P’nina Seplowitz of Bergenfield used to take Rabbi Dov Lipman to speaking gigs.
Then she was a volunteer. Now she is the executive director of the nascent American Friends of Yesh Atid organization. (Yesh Atid is the Israeli political party to which Lipman belongs.)
Seplowitz met Lipman at Camp Mesorah in upstate New York. He had been program director, but left there to start his political career. She was his replacement.
In the two weeks they overlapped, he shared his vision for mending the social fabric in Israel.
“It was immediately obvious that I wanted to be involved and help. Israel has always been a passion of mine,” she said.
American Friends of Yesh Atid is “still in the very initial startup phase.” The website, for example, is not yet ready. And while a board of directors has been in place, there will be crucial discussions with party head Yair Lapid this coming week.
But Seplowitz is clear that the American Friends group is not political. It is a non-profit. “It’s really focusing on the social projects that coincide with the platform of Yesh Atid,” she said.
She said the group will offer grants to Israeli non-profits working in fields like job training in the charedi community, combating discrimination, and fostering unity and respect among different groups.
Seplowitz said that people always have joked with her about getting into politics, but she didn’t see it happening. “I didn’t particularly like politics, but I see that in order to make a change and make a difference, sometimes it has to start on a political level.”
Seplowitz spent the year after high school studying in Israel, and has visited many times. “Aliyah was and is definitely on my bucket list,” she said, but her husband’s law practice keeps her rooted here for now.
She stressed that American Friends of Yesh Atid “welcomes support at any level.” To get involved, email AmericanFriendsYA@gmail.com.