On Thursday, September 1, 2016, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, met with a hundred teenagers from Beit Shemesh as a part of the school-year opening event, “Israeli Youth Beit Midrash” in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Ambassador Shapiro shared his personal and professional experiences as the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, and as an advisor to President Obama in the White House. The Ambassador also discussed the close U.S.-Israel bilateral relations, the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security and the importance the U.S. sees in the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In addition, the Ambassador emphasized the important role of the Jewish-American community as a bridge between the U.S. and Israel, as well as in American domestic issues.
During the meeting, Ambassador Shapiro encouraged the teenagers to continue their work, saying: “I want to commend you for your initiatives and for teaching yourself about important topics without the help of teachers or adults.” The Ambassador added: “Through a conversation with people who come from different backgrounds and points of view from yourown, you can learn about and from them, which will promote mutual understanding and tolerance. Congratulations for promoting thoseideas.” The Ambassador also suggested that the U.S. Embassy could facilitate dialogues with similar youth organizations in communities throughout Israel.
On the political situation, Ambassador Shapiro said “the existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish People is not only a success for the Zionist vision, but also an American interest. We want Israel to remain a strong Jewish and democratic state, and the only way in which we think that can happen is through the two states solution.”
Towards the end of the meeting, the Ambassador mentioned that he really enjoyed the discussion and he that he would be happy to return for another visit in the Beit Midrash.
The event was held as a part of the work of the Public Diplomacy Section of the U.S. Embassy, which promotes shared values and understanding between the Israeli and American peoples, using different cultural, educational, and enrichment programs throughout Israel.
“Israeli Youth Beit Midrash” is an organization established and managed by teenagers from Beit Shemesh who were seeking to cope with the lack of cultural and enrichment activities they felt in their city. Ambassador Shapiro visit opened the second year of activity for the Beit Midrash; last year the group met with many different public figures, journalists, artists, and more. In the meetings, the youth learn about current events and intellectual topics through a lens of Judaism, in the form of joint Limuds