For me and for those of our readers who attended GA08, enough time has now passed for some perspective (all of 24 hours). It was kind of a "best of times, worst of times" three days.
- As I have noted in earlier Posts the Plenaries at this GA were "old school" in so many ways and, thereby, inspiring and filled with spirit -- two things that UJC so sorely lacks. Yet, the lack of a "scholar-in-residence" to articulate the Jewish content of the theme and then to summarize (and, no matter how hard Howard Rieger may have tried, he is no Arnie Eisen, not close) pulling the disparate aspects of the GA together under the theme "One People, One Destiny" (As an aside, wasn't the theme of the 50th Anniversary Jerusalem GA "One People, One Heart?") was truly missed...again.
- Once Jerusalem became the site of the GA, the only possible venue for the over-estimated number of Registrants was Binyanei Ha'ooma -- and what a terrible venue it was -- labyrinthian with a maze to traverse to any event and one flight of stairs after another to climb. It was truly a venue that almost had a sign posted "disabled not invited." At the UJC Board meeting a Resolution on the Disabled passed without comment; in practice the disabled attendees were offered no assistance, literally shutting them out of Plenaries -- or any event above the first level. With all of the site visits UJC staff paid to Jerusalem in planning this GA, did no one notice that special attention would have to be paid in this venue to the needs of the disabled? Rhetorical question. I know there are elevators in the Convention Center...somewhere.
- At the Closing Plenary a UJC senior professional castigated me with a modicum of friendship for not attending the Board and Delegate Assembly Meeting -- told me it was my fiduciary duty to be there notwithstanding that voting is done on a bloc basis. I felt guilty for a nano-second until Friends of the Blog (my "FOB's") told me the meeting was just the same faces making the same reports, with no spirit, no passion and the result -- further disengagement, the same "talking heads" as always.
- Speaking of FOB's, I loved seeing and being with old friends from so many shared experiences -- GA's past, Missions, UJA, CJF, NCSJ and federations I have visited. So many came up to me to tell me "I read your Blog...love it...don't stop." As all of them know, as all of you know, this Blog will stop when UJC starts... to perform.
- And, then there are the "numbers." While I considered it funny in a perverse sort of way, UJC's constantly changing "count" was also serious in a way. With claims of 5,479 Attendees at last "count," plus NextGen, plus Sponsors, etc. UJC's "counters" went beyond mere overstatement to a new stratosphere. Look, Ussiskin Hall where the Plenaries were held holds 3,000...max. Back out the "800" NextGen and we're down to 2,200. Back down another few hundred staff and you're at 1,800 Registrants...max. Remember, I'm from Chicago; we invented overstating crowd estimates. Whoever counts for UJC has learned the "Chicago-way" quite well. The tab for GA08 will soon be forthcoming; then all of us will know the real numbers. I hope they are UJC's numbers, not mine.
- Finally, the day of Site visits was fantastic. I heard only gratitude for the work of JAFI and JDC. It was a well-planned, well thought-out day for whioch all need to be congratulated/
All in all, a mixed bag. But nothing...nothing...on the crisis that confronts our federations and our beneficiaries and our partners. That's the saddest commentary of all.