I was recently chosen to participate as a member of the Masa delegation at the AJC Access Summit in Washington, DC. The conference was focused on contemporary issues related to Israel and the Jewish people. I attended panels regarding Israel’s relationship with the DIaspora, issues within Israeli society such as religion and state and other topics such as Jewish-Muslim relations. It was particularly exciting to encounter bright young Muslims dedicated to outreach within their own community as well as to young Jews, in an attempt to foster connection and relationship between the communities.
A highlight of the conference was the experience of being surrounded by other young likeminded individuals. The conference was attended by hundreds of young Jewish professionals from across the United States and around the world. The location of Washington, DC was a suitable meeting point for an intellectual group committed to dialogue, with ideas regarding policy and practice within and outside Israel. The gathering of young people specifically interested in these issues produced fascinating discussion that overflowed into the hallways and out onto the street between and after the formal panels.
The panels at the conference offered an opportunity to hear the informed opinions of individuals involved in each particular issue. There was also the option to ask questions of the panelists regarding your thoughts on the topic. A positive aspect of the panels at the conference was the diversity of perspectives represented at each discussion. For example, a discussion on the role of the Rabbinate in Israeli society was conducted between a right-wing Israeli, a left-wing American academic and an Israeli-American young man who works for Hillel at Harvard University. Some of the panels were interactive, such as one that focused on how to facilitate a diplomatic meeting. The participants engaged in mock diplomatic meetings of our own as a practical tool.
Overall, the AJC Access Summit was a highly worthwhile and valuable experience. It provided us with insight, interaction and dialogue from a wide variety of viewpoints. It was a suitable forum for engagement with young people from all over the world who share similar interests and ideals. The Masa delegation represented an organization dedicated to bring young Jews for extended programs in Israel. As such, we experienced mutual purpose and cause. I would recommend this experience to any young Jew with a strong interest in contemporary Israeli society and the Jewish people who would like to make an impact on the future of these important and relevant issues.