A delicious and informative evening introducing the America Israel Friendship League (AIFL) and its Youth Ambassador Student Exchange Program (YASE) was hosted by the Doctors Berkowitz – Ada and Dov – at their Great Neck home. Guests enjoyed a traditional summer barbeque, and were introduced to the AIFL which works to bring delegations of Americans – largely non-Jewish – to meet with their peers in Israel.
Founded in 1971 by United States Senators Henry “Scoop” Jackson and Nelson Rockefeller, US Rep Herbert Tenzer, civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph, and others, AIFL is “dedicated to strengthening ties between the United States and Israel through its people-to-people programs.”
Through AIFL delegations, Americans of all ethnic and religious backgrounds discover Israel and its vibrant culture. State Attorneys General, professors and educators, physicians, attorneys, business executives, sports team players, Harvard Law School students, and numerous other cohorts have journeyed to Israel to meet their counterparts and share experiences. Dr. Alex Grobman, Executive Director, says “lasting professional associations and personal friendships result.”
Dr. Charlotte Frank, AIFL Executive Committee Chair and Senior Vice president of McGraw Hill Education, led the evening’s dialogue. She spoke about the organization and its annual Youth Ambassador Student Exchange. YASE brings high school age “ambassadors” from throughout the United States to join Israelis for a month-long, bi-national experience. “It is transforming,” said Dr. Frank. ‘The program changes lives and informs perceptions.” The curriculum is developed in partnership with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the American Association of School Administrators in the U.S., and the Israel Youth Exchange Council. “Students have an opportunity to learn about themselves, each other, and Israel. The syllabus enables the students to experience being in one another’s countries, homes, and schools, and helps foster cross cultural understanding.”
YASE alumna Emilie Hayams, esq., a 1995 participant, now Counsel & Director of the Immigrant Affairs Office of New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, discussed her YASE experience and noted its profound impact on her life and work.