Letter of Thanks from the Federation

Last week we posted a warm note from J Street staff thanking us for our participation in their October conference. Yesterday we received a nice note from Susie Gelman, President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Thank you for representing the Greater Washington Jewish community at the 2009 General Assembly! We hope you learned something new, heard from interesting speakers, and connected with others who share your Jewish values.
Check out www.jewishfederations.org/ga for videos and other highlights of the conference. If you have any feedback, I would appreciate hearing it so that we can make the next GA even better.

Hope to see you next year at the GA in Orlando!

Susie Gelman, President, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

The General Assembly gathering of some 3,500 leaders from Federations across the country–with hundreds of vendors, including both Israeli and American organizations and artisans–was a comfortable place to be, actually. Was happy to have been invited to the Nadav Foundation’s first annual award celebrating Jewish Peoplehood (the buzzword, as they readily admitted, of the entire conference) to Stuart Eizenstat, who gave a terrifically inclusive acceptance speech calling on a more pluralistic embrace of the many different kinds of Jews eager to support, and in some cases, move to Israel (but who, if they were “Jews by choice,” might face opposition if they weren’t converted by an ultra-Orthodox, government-approved rabbi). “There aren’t enough of us to be discriminating!,” he implored, and that message of unity was appreciated.

And so, in the end, was all the effort that went into making “Monday Night Live” at the Marriott Wardman such a success. All 12 actors were an eager and dedicated bunch as they transformed, thanks to good costumes and excellent make-up from Hollywood pro (and Fort Washington resident) Diane Hammond, into genuine Israeli historical figures. While it turned out to be difficult for the event organizers to manage the traffic flow of the attendees–and so most of the actors were not positioned in the right place at the right time for the bulk of the guests to see or interact with–the presentation was salvaged when they determined, at the 11th hour, to bring all the historical figures on stage and have a Likud member of knesset introduce them one by one. And so Herzl, Golda, Ben Gurion, Begin, et al were seen (and magically magnified via video feed across the entire ballroom) and not so much heard, but the impact was still felt; historical figures were traveling among us on this night that celebrated Israeli modern dance (a nice performance from the troupe Vertigo), the timely satire of the Capitol Steps (still very, very good at what they do, 27 years and counting with a very fresh take on Obama-weariness, Joe Biden bloviating, Mark Sanford gallivanting, and Hillary pant-suit sniggering) and the headliner, Jewish soul-singer and American Idol semi-finalist, Elliot Yamin.