Strengthening Jewish continuity with Birthright alumni
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Israeli-American Council (IAC) and the Orthodox Union’s Bring Israel Home (BIH) program announced a new initiative to strengthen Jewish continuity: the IAC will welcome more than 100 Birthright Israel alumni from the BIH program, along with Israeli soldiers, as part of its third annual National Israeli-American Conference, taking place Sept. 24-26 in Washington, D.C. The alumni will participate in the event’s wide range of programming, including a special Shabbaton experience and sessions with thought leaders from Israel and across the Jewish world.
“The IAC is thrilled to be partnering with the Orthodox Union to build the Jewish identity of our next generations and strengthen their connection to the State of Israel,” said Shoham Nicolet, CEO of the IAC. “This event demonstrates the unique ways that we can leverage Israeli-Americans as a living bridge between the Jewish state and the Jewish people.”
As a part of the Orthodox Union, BIH runs a special post-Birthright program that works to maintain the relationship between participants and the Jewish community long after the trip. It “gameifies” participation in Jewish life, offering points for activities such as visiting a Jewish museum or reading an Israeli news article. Those who acquire enough points receive an all-expenses-paid weekend reunion—this year, at the nation’s largest gathering of the Israeli-American community.
“Partnering with the IAC on this reunion is a dream come true,” said Rabbi Dave Felsenthal, director of OU Next Gen. “Together we bring tremendous power to strengthen Jewish continuity and build a brighter Jewish future.”
The conference this year will in fact focus on strengthening three pillars critical for the Jewish future: the next generation, the State of Israel, and the Jewish Diaspora community. In particular, the conference will examine how Israeli-Americans, who constitute 10 percent of Jewish Americans, can serve as a living bridge to connect the Jewish people in Israel, America, and around the world.
More than 2,000 activists from the Israeli-American and Jewish-American communities are expected to attend the conference, along with senior policymakers and diplomats, cultural icons, prominent thinkers and journalists, civic and business leaders, and many other influential voices from both the U.S. and Israel. Speakers include former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani; Israel’s Minister of Construction Yoav Galant; former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon; renowned diplomat Dennis Ross; U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman; and Israel’s Minister of Science, Technology, and Space Ofir Akunis.