“We can give you the connection with Israel and Israel will connect with you,” said Shoham Nicolet, CEO of Israeli-American Council (IAC), in an interview in advance of the Fourth Annual IAC National Conference.
Three thousand leaders and influencers from the U.S., Israel, and around the globe will gather in DC Nov. 3-6 for the conference. The IAC will offer participants the opportunity to explore topics such as Jewish identity and heritage; Israel’s role as the nation state of the Jewish people; and Israel’s innovations in education and technology.
The IAC aims to be a living bridge between American Jewry and modern Israel, including the language, culture, and technology, said Shoham. “What makes the conference so special is exactly what makes the IAC so special,” he said. “It’s a place where you hear people having open discussions about the hot topics.”
With an average age of 36, the conference will have a young and energetic atmosphere. The IAC aims to get people involved from a young age; the conference features targeted programming and travel subsidies for high school and college students. “We get young Jews from all over the country and all across the political spectrum to have important conversations about the current issues, because we believe that Israel is and should be beyond politics,” Shoham said.
The conference will feature a diverse group of speakers including politicians, entrepreneurs, journalists, and nonprofit executives from the U.S. and from Israel. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will deliver the keynote address during the opening plenary. Several community leaders from the Greater Washington Jewish community will speak at the conference, including: Jacob Baime, executive director of the Israel on Campus Coalition; Gary L. Bauer, Washington director, CUFI Action Fund; Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington; and Jonathan Kessler, director of strategic initiatives at AIPAC.
Like a boisterous nesting doll, the IAC National Conference will include smaller gatherings within the period of the larger conference. One will be the IAC Eitanim Hackathon, uniting Jewish and Israeli-American teens for a weekend of leadership training and entrepreneurship workshops led by experts. The IAC Mishelanu Conference is another; it will give Israeli-American college students a forum to celebrate their shared identity, network with Israeli entrepreneurs, and hear from high-profile speakers.
The IAC National Conference is “a microcosm for what the IAC is doing throughout the United States,” said Shoham.
By Scotty Dolgov
Originally from the Boston-area, Scotty Dolgov is a senior at George Washington University studying international affairs and music.