Clark Hillel’s IACT Coordinator for Israel Engagement shares his love of Judaism and Israel
WORCESTER – Roy Büchler recently joined Clark University’s Hillel as IACT Coordinator for Israel Engagement.
Buchler graduated from Brandeis University in 2016 with a degree in Government and Politics & Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. Upon graduation, he moved to Israel and interned in a tourism company and later the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of Israel Government Fellows (IGF), a program of Masa Israel Journey and the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. Today, he is engaging students at Clark University with Jewish life and Israel. Masa’s Acting CEO Ofer Gutman caught up with Roy Büchler to learn where his journey led him.
OFER GUTMAN: How did Israel become an integral part of your career?
ROY BUCHLER: Israel was always a key part of my identity. After graduating college, I decided to take the opportunity to spend extended time there. While I had been to Israel several times before, I wanted an immersive experience to inform my relationship with the country. Living and interning in Israel helped me discover my passions and aspirations in ways I couldn’t at college.
After a five-month Masa internship in the tourism industry, I still wasn’t ready to leave. There was so much more to learn about myself, the country, and its people. So, I applied for Israel Government Fellows (IGF). During the ten-month program, I interned for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Division for International Organizations and the United Nations. The more time I spent in the country, its importance to the Jewish future became more and more evident. I was inspired to help other Jews realize the same truth about the country.
OG: As a French American, what drew you to work for Israel’s government?
RB: Israel is the heartbeat of the Jewish people. By investing in Israel with my unique skills and interests, I can contribute to world Jewry.
While at Brandeis, I studied Jewish and Israeli society and politics. After graduating, I wanted to enrich my education through real-world application and firsthand experience. Masa’s leadership seminars also allowed me to further explore the issues facing Jewish communities in the Diaspora and meet some of the leaders addressing them. The seminars prepared me and my peers to return to our home communities and take on leadership roles, like this one with IACT.
OG: How do you feel you made an impact through your work at the UN division?
RB: At the UN division, I had a unique opportunity to directly shape Israel’s image on a world stage, at a time when this is more important than ever. By facilitating employment opportunities for Israelis at the UN and by sharing Israel’s story, I was able to help show the world what we Zionists already know: how much good is coming out of our little country.
OG: You said before that Israel was always a key part of your identity. Can you please elaborate on that?
RB: My father’s family is from Hungary and suffered a lot of losses in the Holocaust. In 1949, when they were looking for a place to rebuild their shattered lives, the Jewish state was there for them.
I’ve always felt a deep gratitude towards Israel for providing that safe place for my family and for Jews from all over the world. During my time with IGF, the day before Yom Hashoah, my program visited Yad Vashem’s Memorial to the Deportees, a cattle-car poised on the edge of a train track. Our guide posed the question: Does the train car fall off the tracks into nowhere, or does it continue into Israel? Most people in my program thought it plunged into oblivion, but I shared my view that it headed to Israel and went on to build a refuge where Jews from all over the world could feel at home.
A son of an immigrant family, one thing that was always clear to me was the powerful connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel. My parents raised our family to be proud of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Our family witnessed firsthand how Israel empowered and strengthened its people. Going to Israel with Masa felt like not only perpetuating my family’s values but returning to my roots. By actively supporting Israel, I express my appreciation for its existence and contribute to the future of the Jewish people.
OG: How did spending an extended time in Israel deepen your connection to the country?
RB: For many people, Israel is a travel destination. But by living and interning in a Masa program, I invested a part of myself in the country. I wasn’t just a tourist; I was a member of a family. I embraced the country and the country embraced me.
Now, when I go back, I feel like I’m going home. I am connected to Israeli society and culture. I am part of something bigger than myself.
OG: How did you end up as IACT Coordinator?
RB: Being in Israel strengthened my sense of kinship with world Jewry. And after the Masa leadership seminars, I felt I had the tools to contribute in a meaningful way.
Even though I was always aware of Israel’s role in the Jewish story and in my own story, spending time there helped me forge a deeper emotional bond with my people, my religion, and my history. When I’m in Israel, I feel connected to global Jewry. I get to speak to Jews from all over the world about our experiences being Jewish in different countries.
I want to help build a stronger Jewish community by giving more people that chance to taste that grounding sense of connection. Through my role at IACT, I can share Israel with people who wouldn’t have necessarily visited it otherwise.