Reflections on the General Assembly

Each year, the Jewish Federations of North America gather together over 1,000 lay and professional leaders for three days of meetings and workshops to collaborate on the many opportunities and issues facing the Jewish Community. This year’s General Assembly (GA) was held in Chicago from October 30 to November 1, 2022, and your federation was represented by Federation President Gerry Barker, Interim Chief Executive Officer/Chief Development Officer Amy Holtz, Rabbi-in-Residence & Director of Jewish Life & Community Relations, Rabbi Joshua Pernick, and JFNA Board member and King David Society Chair Jody Ellant.

The GA was educational, meaningful, spiritual, and inspirational. A sampling of the many topics discussed include: Fighting antisemitism while building flourishing Jewish communities, the evolving role of religion in American Jewish life, how to best engage divergent viewpoints in civil discourse, new opportunities afforded by the Abraham Accords, how to support our college students while dealing with the BDS movement, and Israel’s complex challenge of navigating global crises and opportunities. It was wonderful to participate in the discussions and engage with many incredibly impressive leaders. We know that every community has similar challenges and increasing needs.

It was inspiring to meet so many generous and involved people in our country who are willing to help support others. There were also many very grateful people from Ukraine, Israel and other countries who expressed their appreciation for the tremendous help given to worldwide Jewry by all of us.

One note of interest was the discussion of the role that Israeli television is currently playing in reshaping people’s perception of Israel---shows such as “Fauda”, “Shtisel” and “Beauty Queen of Jerusalem.” Another very timely and crucial topic was how critical the role of security has become in our lives. There was a comment we heard that went a long way in summing up the dedication we all have to our tradition, religion and way of life: “Let’s always remember that being Jewish brings us so much more JOY than OY!”

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