Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The General Assembly has begun. After a desultory Prime Minister's Council Dinner where the PM spoke for about three minutes, there was great ruach at a wonderful opening gala in Ussiskin Hall at the Jerusalem International Convention Center. Brilliant musical performances by young Israelis -- stirring and inspirational. Sure the UJC brought 800 (?) young people (from Hillels, MASA, Taglit-Birthright) and the Hall was filled with about 2,500 so happy to be together. (In its GA Daily, UJC decided that they would revert to a 4,000 number. If it makes them happy to overstate Registration by about double, so be it. I am dedicated to their happiness and illusions.) This morning President Peres and a Bronfman separately ruminated about the future at a similarly packed Plenary -- must have been 4,000 in attendance....sure.

The Plenaries over the first 24 hours have been "old school" capped by one on the Israel Defense Forces that was incredibly powerful and beautiful, poignant and painful.

Today a Jerusalem Post reporter asked me some incisive questions about this GA. He had attended last year's (and maybe others before that) and questioned what is the driving theme of GA08. I had no answer -- it's essentially focused on everything and nothing. I hate to say it, it lacks focus just as UJC lacks focus. Sad.

After I wrote the Post on the GA before the GA opened, in which I not only lamented the present, but reflected on the "bad old days" where the GA was the annual high point on the Jewish communal calendar, I heard from so many of you. You shared your memories with me as well.

One of those great friends who wrote, was one who matured from a successful role as a Young UJA professional to federation professional leadership to his current position as one of the lead capital campaign fund raisers in North America. What he wrote was so incisive and filled with love that I reprint it here:

"Those were the days my friend and we thought they would never end.

Not sure if you remembered a conversation we had coming back from downstate Illinois one late night after a young leadership gathering. We discussed this very thing. Would we ever lose being a volunteer driven organization? Would the untested individuals (of) inherited wealth be able to take over and do it well? Would we be able to survive as a People in North America if the monolith became so one-sided that minority thought and opinions would not be allowed?

Long nights and drives produced excellent conversations. And, man, knowing how the system works, you must be close to persona non-existo.

Those who know you support you. Thanks for speaking for those of us who have worried about (what has been happening), for those who have no voice and those waiting to be asked."

Love you guys,


No comments: