Teenagers Need To Know Israel Advocacy


It is often repeated that “the youths of the nation are the future of the world.” However, these words aren’t frequently put into play. It is not usual to see a teenager expressing their beliefs and opinions to older and wiser people, but Rabbi Uri Piliochowski believes that highschool juniors and seniors have unique perspectives and passions that can be communicated in a special way.


This is one of the reasons behind Rabbi Piliochowski’s employment at Scheck Hillel Community School, where he teaches a Senior Capstone Israel Advocacy class. This course, taken by many for the valuable knowledge learned, includes strong arguments in support of the existence of Israel. The class also discusses facts about the Palestinian people. Rabbi Pilochowski’s level of determination and dedication shows through the time and work he puts into assignments and lectures, which he teaches virtually. 


Rabbi Piliochowski believes that it is important for American Jewish teenagers to “stick up for the US-Israel relationship.” Not only is it good for these young adults to learn about Israel, but Rabbi Piliochowski says that “it is essential for their own identity to understand how important Israel is to them.” This allows teenagers to help Israel in a “solid, constructive way.”


When Rabbi Piliochowski moved to the US in 2004, he realized that there were few ways  Jewish American teenagers could help support Israel, especially through the US government, which he says is “the greatest helper of Israel in the world.” Therefore, he created a program that takes over 100 teenagers on a road trip each year to teach them different ways to support Israel. One of these ways is lobbying to US officials, which helps build connections and relationships with them.


Although he lives in Israel full time, Rabbi Piliochowski practices what he preaches (the importance of lobbying US officials) by coming to the US and speaking to members of the government. This past Monday, Rabbi Piliochowski organized and led a field trip with Scheck Hillel and Posnack students to teach them about Israel’s right to exist. Students listened to meaningful and important speakers who were more than willing to answer any questions posed to them. 


Mark Kleinman, a member of AIPAC, spoke about the US-Israel relationship and the way that AIPAC has helped Israel through lobbying and fundraising within the US government. The next speaker was Joe Zevuloni, who talked about his own experiences growing up as a Jewish immigrant in a community that didn’t support him. He then had a mock debate with Rabbi Piliochowski – who posed as an anti-zionist Jew – in order to give the onlooking students ways to defend themselves against people who invalidate their beliefs. The final two speakers were members of Senator Marco Rubio’s staff, J.R. Sanches and Lea Padron. They were open to questions and concerns about steps that the US government is taking to help Israel, both overseas and through education in the US. 


When time ran out, everyone bid farewell and the 60 students returned to their respective schools. Meitalia Factor, a student present on the trip, expressed that she loved the experience because she enjoyed “being surrounded by people that wanted to advocate for Israel and exemplified [the phrase] ‘Am Yisrael Chai.’”