web analytics
May 6, 2015 / 17 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


THE OTHER BIRTHRIGHT

New Kids on Campus: Young Jewish Conservatives Are Staking Out Ground

YJC was conceived of by two American, Jewishly observant Zionists who deal with college-age Jews.

Members of the Young Jewish Conservatives on their inaugural Israel trip meet with Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky, December, 2011.

Members of the Young Jewish Conservatives on their inaugural Israel trip meet with Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky, December, 2011.

Last weekend a core group of conservatives got together to learn, strategize and drum up the vote for their political candidate in the swing state of Pennsylvania.  But two characteristics of this group stick out – they are Jewish!  And they are young!

The twenty-somethings were holed up in a hotel outside Philadelphia, spending a traditional Shabbat – new for some of them – and talking about conservative politics – not new for any of them.  The attendees were all members of the appropriately-named Young Jewish Conservatives (YJC), who have come together to promote conservative causes in the United States, infused with Jewish values and in defense of Israel.

YJC was conceived of by two American, Jewishly observant Zionists who deal with college-age Jews: Ben Packer and Yitzchok Tendler.  Packer was a rabbi with Jewish Experience Movement of the South on the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill campus, and at Duke University.  Tendler worked with Jerusalem Fellowships, taking Jewish college students to Israel.  Both recognized something was missing on the campuses: there was nothing available for Jewish students who are politically conservative.

As Packer told The Jewish Press, “we noticed three things: one, politically conservative Jewish students on campus were being treated like outcasts, even within the traditional Jewish campus organizations; two, the trend in the Democratic party was going against Israel, with President Obama being an extreme example; and three, politically conservative college students have the values that are closest to Jewish values.”  The two decided to join forces and create an organization to fill the obvious need.

The first organized effort by YJC was the Yameena Fellowship trip to Israel over last winter break.  There was a second Yameena Fellowship trip this summer.  There were about 30 participants on each trip.  As Packer explained, “when we say young Jewish conservatives, not all of our members are equally, or even especially, conservative on all issues, and religiously they come from across the spectrum, but the single thread that pulls us all together is the pro-Israel focus, that is what solidifies the group.”

A rising star in the YJC is David Milstein.  A Dickinson College senior who hails from Virginia, Milstein learned about YJC when he saw an ad for a free trip to Israel for politically conservative American Jews.  The last time Milstein was in Israel was when Milstein was 13, and he was eager to go back.  He was especially excited about the idea of having a trip geared to someone with his interests, rather than the typical Birthright trip which doesn’t venture into Judea and Samaria, and which is frequently centrist to liberal, politically.

Milstein could barely contain himself as he described to The Jewish Press the YJC Israel trips.  “We went to the border towns, we went all the way up in the Golan, we had briefings in the Knesset, and we were treated to lessons on diplomacy and Israeli history by members of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”  One of the highlights was a special meeting between the YJC members and former Soviet refusenik and current head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky.

According to Milstein, everyone who has gone on the YJC Israel trips was already interested and maybe already somewhat active.  “But what they leave the trip with is the clear confidence to go back to the campuses and advocate – really stand up for – Israel.”  Milstein finishes: “There’s a real transformation.”

Milstein went on both YJC Israel trips.  The first time, last winter, he went as a regular participant.  This summer, after he was elected student president of the organization, Milstein went as a staff member.

Barely a year into its existence, YJC already boasts members from colleges across the country, including American University, UCLA, Hofstra University, Wellesley College, Brandeis University, Rutgers University, Harvard University, Pittsburgh University, Temple University and more than a dozen others.

In addition to the trips to Israel and this month’s shabbaton in the Philadelphia suburbs, YJC members also participated in two political conventions in Washington, D.C. over the past year.  The first was at the Conservative Political Action Committee which took place in February, the second was at the Faith and Freedom Conference which took place in June.

Dovi Meles is from Philadelphia and he was back this summer.  In the past he has been informally involved with the Republican Jewish Coalition, and was asked by that leadership to help put together a shabbaton for YJC members who might stay and work with the RJC on their swing state focus in Pennsylvania this week.

“They wanted to have interesting content and since I’m from the area I knew who might be available,” Meles said.

The programming Meles put together was heavy both on political content and on Jewish observance and networking.   One presentation was made by a former high-level Pentagon official talking about Iran, another was by Susan Kone, a Dartmouth College and University of Pennsylvania Law School grad who ran against Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) for US Congress.  The YJC members heard from a tea party strategist, a Zionist organization founder and leader, and a Jewish social media guru.

The goal of YJC, according to Packer, “is to make Jewish politically conservative students: better conservatives, better Jews and better pro-Israel activists.”

While David Milstein was already a committed conservative, he grew up in a Reform home and was not especially engaged with Jewish practices.  Due to his involvement with YJC, “where all official events incorporate Jewish traditions such as Shabbat observance and kosher meals,” Milstein told The Jewish Press,” I now try to observe Shabbat regularly, whether or not I am with the YJC, and I certainly will attend synagogue services for the high holidays.”  “This experience,” he says, “is having an impact on my understanding of the importance of my faith.”

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “New Kids on Campus: Young Jewish Conservatives Are Staking Out Ground”

  1. It's very difficult to find Jews that aren't suicidal socialists.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Bayit Yehudi Party Celebration
Coalition Last Minute Talks: Likud Capitulates, Bayit Yehudi Wins Justice + 2 Security Cabinet Votes
Latest News Stories
Menora Island

The website is disturbingly anonymous, which, coupled with its strong, interfaith message, as well as passing references to Christian writings in its blog posts, suggests it is an evangelical venture.

Ayelet Shaked

Bennett has reportedly responded that he will only accept the complete Ministry of Justice.

The fire department evacuated 3 buildings after discovering multiple cut gas lines and a lit flame near one of the cut lines.

Aziz Awisat tried to blow up 9 buildings in Jerusalem.

The Teva building in Jerusalem.

If Perrigo is acquired by Mylan, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange might lose its second largest company.

Chareidi children build a big bonfire for tonight’s upcoming celebrations of the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer, in Jerusalem. Lag B’Pmer commemorates the Yartzheit, the passing of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi), one of the most important Talmudic sages in Jewish history 1800 years ago. He called for a day of celebration on the day […]

A Likud source said the new proposal made to Bennett was “rich and fair.” It’s about time.

Jerusalem – A 30 year old man was lightly injured by stone throwers in Wadi Joz. Wadi Joz is a Jerusalem neighborhood, just north of the Old City.

There were reports this morning of explosions heard in the Sudanese city of Khartoum.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned of “concrete threats” of terror attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets in Tunisia.

The legislation would provide assistance for a three-year period, eliminating delays in bolstering the regional forces fighting against ISIS.

The deadline is tonight, and if Bibi hadn’t abused Bayit Yehudi, he wouldn’t be in this situation right now.

Hassan Nasrallah said that the survival of Bashar Assad’s regime is critical for Hezbollah’s own continued existence.

Shurat HaDin, an Israeli NGO specializing in International Law, opened a two-day conference in Jerusalem, Monday, “Towards a New Law of War,” which dealt with the rules of armed conflict, their interpretation and application.

A State Dept. investigation into the Benghazi Blunder never spoke with, nor blamed, Hillary Clinton.

Former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee is running for U.S. President. He hates the U.S. current foreign policy.

If the report is accurate, and Bennett has no additional demands, Netanyahu’s coalition may now be under way.

More Articles from Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Hillary Clinton and PA acting president Mahmoud Abbas. Nov. 21, 2012

A State Dept. investigation into the Benghazi Blunder never spoke with, nor blamed, Hillary Clinton.

Former Ark. Gov. and current presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee in Jerusalem, Jan. 31, 2011.

Former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee is running for U.S. President. He hates the U.S. current foreign policy.

Shooting at AFDI’s Mohammed cartoon art contest in Texas, two dead.

Bill Clinton’s plane forced to make emergency landing in Tanzania, no one was injured.

The NYC transit system has banned all political advertising. An anti-Jihad ad series was the impetus for its move.

The EU’s foreign policy chief is pushing Iran to play a major – but productive! – role in the Syrian civil war negotiations.

The Afghanistan intelligence agency said rape cases are not unusual in the ranks of the Taliban.

The US has given more than $57M to UNRWA for ‘Palestinian’ refugees in Syria in 2015 alone, but only pledged $10M for Nepal?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/new-kids-on-campus-young-jewish-conservatives-are-staking-out-ground/2012/09/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: