ReFuel April 2019: Parties, Passover, and Politics

Welcome to ReFuel, the monthly newsletter of ZOA's Fuel For Truth. Check your inbox on the first Tuesday of each month to find out what's happening in the FFT universe. Let us know what you love/hate by reaching out to Arielle Holstein.

ReConnect: News, Events, & Other Important Stuff


Israeli elections are around the corner and it's one of the most anticipated votes in recent history. Can Likud maintain its hold on power? Will the Blue & White coalition upset the current order? Will either be able to form a coalition? No one knows until at least April 9, but since we are sure you have asked yourself these and many other questions, we want to offer you the opportunity to learn more about this democratic process and its implications. As part of our monthly Boot Camp 2.0 series, we invite you to join us and Young Jewish Conservatives for a post-election conversation on the new Israeli government and its effect on the Israeli-American alliance. 

Decoding The Results

Thursday, April 11 • 6:30 PM
Metropolitan Republican Club
122 E 83rd Street, NYC

Business Casual Attire Required
Kosher Pizza, Beer & Other Refreshments

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The Party For Truth has become one of the most popular Jewish young professional events in New York, Washington, DC, Miami, and Boston. As Winter Boot Camp classes are winding down, we are preparing to celebrate so keep an eye on your inboxes and periodically check out our Facebook page to learn when tickets go on sale in your city. If you are a newcomer, we look forward to showing you a great time. If you are a veteran, we already know why you are coming back.


The members of Fuel For Truth would like to wish you and your families a Happy Passover. As you gather to partake in the Seder two weeks from now, we hope your experience of the Exodus will bring you closer to Zikron Am Yisraelthe memory of the Nation of Israeland that your connection to our shared history and all that we are destined to achieve is further enhanced. Each and every one of us has a role in the Jewish story. We hope your role becomes more clear this Passover. 


Follow at @ZacharySchaffer

Every issue of ReFuel we highlight one of the numerous guest speakers we host during Boot Camp. These include prominent individuals with extensive experience in politics, foreign policy, religion, media, communication, and education.

QUICK BIO: Zach Schaffer is a veteran pro-Israel activist and Jewish communal leader currently serving as Executive Director at the Council of Young Jewish Presidents, which focuses on developing the next generation of Jewish communal lay leaders in New York City. A resident of Brooklyn, he is also highly regarded for his taste in neckties, vintage watches, and scotch.

CLAIM(S) TO FAME: Besides the obvious consideration that Zach is a Boot Camp graduate, he previously served as a senior strategist at the Israel Action Network where he provided counsel to senior Jewish professionals and lay leaders on issues related to advocacy, civil discourse, and community relations. In this capacity, he spoke at dozens of conferences, synagogues, churches, Jewish Federations, and JCRCs around the country.

WHY WE LOVE THE SPEAKER: Zach cares deeply about affirming an inclusive framework for 21st century Zionism and Jewish Peoplehood. In particular, he supports local community efforts to deepen relationships with progressive, Christian, and African-American constituencies. As a relationship-builder and a storyteller, Zach trains activists to have more empathetic, persuasive, and productive conversations about the conflict.

WHERE YOU CAN FIND: When he's not reading about Israeli history or Jewish philosophy on the subway, you can find Zach hosting regular events at CYJP. If you're looking to get involved with CYJP or discuss best practices of Israel advocacy, feel free to drop Zach a line.


ReCap: March 2019


It's no secret that Israel is known worldwide as the "Start-Up Nation" due to boasting a high-tech sector unparalleled only to Silicon Valley. But did you know the can-do attitude and Tikun Olam spirit of the Jewish State also extends to helping people with disabilities? Shalva, the Israel Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities, is the product of that beautiful equation and is dedicated to providing transformative care for individuals with disabilities, empowering their families and promoting social inclusion. FFT Chairman Ron Wasserman and President Justin Ellis were proud to spend the evening with Consul General of Israel in New York, Amb. Dani Dayan, along with hundreds of others at the 29th Annual Shalva Dinner in order to honor those who have dedicated their lives to making Israel a world-leader in disability inclusion. The evening included a live performance by the amazing Shalva Band, which was recently featured on the Israeli reality TV show The Rising Star



How can Israeli leaders be more effective architects of peace when it comes to the their relationship with Palestinians? That's what FFT members and their guests asked Oded Revivi, Mayor of Efrat and Chief Foreign Envoy of the YESHA Council, during our latest Boot Camp 2.0 program at The Brownstone. Over the course of our thoughtful and lively discussion, we covered topics including the failures of the Oslo process, the perception of security versus actual security, dispelling Western stereotypes about Jewish communities in the West Bank, as well as best methods of achieving real bottom-up peace between Israelis and Palestinians.


14 ADAR 5779

FFT members know how to have funeven outside the Boot Camp bar. To celebrate Purim, the Jewish holiday commemorating the bravery of Esther and the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia, our Boston (left) and New York (right) alumni gathered to read the Megilla, eat hamantaschen, and arrive at a point when they could not distinguish "cursed be Haman" and "blessed be Mordechai."



Considering the current political climate surrounding anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, March was an opportune moment for Israel-supporters of all backgrounds and persuasions to come together, engage in civilized discussion, and remind certain members of Congress that American Jewsand the majority of Americansoverwhelmingly have a strong affinity for the nation state of the Jewish people (sans Benjamins). In this spirit, dozens of FFT members attended the 2019 AIPAC Policy Conference and shared with the thousands in attendance why there is no better Israel advocacy program than FFT.



Those who have been know that AIPAC Policy Conference turns Washington, DC, into a party town as organizations from across the country use this unique weekend to highlight their programs and socialize with fellow lovers of Israel. Capitalizing on that opportunity, FFT and ZOA Campus gathered more than 400 young professionals and college students to celebrate and learn more about both of their amazing offerings, including ZOA Campus' biannual Student Leadership Mission to Israel.  

ReTold: Emmanuelle Subar's Story

Describing all the murder attempts on my grandfather, former Judge and Rabbi Chai Saada, in Libya, would exceed my recommended word count. Yet, those stories shape the essence of my commitment to Israel advocacy. After escaping the most violent rioting against North African Jews—the 1946 Tripoli Riots—my mom’s parents fled in the dead of night, forced to leave all possessions, with only their infant daughter and two toddlers in hand. The Saada Family spent the next two years strewn between British bases in pre-1948 Israel. Finally, following that triumphant day in May 1948—Israel’s recognition as a state—my grandparents became one of the first few families who settled in Ashkelon. The jaw-dropping stories about my grandparents are endless. When I think of these stories, my chin distinctly lifts towards the sky, my shoulder-blades slink closer together, and my beating heart yearns to uphold the strength of every Jew, of every individual, who escaped or perished in persecution. Many of us, luckily, do not know the accompanying smell, sound, or anguish of such persecution. Yet, with each day, our clock glaringly indicates our luck is running out.

Strolling down the streets of Geula, Jerusalem, you will find a stone house, hand-built in the 1920s by my great-great-grandparents. It flaunts carvings so geometrically beautiful you’ll barely resist running your fingertips across the cold stone. Only then will it dawn on you, these unique lacerations are the remnants of bullet holes from Arab guns during the Six-Day War, successfully concentrating decades of history in a single spherical void. A century later, despite the real possibility of those bullet holes feeling warm to the touch, my family continues to live in that house, while striving to ensure no modern home shares such a saga.

Growing up in the US, my Israeli mother and American father immersed my sisters and I in tales of our lineage, taught us Hebrew, and sent us to Jewish day school—the usual Miami Jewish kid life. I was about five the first time my warm, sheltered Jewish cocoon punctured, when a non-Jewish “friend” jeeringly declared “You speak the devil’s language!” after hearing me converse in Hebrew. I don’t remember my reaction, whether any of the other kids or teachers responded, or even whether I realized I had just experienced anti-Semitism. All I remember is a piercing feeling throughout my chest.

Thankfully, there was no way my Sabra mother was about to allow her daughter feel ashamed of her native tongue. My parents instilled in me the essence of our heritage; strength bellowing in the face of adversity. Even if your insides are quivering, on the outside you fight. You fight for everything your family forcefully surrendered. Yet, merely a couple decades later, we’ve foreseeably, yet blindly, stumbled into an era where the “norm” includes a subliminal grimace and swift flicker of one’s eyes upon hearing Hebrew or the word “Israeli.” Certain times, that five-year old’s saddened voice in my mind is triggered. Fortunately, my parents’ words of courage and strength immediately follow. Read More...


ReLearn: Advocacy Tips & Resources

Advocacy Tip
The following are some great questions you can ask to clarify the values and intent of others and to de-escalate tensions in the moment: "I want to make sure I understand your position, can you please clarify ___?" "Can I try to articulate your argument to make sure that I understand it?" "What's at the heart of this issue for you?" "What do you mean by ___?"

Ron's Book Selection

Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel's Soul

by Daniel Gordis

A biography of the sixth prime minister of Israel that explains how the pre-state “terrorist” became the first Israeli leader to sign a peace treaty with an Arab country.

Reviled as a fascist demagogue by his great rival Ben-Gurion, venerated by Israel’s underclass, internationally admired as a statesman who became the first Israeli to win the Nobel Peace Prize, a proud Jew but not a conventionally religious one, Menachem Begin was a complex and controversial figure. Mourned by Israelis from both the Right and the Left upon his death in 1992, Begin was buried not alongside Israel’s prime ministers, but alongside the Irgun comrades who died in the struggle to create the Jewish national home to which he had devoted his life.

What to Watch

Ben Gurion Epilogue

In the great depths of the archive, six hours of interview footage was discovered of one of modern history’s greatest leaders: David Ben-Gurion.

It is 1968 and he is 82 years old, five years before his death. He lives in his secluded home in the desert, removed from all political discourse, which allows him a hindsight perspective on the Zionist enterprise. Ben-Gurion’s introspective soul searching is the focus of this film, and his clear voice provides a surprising vision for today’s crucial decisions and the future of Israel.


RePost: Articles Published by FFT Members


J Street’s New Trip to Israel Pushes a Political Agenda

by Yoni Michanie, Boston Boot Camp graduate & class instructor - March 19, 2019

"Palestinian existence does not shape what Jews have experienced either in Israel or the Diaspora. The unfortunate political complexities created by Arab rejectionist attitudes towards a Jewish state do not define our connection to the land."

Honest conversation on Israel and Palestinians desperately requires leadership

by Daniel Brooks, FFT Associate National Director - March 8, 2019

"The anti-Israel crowd is not a new thing. For decades they’ve had their say at the UN, in academia and the media posing as valiant dissenters. Now that they’ve made it into mainstream politics and are now part of the “establishment,” it’s long past time to hold them accountable."


NYU: A Hostile Place for Jewish Students

by Aliyah Jacobson, NYC Boot Camper - March 12, 2019

"The recent BDS resolution at NYU was endorsed by 61 student groups and 35 faculty members. Anti-Semitism on campus tends to follow BDS resolutions with recent statistics showing that anti-Semitism increased by 40% in 2016 on more than 100 public and private colleges and universities. The Amcha Initiative shows that the presence of BDS-promoting groups and faculty were strong predictors of acts that have once targeted and harassed Jewish students on campus."

Israeli Food is From All Over. That Doesn’t Make it Any Less Israeli.

by Liel Asulin, Boston Boot Camp graduate - March 15, 2019

"When Jews from around the world immigrated to Israel, they brought with them the unique culinary catalogs of the lands they had called home for thousands of years...They created, and continue to create Israeli cuisine by the same process that all the world’s cuisines were and continue to be created. It takes a whole lot of chutzpah to claim otherwise."

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Jon Loew Joe Richards - Co-Founders
Ron Wasserman - Chairman & CEO
Justin Ellis - President & National Director
Daniel Brooks - Associate National Director
Jeremy Meller - COO
Susan Chusyd, Jodie Singer - FFT-DC Co-Executive Directors
Jennie Rimon - FFT-Miami Executive Director
Hali Haber, Ben Suster - FFT-Boston Co-Executive Directors
The Newsletter Team - Arielle Holstein, Zach Schaffer, Emmanuelle Subar


Fuel For Truth
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PO Box 1929
90 Church Street
New York, NY 10008



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