by David Aaronson (’14)

This past week was the YU Lobby Mission to Washington for High School students. We had been preparing for this annual trip for almost six months, and the all our hard work really paid off. The mission was arranged by Matt Schwartz, from the YU Office of Admissions, and organized by leaders of Hatzioni, MTA’s Israel advocacy club. It attracted over 100 students from nearly ten Jewish high schools in the tri-state area.

 

On Sunday, we had the opening plenary session on the Beren Campus of YU, where I was privileged to welcome the large crowd of students and introduce Yotam Goren, First Secretary General of the Israeli Mission to the UN. Yotam addressed the issue of Iran’s nuclear program and discussed the strong influence we, as students, can have on members of Congress when we lobby for Israel.

We then split up into groups and went over the bills we were lobbying for. Afterwards, we had several breakout sessions when we rehearsed for our congressional meetings. Once the opening session concluded, we were fully prepared to go to Washington.

 

Early the next morning, we boarded the bus and headed off to the nation’s capital. The Hatzioni/MTA delegation was led by Mr. Sragow, who joined us for the entire trip. Our first stop was the Israeli Embassy, where I was honored to address the crowd once again and introduce Dor Shapira, the Israeli Government’s Counselor for Congressional Affairs. Dor spoke about the strong relationship between the State of Israel and the U.S. Congress, and discussed the responsibilities of his job as Israel’s envoy to the Senate and the House of Representatives.

 

We then went to Capitol Hill, where we visited the office of New York Senator Chuck Schumer. We met there with Pat Gonzalez, the Senator’s foreign policy staffer. To our surprise, Pat was very educated on the issues we were lobbying for and he was the one who did most of the talking during our meeting. Pat discussed the recent agreement with Iran, and explained why he and everyone in Senator Schumer’s office felt it was a bad deal. He repeatedly stressed the strong need for the Senate to immediately pass new sanctions on Iran, before the end of next week.

 

After the congressional meetings, we went to Congregation Kesher Yisrael of Georgetown for dinner and Maariv. We then boarded the bus and headed back to New York. The bus arrived back at YU at approximately 10:30PM, after a successful lobby mission.

 

It was truly a unique experience organizing and attending this mission to Washington. I hope all the YUHSB talmidim reading this article will join Hatzioni next Monday for a lunchtime event with Congresswoman Grace Meng and participate in the MTAPACmission to Washington next March.

 

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