Yeshiva University High School Students Form Israel Advocacy Committee

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Members of Central’s Political Action Club, from left: Tamar Berman, Shayna Rabin, Hudy Rosenberg, Dina Muskin, Aliza Arbesfeld, Golda Aharon, Rivka Abbe and Renee WietschnerAs the fall semester began, Yeshiva University High School for Girls (YUHSG) junior Rivka Abbe grew increasingly unsettled by the numerous challenges faced by Israel. In light of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) bid for statehood at the United Nations, Abbe wanted to mobilize her peers to assist the Jewish State.

With the help of YU Vice President and Chief of Staff Josh Joseph, and YUHSG Assistant Principal Rabbi Seth Grauer, Abbe got in touch with the Yeshiva University Political Action Committee (YUPAC) and arranged for three representatives from Stern College for Women to offer an informational session on the PA statehood bid a day before it occurred at the UN.

Following the presentation by Vice president of YUPAC and AIPAC Campus Liaison Dina Muskin, YUPAC Campus Engagement Coordinator Tamar Schwarzbard and YUHSG alumna and YUPAC core member Miriam Shapiro, Abbe realized that she could advocate for Israel from her home base in Queens.

Along with fellow YUHSG student Coco Fischman, she founded the Central Political Activist Club (C-PAC). “We wanted to start something serious here at Central,” said Abbe. “If we can train ourselves while in high school to advocate for Israel, it can lead to a lifetime of support.”

Aided by Muskin, who serves as the AIPAC liaison to C-PAC, the fledgling club plans to create a school publication, serve as the catalyst for school-wide education on Israel and act as the spearhead for lobbying politicians to continue supporting foreign aid grants to Israel.

“After our informational session with the students, they clearly felt the need to get involved,” said Muskin. “They loved the empowering idea that they could influence policy. This club will certainly help further their activism when they make it to a college campus.”

In early November, Abbe and Fischman attended AIPAC’s Schusterman Advocacy Institute High School Summit, a three-day conference for Jewish high school students from public and private schools across the country.

On Nov. 30, they and other members of C-PAC joined more than 200 YU students on a mission to Washington, D.C. to lobby on Israel’s behalf. Partly sponsored by the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) Israel Advocacy Grant Program and the AVI CHAI Foundation, the trip also included meetings with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, with remarks by Jonathan Kessler, director of leadership development at AIPAC and Ester Kurz, an AIPAC lobbyist.

“The main issue we face on YU campuses is that students all love Israel but do not realize that they need to actively support it,” said Muskin. “[Programs such as this lobbying mission] are the perfect vehicles to address this apathy.”

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