Assembly 2008: Celebrating 60 Years of Israel’s Independence opened Friday morning. Taking place at the inconvenient and poorly kept Crowne Plaza (yes we know all the reasons why this location, but the hotel wasn’t so good at the 2006 Assembly and according to many guests hasn’t improved) this annual gathering of global Jewish leaders have come together to discuss JAFI’s role in our changing world.

The multi-day program highlights JAFI’s work with partners and funders as they foster Aliyah, develop content and strategies for Jewish-Zionist education around the world and help shape the future character of Israel’s society.

In his ‘State of the Union’ address, JAFI Chairman Zeev Bielski was at his usual, entertaining and informative, and cognizant of JAFI’s needs and what the limitations are. Recognizing the financial realities, the Board of Governors meeting later this week will be presented with a plan to cut $45m. in 2009 – effectively shrinking JAFI. Zeevik told us, “it’s not easy, but that’s what we have to do in order to survive…I know our partners are behind us in good times and bad times and they will do the best they can to carry on with the services we are giving today”.

The hope is that despite a likely two or three years of uncertainty, the changes in structure will make JAFI better in the years to come.

For more on what Zeevik had to say Friday morning, check out our post, JAFI: Past, Present and Future.