Etgar 36

Washington DC – Day 2

– Lio Pelavin 

We started off our morning by going into DC from our Hotel in Virginia. Our first meeting of the day was with J-Street in an office building a little off of K Street. We met with Erin Beiner, the Director of J-Street U, their on campus college program, Hannah Faber from their governmental affairs department, and Josh Binderman, who works with J-Street’s PAC.  They told us their personal stories, including how they got to J-Street and about J-Street’s work on Israel-Palestine. Their main priorities on the hill are educating congressional members on the topic of Israel-Palestine, getting members of Congress to speak out on the annexation of the west bank, and doing aid oversight, not only for the money we give to Israel but also all over the world. Much of their work, especially J-Street U, is creating a community of progressive Jews who believe in the state of Israel but also call out the illegal settlements and occupation. After they talked, we all got a chance to ask questions. I asked a question about how they communicated and felt about Jewish organizations like IfNotNow and JVP, which are much more to the left of them on this issue.

After our great meeting, we went to a street market for lunch near the White House. I personally did not eat because I was observing the Jewish day of Tisha Ba’av, which is a fast day. Some of my peers who were also fasting and I took this time to rest in Lafayette Park, which is right next to the White House. After lunch, we walked as a group to the White House to take pictures. Some of my friends talked to the guy who has been protesting in a tent since 1981, his signs are very cool, and it is empowering to see him every time I am in DC.

Our next stop was the capital to meet with Senator Jon Ossoff. At first, we were waiting outside the wrong building, but that meant we got the chance to see Representative Ayanna Presley. We then realized and walked to the right side, which was outside the Senate. Just as we got there, Senator Jon Ossoff came outside. I noticed that instead of a normal handshake, he and Billy dapped each other up, which the majority of us found very funny. After introductions, the Senator told us a little of his story and how important it is that the Black and Jewish communities have a strong bond. Something I found very cool was that when he swore into Congress, he used Rabbi Rothschild’s Tanach, who was a very important rabbi to the civil rights movement. A piece of advice he gave to us was not to live life trying to be on a perfect path but to live with passion. We got the chance to ask a couple of questions. My question was how he brought his Jewish values into the Senate. The Senator also told us how he fights for his state and the things he does other than pass laws. It was very hot outside during the meeting, but we kept very short since the Senator had places to be and a bite to make.

After the meeting, we had some free time in Union Station to refresh ourselves and get a snack. I personally took the time to meditate on the day and read my book. For the last meeting of the day, we met with AIPAC, which is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and we met with Karli Krasnipol, who is the Director of Leadership Engagement. She told us a bit of her story and how she got into working with AIPAC, and about AIPAC’s work. Some things that I learned were that AIPAC is not a Jewish organization, that they support an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, and that they do not deal with any domestic Israeli issues. Since they are a one issue organization, in congressional races, they will always support the pro-Israel candidate, and if both candidates are pro-Israel, they do not contribute. They also said that they basically have good relationships with every representative in the house except for about everyone in “The Squad.” AIPAC gives unconditional support to Israel, and because of that, my opinions tend to lie closer to J-Street. After our meeting with AIPAC, we headed to Georgetown for dinner.







I was still fasting, so my friends and I picked up a lot of food for our breakfast meal. Halfway through dinner, a torrential downpour commenced, so we had to find cover, but thankfully it stopped so we could continue getting food. After dinner, we headed back to the hotel, and we all got free time. Those of us who were fasting had an amazing breakfast meal. Overall it was a really powerful day to be talking about Jewish issues, especially since I was fasting.