Tell us a bit about the Israeli American Council.
The Israeli-American Council (IAC) is an organization that I co-founded in 2007. Our mission is to build an engaged and united Israeli-American community that strengthens the Israeli and Jewish identity of our next generation, the American Jewish community, and the bond between the peoples of the United States and the state of Israel. Currently, we are the fastest-growing Jewish organization in the United States. Our national headquarters is in Los Angeles, where I reside, and we have 16 regional offices located throughout the country and activities in most US States. Today, I serve as the Chairman of the Board for the IAC.
What is some of the history behind the Israeli-American Council?
I am a real estate developer by trade. However, I have been a community leader, activist, and philanthropist focused on promoting the causes of Israel for many years. Back in 2007, along with other community leaders, I recognized a need to organize and engage the Israeli-American community. So, I helped form the Israeli Leadership Council (ILC). Our three primary goals were to strengthen the future generations of Israeli-Americans, the American-Jewish community, and the State of Israel. In 2014, we changed our name to the Israeli-American Council because we felt it is a better reflection of our goals for the organization.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
My favorite thing is working with the young people who get involved because they are the people who will see our mission through for decades and decades to come. Today there are many young leaders who are passionate about Israel-American relations. It excites me to see their enthusiasm and leadership. Even though anti-Semitism is on the rise, I feel very optimistic knowing that there are younger generations willing to defend our community.
What are your keys to making yourself productive?
I start each day with prayer. Connecting with God in the morning before all of the activities of the day centers me so that I am focused and productive the rest of the day, and it reminds me why I am doing the work I do to strengthen the Jewish community. Also, I am truly passionate about my purpose. When you have a mission and you believe in it as strongly as I do, then getting the work done comes naturally. I also lead a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and exercise. Maintaining good health has a huge impact on your mind and body.
Tell us one long-term goal in your career.
I have had a long and outstanding career already. I sit on the boards of many Israeli-focused and Jewish organizations including the AIPAC National Council, Stand With Us, the Jewish Funders Network, and Birthright Israel. My wife and I started our own foundation in 2000, called the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, through which we work to strengthen ties between the US and Israel and to strengthen the Jewish identity of young people, as well as support programs that help young Jews connect to the Jewish State. Additionally, I have had a long and very successful career in real estate with Hager Pacific Properties. So, to answer the question, my long-term goal is to inspire the next generation to feel connected to their Jewish identity and the Jewish State, and for them to make sure that their children and their children’s children also feel that connection strongly.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned to date?
What I’ve learned, especially when working with young people, is just how important it is to understand your history. Who are your people? Where do you come from? These are questions that require answers in order to further our cause as a Jewish people. In order to defend our traditions and culture, today’s generations and those in the future must know our history before they can defend our community. I was born in the State of Israel and I grew up there. I served in the IDF during the Yom Kippur War and graduated from the Technion in 1978. I met my wife, Gila, there. Many American Jews have not spent as much time in Israel, or do not know as much about the history or culture of our ancient and eternal homeland, so it is my duty, and the duty of others like me, to help them learn and appreciate their heritage. I’ve seen such passion and innovation from this next generation of leaders, especially ones who spend time in Israel and truly make that connection with our Jewish homeland.
What advice would you give to other aspiring businessmen and women?
Identify your true purpose—make this more of a priority rather than goal-setting. Many times, people set goals, but they are shallow, with no real reason behind them. The “why” is what drives everything else. For me, that has always been strengthening Jewish identity, fighting anti-Semitism, and strengthening the relationship between the US and Israel. When you are truly passionate about your purpose, then you will be naturally driven to succeed.
What’s your favorite thing to do in your downtime?
My favorite thing to do outside of work is spending time with my family. I have three children plus grandchildren and there is no greater joy than sharing moments with them. We are all very busy people and, as a result, those moments are not as frequent as I’d like. However, I cherish them when I do have them. Aside from spending time with my family, I also love to read. It is one of my favorite things to do after a long and busy day.
What are some books or websites you’d recommend to our readers?
A book that I would highly recommend is Dana Perino’s And the Good News Is… It has a very positive and uplifting message.
If anyone is interested in learning more about the IAC or the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, they can visit their websites at:
Milstein Family Foundation: https://www.milsteinff.org/
Israeli American Council: https://www.israeliamerican.org/