Thousands Gather for 2012 GA to Address Pressing Issues Facing the Jewish Community November 9, 2012
Jews from across North America and around the world will gather in Baltimore Nov. 11-13 for The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) 2012 General Assembly, the premier North American gathering of the Jewish communal world. The event will showcase the latest thinking and best practices from experts on philanthropy, business, religion and culture, and participants will discuss how to confront the most pressing issues facing the Jewish community at home and abroad.
Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel will headline a roster of incredible speakers and major global figures scheduled to appear at the 2012 GA, including: Michael Oren, ambassador of Israel to the United States; David Gergen, senior political analyst for CNN; Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, who will serve as the GA’s scholar-in-residence; Rabbi Heather Borshof, chaplain with the U.S. Army; and Edon, the 14-year-old “America's Got Talent” semifinalist. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will also address attendees in a video to be prepared especially for the GA.
Wiesel will be taking the stage at the 2012 GA to participate in a historic dialogue with Natan Sharansky, chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel, to commemorate the 1987 March on Washington for Soviet Jewry. To mark the 25th anniversary of this world-changing event, Wiesel and Sharansky will celebrate the power of the collective during a discussion on how the March on Washington forever impacted the landscape of the global Jewish community, and how its reverberations continue to be felt today.
"We are delighted to have such a wonderful group of speakers joining us for this year’s General Assembly,” said Kathy Manning, chair of the Board of Trustees of JFNA. “This is a powerful collective of individuals who will not only educate, but also challenge, inspire and motivate us all in our ongoing efforts to protect and enhance the well-being of the Jewish community worldwide.”
This year’s GA, which is chaired by Linda A. and Steve Hurwitz and Genine and Josh Fidler, all of Baltimore, features the theme: “The 2012 JFNA General Assembly. Where the Jewish community downloads/uploads/shares.”
The main plenary sessions for the conference, which are built around the concept, “Changing the World, For the Good, Together,” will highlight accomplishments across the global Jewish community. Breakout sessions will feature more than 100 speakers sharing case studies and best practices addressing a range of hot topics and burning issues such as: the post-election landscape, Israel and America, overcoming the challenge of delegitimization, and caring for the underserved – just to name a few.
All programming for the 2012 GA is designed along four tracks, representative of the significant and relevant themes the Federation community seeks to address year round, including:
• Tzedakah, Caring for the Most Vulnerable; • Kehillah, Developing Leadership and Community; • B’Yachad, Strengthening Jewish Identity and Global Peoplehood; and, • Arevut, Supporting Israel’s Civil Society
In an unprecedented partnership with the AVI CHAI Foundation, this year’s program will be complemented by ELI talks (Engagement, Literacy, Identity), 10-12 minute talks with the central themes of (1) Jewish religious engagement (2) Jewish literacy, and/or (3) Jewish peoplehood, with Israel at the center. The talks, which launched earlier this year, offer new paradigms to explore, consider and wrestle with. Check out the Eli talks speakers at the 2012 GA.
“We feel privileged to gather so many outstanding leaders from across the Jewish world for this year’s GA,” said Jerry Silverman, president and CEO of JFNA. “Despite all the challenges of recent days, we are thrilled to be hosted by the Baltimore community, which has done terrific work preparing to welcome everyone.”
Participants will also have access to an outstanding Jewish marketplace at the Baltimore Convention Center, with hundreds of booths offering Jewish food, education and lifestyle products and services, and more. Standalone tickets to attend the marketplace will be available for purchase to local community members on site.
Throughout the GA, JFNA will continue to support relief efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy. The JFNA booth in the GA Marketplace will feature a large tzedakah box, taking on-site donations for the JFNA Hurricane Relief Fund. Donors have already contributed more than $300,000 to the fund, which is just one of many Jewish Federation efforts across the continent. So far, Federations have raised nearly $1 million, and through their agencies and partners, provided immediate relief and long-term care for those affected by the recent catastrophic storm.
The GA will also include the Institute on Tikkun Olam, initiated by the Reut Institute (a strategy and impact group based in Tel Aviv) and the Alliance for Global Good. The Institute is scheduled for Monday, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and will be open to all registrants of the GA.
Immediately following the GA, JFNA is hosting a conference dedicated to fostering inclusive Jewish communities for individuals with disabilities and their families. Titled “Opening Abraham’s Tent: The Disability Inclusion Initiative,” the conference is organized in collaboration with the Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund, the Jewish Funders Network and the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, and will take place Nov. 13-14 at the Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards.
As the premier North American gathering of the Jewish communal world, the GA will feature exclusive social events, such as a Taglit-Birthright Israel Bar Mitzvah Celebration and an evening at the National Aquarium, sponsored by the GA host community THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.
Building on its successful debut last year, JFNA is again offering a GA app, available for free on iTunes for iOS devices, and for Droids and Blackberries as well. The app offers participants a convenient, fun and environmentally friendly way to navigate the GA.
The 2012 GA program is being held at the Baltimore Convention Center on Pratt Street and at several surrounding hotels. Visit the GA website at generalassembly.org to learn more, and find answers to important questions on the FAQ page.