We know some of our readers are not familiar with the GA, which returns to Jerusalem tonight after five years. Here’s a brief introduction.

In the first major American Jewish conference following the historic election of President-elect Barack Obama, 3,000 American Jews will convene in Jerusalem November 16 – 19, to discuss the impact of the American presidential election and pending election in Israel on the global Jewish community, the state of philanthropic giving within the Jewish charitable network, the world economic crisis and America and world Jewry’s continued partnership with the State of Israel.

United Jewish Communities (UJC), the North American umbrella organization for the Jewish federation system, will host over 3,000 Jewish participants from North America and Israel for the 2008 UJC General Assembly. UJC is the largest Jewish philanthropic organization in the United States. The GA is UJC’s annual gathering, which has been held in various locations throughout the US, Canada and Israel, and which attracts Jewish community leaders and philanthropists from across the globe.

Highlights of this year’s General Assembly include lectures from some of Israel’s most influential political leaders. Sessions examining best practices, uses and advantages of Jewish charitable giving – particularly in the current economic climate; and site visits to social and humanitarian programs run by UJC’s overseas agency partners.

Also today, 800 Jewish students and young professionals under the age of 45 will take part in Next Gen Day, which is UJC’s program for the next generation of Jewish leaders. This year’s GA in Israel provides a dynamic setting for younger Jews to network with their peers and take part in shaping the future of the Jewish people and the Jewish State.

Read what David Abitbol of Jewlicious has to say about the GA; you’ll understand part of the why for this post. The underlying causes are part of a huge problem that needs to be addressed by the UJC.

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