Hebrew name: Eliezer
Job: Deputy regional field director for the Northeast, Israel on Campus Coalition
Currently living in: Swampscott
Alma maters: St. John’s Prep ‘16, UMass Amherst ‘21
Favorite food: Reverse seared steak
Favorite movies: “Shawshank Redemption”
Favorite TV shows: “Peaky Blinders,” “Stranger Things”
Favorite travel destination: Thailand, Israel
Somewhere you’d like to go next: Second trip to Thailand
Favorite Jewish person not in your family: Albert Einstein
Favorite Jewish holiday: Rosh Hashanah
Favorite North Shore spot: Phillips Beach
What is your Jewish background?
I was raised Reform, I was part of Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead, I went to Jewish day school so a lott of my moral and ethical values, as well as my ability to read and speak a little bit of Hebrew, comes from that. Today it’s super important to me because of the concept of community. I really think that in any obstacle I try and overcome, the Jewish community’s always been there.
What was it like attending St. John’s Prep as a Jew?
Going to a Catholic school and being one of the few Jewish kids definitely helped cultivate my love for my people. We had a class on the Hebrew scriptures, but also just being the odd man out made me want to get involved with the Jewish Student Union, where I became the president, and also in high school I got involved deeply with BBYO. I think that the idea of being an “other” is something that permeates the Jewish community everywhere we go, but I think it’s a real benefit because it helps keep the community together. The Jewish community at the Prep was very small, but very closely knit.
How did you get involved in Israel advocacy?
The interest in Israel advocacy definitely started when I was around 16. I went to Israel with the Lappin Foundation trip and it just so happened to be the summer of Operation Protective Edge. We were on our way to Jerusalem and we were turned around for security reasons, and it really opened my eyes to the reality on the ground — the instability in the region. When I got home, I saw a major discrepancy in media coverage, just flagrant biases and direct conflict to what I was seeing and learning on the ground — those biases that were being reported as facts. That really got under my skin and I wanted to speak out about it, so I started running programs and events and working with BBYO and built a chapter in trying to get our community to advocate for truth.
Can you talk about your current job with the Israel on Campus Coalition?
There’s really two sides to ICC: the first side is we’re conveners. So there’s a whole lot of organizations that operate on the campus space to try and support Zionist students in the face of this rising tide of hatred and division. They all have their own basis, and they all have their own divisions, and we have 54 of those organizations in our coalition, so we basically unite their resources for pragmatic benefit to students we work with on the ground. We work directly with students to provide them with as many resources as possible confronting anti-Zionist demonstrations. That could be funding an event to promote peace in the Middle East, or we do a lot of work with student organizations promoting Israel Peace Week, and general Israel education. We also work with student leaders to try and get them on board and understand that Israel’s a vibrant democracy in the Middle East. We want to lay the groundwork and get in front of the issue before it occurs on campus.