Yeshivat Frisch is excited to announce the dedication of the Herschmann-Chouake I-LAB (Israel Learning and Advocacy Base), a new space for the school’s Israel advocacy training program. The ILAB Israel Education and Advocacy program, directed by Rabbi David Sher, is an important pillar of Frisch’s mission to develop students into proud religious Zionists, who love Israel and are knowledgeable in its history, criticisms, defenses and are prepared to advocate on its behalf on the college campus and beyond.
“It is imperative that our students be knowledgeable and passionate about Israel,” said Rabbi Sher, who also teaches a senior elective on the Arab-Israeli conflict. “More than ever, Israel is increasingly criticized and held to unfair standards by the media. The open hostility on many college campuses towards Israel is shocking to many Jewish day school graduates, if they are unprepared. We, at Frisch, focus on exploring all the truth about Israel, debunking the false critiques and inspiring our students to love and feel connected to the Jewish state.”
Frisch has developed a comprehensive approach to Israel education, spanning the sophomore through senior years. In tenth grade, every student learns the history of Israel as a unit in their regular history class. In eleventh grade, students learn more nuanced and advanced points of Israel advocacy; a year-long, weekly course addresses common criticisms leveled against Israel and the views from various experts in the field on how to combat them. In twelfth grade, students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge to more hands-on activities, including a class-wide trip to Capitol Hill. In addition, students are given preparation for handling themselves at college. Frisch alumni from various universities visit the school during the college winter break in December and speak to Frisch seniors about their experiences advocating for Israel on campus. In addition to schoolwide programs throughout the year, Frisch is piloting a program with Act.IL to train seniors in effective advocacy techniques on social media, and in recognizing and combating media bias where it occurs.
The ILAB was generously dedicated by the Chouake and Herschmann families.
“There is a very dangerous rising trend of antisemitic rhetoric on college campuses,” said Mr. Herschmann, a new addition to Frisch’s board of trustees. “I believe the best way to combat this vitriol is by educating our high school students to be prepared to challenge the narrative that Israel is an occupying force and to label the Palestinian government and Hamas as terrorist organizations, exactly as ISIS has been labeled a terrorist organization. It’s important to emphasize that if college students are sympathizers for Hamas then, by implication, they are sympathizers for ISIS and other terrorist organizations.”
“If our children are not defending Israel by serving in the Israeli army when they are 18 years old, I believe it is incumbent upon us to educate them so that they can defend Israel by being activists on college campuses,” continued Herschmann. “It is imperative for the students to know as many facts as possible about Israel’s history so that they can confidently present Israel’s legitimate position. Hopefully, other schools will follow the primer outlined by the Israel advocacy program at Frisch and their students will strengthen their knowledge of Jewish history and Jewish heritage.”
Dr. Ben Chouake said he and his wife Esther, as children of Holocaust survivors, “are deeply aware of the consequences of being unprepared to fight antisemitism, either in the political world or on college campuses.” Dr. Chouake, a longtime member of Frisch’s Board of Trustees, also serves as President of NORPAC,a nonpartisan political action committee whose primary purpose is to support candidates and sitting members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives who demonstrate a genuine commitment to the strength, security and survival of Israel.
“The Modern Orthodox high school where students have one foot in the religious world and one foot in intensive secular training is by far the best place to place this burden of leadership,” stated Dr. Chouake. “These students in our Modern Orthodox schools are the most willing, most capable and best situated to organize and advocate for the Jewish people and Israel on campus and beyond. We are optimistic that the advocacy and leadership training given to every student in these schools will reap benefits on our nation’s college campuses and beyond.”
Frisch President Paul Rolnick expressed his thanks to the Chouake and Herschmann families. “We in The Frisch School family are incredibly touched by this meaningful showing of support from two of our lay leaders, and their families, through the dedication of the ILAB at Frisch,” said Mr. Rolnick.
“This generous gift from the Chouake and Herschmann families will help support Yeshivat Frisch in our mission to educate, inspire and prepare our young men and women—the future leaders and builders of Klal Yisrael—for the challenges they may encounter ahead,” said Frisch Principal Rabbi Eli Ciner.