Hillel students speak out for Israel at AIPAC



March 22, 2016

AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference is well underway, with the largest campus delegation in the history of the event attending. Hillel kicked off the three-day conference with a welcome reception Saturday night here at the Schusterman International Center, where we were joined by hundreds of students and Hillel professionals from among the 4,000-strong campus contingent.

Many of these Hillel student leaders have participated in, and led, panels about their campus experiences, particularly in terms of coalition building and fighting BDS.

Fingerhut and University of Texas senior Andrea Hiller speak on a panel about the Israel climate on college campuses.

One of those leaders, Andrea Hiller, a University of Texas senior, joined Hillel International President and CEO Eric D. Fingerhut, notable academics and AIPAC officials on Sunday for a panel discussion about the changing nature of the Israel conversation on campus. In framing his remarks, Fingerhut recalled how Hillel the Elder always listened to the other side in debates, without necessarily changing his position. “Listening is a core value on college campuses,” said Fingerhut, “and listening is embedded in the Hillel tradition.”

Joseph Vogel, a George Washington University freshman, agreed.

“It’s incredible to be in an environment where everyone can share their values,” Vogel said. “My commitment to the U.S.-Israel relationship is a direct result of Hillel and AIPAC.”

Later that day, Shelley Kedar, Hillel’s vice president of Israel education and engagement and the Jewish Agency shlichah to Hillel, and Santa Barbara Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Evan Goodman, spoke on a panel about defeating BDS on campus, while strengthening ties between U.S. universities and Israel.

Monday morning at Policy Conference began with an award presentation to three Hillel professionals. Hillel at USC Executive Director Bailey London, Texas Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Daniel Septimus and Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow to American University Hillel Meidan Keidar received AIPAC Ally of the Year awards for their work strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship on campus.

Afterwards, conference attendees heard live speeches about the American-Israeli relationship from four of the five presidential candidates in 2016.

Jewish Agency for Israel Fellows Sapir Shimony and Dganit Abramoff pose together at Monday morning’s general session at the Verizon Center.