- Creative new fundraising techniques,
- effective management of nonprofit agencies in an economic crisis,
- advocacy strategies for Israel and human rights, service learning opportunities,
- support for at-risk Jewish communities around the world,
- and entrepreneurship and innovation in the Jewish community.
All these topics were filtered through the lens of the challenging economic realities facing the Jewish federation system today.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, speak about the Middle East peace process and his commitment to revive negotiations with Israel’s Arab neighbors and the Palestinians. Netanyahu emphasized three themes: creating a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, disarming Iran’s nuclear capabilities and reducing Israel’s oil dependency.
The delegates were also privileged to hear Foreign Minister Ehud Barak, Natan Sharansky, the recently elected Chairman of the Jewish Agency, and Ram Emanual, President Obama’s Chief of Staff. Each emphasized themes of Jewish unity, support for a secure and flourishing Israel, and the importance of the Jewish Federation in meeting the needs of Jewish communities locally, in Israel and around the world.
One of the most moving moments of the conference was the presentation by Torah for Troops, an organization dedicated to getting Torah scrolls to American soldiers on the front lines. Several members of the armed forces joined a sofer, a scribe, to recite a blessing and then complete a letter in the Torah scroll. This kosher Torah scroll is specially designed to be small, light-weight and portable so military chaplains are able to bring it to serve the religious needs of Jews serving in the armed forces in far-off bases around the world.
Thanks to Dr. Andron's planning, the students attended several private networking sessions including a lunch meeting with Wurzweiler alumni, who spoke about their Wurzweiler education and their careers in the Jewish Federation system.
Second year students incorporated their experiences at the General Assembly into their classroom learning through a unique learning collaboration with the Greater Washington DC Jewish Federation’s Leadership Development Department. They met with professional and lay leaders from the Federation to learn about the demographic profiles, interests, and needs of young Jewish adults. These students will analyze the data in order to to create a needs assessment questionnaire for the Jewish young adults in the Washington DC area.
The GA conference exceeded the expectations of many of the students and served as an invaluable learning and networking experience.
Thanks to Alizah David, guest editor, photograph by Robert A. Cumins