Tuesday, November 14, 2017


On the cusp of the GA, Haaretz's Uri Blau published an anticipatory article:  Jewish Federations annual conference: What to expect. https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.822132?utm_source=smartfocus&utm_medium=email&utm_content=www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-1.822132&utm_campaign=Uri+Blau&utm_term=20171111-00:43&writerAlerts=true
I would guess that by now Uri has his answer: Expect Nothing. And that's a shame...but under promise and over deliver...for once.

The Prime Minister's Council Event used to be a GA highlight. I remember the days when the Event packed a ballroom wall-to-wall: 250-400 of the system's major donors and their communal professionals. And here was this year's: a little over 100 participants, maybe half from Los Angeles. Hosted by Peter Lowy's Westfield Mall in an outdoor setting. At no time during the evening was there a word about the system's overseas partners -- nothing about JAFI/JDC/WorldORT -- and the lay and pro leaders of those partners were not even introduced. These major donors, good sports all, listened with rapt (ok, not so "rapt") attention as the temperatures dropped into the 50s, and a local reporter interviewed Michael Milken and Peter Lowy -- for the first 50 minutes it was about these two philanthropists' life stories and their business genius. The last 10 minutes were about their philanthropy, with a few minutes for questions -- three of them, one about the role of federation.

And, at the end of the evening, the piece de resistance, the maraschino cherry on top of the sundae, as it were. Before these major donors left, Peter Lowy announced that each person present would receive a $50 gift certificate good at any Westfield Mall. So there's that...very unexpected. Just what $25,000-and above, way above, donors needed, but unexpected and, certainly, appreciated.

If the Westfield Mall gift was a pleasant surprise, the security lines before President Rivlin's Plenary address was an unexpected disaster. Friends advised of 45 minute and longer delays at the magnetometers apparently caused by JFNA's decision to have just two of those ever-present scanners in use for the one Plenary that attracted a crowd. Whether it was a lack of preparedness, sloppy planning (!!) or an effort to save some money we will never know.

Whether the wait was worth it, I'll leave to others to judge. Ruvi is a caring person who clearly values Israel-Diaspora Relations but in asking North American Jewry to understand the reality that in Israel, like Chicago I guess, "all politics is local," I would assume that our leaders were not comforted...and will say so directly. HaHaHaHaHa. They will leave a response to the Rabbis or to Natan Sharansky.

President Rivlin's keynote followed Richard Sandler's. Our Board Chair demonstrated once again that he is both a caring Jew and a caring leader in his address. He and Jerry will no doubt take advantage, as they should, of Rivlin's invite to a dialogue in the President's residence at some time in the vague future with an even more vague agenda.

On to Bibi on Video.


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