Meet the movement: Yeshivah of Flatbbush

Gabriella Davoudpour: Tell us about yourself – where are you from, what are you studying, what do you do on your free time?

Ezra Faks: I’m from Brooklyn, New York and am currently at a yeshiva, dual curriculum, high school. I study the regular english classes, hebrew classes, and we also have an Israel and World Relations class in our school. Being that it’s my senior year, I’m involved in a lot of extra-curricular activities, maybe even more than I am in actual classes. I’m president of Students Supporting Israel, I’m captain of Model UN, Varsity Debate, I’m in an entrepreneurship club, real estate club, and I’m the captain of the track team. I finish school at 4:30 now, so I go straight from class to work, where I work with my father at his office.

GD: How did you get involved with SSI?

EF: I’ve always felt that I had some kind of connection to Israel, and I’m a very political and opinionated person. If I believe in something, I will advocate for it to its fullest extent, no matter what. Coming to high school, SSI was a very cool club to get involved with, and it was something that was highlighted a lot. It wasn’t a difficult decision for me to make, and I became friends with the commissioner – getting me very involved. I’m very dedicated when I put my mind to something, and it was unofficially known by my junior year that I would be the president next year. I started speaking to my faculty advisor immediately, and started brainstorming more and more events than we previously did, making sure we spread the word.

GD: What would you like to see your campus turn into?

EF: In general, we are a pretty informed high school. Sophomore year, the whole second semester we were taught Zionistic history. In junior and senior year, we learned all about Jewish history. For Yom Ha’atzmaut, we don’t even have school, we come for two hours, celebrate, and then leave. We are a very Zionistic school, and I would like to see more advocacy taking place outside of the school. I want everyone to become more educated so that we can be able to understand what Israel means to the Jewish people, and advocate for it to its fullest extent.

GD: What kind of impact has SSI and pro-activism in general had on you throughout your life?

EF: Going though the college admissions process, it was definitely an important thing for me to acknowledge. It gave me the ability to go to the AIPAC conferences, hear many speakers, and meet new people over the years. It’s one thing to know that you love Israel, but it’s another thing to articulate and argue for the state. Up until high school, I didn’t know much about how to take that information and use it to educate other people. SSI gave me that knowledge, and lets me know that I’m a part of a bigger movement; that we are making a real change.

GD: Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

EF: In terms of Israel activism, I do plan to go to Israel next year to learn at Yeshiva. Hopefully I can go with my kids to Israel and instill in them Zionism and a love and passion for Israel.

GD: If you could say one thing to the rest of the SSI members across the country, what would it be?

EF: We focus a lot on people talking against Israel, and we focus on big movements, and while these are big issues that we should not be belittling at all, we should take advantage of the fact that there is a support structure, at least in America, towards Israel and the right that the Jewish people have to a nation. Yes, there is BDS, but there’s also AIPAC, there’s also ZOA, there are organizations that are able to go out onto college campuses and spread the world. Just know that behind you, there is so much more, and so many gears constantly turning to help the machine, ensuring that Israel is protected.

*interview has been condensed.

About the Author
Gabriella Davoudpour is a first year college student and board member of Students Supporting Israel at Santa Monica college. Currently, she serves as an intern for the national SSI Movement as a publisher and blogger. Gabriella is a sociology major with a background in writing and analysis.
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