Full agenda faces federations at annual G.A. in Washington

Full agenda faces federations at annual G.A. in Washington

Some 3,000 people from the Jewish federation world are expected to gather in Washington, D.C., this weekend for the annual General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.

Coming after a month of violence in Israel and the West Bank, the G.A. will hear addresses from both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

But the focus of the three-day event that opens Nov. 8 is the future. In sessions at the Capital Hilton, participants will consider the future of Jewish federations — the central planning and fundraising organizations in most Jewish communities — as well as the future of Jewish education and philanthropy and the outlook for anti-Semitism around the globe, said William Daroff, senior vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office of the JFNA.

The Jewish Federations of North America is an umbrella organization representing 152 Jewish federations and 300 independent Jewish communities across North America.

In a salute to Canada, former foreign minister John Bayard will address the assembly. He will be celebrated “for the Canadian role in the Jewish federation movement and for the pro-Israel role of the Canadian government,” Daroff said.

The G.A. will be a forum for Jewish communities to share ideas, innovations and best practices. A series of TED talk-like presentations, dubbed “Fedovations,” will include two from Pittsburgh, said Jeff Finkelstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

“One highlights the way we conduct missions and connect them to our Partnership 2Gether Region of Karmiel and Misgav, and the other is around our Steeltree program that engages young adults in a meaningful way in Jewish philanthropy. We hope to learn from others while we share some of our successes,” he said.

In addition to Netanyahu and Herzog, big names scheduled to speak include actress Debra Messing, TV journalist David Gregory and U.S. Middle East diplomat Dennis Ross.

Among the discussion sessions will be how to better include in the Jewish community interfaith families, millennials, people with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

A selection of 1930s-era love letters by Israel’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, to his mistress in Vienna will be on display, according to Israel’s Kedem Auction House, which will put the entire collection up for sale in December.

David Holzel writes for the Washington Jewish Week. He can be reached at dholzel@midatlanticmedia.com. Toby Tabachnick contributed to this article.