Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Live from the Knesset

Boker tov (good morning)!

I am writing to you live from the Knesset (aka the Israeli Parliment- in DC, this would be the Capitol building). I am here at the Knesset in Jerusalem for the second time this week to start working on Yoel's fundraising. Monday was my first day here and, needless to say, it was quite interesting.

It started out with me going with Oren to his office in the building where the Prime Minister works (in DC, this would be the White House) and got a great tour from Oren. However, unlike a White House tour, I was able to actually walk into the PM's office and take a picture behind his desk, etc. It was pretty cool. I then made my way over to the Knesset where I went through some of the most intense security for the 2nd time in an hour (the first time was in the PM's office)... The security here to get into one of these buildings is like trying to get into the Captiol, White House, and Regan National Airport all put together. Ridiculous. But I do understand and appreciate it.

After finding my way to Yoel's office, I quickly bonded with his other staff members who are great and then got down to business. Yoel is going to be in the states for the GA in November and has asked me to plan a 4-state fundraising trip for him while he is there. This gives me roughly 3 weeks to make this happen, but I think we will make it work... anyway.

Right after I got to the Knesset, I had a meeting with another Member of Knesset who had heard about me and wanted to talk with me about doing some fundraising for her. It was a very interesting meeting and I am going to do a bit of research on her potential donor base and get back to her in a few weeks...

After spending some time with Yoel's intern, Nicole, who is assisting me, Oren and Avi came over to go to lunch with us in the Knesset dining room. Of course, during lunch, Yoel had to point out to me that I have been in Israel less than 4 weeks and I am sitting in the Knesset dining room which few people ever get to be in, but not only am I there, but I am there with a "Member of the Jewish Parliament" (I was able to quote that last part along with him- it is one of his favorite statements) and that I should appreciate how special that is. It was quite funny. One minute I am in Joe Lieberman's kitchen, the next I am in the Knesset cafeteria... crazy.

So, this next part can be appreciated by my fundraising colleagues... I am trying to see how the "American style" of fundraising works here, meaning very structured, very detailed, very "American". So, I spent my afternoon making a few call sheets for Yoel (we make these for American politicians to give whoever is making the calls a feel for who they are speaking with, the background of their relationship to the person, and specifically what to ask them- they are a pain to make, but expected by US politicians). Also, I only made about 4, because the chance of getting an American politician to make more than 10 calls in one sitting is a rarity, and I wanted to start slow with Yoel since this was new for him. So, around 5:30 I finally sit down with him to start making calls. He picks up his master list of contacts and points to one and says "I am going to call him." I say "Ok... but you know, I have these call sheets with our priority calls..." And he says "Ok... we will call them later, but I'm going to call him now." I say, "Ok... well, do you want to take a look at the purpose of these other calls so that you know what we are asking these people?" He looks, says "Very professional..." I say "Thanks..." and he says "Ok, I am going to call this person now" and just picks up the phone and starts making calls. At first, this worried me, because it was so much less formal than our "American" system. However, Yoel turned out to be a natural, and as we made calls, he would ask me if he was saying things appropriately, I would coach him on how better to say this or that, etc. So, he makes a few calls and I figure we're good for the night, as I didn't want to overwhelm him on his first time... but then he kept going. And going. And going. Yoel must have made about 40 phone calls which, at least from my experience with American politicians, is unheard of. It was ridiculous. And amazing. We were here until 9:30pm, picked up Oren, and then went to dinner until 12:30am. Needless to say, I was completely exhausted (it was my first full day of work in a month!) but really pumped about how productive it had been.

That was Monday. Yesterday, I worked like mad from home all day until I had my meeting with the accountant, during which, I filled out the necessary paperwork to officially establish my own business. So crazy. Yossi, my accountant (I've never had an accountant before!) is fantastic and I could not feel more comfortable knowing that he is handing all of my "stuff."

So, I am back at the Knesset today, having lunch with Oren and his boss, and getting ready to go over the status of our trip with Yoel later this afternoon. I'm going to get back to work, but wanted to give a quick update because it has been awhile and a lot has happened!

Hope all is well with you!

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