ACCESS Dinner with a Diplomat


During the 2016 ACCESS Dinner with a Diplomat campaign over 230 AJC ACCESS leaders in their 20s and 30s met with 45 diplomats from 60 countries. These meetings brought activists face-to-face with global leaders and decision-makers to discuss today's critical issues.

Recent events have included drinks with the Consul General of Germany in Miami and with young German diplomats in Washington D.C.; a dinner with the Honorary Turkish Consul General in Atlanta; a dinner with the Egyptian Consul General in LA; a dinner with the Deputy Israeli Consul General in Chicago; High Holiday dinners in Israel with diplomats from Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the United States; and a dinner with the Deputy Permanent Representative of Morocco to the UN in New York.

Itamar Eichner, ACCESS Israel
Published on YNET, October 5, 2016

Translation by Shay Zavdi, Director of ACCESS Israel

Americans, Norwegians, Thai and French: This is not the beginning of a joke, but the description of the number of diplomats attending Rosh Hashanah dinners. This is how ambassadors and their families celebrated the first day of the Jewish year.

The diplomatic corps in Israel didn’t stay lonely this holiday: 17 diplomats from 8 countries participated in various holiday dinners around the country, in a unique initiative of the young leadership of the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

Among the diplomats, some of which this was the first Rosh Hashanah celebration in their lives. Diplomats from the U.S., Colombia, Cyprus, Thailand and more joined families in Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Holon and Har Adar to mark the holiday with them.

Elnor Gasanov, the Cultural and Economic Attaché of the embassy of Norway, who went to a dinner in Tel Aviv, said that the Rosh Hashanah experience with an Israeli family was a “special experience which affected me”, as he stated. “I will never forget it”.

“A Contribution to Israeli Diplomacy”
Hilla Drechler, a member of the young leadership of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), was a host, and had an American diplomatic couple. “We were very happy to host the American couple, and give them a glimpse into the Jewish culture and holidays”, she said. “There is no doubt that every encounter of this kind has an impact on the Israeli and American diplomacy on the personal and public level”.

“Furthermore”, added Drechler, “we love hosing and meeting new friends, and on the same opportunity present different sides of Israel’. 

Lt. Col. (res.) Avital Leibovich, Director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Jerusalem, explained that “we hosted the diplomats in order to show them the diverse beautiful face of the Israeli society, and there is no better opportunity for that but the Jewish New Year’s which symbolizes unity and giving”.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) is an a-political organization which promotes the interests of the Jewish people and Israel around the world, using diplomatic and government outreach, for over 110 years.

Tourists at MK’s Houses
Among the unusual connections, ministers and MKs also hosted during the holiday – these were the participants of the “Masa” program, who found themselves in the houses of four MKs and one minister, as a part of the “Adopt a Masa Participant for the Holiday” campaign.

The Minister for the Environmental Protection and Jerusalem Affairs, Zeev Elkin, Chair of the Coalition, David Bitan, MK Miki Levi (“Yesh Atid”), and MK and Deputy Speaker of the House Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) hosted “Masa” participants who came to Israel, in order to deepen their protection over Israel.

During their stay, the participants of “Masa”, a program by the government and the Jewish Agency, acquire skills which would help them serve as ambassadors of Israel when they go back to their home countries. This year, almost 13,000 young Jews are estimated to come to Israel as a part of this project, for an internship experience, volunteer activity and academic studies, but mostly to make the Israeli story a part of their life story.