On Wednesday evening, Northeastern University hosted a summit in honor of Yehuda Yaakov, the newly appointed Consul General of Israel to New England.
More than 80 people from the Greater Boston Jewish community attended the event, which was held at 140 The Fenway and sponsored in part by Northeastern Hillel.
The summit marked one of Yaakov’s first public appearances as consul general. He was selected by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October to succeed previous Consul General Shai Bazak, who served from 2010-13.
In his remarks on Wednesday, Yaakov praised the college students in attendance for their active participation in furthering Israeli causes, something he wished he had done more of as a student.
“When I was in your place, I was very much busy with my own things and even though Israel was dear to my heart, I know I didn’t do enough,” Yaakov said. “Just so you know, you are making a difference.”
The Consulate General of Israel to New England is the country’s representative to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, and serves as the liaison between New England residents and Israel.
Yaakov was born and raised in Brooklyn and immigrated to Israel in 1982 after graduating from Syracuse University. He has served with Israel’s Foreign Service since 1989, holding posts in New York and New Zealand.
In his new role, Yaakov said he wants to continue to strengthen the ties between Israeli firms and their New England counterparts, particularly in the tech industry, which brings in about $6 billion in revenue to Massachusetts every year. He also plans to put cybersecurity at the top of his agenda.
“We have a very active consulate,” Yaakov noted. “I’m not inventing the wheel here. My predecessor was very successful as was his, and hopefully I will be able to fill their shoes.”
In her opening remarks, Northeastern Hillel executive director Arinne Braverman acknowledged the university and Hillel’s shared commitment to free speech and campus diversity, saying that Northeastern “fights for the ideals of individual expression and the free exchange of ideas, even when we disagree with the ideas.”
After dessert, Northeastern Hillel Artist-in-Residence Matti Kovler and American Idol contestant Brett Loewenstern performed Sh’ma Yisrael by Sarit Hadad, an acclaimed Israeli singer.