Personal Transformation in the Holy Land

The Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation is proud to support AIPAC’s Campus Allies Mission, which brings non-Jewish, pro-Israel political activists to Israel for the first time. Participants learn about the importance of the relationship between the United States and Israel and gain a deeper understanding of Israel’s strategic, social, and security issues, right in the heart of the Holy Land.

One of our Campus Allies Alumni, Alex Schriver, has shared how the Campus Allies Mission has impacted his life. You can read his post below.

From 2011 to 2013, I served as the National Chairman of the College Republican National Committee. As a representative of the CRNC, I was selected along with four other young leaders to visit Israel for the first time through the AIPAC Campus Allies trip.

I was not exactly sure what to expect from this 10-day sojourn. I don’t use the term ‘life-changing’ lightly, but no other phrase feels quite right for describing my time in the Jewish State. Seeing the bible come to life before my very eyes is something I wish I could share with everyone from my church back home.

While the historical and political education I received in Israel continues to shape my views working on Capitol Hill, my time there was also an incredibly personal religious experience. I prayed at the Western Wall. I was baptized in the Jordan River— the same waters in which John baptized Jesus. I heard Mathew 5-7 read aloud at the Temple Mount, where Jesus first told his followers to “be perfect, as your Heavenly father is perfect.” And I will never forget reading John 19 at the Garden Tomb; reflecting upon our Lord’s resurrection there still gives me the chills to this day. When my plane departed from Ben Gurion Airport, I held an entirely new appreciation for the nation, people, and many cultures of modern Israel.

Today, I serve as Chief of Staff for U.S. Congressman Bradley Byrne of Alabama. I could not be more proud to work for a man who has unequivocally defends the State of Israel in both words and actions.

I will always be indebted to AIPAC Campus Allies. In just 10 days they showed me more about Israel— and myself— then I ever would have thought possible.

To learn more about the philanthropic work of Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation, visit

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A trip to Israel inspires future leaders

The Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation is proud to support AIPAC’s Campus Allies Mission, which brings non-Jewish, pro-Israel political activists to Israel for the first time. Participants learn about the importance of the relationship between the United States and Israel and gain a deeper understanding of Israel’s strategic, social, and security issues, right in the heart of the Holy Land.

One of our Campus Allies Alumni, Micah Fielden, has shared how the Campus Allies Mission has impacted his life. You can read his post below.

The Milstein Campus Allies Trip run by AIPAC in 2012 had a profound impact on my life. At the time, I had just finished my term as the Student Body President of the University of Kentucky. My Christian upbringing and political beliefs made me a strong supporter of Israel, but I had not yet had the chance to visit. AIPAC allowed me to see the Jewish State for the first time. It was, in a word, inspirational.

Thanks to the networking opportunities offered my AIPAC trip, I was able to make connections with high-level staffers on the Mitt Romney presidential campaign and later leverage those connections to get a job. In hindsight, its hard to believe that my path from a Romney campaign project manager in the Digital Department, to a Trip Coordinator planning rallies, events, and other logistics around the country all began with a trip to Israel. My AIPAC trip not only taught me about the Jewish State, it catapulted my career to new heights.

While working on the Campaign, I became great friends with a lady that knew of my desires to attend law school. This relationship led me to accept a position at the Georgetown University Law Center, where I am a member of the Class of 2016. I’m about to enter my final year and will be joining a firm in New York City following graduation.

I can hardly believe all the remarkable things that have come from my trip to Israel, professionally and personally. It helped refine my understanding of the US-Israel friendship, helped me find a job out of college, and ultimately gain admission to the law school of my dreams. I will be forever thankful for the generosity of the Milstein family as well as AIPAC. If my own experience is any indication of the future, I am confident Campus Allies will continue to inspire future generations of young, pro-Israel leaders.

To learn more about the philanthropic work of Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation, visit


A life-changing experience: Seeing Israel’s values up close

The Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation is proud to support AIPAC’s Campus Allies Mission, which brings non-Jewish, pro-Israel political activists to Israel for the first time. Participants learn about the importance of the relationship between the United States and Israel and gain a deeper understanding of Israel’s strategic, social, and security issues. What’s best, the AIPAC Campus Allies trip takes place in the heart of the Holy Land.

One of our Campus Allies alumni, Myles Colton Laroux, has shared how the Campus Allies Mission has impacted his life. You can read his post below.

When you grow up Christian in Louisiana, it’s hard not to imagine visiting the lands of the Bible, modern day Israel That being said, as an undergraduate, I pursued a degree in Middle Eastern Studies, which familiarized me with the region. But not even a degree in Middle Eastern Studies could have prepared me for what we experienced in those two short weeks in Israel.

I remember initially receiving the itinerary and thinking, “There’s no way all of this will fit into two weeks!”. The schedule was packed with a seemingly impossible number of adventures, meetings, tours, meals, and Shabbat dinners (not that I really knew what Shabbat was at the time!) Somehow, we managed to finish everything and even today, that myriad of experiences continues to resonate with me.

I have always politically supported Israel, but actually spending time in the Middle East’s only true democracy put faces to the values that bind together America and Israel, as I met Jewish soldiers, Arab taxi drivers, Druze restaurateurs, yeshiva students, and kibbutzniks.

My time in Israel was in fact so meaningful that when I returned home from the AIPAC trip, I applied and was accepted for an internship with the American Jewish Committee in Jerusalem. I was the only non-Jew in the program and, of course, the only Christian, but those 6 months really flew by. I still maintain some of the friendships I made in Jerusalem and even today, I find myself longing to be back in Israel.

Today, I work as an entrepreneur based out of Baton Rouge, where I run a small mobile device repair business. Prior to that, I worked at a consultancy, raising funds for conservatives clients, like Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Governor Bobby Jindal, and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne. These men, like any true conservatives, are staunch defenders of Israel and I am proud to have gotten to work on their behalf.

I am so grateful to AIPAC and the Milsteins for the opportunity they extended to me as a new college graduate on the Campus Allies trip. Thank you for making my first trip to Israel possible. It is because of philanthropists like y’all that I am who I am today. I have a heart for the people of Louisiana as well as the people of Israel. I am excited to see what the future holds.

To learn more about the philanthropic work of Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation, visit

To defeat BDS, enlist Israeli Americans

by Adam Milstein

Posted on Jul. 15, 2015 at 12:09 pm

American Jewry has witnessed a tsunami of hate on college campuses and across our communities. In the past year, resolutions calling for a divestment and boycott of Israel have been considered or passed by 30 student governments across the U.S. Israel haters have charged Jewish undergraduates seeking student government positions at UCLA and Stanford with “dual loyalties,” claiming that their strong Jewish identities should disqualify them from representing other students. AEPi — America’s largest Jewish fraternity — has seen an unprecedented rise in attacks on its members and vandalism on its houses. On and off campus, pro-Israel and Jewish students have been targeted, harassed and even physically assaulted.

These developments have spurred serious concern and significant conversation within the American Jewish community. Many debate the causes for these incidents. Others question the seriousness of the threat. As philanthropists and pro-Israel activists, my wife and I have engaged for many years on the front lines of the fight, working with a range of organizations that seek to defend Israel and the Jewish people. We’ve observed three basic facts about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement — and its affiliated hate groups — that must inform the way we move forward.

First, this movement seeks to eradicate Israel, plain and simple. After failing to destroy the Jewish state with bullets and bombs, Israel’s enemies have turned to tweets, memes and YouTube videos. In recent years, these hate groups have learned that they are much more effective when posing as social justice activists who simply oppose Israel’s policies. Too many in our community have bought the lie that this is a response to actions taken by the Israeli government. They believe BDS will go away if Israel withdraws from the land acquired from Jordan during the Six-Day War — or finds another way to engage a Palestinian leadership that has rejected numerous peace deals offering 97 percent of this territory. The reality is that these hate groups don’t recognize the right of Israel to exist within any borders. The maps they publish of the region tell the whole story about their true goals, depicting a single Palestinian state that extends “from the river to the sea” with no trace of Israel.

Second, BDS is anti-Semitic. While tyrannical regimes trample on human rights throughout the Middle East, BDS chooses to single out only the Jewish state, the region’s only democracy, for criticism and boycott. By trafficking in vile lies about Israel and launching accusations of genocide and apartheid, these hate groups seek to demonize the Jewish state and boycott it in the same way anti-Semites have long demonized the Jewish people and boycotted Jewish businesses. If their movement is really about Palestinian welfare, why hasn’t there been a single BDS resolution targeting Lebanon, where Palestinians are kept as second-class citizens, denied the right to own property, and prevented from entering professions such as law and medicine? If they are really concerned about human rights, why hasn’t there been a single BDS resolution about Iran, where women are subjugated, homosexuals are hanged and journalists are jailed?

Third, this movement is well funded, nationally organized, and connected to a range of radical, anti-American, anti-Western and, in some cases, terrorist organizations. Hatem Bazian — the co-founder of Students for Justice in Palestine — publicly called for an intifada inside of the United States against the American government. Many former leaders of the Holy Land Foundation — a front group convicted of raising millions for Hamas that was shut down by the U.S. government in 2008 — now lead American Muslims for Palestine, the largest umbrella organization supporting BDS activities on and off campus by raising money, developing anti-Israel materials, organizing conferences and arranging speakers for events. Masquerading as social justice activists, this small group of dangerous radicals has been able to brainwash large numbers of students on campus after campus, forming alliances with groups working to promote rights of minorities, women and LGBT members.

In the face of an anti-Semitic enemy committed to the destruction of Israel — and willing to play dirty — what is the best way to respond? Many pro-Israel organizations are doing important work in education, public diplomacy and training, which must continue. Yet, in the face of this onslaught of hate and intimidation, we need a new infusion of resources, a new framework for fostering collaboration and new advocacy tools to beat back the bad guys.

Last month, I was honored to help organize a summit in Las Vegas hosted by Miriam and Sheldon Adelson to bring together more than 50 organizations in the battle against these hate groups. We’ve formed a task force called the Campus Maccabees, which will organize a nationwide movement to fight anti-Semitism and the hate groups that attack the Jewish people and Israel on American universities and beyond.

We believe that this new task force will be a game changer in this fight, coordinating the work of the very best pro-Israel organizations in unprecedented ways. We will go on the offense against Israel’s enemies. We will reveal the baseline anti-Semitism of this movement, expose its desire to eradicate the State of Israel and give our students the tools to defeat it.

As part of this campaign, we must tap into a unique strategic asset that has not yet been fully leveraged: the Israeli-American community. For too long, most Israelis living in America have remained separate from the traditional Jewish community and disengaged from Israel advocacy efforts. Eight years ago, I joined with several other Israeli-American leaders in Los Angeles to found the Israeli-American Council and change this reality. Israeli Americans are knowledgeable and passionate about this subject. They can speak from personal experience — it’s much easier to explain Israel’s security challenges when your family lives in Sderot or you have served in the Israel Defense Forces. Israeli Americans — instilled with our culture’s characteristic boldness — can form an army of activists who are unafraid to stand up and speak out against the lies about the Jewish state and the Israeli people.

We’ve reached a critical tipping point. We need everyone in the pro-Israel community to lend their skills to this fight as we realign our strategic focus from reactive to proactive. With strength, determination and unity, we can show the anti-Semites taking over America’s universities that tsunamis travel in more than one direction.

Adam Milstein is an Israeli-American philanthropist, activist and real estate entrepreneur. To learn more about Milstein’s work in pro-Israel advocacy, visit the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation or follow him on Twitter @AdamMilstein.


Jewish community reacts to the Iran nuclear deal

Assembled by Jewish Journal Staff

Posted on Jul. 14, 2015 at 7:49 am

Rabbi David Wolpe

The Jewish community in Los Angeles and nationwide reacted to the news the Iranian nuclear deal had been reached:


This agreement liberates resources to a regime whose core anti-Semitic and declaredly genocidal ideology is manifest. I fear that its safeguards are insufficient, it’s assurances too amorphous and its end result will be to empower our enemies and imperil our friends.


Theology is where we strive for perfection; politics is by definition the realm of the imperfect. I have no doubt that this is not a perfect deal. But this imperfect deal needs to be assessed against real alternatives and not some idealized, perfect outcome that could never come to pass. There are two likely alternatives in the absence of an agreement: 1) a continuation of the status quo, in which case Iran’s breakout time is projected by intelligence reports to be a few months, or 2) a preventive attack on Iran by Israel or the U.S., which would likely set back nuclear development by 1-3 years but also risk escalation into regional conflagration. Given the choice between drowning in the Sea and being crushed by the Egyptian army, I commend the Administration for searching for a reasoned third way. Those who are cautiously optimistic about this deal are also clear-eyed about Iran’s dangerous and reckless behavior, including its sponsorship of Hamas, Hezbollah and the bloodstained Assad regime, in addition to its horrible human rights record at home. Even still, we should not let the imperfections of the deal blind us to the huge risks of the status quo or lull us into armchair talk of military action. I hope that this agreement, the best of bad alternatives, will create the possibility of the avoidance of catastrophe.


I’m not optimistic about anything quite frankly from it, but I certainly hope I’m wrong, and I hope what I learn over the next 60 days is wrong, but I just have a hard time with an agreement that seems to have as much latitude as this one does, with a party that just last week was holding rallies in the streets, screaming, ‘Death to America.’ It’s kind of hard to be optimistic.


The much anticipated deal between Iran and the P5+1 is a calculated risk—as virtually every negotiated agreement is in international relations.  One must weigh the risks inherent in lifting sanctions against Iran against the risks attending a collapse of the talks, in which case Russia and China would likely depart the international coalition that has imposed the sanctions. I find the former option—that is, the new deal—less bad than the prospect of Iran charging ahead with its nuclear program without international inspections and with the support of the Russians and Chinese.  I don’t think we can kid ourselves about the Iranian regime’s imperial aspirations in the region; it echoes deeply with the country’s sense of itself in history.  But neither do I think we need to accept the rhetoric of Bibi Netanyanu comparing them to the Nazis. That serves no useful purpose.  So how should one feel about today’s news from Vienna?  A measure of relief, a sense of cautious optimism, and a healthy dose of vigilance.


“The Simon Wiesenthal Center is deeply worried by today’s announced deal with Iran that confirms Iran as a threshold nuclear power that will end economic sanctions against the Mullahocracy”, said rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, Dean and Founder and Associate Dean of the leading Jewish Human Rights NGO.

“It is not the first time in history that Western leaders would be fooled by tyrants. Seventy-five years ago, British Prime Minster Chamberlain thought he understood Hitler and declared ‘peace in our time.’ Shortly thereafter, Hitler plunged the world into the catastrophic World War II.”

“Since 1979, no Iranian leader has changed his mind or actions about Israel, about the US, or about human rights. It is the height of folly and naiveté to believe that the Iranian regime will change its stripes in the next decade. No one denies that this agreement will allow Iran in ten years, to produce nuclear weapons in a matter of weeks.”

“We note that Israelis across the full political spectrum—from Prime Minister Netanyahu to opposition leader Isaac Herzog– are united in denouncing an agreement that confers legitimacy on the world’s greatest terrorist state that has declared the destruction of the Jewish State as “non-negotiable”. In addition, the end of sanctions will free up billions of dollars to a regime already deeply funding terrorist and military proxies that threaten not only Israel, but also Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the entire region. We fear that this agreement will also spur a new nuclear arms race in that unstable and volatile region. “

“The Simon Wiesenthal Center will rely on a tenacious Congressional review of this unsigned 159-page document and, if the fears that this is a dangerous deal are confirmed, that our elected Senators and Representatives, will vote against it.”



The deal is a historic mistake. The bottom line is that it removes the sanctions, but it keeps the nuclear program intact. It’s a deal with the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. They are not required to change their behavior. Last week, they called ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ in the climax of the negotiations. There’s no dismantling of the program. What this means is, in a decade or so — or even less — the outcome will be a far more powerful, belligerent, wealthy Iran with a nuclear arsenal and a missile program that can deliver it anywhere.


While StandWithUs welcomes international efforts to end Iran`s nuclear program through diplomacy, the details emerging about the agreement reached yesterday, July 14, 2015, between the P5+1 and Iran raise serious concerns. It appears the deal will not prevent Iran`s regime from developing nuclear weapons, moderate its aggressive policies, or persuade it to stop sponsoring terrorism. Rather it only delays its pursuit of nuclear weapons and allows it to continue promoting violence and instability around the world. We hope that Congress, which has 60 days to review the agreement after it is submitted by the administration, will ensure that the deal protects the U.S. and our allies, and prevents nuclear proliferation in the region.

“This should not be a partisan issue. The stakes are too high and this will impact too many people in the international community.  Here we have the world`s main sponsor of international terrorism, a fundamentalist regime that believes in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, that calls for the elimination of neighboring states, abuses its own people, and leads chants of `death to America.` All Americans should work together to prevent this regime from gaining more destructive ability. The choice is not between this agreement or war. It is between an agreement that will prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and one that will not. We hope that both parties in Congress work together to ensure that the only deal America agrees to is one that will rein in Iran and keep it from getting nuclear weapons not just in the short term, but in the long term” stressed Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs.

StandWithUs will continue its mission of educating the public about the threat Iran`s regime poses to Israel and other American allies in the region and beyond. We will inform the public about issues of concern: prematurely ending sanctions, weakening  inspections protocol, leaving intact Iran`s weapons program and enrichment facilities, allowing Iran to legally develop nuclear weapons in 15 years, maintaining Iran`s ballistic missile program. In addition the agreement contains no stipulations to free  American hostages, no curbs on racist incitement or sponsorship of terror, and the removal of restrictions on Iranian nuclear development after 15 years.

“In the not too distant past, liberal democracies failed to stop a fascist, racist, anti-Semitic regime. We cannot afford to repeat that mistake. We will do all we can to alert the public and encourage Congress to hold fast to the terms the United States and the world needs to prevent a nuclear-armed regime in Iran” concluded Rothstein.


This deal will legitimize a regime that is known to be deeply corrupt, is a world-leading state sponsor of terrorism, has been suppressing its own people and destabilizing its neighbors.


The agreement is a far cry from what the White House originally intended to accomplish through negotiations, which was to end the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program. And with a lack of reliable compliance mechanisms — the agreement at best temporarily pauses the nuclear program — the international community is basing this risky gamble on ‘hope’ that the Regime will change.  But hope isn’t enough on issues that threaten the security of the U.S. for generations to come.  Our community knows this perhaps better than any other, and we are confident that Congress will fulfill its responsibility of keeping our nation strong and secure.


Like everyone else, I’m ambivalent and doubtful. We’d all like to see a diplomatic way of keeping Iran from nuclear weapons. But we’re deeply concerned that this agreements falls short of enduring that goal. I understand the President’s eagerness to secure a deal, but like many others, I fear he and Mr Kerry have conceded too much.

I’m in Scotland right now. This story isn’t the first or second or even third story on the evening news. The Greek crisis in the Eurozone is much more prominent. In Israel this summer, there was little visible concern about the Iran negotiations. Domestic issues in Israel take center stage in the Israel national conversation.


The people of Iran are the greatest victims of this deal — the regime that has been stifling them for more than three decades and persecuting them has just received a lifeline and a credit line in order for it to survive indefinitely. The messages from Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, which are designed to share Israelis’ opposition to this deal, have nothing to do with Israel’s opposition to Iran, but really [criticize] the regime only. It is a regime that must be held accountable when it comes to enforcing this deal.


Throughout the long standoff with Iran over its nuclear program, I have expressed my preference for a diplomatic solution that would prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. To accomplish this, I have supported a series of ever tightening American sanctions and efforts to rally the international community to isolate Iran, raising the costs of Iran’s enrichment program and helping to dry up a portion of the funding Iran has used to carry out its nefarious conduct in the region and beyond.


In the coming days I will be examining the terms of the agreement hammered out by Secretary Of State John Kerry and his team, with particular attention to the verification regime that is central to ensuring that Iran cannot cheat. Whether I can support the agreement will hinge on our ability to verify that Iran is complying, and whether we have timely access to any site of Iran’s potential nuclear development activities, including venues controlled by the Iranian military. It will also be necessary for the United States and our partners to get an accurate accounting of Tehran’s nuclear program from its inception. Additionally, I will be looking at the sequencing of Iranian actions and any loosening of sanctions and the mechanism for re-imposing them — the so-called ‘snap back’ provisions — should Tehran fail to meet its commitments.

The nuclear program has always been the greatest threat from Iran, but not the only one, and I also remain deeply concerned about Tehran’s actions in the region — from its efforts to dominate Iraq and Lebanon, to prop up the Assad regime in Syria, to back the Houthi rebels in Yemen, to its unrelenting hostility to Israel and its support of terror around the world. I will also be examining any relaxation of UN sanctions on Iran’s acquisition of weapons or missile technology.

Given Iran’s long record of duplicity and the consequence of Iran’s getting a bomb or having a greater economic power to project its destructive influence, we cannot be too careful, nor can we afford to take Tehran at its word.

As the terms and consequences of this agreement become clear during the period of Congressional review, I would urge my colleagues to give the measure the serious thought it deserves.  If the agreement is flawed it should be rejected; at the same time, we must not compare the proposal to an ideal, but rather to any credible alternative. Will rejection of the deal lead to additional sanctions and an Iran willing to concede more, or to renewed enrichment and a path to war?  These are the stakes and our decision should be made with sober thought and a minimum of partisan demagoguery.



This deal rewards Iran for decades of terrorism and many years of deceiving the international community with an undeniable path to nuclear weapons, gravely endangering America, Israel, and the world. It’s time for those in Congress who are aware how bad this deal is to make their voices heard loud and clear. The lessons of our agreements with Nazi Germany and North Korea hang over this moment. I implore our elected officials: don’t let Iran go nuclear on your watch. The consequences for America could be catastrophic.


This morning, after extensive negotiations conducted under intense international scrutiny, P5+1 negotiators, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, announced that they have reached an agreement with Iran over that country’s nuclear program. We in the Reform Jewish Movement remain committed to our belief that the United States and its allies must do all that is possible to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, as well as to protect and enhance U.S. security and the security of our allies—particularly Israel—and promote stability in the entire Middle East.

We deeply appreciate the intense efforts of the multinational negotiators, especially the U.S. administration, for having worked so hard to try to come to a diplomatic resolution with Iran on containment of its nuclear program. As the U.S. Congress, other world leaders, and the American public, including the Jewish community, evaluate the details of the proposed agreement, we recognize that thoughtful people can and do hold strongly different opinions as to whether this agreement is the best obtainable result in securing our shared goals and upholding the ideal that solutions should be found through the negotiating process rather than a military confrontation.

During the last several months, leaders of our Reform Movement have consulted with experts and heard from advocates who both oppose and favor the framework outlined in March by the P5 +1 and Iran. We have conferred with our fellow Jewish organizations and met privately with the White House, the Secretary of State, and representatives of the State of Israel. Right now, we are continuing our ongoing dialogue with the U.S. administration, key members of Congress, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and other prominent Israeli leaders including leaders of the opposition. One helpful touchstone for our analysis of this agreement is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Public Statement on U.S. Policy Toward the Iran Nuclear Negotiations, which was endorsed by a panel of bipartisan diplomats and calls for a five-point program ensuring that Iran will not become a nuclear threshold state.

In the coming days and weeks, we will go back to our trusted experts and continue to consult with our constituencies to better understand the consequences of this proposed agreement. We urge all committed parties to take similar, carefully considered approaches before rushing to conclusions.

As the Congress moves forward, we will share our opinion on the viability of this agreement to achieve our goals: that the final agreement will put the optimal standard for restraints on Iran, preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, protecting the security of the United States, Israel and our allies around the world.

CENTRAL CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN RABBIS: Rabbi Denise L. Eger, President, and Rabbi Steve Fox, CEO

RELIGIOUS ACTION CENTER OF REFORM JUDAISM: Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director, and Jennifer Kaufman, Chair, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism

UNION FOR REFORM JUDAISM, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, and Steve Sacks, Chair of the Board


I look forward to robust hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, if this agreement is what the Administration says it is, it is a major, historic diplomatic breakthrough.


Congressman Brad Sherman told the Journal in a phone interview on Tuesday morning that he is disappointed with the deal and his concern is determining what Congress’ next move will be.

“I’ve been through the seven stages of grief on the Iran nuclear program. I declared in my first few months in Congress that the Iran nuclear program was the number-one threat to American security, no one was saying that then, so, I’ve been through the grief, I’ve been through the denial, I’ve been through the anger,” he said. “For me the question is what do we do now, not to return to July 13 and to a president who might’ve wanted to get tougher on Iran but what do you do today when you have a president who has agreed to a deal…we have to keep working on this and we cannot accept the ugly 10th year of this agreement.”


From Congressman Brad Sherman’s office:

“The question before us is not is it a good deal or is it a bad deal or what should the executive branch of government do. The question before us is what should Congress do if we have a President who has signed the deal.

“We don’t know precisely what is in the deal. But we do know that it has advantages and disadvantages in the first year because it causes the vast majority of Iranian stockpile of enriched uranium and the majority of their centrifuges to be taken off the table. The disadvantage is it provides the Iranian Government with access to $120 billion plus of its own money…It is this kind of analysis, not partisans screaming about is it a good deal, is it a bad deal, that should guide us in the future.”


Iran has in the past failed over and over again to live up to its treaty obligations. It has maintained secret military sites. I fear we may have entered into an agreement that revives the Iranian economy but won’t stop this regime from developing nuclear arms in the long term, which would have disastrous consequences for the entire region and the world. As the famous proverb goes, ‘The road to hell is often paved with good intentions.’


Agreeing to such a deal is a serious failure in U.S. diplomacy, with potentially grave consequences for our security, our allies, and the future of the Middle East.

It fails to put in place real safeguards that allow us to monitor the nuclear activities of a regime that has perfected the art of lying to the international community – or to re-impose sanctions if they cheat. It offers the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism hundreds of billions of dollars to fund its activities around the world. It provides one of the Middle East’s greatest destabilizers and worst human rights violators with new international legitimacy and sanctions relief. And in a little over a decade, Iran will have the internationally recognized right to a nuclear program with no restrictions, a stone’s throw away from a bomb.

This deal is much worse than no deal. We should have walked away.


A Campus Allies alumna shares her story

The Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation is proud to support AIPAC’s Campus Allies Mission, which brings non-Jewish, pro-Israel political activists to Israel for the first time. Participants learn about the importance of the relationship between the United States and Israel and gain a deeper understanding of Israel’s strategic, social, and security issues, right in the heart of the Holy Land. 

An alumnus of our Campus Allies — Caroline Wren — has shared how the Campus Allies Mission has impacted her life. You can read her post below. 

When I graduated from college, I found myself at an important crossroads. I was deeply interested in politics, but unsure about the direction that this interest would take me. As a recent grad, I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. But then a friend invited me on the trip of a lifetime — the 2012 AIPAC Campus Allies trip. At the time, I knew close to nothing about Israel aside from that it was a small country far away from home. Little did I know, after the AIPAC Campus Allies trip, that small country would change my heart and mind forever.

The ten days I spent in Israel with AIPAC were the most incredible of my life. I prayed at the Western Wall. I was baptized in the Jordan River. My visit to the Holy Land exceeded all of my expectations. On the AIPAC Campus Allies trip, I made some of my closest friends, I was exposed to all of the wonder that Israel has to offer, and came to understand just how critical an ally Israel is to the United States. Seeing Israel firsthand made it clear to me that without peace in Israel, we can never have peace here at home. The United States’ future, I realized, is directly linked to Israel’s future. I am confident that the United States has no better friend or ally in the Middle East, or the world, than Israel.

Since the 2012 Campus Allies trip, I have found how to turn my interest in politics into a career: I have dedicated my life to working for politicians who understand the important and strategic relationship between the United States and Israel. After the Campus Allies trip, I began working on Jon Huntsman’s Presidential campaign because I felt he was a candidate with a unique worldview, a deep understanding of foreign policy, and a firm commitment to strengthening the relationship between the United States and Israel. In 2012, I worked as a national fundraiser on five Senate races. Every candidate campaigned on strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship.

In 2014, I made the most important career decision of my life and moved to South Carolina to work for Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as the Finance Director on his re-election campaign. When it comes to supporting our ally Israel, there is nobody in Washington as enthusiastic or dedicated than Lindsey Graham. His love for Israel is contagious and spreads to everyone that works for him.

Working for Senator Graham has been the greatest honor of my life. He has taught me that being a champion for Israel doesn’t mean just talking about our support, but acting on it. Senator Graham wakes up every day and fights for Israel and expects his staff to do the same. In fact, during a recent trip to Israel in December, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to Senator Graham, “I know that in the American Senate, you have Israel’s back, and no one has it better.” Prime Minister Netanyahu was right: there is no Senator more committed to strengthening relations with Israel, halting Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon, and putting the Senate on record when it comes to having Israel’s back than Senator Graham. I am honored to play a small role in that. Truth be told, I never would have gone to work for Senator Graham if it weren’t for the Campus Allies trip.

Today I live in Washington where I have my own consulting firm that works exclusively with clients working to strengthen the relationship between the United States and Israel. 

The 2012 Campus Allies trip shaped me into the person that I am today. It has influenced every career decision I have made. I am eternally grateful to AIPAC and the Milstein family for giving me the opportunity to see Israel and learn about how crucial the relationship between the United States and Israel truly is.


To learn more about the philanthropic work of Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation, visit


Navigating philanthropy: An insider’s perspective

Starting a blog on the Times of Israel has been on my radar since becoming the Program Director at the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, where I oversee our organization’s work to strengthen the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Every day, I encounter so much in the world of pro-Israel advocacy — and I often find myself thinking that other activists, donors, and organizations may find the lessons I have learned along the way to be useful. By sharing my experiences with the Milstein Foundation and the nonprofit organizations which we support, I hope to inspire and aid others looking to get involved in our work.

Who am I?

I studied law and economics at Tel Aviv University. As a 3rd year law student I co-founded and managed a nonprofit called Clean Air (“Avir Naki”), aimed at banning smoking from public spaces in Israel (today, no one remembers that, in 2008, people were smoking in the Ramat Aviv mall!) Working with so many dedicated individuals towards a common goal whet my appetite for this kind of work, so I then joined the boards of two other non-profits and while working as a tax attorney at Ernst & Young. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue an MBA at UCLA Anderson School of Business (’14), and as a student I got involved with a number of LA-based nonprofits in the Jewish community before getting  elected President of the UCLA Jewish Business Club. I’ve been working with the Milstein Family Foundation since July 2014.

So what have advice do I have for nonprofits?

This is not a comprehensive list, and in many ways, it is a reflection of the Milstein Family Foundation’s approach to philanthropy in the niche world of pro-Israel philanthropy world. Still, this is my ‘wish-list’: the things I wish every grant applicant I spoke with knew. For their sake.

  1. Philanthropy isn’t so different from startup investing. To attract investors, startups need much more than just a good idea — they need to demonstrate a clear track record of success, and nonprofit organizations are no different. If you are serious about raising seed money, the best strategy is to start small, record how your approach works qualitatively and quantitatively, and then expand gradually.
  2. We invest in people. Startups and nonprofits are similar in that when you raise money, you don’t just sell your ideas, you sell yourself. The Milstein Foundation donates to a variety of organizations, but they all have one thing in common: they are driven by smart, hard-working people. You may be a nonprofit organization, but you must do your best to make prospective donors feel like investors: show them that they are not giving money away, but laying the foundations for future growth.
  3. Philanthropists can give more than just money: many want to stay involved to augment their donation’s impact. This is a lesson I have learned directly from the Milsteins, who talk about “active philanthropy” all the time. As you try to raise funds, understand that most philanthropists willing to donate major sums are not interested in throwing you some money and then walking away forever. You need to keep your donors feeling positive and involved.
  4. Find the synergies. At the Milstein Family Foundation, we are always looking for synergies between our different projects; when one of them needs support, the first thing we do is comb our network of organizations to see if we can find them some help. This is why it’s always a good idea to research your prospective donors. If your work ties into other projects that they fund, you can demonstrate that your organization can enhance their other initiatives, giving them more — as odd as it sounds for a nonprofit — ‘bang for their buck’.
  5. Private companies attract investors by standing apart from the competition; nonprofits attract donations through collaboration. A little competition can be great because it will pressure your organization to innovate and think outside the box. However, as a rule of thumb, nonprofits work best when they collaborate. Donors don’t want to give money to two or three organizations all doing the exact same thing. Rather than fearing the competition, non-profits should always be looking to build bridges in way that increases their impact. Working together with other organizations will allow you to network with like-minded individuals and lend you some credibility, which can be especially important when you are just starting out. At the Milstein Family Foundation, it’s very rare for us to meet a new organization without also making a few introductions.
  6. Show, don’t tell. A basic rule in economics is that people respond to incentives. It’s true in business, it’s true in relationships, and it’s just as true in the nonprofit sector. When you pitch your ideas to donors, don’t explain why they should invest in your idea, tell them why they have.  Give them a powerful incentive by showing them the tangible consequences of funding (or not funding) your work. If your nonprofit works with animals, bring some puppies to your sales pitch. If you’re designing a clean water project, pour your would-be donors a glass of disgusting, dirty water to show them just how high the stakes really are. Chances are your potential funders encounter new nonprofits all the time — if you want to hear back from them, you need to make a splash.

Final Thoughts

In my next blog post, I plan on writing about some of the projects that the Milstein Family Foundation supports.

The non-profit world is full of exciting opportunities to contribute to the causes you care most about. Have questions? Feel free to reach out to email me at [email protected].


You can learn more about the philanthropic work of Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation by visiting us at  


Reaching the tipping point for campus anti-Semitism

​​A wave of anti-Semitism is sweeping across American universities. During the 2014-2015 school year, resolutions calling for a boycott of the Jewish state were passed by 15 student governments — and considered by more than 15 others.


  • At UCLA, the student government passed a boycott resolution against Israel by a wide margin – and a Jewish student was almost prevented from joining the same government’s Judicial Board following accusations that her Jewish identity gave her dual loyalties.

  • At Stanford, a young Jewish woman running for the Student Senate was subjected to a barrage of hostility due to her open support for Israel.

  • AEPI – America’s largest Jewish fraternity — has seen its members attacked, and dozens of frat houses vandalized with hate speech and swastikas from the Deep South to the Pacific Coast.

These incidents are becoming increasingly common — a wave that has been aptly called a “tsunami” by many. In recent months, the situation has continued to get worse.

Increasingly, it has become politically correct to slander Israel and defame the student organizations working to defend her. At the University of Illinois, Professor Steven Salaita was fired for his penchant for anti-Semitic rants on Twitter, yet he received thunderous applause and a standing ovation a few months later from a group of professional scholars at a Middle East Studies conference in Washington DC as he blamed wealthy Zionists for his termination.

Many in America and Europe think that these hate groups are simply opposed to Israeli control in the land acquired from Jordan during the Six-Day War in 1967. They conceal their true beliefs in a cloak of social justice by claiming to oppose Israel’s policies rather than Jews themselves. This allows them to build alliances with feminist, LGBT, minority and other student groups who don’t know any better.

The reality is that these hate groups don’t recognize the right of Israel to exist within any borders.

And the façade of the human rights activist quickly falls away when it’s clear that they are solely concerned with singling out the Middle East’s only democracy for criticism, while turning a blind eye to the horrific atrocities and human rights abuses throughout the region. They recycle the same lies that anti-Semites long used to demonize the Jewish people to now demonize the Jewish state, harassing and targeting Jewish students who dare to speak out on behalf of the State of Israel.

This movement is driven by a strange marriage of radical Islamists and radical leftists. It has been consistently linked to the Palestinian Authority leadership, the Muslim Brotherhood, and, in many cases,directly to Hamas – an internationally recognized terrorist organization. The tactics that this Movement uses against Israel today will be used against America tomorrow. Hatem Bazian – the founder of the Students for Justice in Palestine and one of the founders of this Movement – publicly called for an Intifada inside of the United Statesagainst the American government.

American Jewry has a historic responsibility to fight the anti-Semites and hate groups on our campuses. This month, I was honored to help organize a summit in Las Vegas to bring together more than 50 organizations in the battle against these campus hate groups.

We’ve formed a task force aptly named the “Campus Maccabees” — led by philanthropists Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, and me — which will organize a nationwide movement to fight anti-Semitism and the hate groups that attack Israel. We will defend Jewish students and the Jewish state on American universities and beyond.

We believe that this new task force will be a game changer in this fight, coordinating the work of the very best pro-Israel organizations in unprecedented ways. We will move the battle against Israel’s enemies from defense to offense, from passive to proactive. We will reveal the baseline anti-Semitism of this Movement, expose its desire to eradicate the State of Israel, and give our students the tools to defeat it.

As part of this campaign, we must tap into a unique strategic asset that has not yet been fully leveraged: the Israeli-American community.

For too long, most Israelis living in America have remained separate from the traditional Jewish community – and disengaged from Israel advocacy efforts. Eight years ago I joined with several other Israeli-American leaders to found the Israeli-American Council (IAC) to change this reality. As the IAC has grown dramatically in recent years, we’ve seen firsthand how Israeli-Americans can level the playing field in our fight against anti-Semites on campuses.

Israeli-Americans are knowledgeable and passionate about this subject. And they can speak from personal experience – it’s much easier to explain Israel’s security challenges when your aunt lives in Sderot and your cousin serves in the IDF. Israeli-Americans – instilled with characteristic Israeli boldness – can form an army of students and professionals that are unafraid to stand up and speak out against the lies about the Jewish state spread by the anti-Semites.

We’ve reached a critical tipping point. The time has come for the pro-Israel community to fight fire with fire, to shift from the defensive to the offensive. With strength, determination and unity, we must show the anti-Semites taking over America’s universities that tsunamis can travel in more than one direction.

Adam Milstein is an Israeli-American philanthropist, activist, and real estate entrepreneur. To learn more about Adam’s work in pro-Israel advocacy, visit the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation.


Pew and the Jews, Part 2: experts say leveraging poll data trumps numbers

Posted on June 21, 2015  and filed under Features, Jewish Life, U.S..

Click photo to download. Caption: The Jewish Community Festival in Bellevue, Wash., in August 2007. At left is the booth of the Secular Jewish Circle of Puget Sound, which brings people together "to celebrate Jewish culture and heritage in a non-religious setting." Surveys on American Judaism by institutes such as the Pew Research Center often ignite debates on religious vs. secular Jewish observance and identification. Credit: Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons.

By Maayan Jaffe/

Since the Pew Research Center released its U.S. Religious Landscape Study in May, most discussion of its findings has been quickly drowned out by other news. This is in stark contrast to the much-debated Pew survey on American Jewry that was released in October 2013.

Why the discrepancy? It’s likely because little new was discovered in the latest poll. According to the study, 25 percent of individuals raised as Jews no longer consider themselves Jewish, 35 percent of Jews who are married or living with a partner are with a non-Jew, and 39 percent of U.S. adults across religions are intermarried. The findings show that the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing, that the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated has jumped more than six percentage points (from 16.1 to 22.8), and that the majority of unaffiliated individuals are relatively young and getting younger.

The newest Pew study is just one of dozens of similar surveys published in the last decade—each with a slightly different angle, but ultimately revealing the same aforementioned trends. All the reports beg the question: Are such studies having a practical impact on the programming and services that the Jewish community is funding and delivering?

“These reports are very important,” says Israeli-born real estate investor and philanthropist Adam Milstein, head of the Los Angeles-based Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation. “These studies continue to highlight the fact that the American public is becoming less and less religious and that so many young Jews do not feel connected to their Jewish faith or the State of Israel. This is very concerning, and we cannot afford to ignore these facts.”

Click photo to download. Caption: U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ, pictured at left) with Jewish philanthropist Adam Milstein (at right) during the Israeli-American Council national conference in Washington, DC, in November 2014. Milstein says he is “constantly changing” his philanthropy “based on the facts on the ground.” Credit: Shahar Azran.

Milstein has used Jewish demographic studies to support grant-making decisions for the dozens of Jewish and Israel-related organizations that are funded by his foundation.

“I am constantly changing what I do based on the facts on the ground. Philanthropists should adjust to what is happening every year—every day,” Milstein tells

Shana Penn, executive director of northern California-based Taube Philanthropies, feels similarly. She tells that the Taube foundation has “always been focused on finding unique and innovative ways to welcome the previously unengaged to Jewish life.” Studies such as the recent Pew report help Taube to ensure it is “strategic in our grant-making.”

Leading Jewish demographer Leonard Saxe, director of the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University, says that a quality study has the ability to help bring about change. Saxe’s center has carried out a number of surveys over the years, mostly focused on how changing conditions affect short-term and long-term behaviors.

“I look at the relationships between how a person thinks about something and then connect that to behaviors,” Saxe tells

There are three types of surveys or studies, Saxe says: population (as it sounds), evaluation (measuring outcomes), and opinion (attitudes). He explains that each has a different value, noting that surveys in general are less about the numbers and more about the dialogue that ensues from seeing those numbers.

When Baltimore’s Associated Jewish Community Federation carried out its 2010 Greater Baltimore Jewish Community Study, “there was nothing surprising” in the findings, says Michael Hoffman, ‎the federation’s outgoing chief development officer. 

“The data gave us proof to anecdotal evidence,” he tells

But that proof helped Hoffman, then as the federation’s chief planning and strategy officer, to harness a cadre of lay and professional leaders to address community trends.

“The objective is to collect the data because you plan to use it to inform community change,” Hoffman says.

For example, Baltimore Jewish communal leaders knew that the local population was getting older. But the community study found a much larger and increasing population of Jewish seniors over the age of 85 than expected. There were an estimated 3,900 seniors over 85 in 2010, compared with 1,500 in 1999, a 166-percent increase. More than one-third of this cohort was living in poor health and under poor economic conditions. 

“We used this as an important tool to create a spark among a collective and diverse group of lay and professional leadership inside and outside the Jewish community, to get them to become aspirational on what to do to address the growing needs of seniors in our community,” Hoffman says.

Pulling together with Jewish Community Services, the local Jewish Community Center, Comprehensive Housing and Assistance, Inc. (CHAI), and area synagogues, in addition to partnering with neighborhood associations, the Northwest Neighbors Connect was launched in Baltimore to keep seniors supported in their own homes.

“Once we coalesced on a problem statement, then we moved into strategy and tactics to address the problem statement. In 10 years, we think there will be a different data point,” says Hoffman.

Baltimore also found that just 14 percent of young adults under 35 were interested in Jewish community, but that 55 percent said being Jewish was important to them. Pairing that data with another statistic—that 46 percent of Baltimore Jews found the community’s organizations “remote and not relevant”—the Jewish federation led a team to reimagine young adult engagement programming. This gave birth to Moishe House, Charm City Tribe, and other now-significant community initiatives.

Cohen Center’s Saxe has spent the last 15 years studying the Taglit-Birthright Israel program to determine its impact on participants of the free 10-day trips to Israel for Jews ages 18-26. The best way to do this, the demographer says, “is to ask people.” Over time, Saxe has polled hundreds of thousands of people—Birthright participants and non-participants—to gauge opinions about Judaism, Israel, and intermarriage, among other relevant topics. Since the program already knows a lot about its constituents, Saxe is able to cross-tabulate information to determine if there is greater engagement when young adults participate in more than one Jewish program, such as a Jewish summer camp and Birthright.

Saxes says his work contributes to Birthright’s ability to secure major donations, as fundraisers can use the survey data to help validate the quality of the program. But he warns that observers should be wary of biased studies—those that don’t truly have a random sample size or don’t ask the right questions, and those that are reported out of context. 

For example, says Saxe, the J Street lobby recently published a poll claiming that American Jewish support for a nuclear agreement with Iran exceeds support for the deal among the general U.S. population, with 59 percent of Jewish respondents saying they would support a deal. Yet the poll results also showed that the most favorably viewed political figure among American Jews today is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, rather than U.S. President Barack Obama.

“That [J Street] poll is being used to argue a particular political position. But if you look at the poll in full, there is contradictory evidence,” Saxes says, referencing the fact that J Street promoted the survey’s results on Iran, but not the results on Netanyahu.

Saxe adds, “The Jewish community is paying more attention to data. There are a number of [charitable] foundations that pay close attention to surveys. That’s good and we’re getting better.”


Moving and shaking: AFHU award dinner, TRZ Yom HaShoah event and fire safety at B’nai David-Judea

by Ryan Torok


From left: New Community Jewish High School Head of School Bruce Powell and the de Toledo family — Benjamin, Aaron, Alyce and Philip. Photo courtesy of New Community Jewish High School

New Community Jewish High School (NCJHS) celebrated its upcoming name-change to de Toledo High School — which goes into effect July 1 — during the school’s annual gala at the Skirball Cultural Center on May 17.

The event honored members of the de Toledo family: Alyce and Philip de Toledo and the couple’s sons, Benjamin, who graduated from the school in 2014, and Aaron.

The family made a gift of an undisclosed amount last year to the school — the impetus for the school’s name change — that will fund an endowment to offset tuition costs, and which has supported renovations to the school in West Hills. NCJHS purchased its 100,000-square-foot campus, where nearly 400 students will be enrolled in the 2015-16 academic year, from The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. The school opened at the site in 2013.

Approximately 700 people turned out at the Skirball, including American Jewish University President Rabbi Robert Wexler, Skirball President Uri Herscher and NCJHS founding Head of School Bruce Powell. Musical theater/drama and dance students performed during the event.

Also honored during the evening was Linda Landau, who serves as vice president of community affairs on the school’s board. She received the Nita Hirsch Community Service Award.

Members of the pro-Israel community gathered at the home of Adam and Gila Milstein for a fundraising gala on May 14 in support of the Birthright Israel Foundation.

The event, co-sponsored by the Israeli-American Council (IAC) and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, featured remarks from radio host and Journal columnist Dennis Prager, and a keynote address from business magnate and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson.

During his comments, Prager appealed for a need to bring youth back to the Jewish faith, and to give them the tools to combat leftism. “There’s an antidote,” he said. “One of those antidotes, the biggest one right now, is Birthright — sending Jewish kids to Israel.”

Adelson told the 240-person crowd about his upbringing, and how the seeds were planted that grew into his love for Israel: “My father is the main reason [my wife] Miriam and I got involved in Birthright. When Israel was born, he said, ‘One day I will go,’ but he never had any money. When we finally made some money and tried to send him, it was too late.”

Adelson pledged to match every dollar given to Birthright over the next three years, up to $50 million a year. “We want to go from 40,000 kids to 75,000 a year on Birthright. We won’t rest until that happens,” he said.

Miri Belsky, deputy CEO at the IAC, told the audience that Birthright made her abandon her medical aspirations for a career in Jewish leadership. Other speakers included the Milsteins; Richard Sandler, immediate past chair of Federation, and Steve Fishman, a member of the Los Angeles regional council of the Birthright Israel Foundation. Comedian Mark Schiff provided entertainment for the evening.

According to a press release, a portion of the $1.5 million raised at the event was specifically earmarked for the IAC’s new Shelanu program, which offers Birthright trips to Israeli-Americans.

— Aron Chilewich, Staff Writer

Carrie Glickstein recently recalled having her bat mitzvah at San Pedro’s Temple Beth El synagogue in 1965. After a bit of nostalgia, however, the 63-year-old’s thoughts moved forward in time during a May 31 groundbreaking ceremony for the Reform congregation that is undergoing major renovations and undertaking a $5 million capital campaign. (Nearly $4.5 million has been raised so far.)

“I love that the community is so vibrant and looking toward the future,” Glickstein said in an interview about Beth El, which was established in 1922 and is home to about 260 families.

Debi Rowe, the synagogue’s director of education and programs, told the Journal in a phone interview that the goal is “revitalizing the current campus.” Already covered in plastic sheeting and yellow caution tape in the lobby, the synagogue is renovating its entire lobby and social hall, reconfiguring one of its classrooms, and, if it raises enough money, turning its library into a hybrid beit midrash/library. It will add a handicapped-accessible ramp to its front entrance and emergency sprinklers to its sanctuary as well, according to Sandi Goldstein, who is serving as a consultant for the capital campaign.

Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin and Congress member Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro) were among those who attended the groundbreaking ceremony, during which congregants wrote their names on pieces of lumber that will be used in the upcoming construction. Approximately 250 people attended the event, which raised $35,000, according to Goldstein.

Beth El clergy includes Cantor Ilan Davidson and Rabbi Charles Briskin, who told the Journal that the synagogue holds particular importance in San Pedro. Here people rely on the synagogue for “vibrant Jewish life,” Briskin said. George Mayer, chair of a 24-person committee that has been conducting the capital campaign, echoed the rabbi’s remarks.

Glickstein’s father, Seymour Waterman, 92, a World War II veteran of the U.S. Navy, donated more than $1 million to the campaign, according to Goldstein. Waterman said he joined the congregation when he was 6 or 7 years old and continues to be involved with it.

“I’m happy for the community, and I’m doing as much as I can,” he said at the recent ceremony.

Construction is slated to be completed in February. The synagogue will remain open during construction, although its religious school and High Holy Days services will be held offsite.

Moving and Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email [email protected].