Thousands to Gather in Jerusalem for “Signature Event of North American
Jewish Federations of North America to Host 2013 General Assembly in
Jerusalem Nov. 10-12
Jerusalem – 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.”
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. 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.
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 ineteractive 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.
Following the recently released Pew Research Center’s “Portrait of Jewish
Americans” survey, JFNA’s Jerry Silverman and Chair Michael Siegal wrote an
op-ed proposing a new set of ideas to move the Jewish community in a
positive direction. These ideas will be discussed at the GA, including:
A proposal to make Jewish early childhood education free and available to
every Jewish child, in what Silverman and Siegal referred to as a “Jewish
The expansion of the Jewish summer camp experience, with the percentage of
Jewish children attending camp increasing from 10 to 30 percent;
Increased outreach to the over 350,000 alumni of the Birthright Israel
program, asking them what they want, using technology and connecting with
them where they are.
The creation of “Jewish development zones” – investing in areas with high
Jewish populations but with the lowest proportion of Jewish engagement, to
develop programs and experiences intended to connect Jews in a communal
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
The JFNA represents 153 Federations and over 300 network communities
(smaller communities without Federations) across North America that
collectively raise and distribute more than $3 billion annually for social
welfare, social services and educational needs at home, in Israel and in 70
nations worldwide. This collective effort makes the JFNA one of the world’s
largest charitable organizations. Through JFNA, local Federations have sent
over $4.5 billion to Israel over the past 15 years (1998 to 2012).
Federations also have provided emergency funds in crises. In response to the
2003 Second Intifada, Federations raised more than $360 million for victims
of terror services and more. In 2006, in response to the Second Lebanon War,
Federations again raised over $360 million in emergency aid for social
services and economic relief in the north of Israel. Federations also raised
over $10 million for emergency aid such as trauma relief in southern Israel
amid Operation Pillar of Defense and Operation Cast Lead.
In general, Federations support social service projects in Israel, chiefly
through programs of the Jewish Agency and Joint Distribution Committee, as
well as ORT. These programs usually help new olim or address issues of the
most vulnerable members of Israeli society, including the elderly, the
disabled and the economically challenged.
WHAT: 2013 General Assembly
WHEN: Nov. 10-12, 2013
WHERE: Jerusalem, Israel
SUNDAY, NOV. 10
Shake up the Shuk - Young Adults Charting the Course
1:00PM - 4:30PM
An interactive, high-energy session where young adults (ages 22-45 years
old) will have the chance to learn and be inspired, as well as the ability
to contribute ideas that tackle key challenges facing Jewish communities and
Israel – according to the five themes on the main GA agenda.
Note: By invitation only, Pre-registration required
Speakers: Adi Arbel, Aluf Benn, Rebecca Caspi, Eric Fingerhut, Gidi
Grinstein, Alison Lebovitz, Robb Lippitt, Mike Prashker, Judith Yovel
Recanati, Kate Rosenberg, Guy Spigelman, Raya Strauss Ben Dror
7:10PM - 9:30PM
Kick off the GA with remarks from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and a performance by the internationally acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company.
Speakers: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Michael Siegal, Ronny Douek,
Michael Gelman, Susie Gelman, Ohad Naharin, Batsheva Dance Company
(performers), Rudi Bainesay (performer), Adina Feldman (performer), Liad
MONDAY, NOV. 11
8:30AM - 10:30AM:
President Shimon Peres reflects on a lifetime of public service in an
intimate conversation with David Horovitz, founding editor of the Times of
Israel. Leading public opinion researcher Mark Mellman leads five Millenials
in a discussion about what it means to be young and Jewish today.
Speakers: President Shimon Peres, Mark Mellman, Rachel Hodes, David
Horovitz, Rachel Cohen Gerrol, Alana Kinarsky, David Denker, Oren Okhovat,
11 AM-12:15 PM:
The Rich/Poor Divide in the 21st Century: Fighting Poverty with Innovation
Is the battle against poverty Israel's next frontier? Learn how Israel is
tackling alarming gaps in income equality by applying the out-of-the-box
approaches that have been hallmarks of Israel's innovative spirit.
Location: Oren 2
Themes: Israel's Civil Society, Israel as Incubator
Speakers: Dan Ben-David, Amir Halevy, Benny Levin, Galit Sagie, Einat
Shaulski, Eliezer Yaari
The Power to Create Change: A Conversation with Women Philanthropists
Women are remaking the philanthropic landscape to an unprecedented degree,
especially in the Jewish world. A diverse panel of leaders from North
America and Israel will share their experiences and discuss how their values
shape their philanthropy and grant-making.
Location: Oren 4
Themes: Israel and Philanthropy
Speakers: Alisa Robbins Doctoroff, Raya Strauss Ben Dror, Joanna Landau,
Judith Yovel Recanati
Moderators: Ann Pava
The Moral Mandate: Why Disability Inclusion Matters and How to Achieve It
Jewish communities are shifting their culture to ensure they recognize,
appreciate and invite individuals with disabilities and their families.
Location: Oren 3
Themes: Israel's Civil Society
Speakers: Shelly Christensen, Gail Norry, Eric Rosenthal, Jay Ruderman,
Avital Sandler Loeff, Sola Shelly
Moderators: William Daroff
What’s Love Got to Do with It? Who Decides Who Can Marry (or Divorce) in the
Currently, the ultra-Orthodox Rabbinate has absolute control over marriage
and divorce in Israel. For many Israelis, this religious and halachic
framework is, at best, an inconvenience and, at worst, a roadblock to
becoming a married couple.
Themes: Israel's Civil Society
Speakers: Rabbi Yitzchok Elefant, MK Nitzan Horowitz, Ruth Halperin-Kaddari,
Erin Kopelow, Rabbi Uri Regev, Ariel Beery
Moderators: Susie Gelman
1:45PM - 3:00PM
Iran, the US and Israel – What Next?
The Iranian regime’s theocratic nature, its efforts to spread Shi’a
fundamentalism, its support for terrorist groups including Hezbollah and its
pursuit of nuclear weapons have put it at stark odds with the U.S., Israel
and their allies.
Themes: Israel on the Global Stage
Speakers: Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon
Moderators: Irwin Cotler, M.P.
The Wall at the Heart of Israel: How It Connects and Divides a Nation
The Kotel holds a unique central place in Jewish and Israeli life, with a
vast symbolic impact on religious and social groups both inside the country
and in Jewish communities abroad.
Location: Oren 3
Speakers: Natan Sharansky, Anat Hoffman, MK Aliza Lavie, Ronit Peskin
Moderators: Jerry Silverman
Responding to Pew: How Federations are Successfully Engaging the Next
With 94% of U.S. Jews asserting that they are proud to be Jewish, the Pew
Report did bring some good news. But its findings about large numbers
drifting away from the Jewish people provide a wake-up call, reinforcing the
urgent need for Federations to find innovative ways to engage young Jews.
Location: Teddy A
Themes: Focus on Federations
Speakers:Steven B. Nasatir, KB Goodkin, Avital Ingber, Scott Kaufman, Jay
Sanderson, MK Nachman Shai
Moderators: Joanne Moore
3:30PM - 4:45PM
Israel, the United States and the Changing Landscape of the Middle East
The US and Israeli governments have deep, long-standing ties, with Israel
frequently reaching out to its friends in Washington for support, even as
the political and security challenges of the Middle East have sometimes put
strains on the relations between these two close allies.
Themes: Israel on the Global Stage
Speakers: Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro
Moderators: Steve Linde
Many Shades of Black: Insights into the Haredi World
While over 10% of Israeli citizens are Haredi (ultra-orthodox) our
understanding of this growing population is limited. Meet with Haredi
professionals, soldiers, film makers, and university students to go beyond
the stereotypes and hear first-hand about the realities of Haredi life and
about how ambition, work ethic and civic obligations mesh with a Torah life
Location: Oren 4
Themes: Israel and World Jewry
Speakers: Hedva Goldschmidt, Jack Habib, Yehonatan Indursky, Jonathan
Rosenblum, Alon Zingman
Two Years Later: Israel’s Social Protest Movement
Is today’s Israeli society very different than it was before the social
protests that sprang up in the summer of 2011?
Location: Oren 1
Themes: Israel's Civil Society
Speakers: Rachel Azaria, Mickey Gitzin, MK Stav Shaffir
Moderators: Ronny Douek
5:15PM - 6:45PM
Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, one of the freshest faces in Israeli
politics, shares his vision for Israel’s future, as does MK Shelly
Yacimovich, chairwoman of the Labor Party and opposition leader.
Speakers: Minister Yair Lapid, MK Shelly Yacimovich, Daniel Birnbaum,
Elyezer Shkedy, Alyona Golovina, Agata Rakowiecka, Einat Shaulski, Ziv
Tuesday, November 12
8:15 AM – 5:30 PM
Jerusalem: Inspiration, Exploration, Celebration
Travel to some of Israel’s most esteemed institutes of Jewish learning and
thought to get inspired and engage in discussions with the country’s most
prominent spiritual thought leaders.
Speakers: Minister Naftali Bennett, Natan Sharansky, Mayor Nir Barkat
Walk to Kotel from Safra Square. GA concludes.