Who would have thought a large group of competitive students in fraternities and sororities could bond so much over a common cause and have such an impact on one another?
I first heard about Israel Amplified, an Israel engagement conference for fraternity and sororities leaders hosted by Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, through a friend of mine in CUFI (Christians United for Israel). I thought that the idea of an all-Greek conference focused on targeting the rest of the Greek community with pro-Israel information sounded extremely interesting. I have never seen such a focused approach but it makes complete sense. As every Greek member knows, and the staff expressed at Israel Amplified, Greeks are social, networked, philanthropic, and purpose-driven leaders. Greeks represent a huge part of student government and campus involvement, they affiliate with other organizations and know how to communicate. Those characteristics are excellent for activism on behalf of Israel. Needless to say, I was excited to see what Amplified had to offer.
The conference thoroughly prepared me for activism this coming school year. Personally, I dislike confrontation and worry about how to represent the Zionist community in a strong and effective way. I was glad to know I wasn’t the only one.
So many of the students in attendance had a passion for Israel and the Jewish community but didn’t know how to express it on their campus or even within their Greek chapters. At Israel Amplified, workshops facilitated by The David Project helped us develop personal narratives that we felt comfortable sharing with others. We reflected on our own experiences with Zionism and created a personal story capable of getting others interested in what we do and care about.
The Israel Amplified curriculum helped us make our stories the best they could be through different themes, perspectives, and workshops. It was amazing to be able to use my own reasoning to get people involved instead of feeling like I needed to sell them on a particular talking point. Personal narratives are great for opening the conversation on our campuses because so much can come from a simple story. Some people are interested in culture, others international affairs, some human rights, others history; the fact is, if you have a real conversation, you can find jumping off points to talk about Israel somewhere. Make it about the person you are talking to, not about yourself.
I took away tons from this conference. I have always understood Biblical mandates and political reasoning for the support of Israel and the Jewish community, but I learned so much more than that at Israel Amplified. I learned about the contributions Israel brought to the world for its benefit, the culture and people of Israel, Jewish sororities and fraternities, Jewish traditions, how to be a better leader, and more.
I could not believe how many organizations were there for the purpose of helping students get funding, materials, speakers, information, and moral support for activism on their campuses. The conference was sponsored by The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Israel on Campus Coalition, The David Project, Hasbara Fellowships, Jewish National Fund and Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority, in addition to AEPi. Israel Amplified did a great job of providing students with outlets to get help! I feel confident knowing I have the ability to get the proper resources when I need them now.
It was wonderful to be with such a diverse crowd at Israel Amplified. There were nearly 100 students from 48 campuses all over the United States and Canada from more than 25 different Greek letter organizations. The diversity also meant differences of opinions and lifestyles, but we all got along well and understood each other. A lot can be attributed to the fact that every student there is part of a chapter with differences within itself. Greeks know how to accept and learn from others.
Students were from different places, had different upbringings, went to different schools, had different majors, experienced different experiences, and wanted to have different effects on the world. It was energizing to be around such a driven, ambitious group. I know everyone there has leadership qualities and is off to great things. I can’t wait to see where everyone goes in the future.
I left the conference with new friends from all over the world, a renewed passion for pro-Israel activism, and the courage to go back to my university and shake things up! I am truly grateful for the opportunity to attend.