Onward Israel: Roy Faigenbaum

Shalom! I’m Roy Faigenbaum, a rising Senior at the University of Pittsburgh from Philadelphia, majoring in Political Science, Urban Studies, and Philosophy. The best part about the triple major combination that I am engaged in is the unique mentality that I find myself approaching situations with; Political Science leaves me critical, while the Urban Studies allows me to understand certain dynamics, and the Philosophical addition presents me with a method of questioning different from most of my peers. For this reason, I have found my work this summer at My Truth to be particularly engaging.

My Truth is a nonprofit, nongovernmental social startup created by a team of Israeli Defense Forces reservists to share the extraordinary moral dilemmas faced by Israeli soldiers on a daily basis. As the primary fighting force for a nation constantly besieged by terrorism and warfare, the IDF is no stranger to international criticism. However, opprobrium towards the soldiers themselves commonly comes from stories presented unjustly by anti-Israeli organizations. My Truth has made it their mission to counter these false narratives by sharing stories of difficult circumstances, told by the engaged soldiers themselves, and how the situation was carried out. Following an intensive vetting process, these videographed testimonies are posted online for anyone across the globe to watch, with each story accompanied by a complete written transcript in both Hebrew and English.

I was brought in along with two other U.S. students to intern for My Truth. Our intended role was to serve as consultants regarding the NGO’s English-written work, as seen from the perspective of those in the United States. Hoping to tap into the large demographics of both Jews and Israel supporters across the U.S., My Truth sought validity regarding how to best portray itself and in what manner. Going into it, I expected to serve in more of a supportive role, making minor tweaks when necessary but primarily continuing the work that has already been established. However, it was quickly identified that a formal U.S.-style organizational plan was necessary to go forwards. After creating this master plan for the U.S.-appealing side of the startup, the work began. Everything from identification of social media targets to crafting a donor relations strategy was undertaken; even a new Wikipedia page was made!

This summer has provided me with an opportunity that I never would have imagined occurring if I remained in the States. I was most excited to come to Israel for the cultural aspect, with the work aspect being seen as a welcome addition to help me gain experience. As we venture into our final days here, I’m realizing that I gained such an intricate understanding of the mentality of the country in an international sense that could not have been matched by any number of books read or tours taken. The experience of working for an organization created and led exclusively by IDF reservists provided me with both knowledge and an outlook that I hope to forever carry. It ended up being the internship that defined my cultural awareness, not the other way around!

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