Sunday, March 24, 2019

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Riverdale/Westchester) addressing 2017 NORPAC plenary. (Credit: NORPAC)

On April 25, Bronx and Westchester residents will join over 1,000 tri-state participants in the 2018 NORPAC Mission to Washington, in support of the U.S.-Israel relationship. Twenty-five buses from 14 locations in New York and New Jersey will be used for this single-day event. Local round trips are from New Rochelle and Riverdale.

NORPAC is a political action committee supporting the US-Israel relationship, and the annual mission to Washington allows citizen advocates to interact and discuss topics relevant to the two countries, with their elected leaders. The formal program is a plenary session, at the Warner Theater, hearing from government officials. The group then moves to Capitol Hill to meet in small groups with almost every senator and representative or their staff. The small-group format affords NORPAC mission teams sufficient time for serious discussion, as opposed to hearing a lecture by these elected officials to a large audience.

Each year, 200 students in eighth grade and above join their families. Returning New Rochelle parent Shachar Minkove believes that “it is important to show our representatives in Congress that we care about Israel. As an American Jew, I recognize that a safe Israel is key to America’s safety. Additionally, I have taken my son for the last few years. He has had the opportunity to …  get a firsthand opportunity to see how we can make a difference for issues we care deeply about. Talk about a firsthand civics lesson!”

Minkove adds, “I have been lucky to meet with quite a few of our representatives. Many have inspired me. I was most amazed by Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) who lost both legs in Afghanistan. He didn’t let adversity keep him down.” Congressman Mast also volunteered with the Israel Defense Forces after treatment for his injuries.

Shaun Meller, also of New Rochelle, has attended the NORPAC mission four times. “It’s a very unique experience in that one is able to have a direct one-on-one conversation with representatives of our Federal government, look them in the eye and convey an unfiltered message of what we, as their constituents, are most concerned about.”

NORPAC compiles relevant talking points, which vary each year, for the meetings. Previously, the Iranian nuclear threat, Hezbollah, Hamas, BDS and foreign aid to Israel were included. This year’s talking points will be finalized in the week prior to the mission, and can even be updated on mission day.

The mission planning committee begins its work almost immediately after each mission is completed. Every major Jewish community in the tri-state area is represented.

Dr. Marc Berger, NORPAC’s Westchester chapter president, always says, “The mission is like Pesach Sheni. Those who missed ‘another’ event earlier in the year get another chance to advocate for the US-Israel relationship. Others can follow up on previous lobbying efforts. Those who can only go down to DC for a single day can also contribute to the effort.”

To register for this year’s mission, please visit and also learn more about previous missions, join the e-mail list for local events and view photos of the mission and local events.


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