To kick off San Diego NCSY’s Israel Month we joined forces with the StandWithUs, the JCC, YAM, KEN, TZOFIM (Israeli Scouts), Pray for the Peace of Israel, Tarbuton, T.E.A.M., and other community volunteers for a collaboration and celebration of teen-focused Israel advocacy at the first ever #LIKEisrael teen conference:
170 teenagers from all over San Diego attended
24 local San Diego high schools represented
15 Jewish organizations were affiliated
15 synagogues represented
The evening started with inspirational speaker Izzy Ezagui – a 26 year old, American-born, current special forces IDF reservist who lost his left arm in Operation Cast Lead in early 2009 – Izzy is the first and only solider to return to full-active duty after losing his dominant arm.
Izzy’s message to the students was to become remember that a strong Israel is dependent on a strong Jewish People, he encouraged them to “be proud of being a Jew, don’t hide from it…keep the chain going.” With that in mind, the students then divided up into groups to discuss a few of the toughest questions facing Israel today:
- How valid is the Jewish ancestral claim to the Land of Israel?
- Did the Holocaust play a role in the creation of the State of Israel?
- How does Israel spend the foreign aid it receives from the U.S.?
- What is the two State solution? Where does Jerusalem fit in?
- What values does the American military share with the IDF?
- Are border checkpoints and the Settlements legal?
- Do minorities have equal rights in Israel?
- Is Israel an Apartheid State?
The energy in the room was palpable.
It was an amazing way to kick off our Israel Month.