More than 700 Jewish leaders, volunteers, and students from nations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean gathered in Cartagena, Columbia, in early May 2009 for this year’s General Assembly (GA). Organized by JDC ever 2-3 years, this most recent gathering provided a welcome opportunity for Jewish professionals and community leaders from all areas of the region to participate in forums exploring relevant topics such as Jewish education, fundraising, programs for youth, and attracting new community members; as well as to share best practices and network.
Among the best and the brightest who attend these regional GAs are participants and graduates of JDC’s Leatid (“toward the future” in Hebrew) Latin America program. In fact, nearly all volunteer and professional Jewish community leaders to emerge as key figures in the region in recent years have benefitted from this JDC-sponsored leadership development initiative. Over the course of two years and approximately six intensive seminars, Leatid provides trainings, workshops, and forums that help communities deal with the challenges – economic, religious, and other – they face. In addition to specialized workshops, seminars, and follow-up coaching conducted in local communities in response to particular needs, Leatid’s core programs include training for institutional directors and for young communal leaders as well as an online forum for leaders of Jewish institutions to learn from one another.