So, "we're going to Vegas." For what? Tribefest. For what? To be in Las Vegas for Tribefest. It's such an exciting venue and event that, according to a JTA report 1,600 young men and women had signed on even before the registration opened. And, just what exactly is Tribefest -- we don't know. We do know that it will be March 6-8; we know it will be in Vegas; we know that it will be a place to "connect, explore & celebrate the richness of Jewish music, food, arts & culture," and it will be "...THE event for young Jewish adults. Over 1,800 Jewish young Jews will come together to explore why it matters to be Jewish, how they connect their Judaism and the larger community, and to have an amazing time....Tribefest will be THE place for networking, mingling and finding friends and peers..." The registration fee is $475 ($400 for you lucky early birds). And JFNA is looking for corporate sponsors -- Dockers per chance?
I heard from a senior professional at JFNA for whom I have great respect and admiration -- one who has some responsibility for Tribefest. She sent me some more detailed descriptions of the plans for the event that do suggest that there will be some serious programming there. The prospects for the Fest: "These young men and women need to discover their Judaism at their own pace and in their own manner, in ways that specifically resonate for them." OK, but is it fair to ask if this is JFNA's role -- and to do so "...at the chic and fun Mandalay Bay Resort...acknowledging that participating in Jewish communal life (this is "Jewish c
ommunal life?") can and should be about having fun as well." OMG!!
This week I went to the JFNA website to see what more we might learn about the Fest. The answer: not much. About "The Event" here is the description: "Tribefest 2011: Las Vegas is THE event for young Jewish adults. Over 1,800 young Jews will come together to explore why it matters to be Jewish, how they connect to their Judaism and the larger community, and to have an amazing time. Tribefest will offer inspiring programming, music, food, arts and entertainment, all celebrating the richness of our Jewish culture and heritage. Tribefest will be THE place for networking, mingling... yada, yada, yada" It appears to me that Tribefest will be, like the old Seinfeld show, about nothing. Sad.
But...speakers? There is a list -- We got a hip hop violinist, someone from idealist.org, an actress. poet and playwright, an author, the Communications Director of the Hebrew Academy, the President of the Kraft Group (guess the writers didn't want to describe two of the speakers as owners of professional football teams), the Mayor of Las Vegas, and Mark Wilf, who is nowhere identified as a major federation leader or past National Campaign Chair, but in his role as "President Minnesota Vikings." It's all surreal.Tribefest, in the words of a friend, "trivializes trivialization." How does one respect JFNA as an institution when it raises the trivial to the level of Tribefest; when it abandons the Washington or Tel Aviv Conferences for...this? Sorry, chevre, but with Tribefest JFNA leaders are making a clear statement -- to say they respect the next generation of leaders is like BP announcing that it respects the environment.