By Dov Ben-Shimon
I went to my first Jewish Federations’ General Assembly (GA) 22 years ago.
I loved it. I loved the power of communal infrastructure and Jewish organizational life, what it stood for. What it can achieve – what we can achieve together.
And since then I’ve been going to GA’s consistently.
At first I went because I wanted to learn. I still do. I love the content, the speakers. The ideas that we generate when we sit together.
But I also went because I wanted to network, to be mentored, to meet amazing people. I still do.
Now I’m the CEO of one of the largest Jewish Federations in North America.
And I still love going to these conferences. I’m fully appreciative of the desire of new- and mid-career Jewish communal professionals to meet their peers, and to meet with the execs of the community organizations. I get why people need to network, to bounce ideas around, to schmooze, to be inspired. Whenever I go, I try to make myself available for corridor conversations, a quick coffee meeting, a consultation on career choices, and more.
So here’s a modest proposal.
Let’s meet up. All of us.
All the Federation-related organizations, movements and agencies.
All the national organizations that receive major funding support from the Federation system.
All of us who benefit from a strong United Jewish Appeal, in all its shapes and formats.
All of us who hold annual meetings.
Let’s pick a date, say, three years in the future, and make sure we’re all meeting in New York, or DC, or LA, or Jerusalem, that same week.
Let’s coordinate timeslots and hotels and plenaries so we don’t trip over ourselves.
Let’s figure out a way to comp each other so we don’t make it ridiculously expensive to attend lots of great content over the same few days, and we find ways to save some of our donor funds on our travel and speakers.
If you work in a Jewish Federation, or in any agency that receives significant funding from us, you should make coming to this Continental Assembly a priority. Our North American Jewish Federations are the world’s biggest single funder of Jewish formal and informal education, of our global Jewish partners, of Jewish summer camps, and much more.
Our leadership is your leadership. And our community is your community.
So when we get together, all of us, we can do amazing, awe-inspiring things.
And if we’re one of your major funders, we should at least sit together once every year or two.
We’re all aiming for the same community. And when we invite you, you should come.
JCCA, JCPA, Hillel, JPro, Prizmah, JDC, JAFI, ORT, SCN, AJPA, NJHSA … let’s meet up.
Literally, in 2023.
Dov Ben-Shimon is the Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.