Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Federation Launches Thanksgivukkah Website!

Looking for some great kosher recipes, fun Chanukah facts and traditions? Look no further than Federation's new Chanukah website!

Chag Sameach from your Federation!

Create Your 8 this Chanukah

Federation partner NCSY announcing - "Create Your 8" a submission based Chanukah Art Project.

There are 8 nights of Chanukah, 8 is above the natural order, above the 7 day of physical creation, it symbolizes a certain level of transcendence. Create something - it can be a song, video, painting, poem, photo, or anything else which expresses your “8” as it relates to the Chanukah story and WIN awesome prizes every night.

Click Here To Learn More and Submit Your Art!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Thanksgivukkah Reading from the Rabbinic Cabinet of JFNA

Stuck on a great prayer for this once in a lifetime juxtaposition of Chanukah and Thanksgiving?  Look no further!  

Modim Anachnu Lach
We give thanks to you, Oh God

On this, our nation’s Day of Thanksgiving and on this festival of lights Hanukkah, we take stock of the gifts and bounty we enjoy living in this blessed country. As we sit down to our Thanksgiving meal and the lighting of the Hanukkah menorah, our tradition teaches us the importance of saying todah, of thanking You, oh God, for our lot and for the religious freedom we enjoy in America.

As you are generous to us, so may we show our appreciation for the goodness we experience by being sensitive to all and by extending our hand to those who are less fortunate. Help us to appreciate the blessings of health and the fragility of our own existence by remembering and being Your messenger to those in our community who may be without food and shelter.

Let us remember the blessings and responsibilities of the ties which bind us together as a Jewish people and as Americans. May we always show appreciation for all those around us, and let us remember to cherish the people in our lives while they are with us.

We ask You for security – for our families, our communities, our Nation, and the Jewish people. We pray for the safety of our brothers and sisters in Israel and those who serve this nation in all capacities. May we all know the blessing of peace.

Finally, we ask you to shine the light of freedom, as it emanates from the Hanukkah menorah, into all corners of our land so that Your light of peace and protection spreads over everyone on this day of Thanksgiving bounty and Hanukkah freedom.


The Rabbinic Cabinet of JFNA

Danny Sanderson is coming to San Diego on December 10!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Men's Event Breaks Records (again!)

On Wednesday, November 20th the Jewish Federation of San Diego County’s Men’s Event, which was underwritten by the Mizel Family Foundation, took place at the famous Del Mar Fairgrounds.  With close to 1,000 men in attendance, this year's event broke previous records as the largest gathering of Jewish men in San Diego!  

Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, wowed those in attendance with an impassioned talk on Jewish peoplehood and the importance of community.  The food, which even included multiple carving stations, was spectacular with catering provided by Crown Kosher Catering of Los Angeles.  We would like to give a heartfelt thank you to the over 100 table captains who filled the hall with nearly 1,000 philanthropists.

Special recognition is due to the event co-chairs Daniel Ellman, Ira Feinswog, Jack Maizel, and Ron Zollman who worked tirelessly for months to make Wednesday night a success.  Another very special thank you is due to our generous underwriter Steve Mizel without whom this free community event would not have been possible.

Some of the photos from this excellent event are up on our Facebook, feel free to tag your friends, and stay tuned for more great pictures next week!

For more information about special events for men and other upcoming community events like FED Talks, please contact Joseph Berman at

World Renowned Sex Therapist Dr. Ruth to Keynote Options 2014

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Why Netanyahu Won't Yield

Michael Oren discussed Iran, Jewish peoplehood and Israeli policy in last night's keynote to 1000+ San Diegans at the Men's Event.  See his Op-ed today from the  Los Angeles Times

Why Netanyahu Won't Yield
The prime minister's hard line on Iran reflects his deep sense of duty to defend the Jewish state against an existential threat.

By Michael Oren

November 21, 2013

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been labeled a warmonger, a wolf-crier and an opponent of peace at any price because of his policies on Iran.

Here's what Netanyahu's critics say: His warnings of a bad deal are designed to undermine measures to slow Iran's nuclear program and test its openness to long-term solutions. His insistence on strengthening, rather than easing, sanctions will weaken Iranian moderates and drive them from the negotiating table — precisely what Netanyahu allegedly wants. Similarly, his demands for dismantling Iran's uranium enrichment facilities and removing its nuclear stockpile are intended to replace diplomatic options with military ones.

The critics claim that he is again playing the doomsayer, the spoiler of efforts to avoid conflict and restore Iran to the community of nations.

Why would any leader subject himself to such obloquy? Why would he risk international isolation and friction with crucial allies? And why, as some commentators assert, would Netanyahu jeopardize a peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear threat and drag his country — and perhaps not only his — into war?

The answers to these questions are simple.

Netanyahu is acting out of a deep sense of duty to defend Israel against an existential threat. Such dangers are rare in most countries' experience but are traumatically common in Israel's, and they render the price of ridicule irrelevant.

Moreover, when formulating policies vital to Israel's survival, the prime minister consults with Israel's renowned intelligence community, a robust national security council and highly specialized units of the Israel Defense Forces. Netanyahu may at times appear to stand alone on Iran, but he is backed by a world-class body of experts.

In 2011, these same analysts predicted that the Arab Spring, which was widely hailed as the dawn of Middle Eastern democracy, would be hijacked by Islamic radicals. They foresaw years of brutal civil strife. Netanyahu publicly expressed these conclusions and was denounced as a naysayer by many of the same columnists who are now lambasting him on Iran.

Yet it is precisely on Iran that Israeli specialists have proved most prescient. They were the first, more than 20 years ago, to reveal Iran's clandestine nuclear activities. They continued to scrutinize the program, emphasizing its military goals, even after 2003, when weaponization was purportedly halted.

Throughout several attempts at diplomacy, these experts have disclosed the ways that Iran systematically obstructed United Nations observers, lied to world leaders and hid nuclear facilities, such as the one at Fordow, which can have no peaceful purpose. Israeli intelligence has accurately tracked Iran's support for terrorist organizations, its role in the massacre of thousands of Syrians and its responsibility for attacks against civilians in dozens of cities around the world.

This does not mean that Israeli estimates are infallible. Since the failure to foresee the 1973 Yom Kippur War, intelligence officials are wary of long-standing conceptions and rigorously question them. Nevertheless, Israeli experts agree that for hegemonic purposes and internal security, the Iranian regime wants and needs the bomb.

Consequently, it will employ any ruse to preserve the ability to produce a weapon in a matter of weeks while obtaining some relief from sanctions.

Iranian leaders know — and Israel's analysts agree — that lessening the economic pressure on Iran will send an incontrovertible message to foreign companies, many of which are already seeking contracts with Tehran, that the sanctions that took years to build are ending. Iran could drag out any confidence-building period indefinitely while producing fissile materiel for multiple bombs.

Top-flight intelligence helped Israel grapple with the challenges posed by the Arab Spring, but the stakes regarding Iran — the lives of 8 million Israelis — are vastly greater. Pundits may posit that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is a moderate, but Israelis cannot indulge in speculation. Our margin for error is nil.

Knowing that, Netanyahu is duty-bound to warn of Iranian subterfuge, to insist that Iran cede its centrifuges, cease enrichment, close its heavy-water plant and transfer its nuclear stockpiles abroad.

He has a responsibility to explain that although Israel has the most to gain from diplomacy, it also has the most to lose from its failure. He is obliged to stress that the choice is not between sanctions and war but between a bad deal and stronger sanctions. And as the prime minister of the Jewish state, Netanyahu must assert Israel's right to defend itself against any existential threat.

Critics can call him militant or intransigent, but Netanyahu is merely doing his job. Any Israeli leader who did less would be strategically and morally negligent.

Via the Los Angeles Times

Federation Board of Trustees Approve Resolution on Iran

Yesterday, the JFNA Executive Committee, based on a directive by the JFNA Board of Trustees and Delegate Assembly meeting Nov. 12 during the 2013 GA in Jerusalem, discussed the issue of ongoing negotiations involving the U.S., Canada, the P5+1 nations and Iran regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The Executive Committee today approved a resolution on Iran that urges the “complete dismantling” of Iran’s capability to produce nuclear weapons. The resolution sends a clear message on behalf of the Jewish Federation system to the U.S., Canada and the P5+1 nations currently negotiating with Iran.

We will be sending a more detailed briefing on this resolution to Federations, and providing it to media, but we wanted to alert you first. Below is the complete text of the resolution, as unanimously approved by the Executive Committee.



[Nov. 20, 2013]


WHEREAS, since the 2000 General Assembly, the Jewish Federations of North America have issued a series of resolutions speaking out against Iran developing nuclear weapons; and

WHEREAS, a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable to the United States, as reflected in U.S. government policy, to Israel, to Canada, and indeed the entire world; and

WHEREAS, the U.S., and the P5+1 countries are engaged in discussions with Iran regarding the future of its nuclear program; and

WHEREAS, at a meeting of the Board of Trustees and Delegate Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, Inc. of November 12, 2013, the Delegate Assembly authorized the Executive Committee to pass a resolution in support of dismantling Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that the Jewish Federations of North America urges the United States, Canada, and the P5+1 nations to insist that any diplomatic solution results in the complete dismantling of Iran’s capability of producing nuclear weapons and ensures mechanisms for ongoing verification of Iranian compliance.

Friday, November 15, 2013

JCRC Hosts Jewish Community Coffee with Senator Marty Block

On Friday, November 15, the JCRC hosted a Jewish Community Coffee with Senator Marty Block.  After providing an overview of the priorities of both his local and Sacramento offices, Senator Block reported that for the third consecutive year, the legislature delivered an on-time balanced budget.  We were briefed on priorities of the 2013 legislative session, the new Jewish Legislative Caucus, the Capitol Knesset and anti-Semitism on campuses, particularly the UC system.  Marty provided further insight during a q&a session with attendees.  For more information please visit:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Western Wall proposal no one can object to

Paul Segal and April Angeloni at the Kotel.  Photo by Tali Mayer

Enough room for all religious practices as veritable parade replete with clowns, bongo players, and shofars marches through Jerusalem's Old City to Kotel.

By Danna Harman Nov. 13, 2013 | 1:17 AM via Haaretz

Paul Segal and April Angeloni from San Diego arrived in Israel this week to participate in the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America. But before jumping into any conversations about Jewish peoplehood or debates on the future of the Diaspora, they headed for the Kotel.
And there, in the large main plaza, Segal got down on his knee and - little box with massive diamond ring all prepared - proposed.
The happy couple then each went their separate ways: Angeloni covered herself and went over to the women’s section to pray for health, happiness and peace; Segal did much the same across the divide, in the men’s section.
“That part was a little sad,” she says. “I wish we had been together.”
Less than a week later, Segal and Angeloni made a second, different visit to the Kotel - this time joining in as the GA concluded its three day gathering in Jerusalem with a celebratory mass march from city hall into the Old City.
Led by a brass band and accompanied by soldiers, clowns on stilts, bongo players and shofar blowers in flowing white tunics and turbans - the marchers, waving mini Israeli, American and Canadian flags and hoisting placards reading “A Trip of a Lifetime,” set out across King Solomon Street, stopping the not-so-appreciative traffic along the way.
A blur of name tags, baseball caps, sunglasses, “I am a Zionist, ask me why” lapel pins, and very sensible walking shoes – the marchers then weaved around Jaffa Gate, along the perimeter paths and through Zion Gate of the Old City.
From there, snapping photos of Hassidic school children peering out through windows, and making pit stops to purchase Armenian pottery candy dishes along the way, the crowd swept across the Jewish quarter parking lot, and - no security checks needed - right into the famed plaza.
And then, if only for a moment, everyone looked a little lost. “What’s the program,” the marchers asked GA volunteers milling around in lime green T-shirts reading “Ask Me.” “Where do we go?”
“We should have made up maps,” quipped Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, as he navigated his way over to the new wooden floored platform off the side of main plaza - which has, as part of the government’s suggested compromise plan with the Women of the Wall, recently been made available for egalitarian services.
“We call it the Israel plaza,” Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett told the marchers back at city hall, before they set out for what would end up being the first big prayer event in the new section. “We have made history…and now all Jews can pray freely and together at the wall.”
But the point, as the green t-shirt volunteers explained over and again, was that there was no official program here, meaning that everyone remained free to go, pray and sing wherever and however they wanted to - together, or separately.
“We are not telling anyone where to pray or how,” stressed Michael Siegal, JFNA’s Chair of the Board of Trustees. “We want everyone to do what is comfortable for them. But what we are here saying, as a group, is that we are one people - and we believe in pluralism.”
Walking to the Kotel. Photo by Tali Mayer

As the sun began to set, and the muezzin of the Dome of the Rock began calling out for the Muslims to come to their prayers, the majority of the GA marchers made it clear what felt comfortable to them - and began making their way down the narrow paths leading down to the new section.
A few volunteers helpfully handed out blank cards and pens for anyone wishing to write up personal prayers to put in the cracks between the ancient stones, prayer books were handed out, and several hundred marchers, now still, began praying Mincha.
No one was around to ask the women to cover their shoulders. No one tried to stop the women’s voices which rang out loud and clear, leading the prayers. And no one objected as Angeloni and Segal held each other tight and put their heads together to pray at the stones. “We had not really realized this space existed. We had no clue about this development at the wall, before we heard of it at the GA,” admitted Angeloni, embracing her fiancĂ©. “But we feel like we belong here,” added Segal. “This feels like home.”

Hundreds March to Robinson's Arch During Symbolic Conclusion to GA

Photo by: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90


"We must not fight to see how we can defeat each other, we must fight to see how we can be one people," says Sharansky.

Following a carnival-like atmosphere outside Jerusalem’s City Hall Tuesday afternoon – featuring costumed stilt-walkers, dancers, protesters and impassioned speeches from political leaders – hundreds of delegates from the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) marched to the egalitarian section of the Western Wall to pray as one.

Although Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky spoke of the sanctity of Jerusalem and the threat of Iran, the overriding theme of the GA’s closing ceremony was unquestionably Jewish unity at the Western Wall.

Indeed, speakers at the final gathering for the three-day event overwhelmingly framed the Western Wall as a primary symbol of the importance of ensuring Jews of all denominations are treated equally and with dignity at the holy site.

“The Kotel is the foundation of the Jewish people – it belongs to each of us and all of us,” said JFNA president and CEO Jerry Silverman, before introducing Barkat.

“Today I want us all to embrace Natan Sharansky’s bold, forward-thinking and pluralistic plan for shared use of the Kotel.”

As Barkat spoke of the importance of pluralism, a group of nearby protesters from the Jerusalem Foundation of Modern Democracy could be heard shouting their disapproval of the mayor’s coalition with Arieh King, chairman of the United Jerusalem Party, whom they called a racist for his divisive campaign for city council.

Several of the participants held placards reading “Save Jerusalem from the King” and shouted “We voted for Barkat, not the KKK!” Unfazed by the outburst, Barkat went on to describe Jerusalem as the “foundation of modern democracy” and emphasized the importance of tolerance here among different religious factions.

Sharansky echoed Barkat’s sentiments, adding that it was imperative to ensure the Western Wall served as “one Wall for one people.”

“The Kotel is about history and the connection to all Jewish people in the world,” he said. “The moment that is undermined, millions of people will become disconnected – and nobody wants that this connection is weakened.”

Sharansky then added: “Now, let’s go to the Kotel so everyone can pray and feel connected to Israel.”

As roughly 700 GA delegates marched to the Wall, several people expressed gratitude about finally being able to pray together at the holiest site for Judaism.

“I think this is a powerful ending to the conference and a meaningful way for Jews in the Diaspora to speak loudly in support of the Wall belonging to all Jews, regardless of the stream of Judaism they belong to,” said Michael Wise of Buffalo.

Stephen Kulp of Chicago said the egalitarian section made him “feel good about Jerusalem” by ceding power away from haredi dogma and what he deemed the disproportionate influence of the ultra-Orthodox.

“I can now go to the Wall and pray with my wife, which is the most important thing to me,” he said. “I’d rather have it like this than not at all.”

Still, not all the delegates expressed complete satisfaction over the compromise to make Robinson’s Arch, which sits dozens of meters away from where most Jews pray, the final destination for egalitarian prayer.

“The section is fine, but it’s not the same,” said Lili Kaufman of Tampa, Florida, while another participant said the removed location made him feel like a “second-class citizen.”

However, Kaufman’s friend Dorothy Wizer expressed pragmatism, saying she understood that the Western Wall served as a metaphor for “the bigger picture” of Jewish life and therefore required compromise.

“If moving over a little bit along the [Wall] makes for peace, then it’s fine with me,” she said. “We can’t continue fighting each other – we have enough enemies.”

After the group sang several prayers together as the sun set, leaving behind the light of an incandescent half moon, Sharansky conceded that Robinson’s Arch was not an ideal location for the egalitarian section but represented a “first step.”

“This is not what we dreamed of, but it is a beginning,” he said. “It’s very important that when people speak to God they speak in a way they are comfortable, and that’s the power of the Kotel – it’s long enough to include all our people.”

Noting the ongoing contentious impasse between the ultra-Orthodox community and Women of the Wall, who have been seeking egalitarian prayer at the Kotel, Sharansky said the incongruity of tradition and pluralism must not pit Jews against one other.

“The lesson from all of this is that we must not fight to see how we can defeat each other; we must fight to see how we can be one people,” he said.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, said she viewed the egalitarian prayer space through a historical spectrum.

“For me, we are one Jewish family that has taken many different directions over many years to help the Jewish community thrive, and this is one of the most significant steps in helping us do it together,” she said. “We have multiple ways we seek to achieve [unity], but we must do it together.”

Meanwhile, Rabbi Steven Wernick, CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, described Robinson’s Arch as an “interim step” in actualizing Sharansky’s vision of a more unified Western Wall.

“We’re waiting to see the prime minister’s next step,” he said. “If it is consistent with Sharanky’s plan, then it will be time to dance.”

Wernick added, “Now is the time to be grateful.”


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

From Major Speakers to Exhibitors, Federation GA in Israel a ‘Global Jewish Shuk’

Claire Ellman, Jane Fantel
and Debbie Kornberg at the GA
Several halls of Jerusalem’s International Congress Center were filled with booths representing the best of Israeli innovations as the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) held its General Assembly in Jerusalem for the third time since 2003.

From 1998-2012, the Federations sent more than $4.5 billion to Israel, so it’s no wonder that Israeli organizations as diverse as the world-renowned Yad Vashem Holocaust museum to the fledgling Hasdera social change organization were vying for the attention of the 1,500 North American delegates. Representatives of smaller organizations that can’t afford a booth wandered around the halls looking for opportunities to talk with potential donors and hand out a business card or brochure.

The annual gathering of Federation leadership generally takes place in the U.S., but every five years the organization representing more than 400 North American communities convenes in Jerusalem.

This year, the 1,500 North Americans were joined by an equal number of Israelis, representing the gamut of the country’s social services, commerce, and public institutions.

The theme for the 2013 GA was “The Global Jewish Shuk: A Marketplace of Dialogue and Debate,” with 22 sessions packed into a one-and-a-half-day conference. An additional day was set aside for site visits in and around Jerusalem, culminating in a solidarity walk from Jerusalem’s City Hall in Safra Square to the Western Wall.

For many delegates, the GA was the culmination of a weeklong mission that combines visits to Federation-funded projects with visits to Israel’s best cultural events.

At the opening plenary, headlined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the tone was set by the introductory speech given by GA co-chairs Michael and Susie Gelman. “We dream of Israel as a Jewish, democratic, pluralistic state,” stated Susie Gelman.

One Israeli blogger present retorted: “You mean we’re NOT? That bus I took to this very conference filled with an amalgam of Haredi, National Religious, white, black and Peruvian Jews was not a pluralistic environment? That election in which I voted earlier this year in which I had the privacy to choose whatever ballot I wished was not a democratic vote?”

The gap in understanding between Israelis and Diaspora Jews concerns Member of Knesset Nachman Shai (Kadima), a former director of the Israel office of JFNA, who organized two Federation general assemblies during his tenure.

The recent Pew Research Center survey of American Jewry is indicative of “a continuing steady change in attitude that indicates [Americans Jews and Israelis are] in two worlds,” Shai told
Israelis and Diaspora Jews “have to work harder” to understand each other, Shai said, citing two committees he chairs “to strengthen the Jewish people.” One is a joint Jewish Agency for Israel-Knesset committee on Jewish identity, and the other, convened by the Ruderman Family Foundation, aims to educate Knesset members about North American Jewry.

Over and over, Israelis in various sessions spoke of the existential threat facing the Jewish state: El Al executive and former Israel Air Force head Eliezer Shkedy told a Monday plenary session, “We’re fighting for our lives here.” Opposition Leader Shelly Yachimovich told delegates she agrees with Netanyahu that Iran “must be stopped from getting the bomb.”

For GA delegates like Iantha Sidell of Seattle, however, the clear top priority item for Jewish Federations is the findings of the Pew survey of American Jews.

“When that study was published, it changed the agenda,” Sidell explained. “The rates of intermarriage and the quest to find ways to engage young people in Jewish life are things we have to deal with now. We have to have content that interests them. I hope we can get some new ideas here,” she added.

Back over at the Hasdera booth, an earnest young Israeli tried to explain in English to a slightly perplexed Federation leader from Miami how his social change organization helps promote public participation in Israeli social causes.

In his address to the plenary on Sunday, Netanyahu tried to bridge the gap by laying out his assessment of the Iranian threat, telling the audience, “Coming to a theater near you. They need those ICBMs to reach North America.” He urged American Jews to “do something about it.”

Netanyahu also mentioned the Israeli government’s new joint initiative with the Jewish Agency “to unite the Jewish people, to initiate programs to help reach the inner cords of identity of the Jewish people around the world, and then put forward programs to help solidify the core of the conviction and identity that is so central to securing our future.”

Monday, November 11, 2013

Federation Responds to Devastating Typhoon

The Jewish Federation of San Diego County is mobilizing a communal response to the super Typhoon Haiyan, which has wrought widespread destruction in the Philippines.

Our partners at the JDC are consulting with local officials, the Filipino Jewish community and global partners to assess the evolving situation on the ground in the Philippines, where one of the strongest storms on record has wrought widespread destruction. More than 10,000 people are feared dead, with reports of ocean surges as high as trees. The central city of Tacloban on the island of Leyte is among the worst hit on the Pacific nation.

Jewish Federations have a proud tradition of supporting the Jewish communal response to disasters around the world and at home, raising tens of millions of dollars for emergency assistance and longer-term aid.

100% of your contribution will go to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Donate Now

Friday, November 8, 2013

Congressman Scott Peters and Captain Scott Adams speak to Latino Jewish Coalition

On Thursday morning, November 7, Congressman Scott Peters (D-SD) and Captain Scott Adams, Commander of Naval Base Point Loma, spoke to a breakfast meeting of the Latino Jewish Coalition of the Jewish Community Relations Council.  Peters expressed some optimism about the prospects for immigration reform.  He talked about the military's rebalance to the Pacific while the US will continue to use diplomacy in the Middle East.  Captain Adams said that the military was 25% of the San Diego economy, but this has been reduced because of the sequester.  He expressed concerns about the long-term consequences to preparedness if the sequester continues.

Submitted by Howard Wayne, Co-chair Latino-Jewish Coalition, Executive Committee member JCRC

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Little Mitzvah


This man has it.
When Isaac Theil let a sleepy stranger take a little catnap on his shoulder, it was because "I simply remembered the times my own head would bop on someone’s shoulder because I was so tired after a long day," he recounted to Tova Ross of Tablet Magazine.
Another subway rider was so struck by Theil's nonchalant empathy that he snapped a picture and put it on Reddit, from which it was then posted to Facebook by Charidy.
Redditor Braffination wrote, "Heading home on the Q train yesterday when this young black guy nods off on the shoulder of a Jewish man. The man doesn't move a muscle, just lets him stay there. After a minute, I asked the man if he wanted me to wake the kid up, but he shook his head and responded, 'He must have had a long day, let him sleep. We've all been there, right?'"
Theil himself has been completely surprised at the attention he's received for his small act of kindness, as the photo has been shared over 20,000 times on Facebook.
via The Huffington Post

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Thousands to Gather in Jerusalem for Signature Event of North American Jewry

San Diego Federation's leaders will be joined by thousands of Jewish community leaders from across the globe are preparing to convene in Israel for the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly, Nov. 10-12 in Jerusalem. 

With 140 speakers – half of them women – from the political, philanthropic, business, religious and cultural worlds, the GA will gather over 3000 participants from 93 different communities across North America, Israel and Europe – including the heads of the Jewish communities of France, Hungary, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, Belgium, Italy and the Czech Republic – to join the “Global Jewish Shuk: a marketplace of dialogue and debate.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett, opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich, US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and a host of members of Knesset, including Stav Shaffir (its youngest member) will also speak, many for the first time to such a large Diaspora audience. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett, opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich, US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and a host of members of Knesset, including Stav Shaffir (its youngest member) will also speak, many for the first time to such a large Diaspora audience.

In setting the GA in Jerusalem, the Jewish Federations see an opportunity to spark a dialogue between Israeli and North American Jews. They believe that the concerns facing the Israeli and North American communities today are universal, and the GA will provide a chance to fully delve into these issues.

The conference will focus on two futures: the future of Israel and its relationship with the Diaspora, and the challenges facing North American Jewry today, which the recent Pew Research Study put into sharp relief. The intent of this year’s GA is to explore each of these issues in depth.

A wide range of speakers will be joining the GA to address participants, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, who will be taking questions from participants and via social media. 

They will be joined by business and community leaders including Eliezer Shkedi, El Al CEO and former IAF Commander-in-Chief; Daniel Birnbaum, CEO of SodaStream International; and Emma Butin, the award-winning founder of Kyron Systems and an author who has been published worldwide.

In addition to the major plenaries, participants will also be able to attend over 22 different interactive sessions and meet over 60 exhibitors. With this year’s GA in Jerusalem, the Jewish Federations will explore a range of issues facing Israel and North American Jewry. Sessions will contend with social challenges in Israel, the evolving Israel-Diaspora relationship, and the future of American Jewry.

Among the various sessions, Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky will sit down with Anat Hoffman, founding member of the Women of the Wall organization, Ronit Peskin, co-founder and volunteer director of the Women for the Wall organization, and MK Aliza Lavie for an in-depth discussion of issues surrounding use of the Kotel, moderated by JFNA President and CEO Jerry Silverman. Hoffman and Peskin have never before appeared in public together.

Other sessions will focus on critical issues facing the State of Israel. “Many Shades of Black” will discuss the religious community in Israel, while “What’s Love Got to Do with It? Who Decides Who Can Marry (or Divorce) in the Jewish State?” will discuss civil marriage in Israel.

The GA will conclude with a walk to the Western Wall. JFNA believes that there should be a place for every Jew at the Kotel. In what is being called a “dramatic celebration of Jewish unity and of Jerusalem’s centrality to the Jewish people,” participants will end the conference by walking together from Safra Square to the Wall.
This GA is also being billed as a “wired GA,” with a number of bloggers working to keep followers across the world hard wired to Jerusalem. Plenaries and breakout sessions will be live-streamed and a team will be working to constantly update followers via Twitter and the specially-designed GA smartphone app.

Sessions will also focus on new technology-focused sectors such as crowdsourcing philanthropy and will feature a series of “FED Talks,” a twist on the popular TED Talks.

Advancing the “Wired GA” will be the plenary session featuring President Shimon Peres, who will answer questions submitted by audience members and through an app on his personal Facebook page. The app was specially designed for the GA and participants around the world have been able to submit questions. During Peres’s session and throughout the GA, participants will be able to join the online conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #JFNAGA.

To learn more about the 2013 GA, click here