In 2004, shortly after joining Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity as a freshman at Farleigh Dickinson University, Brett Goldman first visited Israel on a Taglit-Birthright trip. “After that, everything changed,” he says. “At first, I really didn’t know how to channel what I’d just seen and done, but then I figured I’d just find ways to stay involved and to keep going back.”
Over the next few years, Brett attended AEPi’s Israel Amplified Conference for Israel as one of the first representatives from ZBT, which opened the door for him to take part in JNF’s Alternative Spring Break trip to Israel in 2007 and 2008. After graduating college, Brett led a Birthright trip before deciding to head back for a longer period of time.
The day after finishing his work on a Philadelphia-based political campaign for the 2008 general election, Brett, who received his BA in History and Politics and an MA in Education, headed to Israel to begin an MA in Government, specializing in Counter-Terrorism and Homeland Security at IDC Herzliya through Masa Israel Journey.
“I first traveled to the IDC in 2008 after staffing a Birthright trip and I remembered leaving the campus for the first time and having this feeling that this beautiful city, this university, and above all this program were a perfect fit for me,” says Brett. “And back then, I didn’t even know about all the networking opportunities that you get at the IDC or the amazing schwarma place in the center of Herzliya, near where I lived.”
In addition to taking a full course load at the IDC, Brett wrote a dissertation about cyber warfare and took on two internships as a research assistant at the IDC’s International Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT) and Institute for Renewable Energy Policy Center (IREP). Through the ICT, Brett helped plan the institute’s annual conference.
“I studied with people from all over the world while at the IDC,” says Brett. “My closest friends came from England, Scotland, Germany, India, the US, you name it. We even studied alongside diplomats from the Nigerian embassy--talk about getting a global perspective on things, these guys weren’t just learning about diplomacy, they were practicing it and by the time we finished our program they were our friends like anyone else. Where else would I ever have the opportunity to meet people like this from all over the world?”
Brett also enjoyed having the opportunity to experience life in Israel as a local. “You can read and study all about Israel, but until you actually spend a significant amount of time there and know about all the little nuances--like the crazy bus drivers in Tel-Aviv--and what gets on your nerves--like the cheese lady at the supermarket, you don’t really know what it’s like,” says Brett. “Now that I’m back, I often find myself talking about the little things that I miss with friends of mine who are in the same boat.”
Since returning to Philadelphia, Brett has worked on several political campaigns and has used the experience he gained while interning at the Institute for Renewable Energy Policy to launch the American Israel Business Lab (AIBL) of Nova-Comm Strategy Group, LLC, an Incubator for Israeli clean tech companies in the Philadelphia-area. “The Philadelphia region is slated to become the silicon valley of clean tech--power valley, so it’s a great place for these Israeli companies to be located,” says Brett.