DENVER, CO — The 80th General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America — otherwise known as “the GA” –opened Sunday in Denver with nearly 3,000 members of the tribe in attendance. The festivities opened with a Day of Service organized by Allied Jewish Federation’s Young Adult Department, which engaged over 550 volunteers 18-45 to work on projects for non-profit organizations all over the Denver Metro area.
The opening Plenary session featured Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, the GA’s scholar in residence, who asked the question “What is Jewish continuity about, if not to continue Torah and Torah values?” Kathy Manning, Chair of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA)’s Board of Trustees, talked about the GA’s theme as the original Jewish social network: “Social connections are one of the things that bind us together as Jewish people” and drive us to be a part of something deeper, the Jewish need to show care and compassion for Jews in need.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz also spoke at the opening plenary, and lauded the vital role of the Jewish Federations, saying “the amazing work you all do embodies the notion that the world will be a better place when each of us does our own small part to make a positive impact.” Together the Congresswoman and JFNA have launched Jewish American Heritage Month, challenged insurance companies who denied life insurance for people who travel to Israel, promoted breast cancer education for young women, supported the over 125,000 elderly, low-income Holocaust survivors in the US so they can live in dignity, and led the effort to build a Jewish Chaplains memorial in Arlington National Cemetery.
She also praised the Obama administration’s commitment to the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel, pointing to how the administration has increased foreign aid during a challenging budget era. But she also emphasized bipartisan backing for Israel, saying that “Democrat or Republican, we can all agree on the importance of strong U.S. support for Israel.”
The GA continues through Tuesday in Denver.
Pictures from our photographers covering the GA (Bruce Shaffer and David Fellows):