Heard Around Jerusalem

Here in Jerusalem, the annual summer pilgrimage of both the up and coming and the establishment leadership is in full swing with the opening tonight of the Israel President’s Conference. Last week saw both the 6th annual rocking ROI Community Summit and the Nachum Goldman Fellowship convening. The World Jewish Congress, Hebrew University and University of Haifa governing boards recently wound up, and on tap – besides the President’s Conference – are the Zionist General Council meetings, the Jewish Agency Assembly and board meetings, and a host of other events. Multiple missions and Birthright buses abound. In short, a typical June in Israel.

Last night saw two great events. Hillel Israel held their first Annual Hilleluya Gala in Tel Aviv celebrating the work of their nine campus program (reaching over 30,000 students annually) along with honoring outgoing CEO Rabbi Yossie Goldman for 25 years of service. Prominent in attendance, a group of 80 students and organizational leaders visiting from Hillel in the U.S.

In Jerusalem, PresenTense launched their 5th Global Fellowship cohort. With participants from 6 countries on 4 continents, the program has clearly hit its stride. Btw, if you’re in Jerusalem this summer, you’re more than welcome to stop by and visit (PresenTense is conveniently located on Emek Refaim in the German Colony).

With the Jewish Agency meetings convening on Sunday, the turf battles are out in the open. The Agency’s restructured organization is in the process of being implemented and with it comes changes to all Jewish Agency board committees. The four program committees have been revamped and not one of the chair positions went to UIA (American) board members. While the governing of the Agency requires dealing with multiple stakeholders, UIA is a significant contributor to the organization’s budget. Word on the street is that JFNA, and UIA, are extremely displeased and eJP is lead to believe the nominating process may not have been correctly followed. The Jewish Agency has declined to comment.

As they control 50% of the board seats, one wonders if the World Zionist Organization (WZO) is intentionally causing mischief. The WZO – much to their displeasure – was spun off two years ago from the Jewish Agency. While the organizations previously shared a Chair of the Executive, and had various financial entanglements, they are now governed separately. We hear there is serious discussion of reuniting the two, however a road-block has developed as certain WZO executives appear more interested in their personal positions than the future of the organization. If they do reunite, eJP hopes the expense of the over-the-top signage on the WZO’s Tel Aviv building is charged to the buy-out of the (ir)responsible approving executive.

Finally, eJP wishes to give an unsolicited shout-out to Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel. In understanding the realities of today’s business and conference traveler, back in January, the Inbal began offering free WiFi to hotel guests (also to those making a nominal cafe purchase). Much unlike the Dan Hotel chain, with their outrageous charges for guest WiFi, the Inbal understands what the 21st century traveler requires. Too bad they don’t have company.