Signer Spotlight:

Aidan Bloomstine
Los Angeles, CA

In January 2024, University of Southern California (USC) junior Aidan Bloomstine traveled to Israel along with fellow non-Jewish college students through a trip organized by the Maccabee Task Force. We caught up with Aidan to hear his experiences and perspectives.

What inspired you, aN AMERICAN college student, to travel to Israel in January 2024 through the Maccabee Task Force?

Through my Christian upbringing, I developed a reverence for Israel and the Jewish People. When I arrived as a Freshman at USC, I was invited to a Shabbat dinner. I showed up for a meal, and found a USC Hillel community that has welcomed me with open arms ever since. These people became my community and support system, being there when I needed them most through different struggles. When October 7 happened two years later, I knew that now was a time to step up for my grieving friends just like they stepped up for me.

I don’t often find myself wearing a Kevlar vest and a helmet in the middle of a war zone, but seeing how hurtful and destructive the on-campus narrative was to the Jewish community after October 7, I felt the need to educate myself further and learn those stories firsthand.

I never felt threatened during my time there; I feel more unsafe walking from campus to my apartment than I do going to Israel. Lastly, I wanted to look Israelis in the eye to tell them that there are American students like me who support them.

On one of the most difficult experiences of the trip

I will never forget going to the national cemetery at Mount Herzl and seeing all the freshly dug graves for fallen IDF soldiers. The graves were all in Hebrew apart from the soldiers’ ages listed numerically. 19, 20, 21, 18… all the soldiers who died were my age. I thought about if I was born in another part of the world, that could be me.

But in this sad moment I also saw the reverence Israeli and its citizens have for life and humanity. This contrasted sharply with the inhumanity I saw in Kfar Aza, where Israeli civilians were massacred in unspeakable ways. I thought about the lack of care for life one side of this conflict has, while the other side treats those who have given the ultimate sacrifice with respect and dignity. During a tough trip, this was the only time I broke down and cried.

Why is it important to have initiatives like the JFP, that actively ensure people give Jewishly and support Jewish causes and Israel?

I fundamentally believe that peace can’t be achieved through pacifism. Injustice won’t fix itself; we need to be advocates and call out when it happens.

I believe that “Never Again” doesn’t happen by people sitting in their homes hoping for change. I believe it’s achieved through activities, philanthropy, and advocacy. It’s so important for not only Jewish people to stand up, but for non-Jewish people to support them through that.

How can we better educate younger generations about Judaism and Israel in 2024?

Take the time to educate yourself and humanize all sides. We shouldn’t have to teach individuals how to properly educate themselves on how not to be antisemitic. Nonetheless, we are facing a tough battle online. TikTok, Instagram, and social media platforms are set up for other narratives to dominate students’ feeds.

You can spit out dates and statistics as much as you want, but it’s different when you try to learn the Jewish and Israeli people’s stories and experiences and hear the emotions they feel. To me, that would be a good step in the right direction about education around this conflict.


Aidan Bloomstine is a junior studying public policy at the University of Southern California. He is involved with on-campus organizations including USC Hillel and Trojans for Israel.