When an Israeli citizens moves to America, a certain amount of culture shock is part of the experience. The United States and Israel are both strong democracies based on many of the same fundamental principles, such as freedom, forward-looking entrepreneurship, and respecting the basic rights of all citizens — but just ask a recent Israeli immigrant and they’ll quickly point up some differences.
Selly Orai came to America from Israel in 2003. She discovered that Americans think it’s okay to smile at total strangers on the street, something that seemed odd and foreign to her. In Israel, one has a tendency to always “talk tough” while in America a more soft-spoken politeness is the norm. In Israel being “tough” is considered the equivalent of being “strong.” In America, you walk softly and carry a big stick.
These are just a few of the challenges that confront Israeli immigrants to America. That’s why another immigrant established the American-Israeli Council. His name is Adam Milstein. Born in Haifa, he came to America in 1981. At the time, Milstein and his wife, Gila, said that they “sat on their suitcases” every day in hopes of going back home soon.
But Adam Milstein dug in and got busy. He earned an MBA and launched himself into commercial real estate investment. After years of hard work he achieved considerable success. Today he is a partner with one of America’s premier real estate firms, Hager Pacific Properties.
Adam Milstein believed from the beginning that financial success comes with an obligation to give back. The American-Israeli Council has helped thousand of Israeli immigrants and people of Jewish heritage in uncounted ways, from getting better educational opportunities to advancing careers and building strong networking communities.
Under the leadership of Adam Milstein, the American-Israeli Council has become the fastest growing Jewish advocacy organization in the world. It currently sports 250,000 members and continues to grow.
For people like Shelly Oria, such an organization was a vital lifeline that helped her bridge the divide between her beloved homeland and new chosen home. Thanks to Adam Milstein, people like Shelly Oria have found a way to maintain a powerful dual identity that leverages the strength of both Israel and America.