The Boca Parliament Brings Israelis Together

by Amit Tirosh

On December 13th, 2015, the Israeli community of Boca Raton, Florida and the surrounding area was invited to a special gathering, one which they had yet to witness before. The keynote speaker was a former Israeli Air Force Apache pilot who survived a devastating, mile-high crash during The Second Lebanon War that killed his co-pilot on the spot. Major Noam Gershoni miraculously lived to tell his story, a very inspiring one: not only for his unprecedented survival, but also for his unbelievable, almost legendary recovery. He spoke about how he recovered from multiple injuries that threatened to end his young life and break his usually upbeat and joyful spirit. After having been mistakenly pronounced dead on the scene and shattered almost every bone in his body on that day in 2006, he went on to successfully win a gold medal for Israel in the 2012 London Paralympic Games in wheelchair tennis.

This speaker and his inspiring, tear-jerking story was not chosen by chance for that night. He was hand-picked from a short list of presenters to make the audience fall in love — fall in love with a story that will touch their hearts. Gershoni, with typical Israeli Air Force humor and a shy smile, won them over. The crowd could not miss a beat as he described his victory of mind over matter – a devastating crash that led to a miraculous recovery and everlasting glory. At the end of that night, the 250 usually sceptic and inquisitive Israelis were totally captivated as they witnessed the founding of the Boca Parliament.

The Boca Parliament was not a new idea. In fact, it was the fourth one to operate in South Florida to date. The first one, The Riviera Parliament, was founded 13 years ago in Miami. Being that most members of ‘The Riviera’ were retired senior citizens, it was only a matter of time before a younger group was to emerge and form ‘The Young Israeli Parliament’ of Miami. Then, because both parliaments had only included male members, Israeli women gathered to form an equivocally successful Miami-based ‘The Women Parliament.’ The Boca Parliament is, subsequently, the most recently established with the purpose of serving the vast Israeli-American community in the Palm Beach-Broward counties, about an hour north of the other Parliaments.

The Boca Parliament functions as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in Boca Raton aims to foster and promote Israeli and Jewish culture. Two and a half years after that memorable night, The Boca Parliament has grown successfully and has brought in countless impressive speakers, including politicians, army generals, journalists, authors, actors, scientists, entrepreneurs, and more. It has conducted events on a bi-weekly basis and prompted the creation of investment clubs, poker nights, weekly volleyball games, weekend tours and vibrant chats and forums within its community. The Boca Parliament has and continues to fulfill its purpose, encouraging discussions and debates and strengthening its members’ sense of communal belonging and mutual responsibility.

The 5-member Parliament Organizing Committee — consisting of Chairman Amit Tirosh, Vice Chairman and Content Supervisor Yossi Chaham, Treasurer Yosi Uzsinay, Operations Manager Momy Shoshan, and Media and Marketing Manager Itai Sela — is working tirelessly and voluntarily, to make sure the mission of The Parliament is accomplished to the benefit of the Israeli-American community in the greater Boca Raton area.

The Boca Parliament Organizing Committee

To join The Boca Parliament, visit its website , where you could find an Application Form, The Parliament Constitution, information regarding upcoming meetings, and a Gallery section with pictures from every meeting since it was formed. It should be noted that the vast majority of meetings is conducted in Hebrew, and although membership is exclusive to men, most meetings are open to their spouses as well. 

A Boca Parliament’s event

A social event at the Boca Parliament

The Boca Parliament’s weekend hiking group

Turkish coffee and watermelon break – The Boca Parliament’s weekend hiking group

In a meeting with General Sami Turgeman

With the comedian Sigal Kahana

With Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Previous events of the Boca Parliament

To meet the author click on this link: Amit Tirosh