Israeli-American sports broadcaster and social-media influencer Emily Austin with kids and coaches participating in soccer camp at the Shalva Center. At left is former professional basketball player and current coach Tamir Goodman. Third from left is retired Israeli Olympic judoka Ori Sasson. Credit: Courtesy.
Israeli-American sports broadcaster and social-media influencer Emily Austin with kids and coaches participating in soccer camp at the Shalva Center. At left is former professional basketball player and current coach Tamir Goodman. Third from left is retired Israeli Olympic judoka Ori Sasson. Credit: Courtesy.
featureU.S.-Israel Relations

Sports broadcaster/social-media influencer reflects on volunteer tour in Israel

Israeli-American Emily Austin, 22, encourages U.S. athletes to visit the Jewish state.

Emily Austin, an Israeli-American sports broadcaster and social-media influencer, last visited Israel almost a year ago. So it was high time for another visit, the 22-year-old told JNS, when the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer invited her to get a glimpse of its humanitarian work.

Austin, who began modeling and working in broadcast news at 18, has a vast social-media following with more than 500,000 on TikTok and 1.2 million on Instagram. She aims to visit Israel at least annually and thinks it is “important to remind myself and everyone else of my Israeli roots,” she told JNS.

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Israeli parents who immigrated to the United States, she got her big break when an MTV producer saw an Instagram live show that she produced, called “Daily Vibes with Emily Austin.” The producer asked her to audition for the MTV show “Music Lives On.” She did and was part of the show for one year.

Austin visiting young children at the Shalva Center in Israel. Credit: Courtesy.

She has served as an unpaid media consultant to Israel’s permanent mission to the United Nations since September 2022 and was a judge of the 71st “Miss Universe” pageant earlier this year.

“Israel is always taking heat for a lot of false narratives that are out there,” she told JNS. “I am one of the many proofs that this is a thriving and democratic country.”

Correcting false narratives, building bridges organically

Austin hopes that her visits to Israel, which she discusses on her social-media handles, will encourage U.S. athletes to see for themselves that Israel is neither a war zone nor an “apartheid” state, an accusation that has been increasingly pointed towards the country.

Her trip last month, which was organized and paid for by the hospital, included meetings with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and his wife, Michal Herzog, at their Jerusalem home; visits to the Western Wall (Kotel) and its tunnels; and a meeting with Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, chairman of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation. And, of course, she spent a lot of time at the medical center.

Herzog was “very genuine,” she reported, and she and he and his wife discussed medical innovations at the hospital as well as the importance of Israeli unity. The Israeli president thanked her for her social-media activism on behalf of the Jewish state, she told JNS.

At the Sheba Medical Center, Austin learned about advances it has made in the medical field in recent years, including a field hospital that reportedly was the first to set down in Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February 2022. 

Austin with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides at the Sheba Medical Center gala on June 5, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.

During the trip, Austin also met with Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz and attended the medical center’s annual gala on June 5, where she met U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides and Israeli pop star Shiri Maimon.

At a campus of the Shalva Center, an Israeli nonprofit that works with people with disabilities and their families, Austin learned about a soccer and basketball camp, whose coaches include former Israeli-American professional basketball player and current coach Tamir Goodman and retired Israeli Olympic judoka Ori Sasson.

She also found time on the trip to visit with family, including her great-grandmother and cousins who live in Tel Aviv.

Austin doubled down on the need to correct the false narratives about Israel, she told JNS, saying that “the only way we can do that is through connecting people on a personal level.”

She added that sports are one of the best ways “to build these bridges organically.”

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war.

JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you.

The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support?

Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Topics
Comments
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates