Today is August 20, 2019 -
Our Federation sent a delegation comprised of 12 people to the annual Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) General Assembly (GA) this week. World-class speakers spoke to the 3,000 participants in attendance, while innovation leaders presented to small group break-out sessions.
We heard from the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, who asserted U.S. support of Holocaust survivors, as well as continued U.S. support to “guarantee Israel’s absolute security.” Biden said, “Israel has a right to defend herself as we would … There is no friend of Israel like the United States of America, and the United States of America has no friend like Israel.”
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, expressed his gratitude to Jewish Federations for all that we do to strengthen Jewish communities across North America and to grow support for Israel.
Marlee Marlin, an Academy Award winner, who is deaf, and known as an actress, producer, author, and activist, credits her Jewish upbringing for her successes. “It is this spirit of chesed, loving kindness, and the philosophy of inclusion and living a life generously that my parents passed along to me that empowered me… allowed me to create my own definition and realize my dreams.” Quoting Henry Winkler she added, “The only thing a deaf person can’t do is hear.” It was a very inspirational and moving talk.
Jewish Supreme Court Justices, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, offered their personal reflections on justice. They were amazingly entertaining and astute speakers.
Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who served as Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, spoke about the Jewish people being the first truly global people.
In addition to these fantastic speakers and the scores of other programs attended by our delegates, I had opportunities to mingle with my colleagues from around the country. We had the chance to share ideas, learn best practices, and collaborate. For example, the CEO of the Stamford Federation and I discussed how to combine efforts in rolling out our very similar new allocation models.
Many speakers at the GA echoed the Talmudic phrase, kol yisrael arayvim zeh bazeh, or “all of Israel is responsible for one another.” This, coupled with one of JFNA’s taglines, “the power of the collective” demonstrated that when we stand together, we have the responsibility and the ability to do a lot of good in the world.