About Last Week

There were lots of good speakers at the GA, the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. One of my favorites was Rachel Botsman, a compelling and engaging speaker from the UK, who spoke about collaborative consumption. You can see an earlier (but still terrific) version of her comments in this Ted Talk.

How can you change human behavior? How can we promote trust and collaboration in the community? We always think there are too many cynical behaviors that prevent us from sharing and working together. But it turns out that this isn’t true. And technology is one way that our global village is learning to share and build something better. Social networks are helping us invent new meanings and values.

That was her message. And it resonated at the GA. By the way, you can see more of the videos from the conference here.

We had a really strong showing from our community. Some 30 community members attended the conference. Our community representatives led eight of the sessions, including meetings on creating inclusive Jewish Communities for individuals with disabilities; creating meaningful Israel encounters; global Jewish needs; social services; young adult challenges, and much more. Members of our delegation also had private briefings with Ambassador Ido Aharoni, our Consul-General; Alan Gill, Executive Director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; and Natan Sharansky, a Jewish hero and Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

We also organized a really fun reception for the New Jersey Jewish Federations. Good food, some booze and great people. We took part in fascinating plenaries and high-level programming. We learned about advocacy, engagement and education.

But frankly, it was the people that made the difference. We’re only as good as the people we send, and the people we meet at these conferences. And this year it was very good. We’re blessed to be part of a federation system that isn’t perfect but continually strives to do better.

We’re blessed to have a national conference every year that brings together people with passion, vision and ideas.
And we’re blessed to have a belief-system that fights cynicism and mistrust to promote collaboration and a better future.

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