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2002 INTERNATIONAL LION OF JUDAH CONFERENCE OF UNITED JEWISH COMMUNITIES OPENS TODAY IN NATION'S CAPITAL

JEWISH WOMAN LEADERS FROM THROUGHOUT THE WORLD BEGIN THREE-DAY FOCUS ON PHILANTHROPY, LEADERSHIP AND CREATING POSITIVE CHANGE

WASHINGTON, DC  – October 13, 2002 – The United Jewish Communities 2002 International Lion of Judah Conference opens in the nation's capital today, attracting approximately 1,000 Jewish woman leaders from throughout North America, Israel and Jewish communities around the world for three days of workshops, discussions and events highlighting the power of woman philanthropists to create positive change in their communities and globally. 

The 2002 International Lion of Judah Conference, sponsored by the UJC National Women's Constituency, will feature North American, Israeli and international speakers and panelists from government, finance, media, academia, entertainment and religion. The theme of the conference is "Power Philanthropy: Dare to Dream."

"Women, through their joint philanthropy, can leverage social change in a very profound way," said Sandra F. Cahn, Chair of the UJC National Women's Constituency.  "The Lion of Judah women are all sophisticated, intelligent and well-informed. Through the conference's programming, they will be able to return to their communities with a greater sense of leadership within their local Jewish federations."

Dede Feinberg, Chair of the International Lion of Judah Conference, added: "I hope the attendees will get a deeper understanding of the challenges we face as women, as Jews and as philanthropists, as well as how much more influence and strength women can have when we work together as activists in the broader community. In addition, I hope that the participants will collectively identify with the people of Israel. In turn, the Israeli attendees at the conference will see that we are united with them in these trying times, and when they return home, they can assure all Israelis of our unwavering support."

Among the speakers and panelists:  Kenneth R. Feinberg, Special Master of the September 11 Victim's Compensation Fund; Steven Emerson, NBC Terrorism Analyst and Executive Director of The Investigative Project; Filmmaker Aviva Kempner; Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon; former congresswoman and vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro; Nadine Strossen, President of the American Civil Liberties Union; Robert G. Kaiser, Associate Editor of The Washington Post; Limor Livnat, Israeli Minister of Education; Ambassador Alon Pinkas of the Israeli Consulate in New York; Naomi Levine, Chair and Executive Director, Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising at New York University; Aaron David Miller, Senior Advisor for Arab-Israeli Negotiations in the U.S. State Department; Irwin Cotler, member of the Canadian Parliament and Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee; Richard Joel, President and International Director of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life; and Eve Ensler, playwright, activist and Artistic Director of the award-winning play, "The Vagina Monologues."

Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, an outspoken opponent of Holocaust deniers and a professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, will be honored at the conference.

Underscoring the solidarity and unity existing between North American and World Jewry and the people of Israel, especially during this challenging time in the Jewish homeland, conference attendees will launch a new UJC initiative to send a message of comfort to Israeli children.  Attendees are bringing new, stuffed teddy bears, which will be collected and distributed to Israeli children for Hanukkah.

Participants on the UJC Prime Minister's Council Mission to Berlin and Israel and the UJC Young Leadership Ben Gurion Society Mission to Argentina, both later this month, will also take part in this special initiative.  

Attending the conference will be approximately 1,000 Lions of Judah, women from throughout North America and around the world who have made a substantial contribution to the UJA Federation Campaign of United Jewish Communities, the Spirit of Israel or Keren Heyesod, which represents Jewish communities beyond North America and Israel.  Today, over 13,000 women throughout North America, Israel and around the world proudly wear a Lion of Judah pin to declare their commitment to the preservation and growth of the worldwide Jewish community.

"Women are coming into their own as stakeholders in the world of philanthropy," said Carol S. Smokler, President of the National Women's Constituency.  "We chose the theme of this conference, Power Philanthropy: Dare to Dream, as women are becoming more knowledgeable and responsible for their own financial resources. We hope the conference will further their commitment and inform their choices."

United Jewish Communities (UJC) represents 156 Jewish Federations and 400 independent communities across North America. Through the UJA Federation Campaign, UJC provides life-saving and life-enhancing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and translates Jewish values into social action on behalf of millions of Jews in hundreds of communities in North America, in towns and villages throughout Israel, in the former Soviet Union, and 60 countries around the world. Through the Israel Emergency Campaign, UJC and the Jewish Federations of North America are providing economic, social, human welfare and other types of support to Israelis and victims of terror as they strive to lead normal lives during a period of extreme difficulty. The National Women's Constituency is inspired by the Jewish traditions of tzedakah and tikkun olam -- social justice and repairing the world. It provides opportunities for every woman to affirm her Jewish identity and spirituality, to take a stand on issues that affect her community, and to inspire other Jewish women by example.