In January 2023, the Israeli-American Council (IAC) National Summit was held in Austin, Texas commemorating 8 years of annual conventions celebrating Jewish and Israeli communities in the U.S. Since philanthropist Adam Milstein and other Israeli American community leaders hosted the inaugural IAC National Conference in 2014, the high-profile gathering has welcomed Jewish communities from all over the world for an annual reunion to several prominent U.S. cities.
Over Jan. 19-21, the multigenerational conference attracted nearly 3,000 Israeli Americans, Jewish Americans, and lovers of Israel. The summit brought people of all ages together to celebrate the bond between Israel and the U.S. and present a united front against antisemitism and anti-Zionism.
Explained IAC’s Facebook page, “The IAC National Summit is one of the largest, highest-profile, and most impactful conferences in the Jewish world. The IAC National Summit annually brings together thousands of Israeli Americans, American Jews, and Israelis of all ages.
“The summit theme is ‘Israel. Together.’ Together as a united community. Together, as the Jewish people and Israel are interconnected. Together in our unconditional love for Israel.
“For the first time, the summit will host the Israel America Business Playground, connecting Israeli companies with the U.S. market. This year also marks Israel’s 75th birthday, which will be included in our celebrations and discussions.”
The IAC Summit: A Look Back
The IAC’s roots date back to 2006, when a small but influential group of Israeli American community leaders, including Adam Milstein, launched the Israeli Leadership Council (ILC). They formed the ILC’s first board of directors and its key pillars: to strengthen future generations of Israeli Americans, the State of Israel, and to build a bridge to the Jewish-American community.
By 2013, Adam Milstein and his co-founders had grown the ILC into the largest Israeli American organization in the U.S., engaging 50,000 community members. The council was rebranded as the Israeli-American Council (IAC) to better reflect the fact its members were not Israelis but rather Americans of Israeli descent.
A year later, the IAC had developed a national presence and hosted the first IAC National Conference in Washington, D.C. By 2015, the organization was serving more than 150,000 participants with its programs and events, which are all part of its broader movement and community.
Thanks to Adam Milstein and the other co-founders, now, every year, the IAC National Summit brings together thousands of activists, change makers, influencers, and thought-provoking leaders from coast to coast, from Israel, and around the world.
The summit is held in a different U.S. location each year. While Austin hosted the eighth summit, the seventh took place in South Florida, featuring speakers including Olympic champion Linoy Ashram, senior defense correspondent for Israel Channel 10 Alon Ben David, and author of The Wondering Jew: Israel and the Search for Jewish Identity, Dr. Micah Goodman.
Adam Milstein is an Israeli American philanthropist, businessman, and real estate investor. Aside from co-founding the IAC — of which he’s chairman emeritus and a member of the board — he also founded the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation with Gila, his wife. Like the IAC, this foundation works to strengthen the State of Israel and its connections with the U.S. Adam Milstein is also a managing partner of Hager Pacific Properties, a private commercial real estate investment company.
With a vibrant atmosphere, pioneering innovations, and substantial economic power, Austin is a cultural center of America. The city is often called the “startup of the Jewish world,” making it an ideal location for the eighth IAC summit. Austin is reportedly home to around 16,000 Jewish people and is among the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S.
Pertinent to Austin’s cutting-edge business landscape, the summit featured the Israel America Business Playground, designed to open doors to collaborations between Israeli and U.S. businesses. Technology, business, and real estate moguls, entrepreneurs, and leaders explored this expo to find potential partnership opportunities.Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined the summit to express the state’s long-standing support for Israel and highlight its efforts to tackle antisemitism. Addressing over 2,000 attendees, he detailed the significant ties between Texas and Israel, emphasizing the importance of these ties for the success of both.
The IAC National Summit magnetizes influencers and well-known individuals who share their insights in inspiring keynotes and discussion panels. The 2023 summit featured 80 discussion panels and more than 150 speakers, including Amichai Chickli, the Israeli politician who serves as the minister of Diaspora Affairs and Social Equality. Chickli took part in several panel discussions across two overarching themes: “The Proactive Approach to Fighting Antisemitism in America” and “Stronger Together — Israel and Jewish America.”
Also attending was Noa Hilzenrat, the CEO of a stealth mode startup and the author of The Lessons You Won’t Learn in School, which has sold thousands of copies in Israel. Hilzenrat led a panel discussion titled “Champions of Change: A Conversation With Social Impact Entrepreneurs” and gave a keynote: “Dare To Think Like a Girl.”
Yasmin Lukatz, the executive director of the Israel Collaboration Network (ICON), a nonprofit organization that supports Israeli startup technology and innovation, took part in a fireside chat called “Leading Innovative Israeli Impact.” Lukatz also founded Israel’s leading national daily paper, Israel HaYom.
During the three-day event, attendees enjoyed a wealth of multigenerational activities and workshops, presentations and discussion panels on numerous topics and themes, and exhibitions from 32 nonprofit organizations and 16 businesses at the Israel America Business Playground.
Some of the activities and workshops they engaged in included a space hackathon for teenagers, under the mentorship of NASA astronaut Don Thomas; an escape room challenge; and flight simulations guided by the Israeli Air Force. These hands-on learning experiences gave attendees the opportunity to actively engage in thought-provoking discussions, shape new skills, and meet like-minded individuals.
For eight years, the IAC Summit has been giving a voice to the new generation of Israeli Americans and encourages these individuals to take proactive roles among the U.S. Jewish population.