Over 4,000 attendees from around the world have convened in Hollywood, Florida for the Israeli-American Council’s (IAC) National Summit, which kicked off this evening at the Diplomat Resort & Hotel.

At the summit’s opening plenary, IAC Co-founder and CEO Shoham Nicolet addressed the packed ballroom with welcome greetings and a call to unify the world’s two largest Jewish populations - American and Israeli Jews.

“The (IAC)’s coast-to-coast community is becoming the bridge, the gateway, and the driving force within Jewish America, fostering a deep connection to Israel,” said Nicolet. “We create the leaders of tomorrow that will face threats along the journey with courage and cutting-edge solutions. This leadership will make a transformative impact on Jewish-America and our society. It is time for us to shift our focus from differences and rifts to the endless possibilities and opportunities when we come together. This is what the IAC is all about…Together, we will work toward our vision of a strong, resilient, and interconnected Jewish people and Israel.”

Attendees at the opening plenary also heard from Yonatan Winetraub, Co-Founder of SpaceIL, the revolutionary Israeli space exploration company whose “Beresheet” spacecraft made international headlines by crash-landing on the moon in April. Although it was not a “soft landing,” it was still a tremendous accomplishment, making Israel only the seventh nation to ever orbit the moon. Moreover, SpaceIL achieved lunar orbit while working with what experts widely considered a shoestring budget of $100 million.

“Our mission has shown that when we work together - SpaceIL, Israel Aerospace Industries, engineers, volunteers, Israel, America, nothing is impossible. We live in a unique moment in time, where engineering and entrepreneurship converge, and if you do it right you can get to the moon,” said Winetraub, “We were all cheering for Beresheet from the same side, together, watching this dream…I would like to thank you all for dreaming with us.”

Yonatan Winetraub, Co-Founder of SpaceIL speaking at the IAC National Summit
Yonatan Winetraub, Co-Founder of SpaceIL speaking at the IAC National Summit Noam Galai

Also speaking at the opening plenary was Chairman of the Board of the IAC Adam Milstein; incoming Chairman of the IAC Naty Saidoff; Rachelle Fraenkel, mother of Naftali Fraenkel who was kidnapped and murdered along with two other Israeli teens in 2014; Greensky CEO David Zalik; Canadian-born Israeli businessman and philanthropist Sylvan Adams; and Yiftach Ramon, son of Israel's first and only astronaut Ilan Ramon who died in a tragic accident during his first trip to space.

President Donald J. Trump will deliver the keynote address at the summit on Saturday evening, December 7, marking the President's first address to a non-political Jewish organization.

From relatively modest beginnings, in just twelve years the IAC has become the fastest-growing American-Jewish organization in the United States, and now brings the U.S. President to its annual summit as one of the most high-profile and one of the largest gatherings in the Jewish world. At a time of much division in America, Israel and the Jewish world, the summit, taking place December 5-8, will convene a multitude of different communities, with diverse opinions that span the political and religious spectrum around the theme of “Israel, Together.”

The conference will also hear from a host of other prominent speakers in the coming days, consisting of top politicians, diplomats, and entrepreneurs from across the U.S. and Israel including, Dr. Stanley Fischer, Former Vice Chairman of The Federal Reserve; Elan Carr, United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism; Ron DeSantis, Governor of Florida; Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, serving Florida’s 23rd Congressional District; Isaac Herzog, Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel; Ambassador Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York.