Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly






Well, I’m finally catching my breath from attending the whirlwind event formally known as the UJC (United Jewish Communities) GA (General Assembly) now the Jewish Federations of North America.

I decided not to lug my laptop around for three days, since each day for over a twelve hour day. Unfortunately that just makes for a huge pile up of content. Here then are highlights along with a few outstanding videos. The first, is president Jerry Silverman’s inclusion to commemorate Kristallnacht by asking for a moment of silence at the end of a plenary where a mass exodus had already begun. People stopped in their tracks and it actually seemed much more meaningful then if they had already been sitting. (And yes, I take some responsibility for this after having asked the PR team as well as Jerry what, if anything, they were doing to honor the occasion. And I give Jerry a lot of credit for inserting it into his program after getting feedback from me and presumably others with the same concern. If the Jews can't recall Kristallnacht while the survivors and eye witnesses like my partner Survivor Henry Oertelt are still here to remind us, then who the heck else is going to?)

The other video is the winner of the Jewish Community Heroes, which I didn’t know until yesterday was a program of the Jewish Federations. Actually its one of the smartest campaigns they have run in while and probably the best online campaign they have ever done. The winner of the $25,000.00 for his non profit efforts is a guy named Ari Teman from JCorps, a group that pulls together young volunteers for a myriad of different community activities.

There were so many other things that caught my attention, I might just have to keep sharing them over the coming weeks. They include:  visiting with Julian, a Mexican American Jew who shared some of his experiences in growing up Jewish in Mexico, Torahs for our Troops, the Jewlicious festival, The Jewish Channel (TJC), Steve Roberts new book, “From Every End of the Earth”, and The Capital Steps, a hilarious political spoof acoustic music & performance troop.

It was a good use of my time and I appreciated getting a chance to learn a little more about the Federations and what they are currently doing and the challenges they are facing. I was also lucky enough to talk with some real experts on national Jewish philanthropy like Joel Fleishman and even visit with a few kind philanthropists, including a few of the donors of the US Holocaust Museum, who might be able to eventually help connect us with some capital. Thanks to Joe, Jeremy and the others on their team for a good experience. Maybe I'll see you at DisneyWorld (where the conference will be next year!)

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