Finding unity at the GA
Local leaders reflect on the Jerusalem conference
For Rochelle Shoretz, this year’s Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly in Jerusalem was a chance to meet with Jews from all over the world as an expression of unity.
“As the executive director of Sharsheret, a New Jersey-based national organization addressing breast cancer and ovarian cancer in our community, I’ve already connected with many federation executives who want to bring Sharsheret programming to their community,” she said. “My ah-ha moment today was that together we could bring best practices in Jewish health to our brothers and sisters in Israel.”
Ms. Shoretz said that she was feeling the sense of unity that the GA brings to the Jewish world. It makes it even better when the GA convenes in Jerusalem, she added.
“I always feel a sense of unity with Jews from different denominations and backgrounds,” Ms. Shoretz said. “All of Sharsheret’s programs reach women and families from all walks of Jewish life. It is a core component of all we do.”
Jason Shames, executive vice president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, agreed with Ms. Shoretz as he noted a strong sense of unity among the GA attendees.
“The Pew report is a common thread,” he said on Monday. “The common practice is that reports such as the Pew report help motivate people.”
Mr. Shames found that the chance to listen to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a highlight, as it has been at earlier GAs. “He spoke to us about what Iran was up to, and he talked about the Palestinian issue,” he said.
The federation’s president, Dr. Zvi Marans, also noted the energy of having Jews from all over the world together in Jerusalem for this year’s GA.
The Pew report, he said should help world Jewry in the future. “We want a Jewish future that is vibrant and thriving,” he said.
The meetings and messages he had heard so far connected directly to Israel’s national security, juxtaposed with the ever-present Iranian nuclear threat and the issue of a two-state solution.
Dr. Marans said that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants that two-state solution, but Israel’s security must be a reality, not just a talking point.
On the subject of Jewish identity, Dr. Marans talked about the overall concern on how to connect with detached or disinterested Jews.
“The Pew study emphasized that,” he said.
Ms. Shoretz added that northern New Jersey had a strong showing of lay and professional leaders in attendance.
“Our commitment to Israel extends far beyond words alone,” she said.
“We are supporting communities abroad, shaping educational programming about the issues facing Israel back home, and collaborating with nonprofit organizations, like Sharsheret, that are national and international role models of Jewish engagement.”
The GA ended on Tuesday, November 12. Next year’s GA will be held from November 9 to November 11 in Washington, D.C.
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