Israel @ Heart - PO Box 279 - Purchase NY 10577-0279
From Salamon Shechter High School
Dear Joey, Hi! My name is Liora and I go to Solomon Schechter High School in manhattan. This is the third time you've come to our school and I love it everytime. I don't remember who came the first two times but today Karen, Ilan, and Roi came. They were excellent speakers. Honestly, I could have sat there all day listening to them talk about Israel. I know I speak for everyone in my school when I say that we really appreciate Israelis, not much older than us, come to speak to us. Thank you so much for coming!
With love, Liora Saat
I coordinate school news at Richland Northeast High School in Columbia, South Carolina and had the opportunity to be present when three young representatives of your organization visited yesterday. My child is in the class they visited, although I was actually there to take photos and prepare a summary for our local newspaper. I just wanted to thank you for funding this effort. The Israelis were very well-spoken, provided a lot of information, and responded to questions as forthrightly as possible, including even a few questions that were clearly meant to be provocative. I think it waas especially helpful that one of our visitors was an Ethiopian Jew, as this is a high school that is 55% African American, 10% other minority, and 35%white. I'm sure it was the first time that most of these kids realized the diversity of backgrounds from which many Israelis come. There are about 30 to 40 Jewish students in our whole school of 1700, which for South Carolina is a very large number in any one high school. Six Jewish children were in the class your speakers came to - including my own daughter. She thought it was a wonderful opportunity, and so do I. Just thought you'd like some feedback. Thank you again for funding this. Sincerely, Debbie Brett
Hi my name is jeffrey wieland. I am a student at frostburg st university. I really enjoyed having Ariel and Talya come and visit. I am a political science major and am a junior here. I have always been sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and am a firm believer in state hood for them. However after hearing what your students had to say and what was being done about the issue i am happy to say i am much more enlightened about the Israel side. The Jewish community in Israel is just trying to live in peace with their neighbors. I understand now that the domination of the Palestinians is not the goal. But rather a harmony between the two. I would love to have them back next year. feel free to contact me any time
sincerly jeffrey Wieland.
I had the pleasure last night of listening to three of your representatives at the Jewish Community Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.
What an outstanding evening! These young Israelies spoke about their reality in Israel without pulling any punches. They responded to questions with knowledgable answers.
They could have spent a week in the Edmonton area visiting schools, collages, universities if we had some advance notice. Their message has to reach young minds.
If they come this way again, let us know in advance so we can book them in other venues.
Many thanks for supporting this endeavor.
I want to thank you so much for sponsoring Gadi, Hadar & Meron on their trip to Texas. They spoke this morning at the Episcopal School of Dallas and brought us a wonderful gift, themselves! Many students have come up to me today to express their thanks for having these three extraordinary individuals speak. Many students said they now saw that the events in the Middle East were real, not just something far away and in the news. Thank you so much for the gift of education you gave us today.
i don't know if you remember me, but my name is Vincia Wilson and i was in the period 9 class. i was the annoying one who asked if the you beleived the six day war, was in the end benificial to Israel? if you have figured out an answer please send me an email at this address. Any way i'd like to thank you for coming, and enlightening us. your visit was most benificial to me, as i was only recently studying the post world war II effects around the world, and there was a big discussion on the creation of Isreal, and what they were to do with the territory gained after the six day war, and what to do with it's large palestinian inhabitants. so i looked really good the next day telling my class about your visit, so thanks and come again. bye.
I am currently an undergraduate at CUNY-Brooklyn college. I had just recently attended a discussion about Israel given by Daria, Adir and David. They spoke about issues that allowed the students to see what it is that an Israeli experiences during tough times. Their moving stories about tragedies that are ever-present in Israel were very enlightening. It showed that one can truly be assiduous in going about life -normally- during times of hardship.
Daria, Adir and David really brought a perspective that is essential to those Jewish and non-Jewish alike. The discussion that was given did not only inform many on an "Israeli soldier's perspective", but it allowed a very personal connection between the students and speakers. This connection allowed me to realize that it just isn't a number, statistic or -Israeli soldier-, but a person who perishes in Israel; a compassionate human being who although willing to defend his/her country, is even more so looking for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing turmoil in the middle-east.
This experience was truly educational and enjoyable and I highly recommend it!
A Note from Steve Johnson
Hello, my name is Steve Johnson and I am in Mr. Mann's 10th period class. I just wanted to thank you for coming to talk to us about life in Israel. I enjoyed your visit very much, and I'm sure my classmates can say the same. With all the media coverage of the Middle East it seems as though the area is dead. You showed us that normal life under the constant threat of terror can exist. So, thank you for your visit and I hope you come to see us again.
Shelly Rood heard our students in Washington D.C.
Dear Mr. Low,
Thank you for making the Israel at Heart program possible. After a presentation today, in Washington, D.C., I thanked the speakers for their wonderful work in educating Americaís youth, and they told me to send all thanks to you.
As a college student from the University of Florida and intern in D.C., I meet so many people that are uneducated about Israel and about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It is very difficult for me, as an American, to explain to people what Israel is really like and what Israel really does. People see images of bombs and tanks on CNN, and they think Israel is a war zone.
I spent a month in Jerusalem in the summer of 2001, and a couple weeks two years before that. When I tell people that while in Israel I did not see a single act of violence, they are surprised! According to what they hear, Israel is an unsafe place to visit. Even worse, some people believe that Israel is an aggressor fighting defenseless Palestinians. It frustrates me that people believe such myths, and it frustrates me that when I try to explain about Israel they often donít believe me.
Our speakers, Ariel and Ellie, explained how important it is for Americans to visit Israel. They even explained how visiting Israel can play an important role in ending the conflict. Once people visit Israel, they will have accurate impressions of what Israel is like, and thus public opinion will change. I couldnít agree more. Everyone that I know who has visited Israel falls in love with it. Everyone who goes to Israel returns a changed person.
I am very glad that Ariel and Ellie came to speak to the group of college interns in Washington, D.C. Our group asked great questions, and Ariel and Ellie gave them strong, informed, and personal answers. They really connected with us. I think that because the speakers are students, our peers, that we can relate to them better. We can understand them better than if we attended a lecture by a university professor or a government official, for example.
Again, thank you for making the Israel at Heart program possible. I wish that every American college student could attend an Israel at Heart presentation. It is such a wonderful way to show what life is like for Israelis youth. I wish I could thank all of your Israel at Heart students for being this crucial link between the United States and Israel.
Melinda wrote to us:
JONATHAN from Benjamin Cordozo High School
Hello, I am a student at Benjamin Cardozo High School. I want to thank you guys for visiting my school and teaching my fellow students and I about Isreal. I thank you for your effort to change people's view on Israel and show it to them from Israelis' perspective. As an Israeli myself I was very pleased that some people care enough to do what you guys did and now I am happy to know that more people understand what Israel is really about.
Thank you, Jonathan Klein
FROM OUR PREVIOUS TRIP............
A student at McGill University -
I just arrived home from spending an evening with three of the most inspiring Israelis I've ever met. Noa and Natalie and the other student whose name I have completely forgotten, were absolutely fantastic. They were warm, eloquent, charming and all-around great faces to put on the Israeli people. Each spoke from their heart and with such passion that it inspired me to commit more time to the Israeli cause. One month ago, I arrived home from a three week trip in Israel. I can tell you without reservation that I learned more in the few hours that I spent with these three students than I did in all my time in Israel.
After our thee-hour meeting, our little group decided to continue the discussions in a more personal setting and so the students went to visit some of McGill student's apartments, where we hung out like old friends, snacked on junk food and talked about Israel for hours on end. I have not felt this energized about Israel in such a long time. Thank you so much for putting this fantastic program together. I won't forget the time I spent with these three inspiring individuals.
A million thanks and a million congratulations on the absolute success of your endeavours.
Mazal Tov! and Thank You!
A student at Yale -
Dear Israel At Heart,
I am an Israeli undergraduate student at Yale university. I attended a forum by 3 of your representatives today at the university. I must say that I was deeply moved and encouraged by these 3 young people. The three had a great dynamic and their stories and perspectives were fascinating. They are a great team.
I just wanted to encourage you in your work. You have to continue with this program as much as possible and to try to reach as many people as possible. Itís a great service to Israel. University campuses are specifically vital as many campuses today (namely many in Harvard) are calling for their universities to boycott Israel. If only these talks could also take place in Europe, I Know that they would have a tremendous effect on people there. Iíve lived in Europe for two years and have many friends who live there still, and in many parts of Europe Israelís image is almost unrecoverable. Jewish communities could be a good start and I personally know a few leaders from the English Jewish community who might help. I know it might sound too big, but keep it in mind.
Thank you for your great work.
A student at Rice University -
Hi, I am the student at Rice that had never been to Israel and was only 18. I just wanted to thank you for coming to speak to us. I really was interested in what you all had to say. I really hope I can go to Israel and maybe see you all there. Have a wonderful time while you are here, and if you are ever back in Houston give me a call or e-mail. Thank you again.
A student at MIT -
On behalf of the MIT Students for Israel, I wanted to thank you for coming to MIT yesterday and sharing your stories and experiences with the large section of our students that we did. It was our pleasure to have you join us for the day, and to have such well spoken representatives bring a personal and tangible Israel to the students of MIT.
A couple from Cedar Rapids, Iowa -
Thank you very much for making the Israelatheart program possible. We just returned from hearing your speakers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and they did a wonderful job of connecting with us, articulating Israel's challenges, and sharing their own conviction and humanity. We hope there will be a comparable program targeting Europeans, since there is so much misunderstanding and bias against Israel among people there.
Thank you again for your commitment to Israel and to the American Jewish community.
A professor from the East Coast -
I met some of your ambassadors at a panel on the future Iraq war that we had at the school. As one of two pro-Israel professors at the school (and having faced tremendous anti-Israel sentiment working on two graduate degrees), it was incredibly heartening to know that I'm not fighting this problem alone anymore. I met some of the ambassadors later for dinner and spoke at length with them about this terrible problem. I felt more empowered to actually have someone to discuss this with. We are going to keep in touch and hopefully be able to at least fight some of this. Thanks so much for inventing this program and giving those of us who have felt so alone in our battle at our respective universities someone with whom to fight. Please send more help.
Someone from Minnesota -
I hosted one of the Israelis on his recent visit here to St. Paul/Minneapolis Minnesota. I wanted to let you know how wonderful it was to get to know him and his two companions. They were very busy while they were here, thanks to our JCRC, and had only a little down time in between schools, radio shows, community gatherings etc. I realized that once I saw their schedule that the only time they would have to get to see the Mall of America was to take them there directly from the airport, which I did, with my three little kids in tow. They were great sports about everything and seemed to never run out of energy -- they were even on time for the 5 a.m. cab to the airport the day they left.
Although I have pretty extensive experience with Israel (traveling, ulpan on a kibbutz , etc.), Dani is the first Israeli from inside the green line I have had a chance to talk with at length. Hearing his perspective reenergized my own work here in St. Paul, and truly made my family feel hopeful for a brighter future for all our people.
I know they made quite a splash all over the community, you have probably gathered that, but I wanted you to know that right here in my own house your program was a blessing. Thank you.
Someone from Florida -
I just wanted to share with you how terrific the three students that came to South Florida were. My only regret was that I didn't have them for a longer time. I would have used them much more. We would be quite receptive to any additional students you want to send.
Someone from Maryland -
This past Sunday, we had the priviledge of having three of your wonderful students at on our first night of religious school. Thank you so much. Each was articulate and charming. They really gave their hearts to our students and I think this is a program that our students will remember for a long time. It was also a delight to work with Rebecca from the Israeli Embassy.
Someone from Kent State -
I cannot really express how terrific the program was last night. Over 50 students- Jew, Muslim and Christian attended. Tali, Eishai and Sharon were fantastic. They were mature, poised, funny, and human. The title was perfect- they were real. There was dialogue. There was understanding. Today our student president ran into a Muslim woman who attended who said "I really learned something last night." We thought we weren't changing any minds- but it sounds like we opened some.
Another Palestinian student who attended spoke with Eishai afterwards and made plans to meet in Jerusalem when he's home on winter vacation. Hillel students saw them hug goodbye. It was so powerful.
The Jewish students heard how to answer difficult questions. It was interesting because the Israelis started out by saying they feel so alone in Israel, but the truth is that our student leaders too felt alone. They didn't feel like what they were doing mattered. Last night they felt "vindicated," as one student out it.
Personally, I want you to know that I share your passion for Israel. That's why I'm in this work. Thank you for sharing your resources to make it happen. Last night was the closest I've come to feeling like I did something that really helped Israel. Thanks for giving me that opportunity.
From a Hindu student at Harvard -
I am so glad I was able to meet Ariel today to chat over lunch ! It was exactly the kind of experience I needed. After reading press reports and talking endlessly about the conflict, one tends to forget that there is an Israel beyond the conflict. Ariel opened my eyes to the real Israel I wanted to see and know about - the schools, the people, the festivals, the culture, the tourism etc.
I'd like to say that this has been one of the most rewarding lunches I've ever had. Within two hours I feel like I've made a good friend for life, as well as learnt so much about Israel and its complex politics.
Again, Thank you,
From someone in Illinois -
We cannot thank you enough for considering a visit of your young Israel volunteers to Calvary Church. Noam, Yael and Limor were a blessing to us in every way. For many of our church participants, it was the first time they had met an Israeli. The impression left was wonderful, for the three conducted themselves in a very gracious and informative manner. Their visit also afforded us the opportunity through West Suburban Friends of Israel to invite members of three synagogues in our area. The interchange and dialogue that resulted between Christian, American Jew and Israeli was vibrant, at times emotional and extremely meaningful. I believe all parties involved experienced a deepening of an already important relationship.
We were also excited to see the door open to them for the radio appearance on Moody Bible. We have heard through our contact that it was a very good visit and both of us were able to hear the interview yesterday on Prime Time. Again, Noam and Yael presented themselves and Israel extremely well. They handled all questions with sincerity, openness and concern.
We are delighted to have participated personally in your efforts, and also extend appreciation from Calvary Church, West Suburban Friends of Israel and Bridges for Peace of which we also are representatives. Please contact us if you have other future programs in our Chicago Area.
Thanks Again for sharing these young people with us
God Bless and Keep You.
Someone from Chicago -
Dear Israel @ Heart People,
I am a 43 year old American Jew who spent ten years living in Israel and like most Israelis served in the IDF for 3 years. I do not need convincing that Israel is a treasure and that now more than ever, its important for Jews to visit, but the shining faces and heartfelt sincerity of Noam, Limor and Yael was a great "shot in the arm". I'd like to say thanks for bringing them to Chicago. They are wonderful representatives for Israel, and I commend you on selecting first class people to participate in this important program.
I am wondering if there is any way to faciliate a similar program in Europe.While its certainly worthwhile to pursue this effort of Israel advocacy in the U.S., it is far more critically needed in Europe and the U.K. I firmly believe one of the best ways to build bridges between people is to have this kind of dialog, one small group or person at a time.
If I can help in any way, please let me know.
A teacher from New Hampshire -
I am a teacher and brought my Public Speaking classes to the first session yesterday. I must let you know how much you and your friends have touched them with your stories of your homeland. Truly you did.
As a practicing Christian, I have always had an interest in visiting our Holy Land. Your visit has not only reminded me of that, but made me less afraid to do so.
Bless you in your mission.
From a Berkeley grad student -
I wanted to thank you for creating this program - many of us have been frustrated about the lack of public support for israel among young adults, and i think your program is a great way to bring the reality of israel to college students. i am a berkeley grad student and spoke to the three students who came here yesterday - i was so impressed with their poise in fielding difficult questions and in standing up for what they believe in a tactful and non-antagonistic way (unlike some of the people asking the questions.)
A student at Harvard -
I'm a freshman at Harvard who went to hear the 3 Israelis speak, the "Young Ambassadors" as your website calls them. The three who came to visit Harvard are Ariel, Dahlia, and another Ariel. So I'm responding to say that they were absolutely outstanding. I went to two events, the first being a group where they shared their stories and responded to questions, and the second being just a very informal conversation with them 3 and 2 other harvard students, because I came at the tail end of the second meeting.
I was really impressed by their eloquence, their excellent preparation (they obviously knew what they were talking about, and answered with statistics and information, as well as with personal insight), and in general how great they were. I learned so much from them, and I know that I got a much more accurate picture of what the conflict is actually about. As your average un-informed Harvard student, I had a distorted picture that I sort of picked up by osmosis from what people around me are saying and from what the newspaper headlines read. I think that this idea of yours, to send real people from Israel without a political agenda or affiliation, and of our age, is really fabulous. It's just so so important for us to be educated citizens, especially since the US does play a large role in the conflict, that I wholeheartedly support your program and think that you should definitely continue it. And the fact that they're university students like us, of our age, really was a plus for me. I felt like I could both relate to them, and also trust them to be straight and honest with us about what it was like for them to live in Israel.
And as far as I could discern, to the best of my judgement, they were completely honest and above-board. There was no "we are right, palestinians are wrong" message, nor "we are the victims, pity us"...none of that. They just told it like it was, and I feel like I'm going away much better informed, and better capable of holding a rational and unbiased opinion.
So in general, Dalia, Ariel, and Ari were fantastic speakers, and I am very glad that they could come and speak to us, and I wish this program the best!
A student from Lesley College -
I am a Sophomore at Lesley College and i have been attending services at Harvard Hillel. This past shabis, three of your ambassadors, Noah, Ari, and Nattali ( I do not know how to spell their names!) came to speak at Harvard hillel. I could not have enjoyed it more. They were so well spoken and connected with the group on a personal level that was truly incredible. It was so nice to hear liberal Israelie young people speak in such a positive and true way about the current situation in Israel.
Thank you for an inspiring evening that i will take with me for many years to come.
A student at the College of Dupont -
I would like to thank you and your organization for your efforts in last Thursday's "Israel Speaks" event at College of DuPage. The three students your group brought to our campus, Noam, Limor, and Yael, were bright and insightful, and offered our student body an unheard perspective on the crisis in Israel. These young people, through your group, have provided an immeasurable service to their country and our students. Once again, thank you.
A student from the Boston area -
For the past week and a half, I have not only learned a great about life in Israel, but have also made a great friend. A group of Israeli students spoke to my class briefly during their first week in the Boston area. Having been intrigued by their perspective and experiences, I arranged to meet with Ariel several more times to discuss a range of issues. I honestly do not think you could have chosen a better person for this program. Not only is Ariel well versed in Israeli politics, policy, and history, but he also effectively uses personal experiences to help convey to his listeners what life is like in Israel. It was wonderful learning so much from a peer as well as making a great friend.
The students from Israel at Heart have entice me to learn more about Israel and even to pay a visit to Israel. This is an experience I will never forget. Thank you so much for this opportunity and please contact me if you need assistance organizing further trips in the Boston area.
Someone from Berkeley -
I want to commend your organization for the valuable service it provides. I am [from] UC Berkeley, and today I heard Ben, Dor, and Revital at their second discussion on campus here, and they did a great job. I only wish that the talk (and their first one, which I only heard about after the fact) had been better publicized so that more people could benefit. Especially in heavily anti-Israel areas like the Bay Area, we need much more of this sort of thing, and with sufficient publicity it could really have an effect in counteracting the rampant misinformation.
Someone from Dallas -
I was so impressed with the 3 young people that talked with us here in Dallas. I wish I could clone them. I don't know who came up with this idea but it is one of the best I've heard about. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I was asked by an instructor here where I work if it would be possible to set up a program for the students here to have the opportunity to hear and question them sometime in the Spring. Please let me know when they will be returning to this area and perhaps I could assist you in setting something up here with our student programing people. Thanks again for a rare look at Israel's future.
Someone from San Antonio -
I thank you for your commitment to Israel and her people. The initiative event in San Antonio at New Life Christian Center was very successful. We had over 400 people in attendance. With six local private schools participating.
I'm very interested in talking to you about how we can help you continue to promote understanding and support for Israel.
I invite you to visit us here in San Antonio on Sunday 10 November 2002. We would like to give you a tour of our facilities and have you participate in our morning service dedicated to Israel. We are building a replica of the Western Wall on our campus and our ground breaking date is 1 December 2002. I've attached a few of documents on projects we are currently working on.
Someone from North Carolina -
Last weekend, we hosted the Israel at Heart program at my school, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We hosted Levana, Omer, and Dori, and it was an amazing experience. Before they began their program, I gave a brief introduction explaining why I thought it was so important for us to hear their stories, and I want to tell this to you. Last summer, I went on Hillel's Israel Advocacy Mission for 4 days. On this mission, I heard from many politicians, journalists, and other important officials. I learned a lot about Israel, and I became motivated to be an advocate for Israel. However, I remained in Israel for 2 days after the mission to visit my family -- people who actually LIVE in Israel. I spent time with my 23-year old cousin and her best friend: college students, much like myself. It was from speaking to these young people, who actually LIVE in Israel, that I truly understood what was happening there. Don't get me wrong, Hillel's Israel Advocacy Mission was amazing, but I think anyone who has participated in the Israel at Heart program would now agree with me that to gain a real understanding of what it is like to be a person, particularly a young adult, in Israel, you must speak to Israelis. I know that political officials are Israeli, too, but they were not speaking to us as citizens of Israel, or even just as PEOPLE. They speak with a political agenda, or an opinion they want to implant in you. The Israelis who spoke for the Israel at Heart program, like my cousin and her friends in Israel, spoke like the program's name said: from the heart. They wanted to share their stories with us. They wanted us to understand. I am writing to commend you for recognizing this need in American college students. This need for us to hear about LIFE IN ISRAEL from our peers -- people to whom we are not afraid to ask "dumb questions," and people with whom we can gossip, talk about MTV, and go shopping. I spent a significant amount of time with all of the Israelis, but particularly with Levana. To be able to become friends with someone so quickly (in one weekend!), especially with someone who leads such a different lifestyle than I do is just amazing. At one point, when we were talking about something any young girl would talk about (maybe clothes, maybe boys), Levana made some comment like, "it's all the same everywhere!" I think this is the point. We are all humans. We are all people. We are all college students, whether in Israel or America. Israel at Heart just gave us an opportunity to come together and meet each other. And I think I speak for many of my friends at UNC when I say that while we made new friends with the Israelis, we also learned a lot about a world that means so much to us. Not only did we leave the weekend with new friends and new memories, but also new stories and a better understanding for what it is like to LIVE as a person in Israel. Thank you SO much for giving us this opportunity!!! You hit the nail on the head with this idea.
A student from Yale -
In early October three Israeli students visited campus as part of your program. They spoke to about 30 Yale students, half of whom were not Jewish. They were immensely articulate and enthusiastic. The event was extremely well-received and helped portray Israel in a much better light on a campus that is often apathetic to semi-hostile to Israel. Thank you so much for the opportunity to host such a dynamic event.
Thank you so much for sending Gilli, Liat, and Yoni to our campus. We started our Friends of Israel club at the beginning of this semester, and they were by far the most successful program that we put on. They were able to attract and connect with the students in ways that most guest lecturers can't. One of the casualties of the current violence in Israel is that very few students from our campus have been to Israel, and most of them are graduating seniors. This makes it very hard for students to see beyond the politics as far as Israel is concerned. The panelists were able to cross this divide. While I feel that our Israel advocacy efforts at Trinity this year have been very successful, we would not have had the success without your generous support and the support of other members of the Jewish community. Sincerely,