How Being Involved With The David Project Has Strengthened My Love For Israel

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By Maxine Wiesenfeld, UMass Amherst

I grew up in Great Neck, NY. A town known for a large population of modern-orthodox Jews. I had the privilege to attend a Jewish day school and be raised by parents who had an undying love for Israel. Through my Israeli history lessons and the passion that my parents, grandparents and community members had instilled upon me from a young age, there was no question that Israel was and always would be a major part of my identity. From a young age my parents took me to Israel, and supported me as I took part in various programs such as March of the Living and volunteering on an Israeli army base. Being Pro-Israel back at home was never something I had to explain, everyone just got it.

In college, this was very different.

For the first time in my life I was faced with questions. Why do I support Israel? Why is it so important to me? These questions came in some cases from my non Jewish peers as well as some of my Jewish peers. I suddenly began to realize that I’ve never had to explain myself to anyone. I never had to explain why I love and care about the State of Israel as much as I do. At home it was a given, in college-not so much. It was second nature to me that I would get involved in Israel advocacy. Throughout my time at UMass I’ve gotten involved in the UMass Student Alliance for Israel (SAFI), sitting on the executive board for multiple years, serve as a Hasbara Fellow, and as a campus fellow for the Jewish National Fund.

My sophomore year, I was approached by a campus coordinator who encouraged me to get involved in The David Project. Little did I know this would be an opportunity to challenge myself and truly understand my Israel story. Through going on Israel Uncovered and attending various conferences, I was able to establish my narrative and learned how to express my love for Israel.

Maxine Wiesenfeld joined students from UMass Amherst on Israel Uncovered, The David Project’s annual trip which brings Jewish and non-Jewish students together to Israel.

Maxine Wiesenfeld joined students from UMass Amherst on Israel Uncovered, The David Project’s annual trip which brings Jewish and non-Jewish students together to Israel.

I recall reflecting on conversations with my Holocaust survivor grandparents who shared with me why they believe in the importance of Israel. I also recall thinking back on all of my trips to Israel, interactions with friends and family, and soon when I was asked by fellow students on campus why I cared so much about Israel, suddenly, I knew how to respond. The David Project has challenged me to learn the facts and figures but also to always remember what about Israel is personal to me. I have made some of the most wonderful connections through The David Project, both in and out of the Jewish community, but what I have also learned is that these communities have the potential to work together and be one community-all of whom have found a connection and love for Israel.

Maxine was one of 9 students selected to The David Project’s National Student Board, representing over 250 interns on 50 campuses across the United States.

Maxine was one of 9 students selected to The David Project’s National Student Board, representing over 250 interns on 50 campuses across the United States.

As I graduate UMass in May and begin law school, I know that I will forever be thankful for my involvement in The David Project. In many ways, they not only have taught me how to share my Israel story, but they have also taught me how to define my identity and have given me professional tools to use for life.

Student VoiceTDP