A Summer in Israel Brendan Strauss '15

As a politically conservative Jewish college student, the Yameena Fellowship opportunity was the perfect experience where the entire group was able to embrace our love of Judaism and politics, specifically pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the program that lasted two weeks, I met influential Israeli and American decision makers and leaders, networked with fellow politically conservative young Jewish students from all around the US, and learned what Judaism really says about hot-button political issues. Speakers included Ari Fleischer, former White House Press Secretary; Michael Medved, nationally syndicated talk radio host; Danny Ayalon, Israel's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs; Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel; Matt Brooks, Executive Director of the Republican Jewish Coalition; Ron Dermer, Senior Advisor to PM Binyamin Netanyahu; and many other scholars, politicians, and leaders.

Our group wandered off the typical trail that most tours follow when leading American students throughout the Jewish
homeland. We visited Judea and Samaria as well as "East Jerusalem" and learned firsthand why these areas are integral parts of modern Israel and Jewish history. While we all felt a little nervous before approaching Sderot and the Israel-Gaza border, the IDF soldiers that accompanied us provided a strong sense of security; however, we did spend the greatest amount of time in Jerusalem.

This is a unique program, and a once in a lifetime opportunity to equip oneself with the skills and motivation to make a difference as a young Jewish conservative. Touring Israel with like-minded, dynamic, and accomplished peers while learning from some of the most effective and entertaining conservative leaders and activists was a joy from start to finish and an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.