A number of teenagers at Beth Israel felt that there should be more Israel advocacy training available to them in Omaha. I offered my assistance, but I suggested that if they really wanted to make things happen they will be most successful if they build it themselves.
The kids took my advice seriously and started a group called Teens 4 Israel.
They have already had a few meetings where they met amongst themselves and discussed issues facing Israel. With my help they connected with the regional AIPAC staff and had a meeting about what resources are available to them. This Friday night they are having a Shabbat dinner with AIPAC to discuss further possibilities for programs.
Today they met with Congressman Lee Terry. Congressman Terry said that meeting with youth groups is a priority of his office and he will always make time in his schedule. Congressman Terry is a strong supporter of Israel.
In preparation for the meeting, someone in the community donated a professional press banner with the Teens 4 Israel logo.
The kids did their homework on the Congressman and he was impressed. They expressed their appreciation for his support of Israel in the past and encouraged him to continue in the future.
They presented him with an idea that they formed from searching Congressman Terry's committee involvement and AIPAC's online resources. They learned Congressman Terry is on the Committee for Energy and Commerce. They saw on AIPAC's website that Israel partners with a number of states to promote trade. Nebraska has done quite a bit of trade with Israel, but we rank 37th in the country.
The State of Ohio opened an office in Tel Aviv and through it has brought commerce to the state and created jobs. They discussed what it would take for Nebraska to open such an office. The Congressman said he wasn't sure and he encouraged the kids to do some research and call him if they think there is a compelling reason for Nebraska to look into it.
The Congressman asked the kids about how they came to be passionate about Israel and the kids told him about their own personal Israel experiences.
Then the Congressman shocked the group by telling them how he has a personal connection to the Jewish State. Congressman Terry's mother's mother was a Russian Jewish immigrant. Although he was raised Catholic, he found out when he was older that the grandmother that he never knew was Jewish. So technically speaking, Lee Terry is Jewish - although I do not think that he is included in the number of Jewish Congressmen.
The Congressman was great with the kids. The learned a great deal and had a really meaningful experience.
Many thanks to Congressman Terry for all of his support for Israel and for taking time out of his schedule to meet with us.
I am so proud of my Beth Israel kids and I can't wait for the next Teens 4 Israel event.
Good work guys!!!