I'm exhausted and exhilarated - the 2009 General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, held in Washington, DC, this year, just ended. (Just typing all of that can wear you out - Jewish Federations of North America is the new name of the former United Jewish Communities.) We heard from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Natan Sharansky, newly installed as the head of JAFI, and Rahm Emmanuel, chief of staff to President Obama. Although the president had been scheduled to speak to us, he was called away by the memorial service for the soldiers tragically killed at Fort Hood.
In addition to these headline speakers, there were many smaller sessions on topics ranging from social networking to innovations in fundraising to the growing role that Jews from the former Soviet Union play here, in the FSU, and in Israel. In an effort to reach the topics the Jewish world wants to discuss, the chairs of the GA, Ken and Dede Feinberg, utilized a Request for Proposals approach for these sessions. I'm proud to report that UJC MetroWest was one of the federations selected; we presented a lively, well-attended panel discussion on the current status and the future of religious pluralism in Israel. We are one of the leading federations in the country in this area, supporting the Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox movements in Israel and non-stream efforts, as well. People were so interested and excited by this topic that it was hard to get them to leave the room so another session could begin!
Part of what makes the GA so much fun for me is the opportunity to visit with my friends from National Women's Philanthropy Board and Young Leadership Cabinet from across North America, but it's also great to be with everyone from MetroWest in a setting that isn't the meetings and events where we are working so hard. Of course, this adds up to too much time awake and too little sleep, but that's okay.
Another reason that I was so energized by this GA is that I am now in countdown mode to next year when my dear friend Julie Russin Bercow from Miami Beach and I will be chairing the next International Lion of Judah Conference. We're going to be in Orlando from November 14-16, 2010, leading the way for the 2010 GA. I hope to see you there!