For the first time, J Street funded a “Birthright Trip” for 40 young American Jews to experience Israel in a way that traditional Birthright trips do not offer its participants. This trip included visiting the border of Gaza and the West Bank and talking with Israelis under threat from Hamas bombs and Palestinians living under occupation. Nothing was sugar coated or denied. The students understand that one can be pro-Israel and committed Zionists and be against the occupation of another people.

The student writers (link below) and most of their fellow travelers returned from this experience with far greater understanding not only of what the State of Israel means to the Jewish people as our national home but also how the occupation has had a corrosive effect on the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.

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Note: I serve as a national co-chair of the J Street Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet of more than 900 rabbis and cantors.

J Street is a pro-Israel pro-peace political and educational organization based in Washington, D.C., and advocates for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

J Street’s national policy conference will take place in Washington, D.C. from October 26-29. For more information, go to