On March 25, the world marveled at spectacular photos and videos transmitted from Israeli spacecraft Beresheet some 131,000 kilometers from Earth.
On that very day, at the 2019 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC, ISRAEL21c President Amy Friedkin had the privilege of moderating a session with SpaceIL cofounder Yonatan Winetraub and SpaceIL Chairman Morris Kahn.
“We were talking onstage at a time when the spacecraft was finishing its orbits around Earth and getting close to orbiting the moon,” Friedkin relates.
“I remember meeting the other SpaceIL cofounders in a coffee shop six or seven years ago in New York, when the project was only a dream. And now the dream had become a reality.”
Winetraub showed Friedkin and the audience a copy of the coin-sized nano Bible that is in the time capsule aboard Beresheet along with “the hopes and dreams of all those who built the spacecraft.”
Kahn noted that on March 5, he marked his 89th birthday and received the best possible gift: a Beresheet selfie from outer space. The philanthropist contributed $42 million to SpaceIL and called it “The best investment I ever made.”
Watch video here.
At the three-day conference attended by some 18,000 people, ISRAEL21c Digital Ambassador Coordinator Rachel Poulin was part of a panel discussion, “BDS On and Beyond Campus,” sharing insights from her personal experiences and from working with the 36 campus-based ISRAEL21c Digital Ambassadors.
“It’s unbelievably inspiring to see 18,000 people gathered at a bipartisan event for one cause, Israel, and fighting to sustain its connection to the US,” Poulin says. “All that energy is invigorating and reminds you that you are not alone.”
Poulin manned an ISRAEL21c booth at the AIPAC college fair, where many students registered to receive our weekly newsletter. Others requested information about the Digital Ambassadors program.
“We offered Israeli snacks to every single person who walked by and told them about the ISRAEL21c website,” she says.
“I had a lot of great conversations with college students and even high school students from across the country. Our program offers an opportunity to advocate for Israel in a proactive, positive, nonpolitical way. To my knowledge that is unique.”
The AIPAC Policy Conference is always a major showcase for Israeli innovations in every realm from health to social action. Many of the initiatives highlighted are already well known to ISRAEL21c readers, notes Friedkin.
“It’s always great to go to Policy Conference and see the innovations we’ve written about come to life there in front of all those people,” she says.
Among those featured this year were the City Transformer folding car, Nexar vehicle-to-vehicle AI for safer driving, Tipa sustainable, compostable packaging, the ElliQ robotic companion for the elderly, Makers for Heroes and the SAHI social program that turns disenfranchised Israeli youth into goodwill envoys in their neighborhoods.
Watch video here.
Friedkin and two of her teenage grandchildren joined in a massive singalong led by Israel’s popular social music initiative, Koolulam.
The voices of the thousands of AIPAC conference attendees will be blended with those of 550 people – including this writer — previously recorded in Jerusalem to create a Koolulam video dedicated to Israeli-American unity.
“We saw amazing optimism at a time we see so much antisemitism and worries that Israel is becoming a partisan issue,” says Poulin. “The general overall sense was feeling inspired knowing we have this incredible pro-Israel community and it’s going to be okay — better than okay.”