NEW YORK – The Israeli American Council will be opening its regional office in New York City this week, as part of a huge expansion with eight offices opening across the US, including in Boston, Miami, and Las Vegas.
The office will focus on providing programming and resources for the estimated 200,000 Israelis who live in and around New York City, including between 5,000 and 12,000 in New Jersey.
The IAC is a nonpolitical umbrella group for Israeli communities in the US, dedicated to uniting the estimated 800,000 Israelis in America and keeping Israeli culture alive. It was founded in 2007 and is based in Los Angeles. It is currently looking at Philadelphia, Washington and Phoenix as its next possible expansion points.
Its chairman, Shawn Evenhaim, told The Jerusalem Post that the IAC expands to cities as needed.
“The goal is to reach every Israeli American across the country, but we don’t know everything [about the communities],” Evenhaim said, “so we prefer to go to the community and see if they want us there, and then locate the leadership and the consulate in that community and offer them our menu of programs.
“There were already great things happening in New York,” Evenhaim said; “they were just not under the umbrella of the IAC. Then we were approached by people in New York and we saw the need.”
The programming offered at the New York office will be tailored to the community needs, as it is in every city.
“We’ll leave it to the New York consulate to decide,” Evenhaim said. “We don’t want to force anything that won’t work.”
Yehudit Feinstein-Mentesh – who grew up in Israel and came to the US 14 years ago – will serve as New York’s regional director.
Her first priority is early childhood education. She’ll be collaborating with the Boston office to put together a teacher’s training program.
“We have this sense of a historical moment,” she said. “I feel something big is going to happen. For the first time, powerful people really want to create a change and support the Israeli community in new ways. Things will be so different for Israelis in the area. I’m honored to be part of it.”