Israel and Overseas at GA 2020

What an amazing week last week was for the North American Jewish community! JFNA’s annual General Assembly went virtual for the first time, enabling more than 10,000 people to join plenaries, workshops and special events, all exploring the ways that – together – we make an impact.


This month’s I&O update focuses on Federation’s collective work both in Israel and around the world as seen at the GA.


The JDC took us From Casablanca to Dubai to visit small Jewish communities in Egypt, Tunisia, and Azerbaijan. View a recording of the session here and gain insights into the blossoming Jewish community of Dubai along with a Turkish dessert delicacy. Read JDC’s 2019/2020 annual report here.


Three Members of Knesset along with a former US Congressman (spoiler alert – that’s JFNA’s President and CEO Eric Fingerhut) talked openly  about the impact of Israeli policy and actions on world Jewry at a session called The View from Israel: Should World Jewry Have a Voice? The discussion was challenging and far-reaching, surfacing issues that are close to the hearts of both our Federation community and Israeli lawmakers. You can view a recording of the session here. This is a link to a special message from Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs Omer Yankelevich’s at the opening of the workshop.


One of the questions that many Federation I&O professionals grappled with in the early days of the pandemic was What Happens to Israel Travel Programs When We Can’t Travel to Israel? Catch a recording of the session here, and dive into the videos or PowerPoints of IsraelNow, Masa, Onward Israel, and Birthright along with contact information for each organization here.


The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has shaken the foundations of Jewish communities around the world, creating vulnerabilities which didn’t previously exist. The work and longstanding relationships that Federation partners the Jewish Agency for Israel, JDC and World ORT have developed over time made it possible for them to respond to these COVID challenges nimbly, introducing creative new initiatives and creating a lifeline for struggling communities, Safeguarding and Preserving the Infrastructure of Global Jewish Communities when they needed it most. Professionals and volunteers from around the world shared insider insights into the impact of Federation’s collective work.


You can view a recording of the session here and visit Moldova, learn about JOINTECH, or the Upper Galilee in these videos.


Two other GA workshops took global turns to feature the impact of Federation dollars overseas. With critical needs intensified due to the pandemic, JDC-Eshel provided emergency assistance to Israel’s elderly population. You can view the whole session focusing on delivering human services here. And you can learn how the Jewish Agency’s Amigour Sheltered Housing responded to the new COVID-19 related needs of their elderly and Holocaust Survivors residents here. This is just one amazing example of how Jewish Federations and partners are rising to the challenge to reshape and fund social services for Holocaust Survivors in a post-COVID world.


And last but not least, at FedLab on Tuesday, October 27th we delved into the many ways our communities are keeping connected (and strengthening that connection) to Israel during the pandemic. We’ll be sending a follow-up email filled with resources from that session soon. But in the meantime, here’s a brief reminder from Natan Sharanasky and Gil Troy, co-authors of Never Alone, on why our collective overseas mission is so vital.


Hear more from Natan and Gil this Thursday, November 5 at 1pm ET. You are invited to a dialogue between the two co-authors as they discuss the meaning of peoplehood and the importance of our global Jewish community. Register here.