web analytics
January 25, 2015 / 5 Shevat, 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.


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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends an event held at the International Conference Center in Jerusalem of the Taglit Birthright program, where Netanyahu was the guest speaker. January 14, 2015.
Netanyahu ‘Will Go Anywhere Invited’ to Prevent Iran from Achieving Nuclear Weapons
Latest News Stories
PM Netanyahu before the weekly cabinet meeting, Jan. 25, 2015.

Prior to Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Bibi talked about the dangers of Iran, ISIS and anti-Semitism and the importance of Aliyah.

Pipe bomb.

It appears the bomb was thrown or placed there yesterday but didn’t explode.

The Histadrut national labor union has warned that Israelis may have to travel without Egged buses on Monday unless company management satisfies employees and drivers’ demands on salaries and work conditions. As things stand now, late Sunday afternoon, Egged workers will stage a one-day warning strike Monday following what they say is a failure of […]

Schottenstein Ambucycle

United Hatzalah, Israel’s largest emergency medical response organization received a new ‘Ambucycle’ from Columbus donors.

ISIS terrorist murder of a Japanese citizen is terror against the world, says Israeli PM Netanyahu.

PM Binyamin Netanyahu says he’ll go anywhere he’s invited to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons.

Forensics show Argentina federal prosecutor, Alberto Nisman was murdered over the 1994 Jewish center bombing case.

In the Alberta province of Canada, a synagogue was defaced with huge block letters scrawled on its walls: ‘Leave Canada’

The small right-wing parties will hurt their ideological allies and voters, unless they get past their egos and ideological perfectionism and help their side for a change.

Japan is a very resilient nation, and they’ve chosen to respond to ISIS’s threats and blackmail demands with black humor. They’ve taken the photos that ISIS released and reworked them into various memes:

A 13 year old boy was maced by a gang in Paris. He was an easy target due to his kipa and tzitzit. What should the family do?

Miracles were added in France late last week when a soldier accidently fired a volley outside a Jewish center, harming no one.

F-16 fighter jets were scrambled to escort two US airliners faced with bomb threats as they headed to Atlanta airport Saturday afternoon.

The Hezbollah terror group says it will attack Israel with “wisdom” and take Lebanon into consideration.

This is the first time since 2012 that the dollar-shekel rate broke the 4.0 mark.

Most of the victims are showing at least some improvement, but the injuries are serious…

More Articles from Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Beth Israel Synagogue in West Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 'leave Canada' graffitied on its walls

In the Alberta province of Canada, a synagogue was defaced with huge block letters scrawled on its walls: ‘Leave Canada’

Armed Palestinian Arabs march in protest against Israel in Qalandiya, on November 29, 2013.

Fatah is calling on Palestinian Arabs to protests against Israel on Jan. 26, and to boycott Israeli products

Seven Americans have volunteered to each take 100 lashes in place of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

The waning interest of young Jews in committing themselves either to activism on behalf of the Jewish State or to commitment to observing and learning about their own religion has been a recurrent theme in recent years. One rabbi decided he was going to take a fresh, creative approach to the problem. Rabbi Yosef Wilhelm of […]

Yemeni president and government resigns, shia rebels appear to seize control, al-Qaeda remains big concern

Despite claims the Mossad has gone rogue on Iran, Israel’s spy agency is not opposed to additional Iran sanctions.

Following terrorist knifing attack on Israelis, social media members extol the weapon, with #JeSuisCouteau.

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: