By Sela Pollack
One of the most amazing clubs that Shulamith High School offers is the Israel Activism Club, led by our beloved teachers, Ms. Temima Miller and Ms. Naomi Munk. As members of the club, we had the privilege to attend the AIPAC conference in Washington DC. We were proud to represent Shulamith High School, the entire Five Towns community, and the Jewish world at large.
AIPAC is the largest convention of people supporting Israel in America. The Shulamith group was part of 18,000 strong that converged on Washington D.C for the annual event. The speakers included the Vice President of the United States, presidents of foreign countries, members of Congress and the senate, U.N representatives from the United States, and the Prime Minister of Israel, among others in the impressive lineup.
Each person at the conference was there for one reason only: to support Israel, and a strong feeling of achdut was palpable. Being a part of something bigger than myself, and being able to share that connection with over 18,000 other people was something I had never experienced before.
At AIPAC, there was representation from all walks of Jewish life and all levels of religious observance: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Progressive, and Reconstructionist. There were Modern Orthodox and Chassidim, Leftists and Right Wingers. There were vocal activists and silent donors, old and young. All had one focus—to maintain the vitality and the spirit of Israel. I realized how important it was to take the idea of achdut with us as we left the conference and headed back to our daily lives. Although this message was not overtly discussed by the speakers, it was an obvious conclusion. A unified voice, a singular goal, and a combined spirit is vital to achieving goals, whether on a global scale, like in the United Nations, a communal scale—where so much is achieved through unity, or in our own schools and homes.
Moreover, the theme of the conference was “Choose to Lead.” For three days, AIPAC became our classroom. Looking around at all the students and young adults in this conference, made me realize we are the future. All of us can make a difference. While we all stood together in unity to applaud Israel’s innovations, Israel’s army, and Israel’s future, none of our differences mattered. I was proud to be 1 of 18,000 people standing unified to support our homeland. There was a feeling of true achdut, and an understanding that we are the next link in the chain of supporting the state of Israel.
At Shulamith High School these two themes of achdut and leadership are essential to our values. Listening to the many inspiring speakers and hearing from college students opened my eyes to a world of advocacy that is waiting for me and my responsibility as a student leader to share my passion with younger students. As a Shulamith High School 11th grade student, I look forward to taking the inspiring messages of AIPAC and having a greater impact not only in my Israel Advocacy Club but on all the girls in the school. I hope to encourage even more students to join our group, to learn more about Israel, its technology and amazing lifesaving innovations. Students grow into leaders when they ask questions, and voice their opinions. Each year, older students have an opportunity and responsibility to influence new incoming students to learn to be strong and passionate Israel activists. Leadership and achdut go hand in hand as students from all grades come together to learn more about Israel, and the voice we can have to make a difference starting in high school and continuing into the rest of our lives. Am Yisrael Chai!