Sunday, February 3, 2008


As we watch the defensive struggle that is this year's Super Bowl, memories have been awakened of Super Bowls past when the CJF would convene its winter meetings. These were often great, a true party where lay and professional leaders celebrated community with a Super Bowl party, were joined by scholars like Yitz Greenberg or Hillel's Michael Brooks, and seriously debated the issues of the day and the present and future of our communities.

CJF had a storied history. In my time blessed with inspirational and inspired lay Chairs like Chuck Hoffberger, Shoshana Cardin, Bill Berman, Corky Goodman, Maynard Wishner and Conrad Giles and great chief pros Phil Bernstein, Carmi Schwartz and Marty Kraar. Together they led us through confronting the new Jewish poverty, intermarriage and intermarred outreach, loan guarantees, national support for Hillel, the embryonic efforts of the Washington Office, continuing professional education, disaster relief, the first national planning effort and the onset of national endowment development, among other monumental achievments. And, the General Assemblies of the CJF era, with monumental scholars, an ever-changing set of GA Chairs, the constant presence of American, Canadian and Israeli political leaders, and that constant buzz in the hallways where friendships were born and renewed.

Twenty years ago none of us who were present could ever forget the GA where the idea of a National Freedom Rally for Soviet Jewry gained the momentum that brought 250,000 of us to the Mall in Washington less than one month later. Having just returned from the then Soviet Union, one month earlier, I remember the excitement of that General Assembly as if it were yesterday. This seminal event in modern Jewish history and, certainly, in the lives of our communities, was deemed unworthy of a special celebration on its 20th Anniversary at the 2007 Nashville General Assembly.

Where have all the flowers gone
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone
Long time ago?



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