, to defend our Jewish homeland, our Jewish values, and the Jewish people.

Israeliness reminds us about the many contributions to the world that have been born in the Land of Israel, from the advent of Judeo-Christian values to creation of the Start-Up Nation. In Israel, young people see a country that has more companies listed on the Nasdaq exchange than Africa, Germany, France, the Philippines, Japan, Russia, Singapore, Korea and India combined, a country whose research has been instrumental in developing pivotal technologies used all around the world from voice mail to computers, to text messaging and Waze.

Israeliness opens up a whole new world for young American Jews, many of whom have been conditioned to believe that Jewish identity must be centered around attending synagogue. In discovering their homeland, young Jews are able to discover a piece of themselves, connect with young Israelis, and find new ways to express their Judaism through an Israeli lens.

Yet, if we want to address the challenges outlined in the Pew Report, it’s not enough to bring Americans to Israel, we also have to bring Israeliness to Americans. As the national chairman of the Israeli-American Council, I am focused on leveraging the greatest untapped resource for telling the story of the Jewish people and the State of Israel in the United States: Israeli-Americans.

With cultural fluency in America – our home – and Israel – our Jewish homeland, Israeli-Americans can engage and inspire the broader Jewish American community in so many ways.

The IAC has emerged as the fastest-growing Jewish organization in the US, with a range of programs that connect Americans of all ages to Israeliness and to Jewish traditions – from Sifriyat Pijama B’America, which provides Hebrew-language children’s books promoting Jewish values for young families, to IAC Mishelanu, the first Hebrew-language Jewish youth program on US college campuses, to the Celebrate Israel Festival, the largest Israeli Independence Day celebration outside of the Jewish state, which brings together 100,000 Americans in festivals all across the country.

In Los Angeles, the IAC is building the Shepher Community Center – the first Israeli-American Community Center in the United States. Nationwide, the IAC is collaborating with several Jewish community centers to provide a range of programs serving the broader Jewish community. We hope it will offer a model for the rest of the country.

As the rates of intermarriage and disassociation rise, some have suggested that American Jewry may completely disappear.

Yet, the Jewish people has survived some of the greatest perils of history in part due to our ability to adapt. Far from being a problem, embracing the State of Israel and adopting Israeliness is the solution American Jewry needs.

The writer is national chairman of the Israeli-American Council.

Original Post: The Jerusalem Post 

Follow Adam Milstein on Twitter! @AdamMilstein

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A Campus Allies Triumph

The Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation proudly supports AIPAC’s Campus Allies Mission, which enables non-Jewish, pro-Israel political activists and student leaders to visit Israel for the first time. This journey to the Holy Land gives participants an unforgettable experience and teaches them about the importance of the United States-Israel relationship, and Israel’s strategic, social, and security issues. Participant Deryn Sousa shares how the Mission brought three separate strands of her life into harmony. You can read her post below. 

I have always been pro-Israel. As a child, I was interested in the “Holy Land,” rather than the State. In college I began to take a particular interest in the Israel issue as it pertained to Arabs. While maintaining my own Christian faith along with my pro-Israel activism, I began to study Arabic and immerse myself in Arab and Muslim student clubs. The idea of all three entities truly living side-by-side was completely unrealistic in my eyes and in the eyes of many. This view became completely altered once I visited the “Holy Land.”

I recall floating carelessly in the Dead Sea, how I was at a loss for words as we drove through the countryside in Jeeps, how much I enjoyed soaking in all of the history of a land so precious to so many people, or even how I developed beautiful lasting relationships. However, the greatest takeaway from this amazing journey is simply the revelation that Israel makes this relationship between my faith, my views, and my education work.

Throughout the first couple of days we ‘hit the ground running.’ We explored an overwhelming amount of historical sites, taking in the immense history of this land. Yet it was not until about halfway through the trip that I truly began to see the meaningfulness and holiness of the sacred land of Israel. This Israel is a sacred home to a people of immigrants. This Israel, under the layers of tourism, history, and religious significance, at its truest and rawest form, is a country that takes so many different people amidst so much violence and controversy, and still makes the paradox work.

At the dead center of our ten-day trip, I experienced a day of terrible sadness, yet beautiful hope. Walking through Yad Vashem, we remembered and mourned the lives of those lost to anti-Semitic genocide. We all were presented with a whirlwind of emotions that I was not prepared for and found difficult to process. Standing in the Children’s Memorial brought tears I had not experienced in a long time. Before I made it to that particular memorial, however, I had picked up a phone at one of the museum’s exhibits, only to hear a man singing mournfully in Yiddish. I was not expecting to be hit by such sadness, yet I could not help but feel a knot in my stomach as I never wanted to hang up on him.

While that morning was characterized by the sorrow of the haunting memories at Yad Vashem, that afternoon would bring about the peace and beauty of Israel. As a Christian, the Garden Tomb truly meant something special to me. Aside from my own religious ties, this was where I truly felt my own personal tie to Israel for the first time. This was the defining moment where I finally found the answer to the ambiguous question about my “own personal connection to the State of Israel.”

I was sitting in the Jewish homeland, at the Christian site of Jesus’ burial, with the faint sound of the Muslim call to prayer in the background. My three worlds came together at this exact moment: my Christian faith, my pro-Israel work for the Jewish cause, and my passion for my Arabic studies. In that moment, all three religions coexisted.

In Israel there is never truly peace. Threats of terrorism are everywhere and tensions do exist, but Israel still makes it work. The people are making it work – living side-by-side, ensuring that another Yad Vashem will never need to be built again. Not for Jews, not for Christians, and not for Arabs.

I am truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to experience the miracle of Israel, and develop my own personal connection to it.

To learn more about the philanthropic work of Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation, visit http://milsteinff.orgAlso – check out Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation on Facebook!