May 20, 2024
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RKYHS Students Set New AIPAC Record

How does the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School top their 2018 AIPAC policy conference record setting performance, when they brought 50 high school students to the three-day event? By bringing 77 students in 2019 and breaking their own record for the largest high school delegation.

Because of the size of our group, we had to break from tradition and forego the annual Baltimore shabbaton. Instead we drove down to D.C. on Saturday night, arriving at 1:30 a.m., when we were told we would have to wake up at 5:30 a.m. for minyan. Rabbi Kirsch does not like to be late.

Despite the cloud that hung over the beginning the conference, when Prime Minister Netanyahu had to return home due to the rocket attacks from Gaza, the power of the messaging on the themes of bipartisanship, the relocation of the Israeli embassy and the U.S. acceptance of Israel’s sovereignty over the Galil were paramount.

The Sunday general session, including the Koolulam singing group—a highlight for many, was followed by an amazing moment for our entire school when we were presented with an award as one of the top delegations in the country, and our fearless leader, Rabbi Kirsch, was also recognized with an additional award for his personal contribution to AIPAC.

We sat in on riveting sessions with VP Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Monday. Then on Tuesday morning we heard an energizing speech from PM Benjamin “BiBi” Netanyahu via satellite, saying that “coming from this Benjamin, it’s not about the Benjamins, it’s about shared values.”

Students had mixed feelings about hearing from Senator Cory Booker because of his mixed record on Israel, including supporting the Iran deal. Many felt he was playing “both sides” in his quest to become president.

AIPAC gave each student the ability to refine their opinions on the American-Israel alliance and the exhilarating feeling of being part of something we are so passionate about. Of course, much appreciation goes out to Rabbi Richard Kirsch, who has taught us so much as people and as Israel advocates.

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