Student Spotlight: Jacob Lazerowitz
Meet Jacob Lazerowitz, senior and president of SSI at Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School. He also is their Director of Marketing and Social Media. It has not been an easy year for Flatbush. Sabrina Zami, the SSI secretary writes on their SSI at Flatbush Instagram,
“Last night, the sidewalk and fence of our school… was doused in lighter fluid and lit on fire in an antisemitic attack… Antisemitism may seem distant, far away from us, but it’s not. Wherever we may be, we are not immune. This horrible act of arson is a wake-up call. A wake-up to be vigilant and to work towards change. Because antisemitism is in our midst. And because things can change.”
Jacob knows Jewish history and the reasons the Jewish people need Israel as a safe haven and a place to defend the Jewish nation. His Zionism is core to his identity and motivates him as SSI president.
“I am a Zionist because I am a Jew. I acknowledge that we are not merely a religion, but a nation, a people with strong ties to the land of Israel. Israel is our past, present, and future. In 1948, Israel ignited a sense of pride in all Jews around the world, establishing us no longer as the victims of history. I support Israel because it serves as a means to prevent another Holocaust; for too long we have been at the mercy of other nations, but now we finally have taken a stand and are able to defend ourselves. If we are not for ourselves, then nobody will be for us. The establishment of the state of Israel is the culmination of 2000 years of struggle and exile, a perfect ending for a lost nation who simply longed to return home. We have never forgotten Israel and have been praying for its reestablishment for 2 millennia. Israel now serves as a beacon of hope to not just the Jews but to all struggling peoples around the world, showing us that anything is possible with hard work and passion. Israel is a light in the darkness, a just and free democracy surrounded by a sea of oppression, and for that, I will always support her.”
Students Supporting Israel has been and continues to be his platform to educate himself, lead, and inspire others to learn about Israel. Jacob explains his journey in joining SSI three years ago.
“I joined SSI in my sophomore year because I was looking to expand my commitment to Israel and learn how to defend her more. I wanted to get more involved in my school community and in Israeli activism in general, and SSI gave me the perfect opportunity to achieve these goals. Over the past 3 years, I have become more dedicated than ever to defending Israel, and have come to be the president of our school’s SSI, where I’m able to spark in the next wave of students a love and passion for Israel, and inspire them to be proud and ardent Zionists.”
Even though Jacob’s leadership is strong, at times, it is difficult to rally the students. Jacob expresses the frustration, but at the same time, he knows what he needs to do in order to overcome the challenge at his high school.
“While basically all students at my high school support Israel, I find that many of them only defend Israel when there is a war going on. During the most recent conflict in May, many of my peers were posting on social media pro-Israel posts and were very involved in the news. But right when the conflict ended, they were back to being apathetic and no longer cared about the political climate in Israel. The problem is that we tend to defend Israel only when it is undergoing a war, but unfortunately, Israel requires our defense at all times. Furthermore, there is a strong focus on Israel’s disputes and battles, which are important to know, but many seem to lack a basic knowledge of the non-militaristic aspect of Israel, be it the government, culture, or history.”
Due to the recent war last May, students have stepped up in their activism, especially on social media. Jacob explains,
“In the past year, due mostly in part to the recent conflict in May, I believe people have begun to slowly realize that Israel is in constant danger of war and that it can happen at any time. While most students still lack an interest about Israel, others have come to see that Israel is in a constant crosshair and therefore needs to be strongly defended. Students have woken up to see that many of their favorite celebrities have sided against Israel and that lots of people online have been conditioned to hate Israel. During May, social media exploded with all different opinions on the conflict, and some students on my campus have finally come to see that teenagers just like them were being brainwashed online and that it’s their job to educate them. I found my friends coming up to me and asking how they should respond to certain claims made against Israel, and asking me to explain some of the issues that were going on. Overall, while there are still some apathetic feelings toward Zionism, many students definitely value Israel more now than they did a year ago, and are more passionate in defending her.”
Although Jacob has emphasized the struggle at his high school, he describes the Yeshivah as very Zionistic, and the faculty is even more Zionistic. Jacob continues,
“Our school, mainly through SSI, constantly holds pro-Israel events and hosts speakers, such as Alan Dershowitz and Nicole Malliotakis. Every year, our school marches in the Israeli Day Parade, proudly waving the Israeli and American flags side by side. Due to the passion that our school has for Israel, our job at SSI has been not to convince people of our opinions, but rather to increase awareness and make people care. Almost everyone supports Israel, but it’s our job to get them to realize just how important their defense is, and how they can do more to help the state. The one thing that’s most harmful to Israel is apathy. Hamas rockets are dangerous, but if we Jews ourselves don’t care for Israel and her well-being, then we’ve already lost.”
Jacob Lazerowitz clearly understands his role as president, as an educator, and as an inspiration to the whole student body. We are not only excited for SSI at Flatbush, but also for Jacob’s continued journey in his Zionism and activism. To keep up with their chapter follow @ssi_flatbush on Instagram!